It’s been announced that the CW network in America is planning to turn the Japanese film Battle Royale into a TV series.
Words cannot express what terror this fills me with.
In case you’ve never heard of the film, the basic plot is that the Japanese authorities have passed an act where they put a class of children on an island and force them to kill each other leaving one winner at the end. If anyone thinks this is similar to The Hunger Games, Battle Royale came out way before that and is much more violent, with scenes of extreme blood and gore as classmates turn against their own friends. While Battle Royale (which itself was based on the novel and manga series of the same name) focuses on the main characters of Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa, it also allows us to spend time with their other classmates before they are killed. It’s a shocking and brutal film but also one that does focus on characters as well as the violence.
I know that The Hunger Games has become popular (and rightly so-the books are great) and Hollywood is known for jumping on the bandwagon but really how can this work on American tv? First of all Japan seems so integral to the film that changing the protagonists to all-American teenagers just seems wrong. Then there’s the violence. The film shows the kids using guns, knives, crossbows and various other weapons to kill each other, how on earth would that be allowed on American mainstream tv? The violence would have to be cut from the tv series, but again this is an important part of Battle Royale. It has to be so bloody because it should be shocking and awful what these kids are forced to do.
Another problem is the network it’s going to be on. This is the network that gives us America’s Next Top Model and Gossip Girl. Don’t get me wrong I love those shows but Battle Royale-the tv series would not fit well amongst them. These shows are light and glossy and that’s not Battle Royale. Maybe if it was on a different network it could work but I don’t think they can get away with it on the CW.
So how could Battle Royale possibly work as a tv series? I guess it could be interesting if they limited the show to one season-they couldn’t stretch it out with the same kids over seven years (though I think seven series are extremely optimistic given the subject matter). The main focus could be on a bunch of kids who band together to try and find a way out of it, while a sub plot could focus on a different classmate each episode where we see their backstory and flashbacks (like Lost?) before seeing their death at the end of the episode. At least then we’d be able to see other classmates who have been killed in other people’s flashbacks. If they were able to commission another series then maybe each season could focus on a new class while also having sub plots involving previous survivors trying to stop the authorities from killing more kids.
As much as I try to think positively I honestly can’t think how this would go ahead. Teenagers violently killing each other wouldn’t be allowed on mainstream tv and if they took out the violence it would end up looking more like The Hunger Games which would be pointless. Whatever turns up on tv it would be Battle Royale in name only.
Still probably couldn’t be worse than the Battle Royale 2: Requiem.