Battle Royale by Takami Koushun


Quickie Review: 4.5/5 Stars
Always been a huge fan of the movies and to be able to read the book finally; some how it was even better than the films!! Some of the translation seemed a bit off though (hence the missing) but nevertheless it has action, romance, is was thought provoking. Loved it!

Plot: 42 students are on their way to the school trip destination. It’s a night trip so they all sleep and when they wake up, it’s turns out the government had a different trip in mind and turns out they have been selected for the next Battle Royale! Romance, action, violence and scenes of a mature content (for some) occur.

Characters: There’s over 42! So I’ll just pick my favourites and who was interesting.
Shuya and Noriko: Our main protagonists. Tbh, I’m meh about them but represent the average Joe which is good.
Shogo: I found him so interesting and great to read. He really is a character who just keeps surprising and spurting the knowledge.
Kiriyama: He is kick ass! All his scenes are so interesting and so brutal! I don’t think we ever get a POV from him yet he has such a presence the entire book!
Mitsuko: She is one crazy ass bitch also her back story and the way it’s told is amazing yet so saddening.
Shinji: the inventor!! His section was very interesting and through him we receive a lot of info about Battle Royale.

Negatives: Basically just the translation, which I’ll now get onto.

I was reading the older translation rather than new translation (which I think came out this year), so all my comments are based on that. The main problem was using words that just aren’t used really (in my opinion or maybe I’m just very uneducated). For example;
Page 319 ‘inordinate’.
Page 350 ‘longitudinal’
Page 531 ‘belligerent official’
I also felt there were some tense problems now and again e.g. Page 567 ‘by the time Shogo followed and slid in, Shuya had Noriko sit down, the Browning (a gun) in his when’ not just me right? Maybe my almost 5 years in learning Japanese has messed up my English more than I thought xD then naturally I found mistakes and misses e.g. Page 359 ‘the he spoke’.
Finally I want to point out two translations that I don’t think fit the context and/or the story:
Page 283 ‘you’ve be one quite a stud’ this totally works! If the story was set in America in the 90s in a high school setting. But this story is in Japan in the near future with middle schoolers. It just DOESN’T work and makes me feeling slimy and creepy even reading it!
Page 302 ‘I just go all excited’ seeing this sentence I can totally understand what the Japanese why it might be translated to ‘excited’ but in English it doesn’t work, so I feel ‘riled up’ or ‘tense’ would be a more befitting word.

I know I’m no translation expert but as a learner of languages and having interest in translation and when translating a book, getting it perfect is key in order to have a ‘perfect’ read, just thought it wouldn’t hurt to point things out that I notice. Also, when I read the new translation, I’ll be able to compare the two and see which is better and such! =)

Below are favourite scenes, quotes,  ect and me talking about the Author’s message, so spoilers!

Page 224 – loved the info we are given toward the end of the page and is very North Korea-esque.
Page 230 – This section is very different to the movie (literally the only note I wrote =/)
Page 244 – Bob Marley quote at the end of the page! =)
Page 264 – Probably the vest scene, involving Hiroki and Takako.
Page 271 – really loved Kazushi/Takaho’s scene.
I really enjoyed the world building; America was like the free land and Japan and all it surrounding countries had like become one big North Korea. I loved the way the reader is told through snippets of speech and or ‘we can’t do this here but we can in America’ types of thoughts.
Page 328 – 329 – this was SUCH a cool scene! And had an amazing end!!
Page 463 – ‘each one blooming with flowers of blood’ love this line!
Page 513 – ‘Kazuo stared back with eyes that were as always beautiful and cold’ brilliantly chilling line.
Page 537 – Beautiful scene ‘I love you, Kotohiki’.
Also on this page it said ‘wrecking ball’ and I giggled.
Page 545 – a pretty badass Mitsuko and Kazuo here during their showdown ❤
Page 577 – This was a little different to the movie. Shuya’s back story is a little different.
Page 593 – Escape was completely different and Noriko’s story was completely different (don’t even think she had a POV in this book!) and much prefer this to the movie version.
Loved how the book ended on ‘2 students remaining’. Also I freaking loved the info they put in the book about the author, seriously made me laugh!

What was the Author’s message?
This book seriously got me thinking about what the Author’s message were and was he aiming at something or someone etc. Finding interviews of his thoughts in English is difficult so all I can speculate is that he was either; having stab at Japanese conformity, the Japanese government, admiring America’s free-ness and/or just simply he wanted to write the book xD

3 thoughts on “Battle Royale by Takami Koushun

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