I got stuck (Is it a good sign?)

I was thinking about it every time I had some leisure. I had discovered a “mind-blowing” way to convert my short story “Leave Me Alone” into a novel. I had worked about eight chapters within a month. These chapters would end the first part and I was ready to move into the crucial second part. Then I suddenly felt I needed a prologue. A chapter apart from the rest of the story that would create suspense. (It already had some suspense. I was trying to mix some spices.) That prologue introduced me to the major problem in my plot: how was my heroine doing what she was doing?

I had worked out the “why” and I had thought I knew “how” but things got complicated. I was teleporting her to places where I wanted her to be, and she was doing things the way I wanted in an unnatural way. My story is not a fantasy. It’s a contemporary psychological thriller. No way was I going to introduce myself opening doors for her (I feel this would make a good sci-fi!), and neither was I going to let anything happen just like that. So, why the plot hole?

I don’t know. Maybe, I planned in the wrong manner. Perhaps the changes I had brought about in the prologue rang the bells. Whatever it was, I believe, was for the best! How would I make others believe in an unbelievable story? I’ve stalled it until I find a solution.

***

I felt an itch. Actually, I’d been thinking about it for a few days now. I had linked “Quest” with “Leave Me Alone”, and the latter with “The Peacemaker” (I have built its concept but not written a word yet. Or, can I say it’s first chapter is already in “Leave Me Alone”, just in another POV?). So, because there was a link, I was thinking of completing “Quest”.

The biggest problem in this rewriting was that my old computer is dead and until it’s repaired I had no access to the “latest” version I created about last year. Or, so I thought. Then I searched my phone. I found the original version (Thank God!). I checked Google Docs. There were eight chapters each of last two versions. Now the problem is: I first need to sort out which “doc” belongs to which version. Then I need to compile and (probably) rewrite.

This rewrite is going to be fun. I have a guide. I have versions in third person and in first person. I need to decide what to use now. I have events in different orders. I might have to reorder, delete and add. I have written four or five versions of “Quest” already. I must make it my final. The solution for the plot problem I had discovered last year, is going to make it interesting. But the biggest challenge is to stand out as the self-proclaimed genius! (After sorting out the problems, I had called myself a “genius”. Damn, that’s a crown I cannot handle!)

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Why Kazuo Kiriyama did not win the Battle

Kazuo Kiriyama is the best “player” of the “game” that involves killing classmates. He alone kills twelve of his classmates. Yet he ends up dead. A lot of Battle Royale video game fans seem to be annoyed by this fact. They say, “He deserved to win.” I say, “He didn’t. A novel or a movie is different from a video game.”

The kid who never smiled

We get the first and the most important insight into Kazuo Kiriyama’s character through Mitsuru Numai in Chapter 11. Mitsuru had been in an occasion, saved from bullies by Kazuo and since then, he had revered the latter. He believed Kazuo was the one capable of beating the system and destroy the Battle Royal Programme because he had defeated local yakuza (Yakuza is an organization of powerful Japanese gangsters or mafias).

Mitsuru and his friends make him the leader of the gang called the Kiriyama family. Despite being called notorious in the city, the Kiriyama family never bullied upon others in the school. They all relied on Kazuo Kiriyama and did things for fun. However, when Kiriyama kills his gang within an hour of the beginning of the game, Mitsuru Numai notices one thing that they had always ignored: “Kazuo Kiriyama never smiled.” (Chapter 11, Battle Royale)

Kazuo Kiriyama is apathetic. He does not feel anything. Neither joy, nor sorrow, no pity, no guilt. We later know that while he was still in his mother’s womb, she fell in an accident and a stake had entered Kiriyama’s head. The accident destroyed his emotional centre. Whatever the reason, Kiriyama is what Shogo Kawada tells us: “A hollow man … There’s no place in his heart for logic or love, no. For any kind of values. That kind of person. On top of that, there’s no reason for the way he is.” (Chapter 67, Battle Royale).

