REVIEW: As The Gods Will (2015)

A group of high schoolers find themselves suddenly involved in a series of bloody games that could result in their deaths.


By Raymond Arcega
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As The Gods Will

Original Title: 神さまの言うとおり
Year: 2015
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genres: Thriller, Horror
Director: Miike Takashi

Imagine you are a normal high school student like Shun (Fukushi Sota), going to school like any other day. Out of the blue, a monster daruma lands on your teacher’s head, causing it to explode. Then you and your classmates are suddenly forced to play a series of life-and-death games, in which all your decisions will affect the lives of everyone around you.

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As The Gods Will is a gory, violent, and strangely lighthearted slushie brought to life by the one and only Miike Takashi. Fans of his past work, such as Lesson of the Evil and Ichi The Killer, will feel right at home with his familiar atmosphere, slick cinematography, and quirky mood shifts. It is almost as if the story, adapted from the manga of the same name, was just made to one day be adapted by him.

The is a mix of many young adult stories that have grown into popularity in recent years, particularly The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, with a dash of Battle Royale. In all these films, we start off with a vast pool of fresh and abled bodies, and with each scene (and explosion of blood) we dwindle down to the last few standing.

The level of violence is what one could expect from a Miike film. There are heads exploding, people getting smashed like insects, bodies getting torn apart like paper, and even flesh-cutting lasers. Interestingly enough, the first half of the film has an aura of humor that makes the frequent death scenes surprisingly comical. As the red shirts get killed off one by one, the story gradually gets darker.

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Being an adaptation of a manga, the film suffers from having to condense the numerous story arcs of the source material into a two-hour flick. A job was well done with rewriting and reworking the story to fit its situation, but the result of it all is characters being underdeveloped, with some being reduced to either cameos or mere plot devices.

As a result of characters being underdeveloped, many of their relationships ended being so as well. A prime example was the developing love triangle between Shun, Ichika (Yamazaki Hirona), and Shoko (Yuki Mio), which quickly ended before we got the chance to care about it.

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What the film lacks in character development, the film makes up for with Miike’s brand of visuals and what-the-f**kery. The games of death and monsters that the main characters encounter are very unique and bizarre – disturbing enough to keep us drawn in. And in some ways, too cute to make us forget that they are out to kill our heroes.

However, the film ends without a complete conclusion, leaving everyone as clueless as to what is really going on as they were in the beginning. And, as with any good Miike film, everyone should expect to finish the story with the same question: “What the hell did I watch?”


Watch this film…

…if you love the Miike brand of bizarreness and violence.


About the Author

Raymond Arcega

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