BTOOOM! Ep. 1: What a silly name for a game

This season, I’m going to have two shows about gamers to write about. Truly, we live in a beautiful world. In all seriousness though, I don’t think BTOOOM! and Sword Art Online can really be compared too extensively. The latter is really about the efficacy of simulacra in virtual worlds, even it’s doing a really goddamn poor job of it. On the other hand, the former has it the other way around: the real world is made to resemble a virtual world. It’s probably just a sick experiment on some tropical island (I’ve learned from anime that Japan is full of empty islands for all sorts of weird shit). Like a Scared Straight! for Japanese gamers, I guess. Also, BTOOOM! just feels like good ol’ pulpy fun. Well, I guess it’s a little too premature to tell whether or not the show will be fun, but if the first episode is any indication, there’s going to be a lot of violence and sex.

But let’s talk about that violence for a minute. It’s interesting how a reversal of a premise can affect how violence is portrayed. In general, I would say that SAO lacks any sort of effective violence. Sure, who really wants to see gratuitous blood and guts, right? But then again, there wasn’t exactly anything gratuitous in this first episode of BTOOOM! besides the tits and ass. If anything, what the first episode has shown us is that BTOOOM! can at least convey the consequences of death. Of course, it has to. After all, this is the real fucking deal. Well, aren’t the consequences the same? Don’t people die in both stories regardless of how the premises are different? If SAO is really about how a virtual world can come close to the real thing, why does it fall so woefully short in convincing us that death can be tragic?

It’s hard to say I loved the scene, but I do appreciate how Ryuta, our protagonist, reacts to his first killing. He throws up because — guess what! — most people aren’t actually cut out to be killers. Oh, you’re ranked tenth in the entire world? Sorry, you still don’t know squat about what it means to see a dead person, much less kill them. And because it’s the real world, Ryuta’s first victim doesn’t just phase away or disappear into a shower of digital noise. We actually see the guy’s body in pieces. In SAO, we’ve been told that thousands of people have already died, but you don’t really feel it. It’s not like I want to see three thousand hacked up corpses, but the show’s atmosphere is still very happy-go-lucky. You can hardly even tell that the players are trapped the way they go about their lives, happily cooking rabbit ragout.

To be fair, the two shows do seem to have wildly divergent messages despite us having only seen a single episode of BTOOOM!. Even though people are trapped in SAO, you can’t deny that the story is very much a love letter to MMOs. Gee, look at how fair this game is, look at how romantic dates in an MMO can be, etcetera, etcetera. On the other hand, BTOOOM! tells us that actually being in a game can totally suck. Here’s a small bag of supply. Now go have fun! There’s no romanticizing about the beauty of the world or the combat system, something we immediately saw in SAO‘s first episode. If you hesitate too long, your guts will be plastered across the sand. I just hope this isn’t the entire message buried beneath a ton of blown up body parts and boobs. So a video game with consequences will suck? And to think, I thought it would be fun if there was a real life platformer with bottomless pits to traverse.

Still, it’s not a matter of who’s wrong or who’s right. Yes, I like to bash SAO, but I don’t hate it because it likes to fellate MMOs. Hell, I play MMOs, so the show would actually be preaching to the choir… if it was any good. I bash SAO because its execution is piss poor, and I will bash BTOOOM! too if it fails in this regard. I just think the initial contrast between the two shows is interesting, especially now that they will be airing relatively side-by-side.

Notes:

• The gamers in-game (what a strange thing to write out) look like Master Chief ripoffs. That’s not a good start. You could almost always count on anime to add too much flair to its character designs, but they didn’t even bother to try here.

• So that’s what Light has been doing with his damn time:

Hey, remember the last time you thought you couldn’t lose?

• This show is already more accurate! Look at all the fat gamers. Seriously though, why would a deathmatch game have virtual marriages? I’m going to facepalm so hard if it turns out his virtual wife just coincidentally happens to be the heroine we meet later in the anime.

• The “We’re standing before a sunset and I’ll shyly reach out with one hand to grab yours” thing really needs to die hard:

• Uh, the ranked players on the leaderboard are all tennis stars? Man, I can’t believe Agassi retired for this shitty game! Also, even in a video game, Agassi beats Roddick.

• Hmm, more butterflies. This time, they accompany Ryuta’s first foray into this bizarre game.

• Why did Ryuta’s captors leave him with his cell phone if it wasn’t going to work anyway?

• This is probably why I’m the only person updating this blog:

Me: “Gee, look at that green tea dripping down his chin.”
Nyoron: “Like cum.”

• MA, I DON’T WANT TO WORK AT A GROCERY STORE! I’M GOING TO BE LIKE MY HERO FATAL-ONE-TY!

• What a strange game. Just bombs? C’mon, no action game has ever succeeded without sniper rifles. “BTOOOM, headshot!” doesn’t even have a nice ring to it. Unless I can camp all day and snipe newbs, this game sucks!

• I don’t get why Ryuta’s opponent would talk out loud. You could call it overconfidence, I guess, but it’s also really dumb and does nothing for the narrative.

