Bomb voyage

I will never be ready to talk at any great length about rape. Although I'm aware of, though not familiar with, the physical and emotional damage it leaves in its wake, there is nothing of value I can add to any discussion of it. This didn't seem to stop the first three episodes of BTOOOM! (three o's) though which handles the past and present sexual assault of one of its main characters with all the deftness and sensitivity of throwing a rotten watermelon against a cinder block wall.

unable to fathom the complexities of a countdown on a small box that explodes when it reaches zero
It doesn't help that the first three episodes of the series have the same kind of misanthropic sadism towards humanity that others like Elfen Lied and Gantz have demonstrated. That humans are corpulent, fleshy bags of bile, hatred and animosity and as an audience we are supposed to feel a catharsis, or at least satisfaction, when they are brutally killed.

And killed they will be when the premise plucks elements from Lord of the Flies (trapped on an island), Battle Royale (kill or be killed) and Gamer ("real life" video-games), there leaves little room for a survival rate beyond a few scenes for secondary characters. With the exception of Gamer, the opening episodes are significantly worse than its influences, treating its audiences' intelligence with the same condescending disregard as it does its characters. That the protagonist is unable to fathom the complexities of a countdown on a small box that explodes when it reaches zero without copious exposition is an indication of the level of engagement expected.

Equivalent to a low-brow mens' magazine then with explosions, video games, and yes a disheartening, lecherous fixation on female anatomy. The slobbering, sweaty grunts of one of the second episode's ne'er-do-wells sums up the show succinctly: fumbling single-mindedly for the leading lady's breasts (who has been in several states of undress in the opening animation already), then running away screaming with its pants around his ankles when the situation starts to get a bit thorny.

Derivative, dumb and catering to the basest emotions there is little to recommend with BTOOOM! beyond the brainless, schlocky entertainment value and even that is tenuously maintained at best. A high-concept idea that has a story of arrested development and social interaction in the age of video games half-heartedly draped around it. The preview of the fourth episode hints at the kind of edgy, taboo-shattering backstories the show was obviously aiming for, but only comes across as needy and emotionally dead: “look, this character has been sexually assaulted in the past, isn't that dark? Hey you saw her naked in the opening right?!”

Aiming for the lowest common denominator can still be endlessly entertaining though when the train-wreck is still to come, BTOOOM! however has already crashed and burned and is just a grim, smouldering heap of unidentifiable debris leaving you to only look on an shake your head in dismay.

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