20th CENTURY BOYS Production Notes
One of the biggest events in recent Japanese cinema is 20th CENTURY BOYS, the movie trilogy adapted from the internationally acclaimed sci-fi manga series. The three pictures were filmed together (as with THE LORD OF THE RINGS films) by a partnership of the Nippon Television Network, Shogakukan, Toho Co., VAP, Yomiuri Television, Dentsu, Yomiuri Shimbun, Cine Bazaar, Office Crescendo, and d-rights. Produced at a combined budget of 6 billion yen (approximately $60 million US), 20th CENTURY BOYS is the most expensive film project in Japanese history.
The first 20th CENTURY BOYS was released in Japan by Toho on August 30, 2008. It premiered in the #2 spot behind Sony Pictures’ HANCOCK and moved to the top of the box office in its second week of release. By mid-December the film had earned nearly $40 million, making it a major box office hit in Japan. The second movie will open in Japan on January 31.
NTV is handling world sales of 20th CENTURY BOYS and the film was screened this past November at the 2008 American Film Market. It has also been picked up for distribution in more than two dozen countries, including the United Kingdom where it will open on February 20.
NTV has provided photos, promotional art, and detailed production notes for the first 20th CENTURY BOYS movie which we are pleased to share with SciFi Japan readers. In the next few days we will also be running interviews with the cast and crew of the film, so check back soon for more on one of the most anticipated films to come out of Japan in years.
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new movie.
The manga that has been exciting countries around the world is now the live-action motion picture event of the century!
Naoki Urasawa, the master manga creator of Yawara! and Monster drew 20th Century Boys for 8 years. The series was originally serialized in the manga magazine Shogakukan Big Spirits Comics from issue number 44 of 1999 to issue number 33 of 2007. 20th Century Boys consists of 22 volumes with an extra 2 volumes entitled 21st Century Boys, altogether making 24 volumes.
It’s become a national phenomenon, selling over 20 million copies. The incredible storyline of 20th Century Boys has captured the imagination of millions; from teens to mystery fans and even literary fans with its multi-layered plots and unpredictable twists and turns. The plot keeps you guessing and exceeds your expectations by defying predictability. Its theme explores the future of our society with chilling accuracy… Once you get into the world of 20th Century Boys, you can’t run away until the end!
The manga series has been translated and published in 12 countries: Holland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, with the US release coming in February 2009 from VIZ Media. It has received many awards both domestically and internationally, including the 25th Kodansha Manga Award (2001), the 48th Shogakukan Manga Award and the Best Manga Award for Japan Media Arts Festival (2002) and the ‘Best Prize for a Series’ at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France (2004).
A movie adaptation of 20th Century Boys was once considered impossible due to the unusually large scale and complexity of a story spanning 50 years and involving the whole world. But now with Naoki Urasawa, the author of the original manga himself taking part in the scriptwriting, the impossible project has been made possible. The story demanded location shootings in New York, London, Paris, Beijing and Bangkok so an unprecedented budget of 6 billion yen, the largest in the history of Japanese film production, was put into the trilogy project.
When production was announced in 2007, the Internet community had a heated debate as to who would be cast to play certain characters. There are some 300 major roles throughout the trilogy. When the cast for the first movie of the trilogy was announced with Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toyokawa and Takako Tokiwa to play Kenji, Otcho and Yukiji respectably, the media treated it like page-one news. It was obvious that the movie was to become an all-star event on a scale that no one had ever been able to pull off previously.
“It’s like making a movie out of the Holy Bible!” is how the director Tsutsumi reflected on his monstrous undertaking. The half-a-century long saga of 20th Century Boys with hundreds of characters is beyond any conventional manga. It’s the kind of manga that you can’t put down until you’ve finished it. From the early stages of production, Naoki Urasawa helped supervise the whole story and co-write the first movie, giving a different twist to the trilogy. FRIEND, the antagonist of the trilogy, is newly interpreted for the movie. You will see new details and be excited in ways you’ve never been before.
