BTOOOM! Review

btooom-blu-ray-coverBTOOOM! Is one of the most popular video games in in the world. In Btooom!, players are tasked with hunting and killing each other using a variety of bombs in deathmatch styled games to rank up and achieve the highest rankings in the international leaderboards. Players team up in order to achieve victory over their opponents on the battlefield. In the Anime series, Btooom!, through circumstance, some players are taken to an island where they are to play Btooom! in real life. In the story of Btooom!, people play a game of death on island based on the rules of a video game by the same name. If you've seen something like Battle Royale, you'll be familiar with the concept. What makes Btooom! interesting is that players don't nominate themselves to enter the game, nor are they forced to by some government regime. Instead, players are elected by people that don't like them and have some kind of grudge against them. As the story in Btooom! progresses, you find out about each characters back-story and why it is that they ended up on the island. Some of the stories are pretty tragic, while others just make you ask "why?". Death Game on an island may seem like the ideal setting for an Anime series, and Btooom! does play the medium to its strengths here. However, don't take this to mean that it's a highly unrealistic shounen series with super-powers and a lot of insane stunts. It means that it allows for some insane things to take place in a more believable way thanks to it being animated. Moreso, because Btooom! is animated, we can get away with seeing a lot more scenes in each characters back-story that are pretty dark, often involving wicked characters. There's no way that some of the things shown could be directed with a camera and also air on TV. An example of this would be a scene where a bunch of girls end up in an apartment and some things happen to them. We're trying to keep this review G rated. With a series sounding as mature as it does, you'd think that it would carry an art style that is probably a little more realistic than your standard Anime series. This is not really the case, where characters look pretty much like traditional Anime characters set in a highschool setting. Not that this is in a highschool, but the art direction is much more similar. However, all of the characters actually look their age, unlike some shows where you'd get a 16 year old that looks 30, or a 30 year old that looks 16. One of the things that makes Btooom! interesting is how the story is told based on relevancy, rather than linearity. That's not to say that the story doesn't move forward, but it isn't always the most immediate thing that is happening next. If we could liken the storytelling to another show, it'd be LOST. Actually, really, Btooom! shares a lot of similarities with Lost. We have a bunch of people lost on island, having to survive with and against each other. However, as we were saying, it has a very Lost vibe in the storytelling where individual episodes will focus on certain characters over others, while still progressing the primary action of the main story. btooom-himiko-cosplay One of the things we really loved about Btooom! was the fact that even though it was essentially a real life video game, it still progressed like one would. You have the beginning intro where everybody gets setup and the main character has some notable experience that drives the story and progression, and then from there, things keep on escalating, the plot twists, the characters build their own agendas and it really takes off. Across Btooom! players must kill each other and take the radar crystals off their opponents dead bodies in order to progress. Once a player has enough crystals, they earn the right to a helicopter off the island. However, the one pitfall to this is that series clearly builds up to a point where it seems like the cast are about to move onto the boss level and take out the big bad, only for the series to suddenly end. This is a little disappointing as it almost seems as though there was meant to be a second chapter to the series that never quite made it to production. It should be noted that this originally aired around the same time that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure did, and that recently got a Season 3. So, it's half-likely that this may be continued in the future. If not, there is always the Manga. Considering that Btooom! is a localised effort, with the dub being done by Sentai Filmworks over in the US. As a dub, it has a pretty good voice cast, with each of the characters sounding like they'd have the kind of voice protrayed by their respective actor. This is with exception of a few minor characters, such as the goon from the first episode. However, while watching this English dubbed as opposed to Japanese dubbed, you can't help but feel like the voices are kind of hovering over the animation, instead of a part of it.  It's not entirely jarring, but as with most Anime series', we'd advise watching it subtitled with the Japanese dub if you can. And you totally can, because it's included on the disc. Overall, Btooom! is a highlight in Hanabee's catalogue of titles. It was a joy to watch when it first aired in Japan, and it's still a highlight today. Especially on Blu-Ray Disc. Fans of Anime series that have themes outside of the usual, as well as action and survival, will definitely enjoy Btooom!. Rating: 9/10 -- Btooom! is published by Hanabee here in Australia and New Zealand. It comes in both BD and DVD packages. This was reviewed on BD. Be sure to check out the Hanabee Store for purchasing options. It runs at ~$65 on BD and ~$55 on DVD.
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