The coin toss

If one thing that changed the complexion of the story, it is Kiriyama’s coin toss. He had two options:

  1. To participate in the game, and
  2. To destroy the Battle Royale Programme and the government.

Kiriyama’s choices are not based on logic. They were based on chance. Had he used logic, he would have chosen the second option. He would have been a great helping hand to our heroes Shogo Kawada, Shuya Nanahara and Shinji Mimura. None of our heroes believed he was capable of killing his classmates. He hadn’t even bullied one! Kiriyama’s coin toss, thus becomes a bane for all his classmates.

Even if Kiriyama had not been thinking logically, had the coin toss made him destroy the Programme, he would have got support from his gang as well as the others. They would not have to fear their own classmates. Forty of them could have brought down the Programme in no time.

In the movie, however, Kiriyama is a new student like Shogo Kawada and is a mystery. In the novel, he is their classmate and still a mystery. Kiriyama from the novel, to me, is a bigger villain. But he could have easily turned into a hero.

Why Kiriyama did not win

Simply, because letting Kiriyama win was against the books theme of love and kindness. Kiriyama is the exact opposite of love and kindness. Had Koshun Takami, the author, let Kiriyama win, he would have set a wrong example. He had to save the lovely Noriko and the lucky Shuya to send a message: “Apathy is a vice,” and: “Choice made without reasoning is a curse.”

Had Kiriyama won, another theme of the book would have been crushed: rebellion. After the coin toss, Kiriyama’s chance of being a rebellion dies. Rebellion stays alive in the form of Nakagawa and Nanahara. They didn’t get long lecture from Kawada about the system and change to get killed in the end. They are there to bring about some change. Kiriyama’s victory would have shattered Shogo’s dream, and our hopes that the Battle Royale Programme would come to an end. Kiriyama did not win. We still have a hope.

[Featured image obtained from fdzeta.com]

Fifteen Months Later at Manakamana

Fatigue of the fieldwork

The fieldwork was going on in its rapid pace. We barely had time to rest. On Wednesday, October 31, fieldwork had been set for “individual” areas. Each of six groups were in separate routes looking for the geology of the area around Mugling, Chitwan. We (Anil, Anish, Ishwor and I) were walking up to a small village called Sathimure. On top of the hill in the north east, we could see a bazaar. “Is it Manakamana?” we had discussed. “It is Manakamana, indeed,” the villagers had later confirmed.

“If we get to go Manakamana tomorrow, can we walk all the way up?”

It would have been difficult. The way to Sathimure had proven to be tiring. We were bathed in sweat the whole climb.

May be fatigue, may be disinterest, we didn’t actually go Manakamana. There were other friends, who were absolutely excited about the climb. My experience fifteen months earlier had made me sad. But I had seen a photo of my sister-in-law in front of the newly made temple. Aha! The temple has changed! I had thought but still I didn’t have the desire.

The Lottery

In the evening, our teachers announced the six routes to be taken the other day. Two groups were to take the routes that included Manakamana. The first route was: Aanbu Khaireni-Manakamana-Arubot-Tinkilo. The second route was: Aanbu Khaireni-Manakamana-Kurintar. To avoid dissatisfaction, our teachers suggested a lottery. Anil picked up a cheat and we got the first route. Despite having no desire to go, the Mother had called us.

The Journey

Selfie at Marsyangdi Bridge / Photo from Nirjal Pokharel’s Facebook

As soon as you cross the Marsyangi Bridge at Aanbu Khaireni, you step into the Gorkha district. Then taking a dusty road to the north, you head towards the famous Manakamana Temple. After we separated with other groups at the bridge, eight of us took the road to Manakamana.

Geological study began as soon as we reached near the confluence of Marsyangdi and Daraudi. We took some data and set off again. As per the instruction from our teacher, we took shorter routes asking the villagers. Some of the foot-trails are not being used due to the bigger road.

Short roads were not so short though. We climbed up and up. As we went higher, the mist thinned and we were up above the clouds. On the north were the mighty white Himalayas. “People must have been to a place like this and called it a Paradise,” we wondered.

