Tokyo Ghoul S is an enjoyable romp that knows not to take itself overly seriously, though it wouldn’t hurt itself to do so to make it a stronger film. A very watchable live-action sequel that keeps true to its anime roots.
Growing accustomed to his new life as a half-ghoul, Ken Kaneki (Masataka Kubota) is determined to protect his new allies at Antiku from the anti-ghoul forces that seek to eradicate them. However, when the infamous gourmet Shu Tsukiyama (Shoto Matsuda) wishes to savour his unique flavour, its ghoul vs ghoul as Kaneki must fight his way out of the already-grim ghoul society’s twisted underbelly.
Having not seen the first film of this series, I was left a little in the dark, so for those of you who watch to catch Tokyo Ghoul S. It is heavily recommended that you go and check out the previous film first as the while world-building is still ongoing here, the foundations have already firmly been set in place. However, there is still ease in the opening act to allow the uninitiated to grasp the overall story.
Tokyo Ghoul S struggles slightly with its two male leads. While both are fine on their own, Kaneki is far too unsure of this world that he now resides in to be a good enough protagonist. Frustration sets in early with how malleable to the wishes or demands of whoever is in front of. When just under an hour in, he realises he has Neo style abilities to fight, he gains a bit more confidence in himself, but not enough to take on the big battle with Tsukiyama. There just hasn’t been enough given to him to realistically in this narrative to get to that point.
Right over on the other side of the spectrum is the gourmet ghoul Tsukiyama who is just so far into the world of camp that you have to struggle not to look on bemused. A simple moment that has to be from the anime has Tsukiyama sampling some of Kaneki’s blood and literally holding a pose for no reason; add to this that he seems to be conveying all of his inner thoughts as if on a one-man stage play. His over the top actions and demeanour take a few moments to get used to and almost create an entirely different film to the one Kaneki resides in.
By having these two polar opposite characters, we are bereft of someone more grounded to focus on, and with that, the character of Touka is allowed to have far more prominence to the audience. Her complicated but kickass character works tremendously well for this film. She is someone who seemingly yearns for that normal human life and connection but knows she must segregate herself from it due to her need to protect others. Maika Yamamoto isn’t given a lot to do other than in the finale, but what she does helps elevate the entire piece as she is by far the strongest actor, or at least the one who got her character the best.
These simple descriptions of three characters lead Tokyo Ghoul S to have a lot of tonal issues throughout its 100 minutes running time. As it is a sequel, there is less set up, but also, it appears that there is not too much effort in joining all these separate pieces together. The film flies through its storyline that should linger on a little more, especially when you consider that the finale is almost a third of the film. More time was needed to build up Kaneki’s confidence and belief in himself and give us more reason to see how Tsukiyama goes off the deep end of his pursuit of that ‘delicious’ blood.
However, this is still a fun film that does its best to bring the tension, but as mentioned, when a finale is over 30 minutes long, there is the chance a bit of dragging is going to occur. The cast does their best with what they have, and it Is clear that there was considerable effort to mimic shots from the anime, with the camera set far back to give us that big scope, coupled with close reaction shots that you would expect from an anime.
This is a solid piece that connects enough, and with some luck, there will be another film to further the series as there is some excellent world-building here. Tokyo Ghoul S needs more time spent on the story to hold itself together better, but from what we get works, it just feels as if the connections from the main scenes are missing throughout.
Screen Anime channel hosts exclusive UK & Ireland premiere of live-action horror sequel from 25th April until 25th May.
About Screen Anime:
Launched by Anime Limited in May 2020, a Screen Anime membership is a must-have for new and existing fans of the film and the increasingly popular medium of Japanese animation. Screen Anime brings both the newest and classic anime with a curated selection of four movies and one bingeable series each month. Past titles include Weathering With You, Perfect Blue, and Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel II. lost butterfly.
More than just a channel, though, Screen Anime is also a community with weekly #ScreenAnimeParty Twitter watch and brought like-minded fans together despite the pandemic. Screen Anime is available via your PC web browser, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV from only £3.98 per month. For more information, visit http://www.ScreenAnime.com.
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