Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan—where it then proceeded to become a runaway best seller—Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world. Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available in a new English translation.
Koushun Takami was born in 1969 in Amagasaki near Osaka and grew up in Kagawa Prefecture of Shikoku (the fourth-largest island in Japan), where he currently resides. After graduating from Osaka University with a degree in literature, he worked for a newspaper company, Shikoku Shinbun, for five years, reporting on politics, police reports, and economics. Also, he attended Nihon University’s liberal arts correspondence course program and acquired an English teaching certificate for junior high and high school.
Battle Royale, completed after Takami left the newspaper company, was his debut work and his only novel published so far. With its publication in Japan in 1999, it received widespread support and became a best seller. Battle Royale was serialized as a comic, was made into a feature film in 2000, and has been translated into more than ten languages. Since its initial release, Battle Royale continues to be a cult favorite in Japan and around the world.
In 2012, Battle Royale: Angels’ Border, a spin-off manga scripted by Koushun Takami, was released.