Battle Royale Volume 6 by Masayuki Taguchi and Koushun Takami

9/10 Takami and Taguchi hit all the bases.

Known for such titles as Confidential Confessions, Samurai Deeper: Kyo, and Battle Vixens, Tokyopop has been one of the best manga publishers around and Battle Royale Volume 6 is just one of the shonen (boys category of series) that puts characters in a no win situation where they have to battle for their lives on a daily basis.

Set in a futuristic Japan, a group of 9th graders are kidnapped, left on an island and made to compete in a reality show called The Program, where the contestants have to fight to the death. Shinji Mimura and Yukata Sato want to take The Program off the air, but a blunder by Yukata nearly scuppers what they could do and Shinji is close to falling out with him. Kazuo Kiriyama is after other students and it ends up being survival of the fittest. Though Shinji and Yukata's plan to shut off The Program failed, this doesn't put them off trying again. They set up a plan to bomb the school which is the base of The Program, but with Yukata constantly sleeping, Shinji finds it hard to continue. Noriko on the other hand has got a bad fever after a gunshot wound got infected. Shuuya rakes her to an infirmary long since abandoned that Shogo considers foolish, but the outcome is favourable as Noriko recovers from her would, and wants to take up arms once again.

Battle Royale Volume 6 takes us through Noriko's recovery and Shogo's decision to move on as he considers it far too risky to settle down in one area when their enemies are after killing them. His making for the woods is a method for survival that might be the ideal way to stay alive while many make the mistake of going to a fresh hideout. Shogo and his friends find a few more on their travels, but will this change who they are, from enemies to friends again?

The novel, like the others in the series, comes with a parental advisory notice as well as a Mature: Ages 18+ due to the violence and sexual content. The Japanese are fond of creating manga that shock their readers and Battle Royale has a martial arts feel to it that uses lines to create movement after every blow when the characters fight. As for the characters in general, they have a Chinese - even Korean - look to them that is more associated with it. In this volume there are several collection cards featured in the book itself rather than as actual cards called "Battle Royale Contestants" with the slightly Pokemon tag-line of "Collect them all." When read, the cards show that The Program has a great deal of information about each of the contestants that proves scary. The Pertinent Background and Conclusion(s) section of the cards can also be alarming, especially the one for Takako Chigura whose conclusion suggests that the ratings of the show would be boosted if she was raped.

Takami and Taguchi hit all the bases with the martial arts angles, friendships and being under pressure, watching their friends die and the obligatory fan service for the boys.

Battle Royale Volume 6 by Masayuki Taguchi and Koushun Takami
English adaptation by Keith Giffen
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Tokyopop (9 Mar 2004)

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