The Hunger Games vs. Battle Royale

Ever since I received the books for my birthday last year I have loved them! So I couldn’t wait for the movies to come out. I know that a lot of times movies don’t live up to the books but I really love the movies, just as much as I enjoy reading the books. There are just always things in a book which can’t be shown in a movie. And there are always choices which have to be made. It’s a shame that some scenes never show up in a movie because there’s just not enough time. The most important scene which I really missed in the movie was the scene where Katniss meets the fugitives (from District 4 if I remember correctly) in the woods outside of District 12. They show her the cookie with the Mocking Jay print and they tell her about the uprise in other districts as well as the possibility of District 13 being a safe zone. It was the first moment in the book when she was confronted with the situation at hand. The fact that people saw hope in her and in what she did.

I won’t lie about it, I really missed that scene. There were some other things as well and there were some changes but that’s to be expected. I don’t know why but for some reason it doesn’t bother me with this story, I like the books and I like the movies equally.

 Katniss EverdeenBut it has been annoying me that everyone always says that the story is based of off Battle Royale. I personally had never seen that movie, so I couldn’t compare it and I felt that it was not place to say something about if I hadn’t seen it. Well that has changed now, recently I had the chance to borrow the DVD of Battle Royale, so now I can say something about it an I will (better late than never, right?).

Battle Royale was originally a book written by Koushun Takami, he finished the book in 1996 but it was published in 1999, the movie was made in 2000, so in that regard it certainly is earlier than The Hunger Games. The books were published in 2008. The first movie came out 2012 and the second a month ago and I have finally been able to see it. Yes, I know it took me long enough but there were things preventing me from going. Good reasons! I haven’t really been feeling all that well, at the beginning of December I walked around with a trembling muscle underneath my eye for almost to weeks so I figured that it wouldn’t be a good idea to strain my eyes even more by going to the movies. Anyways that doesn’t really matter, that’s not why I’m writing this.

Let’s take a look at the description of the movies;

Battle Royale

Forty-two students, three days, one deserted Island: welcome to Battle Royale. A group of ninth-grade students from a Japanese high school have been forced by legislation to compete in a Battle Royale. The students are each given a bag with a randomly selected weapon and a few rations of food and water and sent off to kill each other in a no-holds-barred (with a few minor rules) game to the death, which means that the students have three days to kill each other until one survives–or they all die. The movie focuses on a few of the students and how they cope. Some decide to play the game like the psychotic Kiriyama or the sexual Mitsuko, while others are trying to find a way to get off the Island without violence. However, as the numbers dwell down lower and lower on an hourly basis, is there any way for Shuya and his classmates to survive?

The Hunger Games

In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives.

I’m only talking about the movies here, since I never read the Battle Royal book. There are certainly similarities, there’s no doubt about that. I would be lying if I said there weren’t similarities. It doesn’t matter if you’re forced to fight till you’re the sole survivor inside an arena or on an island. And neither does it matter if the people you fight against are your classmates or complete strangers when it’s all about survival you do what you have to do to make it out alive. So the base of the story is indeed the same, but the base of a story doesn’t really matter it’s what you do with it that counts.

One thing though, Battle Royale is from 2000 but it looked really crappy … I don’t know why. It really looked bad and I was trying to figure out if they choose that particular style or did movies back in 2000 really look that crappy? And no, I’m not talking about the very visible way in which the kids are killed. That doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t know how to describe it, it was just different that what I’m used to or maybe I’m just to spoiled by popular movies. I felt that if I had never seen that movie I wouldn’t have really missed it.  I guess it’s not really a fair comparison, I have a deep connection with The Hunger Games which I will never have with Battle Royale because of the books. And the movies have a massive Hollywood budget which is not something you can compare to a Japanese movie budget.

But let’s be honest here … Battle Royale is not really that original either because if we look at the base story line doesn’t that make you think of something which was called a form of entertainment many, many centuries ago? Before there were television, movies and in many cases even books? Didn’t we used to have an Arena in Europe called the Colosseum? Didn’t we have gladiators who were forced to step into the Arena and fight till they were released by their own death or by becoming a victor … and this is just one example. So that’s Ancient Rome, but maybe they did similar things in Egypt or in even older times. I honestly don’t know but one thing I do know, Battle Royale nor The Hunger Games are very original stories. So maybe we should just stop the comparisons and watch the movies and read the books and enjoy them for what they are.


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