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Inspiration vs. Plaigerism

It is (or it is now) a known fact that many Western movies are usually ripped off of Japanese movies, usually in the horror, thriller and action genres. One movie that has been particularly victimized is the infamously disturbing thriller known as Battle Royale. This movie has gotten a lot of attention recently due to the new franchise, the loved and disputed, Hunger Games Trilogy. However, it has also been a huge inspiration for such directors like Quentin Tarantino, the director of Kill Bill movies and his Oscar-nominated film, Inglourious Bastards. The author of the Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, has said that she knew nothing of Battle Royale and that she got the idea from surfing television. This may be so, but the two are very much alike and many people have accused her of plagiarism.

Unfortunately, whether or not Collins has committed a literary crime, this would not be the first time. Whether Collins knew or not, Battle Royale has been an inspiration to many Western directors, but it has also been ripped off repeatedly since publication.

Battle Royale began as a novel written by Koushun Takami that was published in 1999. The world of Battle Royale is an alternate universe where Japan is a totalitarian country in present-day. To enforce the cooperation of youth, the government places randomly selected classes of juvenile students on a deserted island where they are instructed to fight to the death over a three-day period. If they break the rules, a collar that has been placed around their neck will combust, thus killing the “traitor”. The main character, Shuya Nanahara, immediately goes out of his way to protect the crush of his deceased best friend, a kind girl named Noriko Nakagawa. Together, Shuya and Noriko try to survive the deadly game over the course of three days as other characters suffer their own tragedies. In the story, some die for the sake of their friends and secret loves, others die by the hands of manipulative classmates. The story becomes increasingly gruesome until the very end when, with the help of a former contestant, the two main characters escape, and become wanted by the government.

Sound familiar? Dystopian government? Boy and girl against the odds? Forced to fight against innocent people you either love or don’t know? Deep and/or complicated pasts that lead to a violent future?

These themes are commonly found amongst the bloody movies in today’s western society. Personally, I prefer the original, subtitled, Japanese versions. But in conclusion to my point, artists will be artists, art will be art. We just have to remember that there is a difference between inspiration and plagiarism, so as not to disrespect creative minds and their works. Also, once you think about it, it would be very boring if artists kept coming out with the same thing over and over.




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