Btooom! Weekly Update – Episode 2

Oh Himiko, Where Art Thou?

Maybe I am just a sucker for strong female characters, but Himiko is an awesome addition to the cast. In the earlier scenes of the episode she definitely lacks some confidence, unsure of her arrival on the crazy island. As the show progresses her resolve hardens bit by bit, until she finally comes into her own. I am happy to see such an an ambitious character arc in only the second episode of the series.

Considering at the rapid pace at which she is developed, many might argue that it seems artificial. Considering the circumstances(which we’ll discuss a bit later in the article), it makes perfect sense and isn’t the least bit contrived. Stress factors often have a strong impact on our psyche, and being stranded on an island filled with bomb-totting psychopaths could definitely be classified as one. The series could have played the insanity card but it didn’t, which I am thankful for.

I am interested to see where Ryouta and Himiko’s relationship goes. ¬†It is a bit cheesy that the girl Ryouta had a relationship online with is her, but I think its an effective foreshadowing tool for their future together. I don’t know if their relationship will ever get¬†consummated considering the one cour length, but if the opening theme had anything to say about it, then I am pretty sure it will. I just hope it is enough time to build a authentic bond between the two. I wouldn’t want another Kirito and Asuna, where a lot of the development of their relationship happens after the fact to give their partnership some legitimacy.

I’m not saying being dark or gritty is a bad thing. Btooom!, after Psycho-Pass, is the second series this week to heavily feature rape. But this series ups the ante by not featuring one rape, but three and an attempted one. It’s difficult to watch these scenes considering what is going on.

My only problem with rape in anime is that it isolates the viewership when it’s presented too early. We haven’t had enough time to build rapport with any of the characters, so when it does happen it becomes a distasteful shock that we associate with the series itself and not hate for the character it being perpetrated by or empathy for the character being victimized. There are better ways to involve the audience in the early stages of a show, and I don’t think the shock factor really works.

By no means am I saying that rape should not occur in anime. For series aimed more at adults it is perfectly fine for it to happen. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit entire premise is based on victims of the crime. I just believe that sometimes it’s used too easily and creates an effect opposite to what the producers were aiming for.

The first rape scene is a bit surreal to watch because we just see a trio of girls strewn across the floor, their clothes torn, and their bodies swathed in shadows and candlelight. The second onr has an obese man towering over Himiko, sweat, slobber and all, as he proclaims he doesn’t understand why all the girls he’s with always start screaming ‘No’.

The show seems to take an extra effort to demonize men. The ones presented seem irrational, violent or arrogant. Even the ones that show a kinder side to themselves rear their ugly heads when put under pressure. I can’t understand how every man Himiko comes in contact with is secretly a devil in disguise. I understand that it’s supposed to serve as a foil for Ryouta, who will disprove Himiko’s notion that all men are scum, but it’s so exaggerated it seems almost comical.

There isn’t exactly anything ugly with this outing of Btooom!. I just hope that the series shows a bit more maturity with the subjects it deals with going forward.

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