The original manga begins its long story with a scene in which Kenji hijacks his junior high school P.A. room to play “20th Century Boy” by T.Rex. The song is not only the namesake of the manga but is also significant to the story. The movie adaptation uses it as theme music, bringing back the 35-year-old rock classic to audiences today.
The potential of the original manga has already been proven worldwide, so the news of the movie adaptation was received with enthusiasm. At the American Film Market in 2007, 34 territories and 42 companies crowded the NTV booth for the international distribution rights. It’s already been sold, and the world awaited its arrival.
The first installation of 20th CENTURY BOYS was released in Japan on August 30, 2008, with the sequel scheduled for January 31, 2009 and the third episode in the fall of 2009.
With the best possible staff and cast, the film adaptation of the masterpiece 20th Century Boys becomes a reality!
1969 was a special year for Japan. It was a year before Expo ’70, an event that marked Japan’s progress and bright future. It was also the year that men first stood on the Moon. Everything indicated a path towards a promising future.
In the summer of 1969, Kenji Endo was an elementary schoolboy. He built a secret base in a vacant lot with his friends Otcho, Maruo, Yoshitsune, Mon-chan, Donkey, Yukiji Setoguchi and Fukube. One of their secret activities included writing in the Book of Prophecy. In their Prophecy, the children fantasized that as adults they would fight villains who were out to conquer the world, bringing about doomsday.
Years later in 1997, Kenji is the manager of a convenience store. He’s given up his dream to be a rock star and has chosen to live a regular life, looking after his sister Kiriko’s baby girl Kanna after his sister has disappeared for an undisclosed reason.
His boring life is turned upside down one day when his old classmate Donkey dies mysteriously and then an entire family in the neighborhood disappears.
At the same time, there’s a lot of talk about a religious cult and its mysterious leader, FRIEND. A strange chain of events follow, which exactly duplicate the events described in the Book of Prophecy. Kenji and his former classmates are shocked to learn this horrible truth. If things are happening exactly as described in the Book of Prophecy, then the Friend’s intention is to fulfill the doomsday prophesy. And the FRIEND is most likely one of the kids they used to play with… but who?
While this is all going on, God, a homeless old man with psychic ability, prophesies that Kenji will be playing a pivotal role in the evil scheme that will bring an end to humanity.
As the events in the Book of Prophecy unfold in their lives, Kenji and his former classmates decide to take on the villain. But the cunning FRIEND frames Kenji and his gang so that people believe that they are a group of terrorists.
Time passes and now it’s December 31, 2000. This is the day described in the Book of Prophecy as the day of mankind’s demise.
“With horrible, earth-shattering footsteps, the shadow of terror arrives in Tokyo. It’s their atomic-powered Gigantic Robot! It walks on Earth, spitting out a deadly virus and treading on anything standing.
Will we survive to see the 21st Century? The destiny of mankind is now on the verge of doom!”
The Making of 20th CENTURY BOYS
The First Step – Nippon Television Claims Options First!
Even though the 20th Century Boys manga first appeared in a weekly magazine in 1999, it wasn’t until 2004 that the creative team behind the manga, Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki, thought about making it available for film adaptation. In the process of writing the manga, Nagasaki had wanted the conclusion of the manga to be determined before films options were considered. Consequently they turned back offers but when the film rights became available, the offers had stopped. It is speculated that the film industry became fearful of dealing with the intricately tight woven saga.
At the end of 2004, a producer from Nippon Television Network Corporation visited Urasawa and Nagasaki. He was persuasive in convincing Urasawa and Nagasaki that 20th Century Boys should be made into a movie trilogy of unprecedented scale. His heartfelt enthusiasm and his accompanying 10-page letter touched the hearts of Urasawa and Nagasaki. Nippon Television Network Corporation was given the rights over other rivals.
Choosing the Director
With the rights granted, a movie project of an epic scale commenced production. After considering many possible directors including some from overseas, Yukihiko Tsutsumi was decided on. This was made official in an interview with 20th Century Boys creators, Urasawa and Tsutsumi, which was published in Weekly Big Comic Spirits.
