Battle Royale Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 204
  • ISBN: 1-51982-316-1
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Battle Royale Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     June 17, 2005
Release Date: February 29, 2004

Battle Royale Vol.#03

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takami Koushun and Taguchi Masayuki
Translated by:Tomo Iwo
Adapted by:

What They Say
One class, 42 students, forced to fight to the death. As Shuuya and Noriko learn Shogo's shocking secret, other students take center stage in third suspenseful volume of Battle Royale. Yutaka is the boy who could never catch a break. Shinji Miura is Class B's star basketball player. Will Shinji's plan to get the unlikely pair off the island succeed, or will it lead the duo to devastation? Meanwhile, Yoji Kuramoto and Yoshimi Yahagi have long held onto a rocky relationship. Now, under the ultimate pressure, will they reconcile? or are they in for a messy breakup? Finally, in one of Battle Royale's most controversial segments, the sordid dealings of Mitsuko Souma cone into focus in the soon-to-be infamous side story, "Fallen Angel."

The Review
The front cover features a larger version of the original cover art. There is an image of Miura Shinji and Nanahara Shuuya with their personalities showing (Shuuya worried and deep in thought, Shinji passive-agressive). With both of these characters taking center stage in this volume it really sets a tone for what is inside.

Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... TP uses the translated logo that is featured on the Japanese covers. They leave out the kana version but still keep the compass target image.

This volume features the sexually graphic side story of Sohma Mitsuko "Fallen Angel" along with an island map with highlights from this volume. There is also a 16-page preview of Min-yoo Wong's Priest and ads for Chobits, Initial D, Reign, PLANETES and Samurai Deeper Kyo.

The art of Battle Royale is about as extreme as the plot. Characters tend to run on the long side (but character profiles support these sizes) and are often well developed for 9th graders. Faces tend to have a lot more detail than most designs. Sometimes characters can look really comical and other times they can look really expressive. What is funny though is that Taguchi still uses an old manga technique that has supporting characters have more detail than the main characters. Check out how plain Shuuya and Noriko look (heck even Mitsuko as hot as she looks does not have extreme features). Backgrounds are very good. They are always present and paint a good picture of the terrain that is all around them. The layout is pretty active as well. All sorts of sizes are used and the perspective is all over the place. It can really give that paranoid feel that this story is all about!

For those who care there is graphic nudity (areolas and pubic hair) in this volume as well as graphic sex (male genitals are not drawn in but the fluids flowing on them are. Pretty sneaky.).

SFX are not translated. I have to admit I feel cheated when this happens and with a series where the surroundings are so important to the story translated FX are really missed.

While the translation is not as bad as it used to be it is still tough to swallow. Knowing that this series already has a pop adaptation by Keith Giffen is a one thing, but some of the little things are the most frustrating. One issue that comes up all the time is the adaptations of names. To make this series a little more hip in English honorifics are not used and on top of that names are often shortened to strange sounding nicknames. Japanese as a language is pretty unique as one can express ones relationship with another by the way people refer to each other. But having a classmate call another with a nickname must mean there is a tight relationship. Unfortunately that is not the case here. Some of these characters rarely spend any time with each other but they use strange nicks. One good example being Mimura Shinji's uncle calling his nephew "Mim." Why would an uncle refer to his nephew by a shortened last name? They are not strangers and heck they have the same last names. Another problem was on page 105. Mimura and Sato talk about a "Yoshi" being killed and they call "Yoshi" a hero, but was that Yoshio, Yoshimi, or Yoshitoki?

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
By now Shuuya and Noriko are aware that some of their classmates are playing this game, but do they still believe that they can trust anyone else out there. Can they trust someone like class runt Sato Yutaka? Mimura Shinji can. While Shinji is not as trusting as Shuuya he's essentially a good guy, though you might wonder about that after finding out about his love them and leave them attitude with the ladies. While Yutaka may be weak and scrawny he has a huge heart. He would he loved to save Yukiko and Yumiko but he knew he had no chance against Kiriyama's firepower. And now that he is with Shinji he is willing to do anything to survive. You know Shinji is game and actually his game is to always be on the offensive; so they will be playing revenge.

A computer, a phone line, and a lot of smarts can go a long way for most but Shinji can really take things to another level. This kid goes through everyday life like a basketball game. He plays it with flash and flair constantly staying ahead of the game by outwitting and outscoring the opposition. Now Shinji was going to take down the system by sending a virus into the Programs computers rendering the explosive collars around each student's neck useless. Not playing defense can cause problems for any team and when their substitute teacher finds out that someone is using a phone line the game is no longer in their hands.

Meanwhile, the Program is in full gear as Sohma Mitsuko runs into a couple's quarrel. Easiest way to settle an issue over sexual history is by killing the couple. Fast, simple and very convenient, as there will be two less competitors in the end. And on the south end of the island martial artist Sugimura Hiroki is sprinting across the island hunting down someone. His weapon a GPS system can track every collar on the island but who is he looking for? Could it be soccer star Niida Kazushi or long distance runner Chigusa Takako? He better hurry cause one of these two will be leaving the cast any moment now.

Volume 3 also has a side story featuring the sexy but wicked Sohma Mitsuko. Here Mitusko back on Honshuu is doing her thing... trying to get money by using her most personal assets. She is at a ultimate fighting competition and she has her eyes on someone. By showing a little leg (okay a lot of leg), some interest (okay she was oozing all over the place) and playing dumb she got her man. And he got her. He got to have wild sex with a middle schooler (oops she didn't tell him); he got robbed, he got drugged and he found himself in a situation that could only be resolved by losing your grip on reality. Mitsuko, Mitsuko what a sweet little girl.

This volume really sets up some of the major teams in this series. Mimura and Sato already look like a disaster waiting to happen but these two do get along so there could be some potential for good things. Something tells me either the ambition of Mimura or the bumbling nature of Sato will drag them down. Shuuya's team is being held together by Noriko and her pleasant attitude. While volume two illustrated just how much trouble Shuuya could cause this group if he gets it in his head that there are some gamers out there these guys might have a chance.

Seeing how these classmates interact is what carries this series for me. Everyone has to deal with people whether its at school or work but you do not know just how much you influence them unless you are truly close to them. Here the unlikely are together - transfer student and introvert Kawada with peppy jack-of-all-trades Nanahara/stud Mimura and class runt Sato. Lovers doubt each other when their lives are on the line. And people truly show their colors when the game is kill or be killed. These are scenerios that people do not wish to see in their lives but reading them with graphic art presenting each encounter with detail is shocking but alluring at the same time.

For the longest time I have felt that Battle Royale is once of the better reads in manga out there. Takami-sensei has written a story with one of the most controversial scenarios possible: children killing children. But I have to say I have lost something with seeing it visually and reading it through this interpretation. I don't know why really. I am not sure if its the art but something feels out of place. The art is so dramatic, so expressive I almost feel disgusted. I would imagine that Takami could possibly want a reaction like that and if so Taguchi's character designs with their defined faces and shapely bodies really make me feel uneasy. But it can almost go too far sometimes. I love the story presented, but what is presented by Giffen and Taguchi is so far from my "interpretation" after reading the novel (and in another way reading the raw manga) I almost feel as if its completely different. Yet in my mind I know it has followed the novel very closely so far.

This is a series I cannot read in big chunks. It never was even when I started reading this series off and on in Young Champion. If you can get past a few issues the story underneath is so compelling you need more. Unfortunately for me I can only take it in small doses.

Good but for mature audiences.


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