Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Justice League, Wonder Woman, Power Rangers, and more. It seems that we will see a lot of superhero blockbusters, both sequels and reboots, from Hollywood this year. Producers also boast the acquisition of rights to several well-known Japanese source materials. These include Ghost In the Shell, starring 2016’s Forbes Top Grossing Actor, Scarlett Johansson, Netflix’s adaptation of the supernatural manga, Death Note, and still in Lionsgate’s pre-production is the long-running manga Naruto.
Meanwhile, Japan refuses to be outshone and has prepared a plethora of homegrown live-action movies for this year. Since it’s 2017, it’s only apt that I make a list of 17 films. They are arranged according to the tentative date of release.
Saki Miyanaga (Minami Hamabe) grew up playing mahjong with parents who get upset whenever she wins or loses. For this reason, she learns to keep her score at zero, which is actually more difficult than winning. Then, an old friend convinces her to play at their school’s mahjong club one time and from then on, the girl who used to hate mahjong learns to love the game. She officially joins the mahjong team to enter her prefecture's high school tournament with the goal of reaching the national high school competition.
2. 'One Week Friends'
The story revolves around Yuki Hayase (Yamazaki Kento) who becomes acquainted with his lonely classmate Kaori Fujimiya (Haruna Kawaguchi). He then discovers that the reason for her social isolation is the fact that she loses all memory of her friends every Monday. In spite of this, Yuki still continues to approach her and befriend her every week.
3. 'Today’s Kira Kun'
Marie IItoyo plays Ninon Okamura, an introverted girl whose only friend is a pet parrot. She lives next door to a popular boy, Yuuji Kira (Taishi Nakagawa), but they have never spoken to each other. Her life changes when her mother asks her to befriend him. Eventually, she learns about his secret: Kira is terminally ill and only has a year left to live.
4. 'March Comes In Like A Lion'
The actor who played Sojiro Seta reunites with his Rurouni Kenshin director, Keiishi Otomo for this two-part adaptation. Kamiki Ryunosuke is Kirayama Rei, a 17-year-old shogi genius. This slice-of-life movie shows Rei’s growth, as well as his relationship with the Kawamoto sisters and his prominent rivals in shogi.
March Comes In Like A Lion piques my curiosity. I wonder if director Keishi Otomo can pull off a slice of life as successfully as Hitoshi One did in Bakuman. My favorite actors from said movie (Kamiki Ryunosuke and Shota Sometani) will play rivals once again and I cannot contain my excitement over the latter's unrecognizable transformation and energetic performance.
5. 'Daytime Shooting Star'
Suzume Yosano transfers from the countryside to Tokyo. She runs into a good-looking man and falls in love with him. The man happens to be her homeroom teacher, Satsuki Shishio (Shohei Miura). Meanwhile, Suzume become friends with shy classmate, Daiki Mamura (Alan Shirahama), who soon develops romantic feelings for her.
6. 'Sakurada Reset'
Based on the light novel series written by Yutaka Kōno and illustrated by You Shiina, and adapted into a manga by Monthly Shonen Ace magazine, the two-part adaptation is set in Sakurada, where most residents hold various superpowers. Among them are two high school students: Kei Asai (Nomura Shuhei) who has the ability to perfectly remember everything he sees and hears, and Misora Haruki (Yuina Kuroshima) who can turn back time or reset for a maximum of three days. They are members of the Service Club, the administration bureau that monitors people’s powers to maintain the peace in town.
7. 'P And JK'
Kako Motoya (Tsuchiya Tao) pretends to be a university student and attends a group date where she meets policeman Kota Sagano (Kamenashi Kazuya). They become attracted to each other but things change when Kota learns that Kako is still in high school. Despite their age gap, they decide to get married but hasve to keep things a secret until Kako graduates.
8. 'Teichii’s Country'
There is no stopping the skyrocketing career of Masaki Suda who had nine films last year and is also playing a major supporting character in Gintama live-action this year. As Teichii Akaba, he dreams to become a prime minister in the future. But for now, he must do everything in his power to win their prestigious school’s Student Council presidential election.
Taishi Nakagawa leads another live-action film. This time, he is a 27-year-old unemployed man who agrees to be a part of a scientific experiment that makes him 10 years younger. The ReLIFE project sends him back to high school where he meets and falls in love with his classmate, Chizuru Hishiro (Yuna Taira).
10. 'Blade Of The Immortal'
Japanese icon Kimura Takuya and prolific auteur #TakashiMiike work together for the first time. Kimura Takuya plays Manji, a samurai who is cursed with sacred bloodworms. To regain his mortality, he vows to kill 1,000 evil men. He then meets Rin Asano, a massacre survivor who hires him as a bodyguard on her quest for revenge on the group of swordsmen called Itto Ryu, led by Kagehisa Anotsu.
11. 'Peach Girl'
Mizuki Yamamoto is Momo Adachi, a member of the high school swimming team. She is often stereotyped as promiscuous due to her ganguro look: tanned skin tone and bleached-out hair. In reality, she is actually shy and insecure. She is conflicted with her feelings between Toji (Mackenyu) and Kairi (Kei Inoo).
