Netflix Original, Homunculus-An Unkind Show Of The Fab Manga,Fails Despite A Wow! Cast & Ah! Visuals
Initial release: 2nd April 2021
Rating: TV-MA (meant for an adult mature audience)
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy
Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Country of origin: Japan
IMDb Rating: 5.6/10
Main Cast: Go Ayano (as Susumu Nakoshi) & Ryo Narita (as Manabu Ito)
Trigger Warning: Contains scenes of sexual assault
IMDb Synopsis: Truth and illusion blur when a homeless amnesiac awakens from an experimental medical procedure with the ability to see people's innermost traumas.
# Spoilers ahead. In case you plan to watch the movie check out my final rating here.
The movie is a live-action film adaptation of Hideo Yamamoto's manga by the same name. Mr Protagonist here Susumu Nakoshi is a 34-year-old amnesiac. He is constantly tormented by blurry flashes of his past and despite being rich prefers living in a small car like a homeless bum.
On one of the usual days, he is approached by a rather peculiar medical intern, Manabu Ito. The intern is in search of paid volunteers for private experimentation; a process known as trepanation, which involves drilling a hole into one's head to activate dormant psychic abilities.
Nakoshi volunteers with the hope that his subdued memories would resurface. The procedure results in Nakoshi starting to see humans in varied forms known as homunculi. It is believed that an individual's inner self exists inside his/her brain as a tiny humanoid-like form known as a homunculus. The rest of the movie is based on how Nakoshi helps people's homunculi through trauma and in the process finds himself.
The Manga Vs. The Movie
The hypothetical world of the homunculi has already been fabulously painted by one of the most loved animes of all time-Fullmetal Alchemist. Hideo Yamamoto's manga (comics) also visibly renders readers weak through its fabulous art and expressive storytelling.
Yamamoto's representation of a man who hasn't assimilated himself with either shade of the polarized society: the rich or the poor, makes the reader rethink his/her role as a social animal. The end is open based on which the story unfurls to fit the reader's perception. Nakoshi's visualisation of homunculi could be his imagination or reality because of trepanation, but the author had purposely left it to the reader's acceptance.
As a fervid manga and anime enthusiast, I can vouch for the fact that nothing surpasses a manga than an anime adaptation done right. However, at times, adaptations have been disappointing enough for the readers to entertain the idea of quitting the onscreen anime, movie or series scene unbiased. The movie Homunculus is one such uptake on the manga. As of large, the Netflix original failed to deliver the manga's impact and unexpectedly dispensed aguish onto the readers. As someone who has done both, I wasn't too thrilled with the movie either.
The manga and movie revolve around the same concept but are visibly varying in portrayal and subsequent storyline. But the ambiguity of the end is maintained in the film as well. The first part of the movie excels in the storytelling department, with a definite beautiful introduction to trepanation and homunculi. However, as the plot proceeds, the setup fails to hold the viewer's unflinching engagement as the narration takes a slow burn. The finale magnifies but hardly recovers from the loss of pace. It ultimately turns towards a hurried ambivalent end. The movie fails to exhibit the absolute eerieness of Yamamoto's set narration and thus remains unable to satiate the score created by the source.
Unlocking the brain to its full potential is a rather exploited concept as of late and we have had exceptional movies such as Limitless and Lucy to prove the hypothetical theory, but Homunculus is a rather rocky uptake on the trend comparatively. One can definitely feel a lack in the lustre and thrill that the genius, Takashi Shimizu's movies contain (director of the Ju-on: the Grudge series). Ryo Narita's portrayal as the evil scientist lacked spice and the heated bizarreness as compared to Yamamoto's character, Manabu Ito. The movie seeks redemption through visuals and the definite exceptional performance by actor Go Ayano as Susumu Nakoshi.
Having said that it is a marring experience for the manga readers, the movie can provoke a non-reader's intrigue, for its unusual theme. A sci-fi fan who prefers screen adaptations, it will be pass to watch for its visuals and good baseline. But, a reader with utmost honesty deserves the absolutely intriguing and brilliant manga instead. Despite everything, the trailer is a trip and makes you wanting more.
Character development: 5/10
Image Source ~ IMDb official website
Video Source ~ YouTube
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