22-year-old Ryouta is an unemployed good-for-nothing who spends his days living at home and playing Btooom, a wildly popular online game that's sold over three million copies worldwide. Alongside other teammates, Ryouta battles it out with others using powerful bombs and sonar that can reveal hidden enemies, and his dedication has earned him the title of Japan's top player. But soon, Ryouta's pastime becomes a terrifying reality, as he and many others are dropped onto a tropical island and forced to play Btooom – but this time for real. Now, he and the rest must fight to the death by whatever means necessary, as the only way to win this deadly game is by killing seven of the other players.
Oh look, another series about an antisocial hero who is very good at videogames. Could it be that it is aiming at a specific type of viewers? Whatever the answer is, here comes yet another show about some waste of life who does nothing but playing videogames all day, and is all of a sudden thrown in a life or death situation, where we are supposed to cheer for him, despite being a total jerk. It’s about a videogame that is something between Counterstrike and Bomberman, getting real after the protagonist is sent to fight other players. Then it becomes Battle Royale in a Predators setting, meaning, a bunch of people that need to kill each other, sent via parachute to a remote tropical island. And yes it sounds interesting at first, until you see how silly it plays out.You obviously need some suspension of disbelief when watching a fictional work, but this anime is constantly begging you to point your finger at it and yell THAT CAN’T HAPPEN. The laws of physics make absolutely no sense. When a bomb explodes right next to you, you will be hurt from the noise, the shrapnel, and the shock wave no matter how many times you flip in the air. Also, an explosion has a radius of several meters and is definitely way more than just a few square centimetres around it. So imagine how silly it looks when a dozen bombs explode all around the protagonist and he remains perfectly fine, even when he is a sitting duck. Of course this weird phenomenon occurs only for the protagonist, while everybody else dies in one hit.It is impossible to be immersed in the series, and it’s not because lots of improbable things keep happening. One of my favourite anime is Hokuto no Ken where people explode like balloons and the script is full of nonsense. The thing that makes all the difference between that and BTOOOM is that it never tries to make a distinction between reality and fiction. They never say “That is a videogame and is fake, while this is a death game and is real. When you make separations like these, it’s like you are demanding from the viewer to think about it, thus making it far easier to spot the improbabilities and realize the so called "real" death games, are as fake as playing a videogame.- When someone gets blown up to pieces, you can take his remaining bombs that miraculously don’t blow up along with him. Sweet, extra ammo from enemy drops, this videogame is nice... Oh wait, this is not a videogame but a realistic death game… Supposed.- When you throw a videogame controller at a wall, it is the plastic controller that breaks and not the brick wall.- Each player has a sonar device on his hand that allows him to know where the others are. The sonar is cancelled if someone else is using it at the exact same time. The chances of that happening are one in a thousand since the margin of error is less than a second and yet the protagonist pulls it off ten times in a row, while running.- His opponent doesn’t need the sonar in order to find the protagonist, since he is running around him while making noise as he passes through thick foliage. He may not see him but he can clearly hear him. The show wants you to believe he is deaf.- Most of the bombs are using fringe science and thus costs a fortune. Adding to the expenses the costs of sending messages to those that want people abducted and transferred to the island, while keeping the whole thing completely secret from public, means that they waste the annual budgets of a dozen major countries, just for the entertainment of a few rich people.- Continuity errors such as people disappearing for no given reason, or teleporting instantly to impossible places.- Giant man eating lizards appear out of nowhere. Because WHY NOT?- Constant flashbacks from just a few episodes ago, to waste time and further remind us of all the stupid things in this show.- And add to all that, the story is left incomplete, so nothing is really resolved.Since the script is so bad, the characters suffer from it as well. It would be interesting to see how each of them would react in a life or death situation, but because of the videogame logic the show uses, it makes them act stupid and the drama surrounding them doesn’t work one bit. The protagonist for example is being rewritten every 5 minutes. It’s impossible to tell what his personality is, since he acts completely different in every scene. And no, it’s not because he adjusts to the situation he is in; he LITERALLY becomes a different person depending on how the plot wants him to behave.- Throwing bombs at defenseless players who don’t even try to fight back does not prove how great of a player the protagonist is.- In one scene he knows how to use bombs, in another he doesn’t. He realized how a timer bomb works only five times after he tried it, even though he was playing the game for years.- In one scene he is anti-social and angry, in the other he is very social and polite.- In one scene he acts as a leader figure, in the other like a dork who can’t even walk without tripping.- In one scene he is cunning and sets traps to his opponents, in the other he gets surprised when he witnesses the exact same trap being used on someone else.- A NEET like him can’t possibly be so athletic. He was doing nothing but sitting in his house for years and yet can outrun or counterattack instantly people with far greater stamina and skills than him. It may have worked in a videogame by pressing buttons really fast, but in reality he wouldn’t be able to run for 5 seconds without getting exhausted.In a similar way, every other character has two lines of a personality, and even those are presented in an extreme way. They are all way too evil, or way too stupid, to the point they are indeed like videogame caricatures and not real people taking part in a real death game.