"Big Eyes, Small Mouth" Anime-based RPG
Author: Mark McKinnon
Company/Publisher: Guardians of Order
Page count: 94
Capsule Review by Judd M. Goswick on 11/29/97. Genre tags: none
For those of us out there who watch anime and are getting a bit tired of its portrayal in gaming as a the genre of "Big Robots", the perfect game has finally come - "Big Eyes, Small Mouth". As the name implies, this game is filled with anime-style and substance.
While the game does allow for Big Robots and lots of Mecha action, but it also deals with the parts of anime many of us otaku (anime fans)love, but do not see in mecha-based games like Mekton and Heavy Gear.
BESM starts off with a simple, but elegant character creation system. This system makes up the bulk of the game book, but because it makes up the largest chunk of where the rules need to be stressed in game play. BESM allows for very open-ended character creation, guided by the GM and his or her ideas for the game. The system is build point based and produces (with some GM monitoring) very well-balanced and tailored characters with an anime feel.
The system is very quick, simple, and cinematic in nature - again to capture the feel of anime. Speed and action are the names of the game in both anime and BESM's combat resolution. There is little room for misunderstandings or unclear resolutions while great room for interpretation of results. There is a critical hit chart that does strike one as being a bit too heavy handed (as it contains a SLIGHT chance of instant death), but this sort of thing is alieved either by the Grand Tradition of "Fudging" or by the altering of the result (the BESM rules rae not Holy Writ, we are reminded in the text).
Action resolution follows the same sort of flow as combat, but (as with most games) is much faster and less heavy in rules traffic. The action is expected to be cinematic and is in this system. Success is by no means guarteed, but when someone does something, the effects are BIG.
The rest of BESM is a look at anime, its settings, and a spin around the classics of anime. This material is very good and contains many idea germs for a GM to start with, but is no rerplacement for watching some anime (which you should do anyway young man/lady!)
The layout of the book is good for a first shot at publishing, but the art is inconsistent in quality (as it comes from fan art sources). Most notebale is the work of Aimo, the featured artist. Aimo is a new talent to the field of illustation, but her anime art showcased in this book mark the start, I hope, of a long and successful career in illustating or production of Manga (Japaneese Comics, the source of almost all Anime). Other artists do some great work to make the game look as well as feel like an anime experience.
All in all, it is a good game more than worthy of its price-tag. I won my copy as a prize in a BESM tourney at Anime Weekend Atlanta, but I plan to buy a copy to put up for safe keeping and I am going to stuff my gaming group's stockings with BESM (as we are gamers who LOVE anime). For the price, this game rocks!
Style: 3 (Average)