Koushun Takami s notorious high octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and barely alive in a dog eat dog world Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available for the first time in the English language


10 thoughts on “Battle Royale

  1. Tatiana Tatiana says:

    I came across this book after reading Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which was claimed to be a Battle Royale rip off Needless to say, I was curious I have to admit, similarities between these two books are undeniable They both are based on the same idea of teenagers forced to participate in a deadly game where only one person wins and lives However at the same time these books are completely different I believe you can enjoy and appreciate them both equally If Hunger Games isof I came across this book after reading Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which was claimed to be a Battle Royale rip off Needless to say, I was curious I have to admit, similarities between these two books are undeniable They both are based on the same idea of teenagers forced to participate in a deadly game where only one person wins and lives However at the same time these books are completely different I believe you can enjoy and appreciate them both equally If Hunger Games isof a personal story of survival from the POV of just one player, Battle Royale is a complex story which follows all participants of the game It is muchbrutal, violent, and bloody than Hunger Games The book explores what makes regular kids turn on each other, what in their pasts allows them to commit the ultimate crime or what stops them from participating in the killing game altogether I have to warn however about a couple of things First, the book has a lot of Japanese names that sound and look very similar So in the beginning it can be hard to follow all characters, but you get used to them eventually Another concern of mine is the quality of translation It could have definitely been better At times I felt something was lost in translation But I immensely enjoyed this book in spite of the flaws I would highly recommend this book to anybody who is not against gory and bloody reads


  2. Marley Marley says:

    So unputdownable it s ridiculous Took a 4 hour plane ride i intended to sleep on and instead read all 624 pages of this and while I m a fast reader, even I m not THAT fast usually.Basically, as everyone else is saying, it s a book about one class of Japanese junior high kids put on an island with a small bag of supplies, a random weapon grenade crossbow Uzi fork , an exploding tracking collar, and orders to kill, kill, kill Nice fascist dystopia world you see around the edges of this pla So unputdownable it s ridiculous Took a 4 hour plane ride i intended to sleep on and instead read all 624 pages of this and while I m a fast reader, even I m not THAT fast usually.Basically, as everyone else is saying, it s a book about one class of Japanese junior high kids put on an island with a small bag of supplies, a random weapon grenade crossbow Uzi fork , an exploding tracking collar, and orders to kill, kill, kill Nice fascist dystopia world you see around the edges of this place, but it doesn t go into so much detail you re distracted from the good stuff And the good stuff is watching all the little petty relationships of being 15 suddenly twisted horribly by the extreme fear of knowing only one person will be allowed to live It s ridiculous, and it s full of eye popping, gut wrenching violence You keep getting thrown into the head of someone and given their whole mental landscape for maybe 1 or 2 chapters, before they die in some completely awful way which means you root pretty hard for some people you know are doomed, you find yourself almost applauding the death of some stuck up jerks and then feel bad about it , and you watch helplessly as some real sociopaths mow down one kid after another.More than anything, this is like watching a horribly violent low budget exploitation movie you see at midnight somewhere there s ZERO surprise it was almost instantly adapted into a movie It s pulp squared, but like many things this aggressively pulpy, it s got a message under there as well Great entertainment for people with a tolerance for high amounts of violence, but also a really well done study of the psychology of extreme fear, and some insights about totalitarianism as well


