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Takami Kōshun

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

Working name of Hiroharu Takami (1969-    ) a Japanese author whose sole work to date has been much refashioned and adapted across several media. A graduate of Osaka University's Literature department, where he specialized in the aesthetics of fine arts, Takami worked for several years as a journalist for the provincial newspaper Shikoku Shinbun. His debut novel, the Satire Battle Royale (1999) was published after reaching the final round of a new writers' competition, which it failed to win, purportedly because of its controversially violent content.

The titular Battle Royale is an annual fight to the death by 42 high school students, abandoned on a remote island with randomly-assigned weapons and equipment. Kidnapped from everyday life to participate in the "experiment", the participants are made to kill each other for the prospect of a single winner, who will receive a lifetime pension and the autograph of the Great Dictator. In, perhaps deliberately, muddled logic, the event is also parsed as "necessary" exercise to protect Japan from foreign Imperialism, as well as a form of human sacrifice recalling Japan's ancient Religion, in which state and schoolteachers are obedient collaborators (see Torture).

The story was also adapted into Manga form by Masayuki Taguchi (graph November 2000-January 2006 Young Champion Magazine). The text of the US manga translation differs substantially, framing the island combat as a form of reality Television show, not suggested in the original.

Neither the novel, nor manga nor the subsequent Kinji Fukasaku film adaptation Battle Royale (2000) dwells on early suggestions that the story takes place in an Alternate History Japan that is part of a totalitarian, post-revolutionary Republic of Greater East Asia, seemingly founded after an unspecified Jonbar Point late in World War Two. Instead, the background is closely modelled on the real world, in an exaggeration of contemporary Politics that parses modern Japan as an Orwellian Dystopia little different from North Korea, with citizens who dare not question the status quo. The movie sequel, Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003) conscripts a new group of unwilling citizens to wipe out escaped survivors, now pilloried in the media as terrorists or counter-revolutionaries. However, since few conscripts wish to embark on the mission, their "loyalty" is secured by self-destructing explosive collars (see Military SF), and their plight is no less hopeless than that of the "rebels" they are tasked with destroying. The film was itself novelized, in a Tie by the pseudonymous Sugie Makkoi. [JonC]

see also: Le Prix du Danger; Nigel Kneale; Lord of the Flies; Grey.

Hiroharu Takami

born Amagasaki, Japan: 10 January 1969


  • Battle Royale (Tokyo: Ōta Shuppan, 1999) [pb/]
    • Battle Royale (Tokyo: Akita Shoten, 2000-2005) [graph: in 15 volumes: manga Tie to the above by Masayuki Taguchi: pb/]
    • Battle Royale (Los Angeles, California: Tokyopop, 2003-2006) [graph: rev (with plot changes) trans of the above: 15 volumes: pb/]
    • Battle Royale (Tokyo: Gentosha, 2002) [rev of the above: in two volumes: pb/]
      • Battle Royale (San Francisco, California: Viz Media, 2003) [omni: trans of the above by Yuji Oniki: pb/]
      • Battle Royale: Remastered (San Francisco, California: Viz Media Haikasoru, 2014) [rev vt of the above: new trans by Nathan Collins: pb/Tomer Hanuka]

about the author


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