At Dhadbari (?), we left the motor road and climbed up the stairs to the temple. On the way, we bought flowers and Prasad. The climb took more than half an hour. We were all fatigued.

The New Temple

The new structure of the temple was enough for me to forget my tiredness. The two storied pagoda now had new brick walls and two golden roofs. On the top, is a golden pinnacle. I am mesmerized. I can’t believe the change that had occurred.

Fifteen months ago

Fifteen months ago, I had seen a broken temple. It was distressing. I had written an account showing my pain. Now fifteen months later, I was standing before the temple praising the grandeur of the Mother.

The New Structure
Worshipping still continues in the small temple. The floor is still being tiled.

The new structure has not been a temple yet. The Mother still stays in the small temple built after the Gorkha earthquake. “Isn’t she established in it yet?” my parents ask on Saturday after I am home. “It was supposed to happen during Dashain.”

“Maybe they did not find an auspicious date,” I say.

***

Fifteen months ago, I had been so sad that I had asked for the reconstruction of the temple as soon as possible. I had also doubted on the powers of the Mother. I had asked, “If the Goddess cannot make Her own home, how do I believe asked?”

This time, I believe the Mother called me to show that She has a new home. I believe She made me write this so that I could tell to the world the change I had seen. I don’t see any other reason why my group was selected despite having no desire at all to visit Her abode.

***

Time was tight. We had miles to go. Taking several snaps, our groups took our respective routes.

A group photo / Left to Right: Ishwor, Nirjal, Me, Angela, Sujata, Suman, Anish, Anil / From Nirjal Pokharel’s Facebook

पन्ध्र महिनापछि फेरि मनकामना पुग्दा

फिल्डवर्कको थकान

शनिबार, कार्तिक १० बाट सुरु भएको फिल्डवर्क रफ्तारका साथ चल्दै थियो । बुधबार दिउँसो मुग्लिङबाट दक्षिणमा रहेको साठीमुरे गाउँ पुगेका थियौँ अनिल, अनिश, ईश्वर र म । झन्डै चार घण्टा ठाडो उकालो चढ्दै गर्दा ठीक पारी पट्टीको डाँडोमा ठूलो बजार देखिएको थियो । मनकामना बजार हो त ? हामी एकअर्कालाई सोध्दै हिँडेका थियौँ । साठीमुरेका बासिन्दाले त्यो मनकामना बजार नै हो भनेका थिए ।

त्यहाँबाट मनकामना बजार झन्डै उस्तै उचाईमा छ भन्ने लागेको थियो । “भोलि मनकामनातिर पर्‍यो भने त हिँड्न गाह्रो हुन्छ,” सल्लाह गरेका थियौँ । यसपालि एम. एस्सी. पहिलो सेमेस्टरको फिल्ड आँबुखैरेनी परेको थियो । मनकामनाको “रुट” दुई टोलीलाई पर्ने कुरा थियो ।

थकानले गर्दा हो वा पहिल्यै गएकाले हो या अघिल्लो साल देखेको दुरावस्थाले हो, मनकामना जाने इच्छा खासै थिएन हाम्रो ग्रुपको कसैलाई । इच्छुक ती साथीहरू थिए जो पहिले गएका थिएनन् । अघिल्लो साँझ फेसबुक चलाउँदै गर्दा देखेको एउटा तस्वीरले मन केहीबेर तरङ्गित भने बनाएको थियो । “ओहो, मन्दिरको रूप त बदलिएछ” भन्दै खुसी भएको थिएँ । जाने लालसा भने पलाएको थिएन ।

चिट्ठा

बेलुका गुरुहरूले भोलिपल्टको रुटको जानकारी दिनुभयो । मनकामना पुग्ने दुई टोलीका लागि दुई रुट छुट्याइएको थियो । पहिलो रुट थियो । आँबुखैरेनीबाट मनकामना पुग्ने अनि त्यहाँबाट गोर्खा जिल्लाको आरुबोट, ज्यामिरे हुँदै तीनकिलो झर्ने । अर्को थियो, मनकामना पुगेर कुरिनटार झर्ने । मनकामनासम्म दुई टोली सँगै हुने थिए ।

