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]

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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?)

Monthly Feature 16: Midnight in Paris

The exam schedule came unexpectedly. There was not a month to study and I had no notes. I took risk. I wrote and wrote and wrote on my notebooks. After two weeks, I was fatigued. I decided to watch Midnight in Paris. 
The movie was in my watch list for about a month. And it absolutely refreshed my mind from the first second. The beauty of Paris and the light humour changed my mood, made me more energetic.

The best thing is Gil’s travels from 2010 to 1920s presenting the debate of better present versus better past. I am not writing much about the movie. I just want to share a couple of quotes from the movie (Source: IMDb).

This one is when Gil meets Hemingway for the first time.

Gil : Would you read it?

Ernest Hemingway : Your novel?

Gil : Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.

Ernest Hemingway : My opinion is I hate it.

Gil : Well you haven’t even read it yet.

Ernest Hemingway : If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

And this is the one which I had previously shared on Facebook as well.

Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.

In the end, Gil realises that people feel the past was golden because we think our present is painful. But if we look at the lives of  people in the past, their own lives were not easy. (For Gil 2010 was painful than 1920s in the beginning, when he is in 1920s, he knows that people thought Renaissance was the golden age.)

Director: Woody Allen

Rating: 9/10

(P.S.:​I have been busy for some months now. First there was a month long field tour. Then the report writing and then exams. I am in the middle of my exams but the immediate cause I have not been able to read or write anything on WordPress is the internet connection.)

Monthly Feature 15: Zootopia

Zootopia–a play on the word utopia. Utopia–that can also be pronounced as Zootopia (in Sanskrit and in Nepali). Zootopia–a movie I watched twice in about twenty hours. One of the movies I cannot forget.

“Anyone can be anything in Zootopia,” Judy Hopps, the first rabbit police officer claims. But Nick Wilde, a fox and con says, “Everyone comes to Zootopia, thinking they could be anything they want. But you can’t. You can only be what you are. Sly fox. Dumb bunny.” Between these two quotes exists the story of Zootopia–the major city of world in which “preys” and “predators” are history. They have learned to live in harmony.

But fear still exists. Animals that were traditionally “preys” fear that the “predators” may go savage again. Someone targets the fear, turns some predators into savages and disrupts the harmony. Maybe Mr. Big (a tiny shrew(?)–I think he is a shrew, I don’t know😜) is correct in saying, “We may be evolved, but deep down we are still animals.”

Zootopia shows fear and prejudices can disrupt the peaceful coexistence. “Predators” are ostracized. Zootopia was, “a unique place. It’s a crazy, beautiful, diverse city, where we celebrate our differences,” Gazelle, the popstar says. She adds, “This is not the Zootopia I know. The Zootopia I know is better than this. We don’t just blindly assign blame. We don’t know why these attacks keep happening. But it is irresponsible to label all predators as savages. We cannot let fear divide us. Please, give me back the Zootopia I love.”

Fear rules the modern world and it is fear that divides us. A world free of fear can only unite us all.

More info on IMDb

Monthly Feature 12: Let’s take a “Breathless” Revision

When I began writing posts under the category of “Monthly Feature” at the beginning of this year, the only thing I aimed was consistency. The other aim was to review music, movies and art. As I look back, I realize that there have been movie reviews have become more numerous than the others. On the twelfth monthly feature–the last for the year 2016, let’s take a revision.

On January, I featured a Nepali folk music band: Night. Despite being named Night, I discussed how the band is taking Nepali music on to the light. The second post was the review of a wonderful Nepali movie Jhola. On the third monthly feature that came on March, I could not find a specific topic, I guess. So I discussed how our very existence could be an art and how we can indulge ourselves in art as well.

I went to a wood-art exhibition in March. Later, it turned into April’s monthly feature. I was really mesmerized by the way, artists from various parts of the world to create the best they could. May’s featured post offered condolences to Thinle, the hero of Dolpa whose movie Himalaya (aka Caravan) was nominated in the Academy Awards. In June, I analyzed Maleficent (2014) and discussed if it is fair to call her a villain.

