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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Battle Royale syndrome

When I saw Battle Royale last year, I was overcome with both disgust and admiration for the Japanese culture. BR, as the movie is known among its rabid international fanbase, is essentially a Japanese rendition of Lord of the Flies. The premise goes something like this: In an alternate Japan, the economy has tanked and obnoxious back-talking teenagers run around unchecked, terrorizing teachers and generally creating headaches for hardworking adults. To rectify this, the government inexplicably decides to pass legislation to randomly select a highschool class every year to be sent off to a remote island where the kids are forced to engage in a Battle Royale. All the kids are assigned random weapons (ranging from standard fare like submachine guns to more creative, albeit weaker implements like fans and pot-covers) and are told to kill each other. There are, of course, rules governing this "game", but I'm not one to spoil movies so these I will leave out. Suffice it say, the whole movie is one giant orgy of killing, interspersed with some inevitable highschool romance. Now, I don't consider myself to be a squeamish person, but even I had trouble keeping my lunch down while I watched these highschool kids blundgeon, shoot and maim eachother. When the credits started rolling, I remember thinking how amazingly disciplined the Japanese mind must be that such violent entertainment has no negative effect on youth crimerate. This is even more amazing, considering many Japanese anime that target kids would be rated 'R' on this side of the ocean. However, today my admiration for the resilience of the Japanese psyche faded when I read this article about a girl who slit the throat of her classmate because the later had said some "rude" things to her on an internet chat site. The Japanese, alas, are no more immune to suggestive violence on TV than the rest of us. Sad.

On BTW, if you're interested in watching BR, you won't find it at Blockbusters. But if you don't mind heading down to Richmond, I'm sure you'll be able to find a copy.

Sad Jerk


At Monday, June 14, 2004 9:40:00 PM, Blogger Maktaaq said...

Trust me, Japanese kids are sadistic. I used to teach in Japan. One of my students murdered a middle-aged woman; he was the extreme. More commonly I would see things like the "normal" girls in the class punching the "obese" girl in the stomach, or, in one case, one of my friends' sons was knifed on the first day of school (he was a pretty cool kid, too, not nerdy).

Japanese adults are worse.


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