Battle Royale is something that I stumbled upon by accident and it ended up being an obsession of mine for a few months last year. I was at Borders to buy some other book and they were having a buy 3 get the 4th free sale on manga and graphic novels. I grabbed the stuff I wanted and needed to grab something else. There was a set of shrink-wrapped books that looked interesting and I figured that I couldn't go wrong with it being free. (I would find out quickly that the shrink-wrap is there for a good reason.) Obviously that book was the first volume of Battle Royale and it had me hooked quick.Needless to say, I took further advantage of the sale at Borders and cruised through the rest of the available 12 books. This is where the months of obsession comes into play. I had to wait for the final 3 books to be doled out over a very long 9 months. It was worth the wait.
The story takes place in an alternate reality Japan. The government is in a police state and has developed something called "The Program" to intimidate its citizens to stay in line. Each year a group of middle school students is taken to a remote island location and forced to participate in "The Program". The students are informed that they must kill each other if they want to leave the island. They are all given survival kits which contain some standard items like water, a compass, and a map. The interesting part is that the survival kits each contain a different weapon that can range from an Uzi sub-machine gun to a boomerang. There can only be one winner and that child will be allowed to leave the island and return to their family. The children are also fitted with explosive collars that detonate as time goes on or boundaries are crossed. Alliances are formed and friendships are destroyed as the children adapt to their new situation. Some participants part with their sanity very quickly as they realize that their former friends and classmates will kill them if they don't kill them first. Others seem to thrive and enjoy themselves in "The Program".
Battle Royale is VERY graphic in both violence and sexual situations. (Hence the shrink-wrap at Borders.) The art in the Manga version is very well done and adds considerably to the story. The Battle Royale story does come in a few forms. I highly recommend the Tokyopop Manga version first but the movie is also very good. The second movie is ok but not as good as the original. Finally, it can also be found in novel form, but I haven't read it yet so I don't want to judge it.
Give Battle Royale a try, you won't be disappointed.
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