मनकामना जाने रहर प्रायः सबै ग्रुपले गरेकाले चिट्ठा गर्ने सहमति भयो । अनिलले हाम्रोतर्फबाट चिट्ठा थुत्यो । मनकामनाको पहिलो रुट परेछ । अरू ग्रुपलाई पनि उनीहरूको इच्छा र क्षमता अनुसारको रुट परेछ । “माताको इच्छा होला,” मैले भनेको थिएँ ।

यात्रा

मर्स्याङ्दी पुल सेल्फी / निर्जल पोखरेलको फेसबुकबाट / बायाँबाट दायाँ: पहिलो हार – अनिल,एन्जिला, अनिश, अशोक – दोस्रो हार – निर्जल, दीपक,अस्मी, म, ईश्वर, सुजाता -पर- सुमन

आँबुखैरेनीको मर्स्याङ्दी पुल तरेपछि गोर्खा जिल्ला टेकिन्छ । त्यहाँबाट अरू साथीहरूसँग बिदा भएपछि हाम्रो टोली र निर्जल दाइको टोली दरौँदी तरेर उकालो लाग्यौँ । चट्टान देखिएको सडाक किनारमा काम सुरु भयो । केही डाटा लिएत अघि बढ्यौँ, सरहरूको निर्देशनअनुसार स्थानीयसँग छोटो बाटो सोध्दै ।

छोटो बाटो पनि छोटो कहाँ थियो र ? स्याँस्याँ फ्याँफ्याँ गर्दै उकालो चढ्यौँ । बाटोमा चट्टान धेरै भेटिएनन् । जति भेटिए ती तलका भन्दा खासै फरक थिएनन् । बरू धुलोको रङ्ग हेरेर तलको माटो कस्तो होला भनेर अनुमान गर्‍यौँ । डाटा लिने परिस्थिति भने थिएन ।

डाँडा चढ्दै गर्दा तल नदीले बनएको कुहिरो हट्दै गयो । सात-आठ सय मिटर माथी पुगेपछि बादल हामीभन्दा तल तैरिएको देखियो । उत्तरमा देखिए, सेता हिमाल । बाटा छेउमा सुन्तलाका बोट । केही दिनअघि बन्दीपुर जाँदा पनि यस्तो दृश्य देखिएको थियो । त्यही पनि “यस्तै ठाउँलाई स्वर्ग भनिँदो हो,” हामी कल्पित भयौँ ।

मनकामना पुग्नै लाग्दा हामीले मोटर बाटो छोड्यौँ अनि सिँडी चढ्यौँ । सुन्तला खाँदै माथि चढ्यौँ । फूलप्रसाद लिएर फेरि चढ्यौँ । सिँढी चढेर माथी पुग्न झन्डै आधा घन्टा लाग्यो ।

मन्दिरको बदलिएको स्वरूप

अगस्ट २, २०१७ तिर गोर्खा मनकामना शीर्षकको यात्रा संस्मरण लेख्दा साह्रै पीडा भएको थियो । त्यसबेला मन्दिरको अवस्था देखेर विचलित भएको थिएँ । भाग्यले भनौँ या माताको प्रभावले, मौका जुर्‍यो । साथीहरूसँग म पनि मनकामना पुगेँ, ठीक पन्ध्र महिनापछि ।

पन्ध्र महिना पहिले

पहिले जस्ता बेरेर, खट बाँधेर जीर्णाव्स्थामा देखेको “मन्दिर”को ठाउँमा अहिले लोभलाग्दो संरचना छ । ईँटको भित्तामाथि सुनको छाना छन् । अनि दोस्रो तलाको छानामाथि सुनकै गजुर । दिउँसो घाममा मन्दिर झन् टल्केको छ । मन्दिरको संरचना पुरानो छ तर सामग्री सबै नयाँ । पुरानै प्रकारका सामग्री राखेको भए पुरानै जस्तो देखिन्थ्यो भन्ने बिचार पछि मनमा आउँछ । त्यहाँ भने म निस्तब्ध हुन्छु; मन्दिरको सुन्दरताले मोहित ।

