Despite everything I wrote, I’m still buying physical manga. For example this first volume of Fairy Tale Battle Royale. You know one thing that’s really nice about having actual physical copies, aside from the no bleu light? It’s being able to lend them out to people.
Lately, I’ve turned into something of a mini manga library letting friends and coworkers’ children borrow manga whenever they feel like reading something. It’s actually a fun hobby. Maybe I should think about my choices when I consider I have the same tastes as very young boys (so far no girls but that’s mostly because I don,t know anyone that has girls) but you know, life’s too short to worry about those sort of things.
Just like I don,t worry about the fact that I just meandered for two paragraphs instead of writing about Fairy Tale Battle Royal.
Why I Picked up Fairy Tale Battle Royale
Well, the title.
WHO WILL BE THE LAST FAIRY TALE STANDING? Kuninaka Aoba, a mercilessly bullied ninth grader, receives a magical contract that grants her greatest wish, but at what cost? Suddenly, Aoba is thrust down a rabbit hole into a strangely familiar world from children’s stories–only this version comes with a dark and gruesome twist. In this Wonderland, it’s kill or be killed, in a dark fairy tale fight for survival!
My First Impression
This is a lot more bloodless than I expected. That’s not a bad thing.
What I liked
The first volume of Fairy Tale Battle Royale mostly serves to introduce us to the characters and world of the series. There aren’t so many battles but that wasn’t a bad thing.
The setup is a slight subversion of traditional clichés. Our main character Aoba is the traditional shy bullied girl who escapes into worlds of fantasy to avoid dealing with reality until one day she finds she could do so for real, but at a price! We’ve heard it before. But…
Aoba isn’t entirely isolated. Her teacher obviously cares a lot and goes to lengths to protect her. And the preamble only lasts a few pages. Everything starts with Aoba finding a random contract with a blank line that asks her to write in her wish. She mindlessly writes I want everyone to be my friend. And it comes true immediately. We get to see how a previously isolated girl has to suddenly deal with constantly being surrounded by friends. Not in a monkey’s paw be careful what you wish for sort of way but in an earnest how do you adjust to a new life and how alone time has advantages.
Aoba has to actually learn how to have friends. This was a pretty fresh take that I haven’t seen before and I enjoyed it.
Moreover, the people involved in the Fairy Tale Battle Royale seem to have a degree of control over the events that are unusual for the genre. They get to chose when they go into it and they can return to the “real” world whenever they want. That also frames the story in a way that isn’t too common. It cuts down the tension a bit in favour of more character development.
I’m not sure if this will change as the series progresses but the first volume was a nice mix of adventure isekai and down-to-earth school slice of life that worked surprisingly well.
Things felt a bit easy. What I mean is that Aoba really does adjust to new situations at breakneck speed. Give her a panel to stand around with a shocked expression and she is all good.
Similarly, the first person she meets, Noah, happens to be the most optimistic, happy go lucky and nice boy you could hope for. And his real-world self is pretty impressive too. What luck!
I understand that these early good times are a great way to heighten drama when things do go south and I think this is what the series is doing. But it makes me dread the idea of things going terribly wrong now…
I enjoyed the setup a lot. Enough to want to read more. But I do see the potential pitfalls already. The first volume also did not give us any indication of how the series would deal with more horrific or sad events but there are a lot of hints that these are coming. It makes me worry that Fairy Tale Battle Royale would plunge into melodramatic sludge. But that,s only a worry, there is no reason it wouldn’t go on to be a great tense adventure.
For some reason, I’m cautious about getting too excited for Fairy Tale Battle Royale. But I don,t know what that reason is. The first volume was fun to read, the characters were pleasant and there were some downright charming moments. Hmmmm…