It’s not a huge secret on this blog that I’m a bit of an otaku. Well, I fancy myself to be an otaku, but I really only have a slightly above average knowledge of anime and manga. Anyways, I remember when I read my first manga a couple of years ago and how much I enjoyed it. It was Death Note which I read in its entirety in about a week or two. I was than engrossed by it. I have since read Fullmetal Alchemist, some Elfen Lied, some Bleach, and some Soul Eater. One manga that I’ve always wanted to read but never got around to was Battle Royale. My dad saw the live-action movie a while back that it was based off of and really enjoyed it, so I put it at the top of my Netflix queue even though it isn’t on my official list for this blog. It came today and while it wasn’t a great movie, it was still pretty cool and entertaining, and I’m definitely going to read the manga now.

The plot of Battle Royale is an amalgamation of Lord of the Flies and the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic The Running Man (I use the term classic so loosely there). When Japan’s unemployment rate reaches 15%, it’s student population boycotts the education system. Out of fear of the riotous and rebellious youth, the adults enact a fascist new law to take care of the rising problem with the youth. An entire 9th grade class is chosen by a national lottery to take place on a deadly game on a remote island. The rules are simple: the children are given weapons and supplies (although each kid gets a different weapon) and are then given three days to kill each other until there is only one child left standing. While some kids merely try to survive, others begin to take a psychotic enjoyment in the murder while all bonds of friendship and community quickly disappear.

This is easily one of the most violent movies that I’ve watched for this blog (at least since Kill Bill). There was so much blood and action that I thought I was watching one of the stylistic action films of like Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. Fortunately, it was also mixed with a healthy amount of social commentary ala Lord of the Flies. My only real problem with the film is that there are so many kids, around 40, that other than the main 5 or 6, it’s really hard to actually care about any of them. A lot of the deaths that are supposed to be meaningful outside of the main group fail to carry any emotional weight because I don’t know their names, let alone anything about them to make me care about them.

If you like action flicks, this is a pretty decent one. My dad actually watched it one time entirely in Japanese with no subtitles and still knew almost exactly what was going on (even though he doesn’t speak Japanese. He was just dumb and didn’t know how to turn on the subtitles) so if you have concerns about foreign films, you really shouldn’t have those problems. Even if you don’t like action films, this one is still pretty entertaining. I’m of the firm belief that straight action films can never be great works of art so unless they’re deconstructing their genre (which I guess makes them not straight action films), but that’s my own personal bias against the genre. Anyways, everybody ought to give this one a go unless you’re offended by copious amounts of blood.

 Final Score: B