The survival genre was about to be proclaimed officially dead until Lost came to the world. Then it was the Hunger Games and now, after the TV series and the big screen movie, we have finally managed to get a worthwhile anime series that falls into this genre. Thankfully, it is an adaptation of a great manga. BTOOOM! really is a sweet thing for everyone who enjoys this genre, but is NOT for the ones who wince before blood, abuse or extreme psychological stress and what could follow.
Spoiler alert – read this review at your own risk!
The original manga BTOOOM! was first published in July 2009 and is still going on in Comic Bunch (formerly Weekly, currently Monthly) by Coamix and Shinchousha publishers. It was initially created as an action survival story, but later turned into what many would brand as the best psychological survival game ever published as a manga.
The plot centres on the life and experiences of the young adult (22-year-old male) Ryouta Sakamoto. He is a good-for-nothing and lazy at that. All he does is play online games at his mother’s home and be a burden to his parent. Not getting well with his mother’s new partner so much that they got into a fight and always preferring games instead of finding a job or continuing his studies, Ryouta is more than just a messed-up young man. In the midst of depression and desperation, his mother writes down his name in a chain letter that promises to make whoever it is that the owner wants to go away disappear. Thus, young Sakamoto-chan ends up being stranded on a deserted island… or is it so?
In fact, on this island a game much alike his favourite mecha/bombing multiplayer online game where one needs to use various types of bombs in order to get a special item from the enemy and win. Winning, though, means staying alive and returning home. Losing, on the other hand, means a certain death. Having found love and friendship on this same dreadful place, though, Sakamoto-chan might be the very guy who will break the chain and find a roundabout way to escape.
Although many people love this anime, though, I need to add that there are at least as many that would not give it even a 4/10. The reasons are simple and I will list them for your convenience:
– sexual abuse
– physical abuse
– abuse of minors
– sociopathic behaviour
– blood and gore
– graphic scenes of gory wounds and detailed exposure of bloodied bodies
– death in various points of view, situations and ways
Although these are not false, but very accurate and real negatives for many viewers, it just means that this is one of the rare anime that can provide the otaku power with such themes without being classified as unwatchable on TV. As many people claim – anime is not meant for children. BTOOOM! is a great example for this. Of course, kodomo-oriented series make an exception.
When discussing BTOOOM! as the first survival series in a long time, I cannot restrain myself from mentioning that what it managed the most was to convince people to watch it and to like it. This is a great feat when everyone watches moe, ecchi and other genres that are not similar to this anime’s at all.
There is a simple reason for the show’s success – versatility.
Yes, BTOOOM! is versatile and it is its best part. It has gore, ecchi, appealing seinen, action-filled and breath-taking moments as well as deep emotional ones and romance… so much romance that not everyone would be able to stand. Sakamoto’s character from the online game has always been in love with one certain Himiko. What is the chance that this exact girl will be sent to the same island and at the same moment? Love works in mysterious ways and this one is just a prove of this.
Another great thing about BTOOOM! is that, although a lot in numbers, the characters of the show are all developed to the point that people can have an opinion on each and every one of them no matter how minuscule their role was and how few minutes they spent on the screen.
Having said all this, I need to make a small and brief reference to the original manga by Junya Inoue. The mangaka has managed to use an overly milked genre and combine it with a flat and very simple story… creating something that will be remembered for a long time. I am certain people who love action anime and can take a load of blood on the screen will watch this show and enjoy it just like they will enjoy the SAW movies. Story is not everything when it comes to pulling the right string and BTOOOM! proves it.