Battle Royale Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: C-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 204
  • ISBN: 1-59182-317-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Battle Royale Vol. #04

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 22, 2005
Release Date: December 01, 2003

Battle Royale Vol.#04

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

What They Say
The 42 students of Ninth Grade Class B have been kidnapped, marooned on an island, and ordered to kill everyone else or they all die. They're not victims of a sick, cruel joke; they're contestants on the top-rated, government-sanctioned television reality show called The Program.

The students have been given food, water, and random weapons and, to ensure their cooperation, they've been fitted with explosive collars. However, it takes surprisingly little to get some members of Class B to play the game.

Soccer player Kazushi Niida gets his kicks by treating The Program like an exhibition game. How many goals will this crossbow-totting all-star score before he gets a permanent time-out?

Only 25 students remaining!

The Review
Whether you play the game or not someone is going to die. So for those who want to survive they will have to accept the risk cause “you do what you have to do” if you want to live to see another day.

Presented in a tall B6 Battle Royale is right to left like the original. The front cover features a larger version of the original cover art. There is an image of Shogo, Shuuya and Noriko in red tone. Great choice for a cover considering how this alliance was tested a bit in this volume. The opposite cover is simply a long volume description on a black background. 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.

The printing for this volume is pretty good. Taguchi-sensei uses a lot of line work and tone for depth so getting that nice and clear is important. No real extras in this volume outside of a few character profiles and an island map with highlights from this volume.

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!

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 aunt calling her nephew "Mim." Why would a relative refer to their nephew by a shortened last name? They are not strangers and heck they have the same last names. And why would a teenage girl want to have little kids call her by a guy’s name. Such is the case with Takako becoming "Taka". Not only is it a boy’s name, but also the honorifics that could have fixed that were ignored and now the context is all over the place.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
After a day of running and hiding, the number of students left in this game has dropped dramatically. There are plenty of kids willing to play this game and with each new hour more and more people sign up. That is the nature of this game. It is built on the foundation that people are afraid of death, and if they can survive by losing themselves in the process many will choose to survive.

Some will try to play the game in their own way. They will try to take advantage of the fear and the chaos to fulfill their own needs along the way. The game is a way to finally get to be free and completely in control of their own destiny. Survival of the fittest is what some might call it. These people were possibly lost before the game even started. The stress of the game just released whatever control they had on their inhibitions. Live or die, the object is to make the best of the game. Hell, why not have fun before you say good-bye to this Earth, right.

Then there are those who were always playing this game. There are only a few of these people here, but their motives are possibly the scariest of all. They actually want to win this game. Life or death it is a game to them and they feel they can kill their way through this. They were made for the Program and who knows what the Government would do with them if one of them were to win!

Despite all of this Shuuya, Noriko and others do not want to take part in this game. They still have a connection to themselves and their classmates. Maybe their ideals are not realistic considering the rules of this game, however if they give up they would have lost in more ways than one.

As much as I love the concept of Battle Royale there is something a little off with the manga version. I am not sure if it is the art (especially considering that the cast is made up of 13-14 year-olds, maybe steroids are big in Takami's Japan). Maybe it is the added pieces to the story (maybe I enjoyed the novel more without those wholes filled). I know the translation has something to do with it, but I felt the same way with the raw version. Essentially I feel it is the machismo/beefcake that artist Taguchi brings to this manga that turns me off. I noticed it in his other title Baron Gong Battle and now that I can compare these two, I have come to realize that the attitude that he brings to his work is a bit too aggressive for my taste. That might seem like something that should be appropriate for a title like Battle Royale, however the original story and the movie that followed it worked the fear much more than the gore. There is a difference and some people do not seem to understand that.

Where the manga seems to fall short is in portraying the terror these kids are experiencing. There is violence and we see some fear, but we see a lot more anger and arrogance in this version. It feels fake. These are middle school kids. They are developing at this point in life and this game has forced them to have to grow up quickly. They have to make the difficult choices regarding life and death and while there are a few who are panicking, most of the cast seems to be too cool for comfort. Maybe that is supposed to be scary (annoys me more than anything).

Give more on each of the personalities, the relationships and the fears these kids have. I can expect a few fighting this. The best part of the novel was the detailing of almost every character. Here we get it in rare occasion and it is fleeting. Its almost forgettable and for something as shocking as Battle Royale that is disappointing.

More meat and less beefcake please!


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