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THE BATTLE ROYAL SLAM BOOK [Archive]

Intern Michelle Reviews…the StoryBundle

 

If you follow us on social media, you know that we are currently running a Story Bundle for some of our most popular and acclaimed ebooks—you can buy five or all ten ebooks for your own price. Thanks to Intern Michelle, we were able to get the package together right away, and she wanted to share her thoughts on the books with you! Buy the bundle, and tell us what you think!

 

The Final Bundle Countdown

By: Michelle Yee

 

With eight days left of Haikasoru’s first storybundle, there’s still time to get many of Haikasoru’s favorites, including Project Itoh’s Genocidal Organ and Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s Slum Online. Of course, the bonus books are equally impressive, especially Legend of the Galactic Heroes Vol. 1: Dawn.

 

With that in mind, let’s begin our short journey through the amazing books that make up Haikasoru’s first sci-fi bundle!

 

The Battle Royale Slam Book

 

I recently finished Battle Royale before reading this slam book so I do understand how all the essays relate to the story. Other than that, I don’t think it’s necessary to read Battle Royale before reading this book. While many of the writers constantly reference back to it, what really makes these stories interesting is how they all manage to bring in their own personal experiences. From John Skipp’s childhood recollection of dying kids to Jason Ridler’s discussion of professional wrestling, these contributors that come from all parts of the world are able to share how this crazy riveting story about children killing each other, has managed to change their lives.

 

The Future is Japanese

 

Since the title of the anthology of stories is called The Future is Japanese, you would expect these stories to have that futuristic techno tone, but to my pleasant surprise, I found myself imagining that these events could happen tomorrow or even by the end of today. Hugo Award-winning short story “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu is a delight not just because there’s pictures of kanji scattered throughout the story, but also because of how heart-wrenchingly real it is.

 

Genocidal Organ

 

Dark, graphic and bloody from the first sentence, Project Itoh’s first novel takes you in for a ride through the dark references to Alice in Wonderland to the world of the afterlife. The story is as grim as the war on terror that creeps through the lives of the main character, but it still manages to pull you in due to the ingenious use of a multitude of genres from espionage to mystery to horror.

 

The Lord of the Sands of Time

 

What starts off as a historical novel about a young queen and her faithful servant quickly spirals into the story of the mysterious Messenger O who travels across time on a mission to unite different eras to defeat the future rampant alien invasion. Similar to his time jumps, the chapters themselves jump from different periods of his life, inviting the reader to piece together the enigmatic Messenger O and the people he meets along the way.

 

Slum Online

 

A novel for the modern age, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, author of hit novel All You Need Is Kill, creates the picture of young adolescence in Etsuro Sakagami, an awkward college freshman in real life and a formidable fighter in the combat MMO Versus Town. With the rise of social media platforms, online gaming and popular apps like Pokemon Go, it’s easy to get lost in the world of virtual reality. At any stage in life, we’re always searching for a sense of direction and reason for living and so we follow Etsuro on his journey to find his own life all the while finding ours.

 

 

Paying a little bit more for the bonus books is completely worth it, especially since you get another series of books that are equally amazing as the original bundle. Trust me when I say that it wasn’t a drag at all to get the bonus books; they were well worth the trouble.

 

Harmony

 

When I first looked at the Table of Contents, I thought I accidentally pulled up a chatroom before I realized that I was reading Harmony. Set years after the original events in Genocidal Organ, Project Itoh immediately draws you into the story of the perfect utopian future of Japan and the three girls that try to commit suicide to defy it. Scratch that—make that one girl that dies and the two girls that try to understand their lives afterwards. A thought-provoking commentary on society, this Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation winner makes us look at utopias in its entirety, all the while raising questions that make us question ourselves.

Gene Mapper

 

How far would you go to save your rice crop? Gene mapper Hayashida would go across Asia with a hired gun-hacker to do so. Taiyo Fujii’s world may be a future where reality is arranged through biology itself, but the idea of genetically modified food isn’t new. In fact, what makes this book so involving is the fact that reality can go in this direction. Gene Mapper pushes us to think about humanity’s consistent use of technology and what that does to society.

 

Hanzai Japan

 

Haikasoru’s most recent anthology, this collection brings together crime and mystery stories with the usual flair of science fiction and fantasy. Exploring different aspects of the fantastical, technology and psychology of both the detective and the criminal, Hanzai Japan makes for an entertaining series of short stories that can bring even the most uncaring reader to life. My personal favorite would have to be Carrie Vaughn’s “The Girl Who Loved Shonen Knife,” a story about a girl who will do anything to win her high school band contest and manages to solve a mystery along the way.

 

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 1: Dawn

 

In humanity’s distant future, the monarchic Galactic Empire and democratic Free Planets Alliance fight in a continuous war, led by their respective military heroes: ambitious Reinhard von Lohengramm and strategic Yang Wen-li. Fans had petitioned the Legend of the Galactic Heroes series to be translated for a long time and I can see why. Engaging and action-packed with hints of Western space dramas, I find myself not being able to choose a side. Maybe in the next few novels, I’ll finally be able to make my decision. If you liked this book, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 2: Ambition just came out in bookstores, so check that out!

 

Phantasm Japan

 

As editor Nick Mamatas says in the introduction, “Phantasm Japan seeks to use the fantastic not to mystify, but to demystify,” and this anthology does just that. By incorporating the fantastical with science fiction, it blends together with the stories of ancient Japan and the mystical yokai that come along with it. However, my personal favorite story has to be Tim Pratt’s “Those Who Hunt Monsters.” Lighthearted and powerful, it is a modern exploration of racism and the face it hides behind, magical beings included.

