With over 3 billion Yen in box-office earnings, Gintama became the top grossing live-action film in Japan in 2017. In 2018, while director Yuichi Fukuda and actor Takayuki Yamada film the sequel to Hideaki Sorachi’s famous gag manga, they will also work on another highly anticipated live-action series adaptation: Saint Oniisan.
Also known as Saint Young Men, this slice of life comedy manga by Arakawa Under the Bridge creator Hikaru Nakamura is a best-selling series that received a Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and was also nominated for a Manga Taisho award. Due to its critical and commercial success, the series spawned several anime adaptations.
— 聖☆おにいさん公式 (@saint_oniisan) May 14, 2014
Saint Young Men features the misadventures of Jesus and Buddha who go on vacation together, dressed in casual shirts and jeans, to temporarily live with mortals in suburban Tokyo. In the anime, they are voiced by actors Mirai Moriyama and Gen Hoshino respectively.
It was in late 2016 when the first news about the live-action was reported. Finally, the official website announced that they have found the actors to play the series’ holy duo.
— ♡Boys＆Girls♡画像bot (@idol_xo) February 28, 2018
Kenichi Matsuyama is internationally known for playing the eccentric genius detective L in the 2006 Death Note live-action adaptation and its sequel. He’s so popular that his character gets a movie spin-off. He’s also known for playing the lead in the adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood.
He proved his versatility when he played Soichi Negishi, the shy musician turned onstage demon rockstar from hell, in the live-action film adaptation of Kiminori Wakasugi’s vulgar comedy manga Detroit Metal City.
September 23: otanjoubi omedetou to Sometani Shota (25)! Don't forget, he is father of 1 child (wife: Kikuchi Rinko) /FZ pic.twitter.com/mn3TdhkwLh
— JapaneseDorama&Movie (@JDoramaID) September 23, 2017
Sometani Shota is the recipient of the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Actor at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, starring in Sion Sono’s critically acclaimed movie Himizu. He has also played popular live-action characters, most notably Shinichi Izumi in Parasyte, Niizuma Eiji in Bakuman, and Harunobu Nikaido in March Comes in Like a Lion.
Just like Kenichi Matsuyama, Sometani Shota is a versatile actor who is also natural when it comes to comedy. He showed off his comedic flair in the films Wood Job and Minna! Esper Dayo. Now that he’s set to play Buddha himself, his most recent Buddhist monk role in the fantasy movie Legend of the Demon Cat will surely come in handy.
Japanese actor Takayuki Yamada who is famous for his roles in Crows Zero, 13 Assassins, and Milocrorze, will be the executive producer of Saint Young Men. It’s not his first time producing a film as he was credited as the producer of the movie Hard Core, where he also starred alongside Sato Takeru.
Comedy director and screenwriter Yuichi Fukuda previously collaborated with Takayuki Yamada in the Yuusha Yoshihiko series and recently in the 50 First Dates remake. He’s been very vocal about his desire to make an adaptation of Saint Young Men and he’s excited that his dream adaptation is now being realized.
Aside from the lead cast announcement, it’s also been revealed that Saint Young Men will air in a new streaming service in 2018. How do you feel about this live-action adaptation?
Saint Young Men Twitter page *Japanese only