This Friday marks the American release of a movie which is based on an internationally loved novel. It is the famed story of a number of children who have been selected to become part of a gruesome game in which they must kill each other in the name of survival. In it, three of these children band together to aid each other in bucking the system – two boys and a girl. That’s right, I’m referring to the title which has previously spawned a 16 volume manga series as well as two movies from its native country: Battle Royale.
I first heard of Battle Royale about 10 years ago, when my college had a showing of it. At the time, I was completely unfamiliar with the storyline and characters, so it all blended together for me. Some time later, I realized that there was also a manga series which was being published.
<Trivia: Battle Royale is not only the first manga I ever bought, but the first manga series I ever completely read and owned>
One of the best things about it becoming a 16 volume manga series was that the authors were able to delve into the mannerisms and backstories of each of the characters. In fact, my favorites ended up being the martial arts master Hiroki Sugimura and insane seductress Mitsuko Souma. In fact, now that I have finished both the manga and the novel, I feel like I am completely ready for the movie. However, I haven’t quite had an opportunity to see it again since.
I realize some of you may have seen all the hype for it and be asking yourselves, “what exactly IS this Battle Royale all about?” You see, Battle Royale was a Japanese novel written in 1999 about 42 classmates who are selected to battle for survival on an island. The game itself is called “Battle Royale” and it takes place in Japan’s near-future as a form of entertainment. The classes are randomly selected once a year and the participants generally don’t know they are selected until they wake up in a classroom and are receiving a lecture on the rules of the game. Each person is given a bit of food and water as well as an object to ensure their survival. This object can be anything from a tracking device or megaphone to an uzi or shotgun. The main characters of the story are Shuuya Nanahara, Noriko Nakagawa, and Shogo Kawada. Shuuya is a rebellious rock fan who tries to prevent playing the game and hopes to unite his classmates against the system. Noriko is a girl who has a crush on Shuuya and is inspired by his hope. Shogo is a mysterious recent transfer student who seems to know more about the game than he lets on. Of course, there are people who do choose to play the game, like Kazuo Kiriyama and Mitsuko Souma and Shuuya’s group must avoid them.
Much like any live action adaptation, the new movie seems to only keep only the essential Battle Royale storyline, such as the children being randomly selected for a survival game, the fact that there’s 2 boys and a girl, and that it’s being watched by millions across the country. However, I’m not too thrilled by the fact that once again, the characters (all of them this time) seem to have been completely whitewashed. Also, judging from the trailers I’ve seen, the movie almost seems to center around the Noriko character. Despite these changes, I absolutely plan to check out this movie as I am a huge fan of live action adaptations. In addition, I look forward to seeing how many more changes were made.