Vol: 25; Ch: 117
2009 - 2018
3.94 out of 5 from 1,929 votes
Rank #5,682

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.

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Spoiler free version: Plot slightly predictable in places, main character development (you know, hero syndrome) and relationships are formulaic, but overall it's pretty good for character backstories and as a survival story. If you like violence and explosions, and I mean really like explosions, and perhaps like strategy and character development, you should read it. If you balk at the sight of blood, guts, or graphic rape, huge trigger warning -- this is not for you. Btooom! has a formula that many of us have probably seen before. There is a game, game becomes real life, person who played game is main character and plays the 'real life' version of the game. This, combined with a Battle Royale-esque fighting/combat scenario (there is a good reason it's the top, gives us a slightly predictable notion of the character(s) who are going to come out on top - a.k.a., Main Character and Main Character's girlfriend... at least as far as the manga shows. Needless to say, you don't get exactly nervous when the manga taunts you with the idea that Ryouta Sakamato (aforementioned main character) may or may not have died. Story: 32 people are transported onto an island, and are given explosives called BIMs and chips implanted into their hands. Their goal? Collect seven other chips and, with their eight chips, they can call a helicopter to escpae the island. The 'twist' is that,  in order to remove said chips, the person has to be dead (or the hand the chip is implanted must be removed from the body, either works). The main character, Ryouta, is a top-ranker and a debugger for the online game Btooom! that the real-life game is based off of, and it is because of this knowledge and previous stragizing that he is able to play the game as successfully and cleverly as he does. Immediately, he becomes friends with an older man named Taira and eventually befriends a girl named Himiko who oddly resembles his Btooom! girlfriend (five guesses as to whether or not she is, in fact, Himiko from the game). The story follows Ryouta, his want to save as many people as possible from the island, his fear of killing, and the day-to-day survival of their little group. Along the way, they meet others on the islands, blah blah blah, some people try to murder them, blah blah blah, fourteen-year-old kid is creepy as shit, blah blah blah, explosions and boom boom motherfuckers. Art: The character design is pretty standard, but the scenery is FREAKING GORGEOUS OKAY. All the leaf details and pretty pretty forests that kind of remind me of Vietnam War documentaries. Maybe that has to do with the explosions combined with the heavy foiliage, but I like the art well enough. It's not shockingly amazing, but it's either good or good enough, depending on what you look at. Characters: If there is a major thing that kept me reading Btooom!, it would have been the characters. It's revealed that the people sent to the island are only sent there if they done fucked up in some form or fashion. People in what I'll call the real world, the non-Btoom!-ified world, send the gaming corporation names of the people that "don't deserve to live." Some of the best character development comes from showing characters that seem to demand either spite or sympathy, and showing these backstories to explain their characterization. These backstories serve as motivation for each character that is important enough to get one, and flesh out the characters on the whole. Even the main character isn't spared from a backstory that villianizes him a little -- only of the first things you see is the verbal abuse of his mother, and that he punched his stepfather over them trying to seperate him from his online game. Some characters are victims and don't deserve their fate, and some characters deserve their fate a million times over. The backstories connect the characters to their personality and their motivations in-game, making for more complex characters with very real fears, anxieties, and worries. On top of the, you know, bit where they're scared shittless that they're going to die. 'cause that's a big part of it, too. Overall: Overall, I'm torn between a 7 and an 8. It depends on the endgame of the manga, where they go with the ending and the characters, how they handle the company that sent them all to the island, the epilogue to the manga. So far, it seems to be heading in an interesting direction. Since I'm rating it as it is now, I'm going to give it a 7.5, based on the character development and the great survival plotline. I'd suggest it to anyone that likes action, explosions, and character development. There are a few parts of the manga that are really dramatic and most of the characters are extremely human, something that should be respected in an action manga like this. There are dramatic moments that show the bonds between the people in the island and give good looks into the psyche of each of the characters involved, and some of the storylines are outright horrific to imagine or poignant when the significance of the moment is explained. Plus they don't skimp on the intestines. Bless them for the fact that they don't tease us with the stupid gore by just having it off-screen and showing character reacts (except in one or two places that are done so for dramatic placement, y'know). You make something about explosions, you best show body parts strewn about a forest. And they deliver, without making it a manga wherein you see organs every other page. They keep it at the right amount of gore and ecchi so that it's not every-fucking-where, but you appreciate it when it is. Yay for appropriate amounts of blood n' boobs!Note: Also includes implications of vagina.


TL;DR - Wow, that was disappointing. Note: This is a review of this manga as well as the two "sequels" or endings, "Light" and "Dark." Heavy spoilers follow. It started off pretty good. Battle royale-type manga are usually really interesting to read because there's a lot of action. You get a clash of all these different people and personalities along with their own reasons for fighting. The mechanics of this game were somewhat interesting too, which added to the excitement. But that started to wear off pretty quick. Some characters were okay. Most were dumb. There were way too many characters that were edgy and nasty just for the sake of being edgy and nasty. There was a lot of unnecessary fan service and sexual content and rape-y elements where there didn't need to be. Main character is meh. Average, at best. Typical good-hearted, noble main guy that's just a little overpowered and easily wins over heroine's heart. Himiko (heroine) started off as a really interesting character. But then she just turned into a helpless princess who's madly in love with the main character. So disappointing. I don't know why so many manga and mangaka love this trope where an interesting, competent, powerful woman suddenly becomes useless upon being beaten and discovering love. Kira started off as a hardcore gamer who's ruthless and wants to win but then flipped back and forth between going insane and killing everyone and being totally moral, conscientious, and caring. I think the author was trying to go for a moral conflict here, but it was so poorly done. And to be honest I'm kinda bummed he didn't die. Little shit would've deserved it. Kaguya was a medium who could see ghosts and spirits, who conveniently would tell characters where their enemies were and where to run to escape (????). Around 90-ish chapters, the story just became absolutely nonsensical. Lots of stuff didn't make sense, but by that point I was so close to the end that I'd be ashamed to just drop it. The manga lost a lot of its initial intrigue. Battles were no longer strategic and interesting, but miracle after miracle occurs and characters survive seemingly hopeless situations. Too many "You activated my trap card!" moments. One of the antagonists randomly had a machine gun with seemingly unlimited ammunition. That was stupid. Remote-controlled mecha robots that fuck everything up were introduced. Players were somehow in a software game but somehow it was also real life on some remote island? The main character was forced to "rape" Himiko, but it wasn't really rape because they both wanted it? Why was this scene necessary? Special forces from multiple countries got involved, and somehow bank CEOs and royal princes from so-and-so country were watching a live broadcast of both the game and the game studio's headquarters where people were dying and getting shot by nailguns (????). A few of the game company's programmers went rogue after feeling guilty about forcing players to kill each other? And so they enlisted the help of a 3rd-party, famous hacker to hack-battle it out with another genius programmer at the company who's pro-letting-people-bomb-each-other in a "game" that's not actually a game? God, what a fucking disaster. Just about the only thing that was consistently good throughout the entire manga was the art. The drawing and the detail were incredible, and they're unfortunately wasted on this C-grade story.

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