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Battle Royale, But With Reviewers

by nickmamatas

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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2 Responses to “Battle Royale, But With Reviewers”

  1. Fox says:

    You know what else would get really positive reviews?

    Yoshiki Tanaka’s “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” novel series. ((銀河英雄伝説 Ginga Eiyū Densetsu). It’s a 10-volume epic, comparable to Frank Herbert’s Dune, or Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. It’s one of the absolute classics of the science fiction genre–and it is in DESPERATE need of an English translation.

    10 novels may seem daunting, but you could always translate one and then wait until sales come in before the deciding the next.

    Or, alternatively, do a Kickstarter. I promise you, the demand is there: LoGH has a huge following in the mecha (sci-fi anime) community thanks to the long-running OVA series. In fact, they’re making a new anime relatively soon so there’s bound to be a spike in interest–making now the perfect time to start thinking about translating the novels.

  2. san says:

    Yeah, Legend of the Galactic Heroes definitly needs a
    Haikasoru release. It’s sad, on the one hand, publishers like haikasoru try to force a “close to the readers” on social networks, but when it comes to take their advice and suggestions to make fans happy, the stay dump.

    Legend of the Galactic heroes might have many volumes. But hey, the financial risk is low today for printed series, since there are many options: One option would be support via crowdfunding to finance a limited edit of the novel (like 2000 copies). And if that works good (and I am sure it will since LOGH is a masterpiece) they can produce more.

    I keep my fingers crossed

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