Battle Royale (manga)
Cover of Battle Royale Manga Vol. 15
|Genre||Action, Thriller, Dystopian|
|Written by||Koushun Takami|
|Illustrated by||Masayuki Taguchi|
|Published by||Akita Shoten|
|Magazine||Young Champion Magazine|
|Original run||2000 – 2005|
Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル Batoru rowaiaru ) is a Japanese manga series written by Koushun Takami and illustrated by Masayuki Taguchi. It is based on Takami's novel of the same name, telling the story of a class of junior high school children who are forced to fight each other to the death. It was serialized by Akita Publishing in Young Champion Magazine from 2000 to 2005, and later combined into 15 volumes, which were released in English by Tokyopop from 2003 to 2006. In October 2007, a special edition of the manga began being released.
The manga follows the plot of the novel fairly closely, but expands on the backstory of each of the students. It is far more sexually graphic than the novel and film versions, but like them, is noted for its intense, gory violence.
The English adaptation of manga makes several changes to the plot. Most notably claiming "the program" is a reality TV show and changing the time that the story is set in by almost 10 years, both of which are contradicted in later volumes.
- Shuya Nanahara (七原 秋也 Nanahara Shūya ) is a fictional Japanese student and one of the three main protagonists. Shuya, who is nicknamed "Shu", lives in the fictional town Shiroiwa in Kagawa Prefecture.
- Noriko Nakagawa (中川 典子 Nakagawa Noriko ) is the main female protagonist of the series. She is one of the class of third-year students in Shuya's school. Noriko has a crush on Shuya, whom she admired for his music and song-writing.
- Shogo Kawada (川田 章吾 Kawada Shōgo ) is a transfer student and the winner of a previous Program. At the very beginning he meets Shuya and Noriko and joins up with the two of them.
- Kazuo Kiriyama (桐山 和雄 Kiriyama Kazuo ) is the main antagonist, who tries to win the Program (using a coin-toss to decide whether or not he plays), killing the most amount of students in the class making him the largest threat. It is later mentioned he had been in a car crash at a young age (where he witnessed his mother's death), causing brain damage and resulting in a lack of emotions and regret.
- Mitsuko Souma (相馬 光子 Souma Mitsuko ) is the secondary antagonist, considered one of the most beautiful girls in the program, she is also the most deranged, and the female with the most kills, succeeding in using her feminine wiles and ability to feign emotions to manipulate then kill her classmates. It is later revealed that these psychological issues stem from her father leaving after her parents divorced, and the subsequent sexual abuse she received from her new stepfather.
At first the creators of the original version of the "Battle Royale" manga kept the story close to the original Japanese novel. As publication increased, Taguchi took increasing liberties with the story. Takami said that he looked forward to new installments of Taguchi's story and Taguchi said that he more strongly cared about the characters. Takami liked how Taguchi distributed the time among characters; Takami said that in the manga the characters changed and grew as the story progressed, unlike in the original novel. Taguchi said that in the manga version he modeled most of Takami's characters after people he personally knew. Takami describes Taguchi's stance as closer to his own than the stance of Kinji Fukasaku, the director of the film. Takami describes the manga as containing the feeling of "a general, nonjudgmental love for humans."
Taguchi said that many people describe his art style as "reminiscent of "gekiga", or that it's realistic." Taguchi disagrees with the descriptions, instead characterizing faces in his works as "manga faces" since he feels that it is "really easy to put my own emotions into the faces." Taguchi said that when he shows sadness in characters, he locates the characters' eyebrows "down as far as possible." Takami describes Taguchi's art as "directly descended from Osamu Tezuka" and "manga-esque." Takami described the style as "easy to overlook" because the art contains "clean lines." Takami believed that the art style fit the Battle Royale story. In the beginning Taguchi said that he felt that all of the characters had to "look like middle school students." Taguchi said that as the story progressed for many of the characters he began to draw them "more naturally" and add "specific expressions for certain things they would say." Takami describes the newer style as "more grown-up looking." 
An English-language release of the collected volumes, published in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom by Tokyopop, was extensively rewritten by Keith Giffen, whose script does not completely follow the original manga.
