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Manga / Tomodachi Game

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In this world, there's something more important than money. It's friends.

Tomodachi Game (Friendship Game) is a Psychological Thriller manga written by Mikoto Yamaguchi, illustrated by Yuuki Satou, and published by Kodansha.

Yuuichi Katagiri is confident that he and his group of friends will stay close, now and forever. He's even managed to save up enough money to go on the school trip with them, despite being dead broke all the time.

However, his life takes an unexpected turn when he and his friends are subsequently kidnapped. They're told that one of them carries a debt suspiciously exact to the class's funds for the school trip—mysteriously stolen earlier—and that said debt has now been divided among them. To pay it off, they are made play the Tomodachi Game: a game where, to win, you must not doubt your friends.

It should've been simple, but it doesn't take long before cracks begin to form. And then, worst of all, Yuuichi realizes there's a traitor in their group—one who seems determined to tear apart their friendship no matter what...


Warning: Tomodachi Game is a series heavily dependent on twists and characters being more than they appear. Therefore, spoilers ahead are inevitable.

Tomodachi Game contains examples of:

  • Adorkable: Hyakutarou from the "Friendship Hide-and-Seek" round: hot-headed, but also sweet to women and incredibly loyal to his captain, in an awkward sort of way.
  • Anti-Hero: Yuuichi's undeniably one of the more heroic characters in the series, but that doesn't stop him from threatening bodily harm on people, at one point shoving Maria off a cliff (at a non-fatal height, and he knew someone would save her, but still), etc.
    • He's also forcing Kokorogi to do... SOMETHING at the end of volume seven involving stripping to her underwear while he takes pictures, grinning a Slasher Smile the entire time. Presumably it's for the greater good, but...
  • Bad Liar: Shibe, who tends to get flustered every time he lies. This ends up being an important point—see Cannot Keep a Secret.
  • Batman Gambit: Being a Manipulative Bastard, Yuuichi likes to come up with these.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
    • Yutori's normally Prone to Tears, but the "Backbiting Sugoroku" round shows how vicious she can be. Admittedly, she was faking it, but it paints a picture of how she might act for real.
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    • Yuuichi's generally the Nice Guy of the group, but realizing that there's a traitor among the group brings out his tougher (if slightly psychotic) side, and it stays there.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Lampshaded in the "Friendship Hide-and-Seek" round, where Tenji points out that Yuuichi's timing of bringing him food and water was awfully convenient. Yuuichi admit to having gotten there earlier and staying quiet to observe the scene for a couple of minutes.
    • Yuuichi plays it straight in the fourth round, where he arrives in the nick of time to overturn Shibe's sentence and get him acquitted.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
    • The traitor, obviously. Sort of. While Tenji initially comes off as a Jerkass once his true colours are revealed, he quickly mellows back into his original personality. If anything, he's actually nicer than before!
    • Shibe comes off as a bit two-faced, seemingly saying/doing nice things just to look good. Though it's possible that this is partly biased due to Tenji's Jade-Colored Glasses, as Shibe is ultimately one of the most well-intentioned characters in the series, albeit horribly Innocently Insensitive.
    • There are hints that Shiho is one, if the person claiming this is to be believed.
  • Bound and Gagged: Shibe in the fourth round, gagged and bound in a straitjacket.
  • Break the Cutie: The game is very hard on the two most naive members of the group.
    • Being Prone to Tears made the entire game difficult enough for Yutori, but in the second round, her Dark and Troubled Past is outed, and later, in one (illegitimate) round where either she or Yuuichi must offer themselves up for sequential torture, the guilt at constantly letting Yuuichi do it comes close to crushing her.
    • Offer yourself up as a scapegoat during the second round because you think you have nothing to hide? Sorry, Shibe, it turns out that your dad's a scumbag and now all of your friends are going to alienate themselves from you! Oh, and now you're falsely being accused of murder. And then everything that happens to him after the second round gets so much worse.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Yuuichi attempts this at the end of the second round, putting up a Jerkass Façade to make his friends think that he never cared about them as he continues to the third round alone—well, until Tenji joins him, at least.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Shibe, which is how Yuuichi realizes that Tenji—who accuses Shibe of writing the first Kageuchi—is the traitor. After all, Tenji should know that Shibe couldn't be spilling anyone's secrets at this stage; not only would nobody dare to tell him their secrets for this reason, he would've already told everyone by now.
