Battle Royale vs The Hunger Games. Brought to You by Off the Fang!

There’s been a bit of the kerfuffle on the interwebs (imagine that!) over The Hunger Games. It seems there is this awesomely gory book called Battle Royale (made into a movie the year before The Hunger Games was released in theatres).

Here’s the description of Battle Royale, per Amazon: In an alternative future Japan, junior high students are forced to fight to the death! 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. A group of high school students are taken to small isolated island and forced to fight each other until only one remains alive! If they break the rules a special collar blows their heads off. Koushun Takami’s brutal, high-octane thriller is told in breathless blow-by-blow fashion.

Sounds familiar, right? i09 has talked about it. Some idiots on Facebook create a page about it. Even the webpage labeled as “Your source for the The Hunger Games” has talked about it.

But why? Where did this mania begin?

I won’t regurgitate the information in the above articles. You can read them if you’d like, but I must warn you—they all basically say the same thing. The books/movies have different tech, different worlds, and different Aesop-fables worthy meanings behind them.

Battle Royale was released in Japan in 1999. This is ABSOLUTELY before the release of The Hunger Games in 2008. For Suzanne Collins to have ripped it off, however, she would have had to be well-versed in Japanese. Battle Royale wasn’t released in English until 2009. That’s a year AFTER THG came out.

It’s amazing what a little research will do, right? So we have two books/movies about kids forced to kill each other. There can be only one. (Cue Highlander soundtrack) It’s IMPOSSIBLE that two talented authors could possibly develop this theme without one copying the other! Impossible! Where did the second author get her inspiration?!?! (Check out the eight paragraph)

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  1. I’ve read about Battle Royale (I haven’t read the book nor watched the movie), but somehow I never thought to compare it to Hunger Games. The two just seem so different. And if I know anything about Asian movies, then there’s got to be lots of blood in the BR movie and no survivors:)

    • We have it queued on Netflix. I can’t wait to check it out!! I’m a big fan of The Hunger Games and bloody movies, so I should love it. 🙂

  2. Totally unfamiliar with BR but definitely off to check it out.

  3. Have not heard of this before. I will say that there are tons of movies, books, song that sound similiar. Some have similiar plots, characters, events. Does that mean one ripped the other off… NO. I think there are only so many ideas out there. the magic is in the retelling and creativity put behind the idea.

  4. Huh, I have not heard of Battle Royal – but then I don’t watch too many live action japanese movies. Unless they are dubbed. But huh, does make you wonder where the author got her inspiration.

  5. My son actually told me about BR right when it came out. (here) He’s into japanese movies that contain gratuitous violence and he also pointed the book out to me a few weeks ago at B&N. I just bought the audiobook at audible last week, it was on sale for 5 bucks. So I’m going to listen to it soon cuz I’m really interested to read it. I’ll let you know how it goes!! 🙂

    • Please do!

      • I finished the audiobook today. Wow. It was a little longer than the average book, but well worth the listen. It was a little difficult to keep all the names seperate in my head, I’m not used to hearing all those Japanese names so remebering which student was doing what at a specific time and place was a little daunting, but once I got a few sentences into the scene I could picture it all. The violence was very…violent. I dont want to give anything away, the whole premise of the book is the students are forced to fight each other and I believe in any society there are people who would whole-heartedly go for that, and then there are those that would refuse to do any violence. But then again do you stand by and raise no hand and allow yourself to be killed? Each human has the belief that “I want to live”, and eventually will do violence to protect themselves. The same could be said for these students who have known each for many years, some were dating, and then to be thrown into this gladiator arena was very hard for all of them.(especially since they are still children.) The end blew my mind, I didn’t see that one coming. Overall I really enjoyed the book. It was a good story that had me listening at every chance, I couldn’t wait till the next day to start the book back up. The violence was very graphic, no puches were pulled, you were told everything in a lot of detail, but you were shown how good some people are, still willing to believe the best in their fellow man when there was death all around.

        • Actually, the 2009 release of BR was a rerelease with a new translation, it was origoinally published in english in 2003. Even if it wasnt, the manga was available in english before 2008, as was a subtitled version of the movie. Looks like you didnt research your facts either.

