Btooom! – 08

Sakamoto and Himiko spend the night in an abandoned building, and Himiko is suddenly woken up by a mysterious figure with disheveled hair and a flashlight. Sakamoto sees a lit room in the distance, and is attacked by the figure, who turns out to be a woman, Shiki. He knocks her out, and when she comes to, Himiko manages to calm her down. She was a player in the Btooom! game that preceded theirs, and her arm was blown off, so she has no chip. She was betrayed by a man, Date, who she’d worked with until they got six chips. She warns Himiko no be careful around men. Back where Taira is resting, Date has returned.

Sakamoto’s constant niceness and saving of her life is starting to have an effect on Himiko, especially now that she knows he was the Sakamoto she married in the virtual Btooom!. They both used the game as escapes from real lives that they didn’t like. Because we’re a party to both Sakamoto and Himiko’s thoughts, we know neither of them have designs on stabbing the other in the back. In fact, with the new information from Shiki – that the winner is airlifted out via helicopter, Sakamoto is even optimistic about the possibility of hijacking that ride with BIMs and getting out alive together (even with Taira, still clinging to life).

There are problems, of course. Sakamoto mentions how a “limiter” within him turns off when shit hits the fan, and he becomes calmer and gains the will to do whatever is necessary, whether it’s defeating an opponent or rescuing whom he regarded as his game wife. Who’s to say another limiter won’t turn off when he’s only one chip away from victory, and the seventh is in Himiko’s hand? Also, Tyrannos is watching and listening in on everything, so there’s no way to get the jump on them or game their system unless they find a place where there are no cameras or mics, and they’re not even aware they’re being observed. So even if the lovebirds collect fourteen chips without killing one another, they’re not in control of their fate.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Btooom! – 07

Sakamoto runs into Miyamoto and Natsume, narrowly escaping with his life (and without his BIMs), only to lead them back to where he, Himiko and Taira are hiding out. Miyamoto chops Taira’s fingers off, tosses Sakamoto off a ledge, and takes Himiko away, but Sakamoto lands in a tree and goes after him, believing Himiko is actually his vitual wife from Btooom. Sakamoto is able to take out Natsume, but Miyamoto grabs Himiko, who later activates a gas bomb hanging from Miyamoto’s shirt. Sakamoto finishes him off with a timer BIM, and he and Himiko are safe for the time being.

Even if Miyamoto Masashi wasn’t the best ex-mercenary, Sakamoto proved his valor, making up for leading Miyamoto to their hideout by rescuing Himiko and taking him and his crazy lawyer ally out. While Sakamoto insisted before he wouldn’t play the game, in this case, it was kill or be killed, in a rousing episode packed with violence, including chopped-off digits (poor Taira!), threats of flaying (poor Himiko!) and gross, melty faces (served him right). It was also packed with mistakes by Miyamoto, who decided it’d be a good idea to hang bombs from his shirt for anyone to trigger.

He also took his sweet ol’ time killing Himiko and Sakamoto, giving them ample opportunities to foil him, which of course they did. We suppose that’s overconfidence and a low opinion of his enemy. And then there’s the prospect we’d thought all along of Himiko being “the” Himiko Sakamoto “married” in Btooom. She denies it, but then why does she look and sound just like her? Like SAO, there’s not enough differentiation between real life characters and their online personas for us to suspend belief they’d recognize each other. Regardless, here’s hoping Himiko is finally coming around to trusting Sakamoto, who by now has saved her life many times (and she his).

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Btooom! – 06

Sakamoto, Taira, and an unconscious Himiko are surrounded by Komodo dragons, and Sakamoto learns he can’t use the BIMs of a player he hasn’t killed. They get away, but not before Taira is badly bitten in the leg. The lizards keep pursuing them until they reach a compound near the sea. Unable to climb the rusty ladder while carrying Himiko, Sakamoto uses her hand to activate her gas bomb and heaves it into the forest, dispersing the lizards. After disinfecting Taira’s wound, Sakamoto asks Himiko to explain how she ended up with so many supplies and BIMs. But she’s spotted by another player’s sonar. Sakamoto acts as a decoy, but he is jumped by a dagger-wielding Masashi Miyamoto.

The unlikely triad of Sakamoto, Taira and Himiko is off to a rough start. Komodos very rarely launch unprovoked attacks on humans; most retreat at the sight of them, and use several defensive measures to further avoid contact. They just happened to get cornered by bad-tempered Komodos with no fear of man. It’s only a problem if you’re unprepared, and Sakamoto is, reaching for a BIM that isn’t his and learning it won’t work at the worst possible moment. We’re also a little fuzzy on how throwing a BIM right at Taira and Himiko kills the dragons right next to them without harming them at all. Also, we noticed both Sakamoto and Taira have sleeved shirts. Why they didn’t immediately wash Taira’s venom-filled bite and dress it with the cloth, we have no idea.

Those practical hiccups aside, both Sakamoto and Taira have episodes where they suspect the other has betrayed them, and immediately start to lose their shit and curse their names. When Himiko finally (and conveniently) wakes up, she has nothing but contempt and distrust for her saviors because they’re men, and she’s done with men. Sakamoto turns things around on her and wonders if she’s killed players, and how many. All the while, back in Japan at Tyrannos HQ, techies are monitoring them on camera, to collect data. Sending them away to the island wasn’t just to satisfy the family, friends, or associates who voted for them, but perhaps to make a better game. And they may not be the first batch…this just keeps getting more messed up.

Rating: 6 (Good)