Gannibal review: Based entirely on the comic book by Masaaki Ninomiya, the first season of the show sees police officer Daigo Agawa grappling with a disturbing investigation in the rural village of Kuge.
Looking at the recent past, the film or television adaptations of Japanese manga have had mixed results to say the least. We can think positively about Alita: The Angel of Battle by Robert Rodriguez and in negative to the Netflix transposition of Cowboy BeBop, nipped without half measures also by Shinichiro Watanabe, author of the comic. However, Hollywood seems to focus a lot on the medium of the Rising Sun, also considering the arrival of the live-action of Gundam or the Netflix series by One Piecewhich is why adaptations directly made in Japan never manage to take root as they would like in the international market.
However, the problem could be related to the transposed genre, usually the so-called “battle shonen” come Full Metal Alchemist o The attack of the Giants: titles that would be difficult to translate even if they weren’t so linked to one of the most identity-based oriental cultures in existence. Going beyond the exaggerated themes, the inventive structure of the worldbuilding and the dynamism of the fights of the genre, however, looking for example at the comic book horror one already notices a certain and better cinematic predisposition to the transposition, especially in Japanese territory. And to testify currently this inclination is Hannibal are Disney+a direct serial adaptation of the manga of the same name by Masaaki Ninomiya.
Benvenuti a Kuge
The prologue of the series immediately introduces the mystery, showing the heavy accusations that are made against the powerful and numerous Goto family of the village of Kuge, immersed in the greenery of rural Japan. The mystery is linked to their alleged cannibalism and it is the entire investigation into the story that fuels the story. The real incipit, then, even mentions the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, showing us the aerial shot of the agent Daigo Agawa’s family car (He would have) which reaches Kuge in an atmosphere of apparent tranquility.
Agawa was transferred to the village after an accident that saw him involved in service, choosing a place far from the city and cloaked in the mountains for the sake of his daughter Mashiro, traumatized by a recent event from the past and therefore closed in a painful silence . With them also Yuki (Riho Yoshioka), loving mother and devoted wife to Daigo. Once they arrive in Kuge, the family is warmly welcomed by the villagers, who want to make the Agawas feel at home, but in a short time disturbing events begin to concatenate.
The sudden disappearance of Daigo’s predecessor, the agent Kano, wasn’t enough, the corpse of Gin Goto – matriarch of the family – upsets the balance of the rural town, prompting Agawa to investigate both cases simultaneously and reaching chilling conclusions that will convince him to confront and investigate more and more thoroughly the Goto family and the entire village.
Gannibal: the first trailer for the new Disney+ horror thriller series
For the family
Beneath its genre surface that expertly blends investigative thriller and psychological horror, Hannibal it’s a family drama. It is not immediately evident but becomes so as the vision progresses: the heart of the work is dedicated to the heads of families and the decisions they made, to the repercussions and consequences of the same on the events of the story and for the emotions of their loved ones. Just like in the manga – which transposes mostly faithfully – the good writing of the protagonists goes hand in hand with the continuous revelations related to the investigation.
However, it is not devoted to sensationalism, Hannibal, because he wants the dramaturgy behind relationships and comparisons between characters to always remain of quality, substantially lowering the horror and more entertainment charge of the manga and instead transforming it into something even more sustained. Talking about the theme of family through the genre, it is not surprising that the directing has been handled for the most part by Shinzo Katayamaformerly among Bong Joon-ho’s assistants in the splendid Mother.
In visual terms, the filmmaker packs a work that is often remarkable and of great impact, net of frequent smudges between editing, narration and transitions which however do not profoundly affect the success of the work. The adaptation is then entirely scripted by Takamasa Oerenowned pen also winner of the Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival for the wonderful Drive My Car. A conceptual subversion is therefore decisively felt which places much more emphasis on the drama than on the horror of the story, which in any case remains intact and full of surprises.
Drive My Car, the review: be guided by stories
In seven episodes unfortunately only the surface of the true and most diabolical soul of the manga, making this first season certainly valuable but also lacking a shred of extra suspense and more structured events to optimally balance the writing of the characters, perhaps even in purely dialogical terms. Finally, the interpretation of Sho Kasamatsu as Keisuke Goto, really intense and thoughtful. Net of all the considerations made, Gannibal works just fine in your complexity, even convinced that its cliffhanger ending will keep you in suspense for the arrival of a second – but unfortunately still unconfirmed – season.
The live-action adaptation of Masaaki Ninomiya’s work can be said to be basically successful. Drawing the conclusions of our review, the series on Disney+ proves to be a discreet mix of tension, drama and horror, with a lively and profound writing signed by the pen of Drive My Car and a direction attentive to detail of the protagonists and overviews, often of great visual impact. Not an entertainment show tout court and not even compartmentalized in a single specific genre, ranging in many directions and devoted to compromise. Although the Japanese production matrix is evident – not always up to par -, Gannibal can easily be listed among the best manga transpositions of the last decade.
Because we like it
- The atmosphere that reigns throughout the first season.
- The value of writing focused on family and devoted to drama.
- The direction, often even refined.
- Members of the Goto family.
- You have to appreciate oriental cinema and acting to get into it.
- Some narrative and editing choices not exactly convincing.