This is review number one hundred and twenty one. It is part of the Fall 2012 lineup. Yes, I’m finally here. The anime I’ll be reviewing is Btooom!! It’s a twelve episode anime about people being forced to play a video game for real. It’s a pretty awesome show and I’m glad this was the first one I reviewed for the lineup. This lineup had a lot of good ones, I hear. I can’t wait to see them all. Let’s read on.
Oh. Also, merry x-mas to everyone. It’s 3 AM here as I post this. I hope you all had a rocking time. I got drunk but I’m tipsy toed trying to publish this. I wrote the review in advance though. Haha. Happy Holidays, everybody.
The anime is about a guy named Ryota Sakamoto. He is twenty two years old, has no job and spends his days on video games. He loves to play this online game called “BTOOOM!!!” where players only use bombs to defeat their opponents. One day, he woke up and finds himself stranded in an island. He has his belongings with him but the events prior to ending up on the island are fuzzy to him. He also has a white pouch that contains eight items in it. They were bombs and he realized that he was sent in the island, along with other people, so he would participate in a real life version of the game BTOOM. The rules are simple. You must kill other people with your bombs. Anything goes and only the strongest can survive.
Taking the Pants Off
Btooom is pretty interesting anime. It presents itself as a psychological and thriller kind of anime that Madhouse is known for. Remember, they did Death Note. When I first saw this anime, I was pretty excited because it just screamed awesome. Its promise of violence and its use of video games as a premise make for a pretty interesting anime. All of the elements of this anime worked great and it kept me wanting more as I watch it.
The anime is about a bunch of people from different walks of life armed with eight bombs and asked to kill each other. It reminds me of the Japanese movie “Battle Royal” where innocent people are asked to become cold blooded murderers to survive. The added theme of video games makes this anime a bit more exciting. This anime really painted a nice picture about survival because it often makes you think what if you were the one asked to kill people to survive. It’s pretty messed up.
The show revolves around Ryota who is ranked as the best player in Japan and tenth in the entire world. He was forced to apply the rules of the game in real life but he was against killing people. He believes that they can get off the island without anyone dying. That’s a heroic ideal for sure but when other players are out to kill you, it’s hard to maintain that stance. It’s kill or be killed. One of the best parts of the anime is the slow transformation of the characters from people who just want to leave the island into a bunch of cornered rats about to be eaten by a cat. The psychological aspect of the anime is very strong. It explores as many characters as possible to give us a gripping tale of life in the island. The slow decline of morals and sanity told so very clearly is one of the things that make this anime amazing.
Another part of what makes this anime is exciting is the exploration of the theme of trust. All characters are posed with the problem of trusting other people. In fact, the pacing of the anime was so good that even if Ryota was working with this other player, it keeps hinting that he will be betrayed. A lot of characters in this anime trusted others and got killed by doing so. As the anime shifts focus to other characters, you also see them wonder if they trust other people or just screw everyone and play the game. It got especially chilling when at crucial moments, the anime teases a betrayal and you watch in anticipation if the character would turn coat. It makes the anime exciting even more than the actual fights.
The anime is about a video game but there were no complicated elements of a video game incorporated in the anime. It’s not like Accel World where you’re often left to just let something fly over your head because of the complicated set up of the game. Btooom is simple. You have eight bombs. You try to kill other people with it. If you win, you get their bomb. Each character owns a different type of bomb though so fights are often complicated. There are bombs that explodes when you throw them, timer bombs, bombs that implodes, homing types and remote control detonated bombs. There are more types but the anime uses it as a form of surprise when a new character appears. You can only use another character’s bomb when you killed them. You cannot steal them because they won’t trigger. You can only use other people’s bomb when you kill them, you disarm their bombs, or let them trigger it for you. You can find other people by using a radar provided for you. If you use your radar though, other people can see your position. So the prospect of bombs and radar often makes some fights a bit of a cat and mouse chase. With the addition of the character’s personalities, most fights are often direct. I can guarantee though that they are pretty awesome but a bit short.
The anime is also part mystery. The first half explores why the anime characters end up in the island. It was slowly revealed and the process was pretty chilling. I love the mystery part of the anime because the characters are different people from different walks of life but they all have one thing in common. I’ll try not to spoil it but the anime also explores the theme of “karma”. Yknow, do good things and good things happen while do bad things and bad thing will happen. The story of how the characters end up in the island had that the theme of karma played out pretty well. As the plot of anime slowly unfolds, you often see this theme get used over and over. It makes the story more exciting and the fight scenes more intense.
The characters are the main selling point of the anime. The anime has this method of introducing various flashbacks of the characters before they wound up on the island. Each character of the anime really stands out because of their interesting background and their personality. The characters range from simple people to Btooom players to just plain crazy people and the way they interact in the anime was pretty interesting. If they aren’t out killing each other, they are forming allies and clashing beliefs. Ryota is the main character but almost everyone else gets a time in the spotlight. In fact, some of the characters and their flashbacks are admittedly more interesting than Ryota so I always look forward to them. No character is introduced haphazardly. Everyone gets a fair share of flashbacks and fights in the anime. How each character progress is also one of the best parts of the anime. The other character, Himiko, started out as a normal high school girl forgetting a miserable past. She experienced some pretty nasty things in the island and she soon develops a fear for men. Another character, this psychopath kid named Kosuke Kira, is a 14 year old convicted rapist. With his abusive father in the island, he soon realizes that there are no rules or laws to follow while playing the deadly game. He embraced the situation and went into a chilling transformation. I love how the anime was able to track each character’s transformation while being in the island. Every character was nicely highlighted and their reason for playing the game was soon established. You soon start to get excited when the characters would fight another because you want to see just how far they’ve gone in terms of breaking their morals and sanity.
