On 14 July 2017, the Gintama live action movie began showing in Japanese cinemas. It is based on a manga by Hideaki Sorachi, which started being serialized in 2003 in Weekly Shonen Jump and is one of the most popular series of the magazine.
The world built for this story is rather unique, as it is set an alternate reality Edo period (1603-1868), where there are skyscrapers everywhere and aliens are walking through the streets. Unique characters, like the hero Gintoki Sakata who runs an odd-jobs store, liven things up with their gags and fast switches of tempo. From time to time, there are some very touching episodes popping up and the story is filled with the essence of humanity.
The one who took it on himself to turn this series into a live action movie was director Yuichi Fukuda. He worked as a writer on some variety shows and gained attention when he worked on the directing and script of the evening TV series Yuusha Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro. Many manga have entrusted their work to him, like Hentai Kamen (2013) and Aoi Hono (2014).
This time, he is working on Gintama, and director Fukuda himself will tell us what we can look forward to. Of course, there will be also questions on what he thinks about his other live action adaptations.
Gintama Live Action Movie
In Japanese Cinemas 14 July 2017
I wonder if I’ll be able to fool around as much as in Yoshihiko?
How did you get to directing Gintama?
I don’t know when, but my eldest son told me ‘The people of the internet think if it were you, you could do a live action adaptation, Papa.’ I don’t usually browse the net, but it seemed like those who saw Yuusha Yoshihiko said so. I didn’t know Gintama then, so I was rather disturbed when people said my Yoshihiko resembled another work. [laugh]
But Gintama stayed in the back of my mind all the time and one day, producer Shinzo Matsuhashi asked me, ‘I want to make a movie, do you have any good ideas?’. As this was Warner Bros asking me, I thought, ‘I can’t say something that’s not good!’ and when I thought frantically what to do, the words of my son came to mind. That was where it started.
How did you like the original manga?
At first I didn’t like it, because people told me it was similar to my work, but after I read it, I had no choice but to admit it. It was a really well written and well made manga and it seemed the humor of Hideaki Sorachi and mine were pretty similar. I wouldn’t be an adult if I didn’t admit to that here.
What kind of movie were you planning to make?
First of all, I didn’t have the feeling that I wanted to produce ‘my own Gintama’. That does not mean that I didn’t like the original, it’s more because I like the humor of the manga, which I wanted to express in the movie. I myself became a fan of Gintama while I wrote the script, so I thought about what fans would think and how to reproduce the scenes from the manga faithfully in the live action movie. But doesn’t everybody have times when they think ‘Wouldn’t it be better if this happened here?’ [laugh] Me too, as a Gintama fan, had times when I thought like this and put those thoughts into the movie.
Is it because you are a fan yourself that you are trying to reproduce the manga as accurately as possible?
Yes. It’s a very popular manga and a big movie project for Warner Bros, so until the very end I kept in mind the point of view that people who like the original would have. This was also made possible because Sorachi liked Yoshihiko and Aoi Hono.
Originally, Sorachi-sensei said he wasn’t interested in a movie adaptation while the manga was still running, but when he saw my work, he allowed me to do the live action, so if I don’t do it similar to Yoshihiko and Aoi Hono, I feel like I would let Sorachi-sensei down. It’s a big project so I have to do it properly, but I wonder if I’ll be able to fool around as much as in Yoshihiko? It might not be quite right to call it commitment, but that’s the mission I gave myself.