We begin with an odd scene of naked contempt, later you figure out that a businessman, Hwang Kyung-min, murders his wife. Just moments later after washing the blood and guilt away in a not-so-sexy shower scene, Kyung-min is soon meeting up with an old classmate, Jung Jong-suk whom he hasn’t seen for 15 years.
During a reunion dinner they look back on their school days, avoiding discussion of their present situations. Back then there were class distinctions among the pupils. The elite students – ‘The Dogs’ – rich, successful and particularly cruel, exercised a reign of terror over the weaker, poorer students – ‘The Pigs’. Jong-suk and Kyung-min were powerless against the ‘dogs’, in order to continue life with no trouble they would try keep their heads down and not stand up to their oppressors. We are here shown mild sexual abuse, a lot of thrashings and mental bullying.
Enter saviour, Kim Chul. Appearing literally from nowhere, a classmate sitting in the shadows randomly stands up to the elite, he fast became their last hope to end the circle of fear. Why? We are never really told, perhaps bordeom? Maybe he wanted to get his frustration of the world out with his fists? You find out his twisted situation later in the movie.
15 years later, Chul remains a hero. But tainted withhis mantra, ‘you need to be a monster if you don’t want to keep living like a loser’, you can imagine what terrible events lay in the men’s past that they decided to revisit the site where the most shocking truth of what happened there is revealed now.
The art is strange mix of 2D and 3D as if the characters are trying to escape out of the screen but not quite. The dark colours fit with the dark tones of the story. The animation is quite simple but detail accumilates for the looks of despair and hatred and especially when the pigs true faces are revealed.
The anime was deemed “A violent Korean anime with real teeth.” by EMPIRE cinema, which is understandable as it held a bleak story getting more depressing by each scene. The violence is a norm and is casually placed everywhere and no one is bothered and mis-communication leads the teachers to believe the victims are the trouble makers. All is an illusion capturing the sad realism of life in a kill-or-be-killed world.
It features lots of suggestive material, cruelty to animals, up front violence and blood whilst tackling adult themes of social impact of high school bullying and single parents. Despite its simple animation, recurring animal metaphors and terribly inaccurate subtitles it’s intense message is portrayed perfectly without flaws. A violent drama that delivers a truly shocking conclusion.