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BTOOM: Complete Series (anime review)

BTOOM: Complete SeriesTitle: BTOOM: Complete Series

Director: Kotono Watanabe

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date: December 10th, 2013

Format: DVD / 12 Episodes / 300 minutes

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci Fi, Romance

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Rating: C-

 

Synopsis:

Ryuta Sakamoto is your typical NEET, He has decided that there is nothing out in the world he would rather do than play BTOOM!. Well, there is one other thing he would consider doing and that is work for the company that created BTOOM!. Ryuta has managed to alienate everyone including his own mother. The only place he has found any semblance of a life is the virtual world of BTOOM! and he even found himself a wife. Take him out of his room and you have nothing more than an unsure coward how would rather hide then get involved.

In the blink of the mind’s eye, Ryuta Sakamoto suddenly finds himself transported from playing the hit BTOOOM! video game to being stranded on a mysterious island. He’s equipped with a day’s worth of provisions, a bag of bombs, a strange crystal embedded in his left hand, and a huge gaping hole in his memory. But it doesn’t take long to figure out what’s going on, especially after the first person Ryuta meets tries to kill him. Someone is attempting to recreate the ultra-violent BTOOOM! game in real life, and the island has been filled with an army of other unwilling players, each armed with one of the multiple variants of explosive weapons called BIM.

Fortunately, Ryuta’s an ace BTOOOM! player, but this insane version of the game has no reset switch or second lives, and there’s only one way off the island: kill seven other people before they can kill you! Can Ryuta repurpose his game-based skills fast enough to survive this ultimate battle royale?

Synopsis:

BTOOM! is simply put Battle Royal meets Sword  Art Online but it is not as entertaining as either one. The basic premix is somewhat interesting and the style of battle is somewhat unique, but the way that it is put together is somewhat of a serious let down. I think that if the main character, Ryuta, was a more sympathic person from the beginning rather than a punk who is just running away from the world, I just might have like the series a little better. There is also Himiko, the other main protagonist and his romantic lead. She come across so afraid that her compulsion to hate men is rather unappealing and pushes the viewer away from liking her within a few short minutes. It is understand able that both of these characters have their flaws and paranoia, but to present them in a way that just makes them unlikeable in the first fews episodes that it creates a level of disfunction that the series has a hard time overcoming. Then you add in other weak or psychotic characters and things just go from bad to worse.

The animation is rather standard for Madhouse but it does come across well for the series. In fact the animation stands out as the strong point of the entire series. With this style of artistry the premiss comes off well and added to the jungle / island environment this end up looking rather slick. The voice acting is nothing to shout about but at the same time I did not see any flaws or issues with the work. They are all professionals and it showed. I think that the series itself may have brought down everything around it.

The other aspect of the series that stood out for me was the basic premiss. The thought that a game that contained strict rules of engagement and some very experimental sonar devices has its merit. There is also the reason why all of these people are on the island. Without giving anything away, the reason is something that is so disciple that it almost seems plausible. At least, it is believable anyway.

Overall Grade: C-

BTOOM! is a series that has so much potential and proves to fall apart before it ever gets going. I guess that is why this package represents the complete series. It reminds me of Deadman Wonderland and the way it ended up presenting a story and then essentially creating more questions than answers. I know that there are plenty of people that will enjoy this series for what it is, but I have a feeling that there are more than a few that will find it disappointing, like myself.