  6. I’ve never heard of Battle Royale but now that I have I’m intrigued. The research is interesting.

  7. This theme isn’t that unusual. It or a variation have appeared in stories over the years. To claim Collins copied the story, one would really have to prove she had access to the Japanese one and that there were multiple similarities. I vaguely remember a story many years ago with the collars that would explode if the wearers didn’t follow the rules. Can the Japanese author be charged with stealing that idea?
    The quality of the story and the writing is what counts. How many times has Romeo and Juliet been “rewritten” over the years? Are those authors stealing the idea? Good story lines will often be repeated.

  8. I still haven’t read either, because dystopians don’t generally appeal to me lately. But if both authors can put new spins on the theme, I’m sure the books can coexist.

  9. Robert L. Stubbs Jr.

    I think the theory that The Hunger Games was inspired by Battle Royale is dependent on the belief that people have of because they know about it and their friends know about it everyone else knows about it as well. This of course falls apart when you consider that underlying assumption is wrong. The assumption that What you know does not translate to everyone else knowing it as well.

    All fiction shares certain concepts so if you have a world where teenagers are in a death competition with each other there are only so many ways you can make them do that. Exploding collars is just an updated way to enforce the threat which before could have been laser beams from a space station or a giant white ball that ensnares you when you get out of line or a slime monster that slithers out and eats you..

    Are we now going to say the battle royal author stole his concept from the Greek Minotaur story because that involves picking out teens to send them off to fight the monster.

    It’s a ridiculous charge to make.

  10. Loved The Hunger Games, but have not heard about Battle Royale.

  11. I haven’t heard of Battle Royale before. And I refuse to read the articles right now because well they’ll probably make me want to rant. Even more than I usually do on here. So I’ll spare everyone! 🙂

    I’m sure there are even more books out there that can be compared to the Hunger Games and Battle Royale. In fact I think Michelle Rowan had a book that got compared to Hunger Games that came out before it. I’m sure there are other books that get compared. I can think of a few right now.

    But that doesn’t mean anyone ripped anyone off. There will be similarities in books sometimes. It happens. But a big point here is that there are also so many differences.

    • The book was Countdown. She wrote it under a pen name. I don’t know why it wasn’t a hit. It was a truly kick ass novel!

  12. I heard of several of these claims when I lived in Japan. One particular case that I can remember is when they claimed that Disney’s Lion King was stolen from the manga Jungle Emperor/Kimba The White Lion(English title). For the controversies, Disney stated that the similarities are all coincidental. Also, the filmmakers have said the story of The Lion King was inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. We probably will never know but I don’t buy that Collins copied BR.

  13. Hmm…this is interesting. I can see the similarities, but like many stories, they are each individual. There are so many books that have similar plots and characters, but the author’s voice and characters are different. I am okay with reading those type of stories.
    I enjoyed the Hunger Games and might check out Battle Royale. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  14. unless she fluent in japanese and japanese manga this is totally nothing. Love how some folks like to stir the pot.

  15. I think it’s pretty ridiculous that the matter has even come up – don’t people have anything better to do? I guess not. 😀

  16. Wow, gonna throw Mortal Kombat in the mix too. The broad outline could be applied to many books and movies with a lil tweak here and there.

  17. Having seen the original in Japanese with Subtitles through streaming media it is possible but not nearly the same story.

  18. Please remember this is only MY opinion. I don’t know if the Hunger Games idea was “stolen”, i can tell you I have not seen or EVER heard of the so called FIRST movie from 1999. I LOVED reading the Hunger Games, but have yet to see the movie. Did the 1999 movie make money? What about original movies that are remade? Everyone makes money from the first movie, and also the remake. I think as a society we get too involved in suing, and not looking at the bigger more important things in life. I think they both made money off each film, end of story!

  19. Interesting article. Though I have never heard of Battle Royale. But the fact that two established authors can come up with similar ideas is not all that uncommon. But to think that Susan Collins ripped off Battle Royale, I seriously doubt that.

  20. Why are we worried about if a book is like another book? I mean really?! Look at all the movie remakes and the classics that have been re-written with modern themes. Seriously, it is not uncommon for the world to not come up with a totally original thought. The only reason this is even being discussed is because of how popular the books, etc. have become. If her books had bombed, no one would even be discussing either book now. Besides, isn’t this one of the highest forms of flattery? But I agree with Jackie, I don’t think it’s possible unless she new Japanese.