Live-action movies have always been hit or miss, but Japanese producers and filmmakers are not slowing down when it comes to adapting manga onto the big screen. One of the most highly anticipated films on the list of the upcoming live-action offerings for 2017 is the first ever collaboration between one of Japan’s most prolific directors and Japan’s ultimate heartthrob.
#BladeOftheImmortal is based on the long-running seinen manga Mugen no Junin by Hiroaki Samura. The live-action film stars Kimura Takuya and is directed by Takashi Miike.
Blade Of The Immortal
The story is set in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) in the year 1782, the second year of the Tenmei era of Japan, or more commonly referred to as the mid-Tokugawa Shogunate. The protagonist is a samurai named Manji. He has taken a lot of lives, both innocent and guilty, and has become a criminal. One day, he meets a Yaobikuni (the name literally means 800 years) who curses him with the Kessen-chu. Kessen-chu are sacred bloodworms that live in a human giving its host’s body the ability to regenerate.
When Manji’s sister is killed by someone who holds a grudge against him, Manji vows to kill 1,000 evil men to atone for his sins and at the same time, end the immortality curse on him.
On his quest, he encounters Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki), a young woman whose parents were slain by a group of swordsmen called Itto Ryu. To carry out her revenge, she asks Manji to help her out in taking down the Itto Ryu.
Sota Fukushi, who starred in Takashi Miike’s youth death game live-action film Kamisama no Iu Toori (As the God’s Will) is playing Kagehisa Anotsu, the leader of Itto Ryu.
#TakashiMiike has been in the industry for two decades and has made over 90 films through the years. He is a controversial director, known for movies that go from highly entertaining to downright disturbing. One of his infamous live-action movies is #IchitheKiller. This 2001 film adapted from a seinen manga by Hideo Yamamoto, starring the versatile Tadanobu Asano as a sadomasochistic yakuza notorious for his extreme violence. Miike also directed the famous #CrowsZero and its sequel starring the best actors of their generation, Oguri Shun and Takayuki Yamada. It is based on Crows by Hiroshi Takahashi, a shonen manga about juvenile delinquents also called yankiis.
Aside from #BladeoftheImmortal, Takashi Miike will also direct the live-action adaptation of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure focusing on its Part 4, Diamond Is Unbreakable. Both films are slated to be released in 2017.
Kimura Takuya plays the laid-back but brutal swordsman named Manji. Known as Kimutaku, the 44-year-old iconic singer and actor from Johnny & Associates is still making a lot of female fans all over the world swoon, which proves his undying popularity. His 1996 drama Long Vacation was a huge phenomenon and he continued to rake in high ratings for his subsequent projects. His 2001 legal drama Hero is the highest-rated drama in Japanese television history. His film achievements include the critically acclaimed, Cannes-nominated Hong Kong romantic film 2046, the Studio Ghibli animation Howl’s Moving Castle — one of the most commercially successful Japanese films ever made — and the award winning historical movie Love and Honor.
Love and Honor is set in Edo period. The movie gave Kimura Takuya a Japanese Academy Best Actor nomination, but his agency declined. The expectations are high for Blade of the Immortal since it has been more a decade since Kimura Takuya donned a samurai garb.
Film distributor #WarnerBros. has just released a teaser trailer for Blade of the Immortal. Even Manji’s evident scars cannot hide Kimutaku’s handsome face and the trailer is giving off some 13 Assassins vibes.
#13Assassins is the 2010 jidaigeki (historical) film directed by Takashi Miike, a remake of the 1963 black-and-white film of the same name. It was launched at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, competed for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, and nominated for Best Film at the 34th Japan Academy Prize.
13 Assassins' sadistic lord is played by Goro Inagaki while Blade of the Immortal's fierce samurai is played by Kimura Takuya. They are both members of SMAP, the most successful boy band in Japanese history and the best selling band in Asia. Unfortunately, the group has announced that they will break up this December 2016 after their remarkable 25-year career.
Both films present the impossible odds. In 13 Assassins, a small group of elite samurai has to face an army of 200 men as they carry out their task to prevent one ruthless tyrant from rising into power. In Blade of the Immortal, a lone samurai has set a goal of killing no less than a thousand evil men in penance for the 100 lives he took in the past. With this in mind, I have a feeling that we are about to witness another cinematic bloodbath.
I am not a fan of all of Takashi Miike’s works but I do love 13 Assassins, and my interest in the jidaigeki genre makes me want to look forward to Blade of the Immortal.