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?!!