Manga Review: BTOOOM! Volume 1

Manga Stats

untitledWritten By: Junya Inoue

Published By: Shinchosha

English Publisher: Yen Press

Number of Volumes: 12

Genre: Action, Psychological, Romance, Sci-Fi

Original Run: October 4th 2012 to December 20th 2012


Continuing on with the current theme of reviewing manga this week where going to look at one of the bigger series to appear of late BTOOOM! where Hunger Games meets explosions, lots and lots of explosions.

BTOOOM! was brought to use the be slightly wacked out mind of writer Junya Inoue and the manga has been a big success and even netted itself a multipart anime which by the way is currently watchable on Crunchyroll.

You idiot, cool guys don't look at explosions

You idiot, cool guys don’t look at explosions

So with all that in mind let’s dive into BTOOOM! BTOOOM! follows Ryota Sakamoto, ace player Japans best BTOOOM! team. In this world he is simply one of the best and is carrying his team all by himself. Unfortunately for him BTOOOM! just a game and in the real world his just a unemployed 22 year old who treats his mother like trash. I have a feeling we have the makings of a great protagonist here.Now imagine his luck when he walks you on a deserted tropical Island and now gets to play BTOOOM! with real people/ sociopaths and eight types of live explosives or bims as the series call them. By luck I do of course mean terror.

Chances are this set-up may seem familiar to anyone whose seen “Hunger Games” or that dull (from the little I’ve seen anyway) WWE movie “Condemned though unlike that film the explosions here don’t hid the violent way these people are dying.

Speaking of violent ways of killing BTOOOM! has earned its mature rating. Gore, exploded body parts, a woman taking a shower and even a fat guy standing in his own shit proves this. Oh and there’s swearing here too.

For such small items those bims have one hell of a blast.

For such small items those bims have one hell of a blast.

Now that I’ve warned all the kids, parents and people who are genuinely bothered by this sort of thing let’s talk about the art.

BTOOOM! artstyle is impressively detailed in all areas from the areas, violence and people (more in a sec) among others. I’m grateful too that the dead bodies are handled the way they were because there just right. Any less and it wouldn’t have been as well and any more graphic and it might end up looking like something out of Hellsing or an animated version of Itchy and Scratchy.

While again I feel that the characters are well designed I can’t be the only one who thinks that Ryota looks a little too much like Light from Death Note. I mean come-on they look practically identical with only slight differences.

So that’s the opening volume of BTOOOM! and as an opening volume it sets up the story seriously well and I can’t recommend giving the series a try hard enough, well as long as you don’t mind a little gore anyway.



Manga Review: Smuggler

Manga StatsuntitledWriter: Shohei Manabe

English Publisher: Tokyopop

Published: August 23rd 2000

Unfortunately we’re still living in economically troubling times and due to the (let me be blunt for a sec) fuck ups of the World Banks, we’re the ones who have to pay for this. Due to this some people are at the lowest points of their lives and some now have no choice but to work with some iffy people to say the least.

Well that grounded the review into reality fast but anyway one should person is Ryosuke Kinuta, our main character for this (um) cherry tale. His a failing actor in a huge amount of debt with an unnamed gang but since the main gang of this manga happens to be the Yakuza it’s probably them. In order to pay off the debt he now works as a smuggler of illegal goods and dead bodies in a country where smuggling bodies lands you in jail for a couple of YEARS if caught.

Before I continue let’s talk about the people behind Smuggler. Smuggler was brought to use by writer Shonei Manabe who you may remember for the manga “Dead End” and was drawn pretty well for the most part by somebody who I can’t find because oddly enough Smuggler doesn’t really have a Wiki page.

Back to the plot that I teased you with earlier in the first paragraph, along with Ryosuke the plot also follows an assassin called Spines. At the start of the manga Spines and a partner who isn’t important enough for me to mention kills a senile Yakuza boss and his henchmen which he does quite well with nunchucks and guess who has to clean up most of the mess because Spines kindly helps by mailing his head to his wife who is way younger than him and whom I’ve called Botox.

Dear God he actually kissed me.

Dear God he actually kissed me.

Now Ryosuke isn’t smuggling bodies alone as his joined by Noboru Tsukada, an old man whose only real character trait is that his a complainer and apparently the driver and his boss “Jo” Hanazono whose a bit of a asshole who enjoys picking on the old man but its explained that years of smuggling has harden him. Oh and he also has a fight scene near the end of the manga too.

So to speed things up a little Spines gets betrayed by his partner and it’s up to Ryosuke and the gang along with Botox’s to hand deliver him to the Yakuza.

Honestly I enjoyed the story for the most part. There are little things I could have done without like a seemingly pointless scene where we’re shown that a member of the Yakuza is a sadist and while I’m on the subject of that guy, why the hell does he strip naked when SPOILER ALERT his tortures “Spines”.

Okay I get it, the Yakuza tattoo looks cool and his insane but seriously it makes no sense at all. “Huh” It’s been awhile since my last article and I’m still writing what’s on my mind. Anyway before I got distracted I was about to say that I like the way that both plotlines come together. Sure the method was a little obvious but it worked.

I also liked the way Ryosuke’s character improves as the manga goes on. He starts off as a complainer who always tried to take the easy way out which is how he got into this mess in the first place but by the end he “SPOILER ALERT THAT I ALREADY HINTED TO” agrees to impersonate Spines after he accidently helped him escape due to Spines taking advantage of his kindness.

What follows is him getting tortured by the sadist Yakuza member yet he never gives in. He doesn’t really have a reason not to give in either, he knows his going to die anyway but he refuses and that’s pretty cool. Oh and he knocks that Yakuza prick out too.

Now do you understand why I call here Botox's
Now do you understand why I call here Botox’s

While Ryosuke is the main character of the manga, Spines himself is a interesting character himself. Besides that stupid spine tattoo on his back (at least I think it’s a tattoo) Spine reveals early on that his is actually afraid of death.

Don’t get me wrong he doesn’t mind killing other people but it’s the thought of his own life ending that scares him which is surprising considering who Spines is and the fact that his very good at his job. It just goes to show that no matter how tough someone looks on the outside people are scared of what they can’t control although I may just be reading too much into things again.

Lastly we get to the bit I’ve been dreading with the art. It’s not that I hate it because I don’t. I actually feel that the style really does suit what the story is going for and shows a surprising amount of detail in little things.

While they do a good job with static objects, some of the human characters just look weird. I can’t really put it into words (not a good thing for a review) but let’s take Botox whose name by the way is Chiharu Kodama. Her lips are unnaturally large so they just look goofy when compared to the seriousness of the rest of the plot.

Anyway that was Smuggler by Shohei Manabe and I enjoyed it. While yes the people are drawn slightly weird did help take me out of the story a little, the two main characters are both interesting especially Spines and its nice to see them both grow as characters.

Ah yes another stable member of the Yakuza organisation

Ah yes another stable member of the Yakuza organisation

So that’s the end of my first Manga review so what’s your opinion? Should I continue review manga or just stick to anime although if I do continue however I’m not getting rid of the anime reviews. That is sort of what Gearfox’s den is all about and yes I’m still called it that.

This Halloween I’ll be returning with what could be my most scary review yet with Akira. Don’t get me wrong it’s not scary because Akira is a horror because it isn’t but with peoples comments if the review turns out to be crap or I don’t like the show that got people interested in anime to begin with as long as I can find a copy anyway.