Does Racebending Count: Battle Royale & The Hunger Games

Does Racebending Count: Battle Royale & The Hunger Games

I was reading a post recently – maybe a few weeks ago or so – that brought up one the movies and book series that has literally haunted my heart and soul ever since I heard of it:

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Amanda is the one that brought it up – and I found her post so here it is for you to check out – and I was like “OMG yesssss I couldn’t even finish this movie because it was so hard for me to watch.” And I remember seeing both of the books at one of my libraries growing up and I never picked it up because I was just not prepared to read about kids having to kill each other for sport.

So I was going to put a different gif in here, but it’s pretty graphic – like the movie is – and I don’t want anyone to feel super uncomfortable or even have a triggered reaction to this post so I got rid of it.

But anyway, I wanted to bring this up because I remember when the Hunger Games (books and movies) came out, and people kept saying that Battle Royale totally ripped it off? But then, Battle Royale came out first, soooooooo? Did Takami go forward in time or something to read The Hunger Games and go “hmm, let me write this in my past and make sure it comes out first, but people are still going to think I copied off it so YOLO.”

Doesn’t even make sense to me.

If you don’t believe me, no worries. I’ll put some receipts on here for proof.

So the first edition of Battle Royale was published in April 1999…. Bruh, before the whole millennium came to be, okay? The Hunger Games didn’t come out until 2008, like almost 10 years later. Almost a freaking decade later! Explain to me how Battle Royale copied The Hunger Games again?

And then… more than a decade between the movies. Okay cool I don’t think I remember that so at least I actually looked that up for myself because hello, needed the receipts bruh.

The Battle Royale movie came out a year after the first edition of the book. That’s a really quick turn around on an adaptation, am I right? Or has that happened before? I don’t even know.

I guess my point is bigger than these two books, but there has been some discussion in the past and present about how certain books written by white authors are deemed better than other books written by POC authors that have either similar plots, tropes, plot devices, etc. Not to mention it seems like #OwnVoices books don’t get as much publicity as other books, to the point that there have been so many books that I won’t see talked about in this community while others are talked about all the time.

This isn’t saying that it’s a completely bad thing that books written by white authors are talked about, because that’s not it. It’s that books with diversity, written by diverse authors, with diverse content, don’t get as much love for some reason.

And I’ll call myself out. I read The Hunger Games recently, and still never read Battle Royale, so I can’t even compare the two or appreciate the two for what they are on their own, rather than compare the two. Sometimes, I feel like books don’t really have to be put up against one another in order to be discussed, and why does one book need to be considered trashy or whatever just to make another book sound like the best thing on the world?Trash a book you don’t like, whatever, but you don’t have to drag a book down to bring another book up.

I think I said that the same way multiple times in the same paragraph but whatever, I guess.

And since almost all of Book Twitter and stuff were specifically talking about a very popular YA book that I personally haven’t read yet, I didn’t feel right putting my opinion on that comparison. However, I have seen the comparison of these two books and movies in person and I’ve had people legit fight me thinking I was lying because Hollywood apparently comes up with unique shit first.

So… yeah.

Haha I thought this was going to sound really educational and thoughtful or insightful and apparently I missed the mark. But you know what I mean.

You’re also probably wondering why I put this post in this category. Well, when you compare the two, one of the main differences is the ethnicities of the characters. Battle Royale takes place in Japan, and most – if not all – of the characters are Japanese. In the Hunger Games, it takes place in America, and most of the characters are white, with very few characters of colors sprinkled in there just because. So it wouldn’t be too surprising to hear someone say that one is a racebent version of the other with some changes.

So for those of you that have read and/or watched both series, what do you think? Do you feel like they are similar enough to compare directly? Do you ever hear people say that Battle Royale ripped off The Hunger Games? Would you read either of these series or not? Let’s talk about it.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

6 thoughts on “Does Racebending Count: Battle Royale & The Hunger Games

  1. I loveeee that you did this post so love it. lol I didn’t want to get into that whole discussion because people get INTENSE but yeah. i’ve never read the hunger games and I have no plans to. to me the plot between battle royale and the hunger games is eerily similar. too fucking similar. it’s pretty much the same thing. the similarities is what have kept me from reading the hunger games…shrug. I’m sure it’s good but no thanks.

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  2. I have never read either but I find this topic interesting. In a way it reminds me of the issues with Blood Heir expect it was another POC author who called her out. That was just a mess..Anyways, lol. Hunger Games never interested me and I tried watching the first movie and was literally too bored. I think if I were to pick one up then I would pick up Battle Royale just because its one most haven’t read and I like to go against the grain. I am glad that more POC authors are out there and have been getting published. Personally, I don’t care what color the author is I just read the book because if it sounds good then it sounds good. I do agree that it seems that authors with similar plots the POC author is usually not as popular. I don’t think people intentionally do it but maybe its more of a subconscious thing? I don’t know. i feel like I am just rambling at this point. xD

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  3. I haven’t read either books and I’ve only seen the first Hunger Games movie from beginning to end..and I hated twilight (dont even know what that has to do with crap but there it is)

    I just wanted to support you. So here I am supporting you planting your flavor on Everest.

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  4. Fascinating post Leelynn! I’ve read the hunger games and only heard about battle royale in recent years and how it seems hunger games is a knock off of that. I never thought about it in a race bending context though, really quite a troubling thought if that is indeed the case.

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  5. Thank you for this post, Leelyn! To say that Battle Royale is a rip-off of the Hunger Games is logically not sound, as evidenced by your receipts LOL, so I don’t really get why people are still saying it. I don’t even get why people need to compare in the first place. Okay, they somewhat have the same theme and stuff but must people always turn it into a competition? Isn’t it sufficient to just enjoy both of these works as they are?
    I got that a lot for Gilded Wolves – when book twitter exploded saying it is a rip-off of Six of Crows. I loved both books with passion – and sure, they have similarities, but it’s unfair to say that it is a weaker version of Six of Crows even if there are places that GW went to and emphasized that were not even included in SoC.

    The real problem, as you mentioned as well, is that people always assume that white authors always do it better when in fact literature written by PoC authors are just as rich.

    I have so many feelings about this topic so thank you for writing this post! 🙂

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  6. As someone who has read both books and seen both movies, I can definitely see similarities between the two. I was certainly aware of the Hunger Games first, since it was a mass-marketed book with huge success. It was only later that I found out about Battle Royale – and I actually heard the opposite, that The Hunger Games was a rip off of Battle Royale, but that could be because I was speaking to Battle Royale fans, so…

    Either way, I definitely agree that it sucks when there are #ownvoices books that don’t get as much marketing or hype than books that are very similar in style and concept. Like, what was so great about Hunger Games compared to Battle Royale that it got as big as it did? It’s probably becaush Hunger Games was written by a Western author and the Western publishing industry has huge control over what does and doesn’t become popular.

    I won’t go out and say that Suzanne Collins completely copied Takami’s book. There are some pretty significant differences between the books. But I think it’s pretty clear that she was influenced. I mean, kids killing kids is definitely a memorable concept, especially in the way that both books set up this killing, in an arena format by a dystopian government. I love both for different reasons, but it does make me sad that Battle Royal and Takami don’t get as much love.

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