Tokyo Gore School Review
One can only presume that gorehounds would be licking their sadistic lips in giddy anticipation at the prospect of a Japanese shocker bearing a title that might just be the sequel to the gloriously bizarre avalanche of assorted viscera and full-on weirdness that is Tokyo Gore Police. Toss in the fact that the director of said film is Yohei Fukuda, the cinematographer behind the BBFC's favourite and most venerated movie treasure of recent years, Grotesque, and the director of the bikini-clad zombie-killing cowgirls action horror, Oneechanbara, and you surely have a cast-iron product guaranteed to hit the bullseye for those who love their gore at the excessive end of the blood-drenched scale.
It actually transpires that Tokyo Gore School bears a depressingly derivative title; not only is this Japanese flick unrelated to the masterful shocker of similar name, but the inference that there may be copious gore is, by and large, misleading. Despite the dubious/delirium-inducing (delete as appropriate) Grotesque connection, this picture rejects any attempt at shock n' gore, and instead selects the menace of extreme bullying amongst adolescent school children as its primary driver of discomfort.
In contrast to the relative paucity of crimson-shed, the movie does have a certain richness of ideas flowing from its black heart. The cruel bullying 'game' relentlessly driven by the odious bullies, and participated in by terrified, unwitting victims, is cut from a very modern cloth, utilising modern technology as its tool of torment. The hierarchies, unions, and relationships that emerge as a result of the subversive subculture are imaginatively done. And there are some useful themes, surrounding deeply repressed guilt, the agony of childhood secrets, and the polarisation of society in the modern consciousness separating the population into winners and losers (and nothing in-between), as advocated by smug head boy and eventual target, Fujiwara.
Fukuda also delivers some surprises with his sometimes sprightly approach; the action segues from unpleasant bullying, through to exhilarating street jumping chase sequences, with some cheeky humour thrown in at unexpected moments.
Yet the success of the plethora of ideas is often diluted by some less satisfying sections. The scenes featuring choreographed fighting are well rehearsed, but fail as they appear like dancing rather than dangerous combat. The fast moving sequences are often too blurry to track accurately, which proves for frustrating viewing. And in the pressure-cooker teenage-dominated world, a sphere remarkably free of adult intervention and interference, the frequently ugly characters of the children and their often wildly inconsistent swings of behaviour (even by teenage standards) mean that we barely engage with their predicaments, rarely believe their motives, and ultimately receive little sense of the ebb and flow of their tortured journey. Only female lead Chiori garners our affection with her more refined and sensitive outlook, and her intelligent reading of the personalities around her.
With its audacious moniker, Tokyo Gore School promises much, but thanks to a limited volume of shocks, some unconvincing fight sequences, and with characters and performances that fail to engage us, this picture only partially delivers.
The movie is released on a region 2 disc, and is presented using an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer isn't of the highest standard. The picture is somewhat muted, and grainy, with the colour spectrum not close enough to the vibrancy we would expect today. Bright lights are regularly over-saturated and rudely overrun into other areas of the picture, whereas blacks are not sufficiently solid to portray the dark scenes convincingly. Definition is lacking, and it is these dark scenes where it tells the most. The most adequately presented scenes are those within the school itself, where the clean lines of the modern building assist with the reproduction of the colours.
Optional English subtitles are included, and the translation seems fine. The font is clear and readable, and presented in a sensible size.
The colourful menu system is one of the best presented parts of this release.
Audio reproduction is acceptable. Presented in stereo 2.0, there is some effective placing of sounds. Whilst the clarity is decent enough, there is a slight lack of credible bass, resulting in a general shortage of impact. This is fine for much of the musical score, which can be somewhat insipid, although the pumping electronica and hard metal themes during the chase scenes are lacking the suitable punch. That said, when the audio needs to produce an effective result for one of the major shocks, it performs well enough to ensure the shock is maximised.
There are no extras.
Tokyo Gore School is a largely goreless insight into the murky underworld of teenage cyber-bullying, choosing the cruel modus operandi of a bullying game to deliver the shocks above good, old fashioned blood n' guts. With little to endear us to any of the characters, save for lead female Chiori, the net result is a sensation of vacuousness, and its the slick chase sequences and occasional thematic choices which ensure that the movie retains some merit. A barebones, extra-less release with straightforward visual and audio reproduction means that this Manga entry is strictly for existing fans of the movie, and lovers of the gore-drenched glory of Tokyo Gore Police should be well aware that this production shares a similar name, but not a great deal more.
Last updated: 14/06/2018 04:10:42