MW Production Notes
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from a new movie.
Last December, SciFi Japan ran a report on MW, a new live action film based on a manga by the late Osamu Tezuka, Japan’s legendary “god of manga” and “father of anime”.
While Tezuka is known worldwide for his children’s favorites such as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, his MW manga was a dark and downbeat thriller that tackled many controversial subjects including government cover-ups, religion, the nature of good and evil, homoeroticism, the effects of excessive technology on nature, and the US military presence in Japan. While drastically different from his typical fare, Tezuka still received great acclaim for his work on MW.
The movie version of MW was developed by the “MW Production Committee” of NTV- Nippon Television Network (the DEATH NOTE film series), the telecommunications company NTT DoCoMo Inc., Amuse Soft Entertainment (THE NEIGHBOR NO. 13), IMJ Entertainment (NANA, NANA 2), and Studio Swan (KIDS). Japanese theatrical distribution of the film is being handled by Gaga Communications (perhaps best known for the ZEIRAM series), while NTV is handling international sales.
MW has been completed and opens today, July 4, in Japan. SciFi Japan is pleased to present a further look at the film with the following production notes and images provided by NTV…
16 years ago, the entire population of a remote island died overnight.
The Government quickly covered up the incident, leaving no one behind to remember or suspect…
But perhaps at God’s whim, two boys secretly survived the night.
Two boys- to reveal the mystery and unleash the horror…
Osamu Tezuka’s most controversial and immoral story.
In the 80th year after Osamu Tezuka was born, this story has been made into a motion picture.
MW…the thriller to end all thrillers, rewriting cinema history!
Osamu Tezuka is the definitive comic book artist, influential all over the world with his masterpieces. Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Dororo, Black Jack… Thematically deep and unique, entertaining and emotional, Tezuka’s works continue to touch the hearts of people around the globe. Among his enormous body of works is a story separating itself from the rest…a forbidden story of evil…MW.
16 years ago a horrific tragedy happened one night on a remote island…
As an outcome of the night a man carries out a barrage of crimes. He is driven by the horrors he endured in the tragedy. He seeks redemption through revenge. His enemy is the Government. Through these evil actions a kind of justice is served. What is justice? What does it mean to live? The movie deals with these questions.
This epic-scale drama defies preconceptions of good and evil. It cuts right to the theme of man’s original sins. Other attempts at adaptation have been thwarted by the shocking content of this thriller.
But on the 80th anniversary since creator Osamu Tezuka’s birth, the time is right to present this picaresque epic to the big screen. With mesmerizing imagery to keep you on the edge of your seat. With an excellent cast of stars assembling for the first time in this movie. The most exciting event movie in history is now ready to hit theaters.
Bringing to you Tezuka as you’ve never known before…and a message hidden in a tale of the most frightening evil!
Michio Yuki, a boy who saw and survived hell
His relentless quest into the MW mystery reveals that evil and political powers are behind the incident. In pursuit of his goal, he doesn’t hesitate to commit the most horrifying crimes, as long as he gets revenge on those who ruined his life. Out of revenge, he schemes to end civilization…
Hiroshi Tamaki plays the role of this beautiful and sinister monster of a man. Unlike his trademark portrayal of handsome nice guy in NODAME CANTABILE and HEAVENLY FOREST (Tada Kimi o Aishiteru, 2006), Tamaki took on the challenge of portraying the most beautiful, cold-blooded and calculating villainous anti-hero among Tezuka’s characters. Michio Yuki’s alter ego is an extremely handsome, super-intelligent, elite banker which allows him to carry out his crimes with precision. The satanic act of a fallen angel.
Yutaro Garai is another boy who survived the night
Garai is a Catholic priest who shares a dark secret and a spiritual bond with Yuki. Takayuki Yamada, the popular actor from CROWS ZERO (2007) and KAMOGAWA HORUMO − BATTLE LEAGUE IN KYOTO (Kamogawa Horumo, 2009), plays the role of Garai. Here he quietly portrays a tormented priest torn between good and evil as he struggles to reconcile his own morals with Yuki’s. The chemistry between the two leading characters, contrasting like light and shadow, enhances this powerful drama.
Supporting the leads is a cast of talented actors. The international star, Ryo Ishibashi, who was in Phillip G. Atwell’s WAR, plays the criminal investigator, Lieutenant Sawaki. Yuriko Ishida of GEGE and BAREFOOT GEN, plays the newspaper journalist Kyoko Makino, who decodes the mystery of MW. Shingo Tsurumi of DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd and BOYS OVER FLOWERS plays the part of the politician’s mysterious secretary. Newcomers Yusuke Yamamoto and Rio Yamashita also fulfill expectations in this big-budgeter.
