Battle Royale

Vol: 15; Ch: 119
2000 - 2006
4.028 out of 5 from 2,269 votes
Rank #3,049
Battle Royale

Reality TV has hit a new and disturbingly graphic low with ‘The Program,' a television series in which a purposely chosen ninth-grade class is forced to fight to the death on a remote island. With only minimal survival gear and a random weapon, each student must survive and kill their friends until only one winner remains; if the group refuses to play, all of its members are killed by the electronic collars around their necks. Girlfriends and boyfriends betray each other, friends are brutally slain by their closest companions and alliances are made and broken. On screen for the world to see, only the strongest will survive this horrific, sadistic game...

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Story: Brutal, gory, remorseless, violent. All part of the underage student killing glory. Student killing, you say? How could a government do such a thing? It's explained, and the series does a good amount of explaining about the program itself and the government that conducts it. Have to give it props for explaining the ones pulling the strings. Dat violence, but I'll tell ya this; it's not all about the violence. On the outside at least. On the inside, they're beaten down, torn apart and ripped to shreds as their minds break to the twisted game they're forced to play. Players go insane, turn into psychos and some become a complete contrast to what they were before the game. It's pretty damn good and the author does it just as well here as he did in the original book. Violence, psychological violence, spiritual violence? That's just dumb. But that reminds me of how the manga is different from the book: tacking on extra scenes that have no business in being there. It extends the mid-game scenes needlessly and even the climatic end-game. It adds a sense of ridiculousness and absurdity if not filler and padding. Other changes are there, but if you didn't read the book for some odd morally related reason then it doesn't matter to you. For those who have some of them aren't too bad. The one at the well, for instance, I felt was for the better, lest the one there lacked development in the book. Aside from the padding instances mentioned in the paragraph above, the changes wouldn't detract from your enjoyment. It's a long series, yes, but it's over a short amount of time. Sometimes it's almost if it's plodding and it could have been sped up a tad, maybe not for getting expense of character development. Here I mean scenes from the original. As time marches on, so do the weak as they get eliminated and only the strong, the cunning and cowardly (Contradictory maybe, but discretion is the better part of valor) remain, the story slows down. This might not sit well with the more bloodthirsty reader but sometimes it's needed so one wouldn't take the violence for granted, other times, there is such a thing as too much peace. Art: You have to give it credit on the detail. Viseral in it's gory glory, it doesn't shy away from the mature stuff when it comes to violence and the aftermath when one is left standing. Unsettling, brutal, and stomach churning, it'll make or break your enjoyment of a good part of it. Sometimes it's almost over-the-top, other times it sends the message home. I can't entirely say I enjoyed the deplictions of gore, mutilation of bodies and grim details but it did highten the experience and fit with the overall theme of students and friends killing each other. The characters, range from the good looking trio of heroes, other good guys and gals looking good and some ugly motherfuckers by the name of those who I call villains; Sakamochi, Niida and Froggy are the ones that come to mind, and it's noticeable. You can't avoid noticing how the doctors slapped their mama when they were born. And as it goes on, the line between beautiful and ugly as sin blurs as the corpses pile. No matter how good you look, a corpse is a corpse. Characters: One of the main selling points and one of the best parts was how they develope the characters. A majority of them get some sort of backstory, a chapter or two displaying their past, some of their quirks and a bit about of themselves before they check out. They aren't nameless future coffin occupiers, but real humans with emotions and enough depth to make you care for a select few and become emotionally invested. One of the mentionables is Souma, the hot chick. If she weren't developed, she'd just be hot chick, but with development, she becomes more than that. But with a few others alongside her, it's not always straight-forward. There's more to them underneath their exterior and truly, once again, the depth is what helps brings the manga to excellence. Not everybody can be given depth as some become corpses before we can know them. That's life, right? I'm not going to hold it against it. To be fair, some of them become worm food before we can get to know them but some of them, worm food and other minors, are in the past scenes of other more prominent characters. They're classmates and all but I liked that. Sort of creates a connection between the classmates. The villains, once again, or what can be considered a "villain", only a few are truly despicable. I'll just use Sakamochi as an example, the head of this installation of the game. To put it elegantly, he's a fucking sack of shit and wholely unlikeable. The author makes no effort in giving him the slightest sliver of characterization to make him likeable in any way. Otherwise, one might say it's due to the event they're thrown in and forced to participate in, but sometimes evil is evil, and they might be evil deep down. Simply put, villains are done well overall, natural evil Sakamochi or otherwise. Overall: I loved the Manga series, but not as much as the novel. Excusing final comparisons, it's obviously a series not for everyone. The violence and overall mature subject matter will put some people off but if you can handle that, you'll get one of the greatest series on survival games with a cast that aren't just faces. Sometimes the characters even overshadow the underage violence that gave the book such notoriety. 


