Battle Royal High School (1988)

Directed by Ichirô Itano

Synopsis
A fighter in a leopard mask named Riki Hyoudo (not to be confused with King from the Tekken games, or Tiger Mask, the pro wrestler) has single-handedly whooped his high school karate club. “The entire karate club is dead meat.” he boasts. Last in line is Captain Baba, the coach. “I want to be the best fighter in the entire world…” Riki tells him. “After I’m done with you, my study of unconventional techniques will continue!” Well, Riki kicks his ass, earning the respect of his classmates whilst causing Cap’n Baba to resign (and most likely commit seppuku) in shame.

Battle Royal High School Bro

Cut to “the Master of the Dark Realm” Byoudo’s lair, where’s he’s reminded of an age-old prophecy by a servant. “As the legend foretells, when the [dimensional] gate is opened, the leopard-headed warrior will appear and face a being of the Dark World. At that time, the Legendary Warrior shall be born.”

Meanwhile, Riki enjoys minor celebrity status amongst his peers, who’ve all offered their lunches to him. Comically, dude gets knocked out by a girl who’s crushed Baba quit. When he comes to, time has inexplicably frozen around him. Wandering into a classroom that never existed before, he’s taunted by the disembodied voice of the same Byoudo guy we met minutes earlier. “Fuck [this] shit, I’ll kick your ass. Come out and fight!” Riki demands. But first, he’s ambushed by a classroomful of desk monsters and two ugly goons, who he clotheslines into oblivion, no problem. It’s then he comes face to face with Byoudo. “Now I understand what the legend is saying.” the Master of the Dark Realm begins. “Don’t you realize that you are another part of me? A part that exists in this world? You are my counterpart.” With that, Byoudo’s essence merges with Riki’s body, forming a Jekyll and Hyde/good and evil/yin and yang-type being.

Cut to a spaceship (wait, what?) where Zankan, a space detective, is analyzing the space-time continuum distortions and hyper-psychokinetic wave activity caused by “mega lord” Byoudo’s appearance in the physical realm, or something like that. “This is definitely a major temporal violation.” he notes. Then, narrowing his eyes, “It’s been a while since we’ve dealt with a major case.” So, he beams down to earth to figure out what’s going on.

Battle Royal High School 2

From a rooftop, he spies Cap’n Baba randomly murdering a street gang. Until he’s interrupted. Enter Toshimitsu Yuuki, self-proclaimed demon slayer, who goes on to eviscerate Baba. Turns out, Baba was inhabited by a demon, inhabited by a cat, inhabited by a dinosaur, inhabited by a fairy. Ever played with a Russian doll or a Chinese box?

Amidst the chaos, you see, a blue-skinned femme fatale known as the Fairy Master slyly released her cockroach-like fairies (cockroach-like in the sense that they breed like cockroaches) into the physical realm with plans of world domination. Can our characters put their differences aside long enough to thwart her evil insanity? Sound ridiculous? It is.

Review (SPOILERS)
Battle Royal (no relation, of course, to the live-action masterwork Battle Royale) is a one-off OVA (direct-to-video anime movies are called OVAs — original video animations) based on an 80s manga series.

You can tell it’s an 80s cartoon right off the bat. Byoudo’s ugly, garish costume gives it away — giant cape, spiky shoulder pads, helmet shaped like a dragon’s head. Seriously, 80s cartoon villains were awful. What were they thinking?

Like most anime, physics just doesn’t seem to apply here. Characters kick cars — yes, cars — at each other, slice those cars in half mid-flight with bokkens (wooden swords), balance impossibly, jump great distances, etc., etc. But like I said, that’s to be expected.

My real beef is with the sheer amount of material that’s crammed in here. While entertaining, characters are thrown in with little backstory or insight into their motivations. There’s so much going on that lots of details and plot points are glossed over. Example: we glimpse the beginnings of a love story subplot, but zero follow-through (can’t complain, I hate “romantic” anime). I’m guessing the source material was considerably condensed in transposition.

There’s also a plot hole or two. For instance, the Fairy Master is able to sling her powers around in the physical realm, yet Byoudo can’t, even though he outranks her. Doesn’t seem to make sense.

But hey, it’s not all bad. I counted at least six bahoobs, with plenty of gory violence dished out on freakish mutants. That’s always good.

Battle Royal High School 3

Battle Royal High School 4

Oh, and listen for the classic female stock scream when a flying demon cat is knocked out of the air with a manhole cover.

A Few Questions
How and why was that giant teddy bear attacking people?

The Verdict
YouTube it if you’re into violent, mediocre anime.

Recommendations
I barely watch anime, so let me do some research for ya. Ok, a site called Akemi’s Anime World recommends:

Ushio & Tora (1992)
Ogre Slayer (1995)
Devil Hunter Yohko (1991)
The Ulitmate Teacher (1988)

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6 Responses to “Battle Royal High School (1988)”

  1. Never saw this one, though I definitely have confused its title with Battle Royale. I used to be big into anime, and my sense–though I could be wrong–is that they’re often sort of intended as companion pieces to the manga, with things making a lot more sense if you already know the story. But I’m far from an expert.

    I did see Devil Hunter Yohko close to twenty years back. I liked it at the time, but in middle school anything with bahoobs (I’m totally stealing that) rocketed to the top of my awesome list.

    If you want a GREAT (and by great I mean, you know, terrible, but also great) ’80s action anime, check out Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star). The cheesiest, most sexist, ridiculous piece of awesome from that whole era. You can watch the entire series on Funimation’s website for free.

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    • Well damnit, anime should stand alone from the manga. This is ‘Murica. Who’s got the time or money to buy and read a whole print series just to watch a one-hour movie on YouTube? Tosh, I says.

      I’ve heard of Fist of the North Star only because of the fact that YouTube is recommending it to me after having watched this. I’ll have to swing by your so-called “Funimation” whatever next time I have the chance.

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      • Haha, yeah, I agree. It definitely should stand alone.

        Fist of the North Star is tons of stupid, stupid fun. It features the 80s-est of costumes (many, many spiked shoulder pads), Duran Duran-inspired hair cuts, and a martial artist who can poke you and make you explode. Brilliant.

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        • In other words, a must see! Will I be lost if I dive right into the OVA?

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          • Nah, FotNS manages to tell you pretty much everything you need. The only differences, as far as I know, are one or two changed relationships between characters, and the fact that the anime stops after only two arcs, but the manga went on a lot longer. (I haven’t actually read the manga, though. I don’t even know if it’s available in English.)

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  2. I nominated you for a blogging award, you can check it out here
    http://matthewalesci.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/award/
    Hope you don’t mind!

    Like

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