What do I think about [the Battle Royale Program]? It's fing perfection. I mean, I look at my generation and I just gotta cringe about how much of it is fake and so fed up, so doing this keeps things real. People become who they really are under situations like the Battle Royale. Also, I gotta say it's the best way to kill time outside of a monster truck rally. People killing people, just, really royally ripping each other to pieces and no one, no one doing anything to stop them.
— PFC. Barry Charon, being interviewed while clearing up after the events of the book
72 Hours is a Fan Fiction
written by Anthony Marston (the pen name of Matthew Carter) and based on the cult Japanese novel, film and manga Battle Royale.
It's considered the best Battle Royale fanfiction ever written. It is a specific type of Battle Royale fanfiction that blurs the lines between original and fanfiction, called an Original Battle Royale (OBR). OBRs take the basic premise of the original – young people in an isolated location, given random weapons and forced to kill each other to a single survivor – and little more.
The technical rules of the “Program” are usually the same or similar, including an accessory loaded with a microphone and explosives that’s used to ensure compliance, and a grid-like map with areas that cannot be entered without detonating the accessories (so called “Danger Zones”, used to prevent the students all hiding on opposite sides of the area). The reason for the Program’s existence can vary but generally will be either a top secret government research project, with the deaths of the students written off as an accident on a school trip, a regular example set to citizens of what a bad idea opposing the government is, or an naturalised part of a justice system that – along with the greater public - accepts the forced sacrifice of a few dozen innocents to ensure law and order are maintained. Everything else varies at the whim of the author, including characters, plots, weapons, themes and writing style. There are common character types and plots, with those of the original being seen as archetypal, but as with any other media, innovation is common. Lengths vary dramatically from short-story to Doorstopper
, depending on the author.
72 Hours uses the latter premise, though as is common the Program is a fairly new idea, albeit spreading across the world like a virus as more and more countries realise how effective it is at keeping the problematic youth in check. Its class of 50 students are shown entering their island surroundings, forming and breaking alliances and generally doing whatever they can to either make the most of their last hours alive, or whatever they can to survive.Unlike the original, there's no singular protagonist or antagonist. For the most part however the heroes are those aligned with the insurrectionist student politicians of SABRE
and the antagonists are three Ax-Crazy
sadists and the relentlessly brutal wrestling club
, all of whom greatly enjoy torturing and killing anyone who gets in their way. A few important sub-plots notwithstanding, most of the others tend to be either Red Shirts
or else victims of one of the above groups.
It can be found here
. Be warned that it's not for the faint of heart at all
. It's also however a fascinating character study (like the original Battle Royale
There is a sequel, known as 72 Hours: Uprising
, but it has been a Dead Fic
for about a year now. Marston also started on an Expanded Universe
, but only wrote two stories for it.
This fanfiction/novel contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Marie has the strongest case; her mother is aggressively insistent about her future. But Brian and Francisco also have had their share.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Sort of. There are many quieter scenes of course, but the trope applies to the ten hour period in which not a single character dies.
- A Death in the Limelight: Blake, Jacob, Tammy. Nick and Tamyra are obvious examples – they’re the sacrificial lambs given all the attention before the Program actually starts.
- A House Divided: Damien creates this effect on the Brat Pack when he kills Tammy and Ayane. It doesn't amount to much, since Damien kills most of them himself.
- Alpha Bitch: Brynn and Cheryl play it straight, fellow Brat-Packers Dora and Ayane subvert it
- Anti-Climax: The final demise of the SABRE leaders at the hands of Joel and Katie. This is however attributable to Reality Ensues, considering who's involved.
- Anti-Villain: Ashley at first, before her Heel-Face Turn puts her in Anti-Hero territory instead.
- Anyone Can Die: And everyone but Ashley Vasquez does die. Obviously.
- Asian and Nerdy: AJ.
- Asshole Victim: Katie, Joel and Mike V. Eventually Damien also fits when he finally gets his comeuppance, though he’s arguably more sympathetic than the others. A very mild example is Josh, who is a really nice guy before the Program but unfortunately manages to try and kill Francisco, who has agreed to be a friend and ally to him.
