Review: Battle Royale Ultimate Edition
Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 1 by Koushun Takami.
May's Review: If you are fan of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, chances are you have already heard of Koushun Takami's Battle Royale, a dystopian-themed book that was originally published in 1999 and also deals with teenaged kids killing each other in a government-sponsored, gladiator-style competition. While a number of people have commented on the similarities between the two books, my review will focus solely on the manga adaption of Takami's book.
First of all, if you are even a bit squeamish about explicit violent acts and/or graphic depictions of sex, then this is not the manga for you. There is a reason why this series comes with a "parents advisory" warning label and let's just say, this story is not for the faint of heart. Within the first 100 pages in the first volume, there were already 3 deaths/murders along with a very unsettling panel depicting a rape scene. The story just comes at you like a sledgehammer with one violent encounter after another that you barely have time to process what is happening, let alone who to root for (note: there is at least 5-6 main characters in the story which gets kinda confusing sometimes because of the similarities in some of the kids' names).
Rather than be disgusted by what I was seeing and reading on the pages, I found myself drawn further into the story as the author and the illustrator carefully inserts mini-stories that examines some of these minor characters' lives before and during the competition. You cannot help but feel intrigued. One thing I noticed is that almost nobody in the story seems to have a happy life with loving parents or other family members. All the kids seem to be "running wild" and engaging in all sorts of criminal activities that was it any wonder that this class of students was picked to participate in Battle Royale?
This book is simply a gory and disturbing blood fest that is hard to put down. You simply want to read more just to learn what would turn your stomach and force you to put this book down. So far, I have finished volume 3 and it looks like I have a very strong stomach for these type of stories.
Here are the rest of the books in the ultimate series (combines the manga volumes in larger sets):
- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 2
- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 3
- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 4
- Battle Royale. Ultimate Edition. Volume 5
Noteworthy Manga Series
May's Commentary: I apologize for my absence these past several weeks but I have been reading some terrific manga series that are worth tracking down and reading. Here is my brief list:
Monster by Naoki Urasawa: Dr. Kenzō Tenma is a young Japanese doctor working in Düsseldorf during the 1980s when he ignores the order of his hospital director and saves the life of Johan Liebert, a young gunshot victim. About to be fired, Tenma's career is saved when all of his supervisors mysteriously die. Fast forward nine years and Tenma is still a successful surgeon until he encounters a criminal who is being controlled by Johan. Realizing the enormity of his error for the saving the life of an evil "monster", Tenma embarks on an one-made crusade to right this wrong and investigate Johan's past by uncovering dark secrets from East Germany's past. Suspenseful, dramatic and full of neat twists and turns, this manga series is bound to delight those who love reading mystery thrillers.
Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya: A playful combination of the Japanese word for "delicious" and "one who loves to eat", this food and cooking series will appeal to anyone who loves watching the Food Network, and especially the original Iron Chef TV series. The series features culinary journalist Shirō Yamaoka and his partner Yūko Kurita who must come up with the "ultimate" menu. Complicating matters is Shirō's father who has been employed by a rival newspaper to come up with the "supreme" menu. Comprehensive knowledge about the production and processing of food as well as varying cooking techniques makes this series a must read for all foodies.
5th Annual Free Comic Book Day
Saturday, May 7, 2011 is Free Comic Book Day!
To help celebrate this wonderful art form, ComicReaders have graciously supplied all nine locations of Regina Public Library with comics to hand out to our lucky patrons throughout the day. Supplies are limited so make sure to stop by early to avoid disappointment.
WARNING: one comic per patron please or we will send "our staff" after you! Don't believe us? Check our latest "staff photo"! ;)
Review: Scourge of the Gods
Scourge of the Gods, Volume 1 by Valerie Mangin
Scourge of the Gods: The Fall. Volume 2 by Valerie Mangin
May's Review: Both volumes are basically the graphic retelling of Attilla the Hun's military campaign against the Roman empire and its general, Flavius Aetius, set in alternate universe involving spaceships, planets and divine intervention. In volume 1, readers are introduced to the two main characters, Attila who is the brutal warlord who defies his peace-loving father by waging war against the Roman Galactic Empire, and Flavia Aetia, a young Roman girl who is supposedly the reincarnation of Kerka, the Hun Goddess of Chaos. Manipulated by Attila, Flavia innocently reveals the secret location of Rome and is forced to watch as her family and her home planet are destroyed by the rampaging Huns. Rather than wallow in pity and despair, Flavia fights back and sets off an internal power struggle between her faction and the Emperor's forces just as the Huns appear on their doorsteps.
Intelligent and complex, volume 1 is a terrific mix of mythology, history and politics wrapped up in a very engrossing and mesmerizing package. The central theme in the book is clearly the struggle between chaos and order but the underlying theme is the struggle between fate and destiny. In other words, either Rome has fallen before and will fall again or the future of Rome still uncertain even though there is good possibility that it could fall? Yes, I know that it's a very complex philosophical argument but the author does a terrific job of exploring it.
