Tom Cruise has returned once again to the Hollywood fray in Edge of Tomorrow, taking up the mantle of William Cage–a Major in the United Defense Forces. This article is a comparison of mediums, rather than a simple review, and so cannot function without spoilers. Consider this your spoiler warning, not just for the movie, but the book and manga as well. I will definitely be covering all three versions. Some may note the American graphic novel is absent from this article. It is the least known of the four, and a three-way comparison is already pushing the envelope for this article. As such, it will be excluded. This is also the first of two articles on the subject, so buckle in.
Edge of Tomorrow super summary: The UDF is working to fight against a hideous, alien adversary known as the Mimics by merging the attack power of every nation under one banner. Even with their enhanced military technology (most notably of which are the Jackets—full-body battle suits outfitted to counteract Mimic oppression) the UDF finds themselves consistently and righteously outmatched. That is, until Cage kills a special Mimic, assimilates its blood into his own, and becomes capable of resetting the world to a day before a world-altering battle with Mimic armies. An event that occurs only upon his death.
Cage is the only one to keep his memories of each “loop,” and so can try and try again to defeat the Mimics in hopes of eventually surviving. Through trial and error, he begins a campaign of rapid growth, especially once he recruits the help of Rita Vrataski, esteemed master of the battlefield. Together they navigate the loops and try to kill the “Omega” Mimic, a sort of “mother brain” creature.
Now, while I thought the movie was enjoyable on its own merits (though, not winning any awards), it did stray far from the original, light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Rights to the story were purchased back in 2009, but the movie did not share the same title as the book, probably due to the odd splay of words not meshing with American audiences. I don’t fault the movie for this. If they’d kept it the same, it would have damaged their marketing. In fact, it might have been best for everyone to detach the movie further from the book, as the stories, while sharing in basic premise, deviated in dozens of different ways.
To make matters more interesting, I will not only be comparing just the novel and the movie, but will also compare the manga adaptation (illustrated by personal favorite artist Takeshi Obata–maker of Hikaru no Go, Deathnote and Bakuman *swoon*). Don’t worry too much about this one though, as it won’t add much to the article. Unlike Edge of Tomorrow, the manga stays far truer to the original story, and unless I’m making a specific comment about the manga, I’ll just refer to All You Need Is Kill as a blanket statement for both the novel and manga.
So now that the foundation has been laid out, shall we get to work?
Originally I thought it best to start by comparing the two variations of the main character, but instead decided to break that lineup with the enemies instead, as they’re less work to compare. In the film, Mimics are insanely fast, sporadic, and spindly creatures, glowing inside with an orange or blue light, depending on their type. They burrow underground and traverse through water, making them more dangerous on a surveillance level, since they can come from pretty much any direction at any time. Mimics maintain a quadruped shape and attack with flaming projectiles and their own lashing bodies. Between the three adaptations, I thought this version of the Mimics to be the most nightmarish because of their deadly versatility and agility. This version also possesses the mastermind “Omega” Mimic, which is absent from AYNiK.
Obata illustrates the manga Mimics as something completely different. The Mimics are drawn as massive-bodied, black orbs with spears protruding from beneath them and a maw of irregular, blocky teeth (not unlike bricks). In both versions of AYNiK, the Mimic’s primary form of attack is a javelin fired from the throat, which passes through stone and steel as if each were no denser than yogurt. What they lack in speed they make up for in raw power and endurance. Mimics are very strong in this adaptation. (http://mangadoom.com/all_you_need_is_kill/1/39/)
At their origin, the Mimics are a little difficult to describe. In the novel, Sakurazaka describes meeting a Mimic as such: “Mimics don’t inspire the instinctive fear you’d expect if you found yourself facing a bear protecting her cubs, or meeting the gaze of a hungry lion. Mimics don’t roar. They’re not frightening to look at. They don’t spread any wings or stand on their hind legs to make themselves look more intimidating. They simply hunt with the relentlessness of machines.” And, to elaborate on the “not frightening to look at” bit, you should know the Mimics in the original work look like bloated frog corpses, but have a physical composition closer to starfish. Yeah, a little strange.
