Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Caution: This post contains spoilers for BATTLE ROYALE, THE HUNGER GAMES, and CATCHING FIRE.

So, I’ve seen a good deal of debate as to whether or not Suzanne Collins copied Koushun Takami’s cult classic BATTLE ROYALE when she wrote her immensely popular HUNGER GAMES trilogy. Earlier, I was hesitant to weigh in with my opinion, since I hadn’t read the book. So I quickly remedied the situation.

Before I hop into this discussion, though, I’d like to point out that Collins claims she had never heard of BATTLE ROYALE until she turned in the final draft of THE HUNGER GAMES. And who am I to call her a liar? That said, I do intend to compare and contrast the two books, but only for fun, not to make any judgments.

There are, however, some strong similarities, so I’ll start by taking a look at those.


A girl and a boy pair up—one has a crush on the other, and the other isn’t sure what to think of the one with the crush. The one with the crush has an injured leg and gets very sick, possibly with blood poisoning.


When separated from a potential ally, the characters plan to contact each other using smoky fires and bird calls. (However, in THE HUNGER GAMES, the smoky fires are supposed to be a distraction, rather than a means of communication.)


One psychopathic, slightly crazy guy goes around mowing people down while a ferocious, evil girl takes the award for Second Most Terrifying Character.


In BATTLE ROYALE, the results of the fight are shown on TV as an intimidation tactic. In THE HUNGER GAMES, the entire event is televised (again, to scare people), and the final cut is aired after the Games.


***SPOILER: The main characters have to face-off against the psychopathic dude in order to win. In the end, we have two victors instead of one.***


In BATTLE ROYALE, one student is a victor from a previous game, while in CATCHING FIRE, all the tributes are victors.


Some students plan to blow up the school where those in the charge of the games are located (similar to the tribute’s plan to blow up the arena).


As you can see, we have some distinctive similarities.

So, on the one hand, I want to respect BATTLE ROYALE because it came first. However, I also don’t see any reason to change my opinion of THE HUNGER GAMES as a piece of literature just because it may or may not be a rip off.

In my review, I mentioned I liked several aspects of BATTLE ROYALE, but I’ll include them here just so we’re on the same page. In BR, we get to see into everyone’s minds, so we get to experience the games through various viewpoints, various emotions, and various personalities. We get to understand most everyone’s hopes and fears, what they plan to do if they survive, how they intend to justify killing others, etc…

With THE HUNGER GAMES, we are limited to a single, first-person point of view. We don’t get to watch Cato as he goes around killing people—we don’t get to peek over Foxface’s shoulder as she works out her strategies, follows people around, and navigates the minefield to steal food. We don’t get to experience what Rue feels as she travels alone to light the fires Katniss has set up. We don’t get to camp out with Thresh as he hides and waits for everyone to kill each other. With all these different viewpoints, the book would have been much longer, and perhaps richer, but I don’t know if it would have been better. For that matter, I actually enjoy it when some things are left to the imagination.

On the whole, I feel that THE HUNGER GAMES does more with the idea. BATTLE ROYALE is, first and foremost, pulp fiction. It lingers more on the action and the gore, the violence and the fear. Sure, it has a deeper message—that the government is messed up—and it takes time to explore human responses to situations like this. But it doesn’t go a whole lot further than that. Most of what we see is what happens in the arena, along with tidbits about the kids’ pasts.

With the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, in essence we get to see the whole of Panem. Though we don’t actually visit each and every district, we get a pretty good understanding of what they and their people are like. We get to see the stunning contrast between those in the Capitol and those throughout the rest of the country. We encounter all the unfairness, the injustice. And we get to meet the man behind the madness—President Snow himself. But more than that, we get a vivid picture of how the Games have impacted the culture over the decades, how they have become ingrained in the general psyche, and how they have become a constant shadow hanging over everything.

In BATTLE ROYALE, the games are not as established. Junior High classes are picked at random and without warning, and the rules of the games are explained when the kids wake up in the arena. Also, this isn’t just a matter of 24 tributes—there are 42 kids in the featured class, yet about 2,000 kids are claimed by the games every year. I’m not terribly great with statistics, but with the reference to a falling birthrate in Japan, I have to wonder how many generations it will take before the government doesn’t have any more new legs to stand on.

