Animal World: Kaiji Film Adaptation Review

Animal World (2018) is a Chinese film based on the manga, Kaiji by Nobuyuki Fukumoto. It is on the rock-paper-scissors arc of the manga. As a huge Kaiji fan, I had to watch this film.

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Synopsis: Zheng Kaisi is tricked into shouldering on his friend’s debt. He enters a game that takes place on a ship. There, he sees players from all over the world with enormous debts. If he wins, he will be debt-free. However – if he loses, he will have to face a life worse than imaginable. The game is rock-paper-scissors but it has its own set of rules. Zheng Kaisi has to beat the other players in rock-paper-scissors. Sounds straight-forward, right?

Actually, it’s an extremely intense and interesting game. There are various psychological elements to consider, such as cheating, betrayal, working with comrades and greed. This psychological thriller/gambling film adapts the Kaiji manga very well. The gambling that happens in the film is identical to the manga, so you won’t be disappointed with the ending.

Something that was interesting was that the players were diverse and spoke different languages. Kaisi communicated with non-Chinese players by listening to an earpiece that translated the other player’s words into Chinese in real time. I thought this was realistic.

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Kaiji is a great manga that tackles themes such as human nature and I think that ‘Animal World’ is a suitable name for the film because in an environment where there are not a lot of regulations, humans may succumb to “animal-like behaviours.” Kaisi is a great protagonist that refuses to degrade himself like that. In this game, he fights the resistance to betray others. He is a flawed protagonist that does not have a 100% chance of winning. That is what makes him such a relatable character.

I don’t think that Kaiji is a simple manga to adapt. Animal World did it well, because of a number of reasons. One, the cinematography is really well done. Nobuyuki Fukumoto does a lot of panels with metaphors, and Animal World has amazing graphics that showcases those metaphors. Metaphors help the audience understand the depths of what the character is feeling. I liked that the film remained close to the source material in this way.

The actor who plays Kaiji/Kaisi, Li Yifeng, is a great actor. He is famous in China and played the role really well. Kaisi is different from Kaiji in terms of his personality, family background, life situation and relationships, which gives Animal World its own sense of originality. Like Kaiji, Kaisi is a likable and strong protagonist.

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The budget for this film and also the cinematography allowed the manga to come to life. Extra elements were added in the film but they were enjoyable to watch. Overall, I was really impressed with this adaptation and enjoyed it a lot. I recommend watching Animal World, even if you have never read or watched Kaiji. If you are a Kaiji fan, it doesn’t hurt to give this a try.

Animal World is available on Netflix.

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Korean Film Recommendation: Always (2011)

I’m writing this immediately after I finished watching Always, because that’s how good it was. My nose is still stuffy and my eyes are still sore from crying so much. It’s also almost 1 AM.

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Synopsis: During his shift at his job as a parking lot attendant, Cheol Min is visited by Jung Hwa, a woman who is blind. She was friends with the former parking lot attendant. Cheol Min and Jung Hwa develop a friendship, which turns into something more.

So much happens in this movie and I really cannot spoil too much. This is a romance movie and they do become a couple. That’s the focus of the first part of the film. They are in a serious relationship and they intend to have children together.

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In the second half of the film, Cheol Min and Jung Hwa’s happy life together is disrupted. Sad events ensue, and that’s when the ugly crying happens. The film has a happy ending, which I had to make sure before I even watched it. I can’t spoil what happens, so you’ll just have to watch it.

I loved this film because one, it evoked such a strong reaction out of me. Two, because I really enjoyed watching the daily life of the two together, and the simplicity of it. Three, because of how strong their love is. I think it’s inspiring to watch a story of a couple that have such an unbreakable bond. The film was really good at producing motifs and stories that only the two of them would know.

The only major thing I would have liked to be different is that I wish they gave us some more scenes in the end. I know, I’m greedy.

Ore Monogatari!! (2015) – Japanese Film Review

Ore Monogatari!! (2015), also known as My Love Story!! is the Japanese live-action film adaptation of the anime with the same name.

Fun fact: I watched this film years ago. Yesung from Super Junior recently watched this film, which prompted me to write a review.

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Synopsis: Takeo Goda is a sweet and thoughtful guy who wants a girlfriend, but he is always unsuccessful because of his scary and huge appearance. His best friend, Suna Makoto, on the other hand, is extremely popular because of his good looks. One day, Takeo saves a young girl named Rinko Yamato from a man who is harassing her. Yamato thanks him for saving her, and wants to get to know him better!

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Thoughts: This was so cute! However, it was also frustrating because there were so many misunderstandings. It’s worth watching to the end though. Since it’s a movie, a lot of characters from the anime aren’t introduced. The focus is on Takeo, Suna and Yamato.

This is one of the better live-action anime adaptations. Shojo manga adaptations are generally better than shonen titles because they are realistic and don’t require a huge budget. I think it’s crucial to have a good cast. The cast for this film is great. The actress who plays Yamato is perfect for the role, and Suna is great too. Takeo in the anime is bigger than the actor who plays him, but I think it would be hard to find someone as big as him in real life.

I really enjoyed watching this, and recommend this film if you’re looking for a cute high school romance.

Similarities Between Inuyashiki and Ikiru

Inuyashiki is about a father who develops stomach cancer and has three months left to live. Spoilers: He becomes a robot, which sets off the story in the manga. Before he became a robot, he is on a swing and sings a song. This is after he finds out he has cancer. His family do not have respect for him, so he is unable to tell them the news.

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Ikiru (To Live) is a black and white Japanese film from 1952 by Akira Kurosawa. It’s about a father who also has stomach cancer. He has less than a year to live, and is unable to tell his son because his son cares more about his money than him. In the rest of the film, the main character tries to find meaning in his life, similar to Inuyashiki. At 1:39, the main character’s facial expression looks like Inuyashiki whenever he is trembling. Later on at 2:53, he is sitting on a swing and sings a song. Both characters in Inuyashiki and Ikiru are singing the same song! Do you think Oku watched Ikiru and was inspired by this scene?

The biggest difference is that Ikiru is more realistic and there are no robotic elements to it. After all, this is a movie from the 1950s and it has real actors. However, their journey towards finding meaning in life is similar. What do you think? Has anyone else seen Ikiru before?