Director: Kentaro Hagiwara
Cast: Masataka Kubota, Fumika Shimizu, Yu Aoi, Nobuyuki Suzuki, Yo Oizumi
Runtime: 2 hrs
Rating: NC-16 (Violence)
Released By: Encore Films & Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 24 August 2017
Synopsis: In Tokyo, man-eating monsters called “ghouls” run rampant. The city is shaken with fear, as these mysterious creatures disguise themselves among people. Ordinary university student Kaneki (Masataka Kubota) meets a girl Rize (Yu Aoi) one day at café Antique that he frequents, unaware that the encounter will drastically alter the course of his destiny. He finds out later that the same café harbours secrets darker than he could ever imagine… Between the conflicting worlds of man and ghoul, Kaneki will soon get entangled in a web of events that will determine on which side he will stand. What does the future hold for him, who struggles with his own humanity and his curiosity regarding the existence of these creatures that take the lives of humans to ensure their own survival?
In recent years, there has been a focus in bringing popular manga titles onto the silver screens in Japan. This year, one of the most anticipated titles is adapted from a popular dark fantasy manga series, Tokyo Ghoul. Similar to titles like Parasyte and Attack on Titan, it is centered around dystopian themes and has strong cult following. Naturally, critiques are waiting on to pass their judgment on whether it has done justice to the original manga series.
Whilst there has been a mix of reviews on Tokyo Ghoul, it seems that it has won over most of the fans. The narrative of the movie is not drastically different from the original manga, and has succeeded in preserving the integrity of the manga. In particular, it has also realistically illustrated how Tokyo would be like if ghouls and humans were to live together.
As this movie was mainly about the tension between ghouls (the man-eating creatures) and humans, the action sequences are one of the movie’s key charm points. The showdown between the CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul; a federal agency tasked into dealing with crimes related to ghouls) and the ghouls was visually arresting to say the least. As part of the fantasy, the ghouls use ‘Kagune’ (a bright red predatory organ which function as a weapon and/or claw) in their fights. Each of the ghoul possess a different kind of Kagune, and the computer-generated effects did work rather seamlessly with the film.
Without a doubt, what’s most outstanding in the entire film would be Masataka Kubota’s performance. He anchors the role of the lead character, Kaneki. After a near death experience, Kaneki became half ghoul and experienced lots of conflicted moments in swinging back and forth his identities. Masataka brought the character to so much life and moved the audience with his performance. He nailed not only at the action scenes, but also in bringing out the complexities in the emotions that Kaneki experienced. A late bloomer if you will, Masataka came into spotlight only in 2015, when he received a breakthrough award for his lead roles played in Death Note and N no Tame Ni (both are Japanese television dramas).
Despite not having the luxury of a big budget, Tokyo Ghoul was a rather satisfying watch with commendable cinematography. Although the story and pacing could have been paced a little faster, the context of the dystopian reality was nicely set and was still engaging overall.
P.S. Fun fact! The official theme song of the movie is performed by illion, the solo project of the talented lead singer of RADWIMPS, Yojiro Noda. He wrote the entire soundtrack of the smash hit movie, Your Name (2016).
(Contrary to first impressions, Tokyo Ghoul is not as gory and intimidating. A must-watch for a Japanese pop fan)
Review by Tho Shu Ling