In mid-June, I watched Kalo Pothi, a movie based on lives of Karnali. I reviewed its pros and cons in July. For August, I seem to have lost a specific topic again. So, I shared some songs and music I was listening that month. They were only a little part of the music I listened to, however.

The last three monthly features have been movie reviews. In September, Inside Out was reviewed, and Interstellar in October. The last post was on Pashupati Prasad, one of the finest movies that have been made in Nepal.

 Just before I wrap up, I would like to share a song–Breathless by Shankar Mahadevan. Most people are amazed by the way he sings; but to me what he sings strikes a chord deep within me.

 

Monthly Feature 11: Pashupati Prasad

I wanted to watch this movie when it was released last year but I could not watch it then because I think I was busy in my chores. Thankfully, the movie came up on YouTube during Dashain.

After the earthquake of Baishakh 12, 2072, Pashupati Prasad Khakurel comes to Kathmandu from Sindhupalchowk in search of his Meet Baa. (Meet is best friend; Baa is father. Meet Baa is father’s best friend–almost like father.) Only his Meet Baa can help him earn money in order to clear his dead parents’ debt.

The movie revolves around this simple common theme. However, as Pashupati Prasad works around Pashupatinath area, he makes a connection with Hanumanji–a masked man dressed like Hanuman, an old woman who loves him more than her own son, an M.A. graduate who runs a food booth, and Bunu–a deaf-mute girl who he loves. He also makes a rivalry with Bhasme Don, while searching for gold in the Bagmati River. Through these characters, several aspects of society come alive.

The ending of the movie is unexpected but highly emotional. Without much dialogues, these scenes break the audiences’ heart. Though many have argued that the ending should have been different, I think that’s exactly the makers had wanted people to think of.

Cast

Khagendra Lamichhane as Pashupati Prasad

Rabindra Singh Baniya as Hanuman Ji

Bipin Karki as Bhasme Don

Barsha Siwakoti as Bunu

Director: Deependra K. Khanal

IMDb rating: 9.4/10

Monthly Feature 10: A Movie that Took me Back to Astronomy

For the monthly feature this October, I can’t avoid writing about this science fiction movie that involves a worm hole, a black hole, and a crew of scientists trying to save the human species: Interstellar.

I watched the movie twice during the second week this September. The first time I watched it, I did not understand some of the things shown towards the end. The search took me to different answers. It also took me back to astrophysics.

I have always been attracted by astronomy. I enjoyed reading about stars, planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets. I was introduced to complex objects like black hole through a picture book (published by National Geographic Society, I think) my friend had brought to school. About three years ago, I had read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. It had given me a picture of the universe but I was still not satisfied.

I had heard about Interstellar from my friends in college. I did not know what the movie showed until I watched it for the first time. To keep the suspense (which I don’t usually do in case of movies) I had not even googled its name. After I watched it the first time, I was confused. Because:

I was touched by its drama.

I did not understand anything shown in the end.

I had to know where Cooper went after trying to enter the black hole. I had to know how all things shown in the movie were related.

As soon as I watched the movie, I googled and saw a term “tesseract”. Cooper had gone into the tesseract. How? “They” had sent him. Who’s they?

Who’s they?

Cooper asks the question twice in the movie. If you have watched the movie and listened carefully the conversation between Cooper and TARS in the Tesseract scene you can get the hint. But who built the Tesseract? Only one answer in Quora satisfied me. And to verify it again, I had to watch the movie.

However, I wanted more information on the scientific accuracy of the movie. While sci-fi movies are related to science, they use their artistic freedom to show things which can be misleading. According to the materials I found on the internet, the movie had shown almost accurately the black hole and the worm hole. I thought, ‘There is some science in the movie.’ I found an ebook The Science of Interstellar, written by astrophysicist Kip Thorne. This book helped me know many aspects of the movie and the science used in it. Combined with my undergraduate physics book I could understand relativity and concepts of space-time better than I had before.

Interstellar helped me widen my knowledge on universe. However, it would have been difficult if I had not known some of the concepts previously. I really appreciate the movies which tease my brain and my knowledge. This is one such movie.

Cast

(Source: Wikipedia)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10