Death Note

Netflix has released the trailer for its controversial adaptation of Death Note starring Nat Wolff as Light Turner, Keith Standfield as L, and Willem Dafoe as Ryuk. So here’s a little throwback to when I wrote this article about Why Death Note Is Still So Popular.

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Death Note: Light Up the NEW World

Death Note: Light Up The NEW World premiered in our local theaters a few weeks ago. One boring Friday, I decided to use my extended lunch break to catch the noon time screening of this live-action adaptation at a nearby cinema. Everyone else was lining up for Beauty and The Beast so there were literally just four of us watching Death Note. I’m accustomed to watching films alone but it’s my first time in a theater with less than five viewers.

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A direct sequel to the two-part 2006 Death Note live-action movie, Death Note: Light Up the NEW World is set 10 years after the existence of the original Kira. The film stars Masahiro Higashide, Sosuke Ikematsu, and Masaki Suda; and directed by GANTZ’ Shinsuke Sato.

Based on the best-selling manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Death Note is about the genius but taciturn student Yagami Light who eventually turns into Kira when he gains power to anonymously purge the sinners of society. However, his twisted sense of justice results to violent madness beyond the control of ordinary police force. To solve the mysterious mass killings, the government seeks help from an internationally known and eccentric detective named L. That’s how the exciting battle of wits and the mysterious cat-and-mouse story begins.

A decade after their confrontation and demise, the world once again falls into chaos as Shinigamis drop the maximum level of usable Death Notes in the human world. Other than having six Death Notes and more Shinigamis, Light Up the NEW World is basically just a repeat of the original. Masahiro Higashide plays the high-strung investigator whose passion for all Death Note-related cases earns him the nickname,”Death Note otaku”. As Tsukuru Mishima, he follows in the footsteps of Yagami Light’s father Souichiro as the leader of the Death Note task force.

Once again, the authorities request the assistance of a renowned private detective. This time, it’s Ryuzaki. Known for debuting as Tom Cruise’s nephew in the Hollywood movie The Last Samurai, actor Sosuke Ikematsu plays L’s rightful successor.

While the other Death Notes are used in trivial matters when they fall into the hands of a careless person, an ardent Kira follower uses it to write the names of unpunished criminals. Masaki Suda, plays the cyber terrorist named Yuki Shien. He makes it his life’s mission to revive Kira’s idea of justice. In order to do that, he must gather all the six Death Notes scattered in the world.

The three protagonists were introduced in the 2016 prequel Death Note NEW Generation. It is a must to see this three-part HULU original miniseries to understand the motivation of the new leads as it bridges the 10-year gap between the previous films and this new adaptation.

However, I think it would have been better if Light up the NEW World was released as a two-part sequel instead of a full length movie with a miniseries prequel. It ends up suffering from lack of character development since all the leads’ back stories are presented separately. Not everyone has the chance to see the miniseries. I bet some people aren’t even aware that this prequel exists.

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Death Note Light Up the NEW World is certainly not on par with the 2006 movies but at least a tad better than the L spin-offs. In terms of style and special effects, this movie is superior among the Japanese adaptations but it totally lacks the gripping intellectual one-upping of the original. Without the otherworldly shinigamis, the story is just something out of a typical police procedural.

The movie banks on nostalgia since it takes a certain level of attachment to the original characters to feel the excitement in seeing Light and L appear for a cameo; and to feel the poignancy in the supporting characters’ story arcs, such as Touta Matsuda’s and Amane Misa’s. It also takes a bit of affection for the lead actors. It’s rare to have Japanese films released in our local cinemas, so regardless of its plot holes, just the fact that I get to see Masaki Suda on the big screen is enough to make me happy.

Sato Takeru: Ajin and Inuyashiki

The Japanese word, “seinen” (青年), means youth but 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.

Sato Takeru

 

Born on March 21, 1989 in Iwatsuki-ku, Saitama, Sato Takeru 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 Kamen Rider (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 Rurouni Kenshin 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.

Ajin: Demi-Human

 

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.

Inuyashiki

 

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.