  3. Emily May Emily May says:

    I first read this story in Manga form a few years ago one of only two manga series I ve enjoyed and I quickly became addicted to these characters and their individual stories Whilst reading Battle Royale, you go on an intense journey into the minds of nearly all 42 students and discover what it is about them that enables normal high school kids to kill their classmates or decide not to.I d recommend reading the manga before or instead of the novel for a few reasons For one, it makes it a l I first read this story in Manga form a few years ago one of only two manga series I ve enjoyed and I quickly became addicted to these characters and their individual stories Whilst reading Battle Royale, you go on an intense journey into the minds of nearly all 42 students and discover what it is about them that enables normal high school kids to kill their classmates or decide not to.I d recommend reading the manga before or instead of the novel for a few reasons For one, it makes it a lot easier to keep up with all the similar sounding names when you have a face to put to it For another thing, you don t have to struggle through a translation that isn t too smooth I felt there were times during the novel where the sentences were disjointed and or abrupt, it wasn t a huge problem for me but I know it will annoy some other readers .Though I appreciate that the violence in Battle Royale might make some readers queasy, I never found it to be gratuitous like a lot of other people did It s not unrealistic that when people are put into a situation of great fear and distrust they will go to any lengths to survive It s biological If you re in a kill or be killed situation, then nine times out of ten you will choose your own life And if you re in a situation where someone with a gun may or may not be trying to kill you, are you going to ask questions first and risk getting your head blown off Maybe But you re either braver or sillier than most, then.I am going to compare this to The Hunger Games, though not because I want to make a statement about how Collins plagiarised she probably didn t and, even if she did, no one s going to prove it either way Their similarities just make them good books to use for a comparison fight to the death, teenagers, isolated arena, etc The Hunger Games, as I m sure you all know, focuses on Katniss and her life, the other characters both good and bad are seen solely through her eyes In Battle Royale, the perspective changes frequently I liked it but it may infuriate some and looks at many different types of people.Though both stories are considered dystopias, I think The Hunger Games world isdeveloped and easier to picture as a reality I have a very clear idea in my mind of the Capitol and the districts, I don t have such a vivid image of this oppressive Japanese state though I don t really think that s the point For me, Battle Royale is a muchpsychological story, it looks into the dark depths of the human mind and doesn t censor anything it finds I think it sfrightening because of the collars that can be made to explode at any time, because of the time limit set on the players, and because all the participants are classmates I also felt there was a greater sense of urgency.On the other hand, I think The Hunger Games is aemotional read BR is an interesting exploration of the human mind, I liked finding out why the students were able to do what they did, but the only death that really filled me with regret was view spoiler Shinji Mimura hide spoiler and that was only a touch As much as I like BR, it does seem a little like a case study at times The Hunger Games strength is that it is the opposite of this you really care about Katniss and what she does for her sister, the choices she makes affect the reader emotionally instead of just being something to scrutinize.Maybe they were built on the same ideas, but both novels do something very different and I appreciate them equally My biggest criticism of Battle Royale is Shuya the good guy He is the weak link in a great novel Why Because he s so goddamn perfect Good looking Popular Talented in sports and music Kind Self sacrificing I just don t like heroes, give me someone who reeks of humanity any day over the one who seems unnaturally above it all.Final note About what I said at the start if you thought the novel had too much graphic violence, ignore my recommendation for the manga If you don t like reading about it, I m certain you won t want to look at it