Directing the movie is Hitoshi Iwamoto, a tested-and-proven hit maker of numerous gripping TV dramas. Contributing to the tightly knit scenario is writer Tetsuya Oishi of the DEATH NOTE features. Director of Photography, Takuro Ishizawa utilized his skills here to realize fluid and kinetic cinematography. The result is an A-class action thriller like no other.
MW…a dark cave of horror. From the shadow of MW comes the light, to tear man in two…good and evil, life and death…
Two men whose lives are trapped in horror…their battle for life now begins.
16 years ago on a remote island called Okino Mafune Island, the entire population was massacred. Sinisterly, the tragedy was covered up by Government agents…all that remained were the two boys who survived and secretly fled the island.
The experience of the horrific and hellish massacre changes the boys’ lives forever, leaving them broken and with a sense of loss. One of them becomes a priest and the other a monstrous criminal.
Garai (played by Takayuki Yamada) is the priest. His life is dedicated to serving God and helping the needy. Ridden with guilt and conflict, his way to deal with the horrible past inflicted upon him is by being a priest. Another survivor, Yuki (played by Hiroshi Tamaki) unravels the mystery behind the islanders’ horrific demise. He prepares to confront the evil behind the mystery. In doing so, he sells his soul to Satan. By day he is an elite employee of an U.S. bank while at night he becomes a cold-blooded avenger. A man with deadly charisma, of perfect appearance and superior intelligence, Yuki manipulates people, using them as pawns as he gets revenge on those responsible for his ruin. The separate paths chosen by Garai and Yuki could not be more extreme. But they have a tie, a bond that cannot be undone. They share the island’s dark secret.
The incident on the island has left Yuki with side affects. He suffers from sporadic violent seizures. Realizing his condition is terminal, he plans to get revenge one by one on those involved in the scandal that caused his affliction. Garai attempts to stop Yuki committing from crimes and to guide him towards redemption. But cunning beyond imagination, Yuki manipulates Garai into being his accomplice in crimes that would send him to Hell. While the hapless Garai confesses his sins to God, Yuki’s crimes escalate. When a seizure leaves Yuki unconscious, Garai rescues him. The tormented Garai picks up a knife to end the misery and eternal revenge…but finds that he is unable to kill Yuki, the man with whom he is deeply entangled.
Lieutenant Kazuyuki Sawaki (played by Ryo Ishibashi) is a top cop. He suspects that a series of monstrous crimes are related and that Yuki is the mastermind behind them. But Yuki leaves no clues behind. While Sawaki looks for proof, his partner Tachibana falls victim to Yuki’s murderous trap. Although the police can’t crack the mystery, a journalist named Kyoko Makino (played by Yuriko Ishida) finds a thread. All the victims had lived on Okino Mafune Island. She learns that the mystery involves an incident that happened 16 years earlier. Kyoko finds a memo written by a journalist who died during his investigation of the island mystery. The memo leads Kyoko to Yuki and Garai, and has fragments of information that hold the key to the mystery…MW.
Yuki prepares for the grand finale of his revenge scheme.
What is MW?
Garai must stop Yuki.
The mystery and the secret slowly unfold.
Can a man remain sane after surviving Hell?
Do you choose revenge or forgiveness? What is your concept of justice?
Destruction or salvation? The destiny of the world depends on the one who has MW…
MW, Why Now?
MW‘s shocking subject matter was seen as Osamu Tezuka’s forbidden work. It’s depiction of man’s sins, corruption and evil are uncompromising. The usual humanistic, morally positive themes of Osamu Tezuka’s work are not seen in this story. Besides its immoral tone, the scale of the story was daunting as it involved remote locales. MW was deemed unsuitable for film adaptation…until now. Technology and the market environment have finally caught up with MW. Release was set for the 80th year since Tezuka’s birth. The timing was perfect for this controversial film adaptation, in these times of political and economic turmoil.
Producer Shinzo Matsuhashi says about the movie, “The movie went into development before the world-wide recession. But the world was already in a chaotic state where wars could break anytime or anywhere. The way to make movies in this political climate is not to make mindless entertainment but to reflect the state of the world and broadens its appeal to more mature audiences, too. Look at THE DARK KNIGHT and the recent 007 entries. We had a thought-provoking legacy left to us by Osamu Tezuka. Our challenge was to make a movie that is both entertaining and provocative. I believe that we have a movie that will make people say, ‘Japanese movies have come a long way!'”
An Anti-Hero, More Dangerous, More Beautiful, More Sinister than Ever
In all of his previous roles, Hiroshi Tamaki was perfect as a handsome, nice guy. NODAME CANTABILE, HEAVENLY FOREST and MIDNIGHT EAGLE (Middonaito Iiguru, 2007)… he’s clean-cut, honest and good-looking. In MW, he is still handsome, intelligent, bold, charismatic and apparently perfect. But this time he is evil.
