The weekend; people are always looking for something to do on the weekend. How about taking it back a few years and checking out a concert. How about Matchbox Twenty? Coming February 25th and 26th to the Lyric Opera House, Matchbox Twenty will be putting on a sure for us Baltimorians. Come on over and have a blast rocking out with them and us. And speaking of blasts, let’s move on to this reviewer’s anime of choice, Btooom!
Here we have the story of Btooom! The premise of the story is pretty similar to any other survival based manga and anime you’ve ever seen. But like all stories, the difference is in how it is presented. The story circles around Sakamoto Ryota, who is a twenty two year old shut in. His day to day includes staying home and playing a game called Btoom! It’s the kind of MMO where players use these explosives called bims to compete against one another and collect a certain number of pieces embedded in players’ hands. But Ryoto isn’t just anybody in the game. He’s ranked 10th in the world. Which matters for squat when his MMO world becomes all too real, and killing players means killing people for real. The series is rather interesting on several plot points. Players aren’t chosen by the company running the game, but by their supposed “loved ones”. Now the island their sent to is privately owned and they’re dragged against their will. Usually one ends up on the island because someone had a big enough grudge against you to want you dead. This gives a potential big boom for characterization as you meet people who are around for a while and wonder what they did to get sent to this island deathtrap. So the series plays out exactly as it would in Ryota’s game, save for the fact that his life is really on the line and he’s picking up the rules of the game as he goes along. Sounds like fun, eh?
In terms of the characterization mentioned before, this story is chalked full of it from the jump. We meet most of the key players on the island trying to figure out how they got on the island. And after that, we get a view of just how they came to be on that island in the first place. In the case of Ryota, we know. The kid was a piece of work. But then we meet the others like Taira Kiyoshi and Himiko. The fact that it’s a survival serial gives you the basis that the reader is going to see a battle of nature versus nurture. It is in that we see if a man is truly violent for need to survive or because deep down, it is who he really is. So in the first volume, you get to see the lengths that Ryota will go in order to survive. We also start to see the break down of his character, mentally. Because let’s face it. If you were on a deserted tropical island with killer lizards and other “players” all out to kill you to get a chip out of your hand, you’d have a mental breakdown too.
One of the things that are quite cunning of the manga is the art. The first thing you notice is the cover. It looks very close to a cover from an Xbox game. That said, this series (anime and manga) pulls no punches. Like other shonen , it focuses on battle scenes. But at the same time, there is great detail put into the environment and the people. It does give you the feeling of the people’s suffering and the fact that this world lives and breathes, and occasionally gets blown up. Adding to that, there is a lot of detail put into expression and desperation that is written on the people’s faces. Even without reading a word, you can feel their despair and see the betrayal before it even happens. The breakdown of their human ego is shown stage by stage until some of them you are able to see the animal that they call man.
All in all, great anime. Like all series, it comes with its share of ups and downs. There are a few writer’s conveniences; as well as the fact that there are sparse of nudity and gore. There is quite a bit of glossed over gore. But if you are able to get past that, the story is very engaging and captivating. If you got the time, be sure to check out Btooom! It’s a bang of a read.
Sorry for the cheesy one-liner.