In Medias Res | And I Thought Hunger Games Was Brutal…

Battle RoyaleSo I decided I wanted to read Battle Royale.
…and I thought Hunger Games was brutal. I’m telling you right now: Suzanne Collins was gracious to her characters.
For one thing, the rules in Battle Royale are so much more intense:

  1. Each year, 50 junior high school classes (minimum age 15) are chosen to enter Battle Royale, as deemed by the government.
  2. Each class is stranded on an island.
  3. The students must wear metal collars while on the island, which track heart rate, position and contain explosives.
  4. Each student is treated equally. Political status, wealth, and disability are disregarded.
  5. The students must fight to the death.
  6. Each student is given a bag with a random weapon/tool, a map of the island, as well as whatever they brought under the pretense of a “field trip”.
  7. Sections of the island are declared off limits and are to be evacuated.
  8. Every six hours, an announcement is made, declaring the names of the dead and adding more off-limit areas, thus making the battle ground smaller.
  9. If no one is killed in 24 hours, all participants are killed.
  10. If anyone tries to escape the island, they are killed.
  11. If anyone tries to remove their collar, they are killed.
  12. Last person standing wins.

What’s worse, I think, is the apathetic approach by the government. There is no public announcement, just a visit to the student’s guardian informing them that their child is now in “The Program”. Any struggle against it is met with murder or rape. And they tell the students that they’ve murdered and raped their caregivers as if they just ate a chocolate bar.

But the ultimate cherry on top of the pile of shit that is this government is their motivations. This is a government experiment for military purposes. 

That’s right. They pull this terrorism for conscription. Not punishment, not a warning, a freaking human experiment. And the public just accepts it.

It disturbs me that this content intrigues me because it’s so vile. For one thing, it’d take one sick mind to come up with this. For another, it became a world wide bestseller—the original Japanese now translated so everyone can read it. It’s my first time reading a novel that wasn’t in English first, so I’m kind of excited about that.

But I’m more excited because I can’t wait for this plot to unfold. I’m so wrapped up in it. I’m invested in Shuya and Noriko now. I want to punch Sakamochi in the face, and am nervous that Sugimura is going to stab Shuya in the back.

Schadenfreude indeed.

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6 thoughts on “In Medias Res | And I Thought Hunger Games Was Brutal…

  1. I haven’t read Battle Royale yet, but I’ve seen the film and it was definitely interesting (though so, so dark) enough that I will be adding it to my reading list.

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    1. You should definitely read it! Just make sure you find a good translation. 🙂 My copy is weird, sometimes mentioning the Japanese honorific “-san”, and sometimes not. Also the names start sounding the same after a while, (There are a lot of “Sh-” “Yu-” in Japanese names!) so I forget who’s who sometimes.

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  2. About 9 months after seeing THG and later, reading the book, I started seeing all these troll-flames online about how THG was a ripoff of BR. So, like any intellectually honest person, I had to see the movie and read the book. All I can say is your review is far more generous than mine would be. I found the book and movie versions of BR both to be completely soulless. I felt absolutely zero empathy or connection to any of the characters. I just saw that there is a new re-translation of the book, so I might try it to see if the original translation was just sub-par. Beyond being soulless, the movie made copious use of that Asian (Japan and SK mainly) style I’ve heard called “Splatter-Porn” (not to be confused with “Torture-Porn” like the Hostel and Saw franchises). Extreme, lengthy, almost pathological focus on the physical results of graphic violence. While I have many favorite movies that include graphic violence, none of them elevate it to the level of a fetish the way some Asian movies do.

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    1. I’m not quite done the novel yet and I haven’t watched the movie yet either, but I definitely am having problems with the story. There’s a lot of misogyny, as well as large gaps in characterization. I expected brutality, so it doesn’t bother me, but the lack of characterization paired with the brutality does make it “soulless”. Once I finish the book, I’ll be posting a formal review—this post was more of a first impression.

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  3. I actually have this book waiting on my bookshelf, a little to freaked out to read it… This made my worry even worse! But I have this strange fascination with the book, I want to read it but at the same time. I didn’t know about all of these horrible rules, but I guess it makes it more exciting. I can’t believe the world just sits by as these kids are basically tortured because of some ‘ experiment’? Cue the shivers…

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