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Battle Royale | [Koushun Takami, Yuji Oniki (translator)]

Battle Royale

As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, ninth-grade students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one "winner" remains. The elimination contest becomes the ultimate in must-see reality television. A Japanese pulp classic available in English-language audio for the first time, Battle Royale is a potent allegory of what it means to be young and survive in today's dog-eat-dog world.
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Publisher's Summary

Battle Royale, a high-octane thriller about senseless youth violence in a dystopian world, it is one of Japan's best-selling - and most controversial - novels. As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, ninth-grade students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one "winner" remains. The elimination contest becomes the ultimate in must-see reality television.

A Japanese pulp classic available in English-language audio for the first time, Battle Royale is a potent allegory of what it means to be young and survive in today's dog-eat-dog world. The first novel by small-town journalist Koushun Takami, it went on to become an even more notorious film by 70-year-old director Kinji Fukusaku.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©1999 Koushun Takami; Translation copyright 2009, Yuji Oniki (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (160 )
5 star
 (44)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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3.9 (141 )
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3.5 (139 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    TCL PA 09-15-12
    TCL PA 09-15-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not for those with a weak stomach!"

    Battle Royale is terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. It's actually given me nightmares. It's also one of my absolute favorite books ever.

    I read the print version of the book several times before getting it in audio format, and I think that that made listening to it much easier than if I had listened to it without reading it. The book was translated from Japanese, and the translation's not perfect, so that takes some getting used to, as does the fact that there are 42 children all with very similar Japanese names. It takes a little more concentration to follow Battle Royale than it probably takes for most other books.

    If you can get over those few problems, though, and explicit violence doesn't make you cringe, you'll realize that this story is wonderfully terrifying.

    Forty-two 15-year-old classmates are thrown onto an island and told to fight until only of of them survives. (Think The Hunger Games, but for grown ups). And heed this warning very seriously - the violence in this book gets *very* graphic. If you're someone for whom that might be a problem, don't buy it. Try the print version instead.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AJ RICHMOND, VA, United States 04-05-13
    AJ RICHMOND, VA, United States 04-05-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Amazing book but Dacasos ruined it."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If it didn't sound like Mark was bored reading it. He is a pretty good actor but put absolutely no acting in. It was bad and it made me bored and not interested in the book. Good thing I read it a long time ago.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Battle Royale?

    Difficult to say. I suppose it would have to be after all the fluff in the beginning and they get right down to the game where the students learn what's going on and have to grab their packs and leave. I felt the author did really well putting the audience in that room.


    What didn’t you like about Mark Dacascos’s performance?

    Everything but above all just shocked and surprised he played it so stiff. One has to wonder why he was chosen in the first place. It seemed like it was just a paying gig for him and sadly I think the organizers figured nobody would care. Now, plenty of lazy people who would never read the book are going in and having a very bad experience with what is a very good book.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    With the book, impressed. With the audio book, major disappointment.


    Any additional comments?

    When you don't do something right, redo it. This time without Mark. Love ya, buddy, but this was God awful.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa NAMPA, ID, United States 10-07-13
    Teresa NAMPA, ID, United States 10-07-13 Member Since 2011

    Hello, my name is Teresa and I'm an addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    359
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    "Kids should not have guns."

    This book was good, but I will admit I had a hard time with the names. I finally found a print out and wrote notes next to the name with a brief character description, this helped me keep all the characters straight. I know some of the descriptions are cliché, but that is how the author wrote them. Of course it didn't hurt that the kids all had numbers next to their names. The narrator was good, I thought he had a clear voice with a slight Asian accent. This is a very dark book in that the scenes are bloody and I think it makes it worse that they were all friends and schoolmates. Yes there is the teenage crushes going on but the kids are 15, they usually don't have much else on their mind. Probably has to do with all the hormones running through their bodies. Even if the other kids are dying, most people/kids think they will be the exception. I picked this book up because I heard it was like Hunger games. The premises is the same where "there can only be one" but the story is much more gruesome. Like the game "clue" each opponent has a different type of weapon that is supplied.

