Netflix has revealed that it has greenlit a new live-action movie adaptation of Tsukasa Hojo’s iconic City Hunter manga. Set for a worldwide streaming release in 2024, this will in fact be the first Japanese live-action film based on the 80’s franchise.
The original City Hunter manga by Tsukasa Hojo ran from 1985 to 1991, and has already inspired numerous adaptations both live-action and animated. City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes was an anime movie released in February 2019, with another animated film currently slated to open in 2023. February 2019 also saw the release of the latest live-action version of the series, with a French film adaptation opening then. Other iterations have included a Korean television series from 2011, and even a (loosely adapted) 1993 Hong Kong film starring Jackie Chan.
Netflix’s new City Hunter movie will have the distinction of being the very first live-action adaptation of the series actually produced in Japan, even shot on-location in Tokyo’s real-life Shinjuku ward. Netflix’s description of the movie indicates that this take on the story will move things up to the present-day, compared to the classic 80’s setting. Actor Ryohei Suzuki (who had previously starred in live-action adaptations of Hentai Kamen and Tokyo Tribe) will take on the lead role of Ryo Saeba. Yuichi Sato will be directing the project. The screenplay for the movie was written by Tatsuro Mishima, who also handled several episodes of Netflix’s own upcoming Japanese live-action adaptation of Yu Yu Hakusho.
From Netflix’s description of the project, the new movie will tell the story of Ryo teaming up with Kaori, the younger sister of his partner Makimura. The pair will be working together to find out the true story behind Makimura’s death. In the released info for the film, Suzuki is quoted as saying that it will “aim to strike the right balance between realism and fantasy, as well as tones from the 80s and today.” The actor also noted the pressure he felt regarding his particularly iconic lead role, saying “I am thrilled to be playing Ryo Saeba and feel a great deal of responsibility to portray this beloved, legendary character created by Tsukasa Hojo.”
Suzuki may be right to feel this kind of pressure in such a situation. Live-action anime adaptations, particularly those from Netflix, have become an uneven exercise in meeting fan expectations. The streaming company’s own takes on Death Note and Cowboy Bebop quickly became the most infamous, while others, like the Japanese live-action film adaptations of Fullmetal Alchemist or Bleach, seemed to land with less impact, positive or negative. In spite of all that, they don’t seem to be letting up any time soon, with both Yu Yu Hakusho and One Piece seeing live-action versions headed for Netflix in the future, and City Hunter now set to come along with them.
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