Bus Gamer

TV Special (3 eps x 24 min)
3.295 out of 5 from 2,900 votes
Rank #10,926

In the underbelly of the corporate world, a secret series of battles takes place called the Bus Game, whose participants are solicited randomly via letters in the mail. During the games, teams of three attempt to take into their possession a disk filled with corporate secrets; the winners are given increasingly high cash rewards, while the losers get nothing - or worse, they lose their lives. Toki, Kazuo and Nobu make up the "no name" team, and their goal is to win one billion yen each. Each has a reason to need the money and a secret, disturbing past; but with high stakes and mysterious employers, they can only hope to leave the game alive.

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StorySometimes the first five minutes of an anime are all you need to know if it will bore or excite you; but sometimes, these precious minutes end up being nothing but the ultimate fake-out and disappointment. Bus Gamer, in true Ergo Proxy fashion, begins with a bang and a promise of an engaging, high-octane story to come - and then accidentally flushes itself down the toilet, never to be seen again. I loved Gantz. I loved Bokurano. I loved the 90s movie "The Game" starring Michael Douglas. Give me entertainment about people willingly or unwillingly stuck in a game with dire consequences and I'll watch it in a heartbeat; why, then, did Bus Gamer prove itself to be such a fickle mistress? I can boil it down to a few key points: It can't decide what genre it isThe pacing is so uneven that even craggy hillsides would point and laughKazuo is the ultimate douchebag who deserves to be impaled with a javelinThe story is too short and ultimately we are given zero explanations for anything going on.   Bus Gamer alternates between being a serious and mysterious thriller and (BARELY), and a campy feel-good anime about Kazuo winning over the comradery of his two teammates who (understandably) think he's annoying as hell. Personally, I gravitated far more strongly towards the thriller aspect and desperately clung to the hopes that the story would pick back up. Unfortunately, that just doesn't happen. In episode one we are introduced to the vague notion of the game and what the stakes are, watch Kazuo make an ass of himself, and see the boys partake in their first fight. Episode two is the most throwaway, random interjection of "character development" that I've seen in a long time: Kazuo plays video games with a local detective, and the guys sit around and talk for a long time. Minimal fighting occurs. At this point, I began to lose hope, as Bus Gamer is only three episodes total. Finally, in episode three, the boys fight again and we see a confusing resolution that seems to have been pulled out of a magical hat. I can't say the details without spoiling, but let's just say it's unclear what the result of the game was.  We also are never shown a clear picture of why our protagonists wanted to participate in the game in the first place. Pointless, and very disappointing - three points only for the first five minutes and occasional plot development. AnimationClearly, Bus Gamer doesn't have the most outlandish budget. Cringe-worthy animation shortcuts are aplenty and include still scenes and line-filled backgrounds during action shots. Fight sequences are flat out average and unengaging, and little else can be said except "meh."That being said, the bishounen character designs are "ok" - "ok" being in quotes because while clearly meant to be attractive, the protagonists' designs are rudimentary and not terribly appealing. In addition there is nothing out of the ordinary about any of the main characters; they could have been plucked out of any-other-bishounen-anime-out-there. I'd be a rich woman if I got a quarter for every time Nobuto or Toki looked at the camera either smoking a cigarette or gazing deep into the eyes of the beholder; hello, recycled idea! SoundBus Gamer's intro is relatively slick and cool - it's something you'd expect to hear when watching either a bishounen anime like Saiyuki, or any title that deals with shounen-ai or yaoi. During the meat of the series, the audio is minimal and reserved, usually focusing solely on sound effects. Action sequences are generally accompanied by metal riffs or other synthy beats, none of which are memorable. Voice acting-wise, most of the characters sound as expected - except, once more, that loveable Kazuo. He's sometimes serious and he's sometimes nasal and irritating - heavy on the nasal and irritating. Average marks for the audio for the average impact it left on me.CharactersKazuo pulls a Vash - err... Kenshin - err... Abel, and fluctuates frequently between being somewhat of a tough guy to a naively happy and trusting doofus; and frankly, it just doesn't work. In my top ten "characters I'd most like to punch in the face" list, Kazuo easily slides into the top five. His abrasive goofy ways are irritating at best. Kazuo's teammates, Nobuto and Toki, do not suffer from the same dichotomy of personality. They are hardened badasses, plain and simple, who will do whatever it takes to get to the top. Ruthless, skilled, and understandably annoyed at the teammate that has been forced upon them, they provide all of the sultry bishounen looks that are needed to ensure that Bus Gamer has a minimal fangirl status. Unfortunately, they bring little more to the table than that.The problem that plagues each of the main characters is that their back stories are never explained in even minute detail. During episode two, we are shown very short and minor flashbacks that serve, in theory, to explain why each character is after the one billion yen reward; but these flashbacks are far too truncated to make any sort of sense. This leaves you with a feeling of incompletion and complete lack of empathy or understanding for any of the three protagonists - and that's not a good thing, given that they are locked into a battle of life and death. Besides Nobuto, Toki and Kazuo, only one other character is brought into the limelight briefly: local detective and gamer extraordinaire Keiko. Her inclusion in the story is about as cohesive as me being forced to watch a hardcore ecchi anime, and frankly she should have been left out so another fifteen minutes of plot could have happened.Perhaps the unappealing, vapid, often irritating (*cough* Kazuo *cough*) characters are a casualty of Bus Gamer's short length and abhorrent pacing; whatever the case, I was disappointed.OverallBus Gamer's inconsistent pacing, underwhelming characters and disappointing story make it a relatively pointless watch. Bishounen lovers will find merit in Bus Gamer's character designs, but anyone looking for a substantial viewing experience is advised to stay away. Had Bus Gamer stuck with either full-on campy (Get Backers-style) or full-on intense (Gantz-style) it may have succeeded; as-is, however, it remains an awkward clash of two genres in a far-too-short package, and in my opinion fails because of it.