Tamaki plays his first role as a bad-guy hero with precision. He gives life to the character with his emotionless demeanor and cold expression. This beautiful monstrosity is also a chameleon who changes according to the situation. He’s a no-nonsense elite bank employee by day, sophisticated in his crisp white outfit who doubles as a criminal. He’s a kindhearted big brother for the orphans. He’s a calculating and indifferent criminal in a black outfit that makes him invisible in the darkness…
Disguised with many identities, he plans, plots and prosecutes his grand opera of revenge. Tamaki plays this personification of unstoppable evil with skills that stretch his recognized acting range.
Unprecedented Action, with Cooperation from the Thai Military Forces
“Let’s make an action movie like none other in Japan’s cinema history.” To achieve this goal, the jet-rollercoaster opening action sequence was shot in Thailand with a crew made up of Japanese and Thai; the same people who worked with Sylvester Stallone and the likes on international productions. The Thai Military Forces cooperated with the location shooting, helping the crew achieve the highly authentic and totally thrilling action sequence. Director Iwamoto highly praises the Thai soldiers, “The difference that their daily training makes is obvious when it comes to things like how they hold their rifles. The guns you see on screen are all real. It was very intense on the location. Intense in a positive way. We did some great scenes.”
Also noteworthy is the car chase sequence. A 5-lane freeway connecting the airport and the city was closed for the duration of the shooting to capture the breathtaking car stunts, certainly beyond the standard of Japanese movies.
Fluid, Dynamic and Kinetic Camera
Collaborating with Director Iwamoto is Director of Photography Takuro Ishizaka and Camera Operator Nobuhiro Sako. Ishizaka is based in Los Angeles and Sako has worked with him on many projects. The director wanted scenes they were “visually exciting and dynamic with shots that give the audience the impression that they’re there with true-to-life camera moves.” To meet this demand, DP Ishizaka always had 2-camera set-ups to capture multiple angles for a three-dimensional look. The teamwork and detailed plans were essential in achieving the thrill, speed and beautiful aesthetics in this movie. They also devised a color scheme to highlight the contrast in situations that Yuki finds himself in, as a visual expression of Yuki’s feelings.
THE ORIGINAL MW
Osamu Tezuka, Original Story
Tezuka was born on November 3, 1928 in Toyonaka City, Osaka, Japan, the eldest of 3 brothers.
He grew up in a liberal minded family. A quick-witted and imaginative boy, Tezuka enjoyed reading comic books and watching animated cartoons. He had a special interest in insects, reminiscent of Jean Henri Fabre. He chose to add the character for “bug” to his pen name, reflecting his interest in Entomology.
Living in Japan during the war taught Tezuka the value of life. He aspired to become a doctor of medicine, earning a degree. But in the end the occupation he chose was closer to his heart, he became a cartoonist and animation filmmaker.
Tezuka established many innovative expressions and techniques to the comic format and defied conventions. He was the driving force in shaping more dramatic and story-driven comics, sublimating the genre into the realm of art. His works continue to be influential beyond the boundary of comics, covering other disciplines like literature and cinema.
Tezuka’s influence is obvious not only in the area of comics but in animation too. It was he who produced the first TV animated cartoon series in Japan with his own ASTRO BOY (Tetsuwan Atomu, 1963). Subsequently, he produced KIMBA THE WHITE LION (Janguru Taitei, 1965), the first color TV cartoon series, and the tele-feature ONE MILLION YEAR TRIP: BANDAR BOOK (Hyakumannen Chikyu no Tabi: Banda Bukku, 1978), rendering his characters and stories unforgettable at a pivotal juncture in Japan’s animation history. The influence of Tezuka’s comics and animations is inestimable in its shaping of the cultural psyche of post-WWII society. The influence is not only domestic; his animated series were exported to the United States, Europe and to other Asian countries and enjoyed by children in that era. With some experimental features, Tezuka pushed the boundaries of conventional animation with comparatively mature themes. His achievement in commercial features, TV cartoons and in experimental films is internationally recognized.
As a pioneer of a high culture, Tezuka had a relentless passion to move his medium forward. His pioneer spirit was supported by his optimism about the future. He didn’t stop creating until February 9, 1989, which was the very day that he passed away at the age 60.
A thread that runs through the enormous body of works produced by Tezuka is the theme of LIFE and its meaning. Titles that represent his intense career are Astro Boy, Phoenix, MW, Black Jack, Buddah, A Tree in the Sun, and Adolf.
The movie is adapted from an original story serialized in Big Comic magazine (published by Shogakukan Inc.) from its September 19, 1976 issue to its January 25, 1978 issue. MW was dubbed the “Picaresque Comic” for its uncompromising depiction of violence, betrayal, political corruption and all sorts of modern malaise in society. Subjects deemed taboo at the time of publication were obsessively pursued, exposing the weakness and sins we chose not to see. Through the story, Tezuka asks the readers to ponder the meaning of good and evil and truth… a rarity among Tezuka works which typically had upbeat themes of hope, dreams, love and courage.