  4. Mizuki Mizuki says:

    Before reading this book, I believe Ms Collins, author of The Hunger Games, had ripped off Battle Royale, and after reading BR the novel, I continue to believe THG is a rip off For example 1 different bags of weapons and food given by the government 2 the battle filed gets smaller everyday 3 view spoiler two winners in the end instead of just one hide spoiler 4 The backstory of a former winner who had lost a girl he loved in a previous game 5 said former winner doing what he could Before reading this book, I believe Ms Collins, author of The Hunger Games, had ripped off Battle Royale, and after reading BR the novel, I continue to believe THG is a rip off For example 1 different bags of weapons and food given by the government 2 the battle filed gets smaller everyday 3 view spoiler two winners in the end instead of just one hide spoiler 4 The backstory of a former winner who had lost a girl he loved in a previous game 5 said former winner doing what he could to help the main couple 6 former winners joining the game BR movie, Catching Fire 7 a host saying cheerful things on air throughout the game 8 the names of the dead teens being announced by the end of every daySomeone else had already done the comparison in adetailed way than I did the Author s Note part of the Chinese version of Battle Royale, the author expressed his regret of making America look like some sort of Promise Land when he first penned this novel, it s made clear that his view on this country had later been changed.I recalled Haruki Murakami also expressed similar regret in one of his articles It seems like back when Murakami s generation was young, America was the Promise Land, a place wherethe beach is clean, the sky is bluer, girls are pretty, the sun seems to always shine and youth can last foreverline taken from Murakami s novel But later they realized it s not the case Still, I am surprised to see Mr Koushun Takami managed to fill so much youthful spirit and rebellion into his story, I am also delighted to find his novel managing to make meaningful comments on friendship, dreams, trust, the strength weakness of love, freedom and the power of individuals beyond the gruesome plotlines of teenagers killing other teenagers.In my opinion, this article points out the real difference between BR and THG if it s rebellion you want, you re better off seeing reading Battle Royale I understand why some people may find the violence in BR offensive and unbearable, because Mr Takami refused to be half heartened when it comes to the violent scenes in his book But it s okay with me because 1 not once does I feel Mr Takami is being showy or careless about the violence in his book, 2 those violent scenes serve to make us see the brutal reality of the students situation, 3 I would rather see authors be honest about violence than having them treated violence and death with a pair of fine kid gloves, like Suzanne Collins had done with The Hunger Games.I had watched the BR movies years ago, but reading the novel version of it still manages to provide new insight to different subjects human nature, freedom and survival etc.As you might also notice, the Japanese society is not big on rebellion and individualism, instead said society likes to highlight conformity and orders whilst giving punishment to those who disobey orders and or refuse to conform Under such context, it s surprising for Mr Koushun to come up with a book such as Battle Royale in the late 1990s.I have no idea what had inspired Mr Koushun to write BR, I have not read any author interview and I know next to nothing about the author, aside from the fact that BR is Mr Koushun s first novel and before he published this book he was around age 30 at that point , Mr Koushun had once been working for the press Therefore I can only guess that his experience and the exposure he had with different social issues had somehow motivated him to create a book such as BR.Still, Mr Koushun s fondness of Rock n Roll is obviously showed through his writing I m delighted to see those references of rock music in the book, the author mentioned not only the classic Western rock music, he even brought up an iconic Chinese rock classicNothing to My Name , which is not well known outside of the Chinese speaking circles.Looks like Rock n Roll still carries the dream of rebellion and freedom after so many decades has passed.However, the book does have its flaws, most of the characters are vividly written but their characterizations are not really so outstanding Plus the male MC s character can be a bit unrealistic at times, I mean, how come there re so many girls who happen to have a crush on him When I was reading Battle Royale, Hong Kong young people had also been and still are engaging in a battle of their future and the city s own future too LINKS s not only students and young people, alongside them there are many many brave men and women from all walks of life, and elderly who are still young and hopeful at hearts.The yearning for freedom stubbornly refuses to die, the desire to take charge of our own fates stubbornly refuses to die, imagination and free will also stubbornly refuse to die, that s why we must fight for them.Just some 20 days ago, I was there when tear gas bombs were fired against peaceful protesters, and the fight still goes on.Because of what has been going on around me in the real world, I understand BR even better, I understand this need and necessary to fight back, I understand why hope is so important for our survival, I understand how sometime the suppressing government and society leave people no other choose but to run or fight back Photo of Hong Kong youngsters running from police after a crush down 28 11 2014, from United Social Press Facebook In a sense, we were all born to run, just like the ending of BR Finished 14 11 2014


  5. Raeleen Lemay Raeleen Lemay says:

    I FINALLY FINISHED WOW.In my opinion, this book could and should have been way shorter The only reason this book is so long is because the author felt it necessary to go into tons of detail about each character s backstory before killing them off I can see why some people might like that, but it didn t work for me.I really enjoyed the ending though, so I m glad I pushed through I also loved how brutal this book was, both in terms of the violence and the way the characters interacted with e I FINALLY FINISHED WOW.In my opinion, this book could and should have been way shorter The only reason this book is so long is because the author felt it necessary to go into tons of detail about each character s backstory before killing them off I can see why some people might like that, but it didn t work for me.I really enjoyed the ending though, so I m glad I pushed through I also loved how brutal this book was, both in terms of the violence and the way the characters interacted with each other They swore and did all sorts of crazy things, and none of that is hidden from the reader which I thought was really refreshing This one is definitely not your typical YA novel if you d even call it that So overall I enjoyed this, but obviously didn t LOVE it