IMG_1841

मनकामनाको नयाँ मन्दिर

नयाँ संरचनाभित्र देवीको स्थापना भइसकेको छैन । गोर्खा भुकम्प (२०७२) पछि बनाइएको अस्थायी मन्दिरमा नै क्षमापूजा गरेर देवी बसाइएको छ । शनिबार (कार्तिक १७) मा घर आएपछि मामूबाबा भन्नुहुन्छ, “यही दशैँमा स्थापना गर्ने कुरा थियो त ।”

“जुरेन होला,” म भन्छु । मैले देखेको दृश्यका आधारमा निस्किएको निष्कर्ष त्यही हो ।

IMG_1843
भूकम्प यता पूजाका लागि बनाइएको सानो मन्दिर / भुइँमा टाइल छाप्ने काम भइरहेको छ

***
अघिल्लो साल मनकामना मन्दिरको दुरावस्था देखेर विचलित भएको मैले मन्दिरको पुनर्निर्माण छिट्टै होस् भनेर कामना गरेको थिएँ । उहाँको शक्तिमाथि प्रश्न र गुनासो पनि पोखेको थिएँ । यसपालि माताको बोलावट भयो । सायद उहाँले मलाई आफ्नो सामर्थ्य देखाउन बोलाउनु भयो । अनि यो लेख लेखाउन पनि नत्र त्यति धेरै उत्सुक साथीहरूको बीचबाट मेरो ग्रुप किन छानियो ?

मनकामना माताको नयाँ मन्दिर हेरिरहने मन थियो तर समयको पावन्दी पनि थियो । तीनकिलोसम्म पुग्न कति हिँड्नुपर्ने हो ? थाहा थिएन । तैपनि दुई ग्रुपका अनगिन्ती फोटो खिचेर हामी आआफ्नो रुटतर्फ लाग्यौँ

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धेरै मध्येको एक ग्रुप फोटो / बायाँबाट दायाँ: ईश्वर, निर्जल, म, एन्जिला, सुजाता, सुमन, अनिश, अनिल / निर्जल पोखरेलको फेसबुकबाट

Battle Royale: Themes in Movies and Books

Battle Royale has a simple concept: 42 students are abducted to an island, provided with weapons and made to fight each other. What would they do?  Some would fear for their lives and attack first. Some would form allies (and later betray). Some would go on a rampage, while some would seek for peace. Koshun Takami plays at these possibilities and delivers the details of the battle at an unimaginable level. Here I discuss some of the themes I discovered in Battle Royale.

  1. Authority, trust and rebellion

The novel is set in the fascist regime of the Republic of Greater East Asia (RGEA) in 1997. The country is basically Japan in an alternate timeline. However, from the details in the plot, I could sense that the Republic of Greater East Asia also included China.

I wonder how the fascism originated in the Republic. Could it be the Chinese communist influence, or could it be the World War II Japan? The latter feels more likely. During the Second World War, Japan was an imperialistic force that had sided with Germany. Japan even invaded China until they were sent back the PLA led by Mao. In the alternate timeline, Japan might have won both the wars and established an authoritarian rule. But we do not know.

Here is a conversation that makes it difficult to know the country’s history.

Noriko interrupted him, ‘Seventy-five years ago?’ Hugging her knees under her pleated skirt, Noriko tilted her head with a puzzled look on her face.

Noriko then looked over at Shuya. Shuya nodded and then looked back at Shogo. ‘I heard something about how the history they teach us is a big lie and that the current Dictator is hardly the 325th Dictator. In fact, he’s only supposed to be the twelfth one, right?’

Shuya glanced at Noriko’s surprised face, but when he heard Shogo’s next statement, ‘Well, even that might not be true,’ he raised his brow.

‘What do you mean?’

Shogo smiled and said, ‘There is no Dictator. He doesn’t exist. He’s just made up. That’s what I heard.’

‘What?’

