Film: Tokyo Ghoul
Studio: Geek Sight
Release Date: October 16-20, 2017
The anime series Tokyo Ghoul has become an action series staple among anime fans worldwide for its dark writing, fleshed out characters and overall atmosphere - so of course, the next step was Japan’s take on a live action tale based in the same world. The film was released in Japan at the end of July, being met with mostly overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans dedicated to the franchise, making it a rarity in the film adaptations of anime category. When it became apparent that the film was going to be a nice addition to anime films, Funimation (who is also the license holder of the anime series) knew that they would want to be involved in the North American distribution of Tokyo Ghoul to bring its powerful presence overseas.
A little refresher on the franchise - in its source material, Tokyo Ghoul follows the life of Ken Kaneki, a 19 year old college student in Japan who has a love for literature and a woman he idolizes from afar. While Kaneki is the definitive quiet type, he has a friend named Hide who is more ‘in-your-face’ friendly and consistently does his best to push Kaneki from his comfort zone. While normally trying new things can be essential, Kaneki learns the negatives of this when he ends up speaking to the girl he admires and she turns out to not be exactly who she claims to be. In the world of Tokyo Ghoul, the world is fully aware of ghouls (creatures who appear human but feed on flesh with enhanced abilities) but the girl named Rize whom Kaneki likes hides the signs well enough to dupe him and strike.
For those of you who know where things go from here (a ghoul infused Kaneki is about as much as I can spoil without running any moments) the series introduces two factions of characters: ghouls, and an anti-ghoul regime named the CCG who targets any ghoul in their ward with the hope of exterminating them and turning their abilities into insanely powerful weapons. The warring factions plays a major role in the anime, manga, and even live action film as a major tipping point that forces viewers to pick a side in difficult moments that can include casualties of war. The film manages to divide enough screentime to fully explain both sides while primarily focusing on Kaneki and the ghoul’s perspective (one of the best aspects to the films finished product.)
What really isolates Tokyo Ghoul the movie from other anime adaptations is its ability to carry the narrative from its source material with minimal differences. The settings, dialogue, characters and plot points all stay true for any of you who have read the manga or watched the popular anime. Tokyo Ghoul creates something crucial to future adaptations with the embraced horror tones that make it feel more horror genre than the anime itself, by finding what worked from the series and complemented it by really bringing out those nods to make it something grander than Tokyo Ghoul had been in the past. The only thing I would have liked to see done differently was a little less of the gore and violence that the anime was known for, but luckily it didn’t cross any lines that made it unbearable - just enough to make people squirm which seemed to be the filmmaker's goal.
Visually, Tokyo Ghoul was a massive success. The CGI behind the kagunes (ghoul body part used as a weapon) was pulled off especially well and when paired with one of the few action sequences, made it feel as if Tokyo Ghoul was meant to be live-action after all. The setting and lighting played a major part of setting the atmosphere and transitioned between horror and drama or more emotional scenes with excellence and was additionally enhanced by strong cinematography. The Japanese cast all fit the roles so well, with a fan favorite being Hide (played as a goofball by Kai Ogasawara) but the true standouts were Touka (Fumika Shimizu) for her comedic timing and ability to jump to dramatic scenes, as well as the young Hinami Fueguchi (Hiyori Sakurada.) Tokyo Ghoul the Movie was able to find triumph all around, bringing a fan-favorite anime series to life that could potentially set up a film franchise with a cult following.
Overall Grade: 7.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- A live action Touka translates infinitely better than the anime version, she was probably my favorite character in the film in large part due to the actress.
- I could see Tokyo Ghoul being made into a trilogy if they want to tell the entire story of the anime itself.
- Funimation made a solid decision by picking up distribution rights to this film - you won’t be disappointed.