In a different world than the one we live in, a world where Japan is the lone superpower of the world, there is a wildly popular game show called the National Quiz. Every night, people dreaming of riches, fame, vengeance and happiness compete on the show, for the chance to be granted a wish, any wish they have: the National Quiz has the power to make your wildest dreams come true. It also has the ability, if you lose, to make your life a living hell.
This is the story of K-i K-ichi (aka prisoner KK47331), a former actor-turned losing National Quiz contestant-turned wildly popular host of the show, and the people and events surrounding him.
"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."
-Gerald R. Ford
National Quiz is a manga with one of the most unique and interesting synopses I have ever encountered, the manga takes place in an alternate reality in which Japan is the dominant country and reins supreme over the world. In it's power Japan has implemented a unique form of government known as the National Quiz game show, under the Nation Quiz system Japanese citizens that have any desire from the government, whether it be a selfless one or an immoral one all have an equal chance to have their wish granted by competing in a trivia game show titled the Nation Quiz. In order to have their desires granted contestants must answer various random trivia questions and obtain a certain number of points which is determined by the scale of their wish, and their IQ. However there is a twist, if the contestants make it to the final round and lose they will be treated as war criminals and depending on how much they lost by can be either sentenced to hard labor, time in prison, or even in the worst case execution.
The main story centers on the eccentric host of the Nation Quiz, K-i K-ichi, an actor who once lost the Nation Quiz show and was forced to do public service as the host of the show. While K-i K-ichi has a very high approval rating and is almost universally loved by fans of the show off stage he is treated as a criminal, taken back and forth from his high security jail cell to the set of the show.
The primary focus of the manga is the implications of the National Quiz show rather than how the show plays out, the first volume exemplifies how the game works but after that the manga shifts focus to the world and how the quiz show effects it. National Quiz places a heavy emphasis on world building and manages to convey it in a very unique and interesting way, rather than giving exposition about the world through dialogue it does it through witty commercials that pop up in the middle of chapters, the commercials show the state of the world and the lives of average Japanese citizens in a fairly witty and satirical way. The manga shows and explores every aspect of the world that is effected by the National Quiz, for example the state of various government bureaus, the lives of victors, the unjust effects the quiz can have on innocent citizens, the sheer power of the Japanese government, the state of countries all over the world including the USA and even rebel groups that try to against the National Quiz system. The world building makes the very bizarre and over the top premise of this manga have more depth to it rather than being just being a snazzy idea.
My only complaint with the story is the ending, which is completely ambiguous and has the audience begging to find out what happens next only to realize there is no sequel or other resolution. Despite this blunder Nation Quiz manages to have a compelling and well written story that sticks out of the crowd of generic manga titles.
The characters in National Quiz are by far the weakest aspect of the manga as they get minimal focus and fleshing outside of, K-i K-ichi who is the only character that feels fully characterized out as the rest of the cast takes a back seat the the eccentric quiz host. K-i K-ichi's view of the quiz system and the world he lives in as well as the government's role changes constantly throughout the manga as he questions the moral implications of the system. K-i K-ichi isn't portrayed as a complete fanatic of the system or a critic of it, but rather a neutral figure who sees the bad and the good the system brings (and believe it or not there are some good things that the system brings). His eccentric personality that most people see during the show is nothing more than a facade, the manga explores both sides of K-i K-ichi's life off and on screen making him a dynamic and very likable character.
National Quiz is an aesthetically good looking manga, the characters and backgrounds are very well drawn and shaded and have a unique look to them. The manga goes for a bit of an exaggerated look for comedic and satirical effect as some characters have very exaggerated features such as giant heads or eyes. This style fits very well with the satirical and somewhat comedic tone of the manga nicely.
Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
All around I had fun reading National Quiz, I enjoyed K-i K-ichi's antics and learning about the world the story took place in, the ladder half of the manga even brought up some political questions and talked about human nature which I also enjoyed. Despite the somewhat disappointing finale National Quiz was a very fun ride. If you are interested in politics and/or love satirical works I highly recommend you give National Quiz a try, while not flawless in its execution it hits a lot of key points and delivers a solid read.
National quiz is quite a strange and unusual series.
The premise itself sets it apart from most of what is published. Japan is ruled by a quiz show, instead of some form of elections or stable government.
And what follows is a story that takes this premise and turns the world on its head, so that such an idea does not seem stupid at all.
While the story is intriguing and characters tolerable (well, portrayed but not especially deep, this is after all, not a psychological drama), what really sets this apart is the amazing art.
The world of national quiz has a lot of room of visual extravaganza (with the show itself being flashy) and Katou utilizes this superbly. The art is slightly crazy, insanely detailed and quirky. The characters all look different and have very expresionable faces.
A very important point is that the art has strong lines, which with a comprehensing panel structure means you won't get lost on a page. And that you always know what exactly is happening in the picture.
This is, all in all an unforgettable masterpiece, that all people who are deeple interested in the medium of manga should read.read more
Kokumin Quiz is one of those unlucky Manga titles that never get a good frontpage image posted on MyAnimeList. Despite having a solid plot and realistic characters, that darn picture beside its name isn't attractive.
The Manga takes place in a futuristic world where Japan is the world's superpower and the world's main buyer of foreign government debt and this has been made possible only through a change in the political structure: it became a totalitarian regime. Funny enough, few people in Japan seem to have an issue with this. 'Why?' you ask? Because of the National Quiz, that's why! Where (IF you win ) you can get ANY wish granted but if you don't... Forced labour for 20 years.
Huh, that doesn't seem so bad... NOT!
The story follows the show's host, K-I K-Ichi, who was himself a past contestant and has been hosting the show for 6 years. Readers, you'll enter a strange, realistic world where there're spies, idiots and higher management power wars.
What I liked about the plotline was the fact that there was no sugarcoating over the author's vision of a crap future world; the illustrator made no effort to try and make everyone look 'celestially' beautiful and the author didn't waste their time on creating an infuriating love trian- septag- polygon. I appreciated that the author was trying to send a meaningful message and not just mind-numbingly entertain the reader; the story had plenty of twists, betrayals (if you can call it that) and secret conversations. The plot developed tremendously over the volumes so there will be no time for you to get bored, dear reader.
The art was superb; there was plenty of detail not only in the character illustrations but also in the highly imaginative backgrounds. For the most part, the figures and objects were proportional, it was only where the author had clearly wanted to caricature a character that features started to balloon bigger. The only thing that made me gnaw a little (I mean, a LOT) was the illustrator's sloppiness as the chapters went by: I didn't like the inconsistency at all especially when the plot and images depended very much on each other.
Overall, this was just a splash of imagination that makes stupid, 2D plotlined Manga look worse than usual because it reminds us of what good Manga should be. This isn't a Manga for those who don't like to delve into new and powerful ideas, this one is for the readers who don't just want to have a giggle or two, but also want to have something to actually think about and relish. A very good read will leave readers guessing at every turn and for the most part while I was reading Kokumin Quiz, I was clueless. The tension-riddled intrigues and the unpredictable surprises will keep you coming back for more as you wander deeper into the depths of the author's storyline.