The game of survival
Happy Monday everyone! I’m sure you’re all just as delighted as I am to have a start to a brand new week! Enough of that sarcasm it’s time for the Monday blogpost!
Over the weekend I went to see The Hunger Games in the cinema. I found it quite enjoyable, if a little bit flat. I was really interested in the world around which the film (and book) was set but I can’t help but feel that the movie trivialised one of the most important aspects of series such as these. Now one of the things I have to point out when I’m discussing this is that I have yet to read the book, so I’m just talking about the movie. People who are huge fans of the series (I know there are a lot of you) please bare with me as I’m sure many of these problem so not arise in the books at all.
I enjoyed the movie quite a lot but I feel in order to get a 12A rating in Ireland (I think it’s PG13 is America?) it ended up trivialising an awful lot of the deaths in the game itself. For anyone who doesn’t know anything about the movie it’s pretty much set in a dystopian America which is split into various different districts. The first district is the richest one and the 12th is the poorest. All the different districts do various jobs to run the country. The 1st district seems to benefit the most from these jobs as well as they have the most technology. Every year each district has to offer up two ‘tributes’, a male and a female, to compete in a tv show called “The Hunger Games” in which the tributes fight to the death in various maps until the last person is alive. Apparently most die from exposure or dehydration and such but in the one in the movie they’re practically all killed by other players. In order to help them survive they have to be likeable and get sponsors to help them win the game. The people from the 1st district almost always win. The main character is from the 12th district and is good at hunting and such so has a good chance of winning. From that I gathered this was the basic plot.
What I find most interesting and I feel was probably much more apparent in the books is the whole morality behind these games. The idea of people fighting to the death without being given a choice to do so has been around for a long time in stories because it gives us a very interesting insight into what people are willing to do in order to survive or in order to win. In most of these stories the main character has been forced into the game unwillingly. In the case of the Hunger Games Katniss is capable of winning the whole games on her own and our sympathy for her comes from how she is thrust into the games in order to save her sister. She also does her best through out the games not to kill anyone else if at all possible.
I’m going to contrast the story of the survival game in The Hunger Games with an anime series I started watching called Mirai Nikki. Now I’m only about halfway through this series and it’s a very interesting one to compare and contrast The Hunger Games. It just so happened that I started watching the series just before going to see The Hunger Games so it’s an interesting comparison. Now in Mirai Nikki the main character is basically completely incompetent and makes up his own imaginary world in which he speaks to the god of Time and Space. He writes everything he observes in a diary and doesn’t talk to anyone else. The god of Time and Space creates a game in which 12 people (not unlike the 12 districts huh?) are able to read the future from their own diaries. They all must figure out each others identity and kill everyone else. The winner of the game will become the god of Time and Space.
One of the most interesting things about this series is that first of all, the main character is completely incompetent but luckily he has someone on his side. This girl who is completely obsessed with him and is very very unstable (to put it mildly). She will protect him at the cost of her own life if needed. And this girl is ruthless and will kill anyone or anything to protect him. One of the other interesting things about this series is that each one of the characters can see futures based on that their diary is about. For the main character he wrote about what he observed, which means he gets lots of interesting different pieces of information from his point of view. The stalker girl however was writing a diary about the main character so between the two of them they can predict the future for the main character really well. The characters can change the future if needed and the diaries will update accordingly to reflect the change. Every character has their own diary which has different information about the future in it.
Now although both are survival games these two series take very different views on the situation. The Hunger Games is about a girl how has been thrust unwillingly into the game. The same can be said in Mirai Nikki. Now the first major difference is how Katnis is competent as a main character so her choices are much more moral. She could kill everyone quite easily and win the games if she wished. She has the advantage. In contrast the main character is Mirai Nikki is completely incompetent. He doesn’t want to play the game and is almost killed instantly as soon as he was thrust into the game. If it wasn’t for Yuno, the stalker girl, he would be dead as soon as the game started. This gives us a much different and interesting point of view. The main character in Mirai Nikki does not give us the same moral standpoint as Katnis does. This is because when the main character kills someone in Mirai Nikki we feel he must in order for him to survive because he wont otherwise. We see he doesn’t want to win the game but he also doesn’t want to die. The main character doesn’t kill very often though in the series. Ynuo does the brunt of the work. This is also important because we feel that she’s much more evil than he is but we still sympathise with her because without her the main character would be dead.
Now one of the most important things in both of these series is that the main character is not fighting to win but fighting to survive. They’re both the underdog in their own way. This way we still have sympathy for the character and we want them to win, mostly because they don’t want the actual prize. For Katnis she does not want the glory of winning. She just wants to go home with her life. The same can be said in Mirai Nikki. He doesn’t want to become the god of Time and Space, he wants to make friends and have a normal life. The prize that these characters are fighting for isn’t the one that’s offered but it’s something else. And because of that we feel sympathy for them that we wouldn’t otherwise have.
Survival games have always peaked viewers interest because we are interested in seeing what people are willing to do in specific situations, when they are desperate. Some are fighting solely for their life and we feel sympathy for these characters. Some are fighting for the prize and we mostly do not sympathise with character such as these. Both The Hunger Games and Mirai Nikki give us very different stories based on one simple question, which will always peak a viewers interest.
What would you do in order to survive a survival game?