The Meaning of the Name MW
There are multiple interpretations of this code name. One speculation is that it’s an acronym for Man/Woman, or Mad Weapon. Another theory is that it suggests the way our values and judgment tend to change like the flip of a coin. For this ironic interpretation Tezuka might have chosen two alphabetic characters that remained the same when turned upside down.
Hiroshi Tamaki as Michio Yuki
Hiroshi Tamaki plays Elite Bank employee Michio Yuki, one of the boys who survived the Okino Mafune Island 16 years ago. His search for the truth behind the mystery continues…while his motives remain ambiguous.
Tamaki was born in Aichi prefecture, on 14th January, 1980. In 1998, he made his debut as an actor with TV drama SETSUNAI (EX). Since then, he was well regarded in WATER BOYS (2001) directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, and also played a role in its TV drama version (2003 / CX). In ROCKERS (2003/directed by Takanori Jinnai), he played a role of a guitarist, and after that, he made an actual debut as a singer with the song “Seasons”. He has achieved great popularity with his role as Shinichi Chiaki in the TV drama series NODAME CATABILE (2006/CX). In April 2009, his 9th single “Slow Time” will be released.
TV credits: REMOTE (2002 / NTV), LAST CHRISTMAS (2004 / CX), TO THE ONE I LOVE (2004 / CX), HYOHEKI (2006 / NHK), KOMYO GA TSUJI (2006 / NHK), THE FANTASTIC DEER-MAN (2008 / CX), ATSU-HIME (2008 / NHK), LOVE SHUFFLE (2009 / TBS), and more.
Film credits: RENAI SHOSETSU (2004 / directed by Junichi Mori), HENSHIN (2005 / directed by Tomoki Sano), HEAVENLY FOREST (2006 / directed by Takehiko Shinjo), MIDNIGHT EAGLE (2007 / directed by Izuru Narushima), KIDS (2008 / directed by Tatsuya Ogishima), LAST OPERATION UNDER THE ORION (Manatsu no Orion, 2009 / directed by Tetsuo Shinohara), and more.
This is your first time to play a villain. How did you deal with it?
I was initially told that the character of Yuki have a sharpness to him, both in appearance and presence. So I started preparing by losing 7 kilos. Internally I was always conscious of projecting his cool demeanor. He kills people in cold blood but he’s never impulsive. It’s all part of his grand master plan. No matter how much pressure he’s under, he never loses his cool. That’s how I wanted to play the role.
How was it, actually acting this character?
He’s the type of man who makes a perfect plan and perfectly executes it. All figured out. It was fun to play such a man. Yuki is stoic and he isn’t swayed by temptation. He’s internally conflicted but it never surfaces, so I have to say that it was not an easy role to play.
Yuki is so aloof it must have been hard to deal with his emotional reactions.
You’re right. It was a delicate balance expressing the emotions that surged under the surface. He appears cool but it’s not that he’s void of emotions. But if I emoted a notch too much, it looked like I overdid it. I tried out my performance in the tests and readjusted as I went. It also helped to be able to consult the director.
How did you like the Thai location?
The Thai crew was great… I thought that every piece of equipment was better than what we had. They attract talented people from Hollywood. There’s a lot of filmmaking going on there so they have great equipment. The Thai crew was all very eager to learn, too. I guess it has something to do with their motivation as individuals rather than a national trait, but I certainly did enjoy acting in that wonderful filmmaking environment.
What was it like to play a Tezuka character?
I’ve always admired his genius, it was such an honor to be in this movie. There are many Tezuka stories adapted to other media like movies. And there are still many of his stories that are considered impossible for adaptation. MW was one of those and I was so lucky to have the chance to be involved in this significant occasion.
What was it like playing an uncompromising villain?
I always had an aspiration to someday play a villain and I could in this movie so I’m very pleased. There are not so many Japanese movies that have a sinister protagonist as a hero. I thought this was a good opportunity to bring something different to audiences. I put everything I have in this movie, so I really feel satisfied.
Takayuki Yamada as Yutaro Garai
Takayuki Yamada stars as Priest Yutaro Garai, one of the survivors from the island. He prays everyday for Yuki’s salvation.
Yamada was born in Kagoshima prefecture, on 20th October, 1983. In 1999, he made his debut as an actor in the TV drama series PSYCHOMETRER EIJI 2 (NTV). He was acclaimed in the TV drama series WATER BOYS (2003 / CX), and achieved popularity playing roles in so many TV dramas such as CRYING OUT LOVE, IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD (2004 / TBS), H2- The Days with You- (2005 / TBS), INTO THE WHITE NIGHT (2006 / TBS), and A SONG TO THE SUN (2006 / TBS).
