The movie adaptation of the famous manga Gintama, created by Hideaki Sorachi and serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, is approaching its release date; it will screen in Japanese cinemas on Friday 14 July 2017.
The movie boasts a wonderful cast, including Shun Oguri as Gintoki Sakata. Even though, many fans of the manga and the anime are not really happy with the live action adaptation. This report is straight from the on-location shooting which began on Wednesday 24 August 2016. I was able to ask the director of the film, Yuichi Fukuda, how he recreated the Gintama world, so stay tuned if you are a fan of Gintama!
On this day, the scene being filmed was from the 65th episode, ‘Young boys learn preciousness of life through rhinoceros beetles.’ In that episode, the Yorozuya and the Shinsengumi hilariously compete against each other, looking for a sparkling, golden rhinoceros beetle named Rurimaru that belongs to the Shogun. It is a very popular scene among the anime and manga fans.
The cast members who were on set that day were Shun Oguri, Masaki Suda (Shinpachi Shimura), Kanna Hashimoto (Kagura), Masaki Okada (Kotaro Katsura), Yuya Yagira (Toshiro Hijikata), Ryo Yoshizawa (Sogo Okita), and they were all accompanied by Elizabeth. Against a backdrop which was modeled after Edo’s low-lying cities, there were many takes of a scene where the main characters, along with a large number of extras, run with all their might. It was very impressive to see the three Yorozuya members in their wigs and costumes running with all their might in mid-summer heat, watching the replays, and laughing and communicating with each other.
Also, they filmed a scene where Okita fires his handy bazooka. As a fan who was allowed to watch the filming, it was not hard to imagine a film which skilfully blends the charm of the cast and the good aspects of the original work.
I was also able to conduct an interview with Director Fukuda!
How did you first come into contact with Gintama?
Director Yuuichi Fukuda (hereafter, Fukuda)
‘About the same time when Yuusha Yoshihiko was being broadcast, my son told me that online, they were saying that Yuusha Yoshihiko is similar to Gintama. And bluntly speaking, I got pretty angry [laugh]. Being told that your original work is similar to something else, as the creator, is a little annoying. I knew of the title Gintama from that time on but I avoided it saying, “I don’t think they’re similar”. Honestly, until about last year (24 August 2016) I’d never watched the anime, nor had I read the manga.’
From then what kind of encounter did you have?
‘My son often watches Youkai Watch on Kids’ Station, but once there was a one-time broadcast of Gintama’s fifth episode. For some reason or another, I watched it and thought, “It IS somewhat similar to Yuusha Yoshihiko after all.” [laugh] At the same time, I also found it funny and I thought that my tendency to make people laugh is similar to Hideaki Sorachi’s. I thought “It can’t be helped if they’re considered similar based on the way things are parodied or the making of the characters.” From then, I read the whole manga and watched the entire anime and it was about that time that Warner Bros asked me “Do you want to do something?”’
Was it then that you suggested a live action adaptation of Gintama?
‘I didn’t say it but I was told that it seems there were people on the internet who thought that I should be the director of Gintama. I heard that there were such opinions from my eldest son, so I said: “Yes, it seems so.” However, when Warners’ Shinzou Matsuhashi made an offer to Shueisha Inc., it seemed that Sorachi-sensei told them that he wasn’t interested in making a live action adaptation while the manga was still being serialized. So we thought, “It’s impossible after all.” The next week, we told Sorachi-sensei and he said “Well, since Yuusha Yoshihiko was a success and that was full of the feeling of cosplay, then maybe Gintama will be successful too.” [laugh] Maybe Sorachi-sensei also watched Yuusha Yoshihiko and thought that there were some similar parts.’
From a director’s point of view, what is your impression of Shun Oguri?
‘The character called Gintoki fought in the Joui War, lost, and is lazily living in an Edo controlled by Amanto (aliens). I thought Oguri was the perfect match for the feeling of something lost from a character who is living in the midst of resignation. Then, half-jokingly, I contacted Matsuhashi and said, “Do you want to persuade Shun Oguri?” The two of us furiously made offers. I thought that Shun Oguri was the only one who could produce the unmotivated feeling while interacting with many people as the head of Yorozuya as well as showing his cool side when he needs to.’
In terms of dialogue, how much of the original lines are you incorporating?
‘Well, since I like the original, I want to stay very true to it. After all, we want the fans of the manga to be satisfied. We got the actors to keep their visuals and the way they speak close to the original. The only one we changed was Jirou Satou’s role, Henpeita Takechi.’
I heard that Gintama is well-liked even amongst the cast
‘They all understand the original work very well and naturally likened their performances to the original. (With making the movie) there was the joy in wondering “just how much like the manga can we make it?” I didn’t personally tell the actors to liken themselves to the characters, but since Kagura’s way of speaking is quite unique, I told Kanna Hashimoto to watch the anime. Since her accent is a vital part of her character, I told Hashimoto that I would like that if when she reads the lines, the accent would come out naturally. That’s about it. Sorachi-sensei was also worried that Kagura’s accent would fall flat but I promised him that I would cast Kagura so that doesn’t happen.’
So, for the making of the characters, as a director, you didn’t give them any specific guidance?
‘Everyone is pretty much free. From the beginning of the filming, Masaki Suda was having a great time but now he just looks like Shinpachi. Even though I never really told them to mimic the characters, they all did it for me so it’s a very happy site. Honestly, I thought Kankuro Nakamura, who plays Isao Kondou, wouldn’t get that into the role but he really did. He’s so into it that he himself says, “I’m a gorilla.” [laugh]’
I’m looking forward to the movie’s release. Thank you very much for today!
Movie Gintama Official website