Would you fight someone to the death for $3 million? If not, at least you can enjoy watching people do so in the new action miniseries BUS GAMER (ビズゲーマー), airing a total of 3 episodes on KBS, Fridays at 26:30 JST.
BUS(iness) GAMER (pronounced Biz Gamer) is based on a manga with a strange history, created by Minekura Kazuya. It started way back in 1999, and 11 chapters had been produced when the magazine that housed it was discontinued, leaving it unfinished. Another publication picked it up again in 2006, where the original author started redrawing the entire thing, and next week should see the release of the first volume of the new manga. Apparently this rebirth calls for an animated version, and Kuzuya Naoyuki was picked to direct, with Yoyogi Hajime writing the script. Precious little information can be found about Yoyogi, but Kuzuya seems to have been working on storyboards for a number of shows, although this should be his directorial debut.
Three young men with different backgrounds – Mishiba Toki, Nakajou Nobuto and Saitou Kazuo – each find a black envelope in the mail. It contains an invitation to become a Biz Gamer with the possibility of earning up to 300 million yen ($3M USD). Despite misgivings about teaming up with two strangers, the three soon find themselves outside an abandoned bowling alley to begin their first match, registered as team “AAA” (no name). The objective of the game is to steal the opposing team’s disc, containing secret information from the business enterprises who have hired the combatants, and the team holding the disc at the end of the allotted time wins. Weapons? Bring anything you like.
The animation by Studio Izena is decent, but it’s dragged down by the overall look of the show, which is somehow cheap. Perhaps the character design just isn’t for me. Nagashima Hiroyuki‘s music is likewise decent, yet doesn’t really impress. On the voice side, the main characters are played by Suzumura Kenichi (Shinn Asuka in Gundam Seed) as the icy Mishiba, Suwabe Junichi (Atobe in Prince of Tennis) as the experienced Nakajou, and the versatile Takahashi Hiroki (Hisoka in Hunter x Hunter) as the lost youngster Saitou. No complaints, no praise, but the opening song is a performance by the voice actor trio, and it sets the show off to quite a goofy start.
What bugs me most about BUS GAMER is that it lacks the class needed to carry the serious mood it tries to create. It’s a life and death struggle in a dark world, with evil corporations grinning in the shadows, but it all looks so glossy. It’s not helped by the comic relief parts of Saitou’s character either; surely it must be possible to show naiveté and innocence without making someone a bumbling idiot? As short as it is with only 3 episodes, it’s also bound to feel rushed, and without a completed manga to build on, there’s a risk it’ll all come crashing down in the end. Even so, it’s not exactly bad, if you happen to be itching for some blood.