BTOOOM! A Survival Game Anime Done Right

Everyone loves a good survival game anime. Seeing beloved characters develop over time and reveal their true colors as they face more challenges. Thought these battle royale-esque Anime don’t always live up to the hype, especially ones where characters have to take part in a game.

Sword Art Online‘s adaptation is a commonly discussed example. A main character whose struggles and development are minimal at best, with a love interest that’s initially made out to be his equal, but later becomes a damsel in distress. BTOOOM!which came out the same year had a similar concept but a drastically different execution.


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A Gamer’s Backstory

Every survival Anime has a main character whose journey becomes the audience’s. Usually, this character is lacking in flaws and acts as a reliable narrator, so the viewer feels safer in their journey. Realistically, that wouldn’t be the case for most people, and a character that already knows everything can be extremely boring. A likable character is the usual go-to for Anime protagonists, but only few can write one that’s heavily flawed and can be redeemed.

Ryouta Sakamoto, the protagonist, has no job, no drive, no degree, no social life, and relies on his mother to take care of him. He is the walking (or sitting) definition of a stereotypical “gamer living in his mother’s basement”. His only focus is fueling his addiction to the MMO, “BTOOOM!”, where he’s renowned as a celebrity in-game for being unbeatable. But the neglect of his real-life issues takes a turn for the worst when he’s kidnapped and thrown onto an island to fight for his life, and play a real life version of the very game he dedicated his life to. From the get go, he already has a fair bit of issues that need solving, and now it goes beyond just his home life.

The Other Players

It’s no coincidence that Ryouta ended up on that island. As mentioned previously, his choice to neglect his responsibilities came back to bite him when he was nominated to participate by someone who resents him – as is the same case with all other players. Well, it only seems logical that the other players around him have also done wrong – some worse than others. However, BTOOOM! demonstrates that the world isn’t truly black and white, as most Anime portray it to be.

Ryouta, while familiar with the game has to figure out ways to survive using his surroundings. While he is able to thrive alone at first, given his agility, some characters have to rely on each other for survival or will use knowledge about other things to maneuver (ex: military experience). Each character’s backstory is briefly touched upon so that the viewer can decide for themselves whether they sympathize.

One such example is Kousuke, a medically psychotic juvenile criminal with a minimal grasp on morality. What is truly “bad” and what is truly “good”? His character came from an abusive home, absent of any kinds of affection, and so he imitates his father’s way of victimizing others to feel safe. Moreover, BTOOOM! isn’t one to shy away from sensitive, or otherwise taboo topics. Domestic abuse, sexism, bullying, and adultery are a few to name.

Every character is at fault for some kind of wrong-doing, even the kindest ones. Moreover, the narrative lets everyone grow as people and reach their own moral resolves – Ryouta especially. But what arguably makes the character portrayal in this franchise rather unique, is how they act their age. A teenager who grew up sheltered will have no idea how to survive by themselves and will rely on pure instinct.

Aesthetically Pleasant

A very important aspect of a good Anime is of course, how it looks. There are many great Anime that go under the radar solely because of the unpopular aesthetic style – but BTOOOM!‘s is rather standard – let alone popular for most seinen Anime. Animated by Studio Madhousethe same one responsible for the stunning visuals of Death Note, it’s only a given that the animation would run smoothly. Battle scenes are fluid and engaging, pulling the viewer on the edge of their seats – who will win? Do they have a way out? What will work to their advantage?

The soundtrack can’t go without being mentioned either. Nano’s “No Pain No Game” sets the tune for every episode to prepare the viewer for another exciting ride. Every fan of survival Anime, must watch BTOOOM! at one point. It’s quite the experience.

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