- The deuteragonist for example is a sexy blonde school girl, which makes all people around her to wanna rape her on first sight. She is also accidentally the one the protagonist is married to in the game, something which is so easy to happen in REAL life. She is the main source of fan service and the animators never miss the chance to zoom on her privates. As for her personality, it is also rewritten based on the demands on the script. She is supposed to be afraid of men, unless the plot says she needs to trust them right away, so they can betray her. Then she will not trust men thereafter, until the plot needs her to trust them immediately once more.- The protagonist’s mother was the one who wanted her son to be sent to the death game because he was mean to her. Because that is what parents do when their kids are impolite; they send them to be killed in some sadistic game instead of seeking help from any one of the thousands of humanitarian organizations out there.- The blond chick on the other hand was chosen by her best friends. There was an incident where they got raped, but she escaped, called the police, caught the rapists, and saved their lives. As thanks, they believed she should have stayed and gotten the same treatment like the best friend she was supposed to be, instead of the UNFORGIVABLE act of not letting them die by doing nothing. That makes sense.I almost feel sorry of all the money studio Madhouse wasted on making this thing. I can place it next to Death Note in terms of atmosphere and cinematics. Many secondary characters have some really ridiculous pitches to their voice, that made them sound very retarded, but other than that it looks great and makes you wish that was the only thing which was bad in this show. It is just another stupid anime ala Deadman Wonderland or Future Diary. Just nonsense and edgy violence for low tier pop corn entertainment. And it fails even at that because it keeps telling you it is not a videogame but a REAL death game.
Btooom! is unoriginal and stupid. The plot is ridiculous, the characters unoriginal, and it is yet another incarnation of the "play or die" type show. There are the standard angsty cliches. There is everything that is aimed at the middle-school boy. But you know what? Btooom! is plain awesome. It is fun, it is cool, it just rocks. Fast paced when it needs to be, slow paced when it doesn't. It starts with good, and then just keeps the pace. The animation is gorgeous, the sound top notch, and there is a distinct lack of pretentiousness to everything. Btooom! doesn't pretend to be a philosophical masterpiece. It is also not a self aware parody (*cough*Kill la Kill*cough*), but rather is just straight up what it seems. In a landscape where all anime seems to try its best to add a special twist to make itself stand out, there is a distinct lack of shows that just try things that are proven to work. Ironically, by adhering so much to tried and true tropes, Btooom! feels unique. Refreshing actually. The problem? There was obviously another few episodes left in the tank. If this was just the first season out of two, this could have been the best "play or die" series ever. Instead, meh. Writing (Story and Characters): What can I say, Btoom! is just well done but ultimately nothing special in the story and characters department. That being said, it doesn't intend to do anything special, it intends to do it right. And that it does, with flying colors. There are the parts which are over the top, as can be expected. But hey, they don't pretend that it's Melville. Childish, immature, aimed at teen men, unrealistic, ridiculous, you get it. You know what? This is also written in a way that turns of all disbelief and allows you to just enjoy the ride. Sure, like many types of anime, there is a lot of forced connection between the characters. Yes, there is an overdose of introspective monologues at times. It needs to be mentioned: the series ends in the middle. Btoom! could, and should, have been at least three episodes longer. And yet it isn't. While on one side, it ends without wearing out its welcome, it loses out on things like resolution and you know... actual story. Of course, the advantage of it is that it remains purely battle-arena-centric, rather than going out on grand philosophical notes (a failure of everything from Battle Royale to Fate/Zero). Art (Animation and Sound): What can I say? Madhouse have done it again. The animation is top notch, the sound effects are wonderful, the soundtrack is very fitting and keeps with the cool vibe of the series. Btooom! is a tour-de-force in how to produce anime. It doesn't use very artsy tricks, it doesn't use heavy effects, and it doesn't need to. There are very few parts where the lack of motion is something you will notice, and that usually ranks high in "things that annoyed the hell out of you without being able to put your finger on it". Actually, lack of movement is used very cleverly when it does happen, usually in situations where the tension is very high. It is not perfect - there are still the moments where you can see that a bigger budget (more animators) would have given us more dynamic backgrounds. But you know what? *CLOSE ENOUGH*. There are no aspirations for higher art, despite the occasional artistic spark that's used. That would be completely wrong for something like Btoom!. Of course, there are gorgeous backgrounds, amazing character designs, and even the obligatory stock characters (fat guy with big mouth, musclehead thug, etc) aren't pushed towards extremes and are given their own distinction. The sound production is tight, the voice acting is good (if over the top occasionally, just like the series itself), and overall, Btoom! is just rocking. Overall: So close. So close to perfection. Three to five episodes more, and this would have been the best battle arena / play or die / game to the death type series ever. Still, this is well worth it if you just want to let go and have some fun. Btooom! is earnest, clean, and most of all enjoyable to the extreme. I am just raging at the ending, as most people do.
