Since I have absolutely nothing to do due to the end of Saiunkoku Monogatari and Hatenkou Yuugi, I decide to grab the latest series that is out in Japan. One of the early birds of spring 2008, Bus Gamer, has already been broadcast. Taken from T.H.A.T Spring Preview, this is the introduction.
Bus Gamer was a short-lived manga series, created by Kazuya Minekura. It follows the story of three young men hired by a mysterious company to participate in a business game, a way for companies to gamble against each other for corporate secrets
It is definitely an interesting premise, but does it work out for me in the first episode?
Toki is the narrator, as he says that he only wants the money. He finds a black envelope in his post, as two other people, Nobuto and Kazuo received it. He explains that the Bus Game is a battle simulation game where gamers are selected by various corporations to compete three-on-three on a battleground which is usually inside Tokyo. It is written that they will have a reward, as Toki arrives in this room 1006, where they are told to gather. The person who gathers them, explains the rules. It is a game of three vs three, where the more games they win, the more money will be won exponentially. If they can win fifteen games, they can earn a million.
With Kazuo complaining about hunger, Nobuto says that he does not want to group with incompetent people who cannot fight. Toki asks him to say it again. It is clear that the two do not trust each other. Kazuo tries to defuse the situation, only to make it worse. The next day, they meet up for a meal as Kazuo tries to bring the three into a group but the two cannot accept it. Suddenly, Kazuo says that hunger is probably the reason why they are so cold, and asks them to eat ramen. Toki and Nobuto says that it is dumb and starts leaving. It turns out that all three decide to go to the ramen store because THEY are hungry.
Nobuto asks how much they want. Kazuo points his finger as Nobuto assumes it is 100k but he meant 1 million dollars. Nobuto decides that they should group but explains that privacy must be maintained and their aim must be to get a million. One of the corporate masterminds look at as a Bus game is about to start. The scenario is in an abandoned shopping complex. They are the away team, where they need to get a disc from the Home team. Nobuto is surprised that everyone came without arms. Kazuo says that he thought for a long while about what to bring, but he cannot call any of them since he does not have their number. Nobuto says that he does not want to be called for such a mundane reason.
An announcement indicates the start of the contest. The corporate businessmen discusses about the validity of the three contestants. One of them adds that the three are the only ones who reply to this strange email, clearly showing that they have a need for the cash. Back to the ground, it is peaceful til the “home town” makes a move to drop a camera onto Kazuo. Toki gives chase to someone on the second floor while Nobuto also goes over to help, telling Kazuo to shout if there is anyone. As Toki enters the room, he is attacked but he dispatches the enemy easily. Toki seems to be in an aikido dojo before, and he remembers how fighters should have a firm spirit.
Kazuo is ambushed by two enemies, but Nobuto attacks them with a pipe. However, as Toki gets down, the enemy that he fights recovered and tries to throw him off. On the ground floor, Kazuo finds the disk. Even though Toki evades the attack, he is dragged down by the enemy as he holds on to the ledge of the second floor. Nobuto runs over to help, only for one of the enemies to recover and point a knife at Kazuo.
All right, the good things. Bus Gamer’s action scenes are really not too shabby, since Toki’s attacking moves are inspired by Aikido. It is animated pretty nicely, and I wish that I get to see more of the action scenes rather than the introduction of more than 16 minutes. This anime, by the way, was around 22 minutes. I personally like how the characters in this anime do not feel that much of a deus ex machina. They are vulnerable just like any other normal human, and the fights feel realistic at least. It is way too short though, and I wish there was more.
Graphical design is good for this anime, and I am rather surprised that there is hardly any graphical degradation in the series. The story concept is also a good draw, since you start to wonder what is the reason that drives the three to join this brutal and vicious game. It is a game in which you have to do everything to retrieve the disk from the opponent, no matter how you do it. I just think that it might be way too short to have any strong character development, but it is a very good first episode.
Now, the slightly bad stuff. One key thing is how bloody boring the first 15 minutes are. I nearly wanted to close off the video file because it feels like a complete drag. Thank god that the last few minutes of this three part series make it all worthwhile. Nonetheless, it is almost a torture at the start of the show because it is dead boring and there is almost nothing worth viewing. One more thing must be the minor shounen ai vibes that I am feeling in the episode. For some strange reason, Kazuo just keeps blushing and blushing and blushing. I really cannot stand his annoying behavior, and he’s almost completely useless. He is probably either comical relief or something.
There are a lot of questions and I do not know how the direction for the next two episodes are. For me, I think that the concept is interesting, the graphics are all right, the characters are pleasant enough. There’s no reason for me not to at least give the second episode another chance. It’s only three episodes after all!