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Review: Battle Royale

sjohnson
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Posted March 26, 2008 - By Stephen Johnson

(Hey, G4 Readers, we're trying something a little different today, and we'd like your help. Below you'll find an intelligent and interesting review/discussion of KoushunTakami & Masayuki Taguchi's Battle Royale - Ultimate Edition 1 & 2 from G4's resident Anime and Manga queen Courtney Kraft. Read it and let us know if regular anime and manga reviews are something you'd like to keep reading. Also, stay classy, Internet.)

Battle Royale - Ultimate Edition 1 & 2

Here’s Battle Royale summed up in three words: Sex, violence, and rock-n-roll...not necessarily in that order.

Okay, so technically that’s ten and a half words.

Battle Royale is the story of 42 ninth-graders who are kidnapped to participate in the nation’s number one program on television, anti-climactically named “The Program.” It’s Survivor, but with less backstabbing and more head-shots. The students are each armed with a weapon and let loose on an island. The goal of the game is to be the last one standing. It’s kill or be killed. If there is more than one survivor after three days, they all die. Game over.

Is this a commentary on the future of reality television? I’d have to say no. Reality TV didn’t boom until shortly after the novel’s release. Battle Royale is more about the government using terrorism to keep people too scared to fight back.

Normally, it would be hard to say what is so compelling about Battle Royale since it gives the impression that it’s going to be all glorified sex and violence. There’s certainly plenty of that, but I found myself sucked in almost instantly. These kids are placed in a situation so hopeless and terrifying that you can almost smell it. It smacks you with the intensity right from the start by showing you just how ruthless those running the show can be.

From there, Battle Royale takes the time to let you get to know almost every single one of the 42 contestants. Each one has a story, inspiration or vice, that compels them to act the way they do.  There is bound to be at least one person every reader can relate to.

Even the art style plays into who the authors want you to like and hate. Likable = pretty. Annoying or unlikeable = not-so-pretty. Keep in mind that unlikeable does not mean evil. The other thing that’s great about the art is that the action is simple to follow. It’s very easy to visualize what’s happening to connect each cell. The violence is very graphic, but sometimes the art goes a little over the top with the sweating and tears.

As I got into it, I started to notice that I had difficulty putting it down. I soon realized that this had to do with the pacing. Scenes would rarely end when a chapter did, so it kept me compelled to continue on to find out what happened. It’s hard to find a good stopping point. Then again, it’s a very entertaining read, so why put it down at all?

The Ultimate Editions are hardcover versions that contain three volumes each, so right now, I’m stuck after reading the first six. The Ultimate Editions will become available later this year and early into 2009, but for now, all 15 volumes of the individual paperbacks are available. This series is defiantly for a mature audience looking for something exciting, but not flat. This is an action-horror-thriller for those looking for more dimensions than just your average slasher.
--Courtney Kraft

Review: Battle Royale
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