by Whitney Grace
Ryouta Sakamoto and dozens of other people were kidnapped and forced to fight to the death in a real life version of Btooom!, a popular online game. “Players” have been told that if they kill eight people, they get a free ride home. Ryouta, however, refuses to play the game and he gathers Kiyoshi Taira and quiet girl named Himiko to his cause. Other people aren’t too keen on resisting, especially with bombs flying at them. Ryouta finds himself being tested when a mercenary comes at him and his friends. He must use all his assets to assist him or he will die in the process.
Btooom! is a clever manga. It caters to its intended male audience with action and explosions along with more than casual cheesecake. The manga then strays into a philosophical angle about how humans react when the vestiges of civilization have been removed. Readers, of course, want to believe they’ll take the same action as Ryouta. Moving beyond these obvious tropes, are gratuitous violence scenes that take the manga to a less than real level. It also begs the question as how necessary were these scenes in order to tell the story?
There is plenty of character development in these volumes. Himiko’s past is revealed and it is incredibly depressing. It makes one wonder why women’s traumatic pasts always deal with the same issues. This happens in American and Japanese comics, so is it a literary fallacy or lack of creativity–not to downplay the events. The action movies forward at a quick pace, with secrets of the game and players revealed at right times.
Junya Inoue weaves an interesting manga that while written for the male demographic is just as entertaining for the females.