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    Squid Game: Refreshing the Battle Royale Genre

    As Squid Game becomes one of Netflix’s most-watched shows of all time and holds audiences attention far beyond the cultural scope of South Korea, it begs the question as to why this show resonated with people on an international scale? By no means is the concept of forcing individuals into a life-or-death game original, so what does Squid Game do differently?

    In so many ways, Squid Game subverts the expectations of a typical Battle Royale story and refreshes a genre that had largely stagnated. In order to highlight these subversions, engagement with predecessors in the genre is a must; the original novel Battle Royale by Koushun Takami and its numerous adaptations (lending the death game genre the ‘Battle Royale’ namesake as a cultural phenomenon), the Hunger Games series by Susanne Collins, As the Gods Will by Takashi Miike, and other TV series like Liar Game and Alice in the Borderlands. The director takes inspiration from manga but the scope of intersectional engagement may become too wide if one crosses over mediums into manga, anime, and video games with death game narratives.

    By comparing these predecessors with Squid Game, a number of distinct differences and focus can be found. These include but are not limited to: game structure and rules, consent and human rights, the role of debt and desperation, spectacle and dehumanization, and cultural specificity. While the director Hwang Dong-hyuk is cited as saying he wanted to create a series that was distinctly Korean, the international reception begs a closer look at what Squid Game is doing differently.

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      I love that each of these critical voices all have their necessity as well. A good writer cannot be without any of these voices or there will be a lacking element. We need the Unruly Child to cheer us on and be passionate about our ideas, the Gatekeeper to make us criticize and reflect on our work, the Imagined Reader to have us consider the broader appeal of what we write, and the Technician to help make everything more coherent and refined. When they all work in harmony together, it can lead to something truly wonderful. Thank you so much for writing this article, it has given me a new way to visualize my creative process and the forces that both drive and hinder it.

      A Short Guide to a Writer's Imaginary Critics

      Honestly, dystopias sometimes evolve out of what was once supposed to be a utopia (or have aspects that are seemingly utopian but obscure the marginalized or government influence). Uglies by Scott Westerfield is a world where everything is provided for the citizens of the city and they are entrenched in a system where they happily anticipate a day of heavy cosmetic surgery – of course, once you reject this system, the dystopian reality sets in. The Minority Report by Philip K Dick is a utopia where all crime is preventable through precognitive predictions but then, when our main character is predicted to commit a crime, the corruption of this ‘utopian’ system starts to come to light.
      It’s a pattern that I really love, looking at ways to fix massive issues within society and then exposing how these fixes are abused and corrupted by the people in power taking advantage of it.

      Why Is Utopian Literature Less Popular Than Dystopian Literature?

      A really informative article I had expected to be a discussion simply comparing subbing and dubbing practices but actually taught me a bit about the globalization of anime. Fascinating, rocky history.

      I’m definitely not picky when it comes to sub or dub, though when I ran an anime club at my high school, I’d have to really consider whether I wanted to show an anime that was only subbed because of some complex cultural jokes wherein the explanation of it took up half the screen. I’m not sure if they’ve been dubbed (or can be) but it happened with three animes I can remember: Barakamon (to a lesser degree), The Eccentric Family, and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. They all shared in common that I had really enjoyed them on my own, but there were so many moments in each that I had to pause in order to absorb the full context of the humour in an onscreen translator’s note that I had no clue how well showing any of them would do in the club where I can’t pause. I ended up showing the Eccentric Family because it seemed like the best call and I wanted to know how it would go, but there was definitely too much cultural infodump throughout for any of the juniors in the club to enjoy. By the third episode, a lot of them had zoned out.

      Still, on my own, I loved those animes and reading about the cultural influences and jokes that couldn’t translate easily was a delight. But half a screen filled with text isn’t practical is certain settings, no matter how much the majority enjoy subbed translations. Regardless, I’ll always laugh when 4kids’ pokemon insists that a riceball is a donut.

      Are you a Sub or a Dub?