BTOOOM! – 02

The flavour of blood just adds a certain “pizzazz” to a sandwich and drink, dontcha think?

“Oh my gosh, it’s the rape episode! When is it going to happen? Now? Now? Oh, he’s looking at her, it must be now! …Hmm…..WAIT, NOW!”. I admit I may have been a bit distracted while watching this episode thanks to the preview priming me so heavily to look for just one scene. I wouldn’t be surprised if a handful of you ctrl+f “rape” in this post just to get to the edgy bit. With this in mind, I might as well plunge right into the heart of the matter and start off with the assault(s) on Himiko.

So far, Himiko is the only girl we’ve seen on the island. Himiko is hyper-aware of her gender since she’s surrounded by guys who are all bigger and stronger than she is, which is a very important fact to note when you’re stuck on an island where everyone has to kill each other. Unlike Ryouta, her memories are in tact, and she immediately knows why she is given bombs and what could happen if she comes across another player. She gets relatively lucky and meets a group of people who don’t throw bombs at her upon first sight (poor Ryouta!) and instead include her into the group. However, since she’s fairly soft-spoken and lacks any drive to kill or injure, they don’t even treat her as competition. She is casually threatened, then given the position of “leader” immediately after. Fortunately, she has one line of defense that makes her a little dangerous. She has a taser, and she’s not afraid to shock some dudes if it means they’ll let go of her and stop trying to either use her as a hostage or molest her. Even though she gets pushed around a lot and isn’t exactly a grade A female role model, at least she pushes back.

Being bullied by her “teammates” isn’t so bad and doesn’t bring up much to discuss, but getting sexually molested by Lardo Fat-Tits (a rather redundant, but very fitting nickname I have bestowed upon him) really turns things up to 11. It was a really uncomfortable scene to watch. Even with all the censoring, the boob-fondling/sucking scene made me feel disgust more than “awww yeaaahhh boobs and sexytimes.” Her aggressor was hideous, creepy and Himiko disliked it enough to try and blow the two of them up in a last ditch effort.

He even had to nerve to think that a woman not resisting means that it’s okay, which is probably the messed up mentality that got him on the island in the first place. Adding to that delusion is his initial comment suggesting that by being nice to her, he had accumulated enough “points” so to speak that he could cash in for sex. These are two faulty thinking patterns rapists often adopt to justify their actions. The way he says it makes it pretty clear that we’re supposed to key in to the fact that he’s a little crazy…especially with the copious amount of sweating and creeper eyes/voice. The whole ordeal is a lot less about fanservice than I expected as a result.

I was actually surprised BTOOOM! managed to have an overall positive message at the end of a scene I was expected to be handled with the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. The rape scene was featured in the trailer and the preview, as if they were showing off something. In retrospect, it was probably just to show off how edgy they were for including rape in the story. And boy, do they ever love going for the shock factor with rape because Himiko’s entire backstory is about raperaperaperape!

One rape scene would have been totally fine, but since the writers couldn’t think of anything else, they decided to just repeat the same thing. Ugh. Why? It desensitizes us to the upcoming rape scene, and makes it seem like Himiko’s very existence just causes men to want to violate her. It’s excessive. Himiko may have got away with her virginity, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s basically a TWO-TIME rape victim. This makes her past experiences with men incredibly bad from the get-go, so it’s not like getting molested a second time radically changed her views and gave her trust issues. She was already like that before. This makes the second rape scene almost pointless. Only one is needed! Not two!

Now that I think about it, I don’t think we’ve met a single decent guy in this show yet. They either rape schoolgirls, rely on their parents for money, slit people’s throats, or scream like a madman and throw bombs from the second we see them. Will BTOOOM! try to humanize these cold killers and emotionally hostile teenagers so that we sympathize with them? So far we’ve just been shown how horrible everyone is, or how messed up they are. There needs to be some contrast. A nice, normal character as a fixed point of reference. The guy who stops and says “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!” and freaks out when people try to backstab others.