• If you have to kill others and take their weapons in order to survive, might we see some parallels with Day-Z, a zombie survival game with pretty much the same premise? Can’t wait to see the protagonist sit down to a nice can of natto.

• Wow, the episode is over already. Maybe it’s just me, but did the episode just fly by for anyone else?

• Oh, there’s some epilogue stuff. But why after the credits?

• From the job interviewer to his mom, a lot of people in the show have that glazed-over look in their eyes. Something to keep in mind.

• Ryuta’s mom looks as though she has given up hope on her son. Man, it’s going to be killer if the premise of the show is that moms across Japan are tired of their deadbeat sons playing games all day and being umemployed, so they ship their sons off to some Battle Royale-esque island. Whoever wins gets a goddamn job.

• I chuckled when his mom barged into his room and he told her to get out:


-
• Hm, the previews for the next episode appear to show scenes of what is hopefully just attempted rape. Are we really going to go there twice in a season, anime? Are we?

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34 thoughts on “BTOOOM! Ep. 1: What a silly name for a game

  1. Where is my banana parfait ?

    Why would people feel remorse about killing anothers … and thrown up ??? I would thrown up if that corpse smells real bad
    Spoilers ( DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO )
    His virtual wife is that blonde girl … correct, this will turns out to be another useless anime with a nerd that’s fking athletic like a trained soldier … he isn’t out of shape even if he sits on his comp all day testing games …

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Why would people feel remorse about killing anothers … and thrown up ???

      Are you trolling me with this or what?

      Reply
      1. Where is my banana parfait ?

        … What’s so bad about killing strangers anyways … it’s not like we know them … if society and law didn’t exist, I would be a serial killer

        Reply
  2. appropriant

    Brace yourselves, rape culture is coming. AGAIN.

    And forget her son, Ryuta’s mother looks like she’s given up on hope itself.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Brace yourselves, rape culture is coming. AGAIN.

      Hey man, the only way a girl can endure hardship is if she’s raped. Now, you want to write a good story, don’t you?

      Reply
      1. Havoc

        Nah it’s her fault for being blonde with a stunning body and big ass boobs. I mean who cannot resist that temptation ;)

        Reply
        1. Havoc

          Ahah I’m just kidding it’s just that she reminds me of the same chick in boku wa tomodachi, didn’t like the way she was presented.

    2. 2M2

      You saw the 2nd episode already or read the manga or what not already? If not, wouldn’t it be wiser to judge after seeing ep2 next week and how they handle it. You might be right but to me it seems awfully early to judge something with that level of certainty as condoning or normalizing rape without seeing what even happens.

      Reply
      1. appropriant

        I meant it as more of a non-serious reaction to the previous incident this happened and not about the anime itself. Glad you think highly of me, bro.

        Reply
        1. 2M2

          I think highly of you, given if I recalled then correctly, you had pretty much _the_ most sensible reaction to the Monster-kun issue, which reminded me there are observant and yet still reasonable anime watchers out there.

          But I did read what you wrote here as more like maybe you might have gone over to the dark side or this was a revisit of the whole load from last time, which was why I was trying to be measured in my reply here. Didn’t mean to offend or send the wrong message that you were certainly in agreement with the earlier protest, or what not. I was trying to give it a more neutral wait and see and probably failed in that.

          For ep2, hopefully it blows over or they do something more, I don’t know, constructive like she gets out of it by outsmarting or braining her attacker (well, okay, given the show, blowing up him).

        2. E Minor Post author

          reminded me there are observant and yet still reasonable anime watchers out there.

          You really need to cool it with the backhanded comments just because people don’t agree with your positions on Japanese cartoons.

  3. Naota

    As an unemployed 23 year old who bums around at home all day while trying to land a job in the games industry, sweet merciful suffering did this episode cut close to home!

    Thing is – and popular media always gets this part wrong – you don’t land a position in the games industry by playing games! Obviously you should probably enjoy video games and understand how they function before working on them, but the majority of skills you need to create games aren’t picked up by playing them. Prospective developers like me spend all day making our own games and padding our portfolios out, not being really good at Counter-Strike. That’s not game development – that’s e-sports.

    Being tenth on the leaderboards doesn’t teach you how to make or animate 3D models, engineer audio, program game engines, or draw up textures. At best you’re volunteering yourself for a gruelling and absolutely un-fun career in QA Testing, and those recruiters aren’t looking for a star player – they’re looking for a human robot to follow routine instructions over and over without complaint. Even if you stick it out there, you’re not going into development if you ever get promoted. You’re going into management; a job with no creative input whatsoever.

    We always get these stories of devoted gamers wanting to break into the industry without the slightest idea of what that entails. It’s like a series where a diehard otaku wants to make his own anime series but has never doodled on a piece of paper, written a story, touched an instrument, or had any other creative inclinations of his own. Depressingly realistic.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Thing is – and popular media always gets this part wrong – you don’t land a position in the games industry by playing games!