  6. Dan Schwent Dan Schwent says:

    A busload of Japanese teenagers is kidnapped and dumped off on an island, where they are forced to fight to the death until one student remains, all in the name of The Program Which of the 42 students will survive I remember hearing about the film version of Battle Royale ages ago but never managed to watch it Seeing that a lot of people compare The Hunger Games to Battle Royale, I figured I should give it a shot and I m quite glad I did Battle Royale is The Hunger Games withgore and wi A busload of Japanese teenagers is kidnapped and dumped off on an island, where they are forced to fight to the death until one student remains, all in the name of The Program Which of the 42 students will survive I remember hearing about the film version of Battle Royale ages ago but never managed to watch it Seeing that a lot of people compare The Hunger Games to Battle Royale, I figured I should give it a shot and I m quite glad I did Battle Royale is The Hunger Games withgore and without the annoying love triangle.Battle Royale takes place in an alternate present, where Japan is largely a totalitarian police state Every year, a class is chosen for The Program, a free for all that makes Thunderdome look like an episode of The Care Bears Each student is given a backpack and a weapon and turned loose one at a time To make things interesting, there are forbidden zones on the island and anyone caught in one is killed instantly via the explosive collar they are all forced to wear Sound good People are killed right off the bat and the book never lets up I had a pretty good idea who would survive based on who got the most time on screen but the journey was well worth it Kazuo and Mitsuko both needed their hash settled from the opening bell.I mentioned gore earlier and this book hasthan its share of gruesome killings Hatchets to the face, many, many stabbings, gunshots galore, and lots of betrayal and deception on top of it.The writing was also pretty good Aside from a couple very minor hiccups, I would never guess it was a translation In the afterword, Takami mentions Stephen King and Robert Parker as his big influences and I think it shows in the text The explosive collars are straight out of the Running Man movie not from the novel The intro reminded me of the intro to Needful Things.Since I m only giving it a four, I guess I ll complain about a couple things Shuya didn t have much personality enough though he was supposed to be the hero Kazuo was overly powerful and seemed to have unlimited ammo It was hard to keep track of who was who at times because of similar sounding names However, all these were minor complaints and I found Battle Royale to be quite an enjoyable read Four out of five stars


  7. Simeon Simeon says:

    I read the first hundred pages of Battle Royale and fell asleep That night I dreamt that I was in The Program I remember fleeing a pretty intense gunfight and thinking nonsensically dammit, at least I m getting good exercise I hardly thought about it until the next evening, when I began to read again and only finished as the sun rose You cannot know gunfights or car chases until you ve read Battle Royale.It s fantastical, it s pulpy, and it s brilliant I wish it had been written withI read the first hundred pages of Battle Royale and fell asleep That night I dreamt that I was in The Program I remember fleeing a pretty intense gunfight and thinking nonsensically dammit, at least I m getting good exercise I hardly thought about it until the next evening, when I began to read again and only finished as the sun rose You cannot know gunfights or car chases until you ve read Battle Royale.It s fantastical, it s pulpy, and it s brilliant I wish it had been written withrealism, but you can t have everything Perhaps Koushun Takami will write another, some day


  8. Michelle Michelle says:

    There s this rumor that Suzanne Collins ripped off the idea for The Hunger Games from Battle Royale After reading the supposed original, I could say that the plot for both books are pretty similar but Koushun Takami s novel is of an entirely different league it s quite incomparable Battle Royale does have a very colorful and well handled take on the the fight to the death premise than anything I have ever read before It s a book of mass slaughterthan forty deaths and practical There s this rumor that Suzanne Collins ripped off the idea for The Hunger Games from Battle Royale After reading the supposed original, I could say that the plot for both books are pretty similar but Koushun Takami s novel is of an entirely different league it s quite incomparable Battle Royale does have a very colorful and well handled take on the the fight to the death premise than anything I have ever read before It s a book of mass slaughterthan forty deaths and practically each one is described, and a litany of brutality and betrayal that even in its many variations, can be a bit of overkill Still, for such a long book littered with so many bodies, Takami manages to keep things moving, and hold my interest There s constant tension, and a few good surprises There are too many characters to really get much of a sense of many of them, but the strongest point of the novel describes how some characters descend into madness, while others keep their wits This psychological element is like a twisted reflection of high school life which can often seem this brutal sans the bloody consequences In extreme situations, true colours are shown, and they re often surprising ones The narrative is quite riveting, and there are a lot of moments when I want to throw up and cry, and jump up and down at the same time.I have a few qualms though, including the fact that the program is so enormous with fifty classes a year That s roughly 2000 students killed, quite a huge casualty for even a large nation to take The purpose of the program is never really made clear either It s also important to note that the translation isn t as great as it should have been It doesn t hinder the plot, but a him is called a her every once in a while and some helpful adjectives are left out.In the end, I could still say that Battle Royale is a perfectly fine thriller, with a fun premise and a well drawn out story If you plan to read it, I suggest that you pick up the graphic novels too, they are visually stunning and just as riveting


