Comparing its manga to its anime, the similarities of Btooom! were quite striking. Indeed, it felt as if entire scenes were taken ‘verbatim’ from the manga panels, as all screenshots in this post will show. The pacing, timing, but not sound of Btooom!’s anime were exactly as I envisioned its manga while reading.
Perhaps this is something that happens with many adaptations, and I simply haven’t read enough manga. I can never recall a show that mimicked its source material so uncannily, though. Criticisms of some anime can be linked to the quality of the animation adaptations, but due to their similarity, all criticisms of Btooom!’s anime naturally fall on Btooom!’s manga. The two are not separate works; instead of arrangements into different media, Btooom! is a scene-for-scene transcription.
Either this means the director/transcriber/adaptatortatertitor (?) was just extremely lazy, or the manga was so good that nothing needed to be changed. I’m leaning on the latter possibility; of course, there were many scenes that were… not very agreeable, but changing those would significantly alter the tone of the manga (except for the fanservice shots. you can ALWAYS take away the fanservice shots).
There were changes in episode ordering, though. This is justified because the mangaka didn’t have the entire story in his mind while writing the manga, and could not have predicted other characters’ appearances (the porn actress makes a cameo in an episode 1 scene, by the by). Ordering Himiko’s backstory before her encounter with Sakamoto helped alleviate the male-centrism of the manga by giving Himiko a stronger role. Of course, that didn’t really work at the end, but… twas an effort.
The preeminent change was Sakamoto’s hair colour. And his voice. He sounds whines like a 10-year-old; whines, because THAT’S LITERALLY ALL HE DOES. Normal whining is fine, his situation is a whinable situation, but 10-year-old whining really gets on people’s nerves…
His voice and attitude towards Himiko is far too contemptuous, though. (Maybe I just really don’t like his voice.) A problem with adaptations in any genre is faithfulness. Although Btooom! is extremely faithful to its source, it’s not as faithful towards my imagination. Everybody’s internal adaptations are different, and it’s impossible for any adaptation to echo everybody’s voices.
Perhaps in somebody’s mind, Sakamoto really is a whiny prepubescent chuuni. Perhaps in somebody’s mind, all hikikomori NEETs sound like that.
The good thing about adaptations is that you can predict things beforehand—like with that cameo appearance. You can clearly see Taira’s imminent mental collapse; his tone of voice and hesitation show how insecure he is, especially with all those weird questions he asks Sakamoto. It’s not as evident in text (because you don’t hear the nuances).
That’s not the only good thing adding audio does. Sure, cryptic moonrune onomatopoeia is GREAT (note: not actually great) for creating suspense, but having ominous background music and radio blips and static and rustling leaves and the gently spreading ripples of water as SUDDENLY, GIANT LIZARD ATTACK
Adaptation from the visual to the audio creates atmosphere and nuances the manga could never possibly portray. However, people’s voices may not sound as envisioned (enhearened?), creating a disconnect. Regardless, Btooom!’s anime remained shockingly true to its source material.
Take that how you will.