Film credits: DRAGONHEAD (2003 / directed by Joji Iida), TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO (2005 / directed by Masanori Murakami), THE LETTER (2006 / directed by Jiro Shono), WHEN YOU SEE HIM SAY HELLO FOR ME (2007 / directed by Yuichiro Hirakawa), MAIKO HAAAAN!! (2007 / directed by Nobuo Mizuta), CROWS ZERO (2007 / directed by Takashi Miike), IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT (2008 / directed by Tomoyuki Takimoto), 252: SIGNAL OF LIFE (2008 / directed by Nobuo Mizuta), CROWS II (2009 / directed by Takashi Miike), KAMOGAWA HORUMO − BATTLE LEAGUE IN KYOTO (2009 / directed by Katsuhide Motoki) and more.
What did you think when you read the screenplay?
I was first attracted to it as an action movie of unprecedented scale. And I was attracted to its depiction of the inherent horror that people have. Yuki is of course scary but the Government’s secret oppression of people and the mass media is scary, too. They can cover up the deaths of many and pretend that it never happened. It’s very real and very timely. The horror of it all… I thought it would make a great movie.
Are you an action movie fan?
I grew up with Jackie Chan movies. I was obsessed about doing an action picture. But my character, Garai, depicts the quiet side of the story… Not much action for him. Watching Tamaki and Ishibashi doing car stunts and gun action, I envied them. Their scenes are incredible.
Did you draw on any references in the depiction of your character, Garai?
Initially, I had an idea that his hair would be short and combed tightly to the sides. But I couldn’t get my hair to go the way I envisioned. Garai was to have long hair so I went after a Dave Navarro look, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Garai is a priest and yet he has a dark past. How did you deal with his duality?
He is a very perceptive person. So if it wasn’t for Yuki, he would have been the good guy. But he can’t separate himself from Yuki, who keeps committing horrible crimes. Garai has a special bond with Yuki. He wants Yuki to clean up his act. But he worries so much that he ends up helping Yuki commit crimes. There is a big contradiction in what he does and what he says. He’s trapped in internal conflict and feels tormented by all the pressure. I was too, for the duration of the shooting.
How do you feel now that you’ve finished playing him?
I had my head barely above the water while shooting. The shooting itself was quite demanding to begin with. When it wrapped, I felt relieved to be released from the pressure…rather than a sense of achievement. There’s no such thing as an easy role for me to play but this Garai character was exceptionally tough. It was emotionally draining… It was physically demanding, too. In one action stunt I was too excited and ended up hurting my back. There’s a scene where I get bathed in blood and I was shocked by the amount of “blood” sprayed on me…like, “Is there so much blood in a body?”
Yuriko Ishida as Kyoko Makino
Yuriko Ishida plays newspaper journalist Kyoko Makino. When another reporter dies, Kyoko takes over his story and follows up the mystery behind the island’s tragedy.
Ishida was born in Tokyo, on 3rd October, 1969. In 1988, she made her debut as an actress in the TV drama UMI NO MURIBUSHI (NHK). Since then she has been active in many fields such as drama, film, stage play, writing, and narration.
TV credits: 101st MARRIAGE PROPOSAL (1991 / CX), YANE NO UE NO HANABI (1993 / CX), JINSEI HA JOU-JOU DA (1995 / TBS), EIEN NO KO (2000 / NTV), SEE YOU IN KOWLOON (2002 / EX), DR. COTO’S CLINIC (2003 / CX), PRIDE (2004 / CX), GIVE IT ALL (2005 / CX), MY WIFE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR THIS WEEK?! (2007 / CX), BAREFOOT GEN (2007 / CX), MAJO SAIBAN (2009 / CX) and more.
Film credits: BOILING POINT (1990 / directed by Takeshi Kitano), Studio Ghibli Animation POM POKO (1994 / Voice Cast), Studio Ghibli Animation PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997 / Voice Cast), YOMIGAERI (2003, directed by Akihiko Shiota), GEGE (2004 / directed by Itsumichi Isomura), YEAR ONE OF THE NORTH (Japan Academy Prize for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role / 2005 / directed by Isao Yukisada), THE GIFT (2005 / directed by Kiyoshi Sasabe), NOBODY TO WATCH OVER ME (2009 / directed by Ryoichi Kimizuka), and more.
Ryo Ishibashi as Kazuyuki Sawaki
Ryo Ishibashi plays Detective Kazuyuki Sawaki, who starts to suspect Yuki’s involvement with the Okazaki’s case in Thailand…
Ishibashi was born in Fukuoka prefecture, on 20th July, 1956. While he was a very popular vocalist of a rock band, A.R.B, he made his debut as an actor with the film SARABA AIBO directed by Ryudo Uzaki in 1982. He was well received in A-HOMANSU which was directed and starred Yusaku Matsuda in 1986. Ishibashi has also appeared in the Hollywood title AMERICAN YAKUZA (1993 / directed by Frank Cappello) with Viggo Mortensen, and also in THE CROSSING GUARD (1996 / directed by Sean Penn) with Jack Nicholson.
