Battle Royale: A Dystopian Story from Asia

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Battle Royale

What? Battle Royale? "What's Battle Royale?"Come on, don't tell me you don't know that.


Title: Battle Royale
Author: Koushun Takami
Publisher: VIZ Media
Date of published: February 26th, 2003
Number of pages: 617 pages

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 21st 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.


Battle Royale. I think I have heard about this book since two years ago. At that time, I became Game Master (GM) of The Werewolf Game (TWG) that used this theme. So, in order to understand the rule of the game, I have to know first about Battle Royale.

At first, I know Battle Royale as a movie. I ain't aware that the movie is actually an adaptation. Then, fast forward to 2020, I made a reading challenge with Zis from Zis Story. One of challenge that we received is to read Battle Royale. When I searched the epub for this book, I was very shocked because it has 1.000 pages. I don't think I could finish it a first. But then, I tried to read it again and I really enjoy to read the story. 

For me, a book like Battle Royale is a book that I can read but not in zillion way I can watch the movie adaptation.

The Story

Every year, The Republic of Greater Asia held a program that forced some young teenagers to participate in a deadly game where only one person wins and lives. Well, I believe that the concept of Hunger Games is following Battle Royale.

Those chosen teenagers is from the same class. Yeah, you can exactly predict that this program is about killing each other classmate. No one knows how the government choose the participant, but it should be believed that they do it randomly.

Shuya Nanahara is a third year class student of Shiroiwa Junior High School. He and all of his classmates are on their way to do study trip. At first, everything seems to be all right. Then, something strange happened. Shuya and all of his classmates suddenly fell asleep. Well, actually Shuya realized that there is something happened. Even, he can spot Shogo Kagawa, the transfer student that not really have friend, trying to open the bus window. But, Shuya didn't have any idea abut what's happening. At the end, the darkness swallowed Shuya and he fell asleep.

When Shuya woke up, he found out that his class, third year class B at Shiroiwa Junior High School, has been chosen to participate on the program that created by the government. This program is very brutal and makes everyone couldn't trust each other. The thinking that he should kill his classmate made Shuya feel very awful. He was really mad and couldn't believe that in only three days or so, his classmates will die one by one.

After Sakamochi, the program instructor, announced every detail of the program, the students called one by one and they will leave the school--which was the starting point for this program. Shuya tried his best to team up with Noriko Nakagawa, his best friend's crush. Yeah, best friend of Shuya, Yoshitoki Kuninobu has been died because of Sakamochi. It made Shuya want to protect Noriko at all cost.

The bloody program

edited by me

Since the main theme from this book is about killing each other, so you can expect there are a lot of bloody scene here. Killing someone using sickle, knife, grenade, or gun would be everywhere in this book. If someone couldn't stand with the bloody and gory scene, I don't think you should read this book.

In my case, I am okay with reading a thriller book. But, if I have to watch the adaptation movie from the book, I won't have a bravery to try. 

For me, the story is very interesting. I am really enjoy reading this book. I want to know the end of the story. A lot of questions are popping in my head, like are Shuya and Shinji Mimura, another best fried of Shuya, could meet? How Shogo can help Shuya and Noriko to escape from this damn program? How to defeat Kazuo Kiriyama the one who volunteer to play the game? 

In the middle of the story, I was very surprised because my supposed-to-be favorite character has died. But, I like how the ending of this story. I mean, Koushun Takama has succeed to make a compact story and unquestionable ending. One thing that made me dizzy at first is all of the name from Shuya's classmate. Like at the end I only can remember several names from them.

To be honest, in someway I could get the allegory from this story. These teenagers are trapped in the system that made by the great power. They couldn't fight back and of course, in the real life, it happened all the time. The small power have to accept what they must, said by Thucydides. I have to admit that dystopian story is very intriguing because they describe the worst possible of life and society.


This book is worth to read. No wonder if Hunger Games was claimed to be a Battle Royale rip-off. The story is very similar even though the execution of course very different. 

In my opinion, the ending of this story is enough, but if somehow there is a continuation for the life of the survivor, I would be very happy to read it. But, it should be noted that the sequel movie of Battle Royale is not based on Koushun Takami's novel. Yeah, this Battle Royale only has one volume.

Nevertheless, I still like this book. I finally understand why this book is kind of very similar to Hunger Games.

4.5 of 5 stars for Shogo's sacrifice.



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