An In-Depth Analysis On The 3 Things That Make “Squid Game” Different From “Battle Royale” And “The Hunger Games”

They are often compared to each other.

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When it comes to survival thrillers, several titles immediately come to mind. These include the iconic 2000 Japanese movie Battle Royale as well as the 2012 movie The Hunger Games and its sequels—all based on books by author Suzanne Collins.

The newest addition to this lineup is Netflix‘s Squid Game, a story that stands out for its terrifying storyline. The contestants, all crippled with debt, accomplish several games in the hopes of being the one who wins ₩45.6 billion KRW (about $38.3 million USD). The ones who fail the games are eliminated, forfeiting their lives in the process.

Squid Game is often compared to Battle Royale as the latter also features numerous deaths. Here, a high school class is kidnapped and forced to kill each other until one remains. The Hunger Games, similarly, is also a fight to the death between teenagers from different districts.

At the same time, they are not completely the same. Korean author Cho Seungyeon went into detail about what makes Squid Game different from the other two films.

1. The Goal

First up, the premise of Squid Game is inherently unique. Rather than being forced to kill each other, the contestants play games inspired by South Korean childhood activities. They will only die if they fail to complete them.

When I compare [Squid Game] with them, I feel like it’s a completely different movie. First off, the purpose of Battle Royale and The Hunger Games is to kill each other. But that’s not the case in Squid Game. It’s either the host or the facility of the game that kills people. The blade just comes down from above and cuts the rope.

— Cho Seungyeon

Battle Royale 
The Hunger Games 

There was one scene in Episode 4 where the contestants separated into groups to kill each other, but it was not an official game. On the other hand, the characters in the American and Japanese films needed to survive by murdering others in order to win.

Of course, there are some scenes where people kill each other at night to increase their own winning rates, and there are some lines saying that that’s the hidden game. But in the drama, in the six games mentioned by the organization, the official game of killing each other does not exist.

— Cho Seungyeon

Squid Game Episode 4 

2. The Setting

Next, it cannot be denied that Squid Game has a different setting where the challenges themselves take place. Though the contestants are also on an island, they are never allowed to leave the building where they were taken. Each game is played in a new environment that was made by the organization. From a playground to a carnival-like hopscotch area, it was as far from the jungle of the other two films as can be.

For Battle Royale or Hunger Games, the story takes place in a somewhat wild place, right? People in Battle Royale are left in an island and they kill each other in the woods. And in the Hunger Games, they also compete in the woods where it seems like not a soul lives. But the filming site in Squid Game is completely different. It’s also an island but it’s completely controlled and artificial.

— Cho Seungyeon

Squid Game | Netflix
Battle Royale and The Hunger Games

Cho Seungyeon even pointed out that at some points, the sets were so artificial that they looked just like variety show productions. Episode 6, for instance, had mock houses reminiscent of older Korean homes.

In a way, it’s like we’re watching a filming site of a reality show. Battle Royale and Hunger Games have wilderness as their backgrounds and Squid Game is carried out in a very civilized space. So in that sense, the meaning of this series is totally different from the other two.

— Cho Seungyeon

| Netflix

3. The Rule

Finally, Squid Game has a very unique rule where the entire game can be terminated if majority of the contestants agree, something that actually happened in the second episode. The other two films, meanwhile, are set in dystopian societies where they cannot opt out of the games no matter what.

In Battle Royale, the country made the battle with the purpose of decreasing the number of youth unemployment. In The Hunger Games, people from the capitol came and randomly picked people to compete so Katniss volunteers to compete instead of her sister.

— Cho Seungyeon

This rule gave an entirely new dimension to the K-Drama where the subject of free will came into play. After all, 187 out of 201 participants returned to the game—to their potential deaths—even after being allowed to leave.

Ninety-three percent of the people came back willingly. Behind the reasons why they came back were their personal stories. For instance, his mom was sick or he’s being chased by a gang. So the fact that they have their personal stories is  a really big difference.

— Cho Seungyeon

In the end, although Squid Game has outrageously horrific elements just like Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, it is still more realistic in many ways.

Squid Game is like a portrait of our society which is very organized with so many laws and rules. [It is a] satire on our civilization itself. It may look like it’s the same genre as Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, but the actual message it’s trying to convey may be different.

— Cho Seungyeon

Sang Woo and Gi Hun | Netflix

Catch the full video below for more insights on Squid Game.

Source: YouTube