      But c’mon now, it’s not like the main character actually landed a job thanks to all his sweet ass bomb-tossing skills. If anything, the episode kind of made fun of the fact that he thought this route into the industry was even possible.

      And y’know, you might not be making games if you just sit on your ass playing games all day, but there are a lot of “pro” streamers nowadays making some bucks just by pointing a webcam at their face while they play League of Legends or some shit. Extra subscribers if you’re a girl, then you might want to tilt the camera down a bit. You’ll have to fight off all the trolls who think you automatically suck just for lacking physical balls though.

      You’re going into management; a job with no creative input whatsoever.

      You say that as if the producers let anyone else have creative input! Let me see another footage of that Halo 4. Oh, oooooh yeah. That looks good. You’re remaking the incredibly popular Sanctuary map for multiplayer? Fuck, I just wet myself.

      I kid, I kid. I’m taking the piss out of the industry because it feels uber stagnant. The last console game I bought for myself was Journey. JOURNEY. But yeah, if anyone out there wants to get into the video games industry, I’d personally recommend picking up programming, ’cause even if video games don’t pan out, it’s translatable. Probably into shitty mobile apps — 100 people to a single room — but you never know! The possibilities are limitless!

      Reply
      1. Naota

        I kid, I kid. I’m taking the piss out of the industry because it feels uber stagnant. The last console game I bought for myself was Journey. JOURNEY.

        Oh, no doubt. Right now the industry is stuck between two completely ridiculous extremes that pretty much edge out anything that’s both original and also backed by more than a handful of people. You either make a Call of Duty (or make your game into Call of Duty) or you sling cheap, uninspired 99-cent mobile games into the maelstrom and hope one sticks. Most of the innovation is coming from indie titles, mods, or kickstarter projects, barring the occasional outlier like Mirror’s Edge or Portal 2. It’s a damned shame.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          This isn’t really related to anything in particular, but I really disliked Mirror’s Edge for the heroine’s character design. Too bad the “fan redesign” wasn’t any better; hell, it exacerbated the problem. Anyway, back to writing an update.

  4. Where is my dream ?

    I have a dream of going into the game’s industry once … Now I’m sitting my ass playing MMOs all day and nobody is hiring me

    Reply
  5. Ian Caronia

    Well, first of all let me say that you were fucking gold here, mate. I couldn’t stop laughing. Best part was the idea of the Japanese mothers running the show, becuase honestly the way things are in Japan (at least according to their news stories) I wouldn’t put it past an animating studio to have something like that be the premise for a show like this.

    That being said, I’ll only keep up with this show via your reviews because I know exactly what will happen in regards to the rape and, yeah, this one is truly offensive to the senses. Seriously, I’ll give a deep space below and keep it short so you can ignore the “spoiler” if you want, but I don’t know if you should go into it blind. It might end up dominating your review just from your reaction of it (“might” since you DO have a higher constitution than most).

    SPOILER-> I know that there’s a scene where a girl is raped as she watched her friend’s bloody corpse get raped. I saw it in an article about the manga. Might be in the anime to a lesser extent.

    Unlike the one-line in the previous anime, I refuse to give any work the time of day when the author thinks THAT kind of nonsense is appropriate (or “called for”). I’ve spent fucking YEARS honing my craft and let me tell you, at no point in any story under any circumstances is something like that even remotely necessary. Doesn’t matter what theme, message, or plot/character development the author wishes to convey. It’s just shock-value nonsense.
    I didn’t take that from Hellsing and I surely won’t take that from this recycled tripe.
    _Honestly, I’m not offended by such a scene. It’s garbage and shouldn’t be allowed to affect anyone in any way (since that’s it’s only goal, to affect you in SOME way, like the author is clawing at you in desperation to get you to feel SOMETHING). I’m actually offended, as always with such things, that these kinds of writers can and DO get paychecks with such abominable writing.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Seriously, I’ll give a deep space below and keep it short so you can ignore the “spoiler” if you want,

      In a lot of ways, however, what offends people in Monster-kun is arguably worse than what you’ve described, but I’ll explain my reasoning when we get to the offending episode (assuming that the adaptation has kept the events intact).

      Reply
      1. Ian Caronia

        Haha! Yeah, my bad, mate. I meant to give more spacing but then went to check if I had my info right, and when I came back I clicked “submit” before… Nevermind, you get the idea. haha

        What’s “Monster-kun”? You mean the one with the autistic/schizophrenic male lead and the girl with a stick up her ass? I didn’t know “Monster” was in that long title. I genuinely wonder why.
        -I’ll wait to see why you’d think someone would consider that one line worse than the aforementioned scene. I can’t fathom why that would be, but I’m actually looking forward to your train of thought on the matter. Hm. Maybe it’s because it’s so surreal/nonsensical/hard to imagine that it loses it’s punch?

        Reply
  6. Vincent

    2M2 goes along with insults as usual. Want to know why your comments don’t show up on Day’s blog? It’s because you are pompous and like to see only what is convenient to you.

    Reply

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