An Angry Post About That Crappy Gyo OVA Adaptation

NEWSFLASH: It sucks!

As a huge Junji Ito fan who’s collected his works over the past few years, I’d say Gyo isn’t necessarily his best work but Uzumaki and Tomie have already gotten their respective live action adaptations so it’s not like ufotable had a choice.

This OVA is one of the worst adaptations I’ve seen of Ito’s works, it completely warped the characters and their personalities. I don’t mind a strong female character in a horror movie, but Kaori here was less interesting than the Kaori in the manga (a neurotic mess of a girl who is sensitive to smells). Tadashi was reduced to some pitiful side character who wasn’t fleshed out well enough for me to feel sorry for him. I’m all for taking liberties when adapting manga, but none of the changes contributed to improving upon the source material. It simply brought it down to a level where the OVA had to rely on shocks, titillation and gross out moments. If you haven’t read the manga just go and read it first. This OVA misrepresents Ito’s work. Ito is hardly ‘underground’ but he’s not exactly well known. He’s been lauded as one of the best Japanese horror manga artists out there and yet not many people into anime or manga have read his works. For some people, this is their first time seeing anything related to Junji Ito, and that’s where ufotable does the manga artist a disservice.

Gyo was hardly about what this OVA was showing us, it was all about the absurdity of the situation and the grotesque quirkiness of a shark on legs. What made this manga special was how the author played with the idea and at the same time developed Tadashi and Kaori. (Warning here be spoilers!) In the manga, Tadashi does everything to rescue Kaori even when she’s infected. He was in love with her through and through eventhough she was the kind of girl who wouldn’t kiss him if he didn’t brush his teeth. They weren’t in a perfect relationship but the events that take place in the manga only serve to show us how regardless of how flawed this couple was, they were in love. The OVA reduces them into a happy lovey dovey couple with zero personality. A common theme in Junji Ito’s works is how people always strive to save the ones they love from disfiguration or a disgusting transformation. I like to think that this is where uh…”love conquers all”. The thing with the manga was that Kaori was a beautiful girl who was very clean with herself, having been turned into a monstrous creature  bloated by an awful smelling gas would be her personal nightmare. Despite her worsening condition, Tadashi stood by her side even until the very end. The movie completely omitted this. Yes, the roles are reversed but why should that contribute to omitting a final and important scene? This manga was Tadashi and Kaori’s journey to hell, sometimes I feel like people miss that because they’re primarily concerned on whether or not anyone is capable of defeating these walking fish.

By the way, the infection in the manga is much scarier because it appears to be more of an airborne thing as opposed to being scratched or wounded. There’s also the issue of these sharks attacking people. They’re not supposed to be eating these bystanders, these sharks stink because they’re deadhence the repeated mention of the death stench.

The manga only had around four main characters so I had no idea why they felt like adding original characters like Erika and Aki who contributed nothing but more annoying wailing girls. Erika in particular felt like she was added to give guys a flash of boobs and her panties. Ito’s works don’t contain pointless/unnecessary nudity like this.

It’s like they’ve never read a Junji Ito manga before.

A good adaptation need not follow the manga panel by panel. An anime should be judged separately from the manga. And yet, given that perspective the Gyo OVA fails to impress.  Opting for cheap thrills, Gyo is nothing but an animated B-horror movie.

Unlike the low budget adaptations done by Higuchinsky, this OVA lacks any real creativity and charm. It squeezes out what originally made Gyo fascinating and replaces that spirit with boring storytelling and poorly executed (over the top) melodrama. Just pick up Uzumaki, Long Dream or Lovesick Dead…at least those films actually knew what their source material was about. Gyo is a disappointment, and forgive the crazy generalist statement but I highly doubt any hardcore fan of Junji Ito is going to enjoy this. For those of you who feel this OVA was lacking, just pick up the manga and Junji Ito’s other works. I assure you that it’s nothing like this!

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  1. you’re definitely right about you’re post. im also of a fan of ito junji. and gyo is really one of my favorite manga of ito junji, but the anime adaptation make’s me disappointed. why on hell kaori became the protagonist? i was expecing tadashi being awesome in the anime but he becomes an pathetic loser. wasn’t he supposed to be the one who is immune to the virus? i was expecting him “saying you’re free from that smell” to kaoriin the end. and also they created the tentacle rape scene to kaori which is disgusting.hope ufotable won’t create another adaptation of ito’s works

    • hope ufotable won’t create another adaptation of ito’s works

      Sums it up perfectly. Tadashi was pretty awesome, and his extreme devotion and goodness was funny. This OVA makes it look like Kaori’s not supposed to look like an idiot.

  2. Yeah, it was nothing like the manga, but the manga was pointless and over the top, it’s not like they could have made it worse, how could you take a cult manga so seriously

    • how could you take a cult manga so seriously

      I think you should direct this question to ufotable and not me. The fact that they took Gyo and made it into a ‘disaster movie omg’ was probably the worst decision they made regarding this adaptation.

      Also, if you haven’t noticed, I own an anime blog. Of course I’m going to take my Chinese cartoons seriously!

