Hi everybody! It’s Mokugyo, the MANGA.TOKYO otaku writer who loves manga and anime. Lately in Japan, there’s been a steady stream of releases of live-action movie adaptations which are based on manga and anime. Not every adaptation is successful and often arguments both for and against them break out. Successful adaptations, on the other hand, make us read their originals, don’t they?
In this article, I want to raise 6 important points about one of the most successful live-action movie adaptation, Bakuman!
What is ‘Bakuman’?
The original manga Bakuman was serialized between 2008 and 2012 in Weekly Shonen Jump, a magazine you probably know for its super hits One Piece and Naruto. It was drawn by Takeshi Obata and written by Tsugumi Ohba, the pair that brought us Death Note, a suspense manga about a notebook that has the ability to kill people by writing their names in it. It became a huge hit and was adapted into an anime series, live-action movies, and a TV drama series. Bakuman followed its success and was adapted into an anime series and later into a live-action movie which was released in 2015.
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The main characters are two high school boys, Mashiro ‘Saikou’ Moritaka, a talented artist, and Akito ‘Shuujin’ Takagi, an aspiring writer. They decided to become a manga artist duo with Mashiro’s drawings and Akito’s stories. They start creating manga aiming towards their goal: serializing their manga in the most popular manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump. The unique aspect of this manga is that it deals with the actual Weekly Shonen Jump. It shows how the weekly reader vote decides the fates of the manga. There is also a character who is based on an real-life editor!
Point 1: The Story that Fully Utilises the Original
One of the most appealing points of the live-action movie Bakuman is its storyline: it sticks to the original. The two adolescent boys are struggling a lot as they try to make their dreams come true. It’s a coming-of-age story and the movie depicts it brilliantly.
Since the original story is too long to fit into a two-hour movie, various scenes were omitted. However, I think their choice of what to include was excellent. For example, it was a great choice to include the scenes of the meetings to select which manga would be serialized. No one knows what the meetings are really like, since they are top secret. These scenes are obviously fictional, but they feel quite realistic. If one could make an educated guess, then this scene is the closest to the real meetings the editorial team has to choose which manga gets serialized.
There are a number of differences between the original manga and the movie, although the original story is well-tailored to the movie. For example, Akito’s girlfriend doesn’t appear at all in the movie and it stops the story from getting too complicated, therefore the main storyline of the boys’ endeavor becomes clear.
Point 2: The Skillful Acting of the Two Leading Actors
The two actors, Takeru Satoh as Moritaka and Ryunosuke Kamiki as Akito, are both popular, top-tier actors in Japan right now. They appear in many movies adapted from manga and anime, so you’d better take note of their names.
Takeru Satoh made his breakthrough as an actor in the TV action drama series Kamen Rider. The series produces a new rider every year and it has become a training ground for young actors in recent years. Kamen Rider Den-O, in which Satoh played the hero, was a smash hit with a further two movies made. His acting skills contributed to the success. He also appears in many movies which are based on manga works, such as Rookies, Bloody Monday and Mei-chan no Shitsuji. He is also playing the leading role in Ajin, which will be released in September 2017.
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Ryunosuke Kamiki has been a popular actor since his childhood. He voiced the main character in the mega-hit anime movie Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) in 2016. As a voice actor, he has also lent his voice in many other hit anime movies: Boh in Spirited Away, Markl in Howl’s Moving Castle, Pi-suke in Doraemon: Nobita’s Dinosaur, and Kenji, the main character in Summer Wars. He’ll appear in the live-action movie based on the manga 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion) and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable in 2017.
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Satoh and Kamiki co-stared in the live-action movie adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin, which has a good reputation and was financially successful. The battle scene between the two, Satoh as Kenshin and Kamiki as Soujiro, was the highlight of the movie. It’s interesting that the two former ‘enemies’ are working together in Bakuman.
When the cast of Bakuman was revealed, there was an argument that they should switch roles by many who believed that Kamiki and Mashiro, as well as Satoh and Akito, were close to the original character visuals. However, the movie proved them wrong. Satoh captured Mashiro’s character with his piercing eyes, and Kamiki played Akito well with his good communication skills.
Point 3: The Charm of the Cast
The casting is definitely an appealing point. All the actors were top stars and were carefully selected for this movie.
Shota Sometani played Eiji Niizuma, the biggest rival of the duo. His acting made the eccentric character convincing.
Kenta Kiritani, who played the over-enthusiastic manga artist Shinta Fukuda, is both a popular actor and a singer.
Hirofumi Arai, who played comedy manga artist Hiramaru, showed his good acting skills. He is scheduled to appear in Gintama and The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, both live-action movie adaptations of manga that will be released later this year.
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