TokuNet Film Club: Tokyo Ghoul (2017)
TeamTokuNet’s Amber reviews the horrifyingly beautiful live-action adaption of Tokyo Ghoul starring Kamen Rider Fourze alum, Yoshiko Sengen.
Please note this review contains spoilers. Read at your own discretion.
Tokyo Ghoul began its manga publication in 2011 and quickly became a success, spinning off into an anime adaption in 2014. Widely acclaimed for its dark themes and brutal portrayals of its characters, the 2017 film lived up to expectations.
Ken Kaneki, played by Masataka Kubota, is a quiet and shy college student whose life drastically changes by the beautiful Rize Kamishiro, played by Yū Aoi. After their date, Rize reveals herself to be a Ghoul, an individual who survives by eating human flesh, and attacks Kaneki on their walk home. The haunting effects for her Ghoul eyes and the CGI of her Kagune were done in such detail that made both look very lifelike. Soon after her Ghoul reveal, she is crushed by a falling construction pillar and Kaneki passes out. Though short, Rize’s character introduction was well-done by actress Yū Aoi who successfully brought her character from the source material to life.
After Kaneki wakes up in the hospital, it is revealed that his organs were transplanted from Rize and he becomes half human, half ghoul. The primary theme of the movie is his struggle with his desire for human flesh as a Ghoul while keeping his humanity. His struggles cinematography-wise are portrayed accurately from the anime with the use of forced perspectives during key scenes. Many scenes in the first half of the movie were shot very similarly to how the anime was and very much stayed true to the source material.
Consumed by his hunger, Kaneki runs out into the night and comes across Nishiko Nishino, portrayed by Kamen Rider Wizard alum Shunya Shiraishi, and briefly fights with him before Tōuka Kirishima, played by Yoshiko Sengen, saves Kaneki, realizing he was the one attacked by Rize. Unfortunately, this scene played out very weakly as it was more dramatic in the anime and did not serve as a great introduction for Nishino. On the other hand, this scene shined as Tōuka’s introduction and gave her character the importance she deserved. After Kaneki begs her to help him, she is persuaded by Anteiku cafe owner Yoshimura to help him learn the ways of controlling his hunger and Ghoul powers. While at first, the interaction between Kaneki and Tōuka seem stiff, it serves as a turning point for both characters.
Meanwhile, First Class Ghoul Investigators Kureo Mado, played by Yo Oizumi, and Koutarou Amon, played by Nobuyuki Suzuki, are followed throughout the movie as they investigate several different Ghouls. Their outlook on Ghouls as being monsters of society that deserve to be killed adds to the side of negativity for Ghouls. With Kaneki, you are meant to feel bad for him and sympathize with Ghouls for having no control over their hunger, but with the atrocities Mado and Amon have dealt with, it gives you a different perspective. Both Oizumi and Suzuki portrayed their respective characters quite well, especially Oizumi with how accurately he portrayed Mado’s interesting personality.
In an effort to keep his humanity, Kaneki goes back to college and meets Nishino at his school. Nishino, attempting to do the same, acts human and even eats regular food, which tastes vile to a Ghoul since they crave human flesh. However, the scene quickly changes as Nishino attacks Kaneki’s friend Hideyoshi Nagachika, played by Kai Ogasawara. Overall, the fighting action in this scene felt lackluster. The location of their fight limited everything to close quarters and changed the mood compared to the anime having the fight under a bridge where keeping their Ghoul identities a secret was much more important.
As the movie progresses, Kaneki meets Ryouko and Hinami Fueguchi, a mother and daughter Ghoul who’s father was killed by the Ghoul Investigators. They take refuge in Anteiku and Kaneki grows close to the daughter Hinami as she is an avid reader like Kaneki was before he turned into a Ghoul. While there are great moments between the two, the narrative quickly turns sour as Amon and Mado hunt the mother, Ryouko, and kill her as she prevents them from harming Hinami. This ultimately serves as a turning point in the story for Kaneki as he vows to help to defeat the two Ghoul Investigators and begins training with Tōuka to develop his powers.
In the last act of the movie, Kaneki and Tōuka confront Amon and Mado in a final showdown after Hinami is attacked by them. Tōuka, with the nickname of The Rabbit, uses her speed to confront Mado while Kaneki faces off with Amon. The cinematography between each fight highlighted the different fighting styles of each character and kept the transitions between the two fights smooth. The soundtrack, in particular, highlighted the mood in each fight, focusing on dramatic somber moments in Tōuka and Mado’s fight while switching to intense, high-paced music during Kaneki and Amon’s fight. Compared to the choreography in earlier scenes, the action shined in the scenes between Tōuka and Mado due to her high-speed kicking style. In contrast, the slower-paced and brutal action between Kaneki and Amon’s fight scenes highlighted the detailed CGI.
In the finale, Amon is pinned down by Kaneki and he almost loses control of his hunger, but recovers his humanity and leaves Amon alive. However, Mado meets his end after Hinami displays her beautiful butterfly-like Kagune for the first time and enables Tōuka to land the killing blow.
Overall, the movie lived up to expectations set before it with the source material. Each character’s portrayal was handled well and the story progressed to keep the audience excited. Whether you are a fan of Tokyo Ghoul or not, the movie is certainly enjoyable and leaves with the potential for a sequel. I’m hopeful that a second movie would be likely after the success of this movie and I would be interested in seeing a continuation of the story.
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