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How The Hunger Games and Battle Royale Truly Differ

Updated on November 18, 2012

The comparison between the Hunger Games and Battle Royale is one that many people have made. The reason for that is simple, the similarities are quite obvious.

Now I approach the situation from the perspective of having read the Battle Royale manga (graphic novel) and seen the Hunger Games movie.

I also know that several elements in the Hunger Games book differ from the movie and that the first book was just the start of a larger story.

Even given those conditions, what will be evaluated here are the differences within the similarities. Specifically. how the stories differ in their expression of a survival of the fittest life-or-death struggle with kids and teenagers as the participants.

Battle Royale
Battle Royale

The Selection Process

Let's start with a quick summary of the selection processes in each story.

In the Hunger Games, there are twelve districts, and two participants are chosen from each by either lottery or choice.

Everyone who could be selected has a large degree of focus on the possibility well beforehand, and they can prepare themselves for that eventuality.

Now in Battle Royale, one classroom is chosen with no warning.They are drugged, and when they awake they're on a deserted island with explosive collar strapped to their necks.

Right from the start, there is a high degree of psychological shock.

There are differences between the two obviously, but the main one lies in the ease of self-selection. It is far more difficult to do it in Battle Royale.

Hunger Games
Hunger Games

Character Depth and Emotional Bonds

One of the scenes in the Hunger Games that bothered me the most was the beginning of the games. There was such a disconnect for me even as the camera was randomly jumping around to people dying.

I had no sense of who they were, and it cheapened the whole thing.

It may end up being one of the things that was lost in the transition from book to movie, but most of the participants in the hunger games lacked depth.

There was no sense of tragedy when they died.

The selection process also had an effect since there were few if any deep emotional bonds between the participants.

Now Battle Royale had 42 participants compared to the Hunger Games' 24. Of those 42, most were given some back story, and they all had relationships with each other to varying degrees.

So you had a sense of who each character was before they died, and you also saw reactions to their deaths which amplified the feeling of tragedy.

It made the whole story feel more real since the reasons for their actions were consistent with their backgrounds.

Emotional Response to the Organizers

In each story there is a puppet master behind the scenes, someone who organized and managed the game.

There is a vast difference between my responses to each of them throughout the course of each story.

Frankly, the guy in the Hunger Games was utterly forgettable, and even if he would have died at the end of the movie it would have made no difference at all.

It just added to the level of emotional disconnect in the story.

Now in Battle Royale, the organizer shows his brutality from the very start, and it is great when they finally find a way to strike back at him.

What Awaits at the End of the Road

Here is where the largest difference lies. Winning in the Hunger Games means something almost completely different than winning in Battle Royale. Let's look at it.

If you win the hunger games, there is significant reward for your district, and the cost is the death of someone from your district, who you may or may not care about.

It was quite similar to war on a small scale.

In Battle Royale though, there is no reward, only survival. To survive though, it means that people that you have grown up with, cared about, and maybe loved have died before your eyes.

Also throughout the whole course of the event your life was constantly under threat by time in addition to everything else since if there wasn't one survivor in 72 hours, the bomb in your collar would explode and kill you.

The game set up a hard choice between survival and killing your friends. So winning by the rules was no victory at all, and that's why several tried to beat the system.


A lot of people make the connection between Hunger Games and Battle Royale, and I made it too as soon as I watched the movie. My issue wasn't that the Hunger Games had similar elements, it was that it warped the concept into a inferior product.

I hear that the book is better though. Feel free to tell me why. I would be really interested.


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    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 5 years ago from United States

      I may do it at some point. My reading list is pretty significant at the moment, and the focus right now is on non-fiction.

    • YimmyP profile image

      James Pagatpatan 5 years ago from Washington State

      If you get the opportunity to read the book, I recommend doing so. It's hard to portray the emotions and guilt that runs through Katniss as the tributes die. The book really helps you get more into the head of Katniss. While you won't get to know every tribute (could you imagine the length the story would be!) the main characters that you grow to know will have more of an effect when tradgedy falls upon them. I just finished reading Battle Royale, and I prefer The Hunger Games so much more.

    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 5 years ago from United States

      Maybe if I read the book, I would see some deeper story within the plot, but I just don't see it in the movie.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi KBEvolve

      I have not seen the Hunger Games or Battle Royale but I enjoyed reading your comparisons of both movies.

      Voted up and interesting.

      Take Care :)

    • ch3sterturley profile image

      ch3sterturley 5 years ago from Ireland

      I think the lack of emotional connection with the tributes in The Hunger Games is supposed to emphasise the dehumanising nature of warfare. As well as that, the entertainment value of violence is reflected back onto the conscience of the audience of the film/book. Are we as bad as the citizens of the Capital? Waiting to see who is going to die next? I haven't any knowledge of Battle Royale but I hear comparisons between the two stories all the time. Very interesting hub! By the sounds of things, the Hunger Games differ in that its theme is the psychology of the audience and the society of Panem, whereas Battle Royale is more concerned with the psychology of the victims. Suzanne Collins' book is written from Katniss's point of view, but the heroine's aim throughout the series is to destroy the establishment that put the games in place, not to defeat the games themselves, although she does do that in a sense when she hands Peeta the berries.

    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 5 years ago from California

      I am so surprised that someone has pointed this out. I agree with you totally! I thought that this movie could have been better if the characters had more depth. I also did not feel that emotional when the characters died. Also, I saw this movie with a group of friends, we left after 15 minutes because one of my friends was actually sick from the jerky camera movements. I went back to see the movie with someone else. Great hub!