As anybody with a computer, the internet, or even a slight dip into the fandom world knows, The Hunger Games is a big deal. A trilogy of books written by author Suzanne Collins, the novels are current best sellers and the theatrical adaptation has, to date, grossed over 400 million dollars worldwide.
However, when first released, the story came under heavy criticism for looking like a very blatant rip-off of another novel, Battle Royale, a Japanese work written by Koushun Takami, published in April of 1999. Now, while the theme of a public fight to the death with one lone surviving victor has been present even before Battle Royale (Stephen King wrote two books alone with an arguably similar theme), The Hunger Games has been compared to Battle Royale because of the strikingly obvious similarities. Suzanne Collins maintains that she had never heard of Battle Royale and has, to date, never read the novel. I have no solid proof of whether she is telling the truth or lying, only my own personal belief so my commentary on that will not be found here.
This post is not to accuse The Hunger Games of plagiarism, but to bring attention to fans an earlier piece of work that deserves a shot. Both books contain essentially the same basic storyline (take a number of young men and women, place them in an arena and force them to fight until one single surviving victor remains), and even the characters are similar to an extent. Peeta and Katniss’ relationship can be found in Battle Royale, one character carries similar traits to Haymitch, and if you have a fondness for the Careers, you will find a few characters in BR who have the same sociopathic traits, powerful physical abilities and a brutal desire to win. Both take place in a dystopian future/alternate history, both games are televised and bet upon, a lottery system is used to determine participants, both programs take place in a similar environment, and the arena is manipulated to force the participants closer together.
However, despite all the similarities, both books have their special qualities, which not only makes them unique in their own rights, but also saves the reader from feeling as though he or she is reading literally the same story over again.
There are many reasons as to why fans of The Hunger Games should give Battle Royale a decent try. Battle Royale is very well done and extremely enjoyable. The story contains 42 students as opposed to the 24 found in The Hunger Games and every single player gets their time in the spotlight. It is much more graphic, brutal, sexual and unforgiving than The Hunger Games. Battle Royale’s characters are, arguably, more developed and even the most horrifically merciless characters are likable and interesting. From personal experience, I’ve noticed that real life friends who have given Battle Royale a shot after reading The Hunger Games have become obsessed after reading just a few chapters.
I understand that not everyone gets excited about reading, and would rather see just the movie, but while the movie is strong by itself, in comparison to the manga and even the novel, it is very empty and void. It focuses on fewer characters (and leaves out many of the most interesting ones) and unlike the manga and novel, contains very little backstory and depth. I personally read the manga first and then the novel, and it was worth doing that and seeing the film last.
Battle Royale was published as a novel in 1999, the first movie released in 2000 (Japanese with English subtitles) and adapted into a manga that originally ran from 2000 to 2005. The book can be found at any book store or on Amazon, and the entire manga series is available online right at this site.
Assassins Creed: Revelations. Animus Island and The Black Room.