  • Celibate Hero: Yuuichi flat-out admits that he doesn't really know much about romance, and seems disinterested in it despite being a Chick Magnet. Tenji also seems to have had no interest all his life, stating that he's straight but that he also doesn't care for women—-and after the mess with Shiho, he's probably never going to.
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Yuuichi, being Oblivious to Love, doesn't realize at first that both Yutori and Shiho like him. Though Shiho might be faking it.
  • Creepy Good: Yuuichi. Out of context, you wouldn't expect the guy with a tendency to make Slasher Smiles and Psychotic Smirks to be the hero.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: It's not difficult to understand how the traitor became a paranoid jerk after having his closest friends betray him and his father dying under suspicious circumstances and likely by the hand of his best friend, with everyone he could count on now either dead or possibly behind everything.
  • Daddy's Girl: Shiho inherited her sense of justice from her police officer father.
  • Deadly Game: The titular Tomodachi Game, where losing can leave you millions of yen in debt.
  • Determinator: Tenji in the third round, where he manages to persevere through dehydration and starvation out of faith in Yuuichi.
  • Establishing Character Moment
    • In the main group, a single moment establishes each of the friends' personality:
      • Shibe expresses joy over Yuuichi having saved enough for the trip, but mentions that his father could've covered it: Shibe's a friendly rich kid, but not entirely sensitive.
      • Shiho chides Shibe for his insensitivity: she's tough with a strong sense of justice.
      • Tenji defuses the situation, pointing out Shibe's nature: he's calm and diplomatic.
      • Yutori, when asked, has nothing to add: she's quiet and shy.
    • Group K, similarly, demonstrates the personalities of each member in go:
      • Juuzou expresses sympathy over how Group C has only two people: he's a Gentle Giant.
      • Chisato expresses disappointment over how Group C is all male: he's The Casanova.
      • Kei gently scolds Chisato for his rudeness, albeit with a smile: he's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
      • Hyakutarou is pissed off and asks Group C if they wanna have a go: he's the Hot-Blooded one.
      • Banri expresses contempt with a passive face: he's The Stoic.
  • A Friend in Need:
    • In the first round, after believing that Shibe, Shiho, and Tenji have all chosen to betray the group, Yuuichi considers doing the same, before realizing that he can't, if only for the sake of Yutori, who considers him her only real friend.
    • The fourth round is essentially about seeing how far the others are willing to go for one Makoto Shibe even after being given reasons to give up instead.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Shibe, who is prone to running his mouth and doing as he pleases without considering how it might hurt others.
  • Last Stand: The Tomodachi Game is, for all intents and purposes, this for Tenji who, after being threatened into silence, believes that this is his last and only chance at uncovering the truth behind Shiho.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Tenji's father was this for him, especially after being betrayed by his friends. Suffice to say that losing him as well broke him hard.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The traitor is one, playing the other friends against one another. Unfortunately for them, Yuuichi is a bigger one.
  • The Mole: It's Tenji... though if he's to be believed, the "real" traitor is, in fact, Shiho.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Usually used to suggest that something is up with a character.
    • Yuuichi first believes that Shiho is the one with the debt, due her decision not to investigate into the matter despite her righteous personality. As she reveals to him, though, she actually thought it was Yuuichi, and she wanted to keep quiet as she's in love with him and thus didn't want to out him.
    • Yuuichi rightly suspects the traitor's identity due to such a moment, as Tenji should normally be level-headed enough to realize that Shibe couldn't have written the Kageuchi.
  • Power of Trust: The group is told at the beginning to trust their friends, and indeed, the game is designed to be won if they can hold themselves to that—keyword being if. Examples where sheer trust manages to prevail include:
