As the full terror of SARS-CoV-2 dawned on the world, it came as no surprise that people were scrambling for analogies to make sense of the pandemic’s consequences. Some picked the obvious comparison to zombie outbreaks; others went with viral apocalypses, like Stephen King’s The Strand. My own thoughts have turned to a different horror cult classic: Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale. I had fled the virus’s early spread in Hong Kong — in a manner painfully like my departure three months before, compelled by the police’s invasion of the city’s universities — only to be incarcerated in the farcical quarantine of Metro Manila, which was slowly driving its citizens to the brink. Under those circumstances, I could think of no better comparison than that of a class of students forced into a game designed to kill all but one of them. Weren’t we all, at that point, unwilling players in our own game of death?
Content Warning: This article has spoilers for the series, as well as mentions of sexual assault and rape.