- Title: Btooom!
- Genre: Action, Psychological, Sci-fi, Seinen
- Studios: Madhouse
- Episodes: 12 – 24min (Completed)
- Date: 4 October 2012 — 20 December 2012
- Adaptation: Manga
For once, I’ll try writing my own summary so please be patient with me if I’m not too good at this.
Btooom! follows the story of the number 1 ranked player Ryouta Sakamoto in the online game “Btooom!”. But things take an abrupt turn when he wakes up and finds himself on an unknown island and forced to participate in a survival game of life or death. Having no idea how he got there, he is forced to play along only to realise that the survival game he was participating in was a real life version of the game “Btooom!”. How do they get home? Simple, by killing seven other participants with the bombs they were given and taking their crystals. Thus commencing the ensuing carnage of the deadly survival game.
When I first watched Btooom! years ago, I was just your average middle school student that couldn’t get enough of the survival game concepts, especially since “The Hunger Games” movies popularized the concept. Plus, I was really into gaming. So the concept of Btooom! immediately struck a chord with me. And without a doubt, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yet for some reason, it wasn’t well received in Japan and a season 2 was never announced (if only Hunger Games was released before Btooom!). I never understood why, and there are still some parts of me today that don’t either, so in this review I’ll try to give you a clearer view of what I think about Btooom! and who knows, maybe you could tell me why it never took off despite it being a pretty good show. I mean, what part of strangers skillfully and strategically thinking of ways to kill each other isn’t entertaining?
Btooom!’s main quality, to me, is its concept of a real life survival game. I know that judging a show’s quality by its concept isn’t really much of a review, but honestly it was what kept me interested. I’ve just always been so fascinated by the thrill of a survival-esque show. But back then, all the anime I watched would simply have its villains “defeated” instead of “killed” and so these villains just keep coming back, and that’s honestly such a nuisance. I hope I don’t come off as a psychopath that takes pleasure from deaths though. In Btooom! however, death is very much real and every participant has to deal with its threat in any way they can. This threat of death is what layers every interaction with distrust and skepticism, and gives the show a thrilling edge that kept me immersed from start to finish.
It could be the setting, or it could just be good writing, but since there are all sorts of different people on the island participating in this death game unwillingly, the show sets up a vibrant cast of different personalities whose identities we long to find out. This gave the cast a very unique chemistry, where even children and the elderly were being forced to participate. But slowly and surely, the background of these mysterious characters are brought to light, and if you read the manga, then so much more is explained. Of course, there’s a reason why each of these people were specifically chosen to be put on the island. But that’s spoiler territory.
Action and romance is what motivates the anime’s storyline. But it is in these areas that I find most of the problems in the show. The actions were thrilling, sure. But sometimes they just don’t make much sense. Normally you would let that slide considering its an anime, but since Btooom! uses many themes that make you assimilate the anime’s environment to the real world (or at least tries to), the unnatural action scenes just makes the show feel all the more out of place. Himiko is cute but if a bomb that would kill an enemy at the same distance as her blows up beside her, why is she still alive and kicking? Oh and the romance. This is a tiny spoiler but I’ll have to bring it up. Rape is an aspect in the show’s plot whereby some of the females are subject to rape on the island. I think its brave of the anime to include rape from the manga to highlight the brute side of primordial instincts. Its meant to show the severe psychological damage inflicted onto the characters from this abrupt situation. But when such a theme is at play, the anime could have been more careful or more subtle in its depiction of romance. I did enjoy the romance, but it just felt uncomfortable (personal opinion don’t mind me).
Overall, the show is filled with action packed battles and tragic scenes. It was a complete blast (figuratively and literally) to watch the show and all its explosive scenes. The action scenes were also filled with many mind games and strategy that make it all the more entertaining. I think the anime’s concept and material has so much potential to create a world worth looking into. Just too bad that there’s no season 2.
Should I watch Btooom!?
For once, I actually am hesitating on recommending this anime to people. The anime is definitely entertaining and is worth the watch. The concept itself is a fascinating one and would honestly suffice if you’re into survival themed shows. However, and I think this is the biggest problem of the show, being only 12 episodes, the anime will disappoint all its viewers as it stops midway with no sequel. Yes, just as it gets good, it cuts off. Very unfortunate.
So should you watch Btooom!? Well, if you don’t ever read manga, or want to watch a thrilling anime just as a way to pass time, then yes, the anime version of Btooom! will do you some good. But if you’re interested in the plot’s premise and don’t want to be disappointed by the incomplete product of the anime, then skip the anime completely and read the manga instead. Or, just watch the anime and then continue with the manga. It definitely gets better from where the anime left off.