  3. The explanation I’ve seen floating around is that what happened here was an intersection of two concerns: (a) the general issue that female leads tend to sell better than male leads and (b) manga-Kaori being unlikable, and particularly so if she’s promoted to the lead role. But, it’d be hard to adapt the story with with a good-girl Kaori as the lead, so they split off her unlikable aspects into the other females, and there you have it. It’s a plausible theory, even if not true.

    Adding to the insult: the rotoscoped feel of the animation gives it a cheap vibe that makes it harder to buy into what’s going on a lot of the time (and there’s enough of it I have to wonder if this wasn’t just UFOTable experimenting with rotoscoping).

    Or, all-in-all: like you, I was thoroughly disappointed. I mean, I was skeptical when I heard about this project, because it seemed extremely difficult to *animate* in a way that wouldn’t reduce it to comedy. That said, there were enough unforced errors in this adaption that the blame can’t be placed on the material, really.

    Was the “I’ve gotten used to it?” ending in the original (been so long since I read it)? I don’t think it was, and it seems like a nice original ending.

    • re: theory
      The combination of these two theories seem the most plausible. It seems this was done to make Gyo easier to introduce to a new audience.

      Adding to the insult: the rotoscoped feel of the animation gives it a cheap vibe that makes it harder to buy into what’s going on a lot of the time (and there’s enough of it I have to wonder if this wasn’t just UFOTable experimenting with rotoscoping).

      I never thought of the rotoscoping bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Sometimes I find that UFOtable has this awkward way of placing CG. Something that’s quite prevalent in the Gyo OVA. It’d definitely make things easier for them to do some rotoscoping. I’d guess most of the chase scenes had that.

      I honestly wouldn’t mind if it turned out more of a comedy. I found the film adaptation of Uzumaki to be pretty funny but still creepy at the same time. It’s hard to blame the source material when on it’s own, the Gyo OVA isn’t that great to begin with.

      I think it was an original ending, considering how Tadashi in the manga went “You’re free from the smell” or something along those lines towards Kaori. Not bad, really. It’s just the rest of the film wasn’t that great.

      • The rotoscoping was the first thing I noticed, perhaps because of having seen so much of Bakshi’s work back in the day. It’s even more jarring due to the juxtaposition of very anime-style animation later on, like at the circus.

        But yeah, now that you mention it between the CGI and the rotoscoping this seems like it turned into a tech demo or “practice project” for those techniques (even if it started out as a serious effort). I can even see the motivation for it, too: CGI-in-anime often looks weird due to framerate issues, and in theory rotoscoping offers a way to boost the animation framerate to match the CGI. (I say in theory, because in practice rotoscoping usually comes out looking weird.)

        Whelp, in the end this was a disappointing bust and it’s been kinda a lame season all-around. At least Ingaron should be out soon-ish, right?

        • I deleted my copy of the Gyo OVA so I’m not sure if I’m right but I felt that the circus sequence used a number of stills too.

          In regards to this being more of a practice project, I can definitely see why. If their goal was to have the CGI scenes and the handdrawn frames to blend together better then I’d say this was– quite a success.

          Yeah, in all honesty this season just bores me. I heard Ingaron will be out around April. I actually have a few unscanned chapters of the manga and the developments there have also been exciting.

  4. You know what this adaptation was missing?

    Seriously though, I haven’t watched this OVA and it looks bad. It can’t be worse than the live-action Uzumaki film though, can it? That was awful in every single way.

    • How anyone could adapt Gyo without that classic GASHUNK is beyond me.

      It can’t be worse than the live-action Uzumaki film though, can it?

      In my opinion, it is worse than the Uzumaki film. While that film was hardly a cinematic achievement, there were some genuinely funny moments. Gyo tries too hard to be a disaster film. Then it shoehorned some half-assed character development, tentacles and a brief threesome.

  5. That chick is the epitome of token slutty slasher movie/monster movie victim. “I’m hot and sexually empowered! Look at me make out with all the boys! OH NO GIANT SHAAAAARKS”

  6. actually this is way better than the crappy uzumaki live action. I’ve read most of Ito’s works, and among all adaptation which has been made, I enjoyed this the most. Have you watched Tomie unlimited? the most WTF movie i’ve ever watched.

    I enjoy this OVA pretty much, because it just seems developed seriously. Even they still put some respected Ito’s trademarks like “the vertical lines around the eyes”, and the visualization of the stench (I never thought it will still be there in the anime). The quality of the animation is great, and OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t call this “an animated B-horror movie”. Oh, and hey it is an OVA, not movie.

    Still, I’m a bit disappointed though, because I already know the whole story before watching it. And cliches everywhere, meh… But at least it’s still less mainstream

    Actually, there would be no hope that any studio will make a pure hardcore horror like Ito’s works, because of the target market. If they don’t put anything like boobs or sex inside, or another “spice” to broaden the consumer target, it will worsen the sales. So just keep dreaming there would be a perfect horror adaptation nowadays.

    thus, this makes this OVA pretty much great.

    • I think we have vastly different opinions regarding this OVA, so I’ll leave it at that.

      I have not watched Tomie Unlimited but I probably should.

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