November 20, 2007

Will you kill your friends to survive?

battle royaleTitle: Battle Royale
Story & Art: Koushun Takami
Volumes: 15
Genre: Seinen

I read the Battle Royale book and watched the first movie, so I figured, why not read the manga too, right? So I did. And oh my god was I out of words on how to describe it. Honestly, I don't know what's worse: leaving the violence and gore up to my imagination or seeing it laid out to me in all its bloody glory.

15 volumes might seem a lot, but with all the action Battle Royale has to offer, you won't notice that you're already halfway done -- not until you actually make an effort to see which volume you're reading. Battle Royale's fast-paced but has enough substance which prevents it from being considered a shallow story that bases it's popularity on pure violence.

First-timers! The gist: Battle Royale is a story about a class sent to a deserted island to participate in a government-organized game simply called The Program. The object of the game is simple: hunt and kill your classmates and when you're the last one alive, you're the winner. It's your choice if you want to play the game or not. If you do, then harden yourself and prepare to kill your friends.

If you don't... Just pray that nobody finds you and somehow, people miraculously kill themselves off until you're the last one alive.

Battle Royale is a good story. I mean, it's unique in every way you look at it. What I like about the manga is that it gives more story beyond the story. Did I just confuse you? Erm... The main story is how this one class is chosen to participate in The Program. The story beyond that are those little side-stories about the characters - childhood, current events with the family they left behind, etc.

Each character in Battle Royale is different from the other... Each has his own characteristic and past - it's a carefully thought-out story that will help the reader relate with the story and characters more. Especially the main characters.

As for the artwork, if you're easily grossed-out, I suggest you just read the Battle Royale novel and skip the manga and the movie. The violent scenes where in the students are killed are very intricately drawn. All the details are there: from bones, muscles, name it and it's there. When a student becomes deranged, the way their eyes are drawn shows how loopy they've become, it's creepy. Oh but don't worry, it's not all that bad. There's some eye candy in there too (ref: Sugimura, Mimura, Takako, Mitsuko) and some nude/sex scenes that don't even go near's way beyond that. So watch out.

Is Battle Royale recommended? Definitely. If you're planning to read Battle Royale, I've given enough warnings here so you know what to anticipate. If you can't stomach the events in the first volume, there's only one thing left for you to do:

Stop reading and don't attempt to go any further.
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