Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Battle Royale

I'd love to make a Hunger Games joke, but so far as I know, that series is about pie-eating contests. So acknowledging Hunger Games works just as well.

Sure, the concept of The Most Dangerous Game meets Lord of the Flies isn't the most original, but when it works, I like to call it Battle Royale. It asks a question that many of us wonder during our day-to-day lives: What would happen if you sent a class on an island to kill each  other on television?

Plot: In alternate-reality Japan, a dystopian governmental country, Ninth-Graders are chosen to appear on "The Program", which, as I described before, is The Lord of the Most Dangerous Flies. Shuuya and his best friend are among those on the current season. Will Shuuya survive? And what of Keith Giffen?

Seems Keith Giffen is like, really important or something. "ENGLISH ADAPTATION BY KEITH GIFFEN". The back also calls him renowned. I mean... okay?

Let's look at the negatives. First, you can tell who's going to be killed. The manga isn't subtle. Like, was anyone surprised that *SPOILER* Shuuya's best friend dies? Or the girl who *SPOILER* thinks the usually cruel classmate who suddenly panics in the face of danger actually wants her as a friend? Or *SPOILER* the loner who wants friends and is usually bullied? See, even though reading it is obvious, I still have to put up spoiler tags. Hmm.

The host. Okay, I know the bad guy in a manga can be fun, or any medium of storytelling, but I think the host of The Program might exceed his evil-meter. He can be smarmy and vile and wonderful sometimes, but he's got too much of it all at once. I understand that it's a dictatorship and you need a villain to reflect that, but maybe there can be too much of him to process.

Now, what works? Pretty much everything else. The atmosphere is great. You can really feel the tension going with this one. Friends and enemies pitted against one another, lost love and lost sanity, the threat of death in the air. It all ties into a simple show made to... do something, I guess. Do people like watching this?

The gore is nice. Okay, obviously not, but it's done well for what it is. I also like how The Program functions. They seem to figure out all angles, making sure only one contestant leaves the island. Finally, the drama. It's well constructed, giving motivation for everyone regarding their actions.

There's one scene that stuck with me throughout. In the first chapter, we see one of the winners returning home. SHE IS DESTROYED. God knows what happened to her during her stay. Although God is dead in this series.

Overall, a wonderful manga that spans... fifteen volumes. Huh. Well, I better start reading the next volume.

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