The Japanese word, “seinen” (青年), means youth. When it comes to manga, this genre is marketed to 18–30 year old male audience and at times, to businessmen who are well over 40. Compared to Shonen, Seinen #anime and #manga are usually more mature, violent, and psychological. Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, falls under this genre. While this Japanese classic gets its Hollywood remake, Japan continues to produce fresh source materials as two recent #seinen manga series are set for live-action adaptations both starring Sato Takeru, no less.
Born on March 21, 1989 in Iwatsuki-ku, Saitama, #SatoTakeru is a Japanese actor from Amuse Inc. He debuted in 2006 after getting scouted in Harajuku. He first appeared on television in the cross-dressing series, Princess Princess D, but he gained his popularity in Kamen Rider Den-O, the seventeenth installment in the popular #KamenRider (Masked Rider) series. His breakout role was in the 2008 primetime drama, Rookies, where he played a minor supporting character named Yuya Okada. Rookies is based on Masanori Morita's baseball-themed shonen manga of the same title. His live-action appearances continued when he starred as the best friend of the protagonist in Bloody Monday with his real life friend and equally popular actor from the same agency, Miura Haruma (the lead in Attack on Titan’s live-action). From shonen, he switched to shojo (the genre aimed at a teenage female audience) when he played Kento Shibata in Mei-chan no Shitsuji alongside Hiro Mizushima (the lead actor in Black Butler’s live-action). Then they reunited in the live-action movie based on the slice of life manga, BECK.
In 2010, Sato Takeru appeared in his first historical fiction drama, Ryōmaden, under the direction of Keiishi Otomo. After witnessing his powerful performance as the samurai Okada Izō, Keiishi Otomo believed he had found the perfect actor for Himura Kenshin. The director was right, as the 2012 #RurouniKenshin live-action film went on to break domestic and worldwide box-office records, followed by the release of its DVD that was distributed in over 60 countries. Due to the movie’s success and unanimous positive reviews, the main actors reprised their roles for the 2014 two-part sequel entitled Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends. As expected, both films were well-received, often debuting at the top three in the box-office rankings and praised by critics for the impressive execution of its action choreography. In between the Rurouni Kenshin films, Takeru starred as a genius composer in The Liar and His Lover, the 2013 live-action adaptation of the shojo manga, Kanojo wa Uso o Aishisugiteru, by Kotomi Aoki.
After the tremendous success of the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, Sato Takeru proved his versatility in Bakuman。, a slice of life movie adaptation based on the manga by Death Note creators, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. In this 2015 film directed by Hitoshi One, Sato Takeru and his Rurouni Kenshin co-star, Kamiki Ryunosuke, played two aspiring mangakas (comic artists). Bakuman。 was number one at the Japanese box office on its opening weekend and was presented with the Popularity Award at 39th Japan Academy Prize. In 2016, Takeru, who’s a real life cat lover, played a dual role in the novel-based movie, If Cats Disappeared from the World. It is followed by another adaptation based on the 148th Naoki Prize winning novel, Nanimono.
This 2017, Sato Takeru will play the lead in Ajin: Demi-Human. The movie is based on the 2012 manga written and illustrated by Gamon Sakurai. In 2015, Polygon Pictures produced its anime adaptation in the form of a trilogy: Ajin Part 1: Shōdō, Ajin Part 2: Shōtotsu, and Ajin Part 3: Shōgeki. The same producer released a two-season anime television series in 2016.
The story centers on the plight of the Ajins, humans who have the ability to literally return from the dead. Physically, they are not different from normal people so the only way to find out if they are Ajins is for them to die and be revived. This discovery comes to protagonist, Nagai Kei, when he gets killed on the spot in a traffic accident, revealing his Ajin identity not only to himself but also to several witnesses. With a bounty on his head, he goes on the run since captured Ajins are experimented and executed in various ways in attempts to discover the secret of their immortality. Death triggers their power to regenerate but they can feel all the pain of the torture process.
Kei soon learns that he possesses the Black Ghosts called IBM that are usually manifested by Ajins. An IBM serves as an Ajin’s second body and eventually, it will be revealed that Kei’s IBM is a unique one compared to the other Ajins.
Sato Takeru is Nagai Kei, the 17-year-old character in the manga is altered to a medical intern in the movie to match Takeru’s real age. Ayano Go (the lead in Shinjuku Swan live-action) plays the charismatic but sinister Sato, a powerful villain who uses his Ajin abilities, innate combat skills, and ingenious tactics to carry out several terrorist attacks. The supporting cast includes Yuu Shirota as Koji Tanaka, Yudai Chiba as Masumi Okuyama, Yuki Yamada as Takahashi, Tetsuji Tamayama as Yu Tosaki, Rina Kawaei as Izumi Shimomura, and Minami Hamabe as Nagai Eriko.
Directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro, Ajin: Demi-Human is slated to be released on September 30, 2017.
From anti-hero to downright villain, Sato Takeru will play the antagonist in the 2018 live-action movie, Inuyashiki. It is based on the 2014 manga written and illustrated by GANTZ’ creator, Hiroya Oku. It tells the story of Inuyashiki Ichiro, an elderly salaryman who doesn't have any friends and is neglected by his own family. One fateful day, he is caught in the blast of an explosion caused by extraterrestrial entities. Upon waking up, he realizes that despite his human exterior, he has been completely transformed into a cyborg with extraordinary powers. He decides to use his abilities to fight crime and cure sick people.
However, he isn’t the sole victim of the said explosion. Shishigami Hiro loses his humanity in the same way but whereas Inuyashiki uses his powers to save others, Shishigami uses them to kill the people whom he doesn’t like. Completely thrilled about his newfound abilities, he starts to take innocent lives just for amusement. His murderous actions go beyond control and now it’s up to Inuyashiki to try and stop him.
A member of the comedy duo, Tunnels, Japanese comedian Noritake Kinashi will play Ichiro Inuyashiki while Sato Takeru will play Shishigami Hiro. The movie boasts a solid supporting cast which includes Kanata Hongo as Naoyuki Ando, Fumi Nikaido as Shion Watanabe, and Yusuke Iseya as Detective Hagihara. Their filming with GANTZ live-action director, Shinsuke Sato, has just started this March 2017.
While waiting for the film to be released next year, check out its anime series that will premiere in October 2017.
After Sato Takeru successfully played the legendary former assassin turned wandering swordsman, Himura Kenshin, he became the go-to actor for Seinen live-action adaptations. I had the pleasure of seeing him in person when the main cast and director graced the Rurouni Kenshin Red Carpet Premiere in my city. Despite his somewhat androgynous look, he has a strong and mysterious aura that makes him completely suitable to play the lead of this genre. Not to mention he has the acting chops for both comedy and drama, as well as the energy to do his own action stunts.
Nagai Kei is cold, calculating, and cynical. Shishigami Hiro is a bloodthirsty sociopath. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing my favorite live-action actor play the bad guy for a change. How about you, how do you feel about Sato Takeru and his characters in these upcoming films?