Essay on Reinforcement of Traditional Japanese Norms in Takami’s Battle Royale

Essay on Reinforcement of Traditional Japanese Norms in Takami’s Battle Royale

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In 1999, Koushun Takami generated one of Japan’s largest controversies surrounding literature and film with the release of his novel, Battle Royale, which was made into a movie only one year later. Both the novel and the film, which detail the lives of a fictional group of young students forced to kill each other in a program designed by the government until only one remains standing, evoked a torrent of objection from Japanese critics who felt that the plot would inspire schoolchildren to imitate the violent acts depicted by Takami (Arai 367). The disapproval from such a vast amount of literary critics was most likely due to earlier crimes committed by students including the murder of a teacher by a teenage student in 1998 and the decapitation of an elementary school student by a 14-year-old boy in 1997 (Shotaro 77). These critics feared that the release of Takami’s story would provoke further criminal behavior that would conflict with the values and norms of Japanese society by promoting the possession of weapons and homicide. However, despite these fears and the claims of many of these critics, Takami’s novel actually reinforces the norms of traditional Japanese society regarding its cultural expectations of students, collectivist attitudes, and gender roles through the portrayal of the consequences that arise from deviating from these norms.
According to Kiefer, students in Japan have strict expectations to focus on their studies and receive good grades. It is believed that in order for the student to achieve financial success as an adult, they must first attain scholarly success through their education. This heavy demand on student achievement is demonstrated through a term that has developed throughout the Japanese ...


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...erican Anthropologist 72.1 (1970): 66-75. JSTOR. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.
Kobayashi, Emiko, Kerbo, Harold R., and Sharp, Susan F. “Differences in Individualistic and Collectivistic Tendencies among College Students in Japan and the United States.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 51.1-2 (2010): 59-84. SAGE Journals Online. Web. 26 Nov. 2010.
Lee, Kristen Schultz. “Gender Beliefs and the Meaning of Work Among Okinawan Women.” Gender & Society 20.3 (2006): 382-401. SAGE Journals Online. Web. 27 Nov. 2010.
Sato, Nancy, and McLaughlin, Milbrey W. “Context Matters: Teaching in Japan and the United States.” Phi Delta Kappan 73.5 (1992): 359-366. ProQuest. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.
Shotaro, Takahashi. “When Student Violence Erupts.” Japan Quarterly 45.3 (1998): 77-83. ProQuest. Web. 19 Nov. 2010.
Takami, Koushun. Battle Royale. San Francisco: Haika Soru, 2009. Print.

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