The fights in the anime are more of a means to an end though. The anime is more character driven. You aren’t enjoying the fights because they’re throwing bombs trying killing each other. You enjoying it because this fourteen year old psychopath is trying to off a guy who thinks he’s playing an online game. The death scenes don’t do much for me. I admit that some of the death scenes was pretty intense and I accepted the fact that most of the interesting characters would be gone as the anime progress, it just doesn’t have that big of an impact though. It’s like in Mirai Nikki. You wish the crazy blind dude and the cop with the god complex could last until the second half. Oh, it was also missing gore. The characters kill with bombs but the anime was pretty tame. I’ve seen the manga so it’s a shame we didn’t the guts and spilling body parts after the explosions. They were either censored or downplayed. I think the anime didn’t want the focus to be on the death scenes because there’s so much more to take in. I wouldn’t mind a Gantz type of death scenes though. The censors in this anime ruin the enjoyment a bit.
The anime never runs out of twists and surprises. Some of the events in the anime are a bit predictable but some aren’t. Most fight scenes are hard to predict. While I do understand that the main character doesn’t die from a booby trap, it’s still pretty nice wondering how he would fight back. Some of the death scenes in the anime are also pretty surprising. The way a character can die has limitless possibilities with the introduction of different bombs, natural hazards and other characters carrying weapons other than bombs. The slow reveal of the people behind the game is also one of the great surprises in the anime. I honestly think that this anime cannot disappoint. Well, except for the ending. I won’t sugar coat it. This anime is as good as Mirai Nikki but only half as long so the progress is halted. I want another season because this anime was the best psychological/thriller anime to hit our screens since Mirai Nikki.
Sights and Sound
The character design has a pretty big range to it. There is the standard bishies and bishoujos but there are also some other character types. There are some overweight characters, heavily muscled and even scrawny characters. The different character designs also make each character unique including the minor ones. Hey, they’ll die but you’ll most certainly remember their deaths. I still remember the unlucky chick that got blasted after trying to get some food. I love the character designs because it adds a bit of realism to the anime. It’s also made by Madhouse and I’m pretty sure they don’t do moe. It’s always heavily toned characters. Himiko is a standout though. The poor girl was the most beautiful thing on the island next to the kimodo dragons.
The anime has some pretty mature themes. There are rape scenes, brutal murders and body parts being consumed by a bomb but the anime didn’t show anything graphic. They flashed some faces of dead people but no guts, shower of blood or some scenes where a character gets torn to pieces. They’re all heavily censored or just downplayed. In the scene below, this fat guy is squeezing and fondling some boobs but you can’t make it out. There were also some off-screen sounds where he was sucking them oppais but it was never shown.
The most explicit death scene was this:
Unfortunately, you can’t make it out. It’s a man whose upper body parts got blasted off his body. The anime was never about the gore but it sure needed some. I do understand that showcasing gore can turn a great anime a bit bad so the experience is a bit bittersweet.
The animation is pretty decent. The way the bombs explode is pretty nice to watch and seeing some character run around is fun to watch. There wasn’t any scene that truly stood out though. Maybe the showdown on the second half but everything was pretty decent. The only time I really loved the animation is when a character’s expression changes. The sight of them killing/seeing someone gets killed is pretty priceless. I personally love Kosuke’s face as he looks in awe at the carnage he inflicted with his bombs for the first time.
The anime’s OP song is “No pain, No game” by Nano. This is a pretty impressive. It’s a loud rock song but the lead’s voice stands out. The song also complimented the OP sequence pretty nicely. The way some of the characters lip synch the line “the game has only just begun” was pretty awesome. The OP sequence was a way for me to track the characters. There are a lot of them so I often need the OP to refresh my memory. The OP sequence captured the anime pretty nicely. It summarizes some of its event without giving up anything important.
The anime’s ED is “Aozora” by May’n. This was an acoustic song that sounds a bit mellow. The nice slow beat seems to be a bit romantic and melancholic. I love May’n’s voice and no one can deny how wonderful it is. The ED sequence features Himiko in still poses half naked. She was the only eye candy in the anime so I never tire looking at her. Also, she looks like the blond chick from Haganai.
7/10 “A solid psychological/thriller anime with a story that can keep you guessing in excitement.”
We need another season. I love this anime and the story is complex but so easy to follow. The characters are all interesting and the fact that not everyone has been introduced yet gets me excited. This anime has some pretty mature themes but it’s a solid anime. If you loved Mirai Nikki, you’ll love this anime. I highly recommend it.
Yes, there had better be a second season to this anime, it was truly stunning. I personally would give it better than 8/10, but everyone has their own tastes. There were things that I felt were unnecessarily complicated, like biometrically locked bombs and the sonar implants; things would have been much more believable with simple wrist locators in place of the chips. The thing I liked best about this anime is that the protagonist is such a decent guy; he consistently makes the moral choice even when doing so could cost him dearly.