Is this explosive show too hot to handle?
Madhouse produced one of my favorite shows last season, Oda Nobuna no Yabou. It’s wasn’t an artistic achievement by any means, but it was a fun show with great characters and action. While the setting for Btooom! is quite different, it follows the same formula filled with stylish combat, an interesting cast, and the gumption to not take itself too seriously.
Btooom!‘s angle is ripped straight from Battle Royale. A group of strangers have been kidnapped from their daily lives to play a game to the death. The slight twist is that the game is based on the popular FPS Btooom! where players kill one another solely with bombs. It isn’t really made clear what the exact rules are, but I hope there is some sort of prize for the winner… While the premise isn’t anything ground breaking, it’s a great excuse for blowing shit up.
The main reason I don’t really have a problem with this slightly unoriginal set up is because the show seems to be focusing in on its characters and why exactly they were tossed onto an island. By giving the audience something easy to grasp onto, it can focus more on delivering a great mystery and developing the cast. The first episode was a success on both fronts by presenting a few questions as to what the reasoning behind the competition is and framing the protagonist’s backstory.
The production isn’t anything to scoff at either. The island is populated by bright and vibrant foliage which is pleasantly desecrated by a barrage of bomb blasts. Carnage is the name of the game, and I’m glad the direction did not decide to cut any corners. Blood, guts and disembodied limbs are all on display. On all other fronts the art is up to par with industry standards, with great lighting and shadow effects and the use of crisp and clean lines to highlight the foreground.
Aurally, I’m pleased with the opening, “No Pain, No game” by Nano. It follows the tried and true formula of sweet female vocals and rock instrumentals. It was catchy enough for me to download it right after the completion of the episode. “Aozora (アオゾラ)” by May’n is a nice change of pace for the blistering sound track. May’n has a surprisingly sincere delivery in her vocals that makes the piece memorable.
The voice acting for the first episode was the debut of Hongou Kana as Ryouta. He gives an adept performance considering his lack of experience. He’s going to need to a few more shows underneath his belt before he can truly shine, but the potential is there. If anything the quality of his voice is terrific, drenched in a sultry timbre. I’m looking forward to see how he grows in this series and the future.
Nothing really ugly as well which is surprising. The series really played it safe with it’s first outing which I don’t mind. It doesn’t alienate the audience and lets them get comfortable early. The premise is quite open for some creativity so I really hope that moving forward it does take some risks with its narrative. Hopefully next week a few more supporting characters are introduced. The opening sequence teases at a large cast with some fairly interesting character designs. I’m especially intrigued by the bad ass female in the shorts. Maybe I just have a type.