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Nobuyuki Fukumoto's Kaiji Manga Inspires Chinese Live-Action Film

posted on by Karen Ressler
Adaptation starring Li Yifeng, Michael Douglas opened in June, will stream on Netflix

Animal World (Dòngwù Shìjiè), a Chinese live-action adaptation of Nobuyuki Fukumoto's Kaiji manga, premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 16. The film then opened theatrically in China on June 29.

The film had a simultaneous release in select theaters in other countries in territories; it is playing in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore, among other countries. The Hollywood Reporter reported last month that Netflix has acquired the global digital rights to the film outside of China.

Kodansha confirmed with ANN that, with permission from the original creator Fukumoto, it granted RUYI Xinxin Film Investment Co., Ltd. rights to adapt Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji, Tobaku Hakairoku Kaiji, and Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji into Chinese-language live-action films. Kodansha referred to Animal World as the first of an unspecified number of films.

Cine Asia UK is streaming several trailers:

Han Yan directed the film and it stars Li Yifeng, Zhou Dongyu, and American actor Michael Douglas. The film's website describes the film:

Drifting aimlessly through life, Kaisi (LI Yi Feng: Hundred Flowers Winner Mr. Six, Guilty of Mind) has racked up debts of several million having borrowed money from his friends. Lured with the promise of writing it all off, Kaisi leaves his ailing mother and childhood sweetheart Qing (ZHOU Dongyu: Golden Horse winner Soul Mate, Under the Hawthorn Tree, The Thousand Faces of Dunjia) to board the ship Destiny and attend a gambling party controlled by the mysterious Anderson (Michael DOUGLAS: Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Wall Street).

All players join the game with stars. For each game they lose, their opponent captures a star. Everyone is holding daggers behind their backs plotting dirty means by which to overcome their opponents. The game quickly deteriorates into a slaughter and Kaisi must battle save his own skin…

In the Kodansha Manga Award-winning story of the original 1996-1999 Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji series, a consummate gambler named Kaiji bets on games ranging from janken (rock-paper-scissors) and human racing to falling pachinko balls and two-player mahjong. There were three Kaiji sequels before Fukumoto launched Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji One Poker-Hen in 2013. One Poker-Hen ended in Kodansha's Weekly Young Magazine in September. The original series has also inspired several spinoff manga.

In addition, Kaiji has inspired two television anime series, two live-action films with director Tōya Satō (live-action Gokusen, Gatchaman) and main star Tatsuya Fujiwara (Death Note's Light, Battle Royale's Shuya), and a reality game show. Crunchyroll is streaming both anime seasons. The Chūkan Kanriroku Tonegawa (Mr. Tonegawa) spinoff manga is inspiring its own anime that premiered on July 3.

Thanks to Jordan Scott for the news tip.

Source: Animal World website, The Hollywood Reporter (Patrick Brzeski)

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