Live-Action Blade of the Immortal Film Opens During Golden Week Next Spring

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Takuya Kimura stars as immortal warrior Manji in Takashi Miike film

The staff for the live-action film of Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal "neo period drama" manga announced on Tuesday that the film will open in Japan during Golden Week next year. Golden Week is a string of Spring holidays in Japan, running from the end of April to the beginning of May. The production filmed entirely on location in Kyoto from last November to early January.

Takuya Kimura plays the lead character Manji, a rōnin warrior cursed with an immortal body. Prolific filmmaker Takashi Miike (pictured far right) is directing the film. The manga follows Manji's journey of revenge as the yōjinbō (bodyguard) of Rin, a young woman who swears vengeance against a group of sword fighters who murdered her parents.

It has been over a decade since Kimura last starred in a period drama film (2006's Love and Honor by director Yōji Yamada). He said that he personally loves the worldview of the original manga, and that the film script also depicts the original manga's opposing themes of "I will not die" and "I cannot die." Miike said that he personally selected Kimura, "a superstar who made the transition from the Showa era to the Heisei era," as "the world's strongest member of the Miike Gang, the Ittō-ryū fighting school of our film industry."

Samura himself said that the original manga was his "maiden" series which he launched 22 years ago, so when he re-reads it now, its imperfections stand out like mountains. Nevertheless, if the live-action version follows the original story while adding the thrills of movies, he would be happy. Samura said that with the director he loves, "the pinnacle of Japan's actors," and the help of talented cast and staff, he is looking forward to seeing new life being breathed into Blade of the Immortal.

Kimura has enjoyed over two decades of entertainment success as a member of the boy band SMAP, with such popular roles as the star of the television series I'm Home. The actor, who is often nicknamed "Kimutaku," also voiced Howl in Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle film and JP in Takeshi Koike and MADHOUSE's Redline film. He then starred in the live-action film of the space opera anime classic Space Battleship Yamato (adapted as Star Blazers in English).

Miike's numerous projects include live-action films of Ichi the Killer, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Yatterman, As the Gods Will, Crows, and Mogura no Uta.

Samura launched the Blade of the Immortal manga in Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon magazine in December of 1993, and he completed the series in 2012. The manga's 30 volumes has 5 million copies in print, and it has been published in 22 countries and territories. It earned an Excellence Prize in the manga category of the 1st Japan Media Arts Festival Awards in 1997, and it won the Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material in 2000. Since ending Blade of the Immortal, Samura has published the historical manga Harukaze no Snegurochka (The Spring Breeze Snow Maiden) and the romance Nami yo Kiite Kure (Waves, Listen to Me). The manga is getting a reprint in Japan with new covers (seen in gallery below). The first three volumes shipped on the same day on Tuesday.

Dark Horse Comics published the Blade of the Immortal manga in North America, and plans to rerelease it in omnibus form. The manga already inspired a television anime in 2008, and Media Blasters released it in English.

Source: Comic Natalie

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