The Main Character
As I said before, William Cage is the main character of EoT. He’s a high-ranking officer who is…sort of a pansy, really. When informed of an obligation to go fight on the frontlines of battle, he pulls every card in his power to back out of the duty. This leads to him literally run away, get arrested, get knocked unconscious, and get dragged to the battlefield. We’re not even going to talk about how illegitimate that all is. Once he meets his platoon and gets suited up in a Jacket, he goes to war sweating more bullets than he fires. With forty-and-a-half miracles, he manages to survive for longer than a minute, and even kills two Mimic enemies in the process (one being the aforementioned special Mimic, or “Alpha”). Unfortunately, he also watches legendary hero, Rita Vrataski, die, so hope is all but cinders and waste at this point. Death comes to him immediately after slaying the Alpha and he starts the day over. Of course, it seems unreal, but he steadily begins to figure out what’s going on and adapts to increase his chances of survival.
But in AYNiK, the protagonist is a certain Kiriya Keiji (Keiji –> Cage? That works, I guess). Unlike Cage, Keiji is a fresh recruit–a foot soldier of the lowest rank–and while he’s understandably horrified to go into battle, he doesn’t try to back out. Ethnic and physical differences aside, Keiji generally has a quicker grasp on things as they happen and tests the parameters of the loop more than his American counterpart. In one instance, he even shoots himself in the head to see if that will end the cycle, but to no avail. So he works his way through the loops, keeping the number of his present loop scrawled on top of one hand.
As both characters progress, they start to deviate further. Cage, while frustrated and depressive at points, suffers less than Keiji and undergoes less character growth. The psychological and traumatic effects of dying over and over never touches Cage, while you can feel it more thoroughly in Keiji’s mentality. This is something portrayed with frightening illustrations in the manga, as you can literally see his glare hardening. Over time, additional shadows are drawn to darken his complexion (http://mangadoom.com/all_you_need_is_kill/1/69/). Their individual perceptions of Rita are different as well, but I’ll talk about that more once we get to the “Character-Driven vs. Plot-Driven” section in the second half of these two articles.
Where do I even start? Well, in EoT, Rita has absolutely no backstory and only a few strands of character development towards the end of the movie (which ultimately means nothing when you consider that the movie ends right as Cage meets her for the first time, again). It’s hard to really fault the movie with taking some of the attention off of her, given their limited time frame. Nonetheless, she is almost entirely an accessory to William Cage’s character, rather than standing on her own as somebody we should be interested in. Even her acclaim on the battlefield is watered down pretty badly. Sure, she might be better than an average soldier, but she’s far less competent than the AYNiK counterpart, who carves a bloody path through Mimic forces left and right. In that adaptation, Rita’s squad is credited to over half of all Mimic casualties, but in EoT she dies in dozens of loops.
Emily Blunt was an acceptable Rita for the film, if only because she had a strong, stoic delivery. Not a super accurate copy of the AYNiK Rita, who was a bit quirky and sentimental, but believable for a wartime champion. And then there’s the more aesthetic side of her character. In AYNiK, Rita Vrataski is easily noticeable on the battlefield for more than just her combat prowess. The Jacket she dons is of crimson color, like the rising sun, drawing all attention and harm to herself and away from her comrades. Even more important is her signature weapon–a slab of metal, likened to a battleaxe. Not only did the movie give her a sword instead of an axe, but it cast aside any significance that either the armor or weapon had as plot and character development tools. This is something I’ll talk about more about in the second part of this article.
Overall, even though she was altered in several different ways, I somehow wasn’t as bothered by her film transformation as I was with Keiji. Not sure why. Her lack of character development and lack of backstory (the latter of which takes up at least 20% of the original work) are a pretty rough blow, though.
So far we’ve covered a couple of the biggest comparisons, such as the Mimics, the protagonist, and Rita Vrataski, but there’s definitely more. Oh yeah, a lot more. Not only were the above points hardly exhaustive, but we haven’t even touched the differences in armor and weaponry, the character-focused story of AYNiK versus the plot-focused story of EoT, the progression of each story, the final opponent, and a couple other miscellaneous elements. The second half of this analysis is already in work and should be due out before long, so keep an eye out for it if this article struck your fancy.
And of course, questions and comments are always welcome. God bless.
SONG OF THE DAY: “Indestructible” by Disturbed
(Pretty much the only song I condone by this artist. It was too appropriate not to use in this article.)