    Boys
    1. Yoshio Akamatsu- big kid, timid, picked on
    2. Keita Iijima- former friend of Shinji
    3. Tatsumichi Oki- jock plays handball
    4. Toshinori Oda- short, thin, violinist, snob
    5. Shogo Kawada- older kid, scarred, held back a year due to injury, scares other delinquents
    6. Kazuo Kiriyama- leader of delinquents, father rich, top student, good at sports, different kind of person
    7. Yoshitoki Kuninobu- orphan, crush on Norika, Shuya's childhood friend
    8. Yoji Kuramoto- Yoshimi's boyfriend
    9. Hiroshi Kuronaga- delinquent
    10. Ryuhei Sasagawa- delinquent
    11. Hiroki Sugimura- tall, lanky, reserved, into marshal arts, Takako's best friend
    12. Yutaka Seto- class clown, orphan, Shinji childhood friend
    13. Yuichiro Takiguchi- jock
    14. Sho Tsukioka- delinquent, gay
    15. Shuya Nanahara- main character, orphan, plays electric guitar, used to play baseball
    16. Kazushi Niida- jock plays soccer
    17. Mitsuru Numai- delinquent
    18. Tadakatsu Hatagami- jock plays baseball, Shuya former friend
    19. Shinji Mimura- short hair, wears earring, very athletic, mature views on world knowledge
    20. Kyoichi Motobuchi- hard studier, class representative, father in government
    21. Kazuhiko Yamamoto- girlfriend is Sakura

    Girls
    1. Mizuho Inada- weird girl
    2. Yukie Utsumi- class representative, mainstream girls/neutrals
    3. Megumi Eto- believes in ghost
    4. Sakura Ogawa- boyfriend is Kazuhiko
    5. Izumi Kanai- preppy, mainstream girls/neutrals
    6. Yukiko Kitano- Yumiko's childhood friend, likes to bake
    7. Yumiko Kusaka- Yukiko's childhood friend, tomboy
    8. Kayoko Kotohiki- regular girl
    9. Yuko Sakaki- regular girl
    10. Hirono Shimizu- delinquent
    11. Mitsuko Souma- leader of girl delinquents, pretty
    12. Haruka Tanizawa- tall, plays volley ball, mainstream girls/neutrals
    13. Takako Chigusa- pretty, track, Hiroki's best friend
    14. Mayumi Tendo- delinquent
    15. Noriko Nakagawa- normal, petite and playful, likes to write, Yoshitoki's crush
    16. Yuka Nakagawa- heavy girl
    17. Satomi Noda- model student, calm, intelligent, mainstream girls/neutrals
    18. Fumiyo Fujiyoshi- gossipy girl
    19. Chisato Matsui- quite, withdrawn, mainstream girls/neutrals
    20. Kaori Minami- pop star fan
    21. Yoshimi Yahagi- delinquent, Yoji's girlfriend

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yoshi Yoshitani United States 05-21-13
    Yoshi Yoshitani United States 05-21-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Absolute Must Listen"

    This story is a huge classic, and there are a lot of reasons why.

    This is a gory and gruesome tale that looks into the role of the government, society, but most of all how we will react under pressure. We follow our lead character as he tries to stay alive and second guess the people around him, some of whom he has grown up with his entire life. Through flashbacks, we find out more about the characters, and the world that they live in.

    I really enjoyed a lot of the characters, and I could sympathize with a good portion of them (even the ones that are portrayed as being a little more evil) There is huge amount of believable pressure and fear. Also a huge number of characters, I ended up writing them all down on a piece of paper and crossing them off as they died. The advantage of having so many characters is that we get to see a good number of different reactions to the same horrific set of circumstances. I found myself rooting for everyone and scared for what might happen to them.

    Even the girls have some really awesome and/or scary ones in their mist! (Though the main one is a bit of a princess character :/ ) My favorite character in the entire book is the girl Takako Chigusa, and really she may be one of the favorite characters ever.

    In conclusion this is a great book. I listened to it because it was a classic, but I would still listen to this again and again. Fair warning though, this is not for the fait of heart, as it does involve a LOT of bloody deaths.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Sandy, UT, United States 01-25-13
    Jason Sandy, UT, United States 01-25-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great book, bad narration"

    This is a great book, not a great audiobook. I read this book twice and decided that it would be fun to listen to it in my spare time since I loved it so much, bad mistake. The narrator is the worst narrator I have ever heard. ever. This is an emotional book and he puts no emotion into it. The characters all sound the same and when someone is dying and yelling at their enemy he reads the same as if they were talking to a friend. He does do a good job pronouncing names but this in no way makes up for how horrible he did with everything else. the narrator manages to make a book that is so intense and exciting come off as such a boring book. sometimes you dont even understand what is going on because of how horrible it is read. I hope that they decide to make another version read by someone that can put emotion into characters. If you really want to enjoy battle royale just pick up the hard copy of the book, it is so much better.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Redondo Beach, CA, United States 01-14-13
    Amazon Customer Redondo Beach, CA, United States 01-14-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Similar but different take from Hunger Games"
    If you could sum up Battle Royale in three words, what would they be?

