Bus Gamer

TV Special (3 eps x 24 min)
2008
3.194 out of 5 from 3,201 votes
Rank #5,068

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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Reviews

sothis
4

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.

mdchan
3

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.

Risan07
8

Bus Gamer, another series created by Kazuya Minekura. She is most famously known for creating the ever popular Saiyuki series, which I love with all my heart. I have wanted to dabble in the series ever since I found out about it, but I only got to it today. If I make a lot of comparisons to Saiyuki, I apologize, but since it's by the same creator I can't help but to compare the two series.Story: 8/10Even though the series was only three episodes long you cannot deny the premise of it. It's interesting, mysterious and guaranteed to be action packed. No episode is wasted with fillers, they get straight to the point whether it's introducing a character, or if they're on a mission. It follows your standard shonen plot, the opponents steadily get stronger and the locations become more interesting. They managed to stick a different fight in each episode which was appreciated. I do wish that there would have been more episodes so it can get more into the underlying plot, but then you must consider that this is an anime based on a pilot manga. Minekura continued the series in 2008, but I think her illness prevented her from getting into it (along with Saiyuki :( ). All in all the story did its job, it entertained me and had me wanting more. That being said, if you don't like anime with lackluster or loose endings then this probably isn't for you.Art: 7/10The art style is classic Minekura. It looks like Saiyuki or Wild Adapter and personally I love it. But Bus Gamer has something visually that Saiyuki or Wild Adapter doesn't have, rather unique looking characters. Now if you're a fan of hers then you'll probably know what I mean; every series she has ever created has pretty much the same looking characters from Saiyuki. It was pretty much her first series, except Just!! which debuted in 1995, so you're bound to find characters that look similar. However, most of the characters tend to look like Hakkai, Gojyo or Sanzo. There were only two exceptions; Hachi no Su and Bus Gamer. From hair style to color, Mishiba, Nakajou and Kazuo are slightly different looking from the Saiyuki boys; although if I had to make comparisons to the two series, I would say Toki is Sanzo, Nobuto is Gojyo, and Kazuo is Goku. I've seen some complain that the series looks like it was made in 2001 and it kind of looks cheap for the time it was made. The fact of the matter is, the pilot WAS released in 2001. However, I do not mind as much, because 2001 was when her art improved significantly. It's cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing than Gensoumaden Saiyuki, her first Saiyuki series. Bus Gamer gave way to Saiyuki Reload and more so I can appreciate it for that step foward in art, and personally if I had to choose between Minekura's art from 1997 and 2001 I would gladly choose 2001. Another welcome was the coloring, which seemed to have mellowed down from Saiyuki. It's not overly bright or overly bold; it fits with the atmosphere of the city while retaining that nostalgia from Saiyuki. I was disappointed with character consistency though, they looked rushed and choppy in some of the scenes, a problem which I thought they would have fixed from the Saiyuki anime. Another problem was the animation, although smoother than Saiyuki it was still stiff and rather behind the times compared to other anime of the time. Consistency and animation were the reasons I gave it a seven and nothing higher; but the art, despite it being lacking compared to other animes, is what got me hooked to Kazuya Minekura in the first place, which is why the score isn't lower.Sound: 7/10I don't have much to say about the sound, because it is pretty forgettable. It just blends into the background too much and it doesn't stand out. The only parts where I remembered where in the beginning when it showed the scenery and there was no dialogue to distract me. It just seemed like a cheap 90's action music soundtrack, no quirky banjo music or chilling character theme songs to capture my attention. The opening was fun to listen to and I actually sat through the opening each time to listen to it (something I never do). The ending was okay, but I didn't bother listening to it but once. Overall, it was okay.Character: 7/10While three episodes isn't enough to really get a feel for the characters I can say that they're pretty interesting. They're definitely more mellow versions of Sanzo, Gojyo and Goku though. Mishiba Toki is the "Main character", the story starts out pretty much from his point of view and it ends from his point of view. He is silent and rather unfriendly (such as Sanzo). his weapon of choice is himself as he had taken martial arts in the past. Despite his cold exterior he has his moments, from enjoying the salmon riceball to being caught off guard by Kazuo. Overall he's rather thoughtful even though he doesn't make it known. Nakajou Nobuto weapon of choice is a lead pipe, and he is often compared to Mishiba because he also appears to be a silent and unfriendly archetype. However, in my opinion he's rather different. He voices his opinions more, he's more firendly and easier to approach, he's the planner in the group. He's also cockier than the other two, blatantly stating in the beginning that he was stronger than them. He carries a smug expression and often complains about having to work with his partners; but underneath he cares about them, especially taking Kazuo under his wing. Saitou Kazuo is the comic relief in the series. His weapon of choice is-...well...he's pretty useless in a fight. He states in the beginning that his only talent was being healthy and boy is this true. He is mostly entrusted with the disks and told to hide, which he will gladly do in a heart beat. However that doesn't mean he doesn't come in handy now and then; when the others find themselves in a pinch he kind of comes through. He's naive, loud and friendly. He tries to get Mishiba and Nakajou to open up and constantly pesters them. He definitely doesn't fit with the other two, but that sure as heck doesn't stop him from trying! They're a funny group of guys and although not as in depth as Saiyuki, it probably would have grown if the series had been longer.Overall: 8/10  It was entertaining and it kept my interest from start to finish. It made me crack up when it was supposed to be funny, and kept me on my toes when it was supposed to. I wanted to learn more from these three but can never be satisfied (sigh). I loved especially how they snuck Saiyuki into show, that was great, showing that you can never escape product placement.  The series is only an hour and a half total, so at least give it a try. It's a great short series if you just want to kill time or if you're looking for a quick fix in anime. If you're a Minekura fan, I would definitely recommend it.

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