I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
In the ruins of what was once North America, the nation Panem randomly chooses one boy and girl, ages 12-18, from each of the 12 districts to risk their lives in the Hunger Games, a ruthless competition in which each contestant, or tribute, tries to kill the others until only one remains. The winner receives honor, gifts, and enough food and supplies to never worry for anything material again. The Games, while entertainment for the Capitol’s citizens, are a yearly reminder to the 12 districts of the 13th district’s unsuccessful rebellion 74 years ago.
Battle Royale takes place in an alternate timeline—Japan is a member region of a totalitarian state known as the Republic of Greater East Asia (大東亜共和国 Dai Tōa Kyōwakoku). Under the guise of a “study trip”, a group of students from Shiroiwa Junior High School (城岩中学校 Shiroiwa Chūgakkō) in the fictional town of Shiroiwa (Kagawa Prefecture) are gassed on a bus. They awaken in the Okishima Island School on Okishima, an isolated, evacuated island southwest of Shodoshima, also in Kagawa Prefecture (modeled after the island of Ogijima). They learn that they have been placed in an event called the Program. Officially a military research project, it is a means of terrorizing the population, of creating such paranoia as to make organized insurgency impossible.
According to the rules, every year since 1947, 42 third-year high school students are isolated, and each student is required to fight to the death until one student remains. Their movements are tracked by metal collars, later identified as Model Guadalcanal No. 22, which contain tracking and listening devices; if any student should attempt to escape the Program, or enter declared forbidden zones, a bomb will be detonated in the collar, killing the wearer. If no one dies in a 24 hour time period, there will be no winner and all collars will be detonated simultaneously.
In District 12, sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) cares for her mother and sister Primrose “Prim” (Willow Shields) since her father died in a mine accident when she was 11. Since the age of 12, Katniss has put her name in the lottery, or reaping, more than once. In return, she receives extra grain and oil for her family. In addition, Katniss has been illegally hunting for food outside the gates of District 12 with her friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth), whose father died in the same mining accident as Katniss’ and similarly cares for his family.
Prim, now age 12, has her name placed in the reaping for the first time—only once—and is chosen to compete in the Games. Katniss volunteers to replace her sister. She competes with other tributes, including trained “Career Tributes” who have prepared for the Games their entire lives, as well as Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the boy tribute from District 12, who has secretly loved Katniss since childhood. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a drunk and the only living victor from District 12, mentors both Katniss and Peeta Mellark before and during the Hunger Games.
After being briefed about the Program, the students are issued survival packs that include a map, compass, flashlight, food and water, and a random weapon or other item, which may be anything from a gun to a paper fan. During the briefing, two students (Fumiyo Fujiyoshi and Yoshitoki Kuninobu) anger the supervisor, Kinpatsu Sakamochi, who kills both. As the students are released onto the island, they each react differently to their predicament; beautiful delinquent Mitsuko Souma murders those who stand in her way using deception, Hiroki Sugimura attempts to find his best friend and his secret love, Kazuo Kiriyama attempts to “win” the game by any means necessary (the reader is informed about Kiriyama’s motives, which stem from his lack of ability to feel human emotion due to a brain injury sustained in a car crash) and Shinji Mimura makes an attempt to escape with his best friend Yutaka Seto.
Kawada teams with Shuya and Noriko, and reveals that he won a previous Battle Royale at the cost of his girlfriend; he is now planning to avenge her. The trio are forced to separate when Kiriyama attacks, and Sugimura rescues Shuya.
I mean, come on.
Everything from the alternative universe/dystopian setting, to the concept of the government forcing kids into a battle to the death, to the male/female love interest pairing of protagonists, to the hardened surviving character from a previous game who helps the protagonists, to psychotic antagonists trained to win the game at all costs.
Let’s be serious.