To start off, I just want to say I'm willing to excuse a lot. I intentionally went into this wanting to watch a show that wouldn't challenge me. I wanted something dumb, where I could turn off my brain and have a good time. That being said, Btooom is awful. I used to think being boring was the worst crime entertainment could commit, but I know better now. A show can be so bad that it can have a negative effect on you. It goes beyond being boring, and is painful to watch. I can handwave that somehow the bags are intact after their wearer has been killed. I can ignore how close the characters get to the explosions and somehow manage to get away unscathed, without so much as a ringing in their ears. I can suspend my disbelief and accept that they have the technology to build bombs that just vaporize a certain area, and that the company could afford all of this stuff. I don't even need an explanation about the organization or the spectators. We all know why they're watching, they're watching for the same reason we are. They want to see some bad ass fights. They want to see the innocent become corrupt. The Man of Tai Chi was a pretty terrible movie, but its message dealt with our desire to see such things, and it did it pretty well. In fact, I wouldn't even mind no explanation at all as to why it's happening, that there was just a chain letter, and people are sent off to this island and nobody knows why. It's not necessary. I can even overlook the fact that none of these bombs work the way they would in the real world, and that the damage they do at different ranges is completely inconsistent. But I can only overlook these things if there are some other merits to the show that make it worth it. As it is, they only make all of the failings of this show just that much worse. Honestly I didn't care about any of those problems, because they're rather nitpicky for a setting like this which is already ridiculous, just as long as I got what I came for. However, Btooom! didn't give me what I came for. You'd expect out of a dumb action anime that there would be some sweet action, right? Especially for this setting. A shut-in who does nothing but play one game all day is tossed into a real life version of the game. Here, he would be a god amongst the rest of the "players". Yeah, cliched and uninspired, but it works. Except it doesn't work if you don't do that. Somehow, after the protagonist Sakamoto instinctively throws away a box that is counting down and it explodes, he fails to realize that his bombs explode after he activates them and they count down to zero. SERIOUSLY? Are you kidding me?! Anyone who is literate enough to understand that it's counting down should have instantly understood what was going on after that first experience. I honestly can't comprehend why they had to have him figure out what was going on at a later point. Was it because they didn't think the audience would understand? If so, they're insulting the intelligence of their audience to an extreme degree. And if not, they're saying that Sakamoto is an idiot. This may be a small grievance, but it will set the pace for the rest of the series. There is only one time in the whole series that Sakamoto does something truly clever, with Oda and the trap bombs. And there is only one time he does something in utilizing the game mechanics in the fight between him and Kira with the sonar, however, how he actually did it wasn't even properly explained. I can guess at how, but it would only be a guess. You'd think every fight would be a showcase of Sakamoto, "The Strongest Player", outsmarting his opponent with some grand scheme that might not even make that much sense, but everyone would be shocked at how his knowledge of the game's mechanics and tactics had allowed him to create an incredible masterplan. Not exactly the most original kind of storytelling, but still fun regardless. I wanted to see how the tactics of the game worked or how they did or didn't translate to real life, and how someone could use bombs in more interesting ways than just throwing them at each other. Instead, Sakamoto beats almost everyone by just tossing a bomb at them. His methods of survival are mostly running away and barely dodging explosions that should have killed him. However, most of the show ignores the action to focus on the characters and their interactions. This might have been really interesting, to see people break down as they face life or death situations. Or, it would have been, if the characters or their interactions had been done with any finesse or done well at all. This leads me to the worst element of the entire show: What is unforgivable is how the show treats the main female character, Himiko. It's god awful. SAO had the problem where they had to nerf the supposedly badass lead female because the protagonist had to be the greatest ever, but even they managed to make her able to do something. Here, because the "best Btooom! player in Japan" is hardly able to do anything, in order for him to seem cool in comparison they have to make sure that she is completely