  9. Becky Becky says:

    For the last, oh, 200 pages of this book or so, I kept thinking about what I d say in my review I never know how I ll start a review, but this time I kept thinking of possible opening lines But, like Lays potato chips, I couldn t stop at just one, so here are my top 3, in no particular order 1 There once was a book of ellipses which occasionally had words in between them 2 I ll never read the phrase That s right the same way again 3 I see dead p For the last, oh, 200 pages of this book or so, I kept thinking about what I d say in my review I never know how I ll start a review, but this time I kept thinking of possible opening lines But, like Lays potato chips, I couldn t stop at just one, so here are my top 3, in no particular order 1 There once was a book of ellipses which occasionally had words in between them 2 I ll never read the phrase That s right the same way again 3 I see dead people Finally Like many people I assume I heard of Battle Royale through The Hunger Games, as people like to claim that THG is derivative of Battle Royale and whatnot And so, at a library sale last year, I acquired a copy I was all excited about it, too, because it was super cheap it was bag day everything you can stuff into a grocery sized paper bag is 3 SCORE , and because I love me some everybody dies and the world s fucked up dystopia Grim and gritty and violent Awesome Only, UGH In case you couldn t guess from the eleventy million ranty sarcastic status updates, I didn t enjoy this book It was not awesome It was awful AWFUL It actually started out intriguing enough, but when I hit the first instance of the Dramatic Ellipses Pause, it caught me off guard, like stepping off a curb that s about 3 inches higher than you expected, and it made me furrow my brow and think, That was awkward When I ran into the second one just a little bit later, it was like walking into a spiderweb face first I should have seen it coming, and now there s annoying shit in my face I should have known that things were only going to go downhill from there, writing wise Not only because the Dramatic Ellipses Pause was such a flow killer, but because it heralded all sorts of irksome quirks that were soon to come Now I know that this is a translation, and not a very good one, by all accounts And I know that Japanese culture is different from my own one of the big themes in the book, actually , and that their way of speaking and thinking and behaving is different from the way I would do it I have no problem with that I would like to state for the record that I never expected this book to read as though it was written by an American But I m not going to just give all of the bad writing in this book a pass because it s poorly translated from Japanese Repetition is repetition in any language There are only so many times I can take being told the same things, over and over and over again, sometimes several times a page, before I start losing my shit We re told repeatedly how smart certain characters are, how well regarded they are by their peers, or how poorly thought of they are, or how this one is a star shortstop, or that one is a star basketball freethrower guy, or the other one is a star violinist, or another one is a star evil bitch with an angelic smile Oh, and in between this narration, and whatever action happens to be going on, we also have the character s inner dialogue going on I say dialogue, not monologue, because almost every time, it s seriously like reading a two sided conversation they re having with themselves, where they repeat many of the same things AGAIN, because, you know, they ve got to convince themselves of stuff or something Stupid, annoying characters are stupid, annoying characters in any language I get it They are kids, and they are thrown into this horrifying situation, of course it s natural to be shocked How the characters react is one of the reasons that people read books like this But at some point, the characters have to get over that shit There s a line from The Shawshank Redemption that says it best It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living or get busy dying So much of this book was spent on shock and disbelief that I was ready to start smashing skulls myself Again and again and again, we re told how this character or that character or somesuch other character just couldn t believe that their class was chosen, that their class was here, that they were really playing, that they were up for it and killing each other Again and again Every perspective change we have to go through the same 7 stage process Every conversation covers the same ground Does it make me a terrible person that I just wanted them to start killing each other already Just to stop the horrible repetition And they re supposed to be smart, but they have NO common sense or sense of self preservation It s important that I discuss and explain my intricate plan that you aren t really going to understand anyway, rather than think about the fact that someone could overhear