Their adaptation mentions several dates that change the time the story is set in by almost 10 years. It uses the line "in the near future", but on Shogo Kawada's profile, it references the 2005 "program"; he says his last program was a year ago, leading to the assumption that the manga sets the story in 2006. In volume one of the English-language version, Shinji Mimura and the news channel reporter mentions the 2007 record of three days, seven hours and twenty-two minutes. In volume 14, Kamon refers to the 2009 program. None of these dates are mentioned in the original Japanese version.
But the major difference between the Japanese and Tokyopop version is that Giffen rewrote the BR program as a Reality TV show, rather than keeping it in tune with the BR Act, which leaves plot-holes through the manga, especially in volume 15. This can be partially attributed to the fact that when Tokyopop had released volume 1, the Japanese version was only up to volume 9 at that point, thereby not giving Tokyopop or Giffen ample material to prove that their rewrite would backfire.
According to Tokyopop editor Mark Paniccia, in the Newsarama article:
'For adapting the work, Giffen was given a tight Japanese-to-English translation of the story, but his assignment was by no means just to tweak a translation. "I told him to do what he felt he had to do", Paniccia said. "I told him to Giffenize it."'
To which Giffen responds:
'"It's a good story that Takami is telling", Giffen said. "What I do is go in and make bad scenes that much worse. I loved the movie of Battle Royale, and also love the manga. I just wanted to do it right. I wanted to do justice to it, and I knew I couldn't get away with doing a straight translation, because it would be horrifyingly bad."'
In April 2006, Tim Beedle, a former associate editor of the English version Battle Royale, stated on the Tokyopop Messageboard the reasoning behind the decision to have a fairly loose adaptation:
'Prior to starting work on the first volume of Battle Royale, its editor (Mark Paniccia, who has since left Tokyopop) made a decision to hire Keith Giffen, a well-known American comic book writer, to provide a much looser adaptation than usual. He made this decision for a variety of reasons, but two seemed to be more prominent than the rest. First, due to BR's extreme content and M rating, it was going to be a tough sell. (Some of the large chains refuse to carry M-rated books.) Hiring a known writer could help compensate for this by driving sales. Second, more than any other book we were publishing at the time, BR had the potential to find a crossover audience in the direct market among American comic book readers, who often are adverse to trying manga.'
The plot changes to turn the BR Program into a Reality Show sponsored by the Government and creates additional evidence that Suzanne Collins' 2008 novel The Hunger Games is a ripoff of Battle Royale. John Green pointed out that the premise of the novel is "nearly identical". Although Collins maintains that she "had never heard of that book until [her] book was turned in," The New York Times reports that "the parallels are striking enough that Collins's work has been savaged on the blogosphere as a baldfaced ripoff," but that "there are enough possible sources for the plot line that the two authors might well have hit on the same basic setup independently."
Conrad Editora from Brazil began publishing a Portuguese version at the tail end of 2006. It follows the original 15-volume format, and does not adapt the Giffen "Reality Show" version (although the cover of the first edition mentions the reality show). It was cancelled after 12 volumes in 2007, but is set to come back in 2011. Editorial Ivrea from Argentina published a Spanish version.
The following titles reflect the English-language version.