But the main thing is that the games in BATTLE ROYALE are more like a viper—you could end up as a random victim, and you never know when the snake is going to strike. Whereas, with THE HUNGER GAMES, the Games are so embedded in the culture, they dominate everything. And I feel like that’s, if not more realistic, at least more powerful. It comes across as more calculated and less reckless.

THE HUNGER GAMES gives us more emotional depth because we get to feel the fear as the Games and the Reaping approach. We get to witness the painful goodbyes, the seemingly pointless training, the build-up and the fanfare that would make for great Reality TV. But we also get to experience the aftermath—how, for the survivors, the Games are never over. How even when you win, you still lose.

So, while both novels are good in their own right, I prefer the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, because it’s not just about the blood and guts. To me, BATTLE ROYALE focuses too much on the body count and too little on what makes the killing awful and important. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, BATTLE ROYALE contains a lot of potential, and THE HUNGER GAMES realizes that potential. But you’re welcome to disagree with me, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.


  1. Huh, I wasn't a big fan of THG, but the parallels between the books are interesting. It sounds like there are goods and bads between both of the books, and it does come down to personal preference. I can't say what my thoughts were on the potential, but still, interesting discussion to think about!

    1. Well, I guess I'll try to forgive you for not loving THG. :P The parallels are interesting, but it could even just be a case of two people thinking almost alike--I mean, lot's of books have similarities. Still, there are a lot.

      Thanks! And yeah, personal preference is a big thing.

  2. I do disagree with you as I think Battle Royale is Better.

    1. Battle Royale doesn't have that annoying love triangle (but unfortunately many people do like Shuya 'cause he's so gosh darn hot *rolls eyes*) I didn't like the whole Peeta or Gale thing.

    2. It was more realistic, language wise. The Hunger games seemed a bit too formal. But only a bit. But Hunger Games is a dystopian and things change, yadda, yadda

    3. The characters were waay more likeable. I liked Prim but I liked Noriko more. Peeta was great, but Shuya was greater xDD I could relate to Katniss (Being introverted, angry sometimes) but in Mockingjay she lost the plot. And Shinji? DANG.

    4. I found Battle Royale funnier. "Brush your teeth, man." (Sorry, sorry, sorry xD) And "Vulgar masses" Oh boy...

    5. The deaths in The Hunger Games made me feel empty inside. Sure Battle Royale had blood and guts but it was the blood and guts that made me feel more sad and the deaths more real. OH SHINJI :'((((

    6. Hunger Games would be better if there were only 2 books. (In My Opinion). There was too much waffling in Mockingjay.

    7. I dislike the hunger games ending. So much. Battle Royale had me wanting more... a sequel? but a short one. And it had me thinking.

    So.. those were my reasons. Yah

    1. Fair. And I think, if it weren't for a couple writing style issues, it would have been a tougher choice for me, especially now that I've reread Battle Royale. I admit that I'm naturally biased toward The Hunger Games since I grew up with them, whereas I only read Battle Royale for the first time last year. :P

      *rolls eyes with you* Shuya has great character, but I actually wanted Shogo and Noriko to be a thing. *hides*

      I also think that's a cultural thing, maybe? Battle Royale is more anime-style than anything, so it's free feeling.

      I did like that Battle Royale lets us see into almost all of the characters heads, and you know, come to sympathize with them before most of them die horribly. *nods* I'm with you on Shinji.

      Haha. No need to apologize. And ugh, Toshinori Oda is a piece of work. *shakes head* He's so awful, it's comical.

      Interesting comparison. I would have to say that for me, the deaths were more comparable. But yeah, Shinji. *weeps copious amounts*

      I'm really glad that you commented. Especially after rereading BR, I've become a lot more of a fan, and it's nice to have someone to fangirl with. *nods* I'll probably always love The Hunger Games equally, but I totally respect all your reasons. *nods* Thanks for sharing! :)