And here we go again with the second of our Crunchyroll of the Dice 2018 semi-finals! Both these series won close battles with a score 6-4 in the first round, which makes the pretty evenly matched heading into this. But which one will take the victory here? Let’s find out in … The battle of gamers IRL vs gaming IRL.
Genre: Action, Survival
- I’m assuming the opening scene is featuring the woman we saw at the end of the last episode. It all seems pretty friendly, but I rather expect it’s going to get dark given the life or death stakes in the first episode. Well, that at the title of the episode being ‘The Bloody High School Girl’. Still digging the opening theme too, though the video is a little too fan servicey for my liking.
- Right, so her name is Himiko. Noted. She’s thoroughly enjoying spending time with Sakamoto it seems. She visits a cosplay photo booth with her friend Himo. Are those real things? Do they supply the costumes too? It’s pretty cool if they really exist.
- We cut back to her being at the start of her entry into this ‘game’ pretty quickly. It’s good to see some build about the island location at least, as letting us know how out of the way it is good for setting the scene.
- The idea that she’s elected as leader for the rag tag band od guys because she’s a ‘weak woman’ isn’t one I’m fond of. I can buy that it’s the route some hot heads would take with a high school girl though, unfortunately. And there’s the first sign of blood in the episode.
- That’s twice we’ve had a flashback within a flashback now. I’d actually rather that they maybe just ran the scenes in order here. Running makes sense, though I expect the crazy guy kept at least some weaponry for himself. The radar emeralds are pretty cool. I also like the concept of each person having a different type of bomb.
- Creepy but short flashback makes me think Himiko may have been assaulted by the Yoshioka guy she saw earlier. A longer one confirms that her friends were attacked, and Himiko got the police involved. Himo clearly blames her though, which is hinted at being the reason she’s on the island. That’s harsh if so, as she didn’t know that would happen. And then Himiko is assaulted. Well, this took a very dark turn.
- And now we’re back where we ended last time around. That a times very difficult to watch.
Recovery Of An MMO Junkie
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life
Studio: Signal MD
- Straight into the opening video, which has a funky almost Electronic Celtic hybrid feel to it. Or it does to me at least. After that, we’re straight into some online action, complete with Final Fantasy-esque music. I like the sneaky way of trying to find out if Hayashi’s player is a NEET playing out in Morioka’s head. It led to some wonderfully awkward comedy. That the falsehood that she’s a University student spreads quickly too, which is great.
- Her guilt and awkwardness go a long way to making her a likable, and very real character. The interactions between Morioka’s Hayashi and Lily are a real breeze to watch. I liked the flashback scene to Kanbe taking over the guild too.
- Morioka’s real life expressions are somehow more over the top than the in game ones sometimes. That’s an interesting little comparison.
- We see the guy with the glasses again, and this time he elbows poor, sick Morioka right in the face. You could see it coming, but it was still amusing. I still think he’s going to turn out to be Lily.
- Morioka’s weird fever dream mixing the gaming world with the corporate world is very telling of her mindset when it comes to jobs. I rather suspect that she got overwhelmed in the adult world and had nobody to reach out to. Meanwhile, her clear crush on Sakurai Yuta is quite adorable. As is her reaction to the online friendships being shown. The different views expressed in relation to the problem are brilliant.
- This whole set-up is so wonderful to watch. I can kinda relate with not wanting to gout too. I’m the sort that’s usually fine once I’m out, but it take a lot to get moving sometimes. My word though, I can’t believe how quickly that episode went by. Fun closing theme.
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 Story progression: which show did a better job of pushing the story forward?
So, let’s see who excelled at what …
BEST CHARACTER: The focus this time around was on Himiko for BTOOOM! Really, that was needed as all we knew about her from episode one was that our lead walked in on her having a wash, which … wasn’t really the best character introduction. Her arc was harsh, and tough to watch. Given that it looks like we now know the reason she’s on the island, I felt that the way it played out was a little unnecessary. Scenes like that are not out of bounds in fiction, and they can sometimes help raise awareness, but this felt like it harsh for the sake of it to me. Himiko isn’t unlikable so far, and you certainly do feel for her, but it’s hard for me to get past the events. On the other hand, Morioka continues to be a wonderfully relatable character. Her awkwardness is adorable, and the way she feels is far too familiar to me at times. That means … THE WINNER IS: Morioka Moriko (Recovery Of An MMO Junkie)
BEST INDIVIDUAL SCENE: So much focus was put on the things happening to Himiko and her friends that it was clear that that was what Madhouse wanted us to pay attention to. Truth be told, they’re the scenes that stood out the most in the episode as a result, and I am loathe to call them the ‘best’ when the same progressions could have been made other ways. That her reaction indicated that she didn’t necessarily view the first things that the guy on the island did to her as falling under the ‘R’ word is a bit problematic too in my opinion. So … THE WINNER IS: Pretty much any time Morioka gets flustered in real life (Recovery Of An MMO Junkie)
BEST ART AND ANIMATION: I would say that Recovery Of An MMO Junkie is a prettier series so far. The contrast between the vibrant online world and Morioka’s mostly night-based real life is striking. I also like the mundane nature of the real life character designs, as they fit the setting so well. However, BTOOOM! does a great job with the filters it uses when switching between scene types. The action is smooth, and the animators clearly know what they’re doing in terms of bloodshed. As such … THE WINNER IS: BTOOOM!
BEST SOUNDTRACK: BTOOOM! has a great opening theme. I’m struggling to remember any in episode music right now, but the ambient sounds are very good. On the flip side, Recovery Of An MMO Junkie has a good opening theme and some fun background music during the MMO scenes. The ambient sounds are fine, but perhaps not as stand-out. Though both have different strengths and weaknesses, this one is close. So … THE WINNER IS: Draw
BEST STORY PROGRESSION: Recovery Of An MMO Junkie did a fantastic job here in terms of continuing to progress Morioka. She starts to make a connection in the real world, strengthens her online bonds, and we start to get hints at why she’s chosen the lifestyle she has. Meanwhile, BTOOOM! was all about Himiko’s story. In a way, it almost felt like another opening episode, but with a different focal character. It did talk a little more about the tools being used on the island too, which was nice. For giving us that little bit more in terms of the here-to-stay background characters though … THE WINNER IS: Recovery Of An MMO Junkie
Final Scores: BTOOOM! – 3 points, Recovery Of An MMO Junkie – 7 points
Technically speaking, I don’t think either episode was worthless, but the score is a pretty accurate representation of how I felt about them. Recovery Of An MMO Junkie had an easy win here in many respects, and will be heading to the final to face Tsuredure Children and the winner of New Game vs. The Ancient Magus Bride.
But what do you all think? Do you agree with the result? Did you find BTOOOM! episode 2 as difficult as me? Can you relate to Morioka? Let me know in the comments below.