|No.||Japanese release date||Japanese ISBN||English release date||English ISBN|
|1||November 29, 2000||ISBN 978-4-253-14668-5||—||ISBN 1-59182-314-5|
|Here we are introduced to the main characters and how the class got kidnapped and sent to the island. Most of this volume in set in the classroom and Yonemi Kamon's instructions about the program. Mr. Hayashida, the class teacher, is killed before the Program begins for resisting. Kamon shoots and kills Yoshitoki Kuninobu for attacking him after he, Kamon, says that he raped Anna Ryoko, the caretaker of the orphaned Shuya and Yoshitoki. Kamon also kills Fumiyo Fujiyoshi by throwing a knife in her head while she whispers during class. After the event begins, Yoshio Akamatsu kills Mayumi Tendo who is discovered by Shuya. Shuya knocks out Yoshio when he threatens Noriko and runs off and settles in the woods for the night. Yoshio is killed off by Kazushi Niida and finally, Megumi Eto, hiding in the residential area, is killed by Mitsuko Souma by slicing her neck open.|
|2||November 29, 2000||ISBN 978-4-253-14669-2||—||—|
|In this volume we are introduced to Kazuo Kiriyama and his gang. It is revealed, that due to Kazuo's apparent sociopathy, he determines whether to play the game by the flick of a coin. This inevitably begins his killing spree, including his entire gang, Izumi Kanai, and Yukiko and Yumiko. Sakura Ogawa and Kazuhiko Yamamoto commit suicide. Tatsumichi Oki attacks Shuya but kills himself by accident; Kyoichi Motobuchi also attacks Shuya but is killed by Shogo. Shuya and Noriko meet Shogo Kawada and team up to find more friends.|
|3||April 19, 2001||ISBN 978-4-253-14670-8||—||—|
|This volume is mainly about Shinji Mimura, when he finds close friend Yutaka Sato and begins his plan to defeat the program via implanting a worm into The Program's main computers. We also meet Yoshimi Yahagi and Yoji Kuramoto, later it introduces Takako Chigusa and Kazushi Niida.|
|4||July 12, 2001||ISBN 978-4-253-14671-6||—||—|
|This volume continues Takako's fight with Niida, Niida is killed but Mitsuko kills Takako, Hiroki finds her dying body and she dies in his arms. Shinji is disheartened to discover that his plan has failed, yet it is discovered that the prodigy had a back-up plan by the way of his beloved, deceased Uncle and a well hidden Aunt. It shows some of Shogo's past with Keiko. Until it comes to Kaori Minami and Hirono Shimizu in a gunfight, Kaori shoots Hirono in the arm (she escapes) and Kaori is killed by Shogo.|
|5||November 8, 2001||ISBN 978-4-253-14672-4||—||—|
|The volume introduces Sho Tsukioka and his past and Kazuo's sneaky plan which kills Shou. It also continues Hirono's escapades until she is shoved into a well by Toshinori Oda and drowns. Shuya, Noriko and Shogo are staying in a nearby house while Noriko is resting from a wound.|
|6||April 4, 2002||ISBN 978-4-253-14678-3||—||—|
|This volume shows Shuya's fight with Kazuo, Hiroki Sugimura saves Shuya's life by jumping in the ocean with him from the crazed Kazuo. Hiroki then finds Yukie Utsumi and her gang who offer to help the unconscious Shuya (having received bullet wounds from Kazuo). Shogo runs away with Noriko away from the battle|
|7||August 8, 2002||ISBN 978-4-253-14679-1||—||—|
|In this volume, Shinji's plan is about to succeed, but they are distracted by Keita Iijima. Shinji argues with him (and accidentally kills him) Kazuo shows up and kills Yutaka. Shinji is shot multiple times in the upper body as well as his ankle making his guts spill out. Shinji then realises he must blow up the shed with Kazuo inside to get rid of the gun shooting menace. However Kazuo hid in a tractor and kills Shinji.|
|8||December 12, 2002||ISBN 978-4-253-14680-5||—||—|
|In this volume, Mitsuko Souma bumps into Tadakatsu Hatagami and Yuichiro Takiguchi who capture her. Later on Yuichiro talks to Mitsuko and she realises that, unlike the other guys she's known, he doesn't want to sleep with her. Mitsuko finds a moment of solace with Takaguchi. But when Mitsuko tries to kill Tadakatsu after kissing him, he escapes and tries to shoot her, Yuichiro saves her by taking the bullet, Mitsuko finishes off Tadakatsu and rapes Yuichiro's dying body and kills him. We also get to learn a little about Mitsuko's troubled past.|
|9||March 27, 2003||ISBN 978-4-253-14819-0||—||—|
