Reviewby Mercedez Clewis,
Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight!
Ready… set… idol fight! Meet Haebaru Misora, an Okinawan eighteen-year-old karate expert who moves to Tokyo with her eyes set on becoming a famous singer. Unfortunately for Misora, things don't go her way, and the sleazeball handlers who were supposed to be her gateway to music mishandle and trick her into the adult entertainment industry instead! Now, Misora has to lean on her martial arts skills to fight her way through one hundred lustful male opponents, and if she loses… she'll have to pay the ultimate erotic price!
Let me tell you upfront: if you're here for butts, butts, butts, boobs, and even more butts, then Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight! (hereafter Booty Royale), originally known as Hagure Idol Jigokuhen, is probably the title for you. As one of the new titles “fleshing out” Seven Seas' Ghost Ship imprint, Booty Royale combines two volumes into one thick, four-hundred-page omnibus full of titillation, booty-lation, and all the sweaty body parts it can squeeze between its covers. And for the most part, it's a smutty romp following one girls' attempt to become a singer despite having a voice that could shatter glass. Question is, is it a good read? Well… your mileage may vary, though I think by and large, Booty Royale achieves exactly what it set out to do, and there's something to be said about that.
Our protagonist is Haebaru Misora, an eighteen-year-old on the cusp of adulthood, and our POV for the world of Booty Royale. Optimistic, strong, cute, dedicated, and bodacious, Misoru is dragged into the world of pornography by force (the whole thing is played for laughs, which doesn't feel great). Still, being the daughter of a widowed mother, Misora largely goes along with things partially because she trying to pay for her siblings' education, and feels a duty to support her family however she can. Thus, we have the foundation for Misora's new life as a mature media actress.
One thing that really caught my attention was Misora herself: even with all the distressing situations life forces upon her, she's never down and out. In fact, Misora is notably a blackbelt in karate, which brings a bit of action to the series. Sure, said action is combined with massive amounts of T&A, but I have to give it to the creator, Takato Rui. Misora may be sexualized, but she's allowed to remain strong and feminine. That's not to say that she isn't explicitly taken advantage of for being feminine: she absolutely is. Still, it's a part of a complex characterization which was… unexpected, but a definite delight.
But not all is fun and pleasure: Booty Royale leans heavily into sexism, which is to be expected. There's a lot of “men will be men and that means they're always horny'' messaging at play, which I imagine can be uncomfortable even for male readers. There's also a lot of ethnic sexual stereotypes, specifically around Black and African men, which range from big lips to large genitalia. And heck, even the portrayal of non-Black, non-Japanese characters is tinged with a good dollop of xenophobia, which really detracts from the enjoyment of the series. Mind you, these instances aren't super common, but they ultimately stand out as being quite outdated, especially in 2021.
Also, it should be noted that Booty Royale frequently crosses the line, even for a mature romp. Expect to see the term “nightmarish legal rape” more than once, largely because that's a major part of the first story. Part of Misora's job as a wannabe singer is that she has to fend off one hundred men in a martial arts tourney. If she doesn't… she's essentially going to be forced into a “legal” gangbang. And while this is a series that's purely a smutty fantasy, it's also important to emphasize that this is a no-bars held sexual free-for-all from cover to cover, and may yuck your yum. There's also the fact that Booty Royale has explicit beastiality, which is ultimately where I had to pause and take a moment. The scenes in question involve an anteater, and while they're brief, they definitely felt like Booty Royale was scrapping the bottom of the sexy barrel.
In terms of translation, Jennifer Ward did excellent work, conveying Misora's internal monologue and dialogue in modern teenage slang, as well as coming up with a really readable title. Shoutout to the number of ways Ward translated slang for penis: I'm a big fan of “Brazilian Python”, “Count Cockula”, and “Dracula Dong”, which were some of the standout translations that caught my eye. That said, there are a few hiccups, the most confusing of which is Misora's age, which is different on the cover (eighteen) versus in the manga, where she's stated to be nineteen. I would say that nineteen is probably more accurate since, in the back half of this thicc volume, Misora turns twenty. But other than that, things are pretty spot on, providing a flavorful localization that suits the manga and heightens all of Misora's struggles as she channels her inner-Keijo!!!!!!!! and throws hands.
Also worth mentioning is the lettering effort by Monica Richards. The SFX pop and add a great deal of flavor to each panel, matching the screentones and the original Japanese SFX beat for beat. However, there's also a noticeable amount of times where text is off-center in text bubbles that jarred me out of my reading experience, but that's also my inner professional manga QA coming out to play. By and large, Richards does a bang-up job, pun intended: I think readers will have a very smooth time sinking into Misora's journey, and hopefully, Seven Seas will update the lettering in future volumes.
I think it's safe to say that Booty Royale isn't trying to tell a dynamic story – it's just trying to have fun. It's more sex than story, more comedy than serious drama, and certainly more porn than plot. Don't come to this series expecting one girl's rags to riches story: Misora's desire to sing gets quickly shifted to her just doing odd jobs and hustling using her bodacious assets, so it's best to temper your expectations going in. Also: heed the TWs/CWs for sexual assault, beastiality, lolicon, underage/high school-aged actresses, and well… lots of different fetishes, ranging from BDSM to cream pies to watersports. There are too many to list, honestly.
In the end, Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight! is a genuinely fun romp with a lot of likeable characters and a solid underpinning of female sexuality that both tittilates and fascinates. While there's a lot here that isn't my particular cup of tea overall, I also found myself really cheering Misora on, and remain curious to see where her story takes her. Misora is incredibly likable, as is the sprawling cast of female A/V workers she meets along the way, and while there's a lot of content that's more of a turn-off than a turn-on, I think readers who have been waiting for something like this to get localized will find Misora's world – as well as the world of her fellow A/V actresses – to be satisfying sensual until the last page.
Overall : B-
Story : B
Art : B+
+ Misora is a really great lead with an interesting POV; Charming, well-executed art; Great genitalia nicknames, as well as incredibly fun puns
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