Welcome, one and all, to the very first first round match up of Crunchyroll of the Dice 2018! Today, we’ve got two series that approach a gaming link from different angles. That’s not all they have in coming though, as their titles are very stylised. And that can mean only one thing … BTOOM! is taking on GAMERS! In … The Battle of the Caps Locks and Exclamation Points!
Now, for those that haven’t seen this feature before, what happens is simple: I watch an episode from two anime series – in round one that’s season one episode one – and give my thoughts on both. The two episodes are then compared in five categories.
In an effort to make the whole thing a bit more manageable, there is going to be a change in style from previous years. What this basically means is that I will not be doing a blow by blow account of each episode, but rather doing bullet pointed random thoughts as the show goes on.
So, with all that being said, let’s get this show – and indeed the tournament – on the road!
Genre: Action, Survival
- The visuals in the opening scene are really nice. They kinda put me in mind of Appleseed in both the slightly aged looking colour tones and the armour designs. Crazy look from the protagonist Ryota Sakamoto there at the end. I would assume that his arrogance will take a knock sooner or later.
- The opening theme is pretty cool, and clearly shows that there are a lot of other characters to come. I hope that they all get decent introductions and enough of a personality to not fall into the trap of just being atypical.
- Back with Ryota and he’s still confident, even relishing a challenge from the BTOOM! world number two. I like the mention of him not having a job but being so great in the game world, as it kinda hints that he’s enjoying the game world as a means to escape his real-world inadequacies.
- Random jump with Ryota waking up in a tree. I’m glad he’s as confused as I am by the change in scenery. The art style reminds me a little of Shirow Miwa, at least in the eyes. If you aren’t familiar with him, he wrote and illustrated Dogs: Bullets and Carnage, is currently doing the RWBY manga, and did the character designs for Kiznaiver.
- Tons o’ tea! Now that’s my type of drink! In fact, I’m drinking tea from a massive cup right now.
- Nice use of dark colours and uncomfortable sound effects in what I’m assuming is a flashback. ‘Ryota sees the grocery store as below him, and actually does have an ambition’ is the take away. Meanwhile, the men in black make an appearance, marking this as potentially being a governmental thing.
- And Ryota almost blows himself up. Oops! Then comes another player trying to achieve the same result for our hero. I have to say, the ambient sounds here are really good, and the background music is used sparingly, but well placed.
- Ryota is realising that there’s a big difference between an online game and real conflict. The parallels in how the two line up is a nice touch too. That he didn’t notice the clear timer on his bombs is an odd little thing when you consider how easily heroes can sometimes adapt in fiction, but given the shock of his change in circumstances, it makes sense that he wasn’t thinking clearly.
- Nice move with planting the timed bomb there. That was what I expected him to do much earlier until it became clear that he didn’t notice the timer.
- The ending theme cut in really early, so I’m guessing that there must be a post credit scene. The song is very different in feel to the show so far. And here’s the scene. Let’s see where this goes … ah, it looks like Ryota wants to work for the company behind the BTOOM! game. Odd imagery with his Mum changing colour. Good strong throw though to impale the controller in a wall.
- Ryota wakes from his dream for the fan service portion of the show. I thought that something like this would happen sooner or later, after the woman in the scene was shown in the opening credits. And of course, she’s a high schooler, because where else would the fan service come from? Sigh.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Studio: Pine Jam
- Much brighter colours in the opening to this one, which is to be expected. Though the blue filter and facial expressions of the characters make it clear that something unexpected and more than a little awkward has happened. The character designs are fairly standard for the genre and remind me a little of Nisekoi.
- Lots of backstory to open things up here, with leading man Amano Keita talking about how far up the food chain Tendo Karen is. I like the little subtitles popping up to point at that she’s going to have a fall from grace and it’s his fault.
- Lots of awkwardness from Amano, which is over the top but probably at least a little accurate given the characters’ apparent ages and his lack of social skills. The pair obviously like each other, which gives plenty of potential for some sweet moments.
- We cut away to another pair: a gamer called Tasuku and a pink haired girl with no money who wants him to win a cuddly toy in one of those grabber machines. He manages it in one go by grabbing the tag rather than the toy. The girl is his girlfriend, it seems. She’s kinda annoying me already. Her near tantrums are probably supposed to be cute, but they grate a little. Lots more subtitles to say what’s going to happened.
- Nice king Koopa reference by Tendo. I’m actually quite liking her and Amano as a pairing so far. There’s a moment where Tendo turns towards Amano, leans forward slightly, and the cherry blossoms go everywhere … that’s a shot I’ve seen in many, many anime before.
- There’s some more flustered behaviour after school and the two go off to the club room, leaving Tasuku looking confused. Amano meets Misumi, another new member of the club. He seems friendly enough.
- Random skirt shot because anime. Kase Gakuto is the next introduction, who is a red haired cool guy who plays FPS games. Then we meet Oohiso Niina who is playing a beat ‘em up with her top open, also because anime.
