Prior to viewing Battle Royale, I had no expectations for the film and no idea what the story line would be like. The only thing that I knew about the film was that it had been adapted from a novel (the 1999 novel by Koushun Takami to be more exact). However, I had never read this book and therefore went in with an open mind. Only a few minutes in to the film, it became clear that there were many similarities between Battle Royale and the books of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Being a huge fan of The Hunger Games books, which I had thought were so unique and imaginative, I was immediately disappointed. After seeing Battle Royale I was left wondering if a truly original literary work could even exist today.
While Suzanne Collins denies that any of her inspiration for her novels stemmed from Battle Royale, this claim is somewhat difficult to believe. For starters, there’s the strikingly similar idea of adolescents being placed on a set piece of land with a tracking device attached to them and any weapons that they can get their hands on being forced to fight to the death until only one survives. The premises of the books/movies could be explained in the exact same way. Additionally, in both cases these children are being forced into the “games” by their governments as a means of eliciting fear in order to prevent uprisings by the populations of their countries. The similarities don’t stop even stop there, as a few details from Battle Royale could also be compared with those from the second book of Collins’ trilogy, Catching Fire (I won’t spoil these similarities for those who haven’t read the book).
Did Suzanne Collins simply appropriate Takami’s concept into her own novel? Was it a subconscious accident? Or did she flat out steal Takami’s idea? Or is she telling the truth when she claims that the Hunger Games came completely from her own imagination? Readers and viewers can form their own opinions, since the truth will likely never be revealed.