I will go ahead and say this, yes; there are some major similarities between The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. But when you take a moment to look at individual components of each, you realize that while they are similar, the feel and details are very different.
So I’ve created a comparison of the two works to see where they stand.
Both films, Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, were initially based on novels. BR is a 1999 Japanese novel written by Koushun Takami. It has also been adapted into a film and a manga series. HG was written by Suzanne Collins as part of a trilogy that is being adapted into a four film series.
This category is a little bit of the same and a little bit different. HG takes place in a dystopian future in which North America has collapsed and everyone is ruled by the central governing body, The Capital.
BR takes place in an alternate timeline, in Japan. And it is in the pretty close future you know give or take 20 years. In this world, the dystopian world is most likely linked to economic collapse (and is pretty plausible the way the world is heading now – minus the “BR Act”).
While both are indeed set in dystopian settings, they have enough differences to safely say they are different.
The Hook, and the main proponent that the two are so similar is the fact that they involve a countries young children fighting each other to death in an arena type situation. It is true, they are VERY similar ideas, but they are ideas that are unique to the novels as a whole.
Both BR and HG the event, called “The Program” or the “BR Act” in BR and “ The Hunger Games” in HG, is punishment by the government to instill fear and oppression upon their citizens,
However, in BR, the program is used mainly to deter the young citizens from forming or joining gangs and enacting violence in the already desolate world they live in.
In HG, the games are primarily used to show the overwhelming power that the government holds over its citizens. The Capitol uses the games to show people that they are so powerful they can make their children fight to the death whether they like it or not.
But it is important to point out that in BR, the program is basically secret, no one knows when or where it is happening while the games in HG are broadcast like a terrible reality television show that you are forced to watch (another way the Capitol secures its power over its citizens). In BR it is even unclear if most of the country even knows what the BR Act is or that it is even happening.
Also the means of which to choose its victims is different between the two. In BR, a random classroom of teenagers are chosen against their will and knowledge and placed in an secluded area and are given three days to kill each other so that one can live.
In HG, the whole country watches as they send tributes off to the arena where the games can last a week or more (although if there isn’t enough action, they make sure people die). There is also a volunteer choice people can make. Either for the honor to win and live or (as in the novel) to save a loved one from going in to the nightmare of the arena.
Another big difference in the setting is that while District 12 in Panem (HG) is poor, the whole country isn’t. In fact some are relatively well off and the Capitol is the definition of a hedonistic lifestyle. While in BR, the whole country is in shambles with an unemployment rate climbing and the country crumbling.
Dynamic Between Participants
I think it is interesting to point out that the dynamic between the participants in the games or the program is vastly different. This lends itself to being one of the biggest differences between the two stories because it changes the whole feel of the novels.
In BR, they choose a whole classroom to go in, which means everyone there knows each other pretty damn well as they have probably been in school together for years.
In HG, many are just meeting for the first time, and thus, have no emotional attachment to each other besides their district mate and even then because they could be years apart in age and in status of the community, they still might know each other and have no attachment.
In BR, it is much worse because now friends and lovers must kill each other rather than strangers killing strangers to live (which would be much easier for the contestants). So when other tributes like Glimmer or Clove get killed, you don’t really mind so much because you don’t know these people, they are strangers. But in BR, you are watching friends kill friends, which add a whole layer of sadistic sadness to the situation.
Of course this is similar in that the participants have random weapons, but how they get them is what makes them different.
In HG, the tributes are set in random spots around each other and at the starting mark they have to make a choice. Run for the Cornucopia where there are a plethora of weapons and items and possibly get killed (this is where most of the tributes die) or run and find water and a hiding place till everyone else is spread out and then try to get your bearings and a weapon.
In BR, it is much different. The contestants in BR are given a survival pack before entering the area. The packs contain different supplies and a random weapon with which they will kill each other. The “weapon” could range anywhere from a gun, to a bow, to a random ass item like a frying pan. It is a surprise grab bag basically for all the contestants.
One very similar idea, however, is that both works do contain a failsafe incase people are not dying fast enough. In HG, the game makers will rain all kinds of shit down to make sure people at home aren’t bored with the entertainment. This could include an earthquake or fireballs raining down. The game masters in BR also use this same tactic to try and encourage these friends to kill each other.
I’d choose the girl who was on fire over the pot lid any day.
