A Few Minutes with Kenichi Matsuyama

by Zac Bertschy,
We had a brief opportunity to ask actor Ken'ichi Matsuyama a few questions on the eve of the American premiere of his latest film, a live-action adaptation of the popular manga Gantz.

ANN: What was your first thought upon being approached with the opportunity to play Masaru in an adaptation of Gantz?

MATSUYAMA: I was excited about the offer and decided to accept because this film is based on a manga that is not an ordinary sci-fi action story. It incorporates elements of drama like the bond between Kato and his little brother as well. Also I was glad to hear that Mr. Ninomiya would be playing Kei Kurono and I would have the opportunity to work with him.

Were you familiar with the manga at all before being involved in the film?

When I received the offer I read the manga.

Could you relate to Masaru at all on a personal level? Was there anything about his personality that drew you to his character?

In this unordinary world of GANTZ, Kato seems very human so it was easy to relate. Kato is a character that is more passionate than I am.

Were you at all shocked by the level of violence in the manga? Were you hesitant to take the role, knowing how extreme the story is?

I was very shocked. But what I felt was more interesting is that there is no dignity for people dying, then coming back to life, and for life itself in the world after death. There is a solid presence of drama in the film but I was afraid that only the extreme violence would be the center of attention.

You're now the go-to guy when it comes to playing heroes in live-action adaptations of anime and manga series; was that your goal all along? Have you always been a big manga fan?

I am honored. I have always enjoyed reading manga. Like Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk, and Yu Yu Hakusho. I love manga from that generation.

What's the biggest challenge when bringing a manga character to life in a live-action movie? Are you at all concerned about fan reaction to your portrayal?

Not in the manga, but when portraying a person in a film, there are elements such as the person's background and story that need to be incorporated. There is always concern about creating the right balance. It is a constant struggle.

Do you have a dream project? Is there a manga hero you'd personally love to play?

Spike from Cowboy Bebop. I like his style.


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