Three live action adaptations that star Takeru Satoh, Mahiro Takasugi, and Ryo Yoshizawa are creating a lot of buzz in the J-ent universe! One of Japan's biggest box office draw - Takeru Satoh - has just been reported to be playing the leading role in the manga-based series "Ajin" by Gamon Sakurai. Mahiro Takasugi who was such a terrific actor in Bon Lin has added a new project - Gyakkou no Koro, while Ryo Yoshizawa takes on the lead in Tomodachi Game (a 3-part movie (?) and drama).
After the critical success of Bakuman, Takeru Satoh takes on the role of Kei Nagai, a mysterious immortal human:
Mysterious immortal humans known as "Ajin" first appeared 17 years ago in Africa. Upon their discovery, they were labeled as a threat to mankind, as they might use their powers for evil and were incapable of being destroyed. Since then, whenever an Ajin is found within society, they are to be arrested and taken into custody immediately. Studying hard to become a doctor, Kei Nagai is a high schooler who knows very little about Ajin, only having seen them appear in the news every now and then. Students are taught that these creatures are not considered to be human, but Kei doesn't pay much attention in class. As a result, his perilously little grasp on this subject proves to be completely irrelevant when he survives an accident that was supposed to claim his life, signaling his rebirth as an Ajin and the start of his days of torment. However, as he finds himself alone on the run from the entire world, Kei soon realizes that more of his species may be a lot closer than he thinks. [ source ]
The live action will "mature" the main character and will be a medical intern instead.
When it comes to character diversity, I would say Satoh has done pretty well - a Chef in Tenno no Ryoriban, a samurai warrior turned assassin in the Rurouni Kenshin saga, a mangaka in Bakuman and a prominent member of a band in BECK and The Liar and His Lover. Of course, he's taking on the role of a University student in Nanimono (Somebody) that appeals to me by far.
But becoming Kei maybe a fascinating portrayal he has for both fans and Japanese movie lovers!
The anime version of Ajin utilized the 3D CGI based process. I searched for some explanation about this procedure:
When you use 3D-based CG to make an anime, you build virtual character models. Models that you can freely move around, and put them into any pose /expression that you want. Their bodies. Their faces. Their hairdo, down to the last 3D-hair spike. And whatever you model typically stays that way. They have one actual shape, no matter from which angle you look at them. Which means that, in a sense, CGI anime characters are closer to reality than 2D ones are. Ironically, though, this can have the exact opposite effect on people who are used to 2D anime. Because suddenly, all the little "cheats" that their brains have come to subconsciously expect are missing. As a result, the faces can easily appear weirdly "rigid" and lifeless to them. Like watching an acting corpse. [ Quora answer by Martin Schneider ]
The anime did not impress me, probably because I'm not used to it, but the live-action is truly a different 'animal,' so we'll see.
Ryo Yoshizawa is one of my favorite Japanese actor suffering from 'Second Lead Syndrome.' This fake medical condition is the same 'affliction' that Masataka Kubota used to suffer from. Now, Yoshizawa is on the road to follow Kubota. With a drama series and movies tackling the subject of friendship and money, Ryo is cast as the lead star in Tomodachi Games, based on the manga of the same title by Mikoto Yamaguchi and illustrated by Yuki Sato.
The story is about a boy who was convinced by his Mom that no matter the circumstances, he must always choose friends over fortune (or gold for that matter). Following his Mom's advice, the boy named Yuichi Katakiri gained friends and values them more than money. In a sudden twist, he and his friends are to participate in a game that involves a lot of cash!
ANN posted a somewhat different version:
The story, based on Mikoto Yamaguchi's original concept, centers on Yūichi Katagiri, a young man with a perfect student life who has four friends with difficult lives. His peaceful daily life comes to an end when 2 million yen (about US$20,000) in school trip fees goes missing. Riddles unfold as Yūichi gets caught up in a mysterious game for money and must decide whether friendship or money matters more. [ source ]
I'm fascinated with these Japanese projects involving death games; there's plenty of movies and drama about it - the most famous of course is the never-ending Death Note saga.
You can browse the manga here.
Mahiro Takasugi is cast in the live action adaptation of Tanaka Katsuki's "Gyakkou no Koro". Reports have it that Takasugi will work together with Keiichi Kobayashi, his director in Bon Lin.
We'll have more details about the casting as we update this page.