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Manga / Judge

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If you don't want to die, then point your finger at an animal that you think committed a worse crime than you.

Following the same principles as Doubt, Judge is a horror manga written by Tonogai Yoshiki. It was serialized in Monthly Shonen Gangan from 2010 to 2012.

Hiro is an Ordinary High-School Student who once had a secret crush on his childhood friend Hikari... except she was already dating his older brother Atsuya. One day, Hiro manipulated Atsuya's schedule so that he would have a chance to confess his feelings, a decision that had grave consequences when Atsuya is killed in a freak hit-and-run.

Two years later, Hiro is attacked by an unknown assailant and wakes up in a barren cell, his hands tied and a grotesque mask covering his face. He soon discovers that he, along with eight others, have been trapped within a ruined courthouse and forced to play a game called "Judge". All nine players are guilty of some grievous sin in their past, and every twelve hours they must vote to execute one of their own until only four remain.

Will the players find a way to work together until an escape route is found? Who can be trusted in a game where a single vote can be the difference between life and death? And just who or what is responsible for setting up this twisted game in the first place?

A live-action film adaptation was released on November 2013. You can check out the first trailer here.

Eventually followed by Secret, a sequel/Spiritual Successor.

Is unrelated to the 1991 OVA of the same name, based on the 1989 manga.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: Just like its predecessor Doubt, of the nine teens that participate, Rina is the only one alive at the end.
  • Asshole Victims: Of all the victims that died, most of them deserved it. With Ryuhei and Hiro being the most blatant two, with Ryuhei being extremely unstable and Hiro having masterminded the whole game.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ryuhei. At first he just seems to be a jerk, but as time goes on he becomes more and more malicious. His temper is explosive, he gets set off by the slightest of things and he was even disappointed when he finds out that the “severed head” that Hiro found was just a statue. And he also tried to rape Rina.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Hikari’s plan (get revenge on the guy who killed Atsuya and the judge and jury who gave him a lighter sentence than they thought was deserved, kill Hiro when his role in the plan is finished) succeeds without a hitch. Hiro is not so lucky.
  • Big Bad: The titular Deadly Game is overseen by what appears to be a talking doll resembling some sort of fox-like animal. It calls itself the Judge, and it becomes clear that it’s a proxy for someone amongst the participants. In the end, the mastermind behind the Judge game is actually two people, Hikari and Hiro, as Revenge by Proxy for a court case in which Hiro’s brother, who was Hikari’s lover, died and the perpetrator got off scot-free. Though of the two, Hikari’s more dominant, as seen when she kills Hiro in the end for being indirectly responsible for Atsuya’s death.
  • Clueless Mystery: Big time. Over the course of the entire series only one very subtle moment hints that Hiro is the culprit. The rest of the manga actually does little but point away from this idea, since the reader is shown Hiro's thoughts and actions, much of which contradicts him being the culprit. Many other important points to the mystery are also never once hinted at before the final volume.
  • Creepy Doll: The game’s mastermind communicates with the participants via an odd, fox-like, talking doll.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The Judge, the mastermind behind the deadly game, is the protagonist Hiro, who showed no signs that he knew what was going on, and Hikari, who was mostly featured in flashbacks until the reveal.
  • Driven to Suicide: Kazu kills himself with a poisoned needle after he gets voted during the second judging.
  • Education Papa: Hayato Takizawa has one of these, forcing him to become a lawyer like the rest of his family. Hayato wants to kill him as revenge.
  • Foreshadowing: The unknown man found in Chapter 16 shows that Hiro might not be as good as the reader is supposed to believe. When he sees Hiro, he begins to scream in horror and blame himself for everything. And as it turns out, Hiro is actually not a hero, he's a Villain Protagonist who likely caused the injuries to this man.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Hiro's attempt to confess to Hikari leads to his brother Atsuya dying... and the creation of the game Judge.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Hiro's mask is of a rabbit. Considering that he later turns out to be one of the people masterminding the game…
  • Hikikomori: Nobuyuki tends to hide and lock himself in rooms. A flashback shows that he hadn’t left his room for a month at one point.
  • Karma Houdini: Hikari gets off scot-free for masterminding the Judge games.
  • The Killer in Me: Hiro, the main character, is one of the two masterminds behind the game.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Best not to look at the covers for anything after the first volume. They show who's died.
