American independent game studio Team Salvato developed the visual novel Doki Doki Literature Club! in September 2017. It was initially released on itch.io, later becoming available on Steam. Doki Doki fooled its audience by presenting itself as another typical dating simulator; however, questions were soon raised when players noticed that the game was listed under the "horror" category.
Doki Doki Literature Club! received mixed reviews and stirred up some controversy upon release. While many players were thoroughly impressed by its daring narrative, others were outraged by the misleading content and exposure to sensitive themes. Its disturbing story earned a notorious reputation and a faithful following, so despite the kickback, Doki Doki became an overnight sensation. An age restriction applies to access the content -- people must be 13 or older to play.
What Is Doki Doki Literature Club?
As a first-person romance, Doki Doki assigns the MC (main character) role to the player, who becomes the object of infatuation for four prospective dates. The MC chooses their love interest and aims to impress them with flattery and poetry. Subtle hints suggest that all is not as it seems, and in turn, each girl begins an alarming mental decline that yields "deadly" results.
Sayori, Yuri and Natsuki all perish, leaving only Monika, the Literature Club President, along with the MC. Monika claims the MC for herself and promises an eternity together against their will. To punish Monika and alter the player's fate, Doki Doki has a hidden mechanic that allows the MC to delete Monika's character file on their computer. Doing so will ultimately reset the in-game reality and revive the fallen girls. Monika can be referred to as a "yandere" -- a violently possessive individual driven by their passion for their love interest.
Mature themes are present throughout the game, as references to mental illness, suicide, self-harm and physical abuse all appear within the narrative. Doki Doki's psychological impact is substantial, but its audacity is admirable; the implications of mental illness and physical well-being are delivered with direct force and conviction.
What Is Doki Doki Literature Club Plus?
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is a reimagined version of the original game that was released by Dan Salvato in Summer 2021. It includes HD visuals, six new side stories to play through, 13 additional music tracks and 100+ unlockable images. When Doki Doki was first released in 2017, its access was limited, but the re-release additionally allows it to be played on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Could Doki Doki Literature Club Be Expanded Into An Anime Series?
As the upcoming HBO exclusive The Last of Us has proven, successful video games being converted into television series are entirely possible and becoming increasingly popular. Doki Doki Literature Club! has less capability for development in terms of straying from the original concept, but its fans have compensated for the limited narrative directions. Many alternate ending suggestions have been posted online; should the developers find themselves short on inspiration, they know where to look.
Dedicated fans have concocted their own imaginative ideas as to how the Doki Doki story could progress. While the central plot point focuses on the four girls fawning over the MC, large portions of the community also have preferences for pairing specific characters. Fanart depicts couples involving either Yuri and Natsuki or Sayori and Monika respectively, as it is believed the schoolgirls may be romantically interested in one another as well. While these are the most common pairings, all four girls have been depicted as interchangeable in their romantic pursuits with one another. Presumably, exploring the true desires of the club members would satisfy fans based on the content circling popular social media sites.
It goes without saying that Doki Doki would need to be fleshed out and primed for a potential anime series. Most importantly, the MC would need his/her/their own backstory and identity solidified within the canon universe rather than a customizable personality. However, as long as the writing is strong, an anime series for Doki Doki is reasonably doable. Many voice actors would no doubt be jumping at the chance to voice the likes of Sayori, Yuri, Natsuki and Monika.
Doki Doki Literature Club! is a 2D psychological horror, so its animation style only allows for limited expressions, poses and personalities for each character. The environment is also restricted to what the audience can see without a range of camera movement. Producing an anime series would grant the audience an all-new perspective of the universe and its characters, eliminating the awkward motion of 2D models.
Nonetheless, there is nothing preventing Doki Doki from becoming an anime series. So long as its creators are willing to put in the time and effort, the potential is certainly there for such a show to gain plenty of popularity, both from already-existing game fans and those new to the franchise.