- Author Appeal: 80s slasher films and music, there being a ridiculous number of references to each - including an entire song quoted at each 6 hourly report. Paul and JJ Squalls seem to be fanatics of the respective genres just so Marston can get away with including so many. For some reason, students tend to quote entire songs in their heads or at each other. He also likes using certain words; expect every student who isn't obese to be described as wiry, with this occuring on one occasion five times within a single chapter.
- Ax-Crazy: A third of the class seemingly start off this way, most of the others eventually go down that path aside from a few diehard pacifists.
- Badass Book Worm: Katie.
- Battle Couple: Paul and Ashley and Carter and Katherine in the latter stages of the book, as are Joel and Katie.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: This is one of the traits that mark Katherine out as a Mary Sue – everyone else around her ends up near-death before she takes so much as a scratch. Subverted by Lori, who is burned with a flaregun but still manages to be somehow attractive.
- Becoming the Mask: Both Heel Face Turns, occuring as they do during the infiltration of SABRE, double as this. Ashley plays it straight as she eventually realises she's no longer just pretending to be a good guy, and Gus subverts it by faking Ashley's attitude.
- Beware the Nice Ones: A few, but Carter killing Homer is one of the most notable incidents. Bonus points because he’s been hit with several tranquilizer darts, yet finds the strength to get up and fling Homer into a danger zone.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Joel as head of the wrestlers, Split Personality maniac Damien, religious zealot Katie (who teams up with Joel) and Cold Sniper Marie. Which is the biggest of the bads is up for debate, since each is prominent from the start and they terrorize different groups of students at different times. That said, it's of note that Marie dies much earlier than the others, Damien kills Katie and dies last of the four himself, but Joel is a more direct antagonist to the main protagonists, SABRE.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Joel and Katie and Marie and Damien. The latter is interesting because while Damien admires her for her brutality, she has nothing but contempt for him. Joel and Katie become a more conventional example.
- Big Damn Heroes: Paul, saving Lexie from Brian.
- Bigger Bad: General Thornton, who heads the whole Battle Royale Program.
- Bloody Hilarious: Doug experimenting on Brian’s body and accidentally detonating the belt somehow manages to be funny.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Head-wrestler Joel Giovanello.
- Brainless Beauty: Serenity and C.C., big time.
- Bullet Proof Vest: Damien and Katie both get one in the end. Unfortunately it’s one of the less well done aspects of the book, with the vests seemingly conferring near total immunity to point-blank shotgun blasts, with dozens of pistol and machinegun bullets only managing to crack a single rib of Damien’s. Katie, despite being extremely fragile, apparently takes no damage whatsoever. Very literal Plot Armor, then.
- Butch Lesbian: Karen.
- Buxom Is Better: Most female characters described as being attractive have rather large chests.
- Call Back: Circular saws really do go with testicles so well! Also lampshaded by Ashley by referring to “I am INVINCIBLE” – which a wise man once said (it’s Doug’s catchphrase).
- Camp Gay: Michael, though a much better developed version than normal.
- Captain Ersatz: Lampshaded – “Barney the Dinosaur on an acid trip” is how Ashley refers to Benny the Bunny. She’s deadly accurate.
- Chainsaw Good: Paul, big time. Interestingly, despite some instances of Rule of Cool being used, the time required to get the blade going is recognised. Thus it’s also switched off, turned upside down and used as a weapon to hit someone just as they come through the door. It’s an unusual but quite reasonable use of a big heavy hunk of metal.
- Chekhov's Gun: Francisco’s cross necklace. The blade on a bikechain makes a brief reappearance during Katie’s final fight with Damien, but far and away the best example is the graphic calculator dropped on the ground very early on. It kills Damien, the final and most dangerous of the Four Big Bads. Anyone claiming to have seen this coming without having read ahead or been told about it is lying.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Damien clearly has it. In the original Battle Royale, Kazuo Kiriyama is a borderline example, but doesn't really count. Damien, on the other hand, is a skinny kid with one good arm who is the physically strongest guy on the island.
