Hi everyone. It’s Mokugyo, your manga and anime-loving writer from MANGA.TOKYO. Many manga and anime works have been adapted into live-action movies in Japan recently. These adaptations always evoke fierce discussions. There are many negative comments, such as ‘it looks too different to the manga’, ‘it destroyed the original’, or ‘they’ll just make a movie out of anything.’ Personally, I’m an advocate for live-action adaptations and think the more adaptations the better, because the original works will be spread to a wider audience. I also think we can find new charming points of the original work through adaptations. In a nutshell, the quality of the adaptation depends on how good the creators are.
In this article, I’m going to take a look at Masaki Suda, a popular actor who appears many live-action adaptations of anime and manga. He tries to portray his characters as best as he can, since he himself is a manga fan.
Who is Masaki Suda?
Born in 1993, Masaki Suda is a 24-year-old Japanese popular actor. He has become a household name in the past few years. He has appeared in many popular movies and TV dramas, as well as in a series of popular TV commercials for a mobile phone operator, which boosted his popularity further. Despite his young age, he is a talented actor who can portray any character. He is called ‘a chameleon actor’ and even starred in a mini TV drama called Chameleon Actor. He also made his debut as a singer in 2017 with the song ‘Mita Koto Nai Keshiki’, which reached number 3 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100.
Suda has a deep connection with manga and anime. Not only has he appeared in many live-action movies based on manga and anime but he is also a renowned manga fan.
‘Kamen Rider W’, Suda’s Drama Debut, Will Continue as a Manga Series
Suda made his debut as an actor in the popular 70s tokusatsu (special effects) drama series Kamen Rider W. Kamen Rider is a popular tokusatsu franchise which was first broadcast in the 70s. Although it started out very popular, its popularity began to dwindle and no new series were produced for a few years. However, the production resumed in 2000 and a new series has aired every year since then.
Kamen Rider W, in which Suda appeared, was one of the more popular series, aired between 2009 and 2010. It’s a detective action story that takes place in the fictional city of Futo where a detective named Shotaro Hidari and a mysterious boy called Philip combine and transform into Kamen Rider W to solve incidents. Recently, it was officially announced that a sequel manga titled Futo Detectives would begin serialization in August 2017. Although Suda didn’t have much experience in acting at the time, he built up the character of Philip perfectly.
In 2014, He Challenged the Role of a Beautiful Cross-dressing Character in Princess Jellyfish
Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime) is a popular manga written by Akiko Higashimura that was adapted into an anime series. It’s a story about otaku women who try to keep their apartment with the help of a cross-dressing man. The live-action movie adaptation was made in 2014 and Suda appeared as the cross-dressing man, Kuranosuke Koibuchi. He managed to lose more than 10kg, shaved his leg hair, and even regularly visited a beauty salon to play the role. He looked gorgeous in female clothing as a result. Even original creator Higashimura raved about his appearance. It is usually thought that only anime or manga are capable of making such a beautiful cross-dressing character. However, he managed to recreate the character in the live-action movie perfectly. I really admire his effort to become the character.
Kuranosuke only likes cross-dressing, and identifies as male. Actually, people who prefer ‘no gender fashion’, a fashion where people wear the clothes they like regardless of gender, is covertly on the rise in Japan. I think it’s a meaningful challenge for him to play a cross-dressing man in a live-action movie to positively portray such people to audience members who may not know about it.
Excellent Acting for Karma Akabane in Assassination Classroom (2015)
Assassination Classroom is a comedy manga about middle school students trying to kill their mysterious alien teacher. Two live-action movies based on the original manga were made in 2015 and 2016 and both were box-office hits. Suda portrayed one of the most popular characters, Karma Akabane, a character that can seemingly only be made possible in the manga or the anime, but Suda blended into the character and managed to bring him to life.
Karma is a smart and cunning character and Suda portrayed his personality brilliantly without looking silly. He must have studied the character very well. He was involved in many action scenes in the movie in which he showed his superb action skills that had been nurtured during his Kamen Rider days.
