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Kimodameshi, usually translated as "test of courage," is a game similar to going to an amusement park Haunted House. Pairs of teenagers (frequently couples, but sometimes it's Not a Date) negotiate a course at night that's set up to be as scary as possible; the path usually leads past carefully-designed eerie scenes, out of which an actor in a ghost costume will occasionally leap to increase the shock factor. It basically identical to PG-rated American-style haunted houses - and, like haunted houses worldwide, it's a chance to give teenagers an excuse to cling to each other.

Kimodameshi is primarily a Japanese cultural artifact; it differs from a Western Scare Dare game in that the kimodameshi is more organized, and works like an ad hoc adolescent Rite of Passage.

It's also an excellent excuse for the writers to spotlight a Love Dodecahedron or push along a Slap Slap Kiss relationship. Teams are sometimes randomly assigned, which gives plenty of chances for characters to regret being paired with the "wrong" partner....

Frequently seen in the Festival Episode.

Compare Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb, Scare Dare.

Examples of Kimodameshi include:

  • One of the late stories of Ranma ½ sends the cast, paired off, into a "Cave of Lost Love" that really is haunted as part of a plot by Ukyo Kuonji (plus Shampoo in the OVA) to break up Ranma and Akane. The plan backfires quite spectacularly on Ukyo and Ryoga Hibiki, and may even have been intended as Ship Sinking by the author: comparing Ukyo and Ryoga's selfish alliance of convenience (which has only just escaped breaking apart due to Ryoga's own difficulty with controlling his emotions) to Ranma and Akane's bickering and angry banter, the ghosts conclude that Ranma and Akane hate each other, while Ryoga and Ukyo are one of the happy couples they seek to break up. They promptly start ignoring Ranma and Akane to try and break up Ryoga and Ukyo, ignoring their protests that they aren't the couple here. The backstory to the Cave of Lost Love heavily implies that, after this experience, they will never be able to become a couple- this is all but made explicit in the manga version, which ends with a scene of Ryoga and Ukyo fighting bitterly over whose fault this was.
    • Possible related to this trope is the "zombie-demon show" that Mousse takes his date to at the end of one late manga story. Unfortunately for him, as his date is Shampoo, she does not find it romantic or frightening in the slightest and is instead angrily disgusted, beating Mousse up and leaving him there for his troubles.
  • Family Compo with Masahiko and Shion at a festival on a Not a Date, supposedly testing whether participants are a "real couple". They pass, of course.
  • Hana Yori Dango
  • Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl
  • Marmalade Boy
  • Sailor Moon
  • Cardcaptor Sakura used this theme as a vehicle for one of the Cards in the first season.
    • This also worked very well with Sakura's fear of ghosts in a few episodes.
  • One episode of Keroro Gunsou had Momoka suggest the group do this, as part of her latest scheme to get closer to Fuyuki.
    • Same in the manga, where things are complicated by running into a real ghost, one of a Japanese fighter pilot from World War II who briefly bonds with the frogs.
    • In the English version of the manga, "Kimodameshi" was translated to "Playing Chicken."
  • Love Hina sends its chaotic cast through a "haunted house" as part of its Festival Episode, with semipredictable results.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka did this during the Okinawa class trip (and had plenty of Japanese horror movie references sprinkled throughout).
    • Not only, it also referenced The Thing, with a head-spider that had Onizuka's facial features!
  • Ouran High School Host Club held a kimodameshi tournament for Halloween, the prize going to the builders of the scariest haunted house.
  • Similarly to the Ouran High School Host Club entry just above, class 3-A of Mahou Sensei Negima builds a haunted house (complete with an actual ghost) for the gigantic, no-holds-barred festival that is Mahorafest. Given that most of the class adores Negi, there's a lot of fighting over who gets to escort him through it.
  • Dennou Coil also featured a kimodameshi competition, made more interesting by the use of digital horrors. It's nice to note that, among the usual monsters, the digital creatures also included The Greys, Chupacabras and the Flatwoods monster.
    • Also, the ability to shoot back..
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan spoofed this, with the main character commenting that he expects cat robots from the future, nurse-witches, reindeer who are doctors, or moving castles to pop out...
  • Code Geass has this in the school festival episode of Season 1; Kallen plays a tombstone/Nurikabe hybrid, and ends up scaring Ougi and Viletta who pass by on a date.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 4 has a Boktai-based one in the amusement park.