Yes, it is true that the love aspect of HG is one of the higher selling points of the novel, that has spawned squeals of girlish glee and teens clamor over whether to buy a “Team Peeta” or a “Team Gale”. But there is also a love story written into the pages of BR except that this one is downplayed as a way to make room for much MUCH more violence.
In HG, Peeta Pocket and Male Gale internally fight over who deserves and loves Katniss the most. While she proceeds to play with them both in attempt to A) LIVE and B) figure out her own confused feelings of life and love. (And yes I am all for Peeta Pocket and Katniss together so they can make delicious bread together).
I just want them to make out right now!
In BR, we have Shuya and Noriko who you definitely want to live and love but when you realize that, hey, all these characters have dated one another, loved one another, have emotional attachments to one another, its hard to focus on the love story of these two characters. Not to mention the rape-y aspect of one of the characters is a little unsettling.
In HG you have President Snow, in BR, you have the teacher. One is slightly to incredibly more powerful then the other, but surprisingly, the teacher is scarier. Yes, Snow smells of blood, but the teacher in BR you have a lonely angry man who has a wayyyy to weird obsession with children killing each other.
Both rulers also have an uncomfortable obsession with the lead female though, which is creepy in the “don’t leave the house” kind of way.
This NEEDS to be said. All the students in BR are freaking insane. With the exception of Shuya and Noriko, everyone else in the story are literally just crazy. BR takes the characters to an extreme in which they will stop at nothing to kill each other and anyone who acts reasonably and logically like the leads, stand out as weird when surrounded by such insanity. (One of the characters doesn’t even feel real human emotion due to a brain injury!)
In HG, all the secondary tributes and characters are a little bit in the least relatable. The careers make sense, they want honor and they want victory in something they’ve been training for their whole lives, and everyone else was thrown in there under the same circumstances and they all want to live but they all have moral codes that at one point or another hold them back. Thresh doesn’t kill Katniss as a payback for her taking care of Rue, and often the tributes from each district form a partnership for as long as possible, protecting each other.
In BR, the only people who don’t go on a full on Patrick Bateman in the novel are considered weird and weak.
Technology plays a huge part in both films/novels. It is used to police and monitor much of the world around them as well as control the arena in which contestants are dropped.
In HG, since they are in the future, they have crazy awesome technology like giant hovercrafts, the ability to manipulate anything in the arena as well genetically alter new species and creations. They even have the ability to create force fields, and biotech weapons as well a whole underground city complete with food and water.
Although BR isn’t that technological advanced, it still uses extreme technology to keep people in line. They use an exploding collar on the neck of every participant to make sure they either fight to the death, or die by way of the collar.
Each story uses the technology is a different way, but its results are the same, fight to death or die anyway if you refuse.
Pretty obvious right? I mean it is about kids murdering each other for basically entertainment. But while HG is very violent (this includes arrows to the neck, stones to the skull, and poison) BR still wins. It is gory and bloody to the very end with very little in between.
It has been pointed out that BR uses such brutal violence as a way to remind those watching that hey this is what the story is about. But in HG, we are seeing things from the eyes of Katniss, who internally struggles with killing, rationalizes it, and actually kills very little when compared to her fellow tributes who kill without second guessing themselves.
With that said, they are both pretty brutal.
The Overall Tone
In Panem, the tributes spends weeks in front of cameras, at events, touring, doing interviews and such BEFORE going into the arena where the whole country watches them die. The world gets to know each tribute only to watch them die horrifically weeks later.
In BR, the program happens secretly and is called “military research” so the biggest mind f*** is only between the participants.
Panem spends weeks building emotional investments to the tributes in front of the cameras so that can see them die. The Capitol must certainly uses this technique as another way to assert their dominance (albeit subconsciously).
In the program of BR, the only emotional investments have already been made over years and YEARS (instead of weeks) of friendships and time. So when the characters have to die, its even more heartwenching for the reader/viewer al though not for those involved because they are already insane.
This lends to the very different tones of the stories. In HG you get to know the characters as well, bond with them and move with them because we are seeing the story and the history through the eyes of someone living it.
BR is about blood, violence, hatred, and little touch of love set in a world that gives little explanation and very little connections between the characters. It is a good film, but doesn’t have the bonding quality that HG does.
So yeah, these stories have a few elements that are similar, but hey most of the world is similar if you look hard enough. And hey, who says two people can’t have similar ideas? Besides I am just as much a fan of the gore in BR as I am in the overall story of HG. I like them both but for different reasons because each film/novel gives me something different when watching it or reading it.