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The 2014 Haikasoru Gift Guide

What better present is there than a book? Not only does it show that you think the gift recipient is intelligent, you get to show off your own taste and sophistication as well. That’s what they call a win-win situation. We have a wide assortment of books, and appeal to several different audiences, so here is our recommendation list for this holiday season.

What should you buy for:

A junior high or high school student

High school students need Battle Royale Remastered, our new translation of the cult classic, and the non-fiction companion title The Battle Royale Slam Book. Imagine the year-end term papers anyone so outfitted could write. Sometimes these poor things are told to read a book over winter break, and write a reaction paper, with sources! (The Slam Book is good for that.)

“Okay teacher, I will. I will.”

Someone who doesn’t actually like to read

All You Need Is Kill: The Graphic Novel. It has pictures. It’s a Western-style comic book. It makes a good gift bundle along with Edge of Tomorrow and the manga, and perhaps even the film DVD. It’s a transmedia experience with a very low word-count.

My ahead-of-the-curve friend who already reads everything, hears about all the new writers first, and is impossible to shop for

They need a copy of Phantasm Japan, which has stories by some of the best new writers, and is anchored by a stunning illustrated novella by Dempow Torishima. It’s…well, it’s hard to describe. No matter who your avant friend is, he or she will be surprised.

Young people who love science

Did you know that all our books are still in print? That means Rocket Girls and Rocket Girls: The Last Planet are still available! Ready for a wacky adventure with solid science grounding? These are the books for you. Highly recommended for anyone who loved Andy Weir’s novel The Martian.

My uncle who won’t stop talking about conspiracy theories and the end of the world at our family parties and just ends up upsetting everyone

Shut him up with a copy of Virus. It’s a thriller, like a Japanese Michael Chrichton novel, by Japanese science fiction grandmaster Sakyo Komatsu. This book has everything…submarines, nuclear weapons, fast cars, two billion corpses, biochemical warfare, real science, international cooperation at the South Pole, and hunger-mad politicians! And it’s long enough that Uncle Herbie will probably fall asleep with it tented up on his stomach somewhat early in the evening. Snoring is better than going on about the gold standard and chemtrails all night, isn’t it?

Old-school types who still tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve

People do that? Yes, or they used to. Still somewhat common in The United Kingdom. For some creepy yet all-ages fun, you need our ghost story collection by Miyuki Miyabe Apparitions.

My creepy cousin who just sits at the dinner table with everyone else and doesn’t eat or make a sound

Definitely Asura Girl. Say no more.

Happy shopping, and happy holidays!

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Battle Royale, But With Reviewers

We’re getting many positive reviews of The Battle Royale Slam Book and we were quite amused to see that sometimes reviewers disagree on what the best part of the book is. For example, over at the Comic Book Bin, Leroy Douresseaux writes:

I think the best essay is the introduction to the book, “Blood in the Classroom, Blood on the Page: Will ‘Battle Royale’ Ever Be on the Test,” written by Nick Mamatas. Basically, this piece is “what becomes a cult novel most.” Mamatas discusses other controversial novels (such as
Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies) that eventually end up on high school and collegiate reading lists, which, in a way, serves to take away the edginess these works originally had. I agree with a terrific instructor I had in college: controversial novels with something meaningful to say about the human condition end up becoming children’s literature. It is almost as if adults believe that turning such books into juvenile fiction can rob these works of their power to affect change. I liked how much Mamatas’ essay engaged me and made me think, rather than just be passive, reading for amusement; I read the essay twice and picked through it a third time.

Meanwhile, at Anime News Network, Rebecca Silverman says:

The sourest note in the book is the introductory essay by editor Nick Mamatas, who apparently never had a good English teacher. His essay is less about the importance of Takami’s book and more a rant against teachers who neuter classic works for the classroom. It smacks of hipsterism, proclaiming that
Battle Royale can never be neutered because it’s just that much deeper and darker than, for example, Lord of the Flies. (The better argument would be that it’s simply newer and easier for a contemporary audience to relate to.) While I may, as an English teacher, have found him more offensive than you will, his overall tone is much less academic than the other essayists’ and his piece does not serve as an effective introduction to the book.

So, which is it? Luckily, you, the reader get to decide!

PS: One quick note. Silverman’s review contains a factual error. It is not the case that all but three authors are American. Jason S. Ridler is Canadian, Kostas Paradias is Greek.

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Battle Royale Double Duty Winners!

We had Intern Jenny pick our winners this time around, and here is what she had to say!

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Ben B. -The series has a tendency to ‘blow some flipping minds.’ The way you came about reading and seeking out the series is unique and you describe the series perfectly.

Leslie -It’s great when you can pick up a series based on curiosity and then enjoy it more than a franchise like the Hunger Games. You also know you’ve found something exceptional when a series can take you by surprise and the characters that ‘become a part of you.’

Melissa -If Battle Royale can be shared amongst the family; you’re doing it right. There might not be princesses and talking cutlery, but Mitsuko is quite the princess that wields cutlery of a different kind. Also, if you can sit together and enjoy an old school, poorly translated VHS than you are true fans.

Jeremy -A poem like this requires a great amount of inspiration. I can tell Battle Royale has influenced you to the point of constructing such a creative poem.

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