Film credits: KIDS RETURN (1996 / directed by Takeshi Kitano), AUDITION (2000 / directed by Takashi Miike), BROTHER (2001 / directed by Takeshi Kitano), SUICIDE CLUB (2002 / directed by Shion Sono), AIKI (2002 / directed by Daisuke Tengan), g@me (2003 / directed by Satoshi Isaka), THE GRUDGE (2005 / directed by Takashi Shimizu), WAR (2007 / directed by Phillip G. Atwell), THE INESTIGATION GAME (2007 / directed by Tomoyuki Takimoto), SHAMO (2008 / directed by Soi Cheang), THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NIGHT IN THE WORLD (2008 / directed by Daisuke Tengan), INJU (2008 / directed by Barbet Schroeder) and more.
Yusuke Yamamoto as Mizohata
Yusuke Yamamoto plays Mizohata, a novice reporter assists Makino on her assignment.
Yamamoto was born in Aichi prefecture, on 19th January, 1988. He received the JUNON Super Boy Semi-Grand Prix in 2005, and started his career with the TV drama MASKED RIDER KABUTO (2006 / EX).
Film credits: HANDSOME SUITS (2008 / directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa), ROOKIES (2009 / directed by Yuichiro Hirakawa), and more. TV credits: HANA-KIMI (2007 / CX), PUZZLE (2008 / EX), HOMEROOM ON THE BEACHSIDE (2008 / CX), RESCUE – PRIDE OF ORANGE (2009 / TBS), ATASHINCHI NO DANSHI (2009 / CX), and more.
Rio Yamashita as Mika
Rio Yamashita plays Mika, a young woman who takes care of orphans at the church. She secretly likes Garai.
Yamashita was born in Tokushima prefecture, on 10th October, 1992. After she became a popular model of a young fashion magazine Hana*chu, she started her career as an actress with the TV drama KOI SURU NICHIYOBI (2007 / BS-i).
Film credits: SOMEDAY’S DREAMERS (2008 / directed by Shun Nakahara). TV credits: TOKYO SHOJO- SEPIA-HEN; MABO SHOJO (2007 / TBS), TOKYO SHOJO- YAMASHITA RIO (2008 / BS-i), LOVE LETTER (2008 / TBS), and more.
Shingo Tsurumi as Matsu
Shingo Tsurumi plays Minister Mochizuki’s secretary.
Tsurumi was born in Tokyo, on 29th December, 1964. He made his debut on silver screen with TONDA COUPLE (1980 / directed by Shinji Somai), and since then, he has been active in many fields such as TV drama, film, and stage play.
Film credits: THE LAKESIDE MURDER CASE (2005 / directed by Shinji Aoyama), LORELEI (2005 / directed by Shinji Higuchi), BOYS OVER FLOWERS: THE MOVIE (2008 / directed by Yasuharu Ishii), DEATH NOTE: L ,change the WorLd (2008 / directed by Hideo Nakata), and more. TV credits: GLORY OF TEAM BATISTA (2008 / CX), SAIGO NO SENPAN (2008 / NHK), TENCHIJIN (2009 / NHK), and more.
Toru Kazama as Mita
Toru Kazama plays Mita, a reporter rival of Makino’s.
Kazama was born in Kanagawa prefecture, on 19th August, 1962. After he became a popular model of many magazines, he made his debut as an actor in the TV drama HEART NO HI WO TSUKETE! (1989 / CX).
TV credits: TAIKOKI- TENKA WO TOTTA OTOKO/HIDEYOSHI (2006 / EX), INPEI SOSA (2007 / EX), TOP SALES (2008 / NHK), HIKON DOMEI (2009 / CX), and more. Film credits: SUPERCUB (2008 / directed by Atsushi Muroga), YAMATAIKOKU (2008 / directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi), SAND CHRONICLES (2008 / directed by Shinsuke Sato), NENNEN SAISAI (2009 / directed by Masaki Adachi), and more.
Ikuji Nakamura as Shunichi Okazaki
Shunichi Okazaki serves on the Board of Directors at a construction firm. He was born on Okino Mafune Island. His daughter gets abducted in Thailand.
Ikuji Nakamura was born in Wakayama prefecture, on 21st December, 1953. In 1987, he established a theatrical company called ‘Kakusuko’, and was in charge of script and direction as the leader. He received 33rd Kinokuniya Award for the best theatrical company. After the company broke up in 2002, he has been active in many fields such as TV drama, film, and narration.
Film credits: HALF A CONFESSION (2004 / directed by Kiyoshi Sasabe), AEGIS (2005 / directed by Junji Sakamoto), DEATH NOTE (2006 / directed by Shusuke Kaneko), DEATH NOTE II: THE LAST NAME (2006 / directed by Shusuke Kaneko), SHRIEK (2007 / directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa), THE INVESTIGATION GAME (2007 / directed by Tomoyuki Takimoto), CLIMBERS HIGH (2008 / directed by Masato Harada), and more.