  • Love Confession: One led to Hikari realizing how much she cared about Atsuya. Hiro wanted to give one to Hikari, but it went horribly wrong.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: See the picture above. When the game begins, the participants are all wearing animal-head masks. The “Malevolent” part depends on the individual person though.
  • Mood Whiplash: The final chapter. Hiro and Hikari have finished their revenge and say they are now free to start a new life, when Hiro suddenly falls ill and Hikari reveals that she poisoned him because he, too, had a hand in Atsuya's death.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Asami wears a dress that shows her cleavage, represents the sin of lust and has a habit of trying to seduce Hiro in order to get him to do what she wants.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hiro lying to his brother, which leads to him getting run over by a truck.
  • Oblivious to Love: Hikari doesn't seem to pick up on just who Hiro keeps alluding to liking...
  • Plot Hole: One gets the impression that The Reveal was not planned out by Tonogai, given that there quite a lot of events that contradict it:
    • In the first chapter Hiro reacts with shock at the rabbit mask (even though he would have been the one who put it on), mentions being knocked out by someone on the way from school (which never happened) and reacts in horror when he sees the Pig Guy's corpse (even though he orchestrated his death, has killed a man and is planning to kill several more).
    • Near the end, it is shown that Hiro was the one who killed Nobuyuki and was standing outside the room pushing the door forwards when Kazu committed suicide. Problem is that every scene between their last appearances and when their corpses are shown are from Hiro's perspective and there is no gap of time for him to be there.
    • Indeed, there are numerous instances where Hiro is shown thinking about his desire to survive and acts like he has no idea what's going on, when there is no one else in the room. One wonders why he acts like that when he's the culprit.
  • The Reveal: Quite a handful of them. Hiro and Hikari are the masterminds behind the Judge game. The unknown man who they find is the driver who ran over Atsuya. And the group are all the children of the jury, and judge, of the trial to determine the driver's sentence.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Aside from Kazu (as he's The Mole), Rina and her mother (She was the only one who refused the bribe) who are most likely only there to complete the 9, this turns out to be the reason behind the Judge game. It's not the group themselves who have committed huge sins that are being judged, but their parents are punished for their sins by having to see their children dying.
  • Seven Deadly Sins:
    • Lion: Pride. Hayato and his father were both prideful men. The former for believing he was better than everyone else and scheming to take his father's place and the latter for being a judge and how he feels all his trails are fair and just.
    • Rabbit: Envy. Of the seven sins in this story, [Envy has the most importance. Hiro changed the time of Atsuya's date with Hikari, purely because he was jealous of their relationship, which lead not only to Atsuya's death but also to the creation of the game Judge.
    • Cat: Lust. Asami was sexually abused by her father, which in turn led her to becoming a rather seductive women as shown when done to Hiro. Kazu was actually homosexual and is disowned by his family.
    • Bear: Sloth. Nobuyuki was a Hikkikomori who kills his mother because she has nothing good to say to her neighbours about her son.
    • Pig: Gluttony. Miku was rather fat and unattractive who despised her appearance and so forced her grandfather to pay money for her to have plastic surgery.
    • Fox: Greed. Unknown as Rina's sin was never revealed (she may not even have one), in fact if anything this sin is subverted as Rina's mother refused to accept the bribe from the trial.
    • Horse: Wrath. Ryuhei was the vocalist of a boys' band who hates being looked down upon.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Hayato wears square-framed glasses and was a law student before getting involved in the Judge game.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Hiro and Hikari have finished their master revenge plan, got the sinners, ranging from the drunk driver who ran over Atsuya to the offspring of the paid-off jury to lessen his sentence and the corrupt judge, their just desserts, they talk about how they are now free and can start a new life... cue Hiro falling ill, with Hikari admitting that she poisoned him because she found out he's indirectly responsible for Atsuya's death.
  • The Lost Lenore: Atsuya. His death not only had a huge impact on Hiro's and Hikari's life, it’s also the thing that caused the Judge game to even be created.
  • Two Dun It: Just like in Doubt, there’s two culprits, but Hikari and Hiro are working together rather than one being subordinate to the other.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Hiro towards Hikari. His attempt at changing this caused a huge problem.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Hiro is one or so it seems.
  • Yandere: Hikari. She is the other mastermind behind an elaborate revenge plan against the people who had a hand in her boyfriend's death. And she even kills her boyfriend's brother because his actions indirectly caused her boyfriend to die.