Fairy Tale Battle Royale First Impressions

Cover of volume 1

My introduction to the battle royale genre was Future Diary. It wasn’t a good first impression to say the least. But despite that… experience, I decided to read Fairy Tale Battle Royale, published in English by Seven Seas. Let’s discuss if it’s any good.

Aoba Kuninaka is a classic, emotionally insecure high school girl who gets crapped on all the time. But when she signs a strange contract that makes all of her bullies love her, she’s transported to a twisted fairy tale world in a cosplay costume of her favorite character, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and all the other characters in this world are zombies.

So, let me be honest. This isn’t the first time that fairy tales have been given a darker dark motif, but what I always find hilarious is this is done with the intention of being cool and edgy, when they’re actually just portraying these stories as they were historically. But in Fairy Tale Battle Royale’s case, there is gore and zombies, so it’s at least edgy to some extent.

What actually makes Fairy Tale Battle Royale a true battle royale manga is the trope of many elaborate rules revolving around the royale itself, that the characters end up learning the hard way (i.e. red shirts getting offed early on). In this manga, it is established that killing the character zombies will free their souls and add them to a player’s book of the corresponding fairy tale (Ex. killing the card soldiers from Alice in Wonderland will add them to Aoba’s book). Doing so will also restore the area back to its less-decrepitness. But since this is a battle royale manga, it’s not as simple as that. It never is, and that could end up being the downfall of Fairy Tale Battle Royale. Fortunately, despite the short volume lengths, some semblance of plot progression always happens within each installment.

Unfortunately, the characters of Fairy Tale Battle Royale up being really weak, and by weak, I mean formulaic. One whiny main protagonist who lives off of sheer luck, one badass that you actually care about, at least one exposition dump character, and the rest are red shirts (characters who are obviously going to die, with the term inspired by a running theme in Star Trek episodes). Aoba is, obviously, the first item on the list. There really is nothing to say about her whatsoever at this juncture. The other characters who show up, besides the mysterious badass, are just as dull.

The art for the manga is solid. It does a good job clashing storybook-moe-style with dreariness. I kind of wish there could be more gore, since the edginess is what I’m enjoying most, but that’s just me. It’s basically a weaker Promised Neverland in terms of the art.

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Current Verdict: 7/10

Fairy Tale Battle Royale is, so far, marginally better than Future Diary. It’s not the greatest thing out there, but it’s still a fun, while-sitting-on-the-toilet read.