When it comes to Disney-owned Hulu, it may come as a surprise to learn that the streaming service is offering a Japanese TV series about cannibals. Hulu is proving to be a highly diverse streaming service, with Gannibal being the latest addition in both the U.S. and other countries. That being said, does a dark series touching on such a taboo subject matter hold up amongst other notable mainstream thrillers such as Alice In Borderland and Squid Game? Let’s find out in our review of Gannibal.
The TV series Gannibal, based on the manga of the same name by Masaaki Ninomiya, stars Yuya Yagira, Kasamatsu, and Riho Yoshioka, and is directed by Shinzo Katayama. It should be noted that the series has the same producers as the Oscar-winning movie Drive My Car. The story revolves around Daigo Agawa (Yuya Yagira), a disgraced cop who is sent to a distant part of Japan and takes his family with him. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that there are dark secrets hidden within the apparently peaceful village.
Gannibal is a manga that is not filled with any supernatural elements, magical powers, or science fiction. It takes place in a setting that is primarily realistic, allowing the adaptation to be a straightforward recreation in an ordinary town. The primary theme of the manga is cannibalism, which, universally, is a forbidden topic.
When it comes to manga adaptations, you generally see an anime first before it gets a live-action feature. Gannibal is one of the few exceptions as it is a Seinen story. Shōnen manga is not often adapted into live-action; this genre of manga is typically better suited for anime, as it can be portrayed more fittingly. On the other hand, Seinen stories, those that tend to be more grounded and violent, are more likely to be adapted into live-action dramas.
Gannibal is a high-quality production, ensuring the manga is translated as faithfully as possible. This consequently creates a foreboding atmosphere that is more psychologically thrilling because of the attention placed solely on the characters. Daigo Agawa, portrayed superbly by Yagira, initially appears to be a rather mundane character, but later it is revealed that there is more to him than meets the eye; making him an ideal protagonist.
Riho Yoshioka plays Daigo’s wife, a character that appears to be quite distant and unfamiliar, leading to speculation regarding her background. As the plot advances, it becomes apparent that a great many unfortunate occurrences have impacted their entire family and they may be the only ones with the ability to confront the difficulties of Kuge Village. The acting is generally excellent, and even though Japanese shows often have exaggerated performances, Western viewers will find familiarity with the execution.
The cinematography of the series is very professionally done, giving off a sense of an uncomfortable atmosphere in this mountain village. Just by the look of one frame, it’s easy to tell that something sinister lurks beneath the surface. This is certainly a feat that the filmmakers should be applauded for achieving. Unfortunately, there are a few aspects that feel a bit rushed or unfinished and the visual effects often look artificial.
Gannibal is an excellent choice for those who wish to immerse themselves in a psychological horror tale that delves into the macabre depths of mankind without involving too much of the supernatural. Although there is a hint of fantasy, it is not the primary focus. The performances are excellent, and the characters are the most captivating part of the show, enticing viewers to remain until the finale in order to find out what happens to them.
Synopsis: The most-watched locally-produced live-action series on Disney streaming services in Japan, GANNIBAL follows Daigo Agawa (Yagira), a newly hired police officer in Kuge Village. Wrestling with his guilt over a traumatic event that led to his daughter becoming selectively mute, things start off promisingly for the new arrival and his family. However, life in the sleepy community takes a rapid turn when a series of alarming events quickly leads Daigo to the horrifying realization that something is deeply wrong with the villagers. Thrown into a hostile environment with suspense around every corner, will the latest police officer to patrol the streets of Kuge Village be able to bring those responsible to justice before it’s too late?
Director: Shinzo Katayama
Writer: Takamasa Oe
Producers: Teruhisa Yamamoto, Tatsuya Iwakura
Cast: Yuya Tagira, Show Kasamatsu, Riho Yoshioka, Kokone Shimizu
Season 1 is currently available on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in other territories