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Manga / Tomodachi Game

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

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...

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

It received an anime adaptation by Okuruto Noboru, which began airing on April 2022.

Unrelated to Tomodachi Life.

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:

  • 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...
  • Asshole Victim: Non-fatal, but what makes Yuuichi A Lighter Shade of Black despite his extremely questionable behaviour is that many of his opponents deserve what he delivers unto them.
    • To an extent, Taneda's fate was unfair, given that he's framed into looking like he was about to rape Miyabe... but up until that point, he'd been such a sleazy, misogynistic jerk that absolutely no one feels sorry for him.
    • Kuroki is given a fitting Humiliation Conga for a defeat, after all the Kick the Dog moments he was responsible for.
    • Kamishiro is dealt the harshest fate out of the Big Bad Ensemble in his debut round, as he's utterly humiliated by Group C and is knocked out and sold by Shinji, unlike Mishima and Kaidou who don't horribly mind teaming up with Yuuichi after their defeat, but also unlike the two who had a Hidden Heart of Gold, Kamishiro had no redeeming qualities to speak of.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The Kaidou Group are all sharply dressed, with their Yakuza vibe.
  • Bait the Dog: Yuuichi and Kaidou bond during the Friends' Murder round, developing a bantering father-son dynamic... and then Yuuichi backstabs Kaidou. Subverted when it's revealed it was part of Yuuichi's ploy, and he and Kaidou remain allies.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • In the fake round set up by Kuroki, just as it seems Kuroki's about to kill Yuuichi in anger, Tsukino and the Tomodachi game administration enter the scene on time to arrest the former and save the latter.
    • In the Friends' Murder round, Kei and Satone are unable to escape the zombies, but are saved in the nick of time by Yutori and Shinji. Though things only go From Bad to Worse there.
    • When Yutori is about sic the zombies on Michiru and co., under suspicion that Kei might've told them something, Mishima and Shibe arrive on the scene. Unfortunately, it's then subverted when Subaru Gaku appears and reveals he works for Yutori, but double subverted when Shiho shows up to save them.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Invoked and Played for Laughs when Tenji, in order to convince the audience that he's gay and in love with Yuuichi, dramatically kisses him. It works!
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Most opponents in the later rounds tend to be this, given that veterans of the game are most likely accomplished liars. Among the main cast, however:
    • 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.
    • Eventually, it's revealed that while Shiho may not be one after al, Yutori is absolutely one, as her entire Shrinking Violet personality was a lie and she is, in fact, manipulative and vicious and has possibly hated everyone around her all along.
  • Bound and Gagged: Shibe in the fourth round, gagged and bound in a straitjacket. Kokorogi was found bound and gagged in a side arc
  • 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 act 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.
  • 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.
  • Deadly Game: The titular Tomodachi Game, where losing can leave you millions of yen in debt.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: While there are those who develop a grudge towards Group C, some of their enemies end up becoming allies in subsequent rounds. Notably, Kei who tags along out of personal interest towards Yuuichi, and Mishima and the Kaidou duo (better the enemy you know than the enemy you don't, and aligned interest). Particularly notable in Mishima's case, given that Kei had sliced off his finger, Yuuichi had threatened to murder him, and Satone had trounced him and took all his money, and yet he seemed to like them more because of this.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: In addition of singing the opening theme song of the anime, Nana Mizuki also voices the administrator Reiko Tamai.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Doubling as The Starscream, but the admins are unsurprised when Shinji, seemingly Kamishiro's right-hand man, discreetly betrays him at the last moment. He then goes on to become The Dragon for... Yutori.
  • 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.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Despite initially being enemies in the first half of the Adult Tomodachi Game, Kei, Mishima, and Satone end up working together in the second half when they impromptu find each other and are forced to fight against new enemies.
  • 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.
  • Gambit Roulette: The hide and seek arc had Yuuichi fully rely on his opponent’s moves in order to succeed rather than his own
  • Gambit Pileup: The backbiting sugoroku arc is a good example of this.
  • Good All Along: Just as there are characters who hide underneath a friendly facade, there are those who are more altruistic than they appear.
    • While he was an enemy in his debut round, Kei is revealed to have been working with Yuuichi all along in the next round he appears in, all the while keeping up the image of someone who hates Yuuichi for his past defeat.
    • Despite being presented as The Mole, it's suggested that Shiho was merely framed and is in fact one of the good guys.
    • "Good" is perhaps stretching it, but Miyabe's actions in the first Adult Tomodachi Game were to test Shibe, and so she was actually working with Yuuichi all along.
    • Kaidou Tsukasa eventually reveals that he's working with the police to take down the Tomodachi Game.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: In the All-Bet game, Yuuichi's worth is zero, meaning there's no apparent merit in selling him—in a game where you need to sell your team members for money. However, this allows him to freely and discreetly join and leave the room where the sold members stay, as he just sells and re-buys himself, which ends up being a key factor in his victory.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: After showing their true colours, Yutori gleefully admits to Shibe that she's always hated him for calling her by her first name, which is apparently something of a Berserk Button.
  • He Knows Too Much: The traitor in the Adult Tomodachi Game, in order to hide their status as such, promptly begins trying to off anyone who knows or anyone who might have been told.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Mishima, when commenting to Group C on Yuuichi being his usual Creepy Good self:
    Mishima: Though I'm not in the position to say this... your leader is such a bad guy!
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: An almost literal inversion. When it seems like Kei will lose his fight against Mishima by virtue of being unable to knock him out of bounds, as his dominant hand is busted, he promptly punches him with his other hand and reveals that he's ambidextrous.
  • Just as Planned: Yuuichi shows this in the third round when everything goes according to his plans
  • 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.
  • Nightmare Face: The traitor (i.e. Yutori) tends to sport these after The Reveal, with absolutely unsettling large Dull Eyes of Unhappiness.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: In a side chapter, a New Transfer Student tries to seduce Tenji. He completely ignores her.
    Yukiko: What's with this guy... does he have sexual anesthesia or something?
  • 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.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Much of Miyabe and Shibe's conflict could've been avoided if Miyabe had known that Shibe "abandoned" his mother not for personal greed, but so that he could pay off Miyabe's debt, as Shibe himself sheepishly acknowledges.
  • 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.
  • Restored My Faith in Humanity: Shibe manages to do this for a few of his opponents in the Adult Tomodachi Game, as his simpleminded kindness gives them the chance to trust another person again.
  • 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.
    • In the first Adult Tomodachi Game, Miyabe puts Shibe through a test to see if he still has his humanity, unlike his father, and would choose protecting someone over money. He passes in a heartbeat.
  • 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.
  • Take a Third Option: When told to either abandon his ally and run away or to resign from the game, in which case his enemy will save his ally, Kei chooses neither and flings himself off the cliff to join Satone, hoping that this turn of events will serve as a clue to Yuuichi.
  • 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.
    • Shaken by the reveal that one of his friends was lying and hated him this entire time, Shibe is relieved when Shiho punches him by reflex, as it gives him hope that Shiho's personality up until then had been genuine, unlike Yutori's.
  • Wham Line: Tenji in Ch. 11.
    Tenji: You see, Yuuichi... this is my second Tomodachi Game.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Hyakutarou in the third round is very chivalrous. Of course, Yuuichi uses this against him.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Most of the games are this, especially as more opponents are added and new developments shake up the game. It's part of what makes Yuuichi scarily effective, as his opponents are often busy wondering about what so-and-so is secretly up to. In contrast, it simply doesn't matter to Yuuichi; only his immediate friends are officially safe. Otherwise, he promptly uses (and frequently disposes of) anyone and everyone, even if they might have benevolent intentions.