Recently, Hulu and its parent company Disney, have invested in East Asian titles that push the boundaries of genre. From Webtoon adaptations to sci-fi horrors from Takashi Miike, the platform is now home to phenomenal series from Asia. The latest of these is Gannibal and man, does it have bite. The series adapts Masaaki Ninomiya manga of the same name and crafts a thrilling horror story.
After causing a major incident, police officer Daigo Agawa (Yûya Yagira) takes his wife Yuki (Riho Yoshioka) and daughter Mashiro (Kokone Shimizu) to live in the remote mountain village of Kuge. It seems the perfect place for the family to heal together, even if Daigo got the job after a police officer vanished. While the village thrives on forestry, a secret history of cannibalism begins to overshadow everything else. One day, the body of an old woman is found on the mountain. The Goto family, who owns most of the village, claims that she was attacked by a bear, but Daigo notices a human bite mark on the arm, leading him to suspect something is not quite right with the village.
We got the chance to speak with Gannibal star Yuya Yagira who brings Daigo Agawa to life. A stunning actor, his dynamic range effortless brings to life the complexities involved in healing from trauma, trying to enact justice, and ultimately being consumed by it all. We asked if oscillating through so many intense emotions was difficult, to which Yagira replied, “The directors (Shinzô Katayama and Hayato Kawai) always has a way of producing the ambiance of the situation, especially with our wonderful creative team. For us actors, it was easy to get into each of the emotions.”
And the emotional storytelling is why you need to check out Gannibal. From the title, key art, and trailers, it’s clear that it’s a cannibal story, but that’s not all this series is. Instead, it’s a complex exploration of family and that’s something that Yagira was able to tap into from his own life.
“There is an aspect of family relationships in Gannibal. It started as a very happy and loving relationship in my family. But as the story evolves, even Daigo’s wife begins to suspect him. For me, this was very difficult and intense,” Yagira explained. He added, “The fact that I have a wife and child makes me sympathize with the character. I personally prefer happy endings so all of this was very challenging. I ended up having the same feeling that Daigo does in the scenes.”
While most audiences outside of Japan have come to think of Japanese horror as mainly supernatural in nature, primarily in terms of ghost stories, Gannibal offers the audience a different kind of dread. Yagira explored this concept when asked about what it was like to play the lead in a horror series, “While people say that this is a horror series, this is a series really about showing the horror of human beings. We don’t show any ghosts or the supernatural. Instead, we show a village, the people, and its customs, and by doing so, the story becomes very dramatic.”
Yagira continues, “It’s a very natural expression of horror than your usual horror movie, and you actually feel something special about being a human. There is love and a sense of justice, but in Gannibal, these are things that can become very scary at the end. I hope that audiences can see these aspects and enjoys them.”
And that is what makes Gannibal standout as a must-watch for any fan of thrillers, mysteries, or horror. It’s all about humanity and the ills that comes with it, even when intention is in the right place. As Daigo, Yagira explained what he would like audiences to take away from his character the most, “I want people to enjoy the series but I really want them to see the scarieness of human beings. I want them to see the violence that starts from a sense of justice can become a sense of madness. I would like for the audience to see this relationship between love and justice around Daigo and begin to question it.”
Gannibal is streaming now exclusively on Hulu.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.