Btooom is originally a manga series. The illustration and publication credit goes to Junya Inoue. The adaptation of Btooom from the manga to an anime series was produced by Madhouse. The first season was aired in the year 2012 between October to December. Almost fifty chapters of the manga have been covered in the anime series. Btooom has handled various themes, from friendship to love, the conception of the occult, the mysterious alleys of the human mind, the way circumstances shape the character of a person—all these have been dealt with great skill. Getting the tone of manga right is very important, and Madhouse does it with élan. You could watch Btooom numerous times, each time focusing on a specific aspect of the anime, and you would not be left starving, as far as food for thought is concerned!
The plot is of the sci-fi genre, which depicts Ryoto, a video game enthusiast finding his in-game wife Himiko while playing a game called Btooom. Ryoto is 22 years old, and he lives with his mother. One day, Ryoto finds out that he is trapped in an island in the game Btooom, and he accompanies Himiko in taking down the terrorist organization, Schwaritz Foundation, that has built this game to get players who would help them hide their crime and would later help them to take over the world. Ryoto and Himiko’s character develops as Himiko learns to trust Ryoto, thus bypassing the traumatic past that had her as a victim of attempted rape. She starts trusting Ryoto when he saves her from Masahi Miyamoto. Himiko is of strong character, and she carries a “stun gun” to dispel her enemies. Ryoto shows his courage while risking his life for Himiko, and we also see his sensitive side when we find him dealing with Himiko with utmost care since he is aware of her traumatic past. Although an introvert at first, who would rather prefer to stay online and meet people online, we find the remarkable development of his character while he lives his life at the Btooom island with Himiko. Himiko has a friend called Miho, but their friendship breaks when Miho holds Himiko responsible for her rape and the trauma that followed.
There are subplots in Btooom that is no less interesting than the main plot itself. There is a character called Kosuke Kira, who kills his abusive father, Yoshihisa, later in the show. It might be that case that his father’s cruelty had had an impact on him and made him ruthless towards the things he does not like. Kosuke loves and respects his mother very much. He finds a father figure in Togo, who dies later in the show, causing Kosuke to lose his sanity. It will be later revealed in the show that Yoko’s dead friend had taken over Togo’s body. Among other characters, there is the reticent Nobutaka Oda, who is one of the most experienced players of Btooom, surpassed only by Ryoto.
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Himiko– She plays the character of Ryota Sakamoto’s wife in the game where they both get stuck. Her appearance is very similar to that of a young high school girl. She has a past traumatic experience because of men who tried to rape her. This makes her carry a stun gun to avoid men from touching her for her own safety. She has trust issues regarding men, however, Ryota gains her trust by saving her from Masahi Miyamoto.
Ryota– The protagonist of this series Ryota Sakamoto has light brown coloured hair and eyes. He valued the virtual world much more than the real world. He would prefer to socialize with people virtually. He is an extremely courageous man and is not afraid of risking his life for the ones he loves. He also shows the traits of a true gentleman when he recognizes the insecurities of Himiko due to her past experiences.
Kosuke Kira- He is still in his adolescent days. He is somewhat cruel and intolerable towards things he doesn’t like. These character traits could possibly be the outcome of living with his abusive father. He loves and respects his mother immensely, and Togo is a father figure to him. When Togo gets killed, he loses his sanity. In the parallel lines, the story revealed that Togo was possessed by Yoko’s deceased friend.
Yoshihisa Kara- He is the abusive father of Kosuke Kira. He surrounds himself only with negative vibes and pessimistic thoughts. He gets killed by his son after years of abusive actions.
Nobutaka Oda- He is one of the most experienced players of the game Btooom. He seems to know the game well in and out. Other than that he shows some amazing skills and winning strategies against opponents. Only Ryota has been able to get past his encounter in the game. He is not much of a talker.
Miho- She is a little girl of fifteen years. She is full of life. She used to be very close to Himiko but their friendship breaks as a result of being raped by men. She blames Himiko for this traumatic event.
The ending of Btooom can evoke a lot of emotions as we will find Tiara trying to end the lives of her teammates and it breaks our heart when he dies; we remember our fond memories of Ryoto and him. We cannot easily forget how Ryoto had found a true friend in Taira. However, it is a kind of consolation to know that Taira had been made aware before he dies that he had friends in the world, who really cared for him. Moving on from this theme of morbidity, we find Ryoto and Himiko kissing, an act that rapidly escalates to something more sexual, but Ryoto stops himself midway when he feels that Himiko is not really over her trauma, and is just giving in to Ryoto’s wish.
We find the Tyrannos facing technical issues that bring about their downfall, but that part is a bit unconvincing and thus, abrupt. It is as if the characters were forged into unification, the prevailing of good over evil juxtaposed forcefully. However, even amongst all this, there is a light of hope that everything might have turned for the right after all, because Ryoto’s conversion from a tough guy to the sensitive person he became in Himoko’s company becomes thoroughly convincing. The only thing that holds us back from thinking that this is a dark comedy is this part. However, there is a sense of contentment as well, because the relationship between Ryoto and Himoko is established at last, both in the virtual world and in the real, which brings a strange kind of tranquillity to our minds. Ryoto acts as the absolution of the cruelty that men have performed over the years, seeing women as property to be imposed upon. This is why the ending of Btooom has been the talking point since its inception, and rightly so.
To sum it up, Btooom has been a great show, and now that it has matched the length of the book, it can only be hoped that a sequel comes out. The best part of Btooom is that there are obvious villains in the show who must be annihilated, but the good characters, too, are not without their human faults, and thus they must overcome the conflict of good and evil within themselves as well. It is this theory that lends greater depth to the show, rather than making it an action drama. The theme of the feminine self is portrayed with sincerity and maturity, and one is reminded of the classic Belladonna of Sadness, which was inspired by the book Satanism and Witchcraft by Jules Michelet. To talk of the technicalities, it has rightly been observed that the film has been heavily censored as far as gore is concerned, and there is no mess of mangled human bodies when the explosions occur. If this was done as a way to treat violence responsibly, it took away the convincing element from the narrative. This might well go down in history for toning down the violence to the point of invisibility, comparable to the toning down of the redness of blood in Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver.
Btooom Season 2 Release Date:
With much of speculation doing the rounds, a confirmation date has not been given yet. If season 2 happens, it will be the last season, and the makers of the series continue with the adventures of Ryota but find a way out of the game. It has been further known that a second season will be released only if the game is able to make it to the top 5 sale chart of Japan’s app.
BTOOOM English Dubbed:
There is no English dubbed version of Btooom, but the makers are planning to release one soon enough.
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