helpless in every scene she's in. She's a Btooom! player as well, she should be able to use these tactics to her advantage. She should be better than most everyone on the island. The worst part is that the show, in part, agrees. She's shown to have killed around 4 people before meeting up with Sakamoto. She uses a game tactic to draw him right to her. She should be fully capable to take on just about anyone on the island except for Sakamoto. Yet she is completely paralyzed any time it comes where she should be able to work something out herself, and always waits for someone to bail her out. She could have been an awesome character, on par with Sakamoto's skill, but they chose to make her weak despite it. Not that being on par with Sakamoto would mean much with the way the show portrays him anyway. This is ignoring all of the nasty stuff relating to how she thinks about herself, and how her only motivation to stay alive is Sakamoto. I've got no problem with rape in stories, as long as there's a good payoff. Btooom! didn't earn it. They even used it for the purpose of fanservice, which is pretty disgusting. In the end, its inclusion was just obscene. The one time she actually works towards her potential, she makes a fairly obvious observation about the homing BIMs, but somehow doesn't realize that the person using them would just select her as the target next. There were plenty of opportunities where she could have used her knowledge of the game to do something awesome, especially when Date had cornered her, and she thought Sakamoto was dead. At that point you'd imagine that she'd want revenge and utilize some tactic from the game to pull off a crazy move and win the fight. Speaking of characters, about 3/4ths of the way through the series when Sakamoto has teamed up with his group and is starting to meet other strong and more interesting players, things appear to get interesting. Finally I thought I might get to see some interesting fights. Unfortunately that doesn't happen. The most interesting characters in the show, who weren't that interesting to begin with, get only one moment to shine each and they don't even complete their character arc within that time. For the most part, these characters are alive by the end of the show, and a lot of mystery surrounds them, what they're going to do, and where they're going to end up. I'd expect a satisfying conclusion to each of these enemy paths, but that never happens even though there's 12 whole episodes and about 3 of these important characters. It doesn't help that things really start coming to a head in the last stretch of the show with no real climax or progression between any of them. This means that the first three quarters of the show are unreasonably slow. The characterization of Taira bothered me, if only for the inclusion of one scene at the end where Sakamoto grieves for him. He mentioned how he would miss his little quirks of eating not quite cooked instant ramen and telling stupid jokes. I liked the fact that he didn't wait until the ramen was fully cooked. It was a quick, unobtrusive, and subtle way to flesh out his character and make him seem like a real person. However, he never said any of those jokes that Sakamoto mentioned during the show. Something like that would have made his character more unique and would have made his death and the subsequent scene more powerful. My last problem with the show is whatever grotesque version of what they consider to be moralizing. I'm sorry, if someone has killed people before, and is trying to kill you unprovoked, they have lost their right to live. This is ignoring the blatant truth that leaving them alive is incredibly dangerous in the long run, which the show acknowledges. Showing mercy to the kid was understandable, since they didn't understand what a monster he really was, but Sakamoto acting like he was taking a moral high ground by not killing people who had killed others, were going to kill more people, and were trying to kill him, was infuriating. Killing the innocent and killing the guilty are obviously different. A quick note about the technical aspects. The animation wasn't anything special, but for some bizarre reason that I see happen now and then in shows, when the show cuts to someone's feet walking the framerate drops to a nauseatingly low level. The sound wasn't particularly bad, and the opening theme was pretty kickass, probably one of the best parts of the show. Despite all of these grievances I've listed, even the unbelievably poor treatment of the female lead, I would have had a great time with this show if it had smarter action scenes. That's literally all I asked for, and they didn't even give me that. It squandered what little potential it had. I couldn't like it even though I wanted to. It's offensively bad. Honestly, it's one of the worst shows I've ever watched. So it doesn't work as an action show, it doesn't work as power fantasy, it doesn't work as a drama, it doesn't work as a romance. So what does it have going for it? Nothing.
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