Bus GamerThere is a game known only as the Bus Game, essentially an illegal street fighting tournament in which the ultimate prize is an almost unbelievably large sum of money. Teams of three are required and the rules are simple: to win, the away team needs to steal the home team’s disk… in whatever way they wish. Here your life is worth little more than the price of a CD as you battle away towards the main prize – and for the entertainment of the bored businessmen that started everything.

Three complete strangers, the mysterious Mishiba Toki, the brutal Nakajyo Nobuto and the video gamer Saitoh Kazuo are hired by a mystery corporation to take part in this secret game, and these three end up signing on as the team with no name, or ‘AAA’ – Triple Anonymous.

Now three young men from vastly different backgrounds, with very different personalities and almost nothing in common need to learn to fight together and make it all the way to the top… because the ONLY thing these three can agree on is that they ALL need that large sum of money!

Bus Gamer is a 3 episode long anime series released in 2008, and is based on the 2001 Bus Gamer manga by Kazuya Minekura. The series is directed by Naoyuki Kuzuya, a newcomer to the series director’s chair.

With only three episode in which to package your product, understandably Bus Gamer falls a little short in the story depth department. The basic premise for the story travels some well trod ground, namely a tournament that pitches teams against one another for an increasing amount of money, but it is the way in which it is executed which makes it interesting. All three characters have their own mystery surrounding them and their circumstances, and while we know that each one of them needs a lot of money for some or other purpose, the series isn’t long enough to explore any of these threads and as such you really can’t expect any character development whatsoever over the course of this show.

But despite that, and despite the relative predictability of the script, for some or other reason though, Bus Gamer manages still to come across as a thoroughly entertaining and intriguing show to watch, literally locking you into your seat until the final credits of the last show runs. This is a testament to how well the script writers, director and animators elevate what should in reality be a pretty boring show to something that is simply put, a much watch show, especially for all lovers of the action/comedy genre.

Just a note if you are a little lost as to the title Bus Gamer – ‘Bus’ in this case is pronounced ‘Biz’, as in short for business, which now makes perfect sense when you consider the ‘game’ has been created by a bunch of bored businessmen.

Visually, Bus Gamer delivers the goods, giving us highly detailed backgrounds, vividly coloured and well drawn characters and some extremely fluid animation. The quality seems just that little higher than your standard, mass produced television anime fare, and this is certainly a welcome aspect to this show when you consider it doesn’t really have much in terms of story to try and make it a hit thanks to its particularly short length.

The fight scenes are particularly well animated and the choreography is pretty well done, showcasing each one of our protagonists’ fighting (or lack thereof) styles and abilities, from the brutality of Nobuto to the fluid techniques of Toki.

The only disturbing thing with regards to the animation that I do want to point out though is this: what the heck is up with all the ridiculous haircuts?! Can’t anyone afford a barber these days?

Anyway, the music, sound effects and voice acting are also all top notch, adding to that polished feel that the great animation has already made an effort to set up. Established anime voice actors Kenichi Suzumura, Junichi Swabe and Hiroki Takahashi lend their talents to the series as the three main protagonists and all three deliver thoroughly enjoyable performances.

In summary, if I have any complaint at all, then it is that Bus Gamer is just too damn short. While the story premise is nothing original, the execution and just plain enjoyable nature of this brief little outing is of such a high standard that the show absolutely begs for more episodes and the producers would do well to flesh this out into at least a 12 episode long series. Still, I guess I shouldn’t be too greedy and take what I get – and I’m glad I took the time to catch Bus Gamer after all because it really is a fun ride and fans of action fighting-genre anime (spiced with a hint of comedy) will really get a kick out of this one.

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Related Link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=8956