Film Review: Tokyo Ghoul (Live Action) – in association with Scotland Loves Anime


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Despite the bad reputation of live action film adaptations of anime and manga, Tokyo Ghoul’s live action movie, screened in the GFT as part of the Scotland Loves Anime film festival, delivered a satisfactory result to anticipating fans. The movie closely follows the structure of Sui Ishida’s original manga, rather than the anime, according to the festival organizer. It tells the same story of a dark and violent world where flesh-eating ghouls live in disguise among humans. We follow a young boy, Ken Kaneki, who struggles to deal with his unexpected transformation into a hybrid ghoul-human, and the consequences that follow his disastrous date with an attractive girl who turns out to be a ghoul herself (talk about bad dates). This is a story of self-exploration of one’s darkness and humanity in a world that isn’t simply black and white.

The movie deserves praised for its commitment to the manga, unlike some live action adaptations that fail to satisfy loyal fans of the original work, nor manage to whip up a convincing alternative plot development (such as the notorious American adaptation of Death Note). Yet, perhaps like most live version of manga and anime, Tokyo Ghoul live action has been criticized for the lack of quality in the visual effects. Unfortunately, though understandably due to budgets, some of the most kick-ass, adrenaline filled fight scenes in the anime fell short in the live version. Clever use of shadow to show the sinister ghouls in their true forms was somewhat effective but insufficient to deliver shock and horror elements visually. The contrast between the hard-working actors trying their best to stimulate fighting ghouls and the unconvincing visual effects led to quite a few giggles in the theatre room, making the movie entertaining for the wrong reasons.

For any anime fan out there, this is a movie that will not disappoint even despite its faults, due to strong performances and character costumes that really make the characters come alive. This might not be the best live action adaptation, but its wonderful interpretation of the anime/manga characters still left me curious for a sequel.

[Nini Huang]

More information on Scotland Loves Anime can be found at: https://www.lovesanimation.com

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