He Played Teiichi Akaba in Teiichi no Kuni (2017)
Teiichi no Kuni is a manga which was serialized in Jump Square. It was first adapted into a stage play, and then a live-action movie in 2017. Since the original manga wasn’t so mainstream, people first came to know about the manga through the movie.
Suda brilliantly portrayed the protagonist, Teiichi Akaba, who is an ambitious student who will do anything to become president of his high school’s student council. It’s a political comedy depicting an election campaign for a high school student council, which is quite rare as a theme.
The most impressive scene is the head-to-head showdown between Teiichi and his rival, Dan Otaka, over their test results. Suda performed Teiichi’s emotional roller coaster passionately and the scene was embedded in its teaser. I must say that the scene in the movie is more impressive than in the original manga, thanks to Suda’s passionate performance.
He Portrayed Shinpachi Shimura in Gintama (June 2017)
In July 207, the live-action movie adaptation of Gintama was released. Masaki Suda played one of the main characters, the bespectacled tsukkomi, Shinpachi Shimura. A tsukkomi character, sometimes called a ‘straight man’ character, usually gets angry and tells off the characters when they make stupid jokes, usually in perfect comedic timing. If you want to learn more about boke and tsukkomi roles, then I suggest you search the term manzai online. The other characters often make fun of him, and there is a running joke that the characters think Shinpachi himself is actually his pair of glasses. To be honest, the Masaki Suda version of Shinpachi is a lot cooler than the version from the anime and manga. The Shinpachi in the manga makes comebacks with an extreme amount of energy while at the same time explaining the jokes. This kind of comedy is extremely difficult to perform, and fast reflexes are essential. However, Suda was able to recreate this character really well. He has been able to show his good sense of comedy in the TV drama Tamiou, where he played the roles of both a weak-willed son and his Prime Minister father with whom he had switched bodies.
Gintama is a comedy at its core, and Suda’s Shinpachi perfectly recreated this comedy sense. For example, his comedy was top-notch in the animated section at the beginning of the movie where Shinpachi just kept giving comebacks over and over again, as well as when he is frightened by Elizabeth. Even Gintama creator Hideachi Sorachi himself praised the scene where Shinpachi comes barging onto the ship in order to save Kagura. In this scene, Shinpachi gets ahead of himself and comes running onto the ship full of self-confidence. However, as he comes to his senses, he gets really scared, becomes embarrassed, and his voice becomes quite weak. This performance by Suda was absolutely true to Shinpachi, yet interestingly this scene is not in the manga. However, Suda’s acting in that scene is surely how the Shinpachi of the manga would react.
Challenging Voice Acting in Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?
The anime movie Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? will open on 18 August 2017 in Japan. It was originally a TV film shown in 1993 that was released theatrically in 1995 due to its popularity. Over two decades later, it has been adapted into an anime movie. Suda will be making his voice-acting debut.
Voice acting is a popular career and has a special position in the entertainment industry in Japan. Some say voice acting for anime should only be done by voice actors, and not regular actors. Although I understand the opinion, I think voice acting in anime should be done by a variety of people, as I think it’ll widen the variety of voice acting. I believe Suda will do a good job as a voice actor.
More live-action adaptations are lined up for Suda to appear in, including My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) which will show in Japanese cinemas in 2018. Masaki Suda is a talented actor who superbly recreates various characters from manga and anime. I have great expectations for his future.
More on Live-Action Adaptations
I’ve written a few articles regarding live-action adaptations of manga, including one on Teiichi no Kuni. If you are interested, take a look!
Death Note’s Light Yagami
Death Note’s Light Yagami in the Manga, Anime, Movie, and Drama
Death Note: Light Up the New World
Thoughts On ‘Death Note: Light Up the New World’
Teiichi no Kuni movie
‘Teiichi no Kuni’ Introduction: A Comedy of Political Struggle in High School
The Ghost in the Shell Hollywood adaptation
6 Positive Things about the ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Live-Action Movie
‘Chihayafuru’ and Competitive Karuta
Assassination Classroom movie
6 Reasons the Live-Action Movie ‘Assassination Classroom’ is so Fascinating
Attack On Titan movies
7 Things to Consider About the Live-Action ‘Attack on Titan’