Not many people get to live and learn from the mistake ‘don’t get blown up.’
|When in doubt, name your anime after a sound effect. In this universe, K-ON! would be called JAKKA JAN, Initial D would be called VROOM!, Naruto would be called POW, and Black Rock Shooter would be called NNNYYEEEHHHHHHHHRRRRERARRERElesbians. Luckily, this trend is used sparingly. I’m starting off my review of episode one of Btooom! with a boom (forgive me) so hang on tight!|
Everyone’s a badass online until their mom walks in on them
Enter the world of Sakamoto Ryouta – an expert player of the game BTOOOM!. It’s an FPB (first person bomber) that plays exactly like a typical shooter, except you use explosives instead of guns. Ryouta is addicted to this game, and spends all his time playing it instead of getting a job or being nice to his mom. He refuses to work anywhere but at a game company, which is a bit of a pipe dream for someone with no experience whatsoever. But enough about jobs, because Ryouta is abruptly shipped off to an island to play a real life version of BTOOOM! where you blow up real people with real bombs. For real.
The basis of the first episode is getting to know Ryouta as both an incredible player and a royal asshole, then seeing him reduced to a gibbering fool when put in the real life equivalent of the game. Ah, divine retribution in the form of kidnapping! The general tone is pretty dark and focused more on either watching Ryouta suffer or reminding us how much he deserved this twist of fate. The action is more of a subfocus, surprisingly enough. It’s only towards the end that the bombs get used in a more creative fashion that could promise some Mirai Nikki-esque battles of wits and cool powers. Every player has a unique type of bomb, which could be really cool. So far we’ve seen time bombs and proximity bombs, but there could all sorts of crazy stuff like landmines, gas bombs, stun bombs and…well, that’s about all I know about bombs, but there’s the potential for some mighty clever battles. So if you like violence, explosions, psychological torment and a series that’s just dumb fun then look no further. It may not actually deliver on the strategy front, but it will most certainly contain as much dumb fun as any typical action flick.
Sometimes I forget this isn’t a zombie anime.
Production notes: Madhouse is at the helm of BTOOOM!, animating it in that dark and edgy way that it does best – albeit with a more generic coat of paint on top. You’ve got Kotono Watanabe directing this, which probably doesn’t ring any bells since she’s only done work on a few episodes here and there and hasn’t ever directed a full anime. Those “few episodes” include the likes of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and Chihayafuru though, which could be a good omen.
Considering that this anime revolves around blowing people up with explosives, the opening episode was actually quite focused on Ryouta as opposed to “WOW, LOOK AT THESE EXPLOSIONS!” It takes the opposite approach that K does, instead laying out the groundwork of everything first while sacrificing style points. It’s a very stable start, but a bit unremarkable as a consequence. If anything, the next episode should be more of a dealbreaker since all the rule-explaining exposition is (hopefully) out of the way. I’m a fan of the Battle Royale type of death match situation since it always brings out the worst in people. Not only do I expect all manner of emotional malfunctioning to occur, but the lengths these kids will have to go to survive (and slaughter one another) should be a good enough hook to keep me content.
The only real issue here is how the upcoming battles pan out. I like that Ryouta starts off incredibly shocked and confused, instead of starting out as a total ace at the real world version of BTOOOM! just because he was good at pressing buttons. Most anime try and get that period of uncertainty and disbelief in the absurdity of the situation over with quickly, but I like that he tried to cling to the naive hope that maybe things would work out. It was more believable. That being said, his initial reaction to the timed bombs and how to use them was dumb. He learned through firsthand experience that they explode with a timer. He watched it count down. There is no way he wouldn’t put two and two together unless he’d never heard of a time bomb before – and oh, wouldn’t you know it? – he most certainly has because he plays a game where ALL YOU USE ARE BOMBS. However, he makes up for it in the end by concocting a wonderful strategy. Well, okay, it was pretty simple, but I liked it. Just don’t ask me how he could understand that glowing = sonar, while equating time bomb = a fucking time bomb put too much of a strain on his neural networks.
I like BTOOOM! because it’s senseless violence with a lovely dose of human suffering on the side, even if the way its served is a bit crude. There’s nothing really smart or cutting here. It’s not like some Lord of the Flies stuff is going to happen since everyone is already at each others throats from the start. It’s harmless fun! Even if the only female characters are there for eye candy, I really don’t mind. As long as Himiko is useful at least sometimes, then I don’t mind if her ass is pressed right up against the camera for the rest of the episode. I think it’s best to start with no expectations for her, especially since she’s getting (almost) raped in the preview for next week’s episode. As a girl who plays video games, I’ll let you guys know if I’m offended next week. For now, I’m just transfixed by all the pretty explosions.
Preview: Himiko doesn’t try and blow up the main character. Instead, she tells him about her past, which somehow leads into her getting almost raped later on. Uh, yeah. Bombs!