AKB48's Rie Kitahara Stars in Film Inspired by Baki Manga
posted on by Egan Loo
Rie Kitahara, a member of the all-female idol group AKB48, will make her film acting debut in next spring's Graffreeter Toki (literally, "Toki the Freelancing Grappler"), a comedy inspired by Keisuke Itagaki's Grappler Baki (Baki The Grappler) martial arts manga. This will be the first starring role for Kitahara, who also acted in AKB48's television show Maji Suka Gakuen and in the ongoing television series Rokudenashi Blues.
The film is based on the March 2011 stage play of the same name, which in turn drew inspiration from the Grappler Baki manga. The "comedy of bravery and relationship ties" is set in a working-class shopping district that is threatened by an evil organization conspiring with a land speculator. Toki is a local boy who is raised with unique talents by a mother who is a diehard Baki fan. Toki and the people of the district join forces to protect their neighborhood.
Itagaki's original fighting manga ran in Weekly Shōnen Champion magazine from 1991 to 1999. Following a young male martial artist, the story unfolds as Baki Hanma faces opponents in order to become the strongest grappler in the world. He wants to take the title from his father gain his mother's approval. Grappler Baki has received several manga sequels, two television anime adaptations, and an OAV (original animation video).
Newcomer Ryōta Sudō will play the protagonist Toki. Sukeban Deka's Yuki Saitō (Toki's mother), Kendō Kobayashi ("evil army leader"), and Kanji Tsuda ("a mysterious indivdual named Kenichi Andō who holds the key to the story") round out the cast.
Producer Northrop Davis recently pitched a live-action film adaptation of Itagaki's Grappler Baki manga to Hollywood.
Director Kenichi Fujiwara will begin shooting Graffreeter Toki on September 20.
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