As of late, I have seen a lot of shows based on or associated with on-line gaming, like “Sword Art Online” or “Accel World”. Even “Tower of Druaga” felt like a videogame, although that kind of took the mickey out of itself.
“BTOOOM!” is another such show. Now, the online game of “BTOOOM!” is like Halo, except the only weapons you have are bombs. You have to figure out ways how to blow up the enemy team. Your overall scores are rated, but individual effort counts as well.
Ryōta Sakamoto (the one in black to the right) is an unemployed 22-year-old, potential hikikimori or NEET, who lives with his mother. In the real world, there is nothing special about him, but online, he’s one of the world’s top players and the only Japanese to be in the Top Ten of Btooom! One day, he awakens in what appears to be a tropical island, though he has no memory of how or why he has come to be there.
It is dusk or night or dark and in trying to find out what’s going on, comes across another person….who starts flinging bombs at him. It doesn’t take too long for Ryota to realize that it’s time to kill or be killed, but as to what it overall going on, he is still playing a lot of catch-up.
He encounters a couple of other people: Himiko, that blonde number up there, who suffers from a real man-hatred and Kiyoshi Taira (the older guy to Himiko’s right). We then learn the double dilemma here:
In order for you to leave the island, you need eight chips (those green crystals in each person’s left hand). But the only way to get the chips is to kill people. Man, “Survivor” was never like this. You are also given eight bombs (those ridiculous fanny packs everyone has). You are given one of six different styles of bombs. You can use another person’s bombs, but only if they are dead; otherwise, they will not work.
So, how did these people get here? They were sent here by ‘friends’ who hated them enough to sell them out. Every person here has transgressed something in society and earned the enmity of others. Your punishment is to die. You may learn, too late, what it means to be a real person and not just someone taking up space on the bus.
The biggest drawback in the show is that they broke the series in half, so when you get to Episode 13, we take a commercial break (“Throw away that truss!”), but we have not reached any real conclusion in the events, but there are no new shows on the horizon. Like Ryota, we are playing catch-up with what is going on and have to confront the notion that I have to kill real people. Others must die so that I may live. I have to trust you enough, but I will be called upon to betray you and if I hesitate, you’ll be taking MY chip.
Another problem I had was with the almost indestructible nature of the people here. The bombs, for the most part, are of a tight proximity (the bombs themselves are about the size of a Cutie) so you can avoid most of the damage they dispense if you stay out of range (that will not help with the gas bomb and the fire bomb). We also get to see the incidents that set up our characters to be sent here, and we are talking some major moral meltdowns here. Sheesh, if they did that to me, I certainly would send them to Purgatory Island.
Overall, it is an interesting show, but it sometimes gets a bit too prolix for its own good and with a rather large cast of characters, we haven’t seen the last of them…..unless production has shut down. I have a real problem with Himiko, as she is really the obligatory fan service, with her tight blouse and her feminine bombs thrusting out at me. Can she learn to love again? Can Taira stop being a work hound and get back to his family? Will Ryota decide to get a job at the local WacDonalds? Isn’t kidnapping illegal, even in Japan?
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Interesting character design)
Plot 6 (Different approach to the Survivor Syndrome)
Pacing 7 (Good for the show, but sluggish on flashbacks)
Effectiveness 6 (Too many port convolutions)
Conclusion 4 (It gets to a coupler point)
Fan Service 4 (A similar show would be “Gurren Lagaan”)
Overall 7 (The fight continues)
And remember, it’s first run until you see it. Haters gonna hate.