What They Say
Hyoudo Riki is just an ordinary guy who likes to wear a tiger mask while Kung-Fu fighting, which means he fits in real well at BATTLE ROYAL HIGH SCHOOL!
Unfortunately for Riki, he’s the doppelganger in our world of Byoudo, Master of the Dark Realm, and when a dimensional gate opens between the two worlds, well, complications ensue!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded at 224 kbps. The show sports a decent stereo mix that’s very minimal on any kind of directionality, with the bulk of it feeling like a solid stereo mix through the center channel. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.
Originally released in 1987, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio. It was animated by studio DAST and is definitely a product of its time in all the right ways. While the encoding itself seems to have been done decently, at least outside of some strange pixelation that’s noticeable during the first few minutes, the bulk of the transfer has time-related issues with it. There are a fair amount of nicks and scratches throughout, but also the usual kind of things that are noticeable in older shows, such as when characters glide across the ground, you can see all the dirt and specs gliding at the same time. Cross coloration is very minimal overall and aliasing isn’t terribly problematic.
The front cover gives you a quick idea of what the show will be like with the lead character, topless and completely buffed out, striking a pose against a pillar of flame. There’s also the amusing way the logo is done, where Battle Royal is very prominent and then the High School portion much smaller and set off to the right below it. I wonder how many people will mistakenly pick this up thinking it’s an anime version of the Battle Royale movie that continues to gain new fans? The back cover provides a few animation shots and a good summary of the program as well as listing the discs basic features and technical information. The insert is the traditional recipe card which provides a few amusing tidbits about the show, including mentioning some of the several continuity errors.
The menu is a basic static image of the lead set against a blue-black background with the logo above the few selections along the left while having some of the more action-oriented music playing along. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is pretty good.
There are a couple of extras here that are surprising. While there is the original Japanese promotional trailer, there’s also a storyboard function. And instead of just showcasing a few scenes, AnimEigo instead did the entire show to storyboards. Also available via the alternate angle selection, the entire screen is given over to the detailed and interesting storyboards while the show itself plays in a smaller window. For those wanting to see the origins and layouts of the show, this is a real treat, and surprising to find for a show of this vintage.
When it comes to titles from the 80s, a good many of the shows require going through a different mindset, particularly if they’re based on manga from the same time period. Plain and simple, whether you’re more fond of shows from then or not, things were just done differently then for a variety of reasons. Battle Royal High School, based on a manga series that translates as Legend of the True Devils, is a highly condensed version of a portion of that series. As such, there are numerous areas where things just feel rushed or glossed over. There were several times where I had to rewind just to make sure I understood the drastic change that just happened.
The hour-long OVA is focused around high school student Riki Hyoudo, a master of martial arts in his own time. He shows them off nicely in his school club as the club president won’t let him quit to go fight other clubs unless he can take down the entire club at his own school first. Riki’s fairly amusing in his style, as he’s wearing a full-sized tiger mask that he found at his house, just because he thought it looks cool. So after he takes down the entire club, he’s happy to go on his way.
This is all balanced by dark tidings in another realm, where we have a dark lord named Byoudo who has decided to come to Earth to challenge Riki. It seems there is a legend of a man who will challenge him. Byoudo is informed of such an occurrence, as Riki appears to be draining off power from this dark realm. What’s unknown to him is that this is all the plot of a demonic fairy who wants to eliminate him and take over. So when Byoudo gets to Earth, he realizes what’s really going on after meeting Riki. But he also then finds out that Riki is possessed, never mind that the two of them are actually parallel world versions of each other.
Oh, there’s also a space-time cop that looks like a really clean version of both of them that tries to make sure everything works out in the end. Add in the girlfriend who has a really bad potty mouth and a regular cast of classmates that love to see a fight, lots of blood and some very violent fight sequences and you have a show that brings a lot of elements together into one short show. This again goes back to the entire feeling rushed aspect of things and the cramming in of characters and story. When the space-time cop showed up, I felt like I had to check to make sure I was still watching the right show.
If I had seen this ten years ago, I probably would have enjoyed it more as it would have been showing things I hadn’t seen much of. Today, it’s more of a nostalgia piece for those who did love it back then and for those who can’t get enough shows released from the 80s. The character designs for the show is definitely nicely, very clean and non-traditional for several of them for today’s designers, particularly the simple yet good look for Riki.
Battle Royal High School is definitely a show from a different time, and it’s always fun to go back and look at shows like this. During its initial release, it probably stood out pretty well against what other OVA’s were being released at the time. Today, it’s probably just slightly above average, if only for a few really well done select sequences. If you’re a fighting fan and like some good bloody violence, this is definitely a release to check out. If you’re just looking for wuv, you’ll want to pass on this one.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Promotional Trailer, Full-Episode Storyboards Alternate Angle
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: AnimEigo
Release Date: September 30th, 2003
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.