12. 'Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure'
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, focused on the fourth arc Diamond is Unbreakable, is set in the fictional world town of Morioh. Yamazaki Kento plays Higashikata Josuke, the illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar. He uses a Crazy Diamond Stand that has the power to restore objects to their original form. He has an amiable personality but prepare to get hurt if you insult his well-maintained pompadour. His friend, Hirose Koichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke), gains a sound effect Stand called Echoes. Together with Josuke’s older nephew, Jotaro Kujo (Yusuke Iseya) who is in search of a powerful bow and arrow, they protect Morioh from some crazy and evil Stand users.
This ambitious project is the film that worries me most. Their official promo account released a visual teaser of its lead actor and the baby-faced Yamazaki Kento looks like a shoujo prince cosplaying an old school yankii. I'm afraid Jojo might end up like director Takashi Miike's live-action works in recent years. Even an all-star cast cannot salvage his flaky Terra Formars. And with someone as talented as Kamiki Ryunosuke in second lead again, he might upstage the lacking protagonist just as what happened in As The Gods Will.
One of Japan’s favorite leading men, Oguri Shun, plays eccentric and laid-back samurai Gintoki Sakata. The story is set in an alternate world of the late-Edo period where humans are ruled by aliens after a shogun’s betrayal made the government powerless. The reference-filled comedy features Gintoki’s adventures and alien encounters as he does various freelance odd jobs together with his friends Shinpachi Shimura (Masaki Suda) and Kagura (Kanna Hashimoto).
I am looking forward to #Gintama since I have seen most of director Yuichi Fukuda's fourth wall-breaking comedies. Though I am not into the anime's plot, the live-action captures my attention, with Oguri Shun in the lead and Masaki Suda looking like Shinpachi just stepped right out of the manga.
14. 'Tokyo Ghoul'
After successfully bringing Yagami Light to life in the 2015 Death Note series, Masataka Kubota plays another psychologically unstable character. Kaneki Ken is just an ordinary student but he transforms into a half-ghoul after undergoing a surgery that had some of Rize’s organs transplanted into him. He stays at a cafe called Anteiku with ghouls who help him adjust to his new life while he tries to suppress his ghoul tendencies and cling to his human side. A more drastic change happens when Aogiri Tree’s executive, Yamori, tortures him. Kaneki’s hair turns white as he embraces his ghoul side and becomes ruthless and brutal to protect his friends.
15. 'A Boy Who Wished To Be Okuda Tamio And A Girl Who Drove All Men Crazy'
Directed by Bakuman’s Hitoshi One, the movie takes its title literally as Satoshi Tsumabuki plays Yuji Koroki, a lifestyle magazine editor who admires Tamio Okuda so much that he uses the singer-songwriter’s life as a guide for his own. At work, he meets fashion press writer Akari Amami (Kiko Mizuhara) and falls in love with her.
Satoshi Tsumabuki previously played the frogman in the live-action adaptation of Museum, while Kiko Mizuhara is known for her role as Mikasa in the live-action of Attack on Titan.
16. 'Ajin: Demi Human'
Sato Takeru leads another highly anticipated action-packed film, but unlike Rurouni Kenshin and Bakuman, Ajin:Demi Human is an underrated manga. He plays Nagai Kei, a medical intern who discovers that he is an ajin after surviving unscathed a traffic accident that would have killed an ordinary human. The immortal ajins are being captured and locked up in a research facility as subjects for painful experiments. With a price on his head, Kei has no choice but to make a run for it. He does, however, feel the need to return and help humans stop a vicious ajin named Sato from executing acts of terrorism in a plot to take over the country.
17. 'Fullmetal Alchemist'
Hey! Say! JUMP’s Ryosuke Yamada dons a long blond braided hair to play Edward Elric. Set in the fictional country of Amestris, Edward and his brother Alphonse performs alchemy to revive their dead mother back to life. In exchange for this taboo, Edward lost a limb while Alphonse, his whole body. The story follows the brothers’ adventures as they set out on a journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone, which is believed to have the power to bring back what they have lost.
2016 was a mediocre year for Japanese live-action films. There was box-office success for Oguri Shun's Nobunaga Concerto and Ryosuke Yamada's Assassination Classroom: Graduation. The films Wolf Girl and Black Prince and Drowning Love garnered the support of shoujo fans. On the other hand, we also witnessed the travesty that is Terra Formars, the underwhelming Death Note: Light up the NEW World, and the flop remake of MARS.
2017 has a stronger lineup and reliable lead actors. With action-adventure, comedy, historical, romcoms, sports, and supernatural, this year's selection offers a variety of genre that caters to a wide range of audience.
Regardless of the outcome, I am totally hyped about #TokyoGhoul and #Ajin featuring two of my favorite live-action heroes, Masataka Kubota and Sato Takeru, both playing physically strong but mentally scarred characters. How about you: Which live-action movie are you most excited to see?