- Church Militant: Religious zealot/sadist Katie.
- Cold Sniper: Marie, who spends most of the second half of the book camped out where she knows a lot of people are going to go, pinning them down and eliminating them when she can with her rifle.
- The Cracker: Doug, in a heroic example.
- Crapsack World: The Program is even accepted among the students now as a part of life. For the uninitiated, this means that people aren’t concerned by the fact that dozens of teenagers are forced to butcher each other every year. Indeed, more and more countries appear to be adopting the Program because of how successful it is (America is actually following the leader, the Republic of Greater East Asia).
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Luke, who is hacked with an axe and has his dick burned off by a flare gun, but Benny and J.J. Squalls are worse – the former has his penis cut off before being decapitated with hedge trimmers, the latter endures six hours of torture involving lighter fluid, claw hammers and blowtorches.
- Cute and Psycho: Katie is very aware of her status as this, and completely tears apart the wrestlers by using it to full effect.
- Darker and Edgier: Than the original Battle Royale. The themes are darker, the violence more graphic, and the psychology of the characters is usually more disturbing.
- Dead Man Writing: Blake’s suicide note.
- Dead Person Conversation / Talking in Your Dreams: Katherine after she and Carter jump off the cliff.
- Decoy Protagonist: In the sequel, Issac Freemantle.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host / Subverted Kids Show: Benny, oh dear fucking GOD Benny.
- Determinator: Marie. Nothing will stop her surviving so she can go to Juilliard.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Joel and Katie being at the boat just when they needed to be. The fact that it’s written well doesn’t stop it being a Contrived Coincidence.
- Diagonal Cut: With a chainsaw, no less.
- The Ditz: Shane, who is still in high school school in his twenties because of his stupidity. He appears to suffer from clinical retardation.
- Doorstopper: If it were in print it would be around 1300 pages. Enough said.
- Driven to Suicide: Eliza after Jackson is killed in the attack on their tower by the wrestlers. She responds by hurling Molotov Cocktails at them (mortally wounding Shane) before killing herself with one when she realises it's all over anyway.
- Dumbass DJ: JJ Squalls is this Up to Eleven.
- Dumb Muscle: Shane, only kept around by his friends for this purpose.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Several.
- Cheryl killing herself right after shooting Damien and AJ at the end of the Brat Pack’s destruction.
- Francisco’s Heroic Sacrifice to give Carter and Katherine time to get away from the wrestlers.
- Paul dying immediately after an epic battle in which he and Ashley finally put Joel in the ground.
- Ethical Slut: Amanda Marquette and Kendal Fuchs in Uprising.
- Evil Red Head: Katie Snyder.
- Evil Versus Evil: The final showdown between Damien and Katie. Whoever lost that fight, everyone else won.
- Eye Scream: Oh dear LORD Lara...Ashley also qualifies by the end, a scene described in nauseating detail.
- Expy: Lisa, to the original's Kyoichi Motobuchi.
- Benny the Bunny is obviously inspired by the cheerful girl instructor Oneesan in the Battle Royale movie.
- Damien, on the other hand, appears to be a combination of Gollum and Carrie. The latter is taken further, with the entire Brat Pack serving, in relation to him, as expies of the rest of Carrie's cast.
- Doug also counts as a heroic version of Golden Eye’s Boris Grishenko for some reason (right down to the catchphrase, “I am INVINCIBLE”).
- In the sequel, Cletus Charrington is an Expy of the movie version's Kazuo Kiriyama. A transfer student who signed up for fun, he is an insane mass murderer who never speaks.
- Also, Ashley Vasquez in her second Program is obviously inspired by Shogo Kawada.
- Five-Bad Band: The wrestlers fit the idea, though two of them are clearly not actually evil and a third doesn’t even have a personality at all to speak of.
- Big Bad: Joel, who leaves no question as to who’s in charge.
- The Dragon: Mike V, well established as Joel’s second in command.
- Dark Chick: The Extreme Doormat C.C., who is utterly devoid of personality and only there to be a sexual plaything for Joel
- The Brute: Shane. Effectively a living brick Joel throws at things that need beaten up, or killed in the case of the Program.
