It hits the fan with the fifth episode of Subarashiki Kono Sekai when Joshua starts to invest his efforts into getting Neku roped into missions of his choosing. But while it’s usually a good idea to let your partner do all the work for you on a group project, the ulterior motive of having Neku see exactly why Joshua wanted to invest time in him ends up being a fascinating jaw-dropper.
The discrepancies between the first and second Reapers’ Game are interesting because of where the main focus ends up prioritizing itself. While the first one introduced you to the tasks you have to do if you want to stay alive, the second one deconstructs these missions as soon as many of its participants act in bad faith.
For instance, Minamimoto goes completely AWOL to let the Taboo Noise do much of the work for him in eliminating anyone around him. It would be one thing if this was only the players, but the Taboo Noise were also sicced on other Reapers like Uzaki and Kariya. Meanwhile, Minamimoto himself is taking a leisurely stroll around town, scattering piles of debris wherever he goes for his own amusement. With no missions being issued and the amount of destruction being left in Minamimoto’s wake, it’ll be a matter of time before other fellow reapers will have to look into Neku’s second game going a little too off the beaten path.
The biggest twist, however, comes from the number of strings Joshua was pulling to let Neku know that he was responsible for his death. While the game eases you into this reveal by having you get better adjusted to Joshua’s quirkier personality first, Neku’s trust in Joshua is merely gained in the anime through his need to survive against the Taboo Noise. Joshua’s screentime is mostly spent alluding to his treachery with how he’s a little too familiar with the game and regular fixtures like Hanekoma, how he purposefully made his way into the Reapers’ Game to be paired up with Neku for this grand occasion, and how he’s pretty much leading Neku into a trap.
It does make it all the more painful to learn about all this considering Neku’s state of mind throughout this section. Even though he decides to be a better partner with Joshua, he is entirely isolated in the second game considering how distant Joshua is as a person. There’s no Shiki, and his reminder of this comes even harsher when he has to tell both Hanekoma and the gyaru couple that she ended up being his entry fee back into the game and rebirth just isn’t in the cards. The one thing that perks him up is learning that CAT is somewhere around Shibuya considering how much he idolized CAT’s graffiti. Likewise, his old stomping grounds in Udagawa also proved to be one topic that didn’t cause him to default to hating everyone around him. And yet, it’s still used another way to devastate Neku with the recollection of how he really kicked the bucket and how he’s been helping his murderer this whole time.