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Manga / Di[e]ce

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They always move first.

Di[e]ce is a manga written and illustrated by Saki Otoh and Kana Yamamoto that ran from September 2007 to November 2010. It was serialized in the shoujo magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum. The main characters are Childhood Friends Kazuki and Haruki, who are not related but look exactly alike, and have the same birthday. It turns out their destinies are entwined - in a really unpleasant way. They're both players in death games modeled after chess called di[e]ce. Every player is a chess piece on the white side or the black side, and the objective is for the players to get out of various dangerous situations alive, before the time limit is up. This usually involves slaughtering a lot of zombies. Oh, and the games will only end when one of the kings is killed - and the kings can only be killed by each-other. The kings, of course, are Kazuki and Haruki.

While never officially licensed, the series was finally complete scanslated into English. It's almost unheard of, which is puzzling, considering that it has things fangirls typically go for: namely lots of pretty boys with sad backstories, and an impressive amount of Ho Yay.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Abandoned Hospital / Abandoned Hospital Awakening: The second track of the second drama CD.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Naoto's backstory.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Ageha.
  • Anyone Can Die: And nearly everyone does ... until you get to the Reset Button Ending.
  • Badass Longcoat: Gara.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys
  • Chess Motifs
  • Deadly Game
  • Declaration of Protection: Naoto makes one to Kazuki, which flusters him quite a lot. At the same time Kirito makes the same one, word for word, to Haruki.
  • Devoted to You: Anyone who befriends Kazuki becomes borderline-psychotically devoted to him, it seems. Even if they've only known him for a day or two (see: Naoto, Ruka).
  • Disappeared Dad: Naoto's father walked out when he was younger. His mother did not take this very well.
  • Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Gara and Sion grew up together, but were raised as bishops on opposite sides. Needless to say, they're not on close terms any more.
  • Healing Hands: The bishops can heal their king with a touch.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Kazuki is posited as the hero of the story, and is a kind, goofy guy who will do anything for his friends. He also enjoys playing in the death games at first - thinking it's fun and exciting, like playing a video game.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kazuki pretty much embodies this trope.
  • Immortal Hero: Sort of. Kazuki and Haruki can only be killed by each-other - they can't die otherwise. Kazuki wakes up in the hospital after having been stabbed in the heart completely unharmed.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Ageha fights with a ...yoyo...
  • Living Emotional Crutch: The kings are pretty much this for their players. Especially notable in Naoto's case: Kazuki stops him from letting himself die during his di[e]ce. At the end of it, he decides to exist only for Kazuki from then on.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The brackets around the "e" don't seem to have any significance. They're just there to look cool, apparently.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: What Haruki ends up doing to get Kazuki to kill him.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Ruka.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kazuki (Hot-Blooded red oni) and Haruki (cool, reasonable blue oni).
  • Reluctant Hero: Kazuki - not in the sense that he doesn't want an exciting, dangerous life, or even in that he doesn't want to play in death games. He simply refuses to accept his role as king if it means he has to kill his best friend.
  • Reset Button Ending: With an actual button that says "Delete" being pressed and everything!
  • Sanity Slippage: Haruki goes from being appalled and angry at Kazuki's cheerful willingness to murder all his classmates, to caring about fuck-all except for Kazuki. He even goes as far as to murder Yuki, so that Kazuki will hate him enough to kill him and end di[e]ce.
  • Sensory Overload: When Yuki was younger, although meeting Kazuki helped with that.
  • Shōjo Demographic
  • Stepford Smiler: Naoto. His mother threatening to push him to his death if he wouldn't stop crying probably contributed to this.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Akikage flat-out stole Sion and Gara away from their families when they were children, and raised them to be bishops (which included traumatizing them into accepting that if they don't participate in di[e]ce, war will occur in its place and kill off tons of people, including everyone they care about). Sion came to trust and admire him, and see him as a substitute guardian. Gara is more hostile towards him, but tells Sion that he'd rather live with Akikage than with his abusive parents.
  • The Stoic: Sion.
  • Student Council President: Haruki.
  • Super-Senses: Yuki
  • Take a Third Option: Kazuki resolves to end di[e]ce without him and Haruki having to murder each-other. He ends up committing suicide by throwing himself onto Haruki's knife, fulfilling the requirements of di[e]ce.
  • Telepath: Yuki and Ruka.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The players after getting promoted. Most noticeably, Yuki goes from being completely unable to fight (and feeling ashamed of himself for it) to being the strongest player: he gets promoted to queen.
  • Touch of Death: Haruki kills Ruka by...touching his forehead...somehow...
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Naoto's backstory.
  • Twin Switch: Sort of. Yuki and Ruka aren't twins, they're counterparts, but Ruka does pretend to be Yuki for several chapters.
  • Undying Loyalty: The other players for their kings. Sion pretty much exemplifies this trope:
    Sion: I will answer you if he allows it...because the only reason I exist here is for his sake.
  • Un-person: The kings have all evidence of their existences erased after getting sucked into di[e]ce.