This had so much potential, but being an adaptation from a one volume manga series which was discontinued, there obviously wasn't going to be much to go on. It's not the length, either; I've seen two-episode stand-alone (or dropped series) OVAs which were more coherent and developmental in both plot and characters. One can argue that it was based off a pilot manga, but I've read better pilot manga as well. I wanted to give higher ratings to it due to the potential it had, but since nothing more came of it, nor will come of it, the low ratings will stand.  So, let's get started. Plot As soon as I saw the artwork, I drew parallels to Saiyuki, which is up there on my list of favorite anime.  A quick search confirmed it, so perhaps my expectations were just completely let down when this started. Granted, it didn't start out too badly; we were presented with three protagonists who had their own secret reasons to play a deadly survival game for money.  These three strangers were gathered together by some mysterious company to form a team, and either had to defend their own data disk from opposing three-person teams (being the Home Team) or defeat members of other teams to get their disk (Away Team). Of course, it's a given what would happen when you throw three strangers, two of which being hardcore lone wolf jerks, together and expect them to work together: The same sort of synergy that's seen in Saiyuki (the "I don't care about you but I really do care about you" teamwork). However, all it has is the opening.  In the end, we find out nothing about why they're playing this game, and what the people in charge are trying to do with it.  Again, it could be argued that it was based off a pilot manga, but with such a vague plot direction, it shouldn't have been adapted in the first place if it either wasn't going to explain what the writer intended for the series, or become an actual series and eventually hit upon it. In essence, there really isn't any plot besides the first ten minutes or so of the first episode. Characters What would happen if you put two Sanzo-like characters in the same room with each other with one Goku-like character (Saiyuki)?  The answer is the protagonists of Bus Gamer. The first character we're really introduced to is Toki Mishiba, who is a reticent lone wolf who at first doesn't seem to care about anything around him.  He was taught some form of budo (martial arts).  Other than that, there isn't much else to his character.  We get to see some flashbacks of sorts of him with whom I presume to be a brother, and their parents dead, but there isn't much else offered about him or why he wants the billions of dollars from the Game. The next character is...well, I'd describe him as a mix between Gojyo and Sanzo.  Nobuto Nakajyo is the stereotypical "bad boy" of the pretty-boy genre.  He has semi-long hair, smokes, and has superb street fighting skills.  In fact, he seems rather eager to get into fights even though he's the most level headed of the group. The final character is like a taller, blond Goku; Kazuo Saitou is a high school senior who obviously knew nothing about what sort of game it was, and has no combat skills what so ever.  He's highly skilled with electronics, and is the upbeat "let's get some teamwork going" sort.  I suppose he's the glue which holds the team together, though that got on Toki's (and sometimes Nobuto's) nerves more than once. There's a fourth character who is introduced in the second episode; a female detective named Keiko Ichinomiya.  She appears to be investigating the deaths of young adults, and by the context, it's obvious that her investigations have taken her to investigating those killed in the Game.  That's all there is to them.  Seriously, there isn't much left in the anime which I haven't already described.  Even by the last episode, we know little to nothing about any of them, or why they're playing the Game.  There was little to no character development within the three episodes, and it might not sound like much time, but three episodes is certainly long enough to develop characters a little. Animation Filled with still frames, odd pauses, and transitions that make you scratch your head and wonder what happened in the previous scene, the animation isn't anything to boast about. In episode two, the three protagonists are supposedly caught by a female cop, but by the next episode, they're back to getting ready for a Game, and it isn't until later that we find out they fled from her. There was also a weird transition in the second episode when they're going over a plan while having the Home advantage, and Kazuo mentions having to hold onto their disk "again".  There are a series of still clips after that which pretty much describe that the three have been playing the Game for quite some time since we saw the disjointed team in the first episode.  This makes plot and character development even more frustrating, as we still know little to nothing about them. The fight scenes are short and not often shown.  Just when I thought we were going to see a couple good fight scenes in the second episode, the screen cuts out to another section.  That isn't what I'd call "high quality animation". Overall Disappointing. It had potential, but was supremely disappointing.  Even with anime I give low ratings to, I sometimes recommend it for folks who might enjoy the genre, or are bored. This, I wouldn't recommend to anyone.  The plot has no direction, the characters are flat and underdeveloped, the animation is sloppy and lacking, and there are many parts which left me scratching my head. In fact, the only reason I watched all three episodes was in hope that it would turn out to be like some of the two-episode series I've seen, and explain enough for people to at least have a grasp on it.  That, or it would pick up and explain everything in the final episode. Bus Gamer did neither-nor.  It remained flat and slow-paced throughout the entire three episodes.  The only faster paced area was the "final" fight on the rooftop in the third episode. If you're bored, I'd suggest Excel Saga or Hetalia; they're what I call "crack anime", but they at least make more sense than Bus Gamer.  The only reason I didn't give it a lower overall score was because of the potential the idea DID have...potential which was squandered.

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