Anime Reviews

Survive, you shit!

There’s no denying that I adore survivalist fiction. For example, I love Romero’s zombie films because they are all about surviving (and inevitably failing in) an impossible situation: a world overrun with violent madness. In terms of anime, I’ve often talked up Blue Gender, but there’s also Gantz, Infinite Ryvius and Highschool of the Dead: none of them perfect, but all four intense and absorbing. Recently, I blogged about Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. This I now regret because the series wasn’t good at all, but those first two episodes nailed that old weakness of mine all the same. What I’m trying to say is, I’m a slave to this genre and therefore, I’m a slave to Btooom!.

This new Autumn anime is about people throwing grenades at each other. Some have timers, others explode on impact, and to survive, you have to blow up the other guy first. Straight up, it has me hooked already. There’s more to it than that, but there’s also a guttural joy in seeing to two guys attempting to out-smart each other in such an intense situation.
The survivalist elements are born out of main character Ryouta Sakamoto’s introduction to said death game: waking up in the middle of a jungle on some deserted island without a clue about how or why he got there. It’s not exactly rocket science to work out why, though: he was sent there by his mum, because he’s a selfish, arrogant bum, content to spend his days playing video games and chasing hopeless dreams. She hates him, and I don’t blame her.
“Getting real,” could well be the best way to describe the driving force behind this first episode. Ryouta begins it prideful and arrogant, and ends it covered with sweat, tears and blood, scared and alone. He isn’t a Light, or Lelouch, he’s just some twenty-something NEET in desperate need of a reality check. This, he gets.

Already, I think we can safely say that Btooom! won’t be a subtle series. It’s basic and violent and more than a little pulpy: at the end of this first episode, Ryouta runs into a half-naked girl. Yup, grenades and breasts: that about sums it up. Why did I enjoy it so much?!!

12 replies on “Survive, you shit!”

Great read. I’ve always been a sucker for survival game fiction, enjoyed Battle Royale and Hunger Games immensely (BR more, visceral and unapologetic). I hope this fits in somewhere between? Maybe siding with BR more, as anime can depict lots of interesting situations that are hard to replicate in film. Hoping Madhouse has brought their A team for this one. Looking forward to the next episodes!

I think Madhouse is going through a transitional phase right now (they’ve been haemorrhaging directors,) but this felt like something of a throw-back to their mid-Noughts hey day! Fingers crossed it manages to hold up.

I liked it when I first saw it, the visceral point of view it takes (summed up by your post title), but since then I’ve had second thoughts. That guy who tries to blow him up, a trash-talking murderous idiot cardboard figure who only existed to get us into the basic premise, for example.
I was thinking the company was the one who sent him there (maybe with his mom’s help). I figured they had had their eye on him as a potential player/victim for some time.

It’s more of an “in the moment,” kind of anime, really. That’s not to say it’s wrong to scrutinise, but “cardboard figures” and such are pretty much part of the territory of B-grade action anime like this.

Re: explosions and breats and the value thereof: well, sometimes we have to cater to our basest needs, right? :D;; It’s not like we should only watch intellectually stimulating material all the time. (…which is why I’m watching K and enjoying it a lot so far. )

It is, isn’t it? And going by the second episode it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so that’s even better. I like it when shows are not above making their cool main character look like an idiot. 😀 (And there’s a completely random maid, I suppose because we haven’t had one of those yet. ^^;; )

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