Why everyone should read Battle Royale

Warning: This post isn’t quite as chipper as some of my previous posts. You’ve been warned!

If you’ve never heard of Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, think Hunger Games set in a futuristic, dystopian Japan, on steroids (this is obviously a huge oversimplification, but just go with it). There’s been a lot of controversy recently about whether or not Suzanne Collins ripped off Battle Royale, but that’s not the point of this post. In this post, I’m going to explain why I think everyone should read Battle Royale at least once, because despite it not being the best-written book in the world, it has some really important ideas that I think more people should be exposed to.

Reason #1: It makes you take a hard look at yourself

When we read books, we usually end up putting ourselves in the shoes of one of the characters. It’s hard to connect to a story if you don’t do that. But in Battle Royale, the characters are average junior high students trapped on an island, given random weapons, and informed that they have to kill each other or else the collars locked around their necks will explode. Not quite as fun slipping into those shoes, is it?

Battle Royale forces you to put yourself in the position of these teenagers and ask yourself: What would I do in this situation? And it’s such a hard question to answer, because there is no easy answer. My initial response when I started reading the book was that I would hide, try to avoid confrontation, and only shoot to kill in self-defense. Okay, great. Now skip ahead 24 hours, and it’s only you and your best friend alive. One of you has to kill the other, or you both die. What do you do now? Do you trust your best friend not to turn on you? Are you willing to die to let them live? Are you willing to live with the knowledge that you killed them?

It’s a really morbid story, and very depressing to think about. But self-reflection is never a bad thing — how else do we learn about ourselves and try to improve?

Reason #2: It drives home how senseless and tragic violence is

Battle Royale is a heart-wrenching book, and not just because 40 teenagers die for no good reason. The worst part isn’t that they die, but how they die. Two young lovers throw themselves off a cliff because they’re unwilling to even consider harming their classmates. One boy spends the entire game trying to find his best friend and the girl he likes, only to have one die in his arms, and the other panic and shoot him. Another boy comes up with a brilliant plan to tear apart the game and get them all free, but is killed right before he can set his plan in motion.

When you read Battle Royale, there’s a certain part of you that cheers for the two crazy killers who go around riddling their fellow students with machine gun rounds — survival of the fittest and all that. But the rest of you comes away feeling profoundly sad and disillusioned with the glory that the media places on violence and killing, and I think that’s something that everyone needs to feel.

I have many more reasons, but those are the main two. The one I didn’t mention is that Battle Royale is just a really, really good story in general. Again, not terribly well written, but it’s pretty much impossible to put down. So, go forth, read, weep, and enjoy!

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10 thoughts on “Why everyone should read Battle Royale

  1. I read some of the manga. I’m still freaked out by it all these years later.

    • Yeah, the manga is … different than the book, lol. I read the first four volumes, and there was about 600% more sex and violence in the manga than the book. Still … makes you think, doesn’t it? You should try out the movie — it’s a bit campy, but captures the whole “gladiatorial death match” feel much better than the Hunger Games movie did, in my opinion 🙂

  2. Huh–how have I never heard of this before?!? I HAVE to put this on my TBR. I’m always intrigued when stories are similar and how each author put their own spin on it…or didn’t. Thanks for the rec!

    • Huzzah! I was hoping to inspire at least one person to read the book, and thus, I have succeeded! Important note: apparently Suzanne Collins had never read or even heard of Battle Royale before she wrote Hunger Games.

  3. I’m LOLing so hard at the picture at the bottom… It’s so incongruous with the rest of your post, which is a very deep thing about kids dying. Although if you were going for some comic relief, it worked? xDD
    I’ve never read Battle Royale, but I may at some point. Loved the Hunger Games, at least the first one. I can totally see how two people could spontaneously have the same idea without ever being exposed to the other–I mean, there’s only SO MUCH out there, you know? And inevitably somebody would have thought, ‘Hey, kids killing kids–that’s a thing, right? Let me write that down.’ So hey. What can you do?

    ALSO, I realized I hadn’t drawn any pictures in awhile, so I did this one, lazily trying to combine two rather important points in one picture. SORRY. I guess what someone should be able to walk away with from this, though, is VARRIN IS A JERK.
    (A sexy jerk you want to make out with, but a no-good jerk all the same.)

    • First, the drawing — HAHAHAHA I LOVE IT!!! Thanks 🙂 Oh man, their expressions in the second panel are just so perfect and adorable! Eris is all “Ahh! How could I be so foolish” and you just know that the only thing going through Varrin’s mind is “Trolololol”. Okay, this will definitely be the subject of my next post 😀

      On to your Battle Royale comments, yeah, I totally get how Suzanne Collins could come up with a similar idea. And if you read both books, you find that they’re really quite different, especially in theme. Anyhoo, you should definitely read Battle Royale, it’s quite good 🙂

      • Thanks! *bows* I was going to do it more serious-looking, but then I thought the contrast would be nice–the sexy-times picture being all intense and stuff, then turn right around and Varrin is selling you into a life of pharmaceutical testing with no remorse–kind of comical, right?? (Well, before you actually GET the testing… Erm.)
        BUT GLAD YOU LIKE! I’m not done doing those pictures, not by a long shot–although I’m pretty jealous, that first pic turned out pretty hot. </3 I wanna kiss Varrin! xDD

        Yeah! And I think that's the important thing to look at too. It's like yeah, they both took that idea, but it's set in a TOTALLY different background and way, so. I think if anyone has their panties in a bunch about it, they need to just chillax. ONLY SO MANY IDEAS, PEOPLE. xD

        • It starts off so steamy! Love it. And Varrin’s all “I’m super intense and gorgeous love me” and Eris is all wide-eyed and like “You smell amazing I want you”. Let me show the drawing to my mother and get her reaction … hang on … Mom says: “It’s wonderful!” She now goes on to say that she’s confused by Eris’s eyes in the right image — apparently she thinks the tear drops are the eyes and the eyes are actually the eyebrows. Hehehehe. Ah, mother, so silly 😀

          • Very silly–if those were the eyes, I THINK I would have remembered that they are green, not blue! Sheesh–gotta give me some credit. ;P
            ha ha, but thanks though!
            He does seem like he would smell amazing, doesn’t he?
            Like, like… I don’t know. Something delicious. Yeah.

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