Kazuaki Hankai as Takashi Yamashita
Takashi Yamashita is Yuki’s boss at the bank. He used to live on the island.
Hankai was born in Miyagi prefecture, on 11th August, 1958. In 1981, he joined On-theater Jiyuu theatrical company. He has established a theatrical company called Off-off Tokyo himself in 1988.
TV credits: QUEEN OF THE CLASSROOM (2005 / NTV), TIGER & DRAGON (2005 / TBS), JUNGO KIRARI (2006 / NHK), TIES OF SHOOTING STARS (2008 / TBS), CLEAR SKIES, NO INCIDENTS (2009 / TBS), and more. Film credits: RAINBOW SONG (2006 / directed by Naoto Kumazawa), PARTNERS: CSI FILES (2009 / directed by Yasuharu Hasebe), and more.
Toru Shinagawa as Minister Yasuo Mochizuki
The Minister’s involvement is suspected in the island’s tragedy.
Toru Shinagawa was born in Hokkaido, on 14th December, 1935. After he had been in the theatrical company Jiyu Gekijo, he joined in the establishment of Gekidan Tenkei Gekijo. Since then, he has been active in stage plays.
Film credits: THE SUSPECT (2005 / directed by Ryoichi Kimizuka), THE SUN (2006 / directed by Aleksandr Sokurov), VANISHED (2006 / directed by Naoto Kumazawa), THE CLONE RETURNS HOME (2009 / directed by Kanji Nakajima), and more. TV credits: THE GREAT WHITE TOWER (2003-2004 / CX), DRAGON SAKURA (2005 / TBS), KOMYO GA TSUJI (2006 / NHK), 4 LIES (2008 / EX), and more.
Yasufumi Hayashi as Detective Seiji Tachibana
Detective Tachibana is Lieutenant Sawaki’s younger partner.
Hayashi was born in Tokyo, on 7th December, 1971. In 1976, he made his debut as a kid actor, and played a part in a film for the first time with NO-YUKI YAMA-YUKI UMIBE-YUKI (1986 / directed by Nobuhiko Ohbayashi). He received ‘Rookie of the Year’ of 15th Japan Academy Prize in 1992 for SEISHUN DENDEKEDEKEDEKE (directed by Nobuhiko Ohbayashi).
Film credits: I LOVE PEACE (2003 / directed by Yutaka Ohsawa), SUSPECT X (2008 / directed by Hiroshi Nishitani), THE TRIUMPHANT GENERAL ROUGE (2009 / directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura), and more. TV credits: OMIYA-SAN series (2006- / EX), MOP GIRL (2007 / EX), and more
Director: Hitoshi Iwamoto
Hitoshi Iwamoto was born in Tokyo, on 17th April, 1964. His film credits include THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW: THE MOVIE (2002). He also directed NTV dramas such as MAY TOMORROW BRING SUNSHINE (2003), QUEEN OF THE CLASSROOM (2005), MAKEOVER (2005), GAL CIRCLE (2006), LOVE OF MY LIFE (2006), QUEEN OF ENKA (2007), THE GODDESS OF EXAMS (2007), SAITOU SAN (2008), and more.
How did you approach the adaptation of Tezuka’s comic book story?
Tezuka’s drawings are very cinematic. It’s like his stories are edited like a movie. I’ve read many of Tezuka comics but this time it wasn’t just for fun, I had to think of how to make a movie out of it. With that in mind, I was constantly impressed by how he edited his comics. No wonder people call him a genius. For instance, the opening kidnapping scene hardly has dialogue in the comic book version. The story is told visually and the tension of the scene is heightened to the max, without words. The more I read it the more thrilled I was! My intention was to incorporate the existing cinematic sensibility as much as possible, and add something of my own to give it cohesiveness. I didn’t want to make something that would make Tezuka say, “The movie is not tight enough.”
What was your impression of working with Hiroshi Tamaki, who played Michio Yuki?
He is statuesque, even when he’s just standing he has incredible presence. Previously he’s played nice handsome guys but he was very convincing in his portrayal of a character with a dark side. There’s a deliberation to his gaze that leaves me with goosebumps. Tamaki is a very serious actor. He tries very hard and puts a lot of himself into the character. His character is burdened with an extremely heavy and dark past. But we decided that the character shouldn’t outwardly express his torment. It’s a difficult part to play. But he was right on track and was able to provide the exact emotions and mannerisms needed in scenes, be it forcefulness, charm, intelligence, sadness or humor.
How was it to work with Takahiro Yamada who played the character of Yutaro Garai?