The heart of BTOOOM! is most likely not in having strong characters for the audience to fawn over, but in oversaturating us with violence and explosions. Fine by me. I need a little mental cool-down every now and then. So far we’ve seen a few more facts about the survival game to spice things up. One is how the radar works, and the fact that it suddenly pops out when someone dies (presumably so they won’t be tracked anymore and cause unnecessary blips on the radar). We also learn that food is being dropped from the sky, which could be the cause of crippling stress in the future since it’s the perfect place to set up a trap to kill off any desperate, hungry people. This time the food retrieval went over smoothly since they either got their first, or anyone who wanted to spring a trap wasn’t dumb enough to go for a pack of four people. Two new bombs enter the mix too. A defoliant (anyone know what that does to humans?) and Himiko’s KA-BLOOIE bombs which don’t seem to be any different than Ryouta’s timed bombs. Not very exciting, especially since I have no real clue what they do. I’m still waiting for more strategy to take precedence in fights, but I suppose this was just another “set-up” episode so we have to wait.

As for how everyone got on the island itself, a chain mail sort of letter going around asking people who they’d want to be eliminated could be the method for choosing who gets dumped there. People who write down names in this social Death Note of sorts get money for a reward, so it’s easy to give in and do it even though it’s sketchy as hell. Himiko’s side was an interesting choice for episode 2 because it fills in a lot of the gaps left by Ryouta and his hazy memories. It ends in the same spot as episode 1, but the shift in perspective makes things pretty different. I wonder if she’ll trust him once she realizes Ryouta is her internet lover. Wait, scratch that. Based on the OP it’s more of a matter of WHEN she’ll realize it and team up with him. But once again, I don’t care much about them since they’re all jerks. I’m just waiting for more blood-letting and flashing lights to stare at as I lay on my couch.

Bonus Screencaps: Show ▼

Overall, not bad considering that I was expecting BTOOOM! to completely screw up and somehow support rape as a good thing. It didn’t, but it certainly shoved a ton of rape scenes at us like it was so novel and exciting to them they just had to use it TWICE. I generally enjoy BTOOOM! but I am fully aware that it’s pretty primitive in nature, and seeks to satisfy the simplest desires. I’m gonna stick around and see where things go from here. What did you guys think of this week’s potentially touchy episode, and do any of you actually like any of the characters thus far?

Preview: Himiko runs away and Ryouta runs into some other dude instead of finding her. He explains more about the survival game, although I’m not sure what else there really is to explain at this point.

Episode 3: some dude gets raped to make things fair

About

A mad scientist with a third degree black belt. The combination of these two things leads to blog posts combining a love for psychology, violence, anime and watching boys cry.
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15 Responses to “BTOOOM! – 02”

  1. Joojoobees says:

    At this point I pretty much hate all the characters. Maybe I don’t hate the four girls that were raped in this episode, but I don’t have any reason to be attached to them.

    My working theory is that the guy from last week’s mom decided she was sick of his shit, and signed him up for the Btooom-cruise.

    • anaaga says:

      I decided to drop BTOOOM and read OC’s posts instead.

    • Overcooled says:

      @Joojoobees: Yeah, anyone I don’t dislike is just background noise. I’m pretty sure Ryouta’s mom signed him up for the island, especially after being so cruel to her. It all adds up!

      @anaaga: Not sure how fun that will be, but thanks!

  2. skylion says:

    If I may join Joojoobees in the working theory department. Sometimes, you can tell a great character narrative by introducing individuals at the lowest level you can go. The rise to normality, or even heroism is meteoric by comparison. It’s a bit of a cheat really. And you have to play the hand you deal yourself well. One small tell, and the audience will call that bluff.

    With Himiko, Btooom! may be playing a poker face to end all poker faces.

    Two rapes? In the first instance she learned two things. Both of them horrible for a young woman to experience. She is powerless, and she is an outcast. In the second she learned two things. Be prepared, and take no prisoners.

    At some point, you have to make a cold decision. I was quite happy to see her rapist die at her hands on the island. But then, this is pure escapist storytelling.

    What I found sad was how she lost her friend. Himiko has no choice in being drop dead beautiful, just as her main friend has no choice in being (as so many of us are) average. Yet her friend is active, decent, and pert. I would go for that kind of lady. She was quite fun and interesting. And I felt that the friendship was deep. It saddened me to see it end up so tortured.

