By: Soraho Ina
Illustrator: Soraho Ina (illustrator); Alexandra Gunawan (lettering and retouching)
Translator: Molly Rabbitt (translator); Cae Hawksmoor (adaptation)
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Seven Seas
Series: Fairy Tale Battle Royal
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Fairy Tale Battle Royal Vol. 1
Fairy Tale Battle Royal Vol. 1by Soraho Ina is a fun new series featuring another world and fairy tale characters who seem to want our protagonist dead. The story takes place in two worlds, contemporary Japan and a fantasy world where the location of one fairy tale blends into the next.
Aoba Kuninaka is a 9th grader who is constantly bullied by her classmates. Aoba is a character many of us can relate to on one level or another. She’s a typical student in many ways, one that is mercilessly bullied by her classmates. She’s a reader, escaping into fiction, primarily Alice in Wonderland, as well as writing and drawing stories of her own. The manga begins in a familiar way, introducing us to Aoba, her classmates, and her homeroom teacher. The man seems kind enough and is obviously worried for her welfare, but is unable to actually lessen or put an end to the bullying. Aoba is left navigating her days alone, trying to be unobtrusive and escaping into the Alice’s Wonderland.
This is more than a vague getting lost in literature you love sort of a thing. One day Aoba finds an odd contract, one that talks about Alice and Wonderland. Confused and suspicious, she throws it away. But it has a way of coming back until, finally, Alice signs. Soon, she finds herself in another world entirely.
The fantasy realm she finds herself in is one that is both immediately familiar and incredibly unsettling. It is Wonderland she’s fallen into, but not the one Aoba expected. This place is empty, void of the many fascinating inhabitants the books portray. Instead, there is a zombie-like creature who looks eerily similar to the Alice in all the stories Aoba’s read. This isn’t the carefree realm of fantasy and stories. This is a deadly place, a frightening one.
Aoba isn’t the only one who’s signed a contract, either. She meets two others. One is a largely unknown entity, a fighter and protagonist of a yet undisclosed story. The other is Noah, a young man from England who is the protagonist from one of Aesop’s Fables. I found this quite interesting. Despite its fame, Aesop’s Fables don’t seem to always work their way into narratives such as this one which lean heavily upon famous fairy tales and other stories. I’m very interested to see what other stories are going to work their way into this manga.
Ultimately, this is only the beginning of a story with an interesting concept. There is a quite a bit of set-up within this volume. We learn about both Aoba’s regular life, and see this other world. Yet, most questions aren’t answered. We don’t know who created the contract or what they want. What happened to these other protagonists? Why is everyone a zombie-like monster intent on killing these protagonists? How exactly do they go from one world to another? Nothing is very explained, and the reader is left in the same place as the protagonist. We haven’t quite gotten to the battle royal part of the manga’s title, though it isn’t so difficult to see how this aspect might be incorporated.
The art in this manga quite fun. The characters have distinguishable, cute, charming designs. This makes the horror aspect of the antagonist’s that much stronger, portraying them as truly gruesome figures in a lovely fantasy world. Backgrounds aren’t always highly detailed, something that is perhaps a bit more prominent when in the modern school setting than elsewhere.
I am quite interested to see where this series is going. I’m in intrigued. The setting, plot, and characters have peaked my interest. I will be picking up further volumes at some time in the future. If you like fantasy, fairy tales, and the slightest bit of horror I’d suggest picking up a copy of Fairy Tale Battle Royal Vol. 1 by Soraho Ina.