IN a fictional Japanese village called Kuge, a newly hired police officer Daigo Agawa (played by Yuya Yagira) arrives in town a broken man. Then a series of alarming events — including unexplainable deaths and disappearances — begin to unfold, leading Daigo to the horrifying realization that something is deeply wrong with the village and those who live there.
This is the premise of the Japanese psycho-thriller Gannibal, which premieres on Disney+ on Dec. 28. The series is based on the popular manga series of the same name by Masaaki Ninomiya.
Also in the cast are Show Kasamatsu (Tokyo Vice, Love You as the World Ends), and Riho Yoshioka (Haken Animé!, The Romance Manga Artist).
Mr. Yagira, the lead actor, and Shinzo Katayama, the series director, spoke to Asia-Pacific press on Dec. 1 at the Disney Content Showcase at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
“I’ve been hearing that the manga is very fun to read. The original material has its own appeal,” Mr. Yagira said of the source material.
It is, fundamentally, a story of family. Speaking through an interpreter, the actor explained: “The family has a problem and they moved to a new village. He (Daigo) wanted to solve a family issue.” Mr. Yagira added that as the audience gets to know the family, they will come to observe that his character also has an internal conflict.
The series, he said, shows the Japanese trait of “watching out for each other.”Mr. Katayama has experience directing thrillers — he helmed Mother and Missing. For Gannibal he took a different tack, shooting scenes “for a long period from one angle” in comparison to his previous films. He did this to showcase the locations where the series was shot in, including the mountains in Nagano City and Ibaraki Prefecture.
The series is produced by Tatsuya Iwakura and Teruhisa Yamamoto, who produced this year’s Academy Award-winning Drive My Car. That film’s writer, Takamasa Oe, also wrote Gannibal.
“Gannibal is a thriller that will leave audiences gasping with shock after every episode,” Mr. Yamamoto was quoted as saying in a statement. “But it’s also a human story that reflects upon the differences between family values and culture that, at a glance, seem so contradictory and yet are so relatable. With Gannibal and our other Japanese local content, we are building on Disney’s rich history of storytelling and are combining it with Japanese creativity to open new doors of entertainment for everyone.”
The psycho-thriller is the first of the Japanese shows in the lineup of Disney’s streaming content to premiere. The other shows include Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown Arc (done in collaboration with animation company Kodansha), Dragons of Wonderhatch which is a mix of live action and animé, and the drama House of the Owl.
Gannibal premieres on Disney+ on Dec. 28. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman