Anime Review: Btooom! "Like Battle Royale with a bit more Hope"
If the name alone doesn't catch your eye, the anime itself will. “Btooom!” is about Ryouta, a 22-year old shut in who is obsessed with the video game “Btooom!”. The game itself is essentially a shooter that uses explosives instead of guns and Ryouta spends so much time playing it that he ius ranked 10th in the world. One day after playing another session of the game he wakes up hanging from a parachute in a tropical forest. All he has is a change of clothes and an unfamiliar pack filled with explosives. Almost immediately after getting his bearings he is attacked by another man, who also has explosives. Ryouta soon realizes that the whole situation around him is just like his beloved video game turned real.
Image of Ryouta:
The other leading character is a blond girl who is referred to as Himiko. She was also a Btooom! player and Himiko was her gamer tag. After nearly being raped shortly before her arrival on the island and then being used by the men around her once on the island, she grows an intense distrust of any man she meets. This leads to a great amount of conflict with Ryouta later, when the two meet and start to work together.
Image of Himiko:
It is also revealed early on that each person sent to play this live action Btooom! game were chosen by someone they knew. The company behind this game sends out forms that ask the person who receives it who they want to see disappear. Once this is found out by various characters it makes them feel as if this fate is there punishment and it is simply karma catching up to them.
After the first few episodes the rules for this real Btooom! game are laid out, to leave the island a player must collect 8 crystals, which are imbedded into each player's hand and can only be removed upon death. Not only does killing another player get you a crystal but also allows you to take their BIMs, the term they use for the explosives, which is crucial for each person was only given 8 to start with. There are also several different kinds of BIMs yet everyone only starts with one type. This leads to very interesting tactics and battles as the series progresses. The types of BIMs range from timer bombs, to mines, and even homing grenades just to name a few.
Now at this point, you might realize, that this has been done before and quite frankly, yes it has. I like to describe this anime as “Battle Royale” but with more hope. Battle Royale has much of the same premise with a class of 9th graders being handed weapons of various types and are then forced to kill each other until there is only one left. However, for Btooom! it appears there can be more than one winner and the drama is lessened by the fact that most of the people involved did not previously know each other.
What really made me enjoy this anime stems from the fear and uncertainty that is portrayed in all the characters. The anime does it well, where you really can feel everything the characters are going through. Betrayal is another key factor to the success of this show, it keeps you guessing when temporary alliances will fade and at what point does the doubt outweigh trust.
My only real qualm about this anime is that it doesn't have an ending. At episode 12 it simply stops and has a continue screen, hinting that they definitely want to finish it but as of now there has been no announcement for a season 2. After looking around it appears that the anime uses about the first 50 chapters of the manga and, as of writing this, the current chapter the manga has reached is 53. So if it sells enough and receives a second season there will still be some time yet until there is enough material to work with to continue. However, the emotional build up to the season finale is incredibly compelling and I highly recommend watching and grabbing this anime once it is available for purchase. Recently this series was licensed for a North America release by Sentai Filmworks and is expected to come out later this year.