From Himura Kenshin (緋村剣心), the man who vowed not to kill, Japanese heart-throb Sato Takeru (佐藤健) becomes the man who cannot be killed as he takes the lead role Nagai Kei (永井圭) for the live-action adaptation of Ajin (亜人): Demi-Human which is set to hit the big screen in Japan in September 2017.
— アニメ『亜人』 (@anime_ajin) 2017年7月29日
Ajin: Demi-Human is an ongoing seinen manga, originally started by Gamon Sakurai (桜井画門) and Miura Tsuina (三浦追儺). In 2012, the manga was published by Kodansha (講談社) in its ‘good! Afternoon’ magazine. However, Miura withdrew from the manga creation in 2013 for reasons that were not disclosed, so Gamon Sakurai has been working on them alone ever since.
Ajin was adapted into three anime films directed by Hiroyuki Seshita (瀬下寛之) and were all released by Polygon Pictures. They include Ajin Part 1: Shoudou (衝動) (Ajin: Impulse), released in November 2015, Ajin Part 2: Shoutotsu (衝突) (Ajin: Collision) in May 2016, and Ajin Part 3: Shougeki (衝撃) (Ajin: Clash) in September 2016.
There was also a 13-episode television series that was streamed by Netflix. Its opening theme “Can You Sleep at Night?” (Yoru wa Nemureru kai?) is sung by Flumpool while the closing theme is performed by Mamoru Miyano (宮野真守), the voice actor who portrays Kei.
An OVA (Original Video Animation) was released in May 2016, focusing on the Shinya Nakamura Incident (中村慎也事件), and a second OVA in October 2016 includes Kakureya no Ryokan (隠れ家の旅館; Hidden Inn) and Himitsu no Ajito (秘密のアジト; Secret Den). The third OVA is about Satou’s past.
The manga is based around Ajin (亜人), who are humans who cannot die due to their ability to regenerate. In the anime, most Ajins have red or reddish-brown eyes. The story is set 17 years after the first Ajin was discovered in Africa. Since then, it has been confirmed that there are Ajins living in many other places around the world.
An Ajin is a demi-human that lives a normal life, unaware that they are different until they finally face their death and survive it. The rarity of this kind of species and the curiosity of scientists to know the source of their immortality gave the Ajins a reason to go on the run.
— 映画『亜人』公式 (@ajin_movie) August 4, 2017
Actor Sato Takeru is set to play the smart and carefree Nagai Kei in the new movie Ajin: Demi Human Live-Action Movie, who finds out that he is an Ajin after he gets killed and regenerates following a traffic accident. The government has placed a bounty on his head and if he’s caught, he would be locked up and subjected to cruel experimentation just like the others. He must fight for his own survival as well as for those of innocent humans threatened by an evil Ajin.
The original manga is based on Kei as a high school student. However, the live-action movie follows the story of Kei as a medical intern, an adaptation made to fit with actor Takeru’s age, as he is 10 years older than the manga version of Kei.
The movie will be directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro (本広克行) (director of Bayside Shakedown movies and the Psycho Pass anime series).
Sato Takeru was born on March 21, 1989 in Iwatsuki-ku (岩槻区), Saitama (埼玉), Japan and is now an actor under Amuse Inc. He became popular in 2007 as Ryotaro Nogami (野上良太郎) in the Kamen Rider Den-O (仮面ライダー電王) franchise. Even before Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心) skyrocketed Takeru’s career, he had already played some interesting live-action characters.
Takeru played a baseball delinquent in the drama Rookies, a Japanese shōnen manga written and illustrated by Masanori Morita (森田まさのり). In 2008, he was in the cast of the two seasons of Bloody Monday based on the manga of the same name. He played Otoya Kujo (九条音弥), the best friend of Fujimaru Takagi (高木藤丸) played by his real-life good friend from Amuse, Miura Haruma (三浦春馬).
His secondary role continued with Mei-chan no Shitsuji (メイちゃんの執事), a shojo manga series written and illustrated by Riko Miyagi (宮城理子). He then played major supporting role Yukio “Koyuki” Tanaka (田中幸雄;コユキ) in the live-action movie for BECK which was based on Harold Sakuishi’s (ハロルド作石) manga.
Of course, Takeru is also well-known around the world for nailing the role of the red-haired, X-scarred legendary swordsman in the live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s (和月伸宏) Rurouni Kenshin. The first Rurouni Kenshin film that was released in 2012 grossed a total of 3.01 billion yen at the domestic box office. He reprised the role for a two-part sequel: Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (京都大火編) which received critical acclaims and US$52.9 million earnings internationally. Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (伝説の最期編) also met mostly positive reviews and US$42.7 million earnings internationally.
From shonen to shoujo, Sato Takeru played Aki Ogasawara (小笠原秋) in The Liar and His Lover (カノジョは嘘を愛しすぎてる) based on Kotomi Aoki’s (青木琴美) manga. Then he led the all-star cast of Bakuman (バクマン), another prominent manga-based flick of a different genre. It’s a slice-of-life romcom from Death Note creators Tsugumi Ohba (大場つぐみ) and Takeshi Obata (小畑健). Bakuman was nominated for the third annual Manga Taishō award in 2010, and was ranked seventh in the best-selling manga series of 2011 and ranked tenth in the best of 2012.
The live-action adaptation of Bakuman directed by Hitoshi One (大根仁) stars Sato Takeru as Moritaka Mashiro (真城最高), a student who collaborates with classmate Akito Takagi (高木秋人) to become a famous mangaka (manga artist). Bakuman earned the audience’s approval and the critics’ praise. It was number one at the Japanese box office on its opening weekend with US$2.1 million and it won the Popularity Award at the 39th Japan Academy Prize.
The new Ajin: Demi-Human Live-Action Movie isn’t the only time you’ll see Takeru on the screens in 2017, as he’s also set to appear in Bride For 8 Years (8年越しの花嫁) alongside Rurouni Kenshin co-star, Tao Tsuchiya (土屋太鳳). The film is based on the novel 8 Nen Goshi no Hanayome Kimi no Me ga Sametanara (8年越しの花嫁キミの目が覚めたなら) by Hisashi Nakahara (中原尚志) and Mai Nakahara (中原麻衣).
Sato Takeru is one of the most talented, passionate and hardworking actors I’ve seen and it is evident in his work. He trained hard for the action scenes and impressed viewers with his own stunts for the Rurouni Kenshin films. He even went as far as taking cooking lessons at a culinary school to play Tokuzo Akiyama (秋山篤蔵) in the series The Emperor’s Cook (天皇の料理番). His travel documentary with Miura Haruma, HT, demonstrated his previous cooking skills (or lack thereof), so you can only imagine just how serious he must have improved to before filming. His efforts paid off at least as he won Best Actor at the 85th Television Drama Academy Awards for that role.
Rurouni Kenshin has a huge following compared to Ajin, so seeing him take the challenge and play the anti-hero of this underrated series is definitely something to look forward to. The action team of the Rurouni Kenshin films has reportedly been invited to work on this project.
With news about Oguri Shun (小栗旬), Masataka Kubota (窪田正孝), Kamiki Ryunosuke (神木隆之介), and Yamazaki Kento (山崎賢人) leading popular live-action movies in 2017, the addition of Sato Takeru definitely makes the coming year even more exciting.