|In this volume, Hiroki continues his search for Kayoko Kotohiki, until he finds Toshinori, Kazuo shows up and kills Toshinori while Hiroki escapes. Later, Shuya wakes up in the lighthouse in the care of girls (one of them, Yuko Sakaki, witnessed the death of Tatsumichi Oki who was accidentally killed by Shuya) and sees Shuya as a 'Demon Boy' due to her sensitive nature and belief in the lord and the Devil. Yuko poisons some stew that is meant for Shuya to get rid of him, but one girl, Yuka Nakagawa tastes it and dies, this is when the girls become panicked and Satomi Noda shoots all her friends (except Yuko) but she is finished off by the dying Haruka Tanizawa. Shuya hears the gunshots and runs to the kitchen.|
|10||July 24, 2003||ISBN 978-4-253-14820-4||—||—|
|Shuya finds all the girls' corpses and discovers the depressed Yuko. She runs to the top of the Lighthouse and commits suicide by jumping off but not before finding her faith again and forgiving Shuya. Shuya gathers the bodies together and laments their deaths and leaves. While on his way back to Noriko and Shogo, he stumbles across mentally deranged Mizuho Inada (she thinks she's in some kind of fantasy world). Shuya pleads with her, but to no avail, ignores Mizuho's gun shooting and clears off. He finds the bodies of Keita, Yutaka and Shinji and breaks down into tears while clutching Shinji's body, though an inscribed dying message telling Shuya to 'Take the shot' from his deceased friend raises his spirits. Shuya is then reunited with Noriko and Shogo, Mizuho creates a shrine to speak to her God, but she is killed by Kazuo.|
|11||November 20, 2003||ISBN 978-4-253-14821-2||—||—|
|Most of this volume is focused on Hiroki and Kayoko (he finds her) and we learn about how they first met. They both travel together to find Shuya until Kiriyama arrives. Although Hiroki manages to disarm him, Kiriyama seems to have learned from their previous encounters and quickly adapts to Hiroki's melee style.|
|12||March 25, 2004||ISBN 978-4-253-14822-0||—||—|
|This volume continues the battle between Hiroki and Kiriyama, and Kiriyama gains the final advantage with his bulletproof vest from Toshinori in Vol 9. The injured Hiroki tells Kayoko to save herself but she refuses to leave and stays to die with him.|
|13||July 29, 2004||ISBN 978-4-253-14823-9||—||—|
|Mitsuko finds Kazuo and they both get into a gunfight, with Kazuo's kevlar giving him the edge once again. In desperation Mitsuko tries to seduce Kazuo but she is repeatedly shot and killed. Later on, Shogo's last nightmare in the program with Keiko is revealed as well as how she was killed.|
|14||January 13, 2005||ISBN 978-4-253-14824-5||—||—|
|Most of this volume is a car chase between Shuya's gang and Kazuo, it ends in a gunfight and Noriko shoots Kazuo in the face (however he isn't dead) and we learn about Kazuo's past and the origin of his psychopathic nature|
|15||April 20, 2005||ISBN 978-4-253-14825-2||—||—|
|In this last volume, the battle between the three heroes and Kazuo finally comes to an end. With the visions and remembrance of his dead classmates, Shuya finds the will to protect Noriko and shoots Kiriyama dead. In the American adaption of the manga, Kazuo tells Shuya he can 'feel again' before dying. Shogo seems to betray the two lovebirds, until an attack on the winners boat shows that Shogo's plan to defeat The Program has succeeded. Shogo kills Kamon and eventually dies of gunshot wounds from the battle with Kiriyama. Noriko and Shuya meet up with Shinji's aunt who helps them get to the boat, where they can begin their new life in New York.|
Battle Royale Ultimate Edition
Koushun Takami and Masayuki Taguchi have agreed to create a special edition of the Battle Royale Manga, it seems the first edition was released on October 16, 2007. The first edition contains the first three volumes of the series. The second edition was released on February 12, 2008. It includes more details on the characters (a discussion called 'On the Couch'), colour pages and new cover art, a new foreword by Koushun Takami, weapon details, and a piece where medical personnel discuss the different injuries of the game. It has 672 pages.
- "Final Chapter Memorial Discussion: Koushun Takami and Masayuki Taguchi." Battle Royale. Volume 15. Tokyopop
- Mile High Comics Presents Newsarama @ view Askew.
- http://messageboard.tokyopop.com/forums/showpost.php?p=69332&postcount=22 Tokyopop Messageboard post on subject of edits made to manga.
- Green, John (November 7, 2008). "Scary New World". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
- "Suzanne Collins's War Stories for Kids". The New York Times. April 8, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.