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 :/
Image you and your entire class have been forced to enter into a program, in which you are handed a bag with a random weapon ranging from knives to semi-automatic weapons and a few suprises. You are told that you are wearing a bomb collar and that only one of you may leave the island. The story after that is of individuals within the class fighting it out, or in a few cases trying to convince others to not fight. The art is an amazing Seinen style, you see the extremes of the human body and all of the strain and hatred in the eyes of the students as they are either picked off or murdering others. The killings are some of the best drawn items I have ever seen, they hold no limit to the graphicness of the deaths making it more realistic and believable. The charicters are develped extremly well in flash backs and thier murderous(or lacking of) actions and they include every normal class stereotype and add some good manga ones, like the sociopathic killer. Overall this manga is amazing, but not for the faint of heart or stomach, it brings some great new actions to the genre of arena battles and oppressive governments. (And as someone will eventually say it this is like the Hunger Games(even though it is alot older) with less complaining and running but more action and death.)
The novel "Battle Royale" is an incredibly well-done character-driven survival story. Of course I wanted to read the manga!
(A quick note: "Battle Royale" is one of those stories which is difficult to review without spoiling. Spoilers will be marked, though.)
Story: In the Republic of Greater East Asia, there is a reality TV show called "The Program." On it, students fight to the death. Nanahara Shuya is a popular, rock-and-roll-loving student. One day, instead of having a class trip, his classmates and he learn that they are the newest participants in the "BR Project:" They have to kill each other on an odd island until only one stands. Thus ensues a violent and gory exploration of the human mind.
There ARE some differences from the novel (and movie, I suppose [EDIT: Now that I have seen the movie, I can safely say that there are A LOT of differences]), but this is still the same kickass storyline. However, this is not a plot-driven story, so the story ends up taking a back seat to the character aspect. This is not a bad thing, though.
(Note: The translation is a little iffy. It sounds very Americanized.)
Art: Taguchi Masayuki draws some questionable character designs. The more likable or sympathetic characters look nice, while the slimy or weird characters look like deformed chibi bobbleheads. Kamon Yonemi (his name changed from the novel) looks like he was drawn by Arcimboldo.
This isn't THAT bad, really. But in can get a little jarring. For example, Mimura Shinji and Seto Yutaka are seen with each other often. Yutaka looks like a short bobblehead chibi with mountain-like hair and down-turned eyes. Shinji looks like an Abercrombie® model (and has an uncanny resemblance to Nobu from "Nana"). Put them in the same panel and the effect is almost laughable. On the bright side, no two characters look alike.
Backgrounds are pretty and detailed, but the effects are unintentionally hilarious--the characters seem to be having a contest to see who can look the most faaaaaabulous, what with the starry eyes, flower petals, twinkling night skies as backgrounds, and bucketfuls of tears. It's like "Battle Royale" is trying to pull an "OHSHC" and parody shoujo tropes... except that it's not a parody. It detracts from the gritty feel of the manga.
Guns look realistic, and gore is over-the-top and little is left to the imagination. There are some panty- and bra shots, so if you don't like ecchi, don't read. Nudity (there is a lot of it) is, well, idealized. Don't expect any censoring in that respect. There is quite a bit of sex, and it's almost bordering on hentai. Which brings me to my next point: How do young girls get breasts of these sizes?!
Characters: (SPOILERS IN THE ENTIRE SECTION!) Finally! Development, backstories and variation! However, it was better in the novel.
If you want a picture of all of them, it's going to have to be of the live-action movie. And that kind of defeats the purpose.
Nanahara Shuya: In the novel, he loves Bruce Springsteen. In the manga, he loves rock in general. The hero of the story, he doesn't want to kill and wants to save everyone, especially Noriko. He's a rather typical hero, but he's well-rounded, so it's okay.
Nakagawa Noriko: Physically weak but mentally strong, Noriko wants to kill even less than Shuya. She's kind and undergoes development, which makes her likable. I would love to have her as a friend.
Kawada Shogo: The older transfer student, he's the winner of a past game. He ends up saving Shuya and Noriko on numerous occasions, and he has a heart of gold. He has a nice backstory and his thinking is properly explained.
Kiriyama Kazuo: My love for him is bordering on obsessive, but I digress. The main villian of the series, he's a cold-hearted killer and has, by far, the highest body count of anyone else in his class. However, his backstory allows the viewer to build sympathy for him, and it is very well done. It's a little different from that of the manga, but is excellent nonetheless. I actually cried during his death scene. And yes, he probably should have won. <3
Mimura Shinji: My second-favorite character, genius hacker Shinji is a contender for winner through much of the game. He's pretty damn unlucky, but has an awesome showdown with Kazuo, both of whom can probably live through having a nuclear bomb dropped near them. I thought duct tape was useful. Since reading this, I have learned that duct tape can do ANYTHING. (Just read it to find out exactly how Shinji uses it.)