This manga came highly recomended to me by a friend but I didn't see much value in it. Essentially, a group of kids gets put on an island and must kill eachother for the pleasure of the masses. One boy, our main character, decides to reject the game entirely and be the good guy. We follow Shuuya the protagonist. He's always doing the right thing, and more, it always works. He never has to make any tough moral decisions, he merely attempts to convince everyone around him that they should avoid playing the game and shoot the big baddie at the end. Of course he fails sometimes due to other people, but it's never his fault. He's a terribly uninteresting and cookie-cutter alutruist.The series has no strong female characters. The only one that has any real depth is the a "slut" who plays the game essentially with her sexuality but of course is offed in the end. All the other female characters are week and susceptible to death/insanity.Even the girlfriends of the guys we're supposed to root for need constant protection. Then there's the art. I swear, all everyone does is cry. A male protagonist said something mildly touching? Tears everywhere. Female we care about says they're a bit scared? Male with tears streaming down his face. Insane guy? Leaking snot, tears and salivia all over everything. It's annoying and so unrealistic it makes you want to stop reading. Also this guy can't even draw, his figures are so cartoonishly disproportionate. It just looks really dumb imo. Like I'm down for manga, I love the clean lines and smooth style. But this is an abomination of sticklike females and perfectly toned male bodies. Oh unless they're a nerd. Then they're four feet tall with a child's face.  The story is decent, but the dialogue is awful. Very unrealistic and causing every character to blubber everywhere. It's just not that well written, even if the concept of a bunch of teenagers on an island is pretty interesting. To cap it all off, the psychological profiles never make you care about the characters. The main baddie turns out to be brain damaged, causing psychosis. Our hero is a constant do-gooder. All the females are waify crybabies. The only decently interesting character is the "slut" but everyone else just feels boring. I feel like the manga is trying to make social comentary but it never really succeeds. There's a happy ending (even our protagonist never even tells the girl he loves her... Jesus christ like come on, how much more passive could you be?) even though everyone dies. Sure some characters go insane, which I guess is somewhat interesting, but there's no grim darkness or heavy atmosphere. There's so many characters that none of them matter except the five we actually follow. Everyone else just dies every few pages. Would not recomend :/ 


Could you kill your best friend? This is the tag line that initiates the mother of all mangas. There is a reason Battle Royale tends to be on people's lists of "Must Read Manga", right up there with Neon Evangelion. It is that good. Believe the hype because it is true. Now, the nitty gritty. Story: It's the future and the Japanese government has decided to randomly select one 9th grade class to battle to death on national television each year. This totalitarian government does this (It is called The Program) in order to instill fear into its citizens and remind people just how weak they are. BR follows one class's unlucky selection (the students are drugged and placed on an isolated island) and the events that transpire between all of the classmates when put into a live or die situation. All of the relationships between the characters are addressed and backstories are given in order to flesh out the story and provide motivation for the majority of the cast. We mainly follow Shuyo, Noriko, and Shogo: 3 people who have decided that they won't play this game and are trying to find a way to get out alive w/o having to kill their friends and classmates. Major problem: not everyone is on board with that idea. I want to go into more depth, and I really could, but it's something that needs to be read. The creator of the novel the manga is based on really thought of every philosophical aspect of this situation and uses his 42 characters to show the many, varying ways real people could, would, and have dealt with a similar situation. This is what makes the manga so powerful and so frightening: you see the fall of civil humanity and the rise of basic instinct in an all too realistic manner. Art: Top notch. There are no two characters who look the same. All of the faces are unique and different and with a cast of 42 people, this becomes a blessing when trying to remember who is who. The scenery is given just as much care as everything else, nothing was left to chance. Now, as this manga is a depiction of what 42 different human beings of varying backgrounds would do when forced to kill each other, it is important to note two things: sex/nudity and gore. There is a lot of both, especially the latter, and they are drawn with the same meticulous hand that drew the rest of the manga. There is no shying away from the violence or sex and instead of it being used as just titillation, BR uses it in the same manner that Berserk uses it: to comment on humanity, sanity, and the evil that is within all of us. Characters: When I say that every character is fleshed out, I mean that EVERY CHARACTER IS FLESHED OUT. You know not only their personal backstories, but the relationships among all of them. You see and understand why someone is more inclined to kill, or why someone is desperately fighting.  It all makes perfect sense. That being said, there are some stand outs. 1. Mimura. Smartest 14/15 year old ever who you root for. He is brilliant, but he is flawed: his own ego and short fuse are his draw backs. 2. Mitsuko. Ever wondered why the slutty delinquint acts the way she does? Why she has so little care for the people around her and is so willing to off them? Yeah, she's WAAY more than just a pretty face with a bad attitude. 3. Kiriyama. He is a machine that cannot be stopped. He is terrifying because he appears to be the perfect killing machine. There's a reason for that too (one that I will say I did not see that coming). The characters are great and although you know the majority of them are going to die, it still hurts every time when one of your favorites does. Overall: I don't think I can praise this enough. So go out and read this!! It is worth it. It is more than just a play by play of events. It is a meditation on human nature and the lengths people will go through to survive. It's deep.

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