    Himiko could, if she choose, be in a different state and take her beauty as a foundation to “lady it up”. But, she chooses to be modest in her approach. Her friendships look to be more important than her looks.

    Which makes that confrontation with her friend that much more tragic and heart rending.

    They juxtapose this with her second rape. Her rapist choose to be the monster that he assumed everyone ever thought him to be. Himiko choose, when she was a rock bottom to asset herself as her current environment gave her.

    I like this character. She’s complex, and very compelling. I was ready to dismiss this show from the first episode. But Himiko changed my mind.

    • Overcooled says:

      If that happens, I will be very impressed. I just don’t see BTOOOM! as being a very clever show, so I don’t know if it will be able to pull that off successfully.

      The first rape could make her hate men, fell vulnerable and make her lose all her close friends. It was a valuable lesson, but the second rape didn’t really have the same “value” as a result. The decision to stick up for herself and use the bombs didn’t have to be as a result of being molested as well. Ryouta was attacked, so he realized he had no choice but to kill people to stay alive. It’s just lazy to do the same thing twice when there are other ways to convey the same message. :/ As for Himiko’s feelings, I’m glad she stuck up for herself too though.

      She did have a really nice friend! I also got the feeling it was a really nice friendship – the kind where they trust each other with everything. I never got too attached to her in the short time she appeared to feel all too sad when she left Himiko. Sometimes, as a girl, it feels like being beautiful is a curse because it just means more men leer at you and even your closest female friends can grow jealous. It sounds like a stupid thing to complain about, but it happens. I think Himiko would gladly trade her looks and boobs (As she offers to her friend) if it made others happy and shifted less attention away from her.

      I felt pretty mixed about Himiko (she was “eh” in my mind), but now I’m starting to like her more after reading your comment…I wouldn’t call her complex just yet, but she’s certainly something.

  3. skylion says:

    They juxtapose: Her second rape, with her friend dumping her in a most harsh manner. I forgot to convey that.

  4. Highway says:

    I get the show. I don’t particularly like the story itself, but I get it, and I can actually accept how this show is going. I liked the decision to full reset for the 2nd episode and tell Himiko’s story without interruption, bringing the two roads to the intersection.

    I’m really almost flabbergasted by the horrible setup for the island. I loathe the idea of people being forced to do things against their will. If this island was a “you sign up for it, and there’s a prize” kind of thing, I’d accept it. If it was a “if you want some adventure” I’d accept it. But the incentives here are just all sorts of screwed up: You don’t like someone, you get them hauled away, probably to die, AND you get paid a couple thousand bucks A cheap bounty to a person who has no stake in another’s death. So petty, so crass.

    The destruction of Miho and Himiko’s friendship is such a tragedy. Himiko made what can only be considered the ‘right’ decision: get away, call the cops (which it was alluded to that she did). But that meant literally leaving Miho to the wolves, to suffer mightily (I do hope that the other girls weren’t killed or even severely injured, on top of being assaulted). It was good that the guys were caught, and were punished, but I can still see how Miho comes to hate Himiko. Plus, what of the possible narrative that Miho may have constructed from what she saw: Himiko sets up this meeting with these guys. As they’re going over there, she begs off to ‘get some snacks’, and while she’s gone, they get assaulted. Then she shows up, and for whatever reason, she doesn’t get raped like the others did, and she leaves Miho with them after she screams for help. I really can’t blame Miho.

    That said, I’m REALLY TIRED of rape in anime right now. Since the middle of Summer season, this makes 6 shows that I know of that have included rape or the threat of rapes: Binbougami ga, Total Eclipse, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Psycho-Pass, Sukitte na ii yo, and Btooom! Enough already! And the one that gets the most flak for it has seemed to be Tonari, where it was a complete throw-away ‘threat’, rather than Btooom! which has 4 ACTUAL rapes, or rather than Binbougami where the girls knock out Ichiko and give her to a gang of guys to cart off in their van, just cause they don’t like her. The ONLY thing that saves Btooom here for me is that in both cases, the perpetrator is punished. But seriously, I’ve had enough of rape. Come up with some other way to get some tension, you lazy ass writers.

