Hi everyone. It’s Mokugyo, a writer for MANGA.TOKYO who loves anime and manga. During late April and early May in Japan, many national holidays occur very close to each other and many workers take their paid holidays to make up a consecutive holiday. It starts on 29 April and ends on 8 May, and we call it Golden Week. Some people take the entire 10 days off, while others keep on working during this period. After all, Japanese are said to be spending too many hours at work.
Every year, many movies are released during Golden Week. Among them, one movie took 4th place in the weekly box office gross in its first week, and received favorable reception on the Internet. That’s Teiichi no Kuni, a live-action movie based on the manga of the same name by Usamaru Furuya. I’m going to examine this manga and its movie adaptation in this article.
‘Teiichi no Kuni’ was Serialized in Jump Square
Teiichi no Kuni Trailer
Teiichi no Kuni was created by Usamaru Furuya and was serialized between 2010 and 2016 in Shueisha’s Jump Square, the same publisher that put out One Piece and Naruto. Since it’s a monthly manga magazine, each chapter is longer than chapters of weekly manga.
The manga in Jump Square tend to be darker or have more sexual undertones, and they are made for hardcore fans in general. For instance, the sequels to The Prince of Tennis, a smash hit tennis manga, and To Love-ru, a comedy manga with a hint of eroticism, are both being run in Jump Square. The manga duo Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, who are famous for Death Note, are serializing Platinum End in Jump Square as well. More experimental manga are published on Jump Plus, a free digital publication.
Because Jump Square isn’t a magazine for mainstream manga readers, the series that run in it take time to be recognized, however brilliant they are. Teiichi no Kuni is one such manga which is known to those in the know.
What Kind of Manga is ‘Teiichi no Kuni’?
Teiichi no Kuni is a comedy manga that depicts a power struggle in a student council. Protagonist Teiichi Akaba is a high school student who wants to become the prime minister of Japan. As a first step to achieve his dream, he aims to be elected as a student council president in his school, a top-ranking elite boys’ high school, Kaitei High School. He is ready to do whatever it takes in order to become the student council president of Kaitei, a position that holds the promise of entering the best university and, furthermore, becoming a future cabinet member. He acts as a servant of a leading candidate for president, persuading other students to vote him while framing his rivals. The story revolves around Teiichi and his friend Komei, who invents various machines.
— 古屋兎丸 (@usamarus2001) May 7, 2017
From Usamaru Furuya’s Twitter
You might not realize that it’s a comedy manga by the look of it. The illustrations are rather arty which make us think that it’s a manga for hardcore readers. Actually, many people didn’t know about this manga before its live-action movie adaptation. Usamaru Furuya, the creator of the original manga, is a former art student with great drawing skills. He applies various creative techniques to draw his illustrations, including drawing a double spread illustration by entirely pencil drawing, applying Japanese paper with traditional patterns, and parodying famous pictures. Teiichi no Kuni values Japanese traditional notion, therefore I’d like manga fans overseas to read this manga.
The plot of Teiichi no Kuni is also one of a kind. Its subject matter is a political power struggle over an election for student council president in a high school, which is unprecedented in the boys’ manga industry in Japan. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, Furuya made it work as a comedy manga. If it had been set in adult political circles, the story would have been totally different. Because it is set in a high school a decade ago, readers can just enjoy its jokes, as they don’t need to compare it with the real political situation.
‘Litchi Hikari Club’ and ‘Teiichi no Kuni’
Movie Litchi Hikari Club Trailer
Usamaru Furuya published a manga called Litchi Hikari Club, also known as Litchi Light Club, in 2006. Based on the 80s play of the same name, Litchi Light Club is a cult hit manga which depicts bloody battles among a group of middle school boys. It’s a splatter horror manga with brutal scenes based on dark aesthetics. The manga received mixed reception from readers, but got enthusiastic responses from readers who prefer dark and brutal manga and visual kei bands. The manga was adapted into a stage play in 2012 and a live-action movie in 2016. Tomokazu Sugita, a famous voice actor, voiced the AI robot Litchi in the movie. Shuhei Nomura and Shotaro Mamiya who appeared in Litchi Hikari Club also appear in Teiichi no Kuni.
Movie Litchi DE Hikari Club #1 ‘Death Penalty IN the Light Club’
Litchi Hikari Club was adapted into a short anime series called Litchi DE Hikari Club in 2012. It consists of eight comedy shorts, perhaps because it is too dark to be adapted into a TV anime.
Both Litchi Hikari Club and Teiichi no Kuni are a story of battles among boys in school uniform. It can be said that Teiichi no Kuni is a softer and lighter form of Litchi Hikari Club. I can’t recommend it to everyone, since it contains many brutal scenes, but if you like dark manga, you won’t be disappointed at Litchi Hikari Club. Incidentally, both Litchi Hikari Club and Teichi no Kuni have slight BL hints in them. Although Furuya is happily married with two children, he is good at adding a little BL flavor to his works.
The movie Teiichi no Kuni seems to have been well received according to comments on the Internet. In fact, I heard bursts of laughter many times while I was watching it at the cinema. I believe one of the strong points of the movie is its cast members.
The casting of the movie is brilliant; every character in the movie looks as if they stepped out from the manga. Furthermore, each cast member has made their character realistic by their way of talking and acting.
Masaki Suda, a young actor who is very popular lately, took the leading role of Teiichi Akaba. He has been appearing in many movies and TV dramas in recent years, including works based on manga. In the movie Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), he was tailor-made for the role of Akabane as he fantastically portrayed a boy who has a flair of genius. He took on the role of Kuranosuke Koibuchi, a cross-dressing boy in Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime). It’s said that he had to lose 10 kg for the role.
Otaka Dan, Teiichi’s rival and a nice guy, was played by Ryoma Takeuchi, an up-and-coming actor who’s attracting a lot of attention recently. He played high school baseball club member Daisuke Yamada in Aozora Yell, a 2016 movie based on a manga. He is an actor who fits the nice guy role very well.
Suda and Takeuchi both took on role of the protagonist in the Kamen Rider series, a popular tokusatsu (special effect hero show) superhero TV series for children. Three other actors, Jun Shison who portrays Komei Sakakibara, Yudai Chiba as Okuto Morizono, and Katsuhiro Suzuki as Mitsuhiko Koma, appeared in the Super Sentai series. Suda played the role of Kamen Rider W, Takeuchi as Kamen Rider Drive, Shison as Right in Ressha Sentai ToQger, Chiba as Gosei Rent in Tensou Sentai Goseiger, and Suzuki as Red Buster in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters.
The Super Sentai series broadcast on Sundays from 7.30 in the morning followed by Kamen Rider at 8. Each series boasts more than 40 years’ of history.
Additionally, in the past decade they have become known as ‘the gateway into the entertainment industry’ in which young actors attract attention for the first time. In Japan, tokusatsu series are seen as being close to anime, therefore the transition from tokusatsu to anime seems to be easier, so many actors who appeared in these shows take on roles in movies and stage plays which are based on manga and anime. I’d like for anime fans overseas to know that Teiichi no Kuni has the largest number of actors from tokusatsu shows in recent years.
I anticipate that the popularity of Teiichi no Kuni is rising for both the manga and its movie adaptation. I expect that an anime adaptation will be coming soon, since recently it seems that hit manga are adapted into stage plays, then into live-action movies, and finally into anime in recent Japan. I’d be glad if more people could know about Teiichi no Kuni.