- Evil Genius / Sixth Column: Bo, who turns out to be Good All Along and eventually joins SABRE.
- Follow the Leader: 72 Hours was the first OBR to use the "One chapter, one hour" chapter style, which has been repeated numerous times, though none have matched it for popularity to date. In-universe, the USA has copied the idea of the Battle Royale Program from numerous other countries.
- Foregone Conclusion: One student survives, right at the end of the final hour of the Program. The chapter list also indicates how many students are alive, so looking ahead you can see how many die in each chapter just by looking at the number alive in the one after it.
- Freudian Excuse: Marie’s reason for killing is the pressure exerted on her by her mother (who is essentially living through her due to her own lack of success) to get into Juilliard.
- Genre Savvy: Several characters, notably Gus, who is a fan of the Program itself and has studied past instances of it just in case he should ever be selected.
- Gentle Giant: Shane actually; he’s very loyal and follows orders, not possessing the mental capacity to question them which leads to his involvement with Joel. Give him a choice in the matter, though, and he’s not a bad guy.
- Girl Posse: Subverted, all five of the Brat Pack get equal development.
- Good All Along: Bo, once it turns out misplaced loyalty is the only reason he hangs around with the wrestlers.
- Gorn: Where to begin? Considering the original is known for a high bodycount/ketchup factor, 72 Hours really takes it Up to Eleven.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The vast majority of the gore is shown directly but most of the details of J.J. Squalls’ torture is left to the imagination. The weapons used are shown, and it clearly involves the removal of various small parts of the body in the process (the remains are pickled and kept as a souvenir) but what exactly the torture is isn’t shown. Considering that what is shown qualifies as Nausea Fuel, this is a mercy.
- Groin Attack: Lori and Lara subject Luke to one, with a flare gun.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Nick, Homer, Brian, and Tammy.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The general consensus of the Battle Royale fandom is that in order to so much as survive to the last day of the Program you have to either already be Ax-Crazy or else succumb to this. Here, Doug is the clearest cut example, going from an unfortunately necessary execution of a traitor to utterly destroying a soldier's head with a shovel as he's on his knees, begging for mercy. The only reason this doesn't fall under Calling The Hero Out because everyone else is too scared of him to actually do that.
- Heel-Face Turn: Genuinely by Ashley when she gets to SABRE and realises the group means more to her than just a bunch of people to exploit, faked by Gus at the same time who pretends to be like Ashley in that respect while actually just being Dangerously Genre Savvy.
- Heroic BSOD: A few, understandably.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Francisco. See Dying Moment of Awesome.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Marston realised the belts were a failed attempt at innovation over the collars, and less than half way through the book it's shown that the collars in his universe are an upgrade from the belts.
- Ice Queen: Anna’s nickname, though she actually subverts it by being a Sugar And Ice Girl.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Never stated word-for-word, but Doug certainly has this attitude towards Gus’s execution which was, unfortunately, necessary. SABRE are divided on the matter, though pragmatism (he tried to kill them and seriously threatened their chances of success in the process) ultimately prevails.
- I Have Your Family: Why Mr. Rhodes is working with the Program.
- Improvised Weapon: Blake's blade on a chain is one of the more notable of several examples.
- Insufferable Genius: Subverted by Doug, who is certainly arrogant but remains very likeable.
- Invincible Villain: Damien, at least in the middle third of the story. He’s more interesting before and after.
- Interrupted Suicide: Jenny, Sky and Lexie
- Jerk Ass: Joel, Homer and Brian are the clearest examples.
- Jerk Jock: The wrestlers, Bo excepted.
- Joke Item: Some of the students are given terrible weapons. Examples include Blake's magic marker, Rudy's teddy bear, a can of spring snakes for Lindsay and Bo's water pistol. Tammy's calculator on the other hand...
- Jumping on a Grenade: Matt does this to save Ashley and Paul.