    • Overcooled says:

      Do you dislike the morals behind it, or think it’s a flimsy plot device? I think it’s a simple set-up, but it works. No one wants to be there and everyone is afraid, so the dynamics are totally different from a voluntary bloodbath of greedy people willing to risk their lives. Since other people pick the competitors, you get a more rounded mix of personalities and strategies. Not everyone is trying to win. As for the mini bounty method, well, they have to gather names somehow. It’s not like the people writing the names down actually expect anything to come from it.

      The right decision is to definitely go and alert the police, but it’s a really hard call to make. It even made Miho hate her. Himiko may have tried to explain the situation to her, but because of how terrifying it was and what it looked like (basically what you already described – Himiko setting things up and leaving her to be violated) it’s hard to trust after being so deeply hurt.

      Fortunately, I’ve only seen rape in BTOOOM! and Psycho-Pass because those are the only shows out of the bunch I’m watching. That is a lot though. I’m not sure how Tonari got so much backlash either when it’s happening all over the place. I’m not a big fan of the topic though so I wouldn’t mind if writers replace rape scenes with something else. I’m sure they could think of something if they tried for 80% of the cases!

      • Highway says:

        I absolutely loathe the morals behind it. As a plot device it is what it is. It’s more than how much I detested the morals behind Akihiko trapping all the early adopters in SAO (in that case, at least everyone chose to be included in that. That they got screwed is still Akihiko’s fault). There’s no acceptable justification for doing either thing (which is actually why I liked that Akihiko punted and didn’t even try to explain it). To relate it to another show that has shown capricious and cruel behavior, I find this to be worse than the Emperor of Delight instantly destroying the first 100 people who don’t clap long enough, although again neither is defensible.

        I think Tonari got so much flak possibly because there were no consequences for it. In Btooom!, the people paid for doing it, as well as in Psycho-Pass (that guy was getting killed anyway). In Sukitte ii na yo, it was more the threat of the stalker guy than something explicit. It’s an ugly subject (although I find all the talk about ‘promotion of “rape culture”‘ generally more annoying, since it purports to describe me and the rest of society solely in terms of other people’s biases) and it really doesn’t need to be brought up.

        • Overcooled says:

          Ahh, okay. Wow, Highway, I never realized you had such strong morals. How nice of you! I never actually felt offended, I was just thinking of it in terms of how interesting it would be to see gamers kill each other…

          I was actually more pissed off that Akihiko had no reason for doing it. At least people who try to defend themselves have a goal, even if it is a twisted and cruel one. I think the people behind the Btooom! kidnappings actually think they are doing a good service to society by taking out the people who seem to be highly disliked. Of course, there is no acceptable excuse for murder.

          Yeah, that sounds pretty reasonable. The main girl still falls for the guy despite that threat, after all. Err, I haven’t actually seen the show, but that’s what I’m seeing. It really is an ugly subject that I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells when I talk about it (just in case I offend anyone). However, there are times when it needs to be discussed.

          • Highway says:

            I think that having a sick and twisted amoral goal is nothing to be proud of, and presents no mitigating circumstance for the judgement of actions. To me, Akihiko saying he forgot what it was about means more to me, because I am projecting that he realized that whatever reason it was was stupid, and a mistake, and unimportant. After he saw how people reacted to it, he got on with the business of living the life that was in front of him.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    It would have been a fairly decent episode if it weren’t for the persistant rape element floating around. I can only tolerate so much so hopefully it gets better than this.

    • Overcooled says:

      I’m surprised that this many people are still watching, actually! I doubt they’ll play the rape card again next week, so episode 3 should be better. Although we might be in for some lengthy explanations that aren’t really needed. :/

  6. Kyokai says:

    I was jittery myself while watching this episode. I have a feeling this is going to be one sad story after another. Though, after watching episode three, I really want to know how other people signed the players into this island and if they would follow through the killing for survival.

    • Overcooled says:

      I guess it was the “chain mail” type letter going around asking for people to list the names of unwanted people. Then they either chose names at random, or picked the ones with the most votes. They definitely didn’t want to be part of this though, so I imagine several people will just try to survive without killing others. Not everyone has it in them to be a cold-blooded killer, even when it’s a life-or-death situation.

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