    Last man standing


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Battle Royale?

    Seeing there are options for ending.


    What does Mark Dacascos bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Not sure if it adds to but certainly does not take away being able to comfortably follow action and actors.


    Any additional comments?

    Not being use to the Asian Names took bit to sort and keep up with characters.Good read very graphic violence yet goes with concept of the book, nice twists and turns that keep you wondering til the end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt DeWater Seattle, WA 01-08-13
    Matt DeWater Seattle, WA 01-08-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beware of gore and bad narration."

    This is a brutal book, so keep that in mind. I was really happy with this book for about the first half. I was really excited to hear the next chapter to find out what would happen. But then little annoyances started to stack up.

    The main annoyance was the narrator. He comes off as someone who, while not having a accent, is not a native English speaker. His annunciation and speaking tempo tend to take you out of the book. Often multiple syllable words come off as separate words in his speaking tempo. So instead of a sentence sounding like "we will loose our ability to" come off as "we will loose our abl it y to". This did not happen all the time, but often enough. Also he is very monotone. Often in discussions it is very hard to tell who is speaking. I feel that had this had a different narrator like say Steven Pacey, it would have been a much more enjoyable book.

    Another annoyance was that as the book progressed, I got the feeling the author was a fan of guns (they are all listed by full name and model every time they are mentioned). But that he had not spend much time shooting them. A 15 year old girl is able to double tap someone in the head with a 357 magnum. Kids are able to perfectly manage the recoil of sub machine guns with no practice. These kids are also able to throw knives and hit their targets every time.

    I saw in reviews that people were thrown off by all the discussions of who has a crush on who in the middle of a battle. I figure it is something in the Japanese culture that is very important and because we were not raised that way, it is not something that makes sense to us. But I feel that for people who grew up in Japan it makes more sense.

    In general though as the book progressed it got less and less realistic, so by the end I felt like I was listening to the narration from a 90's B action movie with Sylvester Stallone. If you had asked me halfway through the book what I thought. I would have told you "this book is great". After finishing I would tell you "read or listen to it if you want to know what people are referring to, but there are other books that are better."

    The only thing that this has in common with The Hunger Games is that kids are sent into a area and told to kill each other. I honestly don't know why people think Hunger Games is a crappy ripoff of this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hailie SLC, UT, United States 04-02-13
    Hailie SLC, UT, United States 04-02-13 Member Since 2012

    I enjoy fantasy, political, and sci fiction books and I love dogs

    ratings
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    4
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    "Verry gruesome"
    What did you like best about Battle Royale? What did you like least?

    I honestly didn't like this book very much because I'm not in to gory details but for some one who doesn't mind the story would be great...


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Something science fiction with less gore


    Which character – as performed by Mark Dacascos – was your favorite?

    None


    Did Battle Royale inspire you to do anything?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashleigh SK, Canada 01-02-13
    Ashleigh SK, Canada 01-02-13 Member Since 2012
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    3
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    Story
    "The most violent story I've ever heard"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Battle Royale to be better than the print version?

    I might have preferred to read this story than listen to it because I'm not familiar with Japanese names. There are more than 42 characters in this book, and it was hard to keep track of them all. Though, I believe the author knew that it's hard to keep track of 42 characters, so they're also numbered (e.g. "so-and-so, female student number 11").


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favourite people are probably the "good guys" that we spend a fair amount of time with -- like Shuya, Shogo, Noriko, Shinji, and Hiroki -- but I also liked some of the "bad guys" like Mitsuko and Kazuo. All the characters were really fleshed out and seem like real people to me.


    Any additional comments?

    I decided to watch the movie because the book was so amazing, but it's one of those situations where they didn't do a very good job transferring the story. If you know anyone who likes the movie, encourage them to read the book, it's much better. And if you've read the book, maybe don't watch the movie. You'll just find yourself saying or thinking, "In the book..." throughout the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark San Francisco, CA, United States 12-27-12
    Mark San Francisco, CA, United States 12-27-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Long but worth it."

    It helps that the author wrote in how many kids were left as the plot goes on. The narrator is slow and methodical but the story really pulls through. Over all, the benchmarks of character throughout the piece are really stand outs. The author really plays up personalities well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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