By Junya Inoue
Genres: Action, Psychological, Survival, Seinen, Romance, Mystery, bombs
Sakamoto Ryuuta is an unemployed 22-year-old who lives with his mother. In the real world, there may be nothing really special about him, but online, he’s one of the world’s top players of the combat game “BTOOOM”!
One day, he awakes in what appears to be a tropical island, though he has no memory of how or why he has come to be there. While wandering around, Ryuuta sees someone and calls out for help. The stranger responds by throwing a bomb at him! Now Ryuuta realizes both that his life is in danger, and that he has somehow been trapped in a real-life version of his favorite game! Will Ryuuta be able to survive long enough to figure out how and why he ended up here?
Btooom! is one of those relatively* (who am I kidding?) not-well-known manga. Most people would probably not be interested in this manga just by seeing its cover page, which is in the format of a video game case. I know I almost did. Nevertheless, this manga has amazing plotline, characters, and artwork. Btooom! is where a gamer-shut-in is thrown into a merciless game where a bunch of people hated by the society use bombs to kill each other, and this survival game just happens to be the same as the one he always plays. Furthermore, he meets a busty teenage girl who just happens to fall for him. Together, they must use every inch of their cunning to avoid being killed by other participants. Yep. By combining all these different elements, you get Btooom!
The story is refreshing and full of mystery. There are a lot of plot twists and the reader will never know what will come next. This manga is narrated solely from Ryuuta’s view (the protagonist). We slowly discover the mystery to this cruel survival game as Ryuuta learns more. This creates a sense of anticipation and makes this manga enjoyable. Furthermore, one thing that this manga excel at is the use of back stories, for both main and supporting characters. These back stories are flashbacks that explain why the characters act the way they do. These stories are well incorporated in the story.
As for art, I am not a picky person. Suffice to say that I find the art in btooom well done.
Next up is characters. The most notable aspect of character portrayal in Btooom! is realism. This is evidently seen in our protagonist, Ryuuta. Although he is a NEET, an anti-social, and has anger management problems, he also possess incredible compassion to help others, an observant and calculating brain that enables him to survive, and a strong sense of morals. This manga is told in his perspective, and the readers are able to see his thoughts, worries, and sentiments. Personally, I think this is exactly the most interesting part of this manga.
Indeed, if I were to recommend a psychological, survival-game manga, Btooom! is definitely among the ones that I would vouch for. It does not disappoint.
note: NEET stands for “Not in Employment, Education, or Training”