Ever since Watership Down traumatized an entire generation of readers, writers have been experimenting with the 'cute animals in horrific situations' formula. The latest is Nezumi Royale, a manga by Sasaki Junichirou that popped up on the Japanese manga website Yanmanga recently, sets the scene for a group of adorable mice students that are plopped down on a strange island and forced to brutally murder each other.
According to the synopsis on the Yanmanga site, Nezumi Royale is about a shy and indecisive student who ends up on an island with other students and is told that only five of them will be allowed to leave when a boat arrives in 28 days. What ensues is a bloody battle for survival that tests the humanity within these adorable but deadly mice.
If this sounds familiar, it is because it is almost exactly the plot of the acclaimed book-turned-film-turned-manga Battle Royale. Even the name is an homage to Koushun Takami’s iconic Japanese book – nezumi means mouse or rat in Japanese. Battle Royale became famous for its over-the-top violence and sex, with some of the most graphic depictions of both that Japanese media had produced at the time. It even predates Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games by around five years, leading to constant comparisons between the two.
We're fascinated by seeing Junichirou tackling such a heavy subject, considering that their previous work was about a cute and playful alien that crash lands in the bedroom of an elementary school student. Even masking the violence behind cute rodents, this is a big departure for the mangaka, which makes it an exciting new title to pick up. We love seeing some from writers and artists and this is a great example of someone trying something new. Plus, the artwork looks sharp and interesting, so we think it is one worth checking out.
The first three chapters of Nezumi Royale have been released on Yanmanga, with the next chapter due out on January 10. No word on if it will get an official English translation, however.
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