- The club is funded by prize money from competitions, which is a cool concept. More than two hours of FPS later and Amano is feeling the gaming burn. He sucked, as it happens. Misumi managed to get a few kills on Kase though. The back stories for why Kase and Oohiso got into gaming are humorously over the top.
- A random thought, but Tendo kinda seems like she’s tired of everyone treating her like a deity and just wants somewhere to be normal. I might be over thinking that, mind you. Amano views the club as pretty much his ideal … but turns down membership? Yes Amano, you are stupid.
- And we’re back at the start again, I think. Tendo is desperately trying to get Amano to join and says that she’s interested in him. Slow motion move for the handshake … but no, he’s just accepting a request for a social media game. And he still can’t join the club. He wants to play games for enjoyment, not competition. That’s actually a pretty good reason. He seems pretty clueless that Tendo genuinely liked him though.
- Ha! She slipped on a banana peel! Random old school comedy classic there!
- No closing credits. Actually, I don’t there were opening credits either. Huh.
Let the battle commence!
I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. The battles will be:
- Best Character: which character, whether leading or background, drew me in, or at worst annoyed me the least?
- Best Individual Scene: which scene stands out the most in my mind?
- Best Art And Animation: which show did the best job in terms of overall art quality?
- Best Soundtrack: which show shone in the sound department?
- Best Opening Episode: which show did a better job of creating intrigue or setting up the series going forward?
So, let’s see who unlocked all achievements, and who failed to clear the tutorial …
BEST CHARACTER: Now, this was an interesting one to compare. The thing is, neither show presented a character that I felt was massively stand-out. GAMERS! was by far the bigger mixed bag of the two. It succeeded in putting me off with the pink haired girl and Amano, both of whom kinda annoyed me in different ways. On the other hand, there was nothing particularly wrong with Tendo Karen. If anything, she was fairly likable if not anything out of the ordinary. That being said, he love of the game club and the difference between her mood there and when she’s out in the public facing world didn’t make for an interesting shift. The other characters didn’t really do too much to stand out. Meanwhile, BTOOM! only really let us spend time with one main character, and the others we saw faded into the background a bit. Ryota was interesting insofar as his defences fell pretty quickly, and I kinda get the feeling that there’s more to his refusal to get a store job than we’ve seen. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’d say that he’s the most interesting, though not the most likable. So, who takes it? It’s a tough one, but for having a better overall feel … THE WINNER IS: Tendo Karen (GAMERS!)
BEST INDIVIDUAL SCENE: BTOOM! was, for the most part, all about the action here. While the flashback moments were interesting, it’s clearly the battling that the show wants us to focus on. While nicely done, there’s nothing there that really stood out for me as being really memorable. GAMERS! didn’t fare much better either, with most things being your average sort of fluff that you get in this sort of set-up. That closing moment with the banana did make me laugh out loud though, simply for being so silly. The fact that that sticks in my mind means … THE WINNER IS: Slipping away (GAMERS!)
BEST ART AND ANIMATION: This is actually one of the easiest bits to judge in this battle. GAMERS! is fine at what it does. The character designs are standard, but fit well with the type of story that the series is telling, and the animation is as smooth as it needs to be. BTOOM! though really shines through. The use of colour gives it a very different feel, and I do like the eye style that they’ve used. The general character designs, based mostly on the opening credit sequence, shows a little more variety here than with GAMERS! too, though the different character types are still fairly standard. Still, it at least tries to stand out a little, so … THE WINNER IS: BTOOM!
BEST SOUNDTRACK: We end up in much the same situation here as we did in the last category. GAMERS! is fine. There weren’t any musical moments that felt out of place, and the ambient sounds were as they should be. BTOOM! meanwhile did about as good a job with the ambient stuff, but succeeded in adding to this with the music. You see, the audio used helped create an atmosphere rather than piggy-back the one that was already there. That makes this one a simple choice … THE WINNER IS: BTOOM!
BEST OPENING EPISODE: Honestly, neither of these were bad episodes. BTOOM! felt like it was sort of taking some cues from the isekai genre, but bending it to something with a little more grounding in realism. The storyline is made pretty clear, and it seems like it’ll be taking its time in introducing characters, which is a good move given the number of people shown in the opening credits. GAMERS! on the other hand knows what kind of show it is and is thus far sticking to what’s expected. The cast has been thrown together quite quickly, leaving less time to build them up on first showing, but that’s not unusual. What this comes down to though is which one drew me in the most. So … THE WINNER IS: BTOOM!
Final Scores: BTOOM! – 6 points, GAMERS! – 4 points
As Shang Tsung said, “It has begun!” What basically happened here is that BTOOM! felt like it was trying to be interesting, while GAMERS! felt more like it was content to be average. Whether that continues to play out as the two series continue on remains to be seen, but for this battle, it was enough to swing the final score in the favour of the death game.
What about yourselves? Have you seen either show? What did you think? Do you agree with my final scores? Let me know below!