it and that that would be bad Good going, genius These kids grew up in this society where even misinterpreted comments about the government could get you thrown into a re education camp, or worse, killed, and they think that a government sponsored, run, and meticulously tracked program is just going to stop listening to the 40 some people who now have the most reason to turn against them And not only should these kids just straight up assume their every movement and sound is being recorded, but you d THINK they d be wary of their own classmates overhearing them Apparently not.Then there s the ridiculous romance aspects of the story Because 15 year olds are such noble romantic creatures that form lasting, twu wuv bonds And, yet again, how many times do we need to see the Do you have a crush on someone conversation played out It was awkward the first time, and the second time, and the every fucking time It felt like a grown man was trying to write teenagers talking about their crushes That s right It was that Seriously, I think that the author really has no idea what a crush is, and thinks that it s either True Love, Soulmate style, or the most dedicated and creepy stalker behavior ever I m not sure which, but both were depicted in this book, so maybe that s my answer It s sure as hell not depicted in any way that s realistic Hey, you re cute and cool and I like sitting 3 rows behind you in math I ll write your initials and my initials together in a heart shape inside a notebook that I ll never show to another soul ever, and I ll fantasize about what it would be like to go out with you But I m not going to die for you, or with you, and if it looks like there s a chance you ll be attracting danger, I m abandoning you because I don t really fucking know you, and this ain t Romeo and Juliet You re just kinda cute There are lots of kinda cute people out there Sorry Then there are the semi apologies in advance I didn t tell you, but, here s an explanation of something that I had no reason to ever think to tell you previously because it s seriously irrelevant to anything but this exact situation right now, and you didn t need to know it anyway But sorry I didn t tell you Or It might be disrespectful to say this, but, I am going to finish this sentence by saying something completely banal This one is probably a culture thing, to be fair Or I don t know what to say, but, right now the words coming out of my mouth are going to be something appropriate to say in this situation, which is the very thing I said I didn t know how to say when I started this sentence That s right I just remembered the thing that I had forgotten until right now, which is that this kind of sentence occurred way too fucking often in this book That s right I ve come to a conclusion That s right I just remembered to say the thing I just thought of to say That s right, I just thought of a question Can I ask you a question That s right, the question would be right here That s right, now I m going to saythings that I just remembered or decided to say That s right blah blah blah blah I think it s probably a good thing that I don t have this book in e book format, because I d be so tempted to search key words and phrases just to see how many times they re actually used I m that annoyed with this book I want stats and numbers to quantify my suffering I have no idea why this book is so highly regarded, except that it s reached cult classic status, and therefore it MUST be amazing Oh, dang it I just broke my sarcasm key sigh Edited First to correct a typo, and second to add some commentary about the point of this book, which is from one of my posts in the discussion below I did actually get the point of this At the end, it s put out there that having this kind of Program is useful for controlling the populace They the people don t know the rules and the details, they just know of the Program and see it through the lens that the government wants them to They see it as a competition, that people are ruthless and willing to kill, or at least use others to protect themselves, and that it s everyone for themselves This, combined with the fear tactics that the government uses hauling people away to re education camps or just outright killing them makes the probability of someone gathering people together to fight against the government unlikely because nobody can really trust that the others aren t going to betray them It s actually effective, and had this been less painful to read, I d probably have loved it But the writing got in the way of the message, I think


  10. F F says:

    This islike a 4.5 out of 5.I loved this book so much Such an original twisted story I got a little confused over all the japanese names but luckily once they started to die off I got to grips with who a lot of them were I love books that have some short chapters and some long chapters.The student count at the end of each chapter.Loved shogo Also LOVED the end Even though I seen the movie years ago i had forgot what happened.Brillant