‘That can’t be…’ Noriko said hoarsely, ‘but we see him on the news…and on New Year’s he makes an appearance in front of everyone at his palace…’

‘Right.’ Shogo grinned. ‘But who is this ‘everyone at the palace’? Have you ever met someone who was actually there? What if they were actors too, just like the Dictator?’

Battle Royale (Chapter 31)

Though the history is dubious, it is clear that the government wants control over its citizens. Battle Royale Programme (aka Battle Experiment No. 68 or the Programme) is a form of control. The abducted children are forced to fight and one of them stands out as the winner. These children fear (and/or mistrust) each other. In the situation, they forget the good times they had together. Some examples are:

  • Yoshio Akamatsu is the first to be grabbed by fear. He kills a girl from a safe spot and attacks Shuya Nanahara.
  • Yuko Sakaki sees Nanahara “kill” Tatsumichi Oki and out of fear, tries to poison him. Her action causes a shootout in the Light House (the most intense scene in both the book and the movie), and five girls kill each other. She herself commits suicide.
  • Kayoko Kotohiki attacks Hiroki Sugimura thinking he is going to kill her. Hiroki’s only mission, however is to search her, protect her (if possible) and to confess his love for her. (This is one of those scenes which is better than in the book than in the movie.)

What about the parents and guardians of the students who are abducted for the “Experiment”? They get informed about it. Some protest. They are killed or tortured by the government. Shogo’s father was killed when he was the participant of the previous Programme. Kinpatsu Sakamochi (Programme Supervisor) raped Anno, Nanahara’s caretaker. And the others accept their fate of having to lose a child. Noriko Nakagawa’s parents are said to be alive at the end of the story.

Any resistance against the Programme or the government is crushed. Mr. Hayashida (the teacher) is killed when he resists to cooperate with Sakamochi. Shinji Mimura’s uncle is said to have died in an accident but Shinji believes that he was murdered by the government for being rebellious.

Also, the Programme is equal to all. The participant could be the son of a bureaucrat or an aristocrat or may be an orphan. None of it matter. No one is spared. The moment between Kyoichi Motobuchi, the class representative and Kinpatsu Sakamochi makes this concept clear.

Some of his classmates might have been hoping that Kyoichi would provide some adequate rational form of protest. Kill the friends you were hanging out with yesterday? It was impossible. Someone’s making a mistake here. Hey rep, can you take care of this one for us?

“’M-my father is a director of environmental affairs in the prefectural government. How could the class I’m in be selected for th-the Program?…’

Due to his shaking, his tense voice sounded even more wound up than usual.

The man who called himself Sakamochi grinned and shook his head, his long hair swinging in the air. ‘Let’s see. You’re Kyoichi Motobuchi, right?

‘You must know what equality means. Listen up. All people are born equal. Your father’s job in the prefectural government doesn’t entitle you to special privileges. You are no different. Listen up, everybody. You all have your own distinct personal backgrounds. Of course some of you come from rich families, some from poor families. But circumstances beyond your control like that shouldn’t determine who you are. You must all realize what you’re worth on your own. So Kyoichi, let’s not delude ourselves that you’re somehow special—because you’re not!’”

Battle Royale, Chapter 3

***

But the characters do not stop thinking about the rebellion. Shinji wants to avenge his uncle and tries hacking into their Programme computer which is in a school. When he fails, he makes an explosive to blast off the school. He fails again.

Shinji might have also been successful if he had tried to look for more allies but he does not seem to trust people. His uncle had told:

‘It’s best not to trust groups and movements. They’re not very reliable.’

He even kills a friend, Keita Iijima when he feels that he would leak his plan of blowing up the school.

The conversation between Shogo Kawada, Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa provide insight into whether the rebellion would be successful. Shogo, who seems to know a lot, believes that people wouldn’t resist the government and a revolution for freedom may never occur. Their prosperity had made people oblivious to freedom. They believed in what the government believed: “controlled freedom is necessary for prosperity”. (Personally, I too feel this is true but I believe in soft control, unlike that of the RGEA.)

