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Thank you for this interesting, thourough analysis. I have read neither of the books. I hadn't even heard of The Hunger Games until a few days ago. It immediately made me think of Battle Royale - I did see the movie a couple of years ago. I like how you rise above the whole "plagiarism or not"-discussion. Recycling stories is as old as humankind and to be frank, I don't see anything wrong with it. Imagine Greece starting to fund its finances with fees for all the people who used Greek theater as an inspiration. I think the important thing when it comes to inspiration is giving credit where it's due - if Collins did use Battle Royale to write her own story, good for her, as long as she admits to it. But anyway, that's not the discussion you are offering us here. I agree that there is nothing wrong with enjoying fictional violence, but it is so very vital to think about how the violence is portrayed and why it appeals to us; how we deal with what we see. Battle Royale is hard, but that in itsel doesn't render it an immoral story. The way we internalise and interpret it is the important thing.I'll probably watch The Hunger Games somewhere over the next few days. I'll make sure to keep your contemplations in mind. You're asking the right questions. Thank you for that.
That was a very good read. I totally agree with you about THINKING about movies.
if i remember correctly from what i have read of the battle royale manga and of the film it wasn't just 15 years olds being taken into the program, but i haven't yet read the book yet so i can't comment on that fact in the book. I also enjoyed both works and I also felt I was reading what I call Battle Royale light when I read Hunger Games. However i didn't let that take away from my enjoyment of the book or the sequels... which I will say at least on an emotional level get much more difficult to read. (no worries I won't spoil anything.) Sadly this dumbing things down for an American audience has been happening for as long as I can remember, especially with works from Japan. American companies like to take works from Japan that are made for older person's and change them for a younger audience, examples are 4kids (may the company burn in hell)handling everything from Pokemon to one Piece and lets never forget editing the lesbians out of Sailor Moon by making them cousins. For years hollywood has been trying to make an American version if Battle royale and each time a shooting would stop the works... honestly I'm thankful hollywood failed to get its paws on Battle Royale. Since Hunger Games is a lighter version of a similar story it will not suffer the butchering that Battle Royale would have as an American movie.
I totally agree with what you say except for a couple of your comments about The Hunger Games. For example, when you say Katniss never contemplates what it means to take another life - she does this after she kills the tribute from district 2 who spears Rue and at several other points you may have overlooked (she goes more into this in the other two books, especially in Mockingjay.) Also when you say she doesn't consider ‘rising above’ the challenge she’s been given by refusing to participate because I am pretty sure that is exactly what she was doing when she refused to kill Peeta at the end of the book and whipped out the poisonous berries. I think you did overlook some of the morals of The Hunger Games because from what I read it was definitely not as simple as 'back as white.'Also I know that I did indeed ponder many of the questions you mentioned from Battle Royale as I read (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) The Huger Games, such as 'Would you kill to survive? Would you refuse to take another life? Could you be friends with a person you may have to murder?' I think Collins was successful in provoking these questions, possibly just in a different way.But I definitely do agree with you that the book seems to greatly parallel Americans (but not only Americans either) and their questionable stance on the context of violence. So in this way it IS a 'dumb' American version. Okay Collins probably did get some of the keys ideas and plot from Battle Royale, but I don't love it any less. It is the perfect alternative to those of us who didn't like the extreme brutality of Battle Royale.Great job in the analysis of both books - truly insightful and thought provoking.P.S. - I LOVE The Hunger Games and went to see it on opening day - It definitely needed to be gorier and then bumped up to a R rating and it needed a lot more character development……I was disappointed even though everyone I went with seemed to love it completely. I love you.
Really interesting analysis. :) Some stuff I agree with, some stuff, I don't, but that's what it's all about isn't it?When I first did heard about Hunger Games, I immediately thought Battle Royale despite never reading the book or the movie. I did end up reading Hunger Games and really loved it, which makes me think I'll probably enjoy BR a lot as well. For me HG was in fact, thought provoking series, asking us to think about survival and violence entertainment and what you would do in the end if you had to face people that you did or didn't know when you knew your life depended on it. They bring it up amongst the characters as well. Katniss certainly contemplated about it and Peeta did as well, well really, I think anyone that was in the arena did. Then there was the case of how each character coped with it and how some people did better or worse than others. And in the last book Mockingjay, I found myself thinking a lot as well; learning about District 13, I was expecting these brave and moral conscious heroes in a land where everyone would like to live, but then you learn that really, they're just as bad as the Capitol which makes you start to wonder, well, what's the point of siding with them if they're no better, really?I honestly need to sit down and read Battle Royale myself to finally decide whether or not Collins pretty much just took Battle Royale and Americanized it, or it was just a eerily similar premise, but I'm sure that I'll enjoy both books for what they are. Interestingly enough, my mother never heard of Battle Royale, but when she first heard of the Hunger Games, her initial thought were the coliseums during the Roman era. I think someone else also compared it to Enders Game. P.S I also really enjoyed the movie as well; a surprisingly well done adaptation. I also sort of wanted the fights to be more explicit, but I also have to remember that the book was originally aimed for a younger audience (I think Grade 5-7 I believe). I'm not sure what the original target audience was for BR, but I have a feeling it was older.
they really should give credit where it's due.
