Published on March 2nd, 2014 | by Isaac0
Reluctant Anime Reviews: BTOOOM
We here at The Website of DOOM pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of pop culture. Our staff handpicks and laboriously crafts the quality content that reaches your computer monitor. However, researchers in the lab have found we have a deficiency in anime-focused content. This is mostly because a lot of anime is creepy, and nobody at DOOM wants to go near it. Fortunately, “want” has nothing to do with our new project. We drafted (read: forced) resident hermit, and part-time artist Isaac to watch anime. The programs will be selected at random using a highly sophisticated process, and he will be forced to watch them from beginning to end, no matter how weird they are, how uncomfortable they make him feel, or how likely it is the police will show up at his door. After his viewings, he will provide us with an article reviewing the program he just watched.
This is a feature we like to call: Reluctant Anime Reviews.
Dear readers, I’ve finally found a decent show. BTOOOM sets out to tell a simple, character-driven story, and succeeds with flying colors. I almost jumped for joy when I realized that this show wouldn’t shove vapid protagonists, or dong starved women at me. BTOOOM has a point. That’s all I ask from anime, people. Just try to do something that isn’t completely insulting to anyone watching it.
In the near future, a video game called BTOOOM has won the hearts of gamers around the world. Players hunt and kill each other using radars and bombs- no guns, swords, or lasers. So basically, I can only describe it as Bomberman: Modern Warfare. Ryota Sakamoto is the top Japanese player on the worldwide leaderboards, and spends his days doing nothing but playing BTOOOM. But one day, he wakes up on a deserted island, and soon realizes that he will have to play BTOOOM for real. He meets up with a businessman named Taira, and a girl named Himiko. The three decide to find a way off the island without having to kill others, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to hunt them down. Thus begins “Unwilling Deathmatch Story #236.”
Now, that premise sounds clichéd and overdone… and it is, to an extent. But BTOOOM knows that its plot is nothing new, and uses that to develop its characters well. No one in BTOOOM is perfect. Every character exists in a grey area of morality. From the protagonists to the villains, everyone has major flaws and redeeming qualities. For example: Ryota is a selfish underachiever with anger issues, who tends to use video games as an excuse to ignore responsibilities. Himiko doesn’t trust men, and has lost any real will to survive after the game. Taira is a loving father and husband, but was a cruel businessman who exploited and took advantage of his clients and employees.
These characters feel like real people with their own morals and ideologies. There are a few villains that transcend the realm of realism, and venture into the territory of “Pure Evil,” but never to an extent where they don’t fit with the plot. Everything flows smoothly in BTOOOM. It never feels like something is being thrown in just to advance the story, or to create more drama.
BTOOOM is dark. Very dark. And while you expect at least some of that in a series about people forced to kill each other, this show takes it to a disturbing level- while still staying realistic. On multiple occasions, I had to pause the show, and walk outside to listen to the birds chirping. I did this to remind myself of the beautiful things in life, lest I open a vein and bleed out, screaming to the heavens about the evils of man as I drift into oblivion. BTOOOM is one of the few shows that has made me cover my mouth in awe and mutter “OH NO.” But all these gruesome and disturbing set-pieces provide a moving juxtaposition for the overall positive message of the series.
On the whole, BTOOOM is about redemption, forgiveness, and caring for others. It sends a very clear message about the toxic nature of hatred, and how acting on impulse is not only destructive to those around you, but to yourself as well. The series shows both the positive and negative effects of using video games as escapism, and shows what it can do to an already troubled mind. It does all of this very subtly, and doesn’t beat you over the head with the tremendous “THIS IS THE MORAL” hammer. BTOOOM packs all the evil, malice, and morbidity in the early parts of the story so that the beauty, kindness, and general pleasantness later on stand out.
In addition to all this psychological drama, BTOOOM is a very touching romance. The relationship between Ryota and Himiko is really well done and paced well. The two characters grow close in an organic way, and use their budding feelings for each other to overcome their faults. And, without giving any spoilers, the way they end the series is absolutely wonderful, and sums up the message of the show perfectly. At no point does it feel sappy or forced, and I appreciate that.
And although I’m heaping praise on this show, it doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The writing on individual episodes can be dull, and the short story arcs can be far too predictable. In general, characters are fairly well established, but the show tends to fall into an “Oh, and one more thing…” mentality often. The overall villains of the story aren’t established well, and never get a proper introduction, nor do their motives get explained.
While I understand and appreciate the darkness and grim nature in BTOOOM, it got to be too much for me at times. The series tries to use rape, necrophilia and torture as tools to explain just how depraved some characters are, but are just kind of thrown out there and end up not serving any real purpose. It feels like the show relies on the shock values of some taboos too often, and ends up tripping on its own feet dealing with these sensitive issues.
I don’t really know what else to say. BTOOOM is good, if a bit harsh on those with weak wills. If you can handle getting curb-stomped by the gruesome nature of the human animal for a few episodes, you’ll find a wonderful psychological drama, with a solid, realistic romance. The show isn’t going to be something you’ll scream about from the rooftops for years to come, nor is it perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s enjoyable. So if you think you can handle it, give BTOOOM a shot.
I’m Isaac, and this has been a Reluctant Anime Review.
Next Time: DEMON KING DAIMAO
(I just can’t escape the harem animes, can I?)