Urasawa was born in 1960. Nagasaki, 1956 and Tsutsumi 1955. They are all from the same generation. Tsutsumi loves rock music and he is known for his fast-paced and kinetic movies. There was a lot of anticipation as Tsutsumi contemplated the implications of the huge project. He confesses, “It was like being asked to make a movie out of the Holy Bible!”
The basic premise for the movie was to be as truthful as possible to the original manga. Tsutsumi had experience making movies and TV dramas based on manga like CRIME FILES OF KINDACHI THE BOY DETECTIVE (Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo, 1995) and HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Jigyaku no Uta, 2007). He had a reputation for being truthful to the original manga while adding something original. 20th CENTURY BOYS would outdo them all.
Casting: Best of the Best
None of the characters in the original manga are one-dimensional. They have depth. Finding a cast that reflected that was not easy. For the protagonist of the film, Kenji Endo, Toshiaki Karasawa was selected for his acting experience that included theatrical appearances in New York and London. Nobody can portray disillusioned men as convincingly as he.
Supporting him is a cast of seasoned veterans. Etsushi Toyokawa was selected for the role of Otcho for his comic and tragic versatility. Takako Tokiwa was cast for Yukiji for her gorgeous and strong presence. Teruyuki Kagawa, a skillful supporting actor was chosen to play the role of Yoshitsune. Hidehiko Ishibashi was chosen for Maruo for his uncanny resemblance to his manga counterpart. Tsuyoshi Ujiki was cast for Mon-chan for his assuring large stature. Kuranosuke Sasaki was cast to play the secretive Fukube, prompting the actor to say “I don’t know if I should be happy when people say I’m perfect for the role” with a smile.
The characters older than Kenji and his friends were also carefully selected. Hitomi Kuroki for Kenji’s sister Kiriko. Renji Ishibashi for Inshu Manjome. Katsuo Nakamura for Kyutaro God Kaminaga. Their presence elevated the mood on the set. Besides the main cast, Shiro Sano plays both Yanbo and Mabo and Arata is Masao Tamura. Their confident performances helped realize these rather eccentric characters. Furthermore, the movie features Naoto Takenaka, Naoko Ken, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kazuko Yoshinaga and many other stars who appear throughout the film.
Commencing Principle Photography
Welcome to Kingmart!
In early January 2008, principle photography began at an exterior/interior set built in Skip City, Saitama, Japan. It was the start of a long schedule where all shooting for the trilogy won’t wrap until Fall 2008. The set features Kingmart, the family liquor shop where Kenji works and lives. The first shot of principle photography was the 1997 scene in which Kenji is working at Kingmart. Magazine racks were stocked with period magazines circa 1997. All the crewmembers have a shooting script with excerpts from the screenplay with camera setup plans. Everybody on the set was also given photocopies of the original manga to ensure authenticity.
In the dead of winter Karasawa would have to take off his down jacket to perform in his half-sleeve store uniform. It was so cold on the set, he had to suck on an ice cube so his breath wasn’t visible.
Karasawa effortlessly played the role of Kenji, who in this scene is practicing saying “Welcome, thank you for shopping at Kingmart” for the benefit of the Kingmart franchise supervisor. While it is tense on the first day of shooting, this amusing scene helped break the ice. The exterior that surrounds the Kingmart was meticulously constructed. Art Director Naoki Soma explains that it was built partially with highly flammable material for the fire scene to be shot later. A scene where 4 cameras were used to capture the spectacular fire as the store was burned down.
The Vacant Lot Gang Gather at the Secret Base
This is when the Vacant Lot Gang get together like they had all those years ago. After losing his house to a fire, Kenji moves to a hideout with God and his homeless friends. To this secret base, his childhood friends come one by one to make a pledge to save the world. The shooting location is a 70,000-square-meter subway training area in Kiba, Tokyo. It’s underground and has multiple tracks. In one corner of this large space, Kenji’s secret base was built. This makeshift living structure is made of found materials. The vitality of the place reflects the characters of Kenji and his friends.