Seto Yutaka: In the novel, I viewed him as clumsy weakling, but he evolves into a douche in the manga. Useless cannot even begin to describe him.
Sugimura Hiroki: The loving martial artist of the story. He spends the game looking for his two girl friends. (Not girlfriends. Girl friends.) He's a very trusting person, but his supah mega powaz of DOOOOOOM kind of annoyed me. (In the novel, no energy could be emitted and used against your opponent.)
I couldn't help it.
In the manga, she is little more than a whore for most of the series (in the novel, it's better). She even goes as far as to rape a dying boy and strip for Kazuo and say he can rape her (he was going to kill her. Don't worry, he didn't care that she stripped. But, I will say, the end of their fight was moving). Only a few moments, such as drawing her as a ripped and beaten stuffed doll show that she is more than a pair of breasts.
Kamon Yonemi: He's sadistic and evil (and perverted), but he is the personification of the government, if you want to view this as an allegory (I think the original novel is, at least).
If I mention everyone else, I'm going to go insane. However, it's a varied cast, so you'd want to read it. (END SPOILERS HERE!)
Overall: Sure, it's entertaining as hell, but it's not the best manga EVAR. The original novel is better in most respects (and more entertaining), but this is fun. Not for children, certainly, but fun.
EXTRA EDIT: It's better than the movie.
This is the true depiction of Battle Royale in it's rawest form.
It doesn't hold back on the gore and brutality, nor does it let any character sleep safely at night.
The pacing is amazing as there's really not a boring moment and you'll be turning to the next page in anticipation of whether a person lives or dies by a blink of an eye.
Although some of the kids backstories are only briefly touch upon you'll still feel for a lot of the bunch, I cannot help but rooting for them when it was a life or death moment as it felt like every fight was for that of survival. Now the main characters are not only relatable but likeable as heck, I cannot put it enough into words to get that point across as I really think the relations & interactions between them felt genuine and the way kids would behave under this circumstances.
The villains vary as they cover all kinds of psychopaths, delinquents & nutcases. But that's not to say they're all the embodiment of evil, nor that they all enjoy killing or take joy in brutally murdering their neighbor classmate . It's really a case study on the human condition and what we'll do under extreme stress and life threatening situations. While there are adults they mostly appear in the background and only have a minor role for the majority of the time, it's kinda silly but horrifying how evil they come across and while it's exaggerated I wouldn't rule it out how the real world 1% perceives the rest of the population.
Art is great, it's a bit dark but overall the attention to detail on the environment is great. The character design is rich and varied. The Girls are cute/hot. The one's who break are perfectly illustrated in ink and their emotions are demonstrated as humane.
Story is extraordinarily good, manga sets up the premise/rules from the very first chapter. We get to learn about each student as the story progress. There's plenty of flashback/backstory moment that establish who these kids are & how they became this way. We get to learn who's allies & foes from before being put on this island. There's tragedy, anarchy, action and surprise romance (even under these circumstances believe it or not) to be found.
I have yet to seen the Live action adaptation of this manga so I cannot comment much on it.
I really wished they had made an anime version but alas, well the manga was so awesome that I don't think an anime could make it 100% justice.
I assume it's only expected to be compared to the running man and hunger games series. But honestly while I liked the Arnold flick I don't think they're that alike except for the basic premise.
As for hunger games? I really don't care for these movies, I never felt like the characters where in any real peril nor did they vowe me into caring for them(I dunno if the book did it better since I haven't read it). Katniss is one of the most bland characters I've ever had the displeasure of seeing. The fights are underwhelming and this forced feminist "Girl power" message is annoying. I do not recommend the movies if you're a fan of this manga, just stay away from this trash.
Also there's the game by the same name & PUBG; While I played H1Z1N at it's peak I think this game was a fun mess, it had it's moments but ultimately it has such severe limitation and devs that weren't able to foresee certain essential things which would lead to its downfall.
Pubg; this is a step in the right direction! It looks better, performs (sometimes) better and the aiming in it is (better I guess 70% of the time). It's really what I wanted out of a Battle Royale game IMHO. If you fancy the concept of feeling like there's someone always watching you and you're never truly safe then this is the game for you. I know there's no story as it's an multiplayer game but this is truly the closest to a personal level that you can get to experience what the characters felt somewhat during all those insane fearsome adrenaline moments. Just play it!