Even though Shogo has personal grudge against the government, he begins a rebellion by saving two people from the Programme and hijacking a military boat. Nanahara and Nakagawa are in the run in the book and the movie. Battle Royle 2 is the movie (I haven’t watched yet) in which the government has declared them as terrorists.

  1. Kindness and Love

The novel has a lot of moments in which one character says to another: “You’re kind.”

Shinji Minura helps Noriko Nakagawa during the briefing by Kinpatsu Sakamochi, when the bullet ricocheting through Yotitoki Kuninobu hits her leg. Shuya Nanahara helps Noriko after they are sent to the “battlefield”. Shogo Kawada helps both of them. And though Hiroki Sugimura cannot help as he would like to, he has also been described as kind. Hiroki is also the tragic hero, who dies at the hands of his beloved.

On the opposite spectrum are Kazuo Kiriyama and Mitsuko Souma. While Mitsuko’s backstory makes one sympathetic towards her, one can’t even sympathize at Kiriyama’s death. His apathy makes him a one dimensional character—one who is perfect and wants to win the battle. However, he does not succeed. Had he succeeded, kindness and love would have lost. Rebellion would have lost. Battle Royale would have ended in a darker note, with a loss of hope.

Sakura Ogawa and Kazhuhiko Yamamoto are among the first to die. I felt their suicide was a symbol of lost love. Mitsuko Souma is one of the girls who has involved in prostitution even before her puberty. The book says she was gang-raped, the movie shows her mother forcing her into prostitution. The way she acts during the battle was also the result of lost love. Hiroki’s loss is also an instance of love losing to fear.

So the one way to make love victorious was to save Noriko and Shuya. Shogo, who himself is a tragic hero from the previous battle, helps them. He had been their savior and their guide. It was extremely tragic that he died. Had he survived, it would have been a wonderful journey for the three.

  1. Mutual Respect among teachers and students

The theme of mutual respect is not prominent in the book. The movie is different in this respect. The whole Battle Royale Programme stems from a law (BR Act) to control the rebellious youth. The school students frequently bunk Kitano’s classes and attacks him with a knife in the corridor. When Kitano enters later as the Programme Supervisor, he seems to be taking a revenge.

However, the individual youth might have also been thinking: Why should I respect elders who don’t respect me? The characters have gone through a lot due to the neglect of the adults. Shuya has been an orphan when his father couldn’t bear the pain of poverty. Mitsuko has been pushed to prostitution by her own mother. Yoshitoki Kuninobu and Fumiyo Fujiyoshi are killed by Kitano against the rule and no one punished him, though he talks about following rules.

The second epilogue in the movie (Requiem II) shows the common dream of Noriko and Kitano. Noriko says she had taken the knife that had been used to attack him. He asks, “What am I supposed to say at this moment?” Though Kitano likes Noriko, and Noriko respects him, her statement is surprising. I felt that the complexity of the relation between adults and children is shown in that scene.

 

 

 

मेरो नेपाल

मुक्तक ब्लग

तिम्रा गहिरा गहिरा नयनमा, फेवाताल देखिन्छ
त्यो फेवाताल भित्र, माछापुछ्रे हिमाल देखिन्छ
म गहिरिएर हेर्ने मान्छे , भएर हो कि प्रिये ,
हरेक गाउ अनि बस्ति भित्र, नेपाल देखिन्छ !!!


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Battle Royale: PUBG, the movie, the novel

PUBG: “The original Battle Royale game”

PUBG_compressed

My best friend Anish introduced me to PUBG. The concept was simple. Maximum of 100 players dropped into an island fighting each other and the winner was the last one standing. It looked interesting but my phone could not meet its specifications. A couple of months later, Ashok (my friend from college) discovered an emulator for desktop. At least a dozen of us downloaded the emulator and the game. When the game downloaded, it said: “The original Battle Royale game is now installed on your device.”

The term “Battle Royale” intrigued me. I had seen the term before in Wikipedia when I read about the game but I had somehow skipped it. That time, I guess I only wanted to know why the game was popular. I did not give it another thought. While playing the game (and after going through a lot of “funny moments”, which were not so funny), a thought came into my mind, What if I could write a novel based on the game?