- Karmic Death: Karen, arguably. She deserved a good kicking anyway.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Damien killing Katie was deserved without question – however that fight ended, everyone else won. There's also no denying, gratuity of the act aside, that J.J. Squalls deserved his brutal death.
- Kill 'em All: The prologue tells you only one student survives, so obviously.
- Kill It with Fire: The battle between the wrestlers and Jackson and Eliza is conducted with Molotov Cocktails. Lori and Lara also use their flare gun against several targets.
- Kill the Ones You Love: Sky and Lexie
- Lad-ette: Ashley
- Large Ham: Damien when his two personalities are talking to each other.
- La Résistance: SABRE, in a brilliant example among OBRs. Their numbers fluctuate considerably, but at one stage eleven out of the fifty students is among them - and considering that plenty are dead by this point, it's proportionately even more impressive.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Let’s face it, was Luke ever fated for anything other than brutal slaughter at the hands of Lori and Lara? Lisa also qualifies, her racism against Hispanics being responded to with a shotgun blast to the head from Ashley Vasquez.
- Lethal Joke Item: Tammy's graphic calculator sounds like a pretty pathetic weapon. It's what kills Damien at the end.
- Libation for the Dead: Ashley for Paul, Carter for Ashley, and Katherine for everyone who’s died. All do so in a ritualised fashion just before the final showdown.
- Like You Would Really Do It: Invoked by the author with Doug performing a gangland-style execution upon Gus - did anyone actually believe he was going to do that? The fact that the narrative cuts away at the moment the trigger is pulled is a clear attempt to leave it open, and indeed it’s not actually explicitly stated that it really was exactly what it looked like until a couple of dozen chapters later. Jacob’s death at the end of a chapter designed as if it were the start of a long plotline also qualifies, given Nick and Tamyra’s deaths in the same way much earlier.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Maxine and particularly Ayane.
- The Load: Tammy, and later Cheryl. Eventually subverted by Cheryl, who kills A.J. and shoots Damien after her friends are killed by them.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: 50 students, the teacher, J.J. Squalls, numerous other students from the year/other years (Lenore being a major recurring one) and many extras.
- Locked in a Freezer: Several of the SABRE members, by Gus.
- Loners Are Freaks: Damien, big time.
- Lovable Nerd: Doug. His arrogance notwithstanding, it's hard not to like him.
- Man Bites Man: The first kill in Uprising is when Nick King rips out Zora Caldwell's carotid artery with his teeth.
- Mercy Kill: Lexie to Sky, regrettably. Doubling with You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness, Joel bestows “mercy” upon C.C. and Shane this way too.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Naomi unsuccessfully attempts this upon Lindsay.
- Mutual Kill: Joel and Paul, ultimately.
- My Beloved Smother: Marie's mother is living through her, driving her to mass-murder in the Program. It is of no suprise that this fanfic provides such a disturbing take on the trope.
- Neck Snap: Ashley finishes off Peter this way.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: Matt, poor thing!
- One Steve Limit: Subverted; all the students in the first story have different names on the roster, but it's later revealed Katie's actual first name is Katherine. In the sequel, there are two Nicks.
- The Other Darrin: In-universe example, the dead Benny is eventually (five years later) replaced by someone else.
- Plot Armor: See Bullet Proof Vest – this is a literal case for Damien and later Katie.
- Posthumous Character: Geiger, who dies a Red Shirt’s death, but about whom we learn more later.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: In Uprising, there is a heartbreaking scene that appears to be an homage to Kazushi's attempted rape of Chigusa in the original Battle Royale, except succeeding. However, much like Kazushi, the rapist in question gets lovely payback.
- Rasputinian Death: Poor Gervase! Josh also seemingly survives a lot of wounds that should have killed him instantly, though Joel does finish him off at the time of delivering them. Damien too, though his being mentally incapable of suffering pain by that point explains very well how he can keep going.
- Red-Headed Hero: Carter.
- Rogues Gallery: Joel and his gang, Katie, Damien, and Marie form the Big Bad Ensemble, other minor baddies such as Lori and Lara, AJ, Lisa, Homer, Brian, Elena, Gus, and Brynn also terrorize different characters at different times.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Nick and Tamyra, who get most of the pre-classroom attention but die before leaving it.
