First Impression: Btooom!
Sometimes I find myself weary of watching yet another colorful series about friendship or school clubs. One of the remedies to counter such weariness is to watch a darker, melancholic and violent series. One that starts with a grim reality and bluntly informs you that even more suffering and evil awaits you on the road ahead. Btooom! is one such series.
Tens of people are kidnapped, taken by plane to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean and then forcefully parachuted individually across the island. They don’t have food or tools. All they receive are bombs, with which they must kill each other. It’s a survival game that nobody signed up for but all must take. Killing seven other people is the only way to win the game and escape the island and the contestants quickly begin murdering each other in search for food, shelter and more bombs.
This, in a nutshell, is what Btooom! is all about. Some of the story element will sound familiar to people who watched Battle Royal or read The Hunger Games, but like those titles Btooom! has unique features that distinguish it from the rest of the flock. For once the people on the island were given bombs. Some make clever use of these bombs (one group uses them to fish) while others cunningly don’t rely on the bombs in an attempt to lower other people’s guard. There’s also the matter of conformity. You’d think working together with other people will help ease the hardships on the island, but associating with even one more person means you will have to help them “achieve their quota”. In other words you have to kill seven people on your own and seven more people for each person add to your group. Of course to kill people you must put your own life on the line and there’s no guarantee your team mates won’t stab you in the back along the way. Hence the decision to form a group with other people is not as easy as it might initially seem. And group mentality is not the only harsh problem facing the characters of Btooom! They need to find food. The “game organizers” are parachuting supplies to the island each day. Of course to get your hands on one of those supply batches you’ll have to come face to face with other hungry contestants…
I won’t lie: Btooom! is not completely original, but it starts very dark and very promising. The stage is set rather early on in the series, but characters are introduced in a more gradual manner and they all have their own demons from the past that they must confront. We learn about their past via flashbacks that intertwines seamlessly with their current endeavors on the island, and while we might eventually come across a character with a boring story the characters thus far are all showing good potential. The first three episodes of Btooom! left me impressed and I can’t wait to see how this survival game continues to unfold. Just a word of advice though: do not watch Btooom! if you are sensitive to gore or sexual themes. The blood is flowing freely here and in the span of three episodes two allusions to rape have already been made.