Monday, August 04, 2008
"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.
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