That’s why I looked if there was a novel like that. And (unfortunately for my creativity) I found the Japanese movie. Curious, I went through the Wikipedia, movie was actually inspired by a Japanese novel.

Battle Royale: The Movie (2000)

The Kinji Fukasaku movie destroyed my PUBG experience. It was unlike any of the games I had played. It felt scary, tumultuous, and even childish at times, but mostly it felt nauseous. I mean, who would be in a right state of mind when you are forced to kill your friends in an island. Crazy situation dictates crazy measures but the madness of the fifteen-year-olds disturbed me.

The movie, in my opinion, is not the best in terms of execution but the idea itself felt great. What would happen if 42 students are forced to kill each other in an island by the government? The question hooked me till the end. The outcome of the movie was not unexpected. I actually knew who were going to survive but still I hoped Kawada survived. The end of Kitano (former teacher and BR Programme Supervisor) too felt comical and I thought it could have been better.

Battle Royale: The Novel (1997)

battle royale

Koshun Takami, the author of the novel sent the book for a horror competition in 1996. The horror of being killed by your own friend is inexplicable but the book is more like dystopian adventure. The dispute of genre probably helped the book. Takami’s book became a best-seller and controversial because of its violence. It was banned in several countries. Even the Diet (Japanese legislature) was interested. Then later, it was made into a movie. I felt so excited when I read this history.

And I (wrongly) thought the movie was dark! The novel is even darker. It’s been inspired from the Pro Wrestling Battle Royale as described in the “Introduction” section. (You must have noticed a real long list of inspirations by now.) “I feel like puking,” Shuya Nanahara and Shogo Kawada say often in the book. That’s what I felt. Yes, the novel is even more nauseous than the book.

The book explains the motive behind the initiation of the Battle Royale Programme aka the Programme clearly than that in the movie. It goes in length inside the minds of each character to give the reader complete information about them. This scheme is great mostly and feels boring at times, but I love Takami for taking the risk. The end of the Programme Supervisor Kinapatsu Sakamochi is not comical but I did not feel the satisfaction. I wanted Nanahara to kill him instead of Kawada. Kawada did have personal issue with the government and Sakamochi is a government official but Nahahara had a personal vendetta against him. Sakamochi had raped his caretaker Anno and had killed his brotherly best friend, Yoshitoki Kuninobu.

Differences

Both the Battle Royale novel and the movie have the same basic premise: 42 students forced to kill each other by the government. However, the novel is about the revolt against atrocious Fascist government, while the movie is about the adult-teenagers (teacher-student) relationship. The attack on Kitano in the beginning and then his love for the disciplined Noriko (despite being the Program Supervisor) emphasize this. The movie also might have been made in a lighter tone to make it approvable for 15+.

The book is not just about the teenagers and the adults. It is about the system that has been economically successful but does not tolerate protest. Any protester is a threat to the government who is removed immediately. The Programme is about creating mistrust among people, to keep them divided and to rule upon them. It is a story of how three students deceive the government by trusting each other—an act that was totally unexpected in the state of chaos. Government is the villain in the book. Kinpatsu Sakamochi is only a scratch in a very long and webbed list of villains.

PUBG, on the other hand is a sort of distraction to the youth. A way to let out your frustration so that you can start something anew in an efficient manner. (I am reminded of Fight Club, which I watched today.) The game is addictive and I love the way it has been executed. However, in some years I feel it is going to fade away. I don’t know why. I just feel it. (Let’s say like Kawada’s sixth sense in the novel.)

To conclude this review…

I found the book and the movie influential, though the movie has a lot of issues. (Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino haven’t praised them just to make them popular.) Battle Royale also inspired gaming franchises, which will keep on increasing the popularity of both the book and the movie.

I still have a lot of things to say about Battle Royale—book and the movie, as well as some of the individual characters. I won’t include all of them here. I will come up with more essays on this topic. (That’s a sort of influence, isn’t it?)