Btooom! Manga Quarterly Review 2
It hasn’t been a month since my previous post, and 13 more chapters have already been released…
The cool thing about Btooom! is that you have ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING IDEA what’s going to happen next. NONE.
There are manga that seem unpredictable but that you can actually predict, such as all shounen battle manga – it’s obvious the protagonist is going to win, or maybe lose but only suffer some injuries. Try to find a shounen manga where the main character’s friend’s LEG gets bitten by a fucking lizard, and then have all of his fingers on one hand get chopped off by some ex-French Legionnaire who then carries away a girl so that he can rape her, while throwing the protagonist into the water from twenty metres above.
Because that’s exactly what happens in the latest chapter of Btooom. I at least know that Ryota should survive, but as for everybody else… urgh, everything’s just way too gruesome. If this was a movie, I’d get a heart attack from the sheer tension and distress of having to try to think of what might happen to them.
Especially Kiyoshi, who looks like he’s not going to have a good end. The thing about Btooom! is that you don’t need good characterization to make us feel pity for a character – all you need is to put someone, /anyone/, into a horrible situation and we’ll feel pity for him. Kiyoshi is that person, and I’m sure some even pity Souichi for collapsing into dementia so early on.
There’s a key difference between Btooom! and Battle Royale – while everybody in Battle Royale are highschool students with no experience fighting for their lives, the people in Btooom! are from all walks of life. Thus, the only difference between each character in Battle Royale is their mental stability, while in Btooom!, many other things matter. Some may think the ex-soldier insane or maybe bloodthirsty, but I think he’s actually the most level-headed of anyone, even Ryota and Kiyoshi. Having been in such conditions before, he knows the reality of everything that’s going on, and thus will most likely be the most sane person at the end. In contrast, Souichi is extremely intelligent and resourceful in society, but quickly collapses when thrust into such a situation.
Nevertheless, Btooom! is still just a variation on the theme of Battle Royale, and retains many of its key characteristics – the destruction of humanity when placed outside society, the frantic rush to make sense of everything, and of course, the thrilling sense of not knowing what’s going to happen next.
Tyrannos actually does have an objective behind all this – while the ex-soldier should be right under all other circumstances, Ryota’s actually right this time in it all being a test for a game.
For example, wind is not implemented in the game Btooom! However, after seeing Ryota use the gas BIM to take advantage of the wind, I’m sure that Tyrannos will implement just that in Btooom! next. That’s a pretty logical final goal – to look at what regular people think about tactics in real life, and use that to make their game more realistic and immersive.
Since the upgraded version of Btooom! must be engaging to both regular people and Btooom! veterans, they purposefully sent some veterans, some complete newbies, some intelligent but physically inept people, and some battle-hardened ex-soldiers. This was particularly smart – not just for Tyrannos, but also for the writer of Btooom!, as using people of diverse backgrounds adds variety to the story.
I wonder what Iida’s role is, and whether he’s going to help Ryota escape, being a former classmate of his. Iida looks rather zombie-ish now, so maybe there are even darker stuff occurring behind the already dark Tyrannos Japan.
Some things I still don’t understand – how did people ‘nominate’ people to die? There has to be some way to find out how to nominate a player, and if one person can find out how to nominate a player, then everybody can find out, and Tyrannos’s entire secrets will be out. Is that how they’ll be saved, with Ryota’s step-father infiltrating the company?
Nevertheless, Btooom! is still a great manga that I would read from start to finish in one sitting if all of its chapters were released. The pacing is phenomenal, the action never stops, and the intrigue on two fronts (both at home and on the island) just makes it simply superb.
tl;dr: man huge images this post
P.S. Oh Japanzai, adding watermarks to tell us to read it on Batoto even on chapters hosted on Batoto… stay classy.