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'I Am a Hero' Film Wins Sitges Awards Before 2016 Japanese Debut

posted on by Egan Loo

The live-action film of Kengo Hanazawa's best-selling zombie manga I am a Hero won the Grand Audience Award and Award for Best Special Effects at the 48th Sitges Film Festival in Catalonia, Spain last week. The staff of the film also revealed that the film will open in Japan next year, after being previously planned for this year. The festival, which specializes in horror and fantasy works, hosted the world premiere of the film.

In the original manga, Hideo is an aspiring manga creator who once struggled with discontent with his assistant artist job and his relationship with his girlfriend — until people started turning into undead "ZQN" creatures overnight. After he is attacked by his ZQN virus-infected girlfriend "Tekko," Hideo flees the overrun Tokyo metropolis with the shotgun he happens to own as a hobby. He travels with Hiromi, a high school girl whom he meets by chance, and they face the desperate situation with the help of a nurse named Yabu at a shopping mall.

Popular actor Yō Ōizumi (Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, Brave Story, Gegege no Kitarō, A Bolt from the Blue, center in photographs above) plays the lead character Hideo Suzuki, and Shinsuke Satō (Gantz, Library War, Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror, Princess Blade) directed the "A-grade survival panic horror" movie. The cast also includes up-and-coming actress Kasumi Arimura (Ghibli's When Marnie Was There, Amachan, Hagane no Onna, Clover, Judge) and Masami Nagasawa (John Woo's The Crossing, From Up On Poppy Hill, Detroit Metal City, Kiyoku Yawaku).

Arimura (far right in photographs) will play the heroine Hiromi, who is "bitten" by a toothless, ZQN-infected baby while on the run with Hideo. As it turns out, she becomes only partially infected by the ZQN virus and poses no threat to humans. Nagasawa (left in photographs) will play Yabu, the nurse who confronts the ZQN with boldness.

The manga offers a thorough but sometimes humorous look at what would happen if a zombie panic were to break out in modern Japan. Hanazawa launched the manga in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits magazine in 2009, and its compiled book volumes have over 4 million copies in print. It won the General Category of the 58th Shogakukan Manga Awards in 2013. Yuuki Honda (Tokyo Yamimushi) launched an Osaka-based spinoff manga this past June.

Because the manga is so popular, Oizumi vowed to do his best with Sato and the staff to meet the expectations of all the manga's fans. The production filmed at a real-life, abandoned Korean outlet mall, and it also features life-or-death car action sequences.

Akiko Nogi (Library War, Sayonara, Robinson Crusoe) wrote the screenplay, and VFX and makeup expert Makoto Kamiya (Gantz, Cutie Honey, Resident Evil: Degeneration, Resident Evil: Damnation) was in charge of special effects. Principal photography began in early June 2014.

Source: Comic Natalie

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