“You guys eat people!” Gannibal (Shinzô Katayama, 2023)

Gannibal is a new seven-episode television series set in present day, rural Japan. The show is based on a Manga series (comic or graphic novel) which appears to be available on-line.

In the first episode, we see a policeman raging outside a house, accusing the occupants of cannibalism. He soon comes to a sticky end.

Police officer Daigo Agawa becomes Chuzai (residential police officer) at the Kuge village, accompanied by his wife Yuki and daughter Mashiro, after the previous Chuzai mysteriously went missing (the same officer seen being killed in the opening). Daigo has caused some incident in his previous posting, which has led to his transfer to this remote and eerie (but very beautiful) village.

The daughter, Mashiro, seems to have no fear, but also refuses to speak, which Daigo believes is his fault. On his first day, Daigo is summoned by the Goto family, who seem to run the small forestry village, like a local crime family.

They have found the body of their grandmother, Gin Goto, the head of the family. They insist she was attacked by a bear, and pull out firearms when Daigo points out that the tooth marks on her arm are human.

Meanwhile the little girl Mashiro wanders away from home, and meets up with a large blind guy who seems only able to snarl.

Showing no fear, she offers him a sugar candy, and in turn comes home with a human finger.

Problem: the finger is not from Gin Goto. Lots of people are, apparently, getting dismembered.

Daigo accompanies the Goto family on a hunt to find the bear that they claim ate Grandma, and is then attacked by a bear, who turns out to have granny’s specs in his stomach.

In a scene that could almost define carnivorous virility, the men gather around the bear and eat his flesh, a ritual that is supposed to keep Grandma within them.

This is what we call, in Cannibal Studies, “essentialism, the idea that the spirit or strength of a person lives on by eating them, even if only via the bear that ate her (even though that’s clearly not what happened).

In the following episodes, Daigo slowly unravels the truth about cannibalism in the village.

Gannibal is directed by Shinzô Katayama, the director of the horror-thriller Missing. Reviews have been glowing, stressing how ‘gross’ and unsettling the show is. One tweet said:

Except for the opening, which is over the top in Japanese anime style, the acting is great, the suspense interesting without jump scares, the music eerie, and the photography beautiful. If you like a good suspense show and don’t mind subtitles, this one is highly recommended.

Gannibal started streaming December 28 on Hulu. Also available on Disney+.


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