There’s a sort of purity in the way Btooom! views the human race with almost perfect disgust that makes it fascinating to watch. From the evisceration of whole groups of people (doctors, lawyers, otaku, NEETs, kids, parents) to the leering, condescending view of women as man-hating stereotypes and men as cruel, perverted animals, it’s an impressive display of misanthropy.
In fact, I think as a series Btooom plays as the sort of nightmare reality show Tyrannus is trying to create in the series itself – and I’m beginning to think there’s a quite intentional form of satire in that which makes the writing far more clever and subversive than I gave it credit for. Or perhaps I’m giving it far too much credit now and it’s simply an exploitative piece of trashy fun that’s effectively unintentional self-parody. In the end, I’m not sure it really matters except to anime wonks like me who think too much for their own good.
There were a surprising number of characters emerging as major players here, given how close we are to the end. The Doctor we briefly met is Masahito Date (the great Narita Ken) and he may be one of the vilest of the bunch – a cynical, scheming bastard who views his Hippocratic oath as a disposable tool. We also have a Nobutaka Oda (Nakamura Yuuichi) who competes with Sakamoto for the latest food package, and proves himself to be very skilled at Btooom. Oda seems to be working with a female player Kinoshita Hikemi (Hikasa Youko) who gets into a verbal and physical catfight with Himiko that’s hilariously politically incorrect and misogynistic. And little murderer-rapist Kira re-emerges after a long absence, having seemingly grown bored with aligning himself with adults and decided to take his chances solo.
Incidentally, it escaped my attention up to now but the main cast here seems to have names quite similar to Sengoku-era warlords. I wonder if there’s a correlation between the personality of the player and the corresponding warlord, or it serves as a simple play on words.