02nd Feb2018

‘Tokyo Ghoul’ Review (Live Action)

by Xenia Grounds

Stars: Masataka Kubota, Fumika Shimizu, Nobuyuki Suzuki, Hiyori Sakurada, Yu Aoi, Shoko Aida, Kenta Hamano, Kunio Murai | Written by Ichiro Kusuno | Directed by Kentaro Hagiwara


Live-action anime adaptions have an interesting history to say the least. They can be great (Death Note, the Japanese movies) but some have been rather problematic (Dragonball Evolution). One of the latest franchises to receive the live-action treatment is Tokyo Ghoul so the question is: Where does it stand among adaptions?

Tokyo Ghoul is set in an alternate reality where ghouls exist among humans. Ghouls can only survive by feeding on human flesh so because of this, they have to hide themselves in order to avoid capture by the authorities. The story centers on average college student, Ken Kaneki, who is attacked by his date who turns out to be a ghoul. Unfortunately, surviving this may not have been a blessing as Kaneki is transformed into a half-ghoul as a result and has to commit the same horror as other ghouls, eating human flesh. Naturally, Kaneki struggles with his new reality but is forced to adapt to ghoul society and hiding what he is.

Unfortunately, I have not watched the Tokyo Ghoul anime nor have I read the manga so I can’t say for certain whether this is a completely faithful adaption. However, judging the movie on its own merits, it’s not bad but it’s not exactly great either.

From what I can tell, there is a lot of material in Tokyo Ghoul and I’m assuming this movie only captures what would be one of the arcs from the anime. This is a smart decision because the movie doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to tell a massive story in a short timespace. However, in regards to the story the movie tells, it isn’t as complex or as emotional as it could have been. The first act of this movie is done really well because it does a good job of establishing the world and its character. However, there is a twenty-minute section of the movie in the second act where there is a lot of dialogue-heavy scenes and they aren’t as interesting as what happens before it. There are some good character moments in that timeframe but the pacing feels like it comes to a halt when the other two acts have a fine balance of dialogue and action.

When it comes to a story like Tokyo Ghoul, one of the most important things would be how its lead protagonist is written and performed. Kaneki, in regards to the portrayal seen in the film, isn’t that interesting. This could be because his struggle seems to dominate the first act and then falls into the background for a while before becoming prominent again. His development is pretty conventional too. Kaneki starts off being sweet and shy but slowly becomes more strong which while it isn’t done badly, it’s hardly groundbreaking. The performance from the actor (Masataka Kubota) is good throughout but there aren’t enough moments where he gets to shine in regards to emotional range.

In regards to the technical aspects like the effects, the CGI doesn’t look as ridiculous as it could’ve been which is to be commended by the post-production team considering how weird the imagery gets when it comes to the ghouls. Having said that, there are moments when the CGI tentacles move a little awkwardly and it’s hard to ignore. Additionally, there was a scene where you see tentacles have to appear in daylight and it looks more fake than during the night scenes. As far as the gore goes, mileage will vary on whether it matches the tone or if it’s over the top. It isn’t anywhere near as overdramatic as the way the Netflix adaption of Death Note handled gore if it helps.

Overall, this adaption of Tokyo Ghoul is not the worst. It falls into that decent category. You’ll be able to watch it regardless of your experience with the source material. If anything, this movie made me want to watch the anime more urgently so it has potential to draw new fans in but this isn’t going to be the movie that puts a spotlight on live-action anime adaptions.

Tokyo Ghoul is in UK cinemas now.


Comments are closed.