First Impressions – Btooom!

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_01.51_[2012.10.05_20.38.32] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.26_[2012.10.05_20.47.11] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.16_[2012.10.05_21.03.28]

Madhouse jumps into the fray with some hard sci-fi that doesn’t seem to be a game-changer, and doesn’t need to be.

OP: “No Pain, No Game” by Nano

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.20_[2012.10.05_20.39.01] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.29_[2012.10.05_20.39.10] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.12_[2012.10.05_20.39.53]

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.32_[2012.10.05_20.37.13]While had some premières this season that intentionally obfuscate in their openers, deliberately sowing disorientation in the audience to focus on style and atmosphere.  Btooom!, by contrast, dives right into the story.  It’s a classic anime sci-fi setup, and it’s pretty clear what’s going on just about from the opening credits.  There are certainly blanks to be filled in, but if you’re a fan of the medium you can make a pretty good guess about what will fill them.  Given that there hard sci-fi isn’t the major force in anime it once was, new series that do it well are always welcome – and the early returns seem to indicate that this is such a series.

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_01.33_[2012.10.05_20.38.14]The focus of the first episode (it appears as if each major character will be the focus of an introduction episode} is Sakamoto Ryouta (Kanata Hongou), a 22 year-old NEET living at home with his mother who spends his time in the basement playing the MMORPG “Btooom!”.  We’ve seen plenty of games like it in real life – the only real twist seems to be that you fight with no guns of any kind, only bombs – and plenty of scenarios like Sakamoto.  He fails at life but thrives at Btooom!, having risen to the rank of #10 in the world (someone on the production staff is clearly a tennis fan), and spends an unhealthy amount of time as his mother pressures him with increasing urgency to find a job. 

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.41_[2012.10.05_20.40.22]Again, the scenario that follows is pretty familiar: Sakamoto wakes to find himself in a jungle, in possession only of a bag containing a convenience store bento, a bottle of tea and a small pack of timer-based bombs.  Only later does he remember being approached on the street by some MIB types before waking up hanging from a tree by a parachute.  Yes, it’s Btooom! come to life – and it seems as if people like Sakamoto are being pitted against each other in a game where the stakes are life and death.  Familiar or not, though, it’s a good premise around which to build an anime. 

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.21_[2012.10.05_20.42.47]So far it mostly works, thanks to the premiere’s excellent brisk but manageable pacing and eye-catching cinematography.  The focus of the episode eventually turns to Sakamoto’s battle with a blonde-haired stranger (Hiyama Nobuyuki, criminal to kill him off in one ep) with his own set of bombs and no interest in dialogue.  From what I know of the source material this show is going to get pretty dark, dealing directly with the dark side of online gaming addiction and the troubled lives that drive mostly young people to it.  There isn’t really any rooting interest in the premiere – I certainly wouldn’t call Sakamoto likeable, though he’s done nothing to merit being blown up by a total stranger.  Whether this ends up being a straight-up survival game or a deeper exploration of the debt society owes to those who decline to contribute to it conventionally remains to be seen, but either way it seems to have a chance to be breathlessly entertaining in a refreshingly straightforward way.

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.59_[2012.10.05_20.44.26] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.51_[2012.10.05_20.45.17] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.55_[2012.10.05_20.46.40]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.29_[2012.10.05_20.48.34] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.18_[2012.10.05_20.51.35] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.29_[2012.10.05_20.52.04]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.12_[2012.10.05_20.53.53] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.53_[2012.10.05_20.55.35] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.03_[2012.10.05_20.57.56]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.03_[2012.10.05_20.57.59] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.40_[2012.10.05_20.58.33] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.51_[2012.10.05_20.58.43]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.22_[2012.10.05_21.01.14] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.46_[2012.10.05_21.01.39] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.32_[2012.10.05_21.02.24]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.16_[2012.10.05_21.03.28] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.41_[2012.10.05_21.03.52] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.51_[2012.10.05_21.04.03]

ED: “Aozora (Blue Skies)” by May’n

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.55_[2012.10.05_20.59.47] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.34_[2012.10.06_16.19.34] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.45_[2012.10.05_21.00.38]


  1. R

    Now that was faithful, 1:1 adaptation. Tough I would say that is a good thing. The blond guy shouting what his next move was going to be is a typical manga execution that doesn't work too well on anime form.

    BTOOOM! is good a good survival manga, just don't expect it to get to a Battle Royale-tier of greatness.

    Offtopic: For your "cutting back on blogging"-plan, definitively spend less time with the images. They only help to remember what happened in older series and I don't think most of your readers are here for that.

  2. R

    Messed up a sentence.

    >, 1:1 adaptation. Though I would NOT say that it's an intrinsically good thing.

  3. D

    …Yet somehow they misspell Roddick's name (they didn't have any issue with getting spelling correct for Tsonga, Kuerten, and Agassi). A sloppy job, I say!

  4. G

    Definitely not a bad episode. I really enjoyed the fast but even pacing and intense actions. This series totally falls in Madhouse's line of expertise. You can't get anymore Madhouse than this. It was kind of funny when it took him forever to figure out how the bombs worked, but otherwise it seems to be a relentlessly violent show imbued with little comedic effect. I foresee this to be pretty good, can't wait for the next episode.

  5. S

    I thought this was a really dry first episode. I'll watch next week and see if they can start to flesh this out a little bit. I have no interest in the characters, the premise of the story, or the art. It just doesn't feel right. Maybe this is a series I'll be able to drop from my schedule.

    I have high hopes for Madhouse.

  6. d

    Since a number of such manga around but for one to become an anime… this is something rare.

    Does not mean Im enjoying it though. It's gonna get Lord of the Flies real soon. Islands make people insane. Trust is hard to find.

    Shin Sekai Yori Ep 2?

  7. B

    Hard sci-fi? Maybe we're working off of different definitions of the term, or maybe you caught something I didn't in the episode. To me this doesn't come across as sci-fi at all, it seems like pretty straight up action based survival. This is Mirai Nikki with grenades. There were a few things in the episode that may have been hinting at something deeper, or may have simply been stylistic choices, but it's too early to classify this as a sci-fi when so far it absolutely does not meet the criteria.

  8. B

    Actually forget Mirai Nikki, it came to my head first because it's more recent but on closer examination the first episode of this reminded me much more of GANTZ.

  9. P

    The two aren't mutually exclusive. This is hard science fiction (or at least the manga is, and the anime seems to be following it closely), and it's also a straight-up action survival series.

  10. B

    I just don't see the sci-fi here. Again, I"m not familiar with the ource material, so maybe there is stuff later on that is more sci-fi. But so far what we've got is a kid who plays an online game that uses various forms of grenades and then gets thrown into a real life version of it. None of this is sci-fi, we already have all of this technology in real life, although the grenades are more stylish looking than what we might use.

    Hard sci-fi is usually defined as stories where science is a crucial plot point and the science is rigorously upheld to be as much inline with what we know of real science as possible. It is also usually set in the future and uses technology we don't have yet. This show after one episode meets neither of these criteria. Might it go this way later? Yes, it sure might. But as I am not familiar with the manga all I can go off of is the first episode and I did not see any overt sci-fi attributes in it, just a few subtle hints that may or may not lead to anything in the future.

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