The fate vs destiny theme becomes even more crucial to the storyline in volume 2. Without giving too much of the story away, Flavia's and Attila's struggle against one another is pushed aside as the two of them are forced to join forces when a much larger enemy appears, namely the gods. As it turns out, what they deem as gods are really advanced humans who have manipulated science and technology to give themselves the ability to stop aging, create force fields, etc. As Flavia and Attila fight against Saturn and his fellow gods, the conflict now threatens to destroy the entire universe. The question then becomes, not who will ins but will there be any survivors left in this galactic conflict?
An excellent read for those who like their stories with plenty of action (some of it gory) mixed with lots of political backstabbing that features highly complex characters pondering weighty philosophical issues. Enjoy!
New Graphic Novels
New Spring by Robert Jordan and Chuck Dixon
Summary: The eight full-color issues of New Spring, released between 2005 and 2010, tell the story of the search for the infant Dragon Reborn and of the adventures of Moiraine Damodred, a young Aes Sedai, and Lan Mandragoran, the uncrowned king of a long-dead nation. Adapted by noted comics writer Chuck Dixon with the full cooperation of Robert Jordan.
Scalped. Volume 7. Rez Blues by Jason
Summary: Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from a life of poverty and hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in search of something better. Now he’s come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret. He finds nothing much has changed on “The Rez” – short of a glimmering new casino run by a corrupt leader named Red Crow, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime.
Deadpool Corps. Volume 1. Pool-Pocalypse Now by Victor Gischler
Summary: The Deadpool Corps embark on the universe-spanning mission that only they can accomplish. Tapped by the Elders of the Universe to gather a crack team of his alternative universe selves for what amounts to an intergalactic suicide mission, Deadpool just can't say no. Enter: Headpool, Kidpool, Dogpool and Lady Deadpool--and it's off to the rescue, right? Not so fast. Turns out another Elder, the Champion, isn't quite sold on this new super-team. If Deadpool and crew want to streak across the universe to face the ultimate enemy, their destiny, and much needed tacos and beer, they're going to have to pass a little test first.
The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison
Summary: A time-spanning graphic novel featuring Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City to take back the mantle of Batman, written by award-winning writer Grant Morrison and illustrated by a stable of today’s hottest artists including Chris Sprouse, Frazer Irving and Yannick Paquette. This is the final chapter of the epic storyline that began in the bestselling graphic novels BATMAN: R.I.P. and FINAL CRISIS in which the original Batman was lost in time.
Stock up on your summer reading!
Saturday, April 30, 2011
10 am - 4 pm
George Bothwell Branch
Spoken Word $1
No taxes, GST exempt.
Save even more when you fill up a RPL bag for $10.
For more details, visit www.reginalibrary.ca or call 777-6000.
Payment by cash or cheque only.
Dororo, Volume 1 by Osamu Tezuka
Dororo, Volume 2 by Osamu Tezuka
Dororo, Volume 3 by Osamu Tezuka
May's Review: Sigh. I love Osamu Tezuka. He is simply one of my favorite writers. I am seldom disappointed by his stories and I have to say that Dororo ranks as one of my favorite mangas of all time.
The story centers on Hyakkimaru who must battle demons to regain his 48 body parts that were taken from him at birth. Each time he defeats a demon, he retrieves one of his missing parts. The hero is accompanied by a young thief named Dororo, and together they travel the countryside in search of monsters.
As a whole, all three volumes offered plenty of action, terrific artwork and very likeable characters, especially Dororo. Volume 2 was one of my personal favorites because it featured a poignant story about a village caught up in an ongoing military conflict and whose citizens were kept divided by a dilapidated wall. What stood out for me was how Tezuka skillfully weaves Hyakkimaru's past into the conflict by having our hero confront the enemy--his own father who had sold his son's body parts at birth in order to gain military dominance. Talk about tension!
Thankfully, Dororo is not left out of the story and plays several key roles especially in Volume 3 where his past as a thief finally catches up with him. I am not going to spoil this volume for you but there is a twist that I have to admit, I was not really expecting but should have guessed much earlier on about Dororo's true identity.
This is not only a must read for Tezuka fans, but also a must for any manga fan.
Calling All 28 Days Later Fans...
It should not come as any surprise that someone would adapt this story into a graphic novel but for those that didn't realize it, this nice little edition offers a treat for the fans!
London Calling by Michael Alan Nelson
Summary: Picking up where the first movie leaves off, this original graphic novel bridges the gap between the first film and its sequel. The novel features Selena and her new comrades who struggle against the infected, the American presence in the UK... and themselves. Selena is a survivor but even she must give pause when the mission has her breaking into the land she fought so hard to get out of.
Winner of the 2011 CBC Bookie Awards
CBC Books announced the winners of their first-ever book club awards, the Bookies. The contest, which celebrates some of the best Canadian literature of the past year, was decided by a reader-generated nomination and voting system.
Congratulations to Sarah Leavitt for picking up a Bookie for Best Comic or Graphic Novel for Tangles!
Tangles: a Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt
Summary: What do you do when your outspoken, passionate and quick-witted mother starts fading into a forgetful, fearful woman? In this powerful graphic memoir, Sarah Leavitt reveals how Alzheimer’s disease transformed her mother Midge—and her family—forever. In spare black and white drawings and clear, candid prose, Sarah shares her family’s journey through a harrowing range of emotions—shock, denial, hope, anger, frustration—all the while learning to cope, and managing to find moments of happiness.
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