Illustrator: Masayuki Taguchi
Content Guide: Intense scenes of violence, sexuality, and language. Not recommended for younger readers.
You've Won!Imagine you won the lottery.
Now imagine that the prize was to be dropped off on a deserted island with your classmates. Add into the fact that the only way off the island is to kill each and every one of them. If you don’t, you will die, either by their hands or by the bomb that’s in the collar around your neck. Now who wants to play?
The StoryBattle Royale is about an alternate future in a military society that is ruled by a dictatorship. For one reason or another, 9th graders in a graduating class are pulled by random to compete in a game of life and death, but mostly death, called The Program. The kids are told that there are rules to the game:
- All kids must kill each other until there is only one student left.
- Each student is supplied with food, water, and a random weapon.
- Each student wears a collar that has a bomb in it and monitors life signs.
- There are designated danger zones that are addedd throughout the game. If you go there, your collar explodes.
- If, at the end of a 24 hour period, someone has not died, then all of the collars explode.
They are each given their equipment and sent out on an abandoned island. After that, its every person for themselves.
Pulling all of their strings is the enigmatic Yonemi Kamon, the headmaster of The Program. Yonemi is sick, twisted, and violent, the perfect person to oversee such a gameshow.
Soon, the body counts start to grow. Either by themselves or others, death seems inevitable to the students of Junior High Class B. Will they massacre each other, or is there another way.
HistoryBattle Royale started as a novel by author Koushun Takami. What was to be an entrance into a mystery writing competition was passed over due to its controversial content. The book was later published in 1999 and became a smash hit in Japan, despite people in the Japanese government calling for censorship. The book has since been translated into English.
The book was later redone as both a manga series and movie that came out with one month of each other. The manga was written by Koushun Takami and Masayuki Taguchi and stayed close to the novel. The film was directed by Kinji Fukasaku and quickly became a hit in Japan. Although the film has not been released in theaters in America, it quickly established a cult following through its DVD releases. It can be rented and bought at many different locations. A sequel to Battle Royale was released in 2003 under the title Battle Royale 2. Many fans consider this movie not as good as the first. Novelist Koushun Takami had no involvement with the film.
The idea of this story completely intrigued me. A whole 9th grade class taken to an abandoned island and forced to kill each other? Sounds very sadistic. I’ve read a few volumes of the manga, watched the movie, and plan on getting the novel soon. Guess I’m hooked.
One appeal to this is that it is so over the top. Like movies, books, and comics before that have used violence to help make a point, Battle Royale appears to fit into that mold. The movie was very bloody and gruesome, with the manga being more so. In the first volume there are full splash pages dedicated to showing close ups of students with their faces shot off. Very disturbing indeed.
At times, Battle Royale felt like a guilty pleasure, like I was doing something wrong just by reading it. The manga and movie have stuck with me and I find myself thinking about why this or that happened. About the point of the whole thing. About what my reaction to a situation like that would be. Would I give up and kill myself either in fear or protest, band with others to find a way out, or revel in the chance to go utterly psycho and let forth every dark inhibition that my mind can conceive? Kind of a sobering thought.
ConclusionIf these kinds of things put you off, by all means, pass this one up. But if you like to struggle with your own inner demons to arrive at perhaps a better place, then you might want to give Battle Royale a try. In any event, it will stick with you for awhile, and that is one mark of a very good piece of work. In the end it is up to you.
This review was taken from here