The second game in Subarashiki Kono Sekai takes a turn for the worse as the entire game ends up compromised by the Taboo Noise that Minamimoto has been drawing towards players and reapers alike. But while Neku grapples with whether he wants to continue trusting Joshua as a partner, he continues to lose his trust as the reasons to distrust him keep on piling up.
One thing that’s been amusing about the second Reapers’ Game is how messy all of the details are for all involved. For the reapers, the free-for-all that Minamimoto created by scattering Taboo Noise has gotten bad enough that Uzuki and Kariya have to hash out the issue with Konishi.
It has that humorous office dispute vibe to it where you have to complain about your co-worker’s hostile behavior and hope that the higher-ups don’t drag their feet in calling attention to them. It also creates a funny situation where you know there should have been a massive standoff between Beat and Neku, but because of the Taboo Noise situation, the big climactic feud is once again placed on hold because Minamimoto is making life harder for all parties involved.
It also becomes morbidly hilarious to see Neku having to undergo his character development right when he has every right to be distant and distrustful of everyone around him. Sota and Nao are adorable side-characters, but their devotion to one another makes it harder for him to push Joshua away when Sota gives him a wholesome pep-talk about building faithful bonds with the people you want to protect. It’s all well-intentioned and actually helps to plant a seed in Neku’s mind to reflect on everyone he’s had a healthy bond with up till now.
It’s moments like this and his fanboying of CAT that help to humanize Neku and get him from being as emotionally distant as he hoped he could be. The latter of which also creates a funny moment where he kicks himself in the pants for learning that Hanekoma was CAT all along, meaning that he’s been speaking with him this whole time as if he was just an ally and not his biggest idol that he should have been fawning over. It was some great comedy in an otherwise bleak series of events on Neku’s behalf.
All of his misfortune is all thanks to Joshua and his constant truth-bombs that only aim to give Neku more to be angry at him about. Every little development that could make Neku warm up to Joshua is constantly dashed away by something devious on Joshua’s behalf, whether it be the fact that he murdered him, the fact that he wants to rope him around town to take out the conductor for his own personal interest in taking over Shibuya, or the fact that he’s been alive this whole time.
The latter of which ends up being the most damning detail Joshua has been conveniently leaving out up until Kariya let the two of them know that the beams he fired off (also known as the “Jesus Beams”) are forbidden because he’s a living player in a game for the dead. From then on, that’s the kind of fact that gets under Neku’s skin the most because of how blatantly soulless it is to be alive and choose to infiltrate a game that the souls of the dead are trapped in against their will for personal gain.
In another cryptic message from Joshua, he’s also looking to offer Neku salvation of his own, but it’d be hard to believe after learning he murdered Neku and followed him all the way down to the Reapers’ Game where he’d continue to stalk him up until he got the opportunity to partner up with him. For Neku to not only have to partner up and get along with his murderer but then come to learn that his murderer set it up this way as a means to overtake Shibuya and the game itself is more demented than a mere slap in the face could provide. Not sure how much the salvation Joshua has in mind for Neku will make him want to forgive him, but it might just be enough for him to cooperate with him for the remainder of the Reaper’s Game.