JAPAN CUTS: Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction (騙し絵の牙) Review

Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction

On paper, Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction‘s subject matter is not the most interesting of topics. Yet, Ichirô Kusuno’s riveting story of corporate politics and literary backstabbings creates a sense of intrigue in the world of Japanese publishing. In the end, Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction will have you caring about the industry while educating you on some of its intricacies along the way.

Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction follows Teruya Hayami (Yo Oizumi), a smooth-talker who gets assigned to be the editor-in-chief of the failing culture magazine, Trinity. Taking risks on new talent while securing the services of celebrated author Daisaku Nikaido (Jun Kunimura), Teruya looks to jumpstart the magazine by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Megumi Takano (Mayu Matsuoka) searches for a reclusive genius author while keeping up with Teruya and their ruthless industry. 

Although “print is dead” in the U.S., books and magazines are still very much alive in Japan. If Kiba is an indication of how the publishing industry is in Japan, then it’s a very cutthroat industry. Thus, Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction is a comical parody of the industry. At the heart of the film are Teruya and Megumi, two talented editors with differing personalities. Teruya is a slick and calculating hustler, while Megumi is a thorough and quirky bookworm. Two totally different personas, but you cannot deny that they’re really good at what they do.

Kiba: The Fangs of Fictionis a film full of eccentric and endearing characters that deliver a busy yet energetic ride through the Japanese literary world.

Because of Teruya’s calculating ways, Kiba is full of twists and turns that you might not expect in a comedy such as this. Teruya is the kind of character that’s two steps ahead of everyone else. He seems like he takes several chances, but he’s smart enough to know the outcome before anyone else. At the same time, he’s a smooth talker, so he can also convince you to go along with his plans. On the other hand, Megumi is a sponge-like character. While on the surface, she may not know what’s going on, but she does. She reads people well and knows a lot about them rather quickly. The dynamic between these two is entertaining to watch because their personas play off of each other so well.

Now, Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction may be a challenging movie to follow because of the number of intertwining twists and turns in it. There is a lot that unfolds at an energetic pace. If you’re not careful, you may miss out on one of the many schemes and counter schemes in the film. It can get a bit busy, but credit to Kusuno for trying to write a multi-layered script. Nevertheless, the cast of Kiba goes all-in with their performances in the film. Yo Oizumi is delightfully smooth as Teruya, and Mayu Matsuoka is charmingly quirky as Megumi. Both are entertaining, but Matsuoka is the heart and soul of the entire film. 

Overall, Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction is a film full of eccentric and endearing characters that deliver a busy yet energetic ride through the Japanese literary world. Although the backstabbing can be a bit taxing, the multi-layered story still leaves you intrigued throughout. Not bad for a workplace comedy about books and magazines.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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