Magnet Releasing Licenses Live-Action Blade of the Immortal Film For N. America
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Magnet Releasing, the genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, announced on Friday that it has licensed Takashi Miike's live-action film of Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal manga for North America. Magnet Releasing previously released Miike's 13 Assassins film in North America.
Blade of the Immortal premiered in Japan on April 29, and will host its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, which will be held from May 17-28. The film ranked at #6 in Japan in its opening weekend, selling 145,000 tickets and earning 189 million yen (about US$1.68 million).
Samura's original Blade of the Immortal 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.
The film's lead actors include Takuya Kimura and Hana Sugisaki. Kimura (Howl's Moving Castle, Redline, live-action Space Battleship Yamato) plays the lead character Manji, a rōnin warrior cursed with an immortal body. Sugisaki (When Marnie Was There, live-action Humanoid Monster Bem, Tsukuroi Tatsu Hito) plays both the heroine Rin Asano and Manji's sister Machi. Miike (Ichi the Killer, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Yatterman, As the Gods Will, Crows) directed the film.
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 have 5 million copies in print, and the series has been published in 22 countries and territories. The manga 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. The manga is getting a reprint in Japan with new covers.
Dark Horse Comics published the Blade of the Immortal manga in North America, and is rereleasing it in omnibus form. The first omnibus volume shipped in January. The manga already inspired a television anime in 2008, and Media Blasters released it in English. The manga also inspired a stage play that starred Tomokazu Seki, who reprised his role from the anime as Manji.