by Junya Inoue
published by Yen Press; $11.99 US
This series has gotten some (deserved) flak for its treatment of women as visual fan service, and I can’t disagree — heck, just look at that cover — yet I’m still reading it when I want adrenaline-teasing escapism that requires no thought.
The premise hasn’t changed from the first volume. We’re watching people stuck on an island blowing each other up, since only one can survive.
There’s a lot of wallowing in violence and abuse, in order to provide the reader a feeling of “good!” when they see nasty characters get blown up. For example, a kid likes to kill animals for the fun of it. Back in the regular world, he was a necrophilic murderer, but his abusive dad’s lawyer kept him from the death penalty. Finally, the kid turns on his father. We’re led to appreciate his standing up for himself, even violently, but he’s awful, so he becomes another rung for our protagonist to climb while teaching us more about the rules of the game.
If you stop to think about it, it’s horrifying that this passes for entertainment. And yet it fits right in with a world of video games where worse happens to pass a level. There are just enough hints doled out, between the hunts and explosions, of why this is happening and the effects on the competitor’s personalities to keep someone interested in the mystery returning. (The publisher provided a review copy.)