Sunday, July 8, 2012

Battle Royale: The Fight For Survival

42 Junior High School Students are chosen every year to fight to the death for a government program/reality show. Therefore every Junior High School student in Japan lives in fear that their class will be the next one to be thrown into the "game." This year, Shuya Nanahara's class is chosen. Of the 42 kids forced to kill each other, only one is allowed to survive and be proclaimed the winner. The result? A massive amount of violence, bloodshed and psychological strain. In other words, it's going to be a really bad day. 

Battle Royale is like 'The Hunger Games' on steroids. Super steroids. (It was written LONG before Suzanne Collins ever came up with our braided, flaming, arrow throwing warrior called Katniss) The action is constant, the violence is graphic and the language is edgy. There is more blood dripping from the pages of this book than from a blood bank. No lie. This Japanese novel was originally extremely controversial in Asia because it speaks out against dictatorial reign, communism and the unjustness of a Federal Government controlling everything: including the country's children. It's chilling. At times, it's even horrifying. Many students become so paranoid that their classmates are going to kill them that they become killers themselves. Some lose their minds. Others become no less than sadists. It's a mix of the "Lord of the Flies'" creepiness with more relatable characters. Character's heads get blown off, people get beaten to death by baseball bats, young teens start shooting each other with machine guns and hacking one another with ice picks. This is a "manga book," and it does not hold back on language or imagery or anything else. It's brutal. Very, very brutal. 
I would caution against reading this before dinner.
The ending was brilliant. I was completely surprised by it. The author did a great job. This is definitely not a book for children, and in fact any reader might be surprised by its sometimes highly graphic situations (which, frankly, you could skip over if you want...I am exhibit A when it comes to doing this with books) - but it teaches us all a big lesson: Let the government have too much power, and there is no stopping the things it will do, even if that includes forcing children to kill each other. Controversial? Sure. But true. Chillingly, terrifyingly possible in any country that goes too far. 

Battle Royale was made into a movie in Japan. It was highly controversial. It has just recently been made available in North America. You can snag it on Netflix or buy it on DVD. 


  1. OMG! I watched this the other night for the first time on Netflix! In doing so, I came to 2 very unsettling realizations. Everyone in this movie refused to die. Twenty bullets later and they're still up and fighting. It was very... wow. The second thing, I was confused at the end, which makes me wonder if I wasn't watching closely enough or if something was lost in the translation. But you're right, definitely not a before/during supper book.I'm actually considering reading the book, just to see what I missed in the movie.

    Thank you for this review! <3

  2. In the movie, they call the characters by their last names, so in the books it's actually easier to keep track of all of them because you can distinguish first names from the others. But yeah!! It took them forever to die. My dad told me that that is actually more realistic: people don't simply drop dead (like you commonly see in the movies). It takes time for them to die. Adrenaline keeps them going. Isn't that weird? O_o


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