  • Variety shows on Japanese TV have gotten a lot of mileage out of sending their hosts or other well-known talents through supposedly haunted buildings.
  • Natsume Yuujinchou featured one of these, complete with creepy house with a haunted reputation... it soon starts going downhill...
  • Kamen Rider Den-O includes one that's laughably un-scary to any rational viewer and most of the characters, but frightens Deneb so badly that it causes Yuuto to waste one of his two remaining single-use transformation trinkets.
    • Also had a little chihuahua statue that scared the hell out of Momotaros for some reason.
  • Kakeru in Psycho Busters encounters one of these who manage to come across his psychic friends and mistake them for ghostly activity: hitodama created by Kaito, Ayano's astral form, and Xiao Long who closely resembles a Zashiki-warashi.
  • In School Days, the cultural festival haunted house was basically a front for a private room where couples could have sex. Unknown to most of the student body, the activities there were videotaped for the later entertainment of the senior class.
  • In Strawberry Panic, Tamao uses one of these as an opportunity to frighten Nagisa so that she can record her screams. Simultaneously disturbing and hilarious...
  • Spoofed in an episode of Full Metal Panic Fumoffu. Sousuke and Kaname visit an Abandoned Hospital at night, and Kaname hopes it will scare The Stoic Sousuke. Given that he's been a mercenary since he was eight, intangible things like ghosts and strange voices don't frighten him a bit, and Kaname divides her time between being afraid, and getting annoyed at Sousuke for not being afraid. The only thing that scares him in that episode is Kaname's apparent death, and he admits as much as the two of them ride home together on his bike.
  • A Fruits Basket example: Despite being terrified of haunted houses, Tohru agrees to accompany Momiji, Kyo, Yuki, and Hatsuharu through one at the beginning of summer break. She becomes so frightened she starts to cry, at which point both Kyo and Yuki offer to lead her through. Embarrassed, they begin to fight, only for Momiji to take Tohru's hand and scold them for letting their rivalry come between helping a girl in need.
  • To Love Ru had one of these early on, with the addition of a rumor stating that the pair that makes it to the end will become an actual couple. Naturally, Rito makes it to the end with both Haruna and Lala with him.
  • In Dept Heaven Apocrypha, Meria asks Monica (actually looking for her Plot Coupon) if she's on a solo test of courage.
  • Damekko Doubutsu also did this.
  • Kimi ni Todoke has one of these near the beginning.
  • If it had not been for one of these, the plot of Psychic Detective Yakumo would probably not have either Haruka or Yakumo in it.
  • Karin's class creates one for the Festival Episode, with Usui's creepy eye providing scares. That works a little too well; several crying kids have to be escorted out.
  • Ai Kora has a chapter where our perverted hero sets up his classroom's haunted house at the school festival so as to be able to sneak around and take pictures of girls with his "beloved parts" in Rambo-inspired gear. When he sees two other guys trying to hit on the girls, he terrifies them into oblivion by striking from the shadows.
  • Suzumiya Haruhi features one in Endless Eight.
  • Invoked by name in the eighth Touhou game, Imperishable Night: The Extra Stage is set up as Kaguya inviting each of the playable teams to one of these.
  • Happens in episode 3.1 of Shinryaku! Ika Musume, mostly as an effort by Eiko to scare Ika-chan, who wasn't raised in human society and has no idea why the whole ordeal was supposed to be scary. After getting separated from the group, Squid Girl then accidentally freaks out the human characters when she activates her glow-in-the-dark mode and chases after them, wondering why they keep running from her. When actual ghosts appear around her and escort her back to safety, she never realizes what they are, instead musing that not all humans are bad.
  • K-On!: Sawako-chan makes an appearance as the final scare, much to Ritsu's disgust when no one makes it to her trap.
  • Seen in a two-part story arc in Kirby of the Stars, complete with a haunted house sent by Nightmare.
  • Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu uses this as a competition between the 2nd year students and 3rd year students. This takes place in a Matrix-like environment with the summoned creatures all re-themed as Japanese horror monsters. Whoever screams, loses.
  • Da Capo II features an event based on The Seven Mysteries of the school.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: Ichigo Momomiya and Masaya Aoyama go to one of these at an amusement park in one episode. Poor Ichigo ended up fainting, but that's okay, because Masaya carried her through it!
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