Before the camera rolled each day, the director showed the cast the edited footage from the previous day. Director Tsutsumi’s style is to edit what was shot on the spot. A common practice in Hollywood and South Korea, this style has yet to be popularized in Japan. The cast was intrigued by the footage.
This was the first time for the actors to get together as the old gang. As they talked together off stage, they found themselves getting along like old friends.
Even though the project is scheduled to be a trilogy, it’s hardly enough to cover the entire story of 20th Century Boys which consists of 24 volumes of manga. Many episodes were regrettably deleted. But the actors did their best to imply the untold back stories of each character. Teruyuki Kagawa (Yoshitsune) reflects, “Anybody who lived some 40 years has a certain responsibility and determination that he’s acquired over the years. This naturally comes through in acting.” The way the cast interact with each other is like a session of top jazz musicians improvising together.
Drinking the Night Away
The elementary school reunion is where the mystery begins. Kenji is reunited with his childhood friends who he enjoys talking to. But he can’t remember some of them and becomes confused. The shooting took place in a large hall in a suburban tavern. A large cast crowded the hall to play a scene which has both a friendly and tense atmosphere. Could one of them be the Friend?
Fumiya Fujii (RED SHADOW), Toshikazu Fukawa (ULTRAMAN DYNA, GMK), Masato Irie (INUGAMI), Tamotsu Ishibashi (SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO) and other stars make cameo appearances in this scene, as Kenji’s classmates, one of these being Fumiya Kohinata (CYBORG SHE, K-20: LEGEND OF THE MASK) as Yamane. Getting all of these stars together meant that this scene had to be shot at midnight. The shooting wrapped at around noon the following day. The fun and sometimes poignant interactions in this reunion scene were based on Urasawa, Nagasaki and Tsutsumi’s real life experiences, giving the scene a sense of reality.
Kids will be Kids
Another important element of the 20th Century Boys saga is the 1970s scenes. To create the secret base in the lush grassy field, the shooting was scheduled for spring.
The young performers were cast according to their resemblance to the adult counterparts. Jun Nishiyama who plays the young Kenji surprised everybody by looking so much like Karasawa. Nishiyama had met Karasawa prior to the shooting and Karasawa encouraged him to do his best as a leading performer. Fumiya Ogura is the splitting image of Yoshitsune, the character he plays from the manga. His friendly smiles helped relax the crew. One big difference that was impossible to disguise was the leg length of the young cast. Their legs are so much longer than the average length of kids’ legs in the 70s.
The young cast had rehearsed before the shooting and so they felt comfortable in each other’s company. As the fun-filled shooting continued, they became even closer. In a suburban vacant lot covered with clovers, a dome-shaped, grass-woven secret base was made. Enduring the discomfort of sunburn and insect bites, the young cast jumped around and had heaps of fun. This second unit shoot was directed by Hisashi Kimura, Tsutsui’s assistant director.
Authors on the Set
On May 11, 2008, a press conference was held to make an announcement about the movie production. After attending the conference, Authors Urasawa and Nagasaki went on a studio tour. They saw a scene being shot in which Kanna and God wait in anticipation for the arrival of the new century. It’s shot in a multiple camera setup including a high-speed camera.
Urasawa and Nagasaki also got to watch the edited footage. They saw Kenji crying over his burning store, cool Otcho in action and Friend’s Concert scene. Urasawa commented that the Shikishima Robotic Lab scene was “very realistic.” Nagasaki asked the crew where certain scenes were shot. They talked about Mirai Morimoto, who played the role of Kakuta the comic artist. Morimoto had visited Urasawa to learn how to convincingly behave like a manga artist. The authors spent long hours watching their creation turn into a motion picture.
2 Nights of Bloody New Years Eve
The climax of the first episode is the Bloody New Years Eve. One of the scenes was shot in a vacant lot in the middle of Shinjuku’s high rises. The lot was surrounded by tall partitions. Nobody would have thought that the main cast of 20th CENTURY BOYS were beyond those partitions, acting out scenes where they save the world. At one point tall scaffolding was erected to burn fire. Some passers-by spotted the spewing flames and stopped to look at what was going on.