힘쎈여자 도봉순 (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon Ep.1-2)

If you’ve seen epic historical dramas before then it won’t come as a surprise that teenyboppers’ sageuk Hwarang finished with only single-digit ratings. Despite my discontent over the chemistry of that show’s main OTP, I managed to watch it til the end thanks to the engaging secondary arc about the Faceless King and the charisma of the actor portraying him. Park. Hyung. Sik. 

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He is great at playing the teen counterpart of the leads in the dramas, Sirius, and Nine: Nine Times Time Travel. His performance in the highly-rated The Heirs and the weekend series What Happens to my Family made me think that he’d do well as a supporting actor for now; but witnessing how he’s in full control of his character in Hwarang, it’s apparent that he’s grown so much into a bonafide actor who’s more than ready to lead a drama of his own. It’s only been three days since Hwarang ended and I’m glad that JTBC’s Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is here to satisfy my need for more Park Hyung Sik and his King complex.

The drama opens with Hyung Sik sitting at the back of the bus with a bouquet of flowers in his hand, his destination still unknown. All of a sudden, the driver loses control and the bus swerves from left to right. Exactly at the moment when it almost hits a mother and her child who are standing on the side of the road, the bus miraculously stops, and all of them survive, unscathed. Hyung Sik manages to take a peek outside and sees a petite young woman slowly walking away from the scene as if nothing happened. The wind blows and dramatically reveals the face hiding under her pink hoodie. It’s our heroine, Do Bong Soon. 

Expectations are high since she’s played by none other than Nation’s little sister, Park Bo Young. A total opposite of her timid role in last year’s quirky supernatural TvN drama Oh My Ghost, Do Bong Soon is a confident woman who is aware of the limitations and repercussions of using her strength. Yet, she falls under the usual Candy-type of character who’s struggling to find a job that she ends up signing a contract with a chaebol.

Park Hyung Sik is Ahn Min Hyuk, CEO of a video game company called Ainsoft. This guy eats death threats for breakfast, no wonder he remains unperturbed even when he takes a call from his psycho stalker in the middle of the night. I miss his Hwarang mane of glory but in modern clothes, he still looks pretty. Min Hyuk is a Ji Dwi-ish character too –  dashing, wealthy, and is used to living a life in constant danger. He exudes cool, happy-go-lucky vibes as he gets around his office in a hoverboard and he regards his dangerous situation as some sort of a game.

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While currently in search for the perfect bodyguard, he witnesses Do Bong Soon’s extraordinary strength as she defends herself and a bus full of kindergartners against several gangsters. The incident leads to a report at the police station where we meet detective In Gook Do (Ji Soo), Do Bong Soon’s childhood friend whom she’s been crushing on for the longest time. The straight arrow cop is unaware of Do Bong Soon’s strength and her completely obvious feelings for him.

As Min Hyuk tries to catch his persistent hacker and death threat sender, a mysterious murder occurs at the small neighborhood where his newly-hired female bodyguard Do Bong Soon resides. In Gook Do is one of the officers who are tasked to investigate and find the culprit. How is this crime going to change our main characters’ lives?

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Strong Woman Do Bong Soon premiered with 4% ratings which is considerably high for a cable network series. The first two episodes managed to introduce the characters and their relationships, the origin of our heroine’s immense physical strength, and a very odd inclusion of murder in an otherwise cheerful tone of the show. It’s a little worrisome that the drama goes from comic book romcom to seriously dark thriller really quick so I hope things won’t go awry as the story continues.

There’s nothing new about this series. The title itself is so generic. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon gives us a plucky heroine just like (Weightlifting Fairy) Kim Bok Joo and an adorable, eccentric young chaebol just like (Shopping King) Louis. Then we have a good-looking tsundere second lead to complete the love triangle. But dramas like these depend heavily on the performance of its leads and the chemistry of its characters. The actors give their own take on the familiar tropes we’ve seen before. With only two episodes in, the continuous rise in ratings proves right off the bat that Park Bo Young, Park Hyung Sik, and Ji Soo are all perfect for the part. And I can’t wait to see more of Hyung Sik’s hilarious pseudo gay antics.