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BTOOOM! Vol. #01 Manga Review

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BTOOOM Volume 1 CoverBTOOOM!

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Junya Inoue
Translation/Adaptation: Christine Dashiell
Lettering: Terri Delgado

What They Say
Who? Why? How…!? By all counts, Ryouta Sakamoto is a loser when he’s not holed up in his room, bombing things into oblivion in his favorite online action RPG. But his very own uneventful life is blown to pieces when he’s abducted and taken to an uninhabited island, where he soon learns the hard way that he’s being pitted against others just like him in an explosives-riddled death match! How could this be happening? Who’s putting them up to this? And why!? The name, not to mention the objective, of this very real survival game is eerily familiar to Ryouta, who has mastered its virtual counterpart—“BTOOOM!” Can Ryouta still come out on top when he’s playing for his life!?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
BTOOOM! That is kind of how I felt stepping into the first installment of this series. Somehow, even though it’s not anything earth-20151126_193329shatteringly new, there is something about BTOOOM!’s first volume that I really enjoyed.

There isn’t anything special about the art, although that is not besmirching it. Actually, I really enjoyed the backgrounds and some of the inserted panels that did little more than set the mood. Overall, the art is consistent. Every panel is solid, and I really enjoyed the way some panels have detailed backgrounds while others have no background, and less shading, really allowing the art to pull the reader’s focus to dramatic moments or important objects. All-in-all, the panels on each page were well balanced. No page seemed too busy or too lazy, and the pacing was fantastic.

The only character you really get to know in volume one is Ryouta, the most certainly flawed protagonist, and I’m pretty happy with that, actually. I think that if any less time had been spent on getting to know Ryouta, he’d have been left feeling a little flat. Fulfilling the stereotype of the unfulfilled, angry youth, Ryouta lives with his mom as he grows bitter over the fact that he hasn’t gotten his dream job—working for Tyrannos Japan, the publisher of BTOOOM!, a game he not only excels at, but beta tested. Now he spends all of his time playing the game, between bursts of anger at his mother as she attempts to get him a “stable” job elsewhere.

Really, Ryouta isn’t very likable when he is first introduced. Between verbally abusing his mother as he throws temper tantrums and his arrogance in inside the game BTOOOM!, calling him abrasive doesn’t quite do him justice. However, as the plot thickens and he is faced with killing others for sport, Ryouta begins to show that he is human and that he does have some sense of empathy. He might even feel some sense of remorse for the way he treats his mother. Don’t let him fool you, though. He may not be a cold-blooded murderer, but he is an intelligent, and devious, strategist.20151126_193455

Seriously, if anyone has a chance of figuring out who has gathered BTOOOM!’s Aces (I believe this refers primarily to team leaders, the best of the best of the many teams playing the game) and dropped them on an uninhabited jungle island, it is going to be Ryouta. Of course, he’s going to have to learn some social skills, and he might have to regain some lost memories from his flight to the island, but he may have the best understanding of the game of all of the players, and he certainly has some inside knowledge about the company that made the game. While he doesn’t know who has set this modified first-person shooter MMO into motion, he does have his suspicions, and I have no doubt that he’ll put the pieces together.

One last fun thing about this manga is the inserted bits of information about the game, both virtual and the twisted version that takes place in reality, as well as a detailed timeline at the end of the volume. With the flashbacks and periods of time where Ryouta was blacked out or asleep, it’s nice to go back and see a linear timeline of everything that we know has happened to far.

In Summary
The first volume of BTOOOM! does it exactly what it should. Introducing you to the series’ protagonist and a few of his possible allies and enemies, giving you just enough back story to make everything make sense, and leaving enough mystery to keep the reader looking for the next volume, it is a solid start to what could be a strong series. I highly recommend giving it a chance if your tastes tend toward the slightly gritty, but not too dark. Who knows how dark it will get before it’s done. I look forward to finding out.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: Mature
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
MSRP: 13.00

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