The objective of the production was to be truthful to the original manga, which meant the crew had to spend lots of time setting up. With 7 actors in the scene, it was extremely difficult to position them in the same way as the manga. While the 7 actors stood with their backs to the camera, Lighting Supervisor Akio Kimura gave meticulous instructions to his crew as they positioned the lights for the perfect silhouette. The director checked the overall look down to the multiple shadows cast by the actors.
In this important scene 3 cameras were used, commandeered by Satoru Karasawa (no relation to the actor), the Director of Photography. DP Karasawa expertly instructed his assistants at each camera setup. He is an indispensable crewmember for director Tsutsumi. Karasawa has helped Tsutsumi achieve an original and experimental visual style in KEIZOKU (1999, TV), MEMORIES OF TOMORROW (2006), HAPPILY EVER AFTER and other films. In 20th CENTURY BOYS, DP Karasawa spent a lot of his creative energy studying Naoki Urasawa’s manga art. Karasawa’s ability to duplicate visual styles perfectly was proven when he shot the opening sequence of a TV drama OUR NEW JOURNEY, Version 1999 (Shin Oretachi no Tabi, Ver. 1999), a remake of a hit 1975 drama. He shot the opening shot-by-shot with meticulous accuracy to duplicate the opening sequence shot for the original OUR JOURNEY from 24 years ago.
The sunrise was about 5 a.m. on the night of the Shinjuku shoot. The shooting had to stop by sunrise. Crewmembers raced against time without compromising on quality. The demanding shoot continued on two consecutive nights.
The Base Station – A Modern Day Secret Base
Director Tsutsumi’s shooting style keeps him away from the hustle and bustle of the shooting where a director would often be nearby the camera and lights. He sets up a base station away from the actual shooting area and checks performances on the video monitor. The recording engineers, gaffers and continuity persons are all at the base station. Director’s instructions are relayed to the set via an audio talkback system. Monitors and microphones clutter the dim base station, giving the appearance of an ultra modern secret base.
Tsutsumi wants to maintain objectivity on judging the quality of the captured picture. Only what’s in the frame matters, so he gazes at the monitor intently. This gives him his trademark sharp-focused visuals and thoroughly detailed compositions.
In recent years, he has had editors at the base station editing the shots on the spot. It’s a practice popular with Woody Allen and among many South Korean filmmakers. It enables the actors to check their performances immediately for instant feedback. Another advantage is that the system allows the entire crew and cast to share information.
The size of the base station grows larger with each Tsutsumi production, with more monitor setups as if to reflect the daily advancement of technology.
The Dream Robot Realized with CGI
As the movie adaptation was announced, everyone wondered who would be in it and how the robot would be materialized. The robot was left up to Koji Nozaki, the very experienced visual effects supervisor who worked on Kazuaki Kiriya’s CASSHERN (2004) and GOEMON (2009). Nozaki worked with the 20TH Director Tsutsumi on HAPPILY EVER AFTER (2007), SUSHI KING GOES TO NEW YORK (2008) and FORBIDDEN SIREN (2006).
The gigantic robot was originally drawn with pen and ink. Nozaki first concocted the mechanical rigging of the robot and designed an exterior to fit it. It was crucial to construct a robot according to what technology would have been available to a religious cult in the year 2000 for its fulfillment of an outlandish plan. The urge to depict the robot with cinematically enhanced force and speed was carefully counterbalanced with realism.
The CGI team had to create not just the robot but the cityscape and the people in it for the robot to demolish. None of the scenes in 20th CENTURY BOYS are set in 2008; they’re either past or future. To design both past and future landscapes demanded the team’s closest attention. A team of 40 labored around the clock to realize the world depicted in this science fiction adventure.
