by Junya Inoue
published by Yen Press; $11.99 US
The sexism fears foreshadowed in previous volumes are here fully realized.
For a change of pace, instead of facing off with yet another repellant, bloodthirsty villain, the threat in BTOOOM! Book 3 is more primal. Ryouta, his older sidekick, and the girl on the cover must survive an attack by giant lizards.
But first, Ryouta and the girl (who has no name yet) face off. She manages to take herself out — thus making me wonder how she managed to assemble the large stash of food and bombs she has, since she comes off as deranged and incompetent — so for much of the book, Ryouta is lugging her around like a giant doll. The artist wants to have things both ways, by giving her a fear of rape from any man, presumably due to some terrible incident in her past. This allows for flashbacks showing her unclothed and violated by some guy, providing tawdry images for the male readers to drool over while “deepening” her character and allowing Ryouta to seem more proper in contrast.
Although he’s still manhandling her like a piece of flesh, it’s to get her to safety while unconscious. It’s all very tasteless. And completely unsubtle. As he unpacks her weapons while she’s passed out, he thinks, “This is almost like… I’m slipping her panties off…” just in case the reader wasn’t sure why he was seeing spread legs splayed on the ground and belts sliding down her limbs.
We do get one plot revelation, as the girl, before she becomes luggage, tells the others that they were sent to the island by someone who knew them. This concept, where someone gets power to kill or ruin someone else’s life from afar, I’ve seen in manga before. It makes me wonder… Is Japanese society so afraid of confrontation that instead of telling someone they’re annoying you, it’s easier to dream of a fantasy solution that simply takes them away to learn their lesson among other obnoxious people? (The publisher provided a review copy.)