Battle Royale - Reviews

Battle Royale
Thrawn's avatar
Oct 26, 2012

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. 

8.5/10 story
9/10 art
9.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
BikkuriShita's avatar
May 24, 2018

 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!

10/10 story
10/10 art
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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KR999's avatar
Aug 21, 2017

The first manga I read over a decade ago now, and perhaps still my favourite. Nevertheless it's far from perfect: the English translation especially leaves a lot to be desired in that much of it reads like an old man trying to imitate 'how the youngsters speak nowadays' with an over-abundance of punchy dialogue and wisecracks, though even this fails to take away from the dire seriousness of the situation. Also their addition of the Battle Royale Program being a sick reality show in the vein of The Hunger Games is an outdated marketing gimmick and nonsensical to boot as there are no surveillance cameras on-site, indeed part of the original novel’s point is that the BRP’s carnage is largely left to the Public's imagination and so much more effective as a weapon of terror-control.

Nor is this manga adaptation itself free from problems: while most of the characters are drawn to be distinguishable from one another, and succeed in this respect, their faces and facial expressions are sometimes too extreme and distorted, especially during moments of emotion, so that they resemble caricatures rather than believable human beings. Also some deem the graphic sex/violence added for the manga to be gratuitous, but to my mind that's the point: the BRP is gratuitous by design, its purpose is to coerce its victims into excessive displays of evil in order to frighten Society into accepting totalitarian rule, therefore the portrayal of sex/violence as repulsive/captivating is entirely appropriate in my opinion and excellently encapsulated in the character of Mitsuko who is both sexually alluring; pathetic; and repellent all at the same time.

A minor nitpick of the original novel is that far too much time is spent with the character Mimura whom I found insufferably realistic in his portrayal of an arrogant teenage boy who thinks he’s got it all figured out and is too cool for school (my teenage self could relate), yet the authors clearly meant for the audience to be rooting for him when at times I just wanted him to get on and die already.

Finally some find the two male and female protagonists to be bland and to a degree I agree with this, they are far from my favourite characters, however I believe they serve their purpose well enough as idealised paragons designed to contrast against the ensemble of deeper, more realistic characters that surround them and provide an easy avatar for younger readers to insert themselves into the story. Nevertheless I still find them believable as ‘normal’ teenagers; find their budding romance sweet; root for their survival; and long for their eventual triumph while at the same time questioning with dread whether it will ever truly materialise.

So then, with these negatives out the way, why is this my favourite manga despite having read well over a hundred? Nostalgia goggles aside, I would probably say the setting and characters encapsulate for me why I love the medium itself: an exaggerated reflection of reality able to entertain as well as engage my thoughts and emotions. Some will scoff at the supposed ‘realism’ of the Battle Royale Program but as a student of history familiar with things like the Roman Coliseum or more recent Nazi Holocaust then I’m under no illusion that something like this couldn’t happen under the right circumstances. Likewise the characters feel refreshingly real compared to most other media portrayals, like regular kids you know or at least once knew: the fit-ins and misfits; neither entirely good nor entirely bad unless put into the right situation. The story itself is fairly well-paced with relentless action interspersed with quiet moments to breathe and reflect with dialogue and flashbacks, in which a fantastic job is done of exploring the roots of good and evil with their many faces of heroism and villainy, as well as the grey area in between where most of us dwell not as mere witnesses but rather participants ourselves. What speaks to me most of all however is the work’s inherent message of balancing your passion with logic without one overwhelming or undermining the other, keeping the flame of hope alive even in the bleakest situation. This is a timeless tale where definitely it’s darkest before dawn, and despite the fact that most of the characters face irreparable damage and loss their lives and moralities are still worth fighting for even against seemingly impossible odds. In conclusion the true face of Humanity is found in compassion; understanding; and inner beauty rather than violence; ignorance; and ugliness as expressed by those individuals permanently damaged by a toxic combination of social corruption and bad choices. Indeed I find many thematic parallels with my other favourite work of literature: the Legendarium of Tolkien, to quote my favourite passage of his:

‘Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.’

9/10 story
6/10 art
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
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propolismetropolis's avatar
Apr 20, 2012

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.

10/10 story
10/10 art
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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ObitoUzumaki's avatar
May 2, 2019

Haven't seen the movie or anything but this manga is great if you enjoyed the hunger games then I recommend you give this a try the only major disappointment I really had was the ending was the most uninteresting ending I've ever seen

8/10 story
8/10 art
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
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