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Battle Royal High School

One would be hard pressed to squeeze any more genres into Battle Royal High School. Action, science fiction, horror, fantasy, and high school life have all been crammed into this one hour OVA. The fact that there are so many things happening in such a short time makes it somewhat of a miracle that this show makes any sense whatsoever. However, makes sense it does, for the most part. Viewers really need to buckle up and pay attention because their brains are going to take a beating almost as bad as some of the villains in this show. It’s a non-stop assault of events that don’t slow down so viewers have a time to digest what's going on. If anything, it’s a lot of fun seeing all these different ideas mix together. Moreover, they are interspersed with a number of well choreographed, ultra violent fights against horrific demons. There’s a lot to enjoy about this anime, but it may take a couple of viewings to fully absorb everything.

Things start out simple enough with viewers being introduced to the show’s main character, a high school student named Riki Hyoudo. He’s in the middle of fighting every member of the karate club because if he defeats them, he’s allowed to quit the club. One couldn’t be blamed for thinking this would be a martial arts anime about a young man about to set out and conquer the world of competitive karate. However, the next scene completely shifts gears, as viewers are suddenly thrust into a demon dimension where its king, Byoudo, is about to fulfill a prophecy. Of course, this involves travelling to Earth where it turns out this demon and Riki are two parts of the same soul, and the demon king is able to possess him. From here we meet Zankan who is some sort of time travelling dimension hopping law enforcement officer, or something of that sort. He works on a massive, futuristic space station orbiting the Earth, so he’s certainly doing something important at any rate. There’s also a demon slayer on Earth with special powers that wants to hunt down Riki now that he’s been possessed, but then the slayer gets possessed by the Queen of the Fairies because she actually tricked the demon king into coming to Earth so she could kill him and lead an insurrection in their realm. So, yeah, there is a lot going on in this show. The best thing to do is not think about it too much and just enjoy the ride.

Just as the show seems to have every sub genre under the sun crammed into it, so too does it have a plethora of character archetypes. Riki is the smartypants high school student, Byoudo is a super villain with a very high opinion of himself, the demon slayer is Mr. Serious, and Riki even has an annoying, hot tempered female sidekick. Also, none of them are fleshed out whatsoever. There’s so much already happening in this one hour OVA that there’s just no time for that kind of thing.

Visually, there are some well put together hand-to-hand combat scenes peppered throughout the anime. The fight between Riki and Zankan was particularly entertaining to watch. However, as the show progresses, gore begins to take center stage more and more, and there’s a ton of detail to humans mutating into horrific monsters, or their appendages suddenly exploding. The character design is also rather interesting as it’s a mix of 80s and 90s styles, and was handled by Nobuteru Yuki who would later do The Vision of Escaflowne. While the show came out in 1987, and certainly takes a lot of cues from what was popular at the time (big, brawny men everywhere), some of the facial designs look like stuff that would only become popular 5-10 years later.

For many, what will be remembered most about Battle Royal High School besides its outrageous story is all of the gore. While the Mad Bull 34s, Urotsukidojis, and Black Lions of this era tend to get most of the attention when it comes to blood and guts in anime, this OVA is no slouch. Riki has one fight near the end with a girl that has a crush on him but is possessed by a demon that gets quite bloody. Moreover, he even uses the power of the demon inside him to completely reconstruct her body after defeating her, because he’s a nice guy.

Interestingly, the show was directed by Ichiro Itano who has been involved in a number of series, most notably his work as animation director for Macross, but also for directing the likes of Violence Jack and Angel Cop. This might help to explain the acrobatic style present in the various combat scenes throughout Battle Royal High School. It's also worth noting that the show has a bit of a Neon Genesis Evangelion connection as both Hideaki Anno and Shiro Sagisu were involved, the former as an assistant animation director, and the later for composing the OVA's soundtrack.

This is definitely an anime worth setting aside some time for. It’s just so over the top and ridiculous with everything happening in it. There’s action, gore, nudity, and something vaguely resembling a plot, basically all of the tent poles that defined violent anime OVAs of the 1980s. It may take a moment to digest what's happening, though, because so much is crammed into this story.

- IroIro
October 5, 2019

More Gory Anime We've Discussed:

- Wild 7 Review
- Dream Hunter Ren Review
- Maryuu Senki Review

Directed by: Ichiro Itano
Character Design: Nobuteru Yuki
Composer: Shiro Sagisu
Studio: AIC
Released: 1987
Episodes: 1

Battle Royal High School Image 1
VHS Cover

Battle Royal High School Image 2
Riki while possessed by Byoudo

Battle Royal High School Image 3
Zankan teleporting to Earth

Battle Royal High School Image 4
Riki using his powers to reconstruct a dead girl