With the continuing rise of Netflix’s newest trending show “Squid Game” I couldn’t help but find the concept oddly familiar. If you’re like me, throughout the whole series I found “Squid Game” kind of copying other lesser known series that have done the whole “horror psychological game show” idea first. However, nothing against Squid Game, it’s still a pretty good show and deserves the attention, but it is a bit overhyped. Especially, when the next few series I will be mentioning are better in my opinion.
Ok let’s first begin with the basic plot of Squid Game. It’s about indebted people, who are desperate for money and join this underground game show in order to win some financial freedom. But, what the contestants weren’t aware of, is that if you fail to pass all six games, you will be eliminated, e.g. killed. Now, from here many fans have already connected this show to the famous series, Hunger Games, back in the early 2010s era; where a dystopian city forces a group of teenagers to fight to death in a battle royale like situation. Sounds similar?
Yet, there are two more shows that are even more similar to Squid Game, believe it or not.
Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
First, is Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor (2007), like the title assumes, is about an indebted main character, Kaiji, who also finds himself gambling in a life or death situation in an illegal underground mafia.
Here’s the actual synopsis from MyAnimeList if you want to see further similarities:
Kaiji Itou is a good-for-nothing loiterer who spends his days drinking beer and stealing hubcaps—that is, until he ends up being tricked by his former co-worker. Unable to suddenly repay his friend’s huge debt all by himself, Kaiji is offered a shady deal to participate in an illegal underground gamble on a cruise ship. This turns out to be nothing more than the beginning of his new life of hell—thrown headlong into a life-threatening roller coaster of mind games, cheating, and deceit.MyAnimeList “Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor”
It’s insane, because if you just switch out certain character names and gambling aspects to Korean children’s games, it’s basically the same show. The only thing is that Kaiji builds their show around his wit and skills, while “Squid Game” focuses more on the emotional aspects and making the audience sympathize and pity the characters.
Even from the games played in Kaiji must be highly influenced in Squid Game, from the tightrope walk with a fall to death and the infamous marble game:
Moving on, the second series that “Squid Game” is similar to is an older manga called “Liar Game” (2005) which later was adapted into a Japanese TV drama in 2007. To start, the manga introduces the “liar game” where two contestants are delivered a mysterious package with one million yen and are supposed to bring the money back to a secret location with all the money still intact or there would be negative consequences. However, if a player manages to steal the second player’s money, any excess money will be theirs to keep. Thus, developing the “prisoner’s dilemma” which if you don’t know, is basically a psychological mind game that plays on people’s trust:
Starring our main character, Nao Kanzaki, a morally naive good person, seeks help from a con-artist, Shinichi Akiyama, for help in surviving this deadly game. From there, the intensity of Liar Game is only increased as they make their way to first place in uncovering the sinister game origins.
Also, if you haven’t seen any of these shows/series I highly recommend it, since you already enjoyed Squid Game. As all three of these series are psychological thrillers based on master manipulation, impacts of greed, and high stakes gambling.
Thank you so much for reading! Comment down below your thoughts on these similarities