Was this show the bomb, or did it bomb?
Sometimes I choose some amazing series to blog about. For example, I’ve had the pleasure of covering Shiki, Madoka, and Psycho-Pass. I would love for this to always be the case, but that unfortunately is not the reality I live in. The reality I live in has shows like Btooom! which I kick myself for offering to cover. Episode 5 was actually so bad that I had a kneejerk reaction and dropped it then and there instead of waiting to blog a nice even 6 episodes. Despite not having a lot of fun with the show, I recognized that it had some good qualities hidden deep (I’m talking Mariana’s Trench deep) underneath the terribleness of it all, so I figured I’d do a round-up of the remaining episodes at the end instead of giving up.
Is It Worth Picking Up Again?
I get the feeling a lot of people dropped this show once it became too much for them, and may be questioning whether or not it’d be a good investment to continue. It’s a tough choice, because the beginning is very bad. It uses rape as a plot device far too often, the characters are all detestable little spawns of Satan, and the attempts at showing more adult issues are tackled with the finesse of a wrecking ball smashing into a building. Rape, violence and gore was added in at seemingly random intervals just to try and keep people watching for the shock factor. This is why Btooom! is so tiring, and therefore very easy to drop and leave behind.
Miraculously, episode 7 and onwards moves away from relying on cheap thrills and starts to become a good show. It actually improves! The second half of Btooom! is not only watchable, but it’s actually kind of decent! Himiko stops getting molested and by now Sakamoto is starting to seem like a pretty nice guy since his past is completely behind him. The battles with bombs actually become more cerebral than just two dudes running between trees and chucking explosives around. This is largely because Sakamoto starts to run into some incredibly clever players who take a more tactical approach to Btooom!. Furthermore, they’re actually interesting characters because of how deceptive they are. You constantly have to ask who is betraying whom and it’s never clear who has the upper hand in any given situation since the flow of a battle can turn on a dime.
So if you survived around 5 episodes already, you might actually benefit from finishing it off. If you haven’t started it at all, sitting through those first 5 episodes is not worth it. I’d only recommend seeing this to the end if you’ve already invested some time into it that you can never get back.
So maybe you don’t want to touch Btooom! again and just wanna know what went down. I don’t blame you. Here’s a total SPOILER-FILLED summary of the main events from episode 6 to 12.
Half absolutely terrible and half “eh”; Btooom! is a big waste of potential. The Battle Royale formula should allow for all sorts of unexpected and exciting betrayals, truces and exciting confrontations. However, bombs are a very all-or-nothing weapon most of the time, and I can tell they were often at a loss for how to make the fights interesting. Most of the fights consist of a running montage with some radar pings and then characters throwing bombs in the blind hope that it hits something. How do you screw up a giant fighting arena on an island where people have no choice but to kill and survive? Somehow Btooom! does it. The first 5 episodes get progressively worse and worse until it hits a crescendo of wretchedness. The middle of a series should not be so bad. It’s kind of amazing how if you overcome that hump that the show improves so much in comparison.
The new characters are quite simply much better, and they spice things up. Taira was only interesting for so long, so taking him out was a good mood. The psychotic kid has extremely limited appeal and his abusive past was so overwrought with drama that it was almost a mocking parody of every child who ever had to deal with violence in their household. Thankfully, he was also moved to just a sideline character providing taunts and jeers every now and then. It’s Date, Murasaki, and Oda who are really the show-stealers. In fact, I like all 3 of them more than I ever liked Sakamoto and Himiko. Unlike everybody else, it’s a lot harder to tell what they’re thinking just by looking at them. Even though we can hear Date cap off every sugary-sweet lie to Sakamoto with a thought about how he’s going to kill everyone in their sleep, he still remains a bit of a mystery. Why does he live to betray? How did he get like this? Does he really love Murasaki? He has multiple sides without being fake – unlike Sakamoto whose nice side on the island and borderline tyrannical behaviour back at home just seems like a horrible mistake in characterization.
The cliffhanger ending followed by the CONTINUE YES/NO screen makes me wonder if there will be a season 2 later on. I believe the manga is still ongoing, and they might be waiting for more chapters to be released to avoid catching up too quickly and having to make up an anime-original ending. For now, I don’t see any official statement about any more Btooom! Even if there’s another season, I’m still not sure if I’d continue watching it. At the very least, I won’t be blogging about it, so this may be the last you’ll see of the awkwardly-named anime for some time.
Marriage = GAME OVER