Hunger Games and Battle Royal

Hunger Games and Battle Royal Duke it Out
(Well you know… until only ones left alive…)
Not really anime or manga but this works best on this world.

I’ve had several friends ask me about Battle Royal in the last year or so because I’m one of those people who have read the Battle Royal book. Not the manga, not watched the movie, but who has actually read the official English translation of the book by Houshun Tokami. This makes me one of the few who have read Hunger Games AND Battle Royal and can explain whether Hunger Games really is the rip off that Royal (mostly movie fans) say that it is.
So I’m going to share my opinion with you guys, who may also be curious what the similarities and differences are.
So right off the bat I’m going to say, I enjoyed both books. I read Battle Royal at 15 when I was the same age as the characters and at the time, the most emotionally taxing thing I’ve ever read. (And arguably it still is.) I read the Hunger Games trilogy in the last couple years and it was also good and I enjoyed it.

So now lets talk about what’s the same and what’s not!

The basic Premise
The basic premise of both books is the same. Young people (I think its 12 to 17 in Hunger games and in Battle Royal its only the last year of middle school which is about 14-15) are being forced to fight and kill each other until only one survivor remains.
From there both plots go off onto their own path. Really except for the basic plot they have very little in common and focus on completely different aspects of what a world like this would be like.
Games focuses far more on one person’s journey in this world and the political implications. In fact, Games is far more about social commentary on media and war than on children killing each other. In Royal, on the other hand, the teens are all taken from the same classroom and have known each other for years before having to kill one another. Because of this, the story ends up being more of a study of the mindset that people would be in in the situation and throughout the book we hear from almost all 42 students point of view as they are killing or being killed.

The core of both books takes on different angles of the same situation.
Games wants you to understand Katniss’s path to wanting to over throw the government. To do that, the trilogy sets up the world and politics in great detail and we hear all about it. This allows us to understand Katniss’s choices throughout the story.
In Royal the government may be the reason they’re in a killing game, but the actual reason they do this is not really known in the book. I think there’s a brief blurb about them saying something like that it’s “So the government can research tactical information and study human responses” but is that really the reason? That question is not answered in the book.

In Games, the media, physical appearance and the actual coverage of the game is essential to the story. In fact a good chuck of the three books is talking about how it is vital for political ideas to be presented in a way that looks good. (as a film major who’s helped manage a social media campaign, it’s definitely a thing.)
In Royal, nothing about the killing is broadcasted. At the beginning I believe that people know which middle school class is taken, and then nothing until the survivor is announced. (In fact, one of the few similarities is that both books have a moment where the characters are remembering seeing a feral and haunted girl who just survived on television.)

Royal is way way more brutal. You see (or read I guess) the deaths in great detail. It’s crazy and intense. Every chapter opens with the number of students left alive. It is rough to watch the number fall… Parts of the book still follow me to this day.
The Games is Katniss’s story and the first person stays with her. Very few deaths are actually seen and even less are described in detail. Also, a lot less people die in the games, which has only 24 people, versus almost double that in Royal. (The last chapters in the last book are pretty brutal but not too bad) Also Games doesn’t stay in the actual games very much. The trilogy isn’t really just about the games. If it was it would end with book one.

Ok now to answer the second question I always get asked by friends who want to understand the similarities and differences:
Which do I prefer?
Well, both books make their points very well and appeal to their audiences.
Personally I really like the grittiness of Battle Royal and it made it’s impact on me first and while I was much younger. Since I was the same age as all the characters at the time I really put myself in their shoes and it was intense. (Lord of the Flies is literally nothing in comparison)
But I can see why people would prefer Hunger Games and I really do still like the series. It also made it’s points very clearly and did what it was trying to do well.
-I think if you want to experience intense moments of people lives read Battle Royal, if you are more interested in knowing about an entire world read Hunger Games.

To end this little talk, I want to point out that accusations of ripping off will always arise whenever something popular is released. Many many movies and books share similar plots and ideas, because everything has been done before at one time or another. What makes things not a rip off is when they take an idea and spin it in their own unique way.

Either way these books stick with you after you read them. To quote the last line in Battle Royal, “they’re part of you now” and I encourage people to look for Battle Royal in English or Hunger Games if you haven’t already read them!

Feel free to share how you feel about them or ask questions in the comments!!!


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