I think you really have overlooked a lot of the deeper questions when Collins asked them (allying with Rue, the berries at the end, etc), as others have pointed out. I also think you really need to read the sequels. They do touch a lot more on ethics, war, death, and many of the things you argue that the original lacked. I think the sequels did disappoint a lot of the younger audiences, but where actually more substantive in a lot of other ways that you'll appreciate.
OK... I see your point about HG being an "American Version" of BR. But I don't agree that it is "dumbed-down" or really even a "version" of BR as I have stated previously on your first article. I would ABSOLUTELY agree that we as an American culture do not think about the implications both books present us enough. Perhaps Collins, by making the books and movie less graphic, have presented these moral questions to a greater number of people in a more implicit way than BR ever could--and that is GENIUS! BR is very graphic, and it slapps the reader in the face with each and every killing. That said, I do not believe that HG skirts the issue at all. As a few commenters have said, Katniss does struggle with these issues, and finds her answers.Thanks for this very well written analysis of the books!
There's just no comparison between BR and HG... BR was infinitely more nuanced, complex, provocative, and just a much more intelligent piece of work than HG. Unfortunately, Americans simple would not "get" many of the themes presented in BR.
I didn't try to weed through my post so there are a few minor spoiler for the sequels-"Collins doesn’t examine the toll confronting one’s mortality takes on the soul. The characters don’t change from the experience, except by learning how to survive."-In one of the sequels, Katniss has an inner monologue that shows that her true battlescars are on the inside. I would find the direct quote, but I'm not sure if you read these responses anymore, so I'll just paraphrase it for you. "He doesn't know the effect that killing another human being can have on you. How they stay with you." She also has awful nightmares about the games (along with the other horrible things that have happened in her life) in the second and third books, and struggles heavily with PTSD in the third book. She does change, but only over time, not instantly after the events in the first book.-"Katniss is the good person ‘forced’ into killing because of their presence. There are no shades of grey; Katniss never contemplates what it means to take another life, nor does she consider ‘rising above’ the challenge she’s been given by refusing to participate. "*Katniss isn't "good", she just finds it morally distressing to take another person's life. This doesn't mean that she won't kill someone if her survival depends on it. She kills for revenge which isn't "good"; she is smug when Clove dies, even though in her last moments Clove is reduced to a child pleading for her life (more so in the movie). Peeta is really the only character that is truly good, and even he kills just to keep Katniss safe, which really isn't a good reason to murder the helpless tribute from the first book.Several other characters meld into that grey area that you're longing for in the later books.-"“The Hunger Games,” on the other hand, is what I always expected a mainstream American remake of “Battle Royale” to look like. It contains all the visceral, page-turning thrills of Takami’s novel without any of its depth or complexity.""Suzanne Collins doesn’t ask us to step outside our comfort zones. She doesn’t ask us to ponder questions we’re not used to pondering."*I disagree, maybe it's because as adults we really don't need someone to push us to realize that the games are wrong. I feel that Collins was somewhat subtle about our moral responsibility, and that anything more than what was in the first book and movie would be shoving her ideals down our throats.I know that understanding the wrongness of the games isn't difficult, and that teens should be included in that category of people who should instantly realize that the games are wrong. Unfortunately, if you've read the reviews, seen the message boards, or stood outside of the theater after THG- many people of all age ranges came away missing the message of THG completely. I'm not sure where to place the blame for that.I'd like to note that I saw a rebellion/revolution coming in THG (I watched the movie first) before I knew about or read any of the other books, because of the way the movie was set up, and I don't think I was alone in this prediction. The Hunger Games were subtle enough to keep you from being annoyed (I watched God Bless America and wanted to slap everyone who worked on it, even though I agreed with many of their views) but not so subtle that people couldn't take away the message that Collins meant to convey with one read of her first book or viewing of the first movie.
I do read these comments. And while I appreciate your input, I would ask you to remember that this article's focus is on the first book and movie, not the sequels. Disproving my points with quotes from books I'm not referencing or talking about isn't disproving my points at all. I am looking at the first work/story by both authors. I understand HG is an ongoing story. I understand the sequels develop these things. But that's not pertinent to the discussion at hand. If Collins addressed a flaw from the first book in the second or third book, then the first book is still flawed. You can't erase problems with one book by quoting another.
I was thirteen when Columbine happened. I still remember it like it was yesterday.