When news first broke of a Tokyo Ghoul live action movie, fans around the world were concerned. They had good reason to be. Past history with live action adaptations of anime or manga titles has been less than stellar. Tokyo Ghoul was also a rather graphic title to move to live action as well. I too was a bit concerned until I saw the early trailers for the film. After screening the film ahead of its October 16-22nd run in select theaters, I can tell you this was a superb adaptation. From the casting and story, to the visual effects, director Kentarô Hagiwara, has captured Tokyo Ghoul down to the gruesome details. First here is the trailer and synopsis, our advanced review is after the jump.
Riddled with gripping fight scenes and tasteful gore, this adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul brings the popular manga series to life like never before.
Buried in books and a quiet life, Ken Kaneki is all but dead to the world in an age where flesh-eating ghouls live among us. But when his only chance for survival is an organ donation that turns him into a ghoul-human hybrid, he finds sanctuary at Anteiku—a café run by the people he once considered monsters. Targeted by anti-ghoul forces, this safe house is up against a hunger more sickening than their own. When their most innocent members are threatened by humanity’s taste for vengeance, Kaneki will risk life and limb to protect the very world that changed his own.
Let’s start with the story. The film covers the very start of the series up through the point where Kaneki and Amon have their first fight. For those who have read the manga or seen the anime, all of these scenes are familiar. In fact, several of them are rather difficult to watch on screen. The one that comes to mind the most for me is when Kaneki begins to taste the blood on Hide’s face. As cringe worthy as the scene was to watch, it was cringe worthy in the best way possible. It is funny how when we watch Tokyo Ghoul in anime form or read the manga that we are not as turned away from the blood and guts. However, the moment its on screen in live action format, it elevates the gore to another level.
One of the risky moves with a story like this is how you structure the film to be stand alone while not destroying the story. Throughout this part of the story there were tons of mentions about future events and characters you would say later in the manga and anime. Hagiwara managed to keep those bits out while keeping the story intact. This allowed people who had perhaps not read the manga or seen the anime to watch the movie and enjoy a nicely wrapped up ending. They didn’t left with lose ends for future films. But at the same time, the director can continue the films if he wanted and still be on track.
Now lets get into the casting for the film. Masataka Kubota (Rurouni Kenshin) as Ken Kaneki was a great pick. He manages to capture socially awkward Kaneki who has a hard time relating with girls. He also does a great job of displaying the internal struggle Ken has with Rize as he fights to keep her from taking over. Nobuyuki Suzuki and Yo Oizumi as Amon and Mado were also well cast. Mado was one I was concerned with casting wise as he is such an eccentric character, but they did well with Oizumi. Fumika Shimizu as Toka was not where I pictured her. It wasn’t the actress so much as the way they wrote Toka in the film. Hide wasn’t in the film enough for me to judge him one way or the other, but the energetic performance was spot on.
Visual effects wise, there were a lot of highs and some lows to go with it. This wasn’t a big budget hollywood film, so I didn’t go into it expecting that level of VFX but I was pleasantly surprised by what we did get. The kagune scenes with Rize and Kaneki were outstanding. The way they looked, behaved and meshed with the scenes was well done. Obviously as the main character more time was spent on Kaneki’s, as Nishiki’s wasn’t as good. The kagune looked to be coming out of nowhere and didn’t move with the character in a way that made you felt it was a part of him. A few of the action scenes were low quality as far as VFX go and made the experience a little jarring at times.
You could overlook it once you got to the final fight of the film between Toka and Mado, Kaneki and Amon when they started having more hand to hand combat and using objects around them to fight. Even still Amon and Kaneki’s use of ghoul weapons was still a lot of fun to watch.Watching the fight play out was well worth the wait.
The ending tied up nicely for a film that may or may not get a sequel. Overall for a live action adaption The Tokyo Ghoul movie is light years ahead of previous live action attempts. As a stand alone film, its a B+: great start and finish while a little slow in the middle. For fans of the Tokyo Ghoul franchise, like myself, the film is an A attempt at bringing the Tokyo Ghoul world to life.
For those who want to know about the ending son of the film. Tokyo Ghoul: The Movie ending song “BANKA” by illion, the solo music project by Yojiro Noda, lead singer of alt-rock Japanese band RADWIMPS. They also did the music for Your Name.
I highly recommend you go see it. It is subtitled only but in my opinion that is the only way to go and see this film. Funimation Films will be bringing it to select theaters starting tomorrow Oct 16th through Oct 22nd. And we have a special giveaway for our fans who have gone and seen the film and read our review. Tweet us a photo of your movie stub and you may be picked to win this exclusive poster from the LA premiere of the film, courtesy of Funimation. You can tweet us at @ThreeIfBySpace and use the hashtag #TokyoGhoulMovie. (Open to US residents only).