- Sacrificial Lion: Jacob, who has an entire chapter dedicated to what looks to be a significant subplot. He’s then offed casually at the end without a second thought.
- Shovel Strike: Doug does this to an unfortunate soldier.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Jenny for Anna, it’s eventually revealed.
- Shout-Out: Far, far too many to list – it would require its own page. The number is impressive, nearing several hundred shoutouts. These range from subtle dialogue references to including the entire plot of Carrie as Damien's backstory (and everyone else's, by virtue of the Prom being ruined - albeit non-fatally - by the chaos resulting from Damien's humiliation there by the Brat Pack). The sheer gratuity of the references may grate however, such as classic rock songs frequently being quoted in their entirety.
- Sixth Ranger: Bo eventually becomes this to SABRE, being a defector from the wrestlers.
- Slashed Throat: How Blake commits suicide.
- Sound-Only Death: Carter, right at the end of the Program itself. There's a tense stand-off with Ashley, a gun shot is heard, but who has fired at whom isn't indicated until Ashley is the one to reappear during the epilogue.
- Sour Supporter: Michael becomes one among SABRE eventually.
- Split Personality Takeover: Charlie eventually succumbs entirely to Damien, the character's evil side.
- Star-Crossed Lovers / Secret Relationship: Ayane and Maxine.
- The Starscream: Brynn, unsurprisingly, seeking to replace Anna.
- The Stoner: Jackson, and to a lesser extent Eliza.
- Strawman Political: Katie, who is a Strawman Fundamentalist.
- Sugar And Ice Girl: Anna, all the more interesting because her nickname is Ice Queen.
- Suicide Pact: Subverted with Sky and Lexie, who are attacked before they can commit suicide, Sky is mortally wounded and Lexie bestows a mercy kill after Paul kills the attackers.
- Team Mom: Franciso, strangely enough.
- Teen Genius: Doug.
- Technical Pacifist: All of SABRE, basically, a bit of combat pragmatism notwithstanding.
- This Loser Is You: In the sequel, the Program fan Nick King is obviously meant as a mockery of all the quasi-sociopathic fans who wish they could have a Battle Royale with their own classes. Nick doesn't last long.
- To Absent Friends: Anna’s funeral.
- Together in Death: Maxine and Ayane, Jackson and Eliza (invoked by the latter after the death of the former), Rudy and Lindsay, Sky and Lexie, Carter and Katherine.
- Too Dumb to Live: Karen. Squall said it best – getting shitfaced and hitting golf balls off a roof really is isn’t the best way to survive!
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Dora and Katherine, borderline and actual Purity Sues as they are respectively qualify.
- Took A Level In Bad Ass: Carter and Lexie are among the more notable examples, though Doug is the best one.
- To the Pain: Ashley makes perfectly clear to J. J. Squalls what’s coming to him, destroying the decapitated head of Benny in front of him while lamenting the tortures she was too hasty in killing Benny to give him first among other things.
- Unholy Alliance: Lampshaded by the narrative in relation to Katie and Joel teaming up.
- The Vamp: Lori Nicotero, although the guy was an Asshole Victim.
- Vasquez Always Dies: Not this time she doesn’t! Made even better by the fact that her last name is actually Vasquez.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ashley twice – when she tries to get Katherine to abandon Carter to aid their own escape from Damien, and the ending, when she tortures to death, extremely brutally, Benny and J. J. Squalls.
- Where Da White Women At?: The relationship between Lindsay and Rudy is a tragic example of this trope. Not only do their parents and fellow peers (especially Naomi) disapprove of their romance, they're among the students sent to Battle Royale, where they are expected to kill one another.
- Who's Laughing Now?: Damien in a nutshell.
- Woman Scorned: Lori and Lara.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Damien doesn’t say it to AJ, but it does sum up his reaction to his death. Joel also doesn’t say it but in finishing off Shane and CC after others have mortally wounded them the effect is still seen.
- Your Head Asplode: Lisa gets hers blown in half with a shotgun.