    • In the third round, Tenji has to literally bet his life on his faith towards Yuuichi, as he risks dying from dehydration if Yuuichi abandons him. Realizing that this game is his Last Stand regardless, Tenji chooses to place all of his hopes on him. Thankfully, it pays off and Yuuichi gives him his trust in return, in a moment that shakes Tenji to the core.
      Tenji: Getting back something you've lost once is... really painful...
    • In the fourth round, Tenji comes close to abandoning Shibe, as it becomes more and more difficult to believe in Shibe's virtue, with few pragmatic reasons to support him. With a push from Yuuichi, however, Tenji manages to find his faith once more, and he tells Manabu, he may not have a solid reason to believe in Shibe, but he's going to nevertheless. It's what his father would've done, after all.
  • Prone to Tears: Yutori, who lacks the emotional strength to handle the Tomodachi Game. It's why Yuuichi tries to keep her in the dark for as long as he can.
  • Secret Test of Character: Yuuichi puts Tenji through one in the third round, seeing as how Tenji had betrayed everyone in the secound round, by not telling him his plan and seeing whether or not Tenji will choose to trust him anyway. As mntioned under Power of Trust, Tenji pulls a Determinator and does.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Shibe may or may not be this, as it's unclear if he did kill his father or was simply framed for it, seeing as how Shibe himself has no idea what happened.
  • Sixth Ranger: Kei Shinomiya, following the events of the main group's first adult Tomodachi Game, joins the protagonists' team, Group C. Only time will tell if this will stick.
  • The Stoic: Tenji at first, though he proves himself to be Not So Stoic in the second round, finally fed up with Shibe's Innocently Insensitive behaviour. That said, he was faking it, but he still proves to be Not So Stoic in other ways, such as losing it when Yuuichi gets the better of him. In general, while far from the likes of Shibe or Yutori, he proves to be much more emotive than before after The Reveal.
  • Teen Genius: Tenji of the academic sort. And manipulative sort. Yuuichi is one of the Manipulative Bastard variety.
  • Transparent Closet: Inverted. Tenji is straight, but pretends to be gay and in love with Yuuichi so that he can enter the third round with him.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Life is not kind to Shibe. As mentioned under Break the Cutie, he's the recipient of numerous nasty reveals (one of which was complete bullshit), and if you thought things would look up for him afterwards, nope. For petty reasons/reasons that aren't even his fault, he gets horribly bullied at school. At home, his father displays his full dickish colours and drops a bomb on him. Then, he wakes up to find himself covered in blood and his father dead, at which point he's promptly arrested and ushered in the next round of the game, where people accuse him of crimes he didn't commit like raping Shiho and his friends nearly abandon him. He comes this close to being left with an insurmountable debt that he could never hope to pay off, effectively sentencing him to hell—thankfully, Yuuichi pulls a Big Damn Heroes, and life finally stops kicking Shibe down (or at least stops kicking him in particular).
  • True Companions:
    • Double subverted for the main group. It doesn't take long at all for their friendship to start falling apart, but as time goes on and they learn more about one another, they (sans a certain member) find new reasons to trust each other for real and begin their friendship anew.
    • Group K in "Friendship Hide-and-Seek" is initially presented as this. Yuuichi's plan involves changing that.
  • The Vamp: Shiho is suggested to be this.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Needless to say that the traitor deals with this.
    • Yuuichi asks if they really felt nothing for their friends or, at least, the friends that aren't Shiho. Although Tenji initially affirms that yes, they were all just pawns he was using in his investigation, Yuuichi calls him out on the lie: while his perception of friendship is somewhat warped thanks to his past experience, Tenji did come to care for Yutori and Shibe in spite of himself.
    • Similarly, Yuuichi's relieved to find that Tenji's original dependable personality wasn't a complete lie, as Tenji proves himself to be reliable in the third round.
  • Wham Line: Tenji in Ch. 11.
    Tenji: You see, Yuuichi... this is my second Tomodachi Game.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Tenji was running a business in middle school! It's tragically played with, though, in that for all of his smarts, Tenji was still a teenager who depended on his father for emotional support, and losing that was not easy for him.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Hyakutarou in the third round is very chivalrous. Of course, Yuuichi uses this against him.

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