We decided to change a few things about Garai from the original comic book. I wanted Yuki and Garai to be closer in age so that’s one thing we changed. Unlike Yuki, the character of Garai outwardly expresses the agonizing burden of his past and sins. I asked Yamada to play the part because I knew he had the ability to pull it off. As an actor, Yamada pushes himself very hard to get in character. So he’s highly strung on the set. He’d actually hit himself and then internalize that pain before the camera rolled.
The color difference in scenes is very impressive.
Good, you noticed the difference? I wanted to give the movie punctuation. When you watch American TV dramas like Traffic and Heroes, they have color schemes for scenes. You have red scenes, blue scenes, green scenes, etc. It helps the audience to get emotionally involved on an intuitive level. So I was very conscious to change colors in each scene.
What other points would you like to make about the movie?
The most significant element is the devious villainous anti-hero that Tamaki plays. His incredible presence. It’s something new in the conventions of Japanese cinema. His character is disarmingly charismatic and defies the simple paradigm of good versus evil. I hope the audience enjoys his charisma. Also this movie is extremely cinematic and action driven. The action scenes are action packed with lots of sounds but no dialog! It’s a visual treat. I put all I have into the making of this movie. I used every technique I know. It was that big a challenge for me to deal with a Osamu Tezuka story.
Producer: Shinzo Matsuhashi
Matsuhashi was born in Aomori prefecture, 1969. While he worked for WOWOW since 1994, he co-produced the film BATTLE ROYALE (2000 / directed by Kinji Fukasaku), and produced ORE HA IWASHI –IWASHI- (TV drama 2003 / directed by Shin Togashi), MUSUME NO KEKKON (2003 / directed by Kon Ichikawa), and RENAI SHOSETSU (2004 / directed by Junichi Mori). He has established a film production company Studio Swan in 2005, and became independent. The company and IMJ Entertainment merged in 2008, and Matsuhashi is the director. He has also participated in the film MW, as a script writer with the name of Haruo Kimura.
Film credits: HEAVENLY FOREST (2006 / directed by Takehiko Shinjo), CALLING YOU (2007 / directed by Tatsuya Ogishima), X-CROSS (2007 / directed by Kenta Fukasaku), KIDS (2008 / directed by Tatsuya Ogishima), and more.
Screenplay: Tetsuya Oishi
Oshi was born in Fukuoka prefecture, 1965. In 1994, he wrote his first script for HIKINIGE FAMILY 2 (OV), and in the next year, he was awarded a prize of 1st Yomiuri TV Scenario Grand Prix for OTOME NO MIKOKORO. Since then, he has participated in many popular titles such as THE FILES OF THE YOUNG KINDAICHI (NTV).
Film credits: MUSCLE HEAT (2002 / directed by Ten Shimoyama), DEATH NOTE (2006 / directed by Shusuke Kaneko), DEATH NOTE II: THE LAST NAME (2006 / directed by Shusuke Kaneko), X-CROSS (2007 / directed by Kenta Fukasaku), HIGAN JIMA (2009 / directed by Kim Tae-gyun), and more.
Music: Yorihiro Ike
Ike was born in Kanagawa prefecture, 1963. In 1985, he formed a band called AIKE BAND whose works were a complex of images and music. The band has also been active in Los Angeles, since 1989.
Film credits: THE SPIRAL (1998 / directed by Joji Iida), DRAGONHEAD (2003 / directed by Joji Iida), HEAVENLY FOREST (2006 / directed by Takehiko Shinjo), KIDS (2008 / directed by Tatsuya Ogishima), PARTNERS: THE MOVIE (2008 / directed by Seiji Izumi), ~KAFOO~ WAITING FOR HAPPINESS (2009 / directed by Yu Nakai), and more.
TV drama and animation credits: QUEEN OF THE CLASSROOM (TV drama 2005), MAKEOVER (TV drama 2005), BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE (Animation 2000 / directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo / Award-winning in Animation Division of 4th Japan Media Arts Festival), COBRA THE ANIMATION (Animation 2008 / directed by Buichi Terasawa), and more.
Theme Song ‘MW ～Dear Mr.&Ms. Pikaresuku～’ (A-Sketch): flumpool
Childhood friends, Ryuta Yamamura (Vo.), Kazuki Sakai (Gt.), and Genki Amakawa (Ba.), formed a band of acoustic guitarists. When Seiji Ogura (Dr.) joined in 2007, they named the band ‘flumpool’. In 2008, they made a debut with a single (Download) ‘Hana ni Nare’, and their second single ‘Over the rain ~Hikari no Hashi~’ became something of a topic. The album ‘Unreal’ made it to No. 2 of the Oricon Album Chart, and to the No. 1 album sales of the rookies of 2008. Surprisingly, over 10 thousand people rushed for tickets to their first live tour on their official website. Recently their new single ‘Hoshi ni Negai wo’ also made it to No. 2 of the Oricon Chart.
For more information on MW please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan: