By Jeff Neuenschwander / January 31st, 2013
The only negative I can place on BTOOOM! is a lack of consistency. This doesn’t have to do with story or artistic design – which for the most part was fine, except for the blatantly obvious fan service when Himiko’s breasts would be at least twice their size for a joke. The biggest issue I have with consistency has to do with the plot device that is the center point of this series: the BIMs.
For the most part, I get how the BIMs work. Crackers explode on contact, Homing types explode when near its target, Timers go off after ten seconds, Detonators go off remotely, Implosion types… How does that even work? It sucks air in and leaves nothing of what was around it. I get that this is an anime and these types of things usually happen. But when something is based in the real world, such as this anime, it should have some sense of realism.
|How does this work?|
Aside from the Implosion types, my biggest grief with these bombs is the inconsistent blast radius for each of them. The first one stems from the first episode. Sakamoto kills someone with a Timer bomb right underneath a person, which results in the person being split into several bits. The next episode, Himiko kills the rapist Akechi with the same type but he stays in one piece. I can buy that the second Timer was probably farther away than Sakamoto’s but this wasn’t the only issue.
The next episode after that showed a woman getting blown up by a Detonator that was right underneath her after grabbing a supply case but somehow she stays in one piece. How is this possible? If you turn someone into mincemeat in one situation, then, if in an almost identical situation with a bomb type that has an almost identical radius, it should result in the same outcome. I don’t care if they were worried about it getting pulled from air. Find a way to work with it.
The second comes from the differences between explosions for Taira and Shiki. Both were caught up in explosions dealt by Homing types. However, Shiki came out just missing her hand while Taira was killed despite both happening in relatively the same distance. Heck, I think Shiki’s explosion happened closer to her than it did with Taira.
The only thing that can explain why she wasn’t killed was that she blocked the explosion with her bomb case. But even then, I imagine that she would have come out of that with more than just a missing arm.
The final issue is, again, differing explosions from the same bomb type. This time, it’s between Crackers thrown by Sakamoto at Kira and Natsume. During their fight in episode 4, Sakamoto throws a Cracker right at Kira, exploding at point blank. Kira somehow survives. That in itself is unlikely. It becomes even more unlikely when his lawyer, Natsume, is killed in episode 7 when Sakamoto throws a Cracker that explodes at point blank. Someone clearly missed something here.
|I dare any of you to prove that the results would not have been the same.|
Now before I go, there’s one issue that I need to bring up if I’m going to have some closure with this season. Back during episode 2, there were two incidents that involved rape both for Himiko and her friends. A number of people, not here, said that they would refuse to continue watching the show after that.
Now, I only touched upon it in that episode, more or less dancing around that subject. The fact is that talking about something like rape needs a well thought-out opinion that needs to be said right the first time. I think I’m ready, but I need to lay down one simple ground rule.
As I said before, one of my favorite shows of all-time is Farscape. Now, Farscape had two incidents similar to the incidents from BTOOOM! The first was when the crew was being affected by some sort of drug-like area that was making them insane. John, fighting through the insanity, is trying to round up the crew to explain what he knows and figure out a plan to take out the bad guy that’s doing this to them.
After getting D’Argo, the warrior of the group, he goes to subdue Chiana. He pins Chiana against the wall, keeping her from fighting back. Being tempted by a manifestation of the primary villain from the series, he begins to smell Chiana’s hair. He then knocks her out and brings her to the same room he has D’Argo stashed.
This scene was seen as controversial because it showed a main hero doing something that was termed as “near rape.” To me, using that term on this is rather BS. If you compare that scene to when Himiko escaped from Judgment Flash, it doesn’t really compare. The band leader is trying to have sex with Himiko where as John is going after the crew one by one to take back their ship.
The second comes in season four. The previous season, we were introduced to a new bad guy named Commandant Grayza, one of the bosses of main villain Scorpius. When Scorpius fell, Grayza took over.
Near the beginning of the season, she was able to track down John and his crew. It was during one of those episodes that we learned something interesting about Grayza: she has an implanted gland that secretes fluid that can bend men to her will. She shows it off once on her subordinate, mostly to introduce she had it before the writers show it off to John.
She uses it on him and he almost immediately is under her control. Now, she doesn’t use him to fight anyone or do anything to jeopardize his crew. Instead, she forces him into sex to break him and give her the information that everyone has been trying to get from him. And I’m not talking about a couple minutes of this. Grayza rapes John for nearly a half-hour of screen time – including time where he was strapped down to a bed – before he is finally able to break free.
When compared to Himiko’s incident with Akechi, the Farscape event (in my opinion) is much worse. Not only was it premeditated but Grayza actually goes through with it against someone who can’t fight back. Himiko at least fought back before Akechi could do any major damage to her. Did he grope her? Yes. Did he intend to have sex with her? You bet. Did he do it? No, he did not.
The thing that bugs me is that the episodes (it was a two-part episode) with the John-Grayza incident doesn’t get the same controversial backlash that the Chiana incident did. There were two different intents, two different actions, and two different results.
At the very least, if you’re one of those that found episode 2 and the incident with Chiana in Farscape disgusting but can’t see it the same way with John – if you can’t admit that the Himiko-Akechi and John-Grayza incidents are at the very least on the same level of awful – then I am deaf to your argument.
That said, I have no issue with rape being used as a device to develop a character. It is a very real thing that really happens in the real world. If we can constantly have our entertainment mediums show murder – arguably the worst thing you can do to another human – then we should be able to show something just as vile.
But there’s something that also needs to be said: it can show that someone that is raped can have an actual life after the attack. Now, we haven’t explored it much with Himiko, since the series has pretty much been done over one week at most. So let’s use a different example.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has Detective Olivia Benson. She had been working with victims of rape since the very beginning of the series. After nearly ten seasons, she was sent in to a female prison to put the sting on a corrupt corrections officer who was raping the female inmates. She eventually caught the eye of the guard that was doing it and was forced into sex by him. It was eventually stopped by Fin, who went undercover as a guard. This not only allowed her to understand the victims on a deeper level but gave the series a way to show how someone can deal with the traumatic stress of something like this on a more regular basis.
It’s something that should be allowed in media as a plot device. However, it can’t be done clumsily. Just like this analysis, it needs to be done right.
And with that, I have little more to say about BTOOOM! It was a well done series with a couple of issues that left me a bit confused and looking for an answer that wasn’t “Because anime.” But ultimately, this is a series that deserves a complete ending — which is why I’m holding out hope for a second season.
Oh, and before I go, this is apparently what Come On Dragon! The Festival is.
BTOOOM! was developed by Madhouse, published by Showgate, and licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks. All episodes are available to watch on Crunchyroll.
Special thanks to Shannon for coming across that video.
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