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 dead, hence 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!