Monday, August 04, 2008

Kanna cast for "20th Century Boys"

"20th Century Boys" now has its Kanna: Taira Airi, a 23-year-old former idol who had two previous cracks at stardom without leaving much of an impression (pics here). As the niece of the story's main protagonist Kenji (played by Karasawa Toshiaki), the character is introduced as an infant in the first film and later takes on a pivotal role as a teenager in the second and third instalments in the trilogy. At the very least, Taira is close enough of a match to creator Urasawa Naoki's original design.

I finished reading the manga a month or so ago, and it's an engrossing but bloated read with an intriguing plot that ultimately leaves a lot of questions unanswered, in much the same style as U.S. TV series "Lost". Tsutsumi Yukihiko, a director known more for flashy visual gimmicks than convincing dramaturgy, and the screenwriting team that includes two TV specialists as well as Urasawa himself and his collaborator Nagasaki Takashi, are suspect choices for making sense of the sprawling narrative and convoluted 50-year timeline that constantly jumps back and forth, not to mention keeping track of its huge ensemble of characters. The casting of comedians familiar from the boob tube in the numerous bit parts (and also gourmand funnyman Ishizuka Hidehiko in the major role of Maruo) raises further doubts about the filmmakers' priorities, but despite some other dubious choices (such as Karasawa being a bit too good-looking to play Kenji and Yusuke Santamaria clearly miscast as the pitiful Sadakiyo), there are also plenty of perfect matches including Toyokawa Etsushi as tough guy Occho and Kagawa Teruyuki as reluctant resistance leader Yoshitsune. This is an all-star cast comparable to that of a Mitani Koki extravaganza, so box office expectations will be through the roof. Just don't be surprised if the potential of the source material is squandered by the familiar TV-influenced school of thought that manga adaptations have to be turgid, hysterical gurn-fests.


  1. Did you happen to see a small film he did called Bandage Club?

    It was a little contrived, but the drama was handled better than most seishun dramas of its type.

  2. I passed on "Bandage Club" - looked a bit too yoof-oriented.

    As pointed out in the comments at Twitch, I do have plenty of gaps in my knowledge of Tsutsumi's work but I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb in saying he's more recognised for his storytelling techniques than as an actors' director. That's not to say the latter isn't also the case, but the former is how he made a name for himself.