Building the Japanese Bookshelf: Battle Royale

It’s often the case that novels that are controversial are also very good. A fantastic example of this is Houshun Takami’s Battle Royale. Released in 1999, the novel was widely criticised for its barbarity and the similarities that were drawn between Takami’s fictional state and Japan. It’s credentials as a cult classic however, were undeniable and within the first few years of it’s release critical opinion in Japan had swung.


Battle Royale is story that needs little introduction. Every year, a middle school class from each prefecture is taken to a remote, uninhabited area and told to fight until only one of them is left alive. The story is told from a third person point of view, but focuses largely on Shuya Nanahara, a boy popular with the girls who enjoys illegal, foreign rock music. As is not uncommon in each incarnation of the ‘programme’, Shuya and his friend Noriko, harbour hopes of somehow being able to both escape alive. After they meet up with the distant Kagawa, these hopes seem to come closer to reality.

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Review: DanMachi

Dan Machi or Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon was billed as one of the biggest show of this spring’s anime line up. Based on the light novel series by Fujino Ōmori, it is a show portraying a teenage boy’s dream: the underdog hero who exceeds all expectations in a dungeon full of monsters and beautiful girls – who incidentally, all happen to love him.

Bell's pretty enthusiastic, you've got to give him that.
Bell’s pretty enthusiastic, you’ve got to give him that.

Background and plot

In the city of Orario there is a giant dungeon that is the domain of monsters and glory seeking adventurers. It also happens that the God’s have decided to transcend to this city, giving up their heavenly power (for the most part), creating familia of adventurers to advance far into the dungeon. The main character is Bell Cranel, a young boy with no family who seeks out a familia to join and begin adventuring. He ends up with Hestia, in a familia that comes as close to a group of hobos as is possible when you’re led by a God.

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First Impressions: GATE

So after reading my first impressions of Charlotte yesterday and then watching the show you decided you want something that speaks to you a bit more: you want more monsters and medieval Japanese soldiers. The thing is you liked the modern setting of Charlotte and would like some kind of modern involvement in the next show you watch. If that is indeed the case I have found just the show for you.

Medieval mounted Japanese general in modern Tokyo. Sorry, what?
Medieval mounted Japanese general in modern Tokyo. Sorry, what?

GATE begins in modern Japan, focusing on Youji, an Otaku who lives and works for his hobby. On the way to a convention, he finds that Tokyo is being attacked by monsters and regimented medieval soldiers like he would see out his dream manga, anime or other otaku related media form. Being experienced in these kind of events, he takes control saving many civilians, earning himself a promotion in the army and stems back the tide of enemies.

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First Impressions: Charlotte

It’s new anime time! Spring has finished and with the coming of the new season comes a lot of new shows.

Possibly the most highly anticipated of the summers shows is Charlotte. Written Jun Maeda and produced by Key Studios, we’re seeing, for the first time, the same combination that created Angel Beats!. No wonder people are excited.

So the main characters have super powers. Sounds good.
So the main characters have super powers. Sounds good.

Charlotte takes place in a largely normal world where are very small amount of teenagers have supernatural powers. One such person is the main character, Yuu Otasaka, who has the power to take over the consciousness of others around him. For much of the first episode, he uses his power to cheat in tests to get into a top school and then to impress the girl he likes – it makes him come across as pretty dislikable kind of guy. That said this episode sets the show up as a good comedy.

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Review: Plastic Memories

I’m 20 and male and am not ashamed to say that every so often it’s nice to sit down and watch something that doesn’t have guns, swords, dragons, bad guys or a cataclysmic event. An example of such a show is Plastic Memories, with the simple point of the show being romance – sure things happen but the main reason for the show is it’s love story.

What you see is what you get with Plastic Memories.
What you see is what you get with Plastic Memories.

Background and plot

Somewhere in the not too distant future the world is populated by humans and Giftias, fully intelligent androids who are completely integrated into the world. The story focuses on the retrieval service of the SAI corporation, the organisation that is responsible for recovering Giftias at the end of their lives. Tsukasa, a young man who has recently finished college but failed because of illness gets a job in the Retrieval Service.  Enter Isla, a giftia who also works at the retrieval service and becomes Tsukasa’s partner.

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