Also Starring a Real Robot: Shotaro Kaneda’s Apartment
The apartment set where Detective Yama-san investigates the horrendous death of Shotaro Kaneda, a Shikishima Robotic Lab student, was prepared over a period of 2 weeks. The small space was cluttered with both robotic apparatus and regular furniture, creating a bizarre atmosphere. The apartment was covered with scribbled memos and at the back of the room was a real robot.
The robot star was ASSHY, the robot developed by Associate Professor Ko Sato of Shibaura Institute of Technology. ASSHY has been developed since the 1970s and it is one of the first robots to walk on 2 legs. Because the victim, Kaneda majored in robotic engineering, the robot was borrowed to give a sense of realism. Professor Sato was pleased to see his creation in a movie.
In the original manga, there’s a scene in which Professor Shikishima lectures on the definition of robots to the FRIEND’s believers. In real life, Professor Sato shared his knowledge about walking robots with the crew.
Otcho in the Hot Land
For the scenes depicting Otcho, a former trading company employee cum daredevil adventurer, the location unit flew to Thailand. Otcho sneaks into a Thai mafia stronghold and rescues a captured Japanese tourist after knocking down tough guys. Etsushi Toyokawa, who plays the part of Otcho, recalls the shooting in Thailand as “very hot, because of the long coat” with a smile. But the heat didn’t distract him from performing the action sequence. The local stunt performers were very enthusiastic, carrying out their performances on and off camera very earnestly, much to the crew’s satisfaction. This short scene successfully highlights Otcho hardboiled nature.
The overseas location units were then dispatched to many locations to shoot the victims of the horrible virus.
Both Hidehiko Ishizuka who plays the role of Maruo and Hiroyuki Miyasako who plays Keroyon are popular comedians/actors. They have no trouble playing the character of suburban everymen. There are many more comedians in cameo appearances, Takashi Fujii and Hanako Yamada for the You-minto advertisement, Taka and Toshi as Shikishima Lab students, Oriental Radio as the young men who witness the robot to name a few. Though their scenes are short, they glided through the shooting with their assured performing skills.
A Town That Looks Just Like Kenji’s Childhood Neighborhood
Before Kenji started a Kingmart franchise, the family ran a liquor shop. The 1969 scenes that feature Kenji’s old liquor shop were shot in the town of Konan, Aichi Prefecture where a shopping street from the 60s is still retained. The exterior set of the present day Kingmart and its surrounding neighborhood built in Skip City was based on the architecture of the Konan location. The scene with Kiriko and Moroboshi in 1994 was also shot at the Konan location.
Director Tsutsumi’s Private Collection
On the last day of the century, Kenji plays his guitar on the street and sings. The guitar he’s playing is made by CF Martine & Co., the topnotch acoustic guitar manufacturer. Martine guitars have been used by musicians like Elvis Presley, Neil Young and Bob Dylan for whom Urasawa has tremendous respect. The guitar drawn in the original manga was coincidentally the same model as the one Director Tsutsumi bought a few years ago. So Tsutsumi brought his own guitar on set.
Unfortunately the color of the pickguard was different so it was replaced with a new plate of the appropriate color. To give the illusion of having being used a lot, the crew made Tsutsumi’s guitar dirty which left the owner brokenhearted. The director choreographed Karasawa as he played guitar.
FRIEND’s Concert with a Seal of Authenticity
In the concert scene, Kenji realizes the influence of FRIEND for the first time. Just like the Bloody New Years Eve scenes, this scene took two days to shoot. A concert hall Yokohama Blitz was rented out for the duration of the shooting schedule and it was packed with extras. The extras were provided with T-shirts and towels with FRIEND symbols printed on them. The FRIEND rock band was played by the popular visual-k band, Nightmare (the band had previously played opening and ending songs for the animated DEATH NOTE TV series) with Mitsuhiro Oikawa as the lead vocal.
For this scene the director engaged an experienced stage director. With a large number of moving lights and the dry ice fog, a stunning stage show was realized. Cameras were mounted on cranes and were constantly in motion, enhancing the energy of the live performance. Director Tsutsumi shot many music videos earlier in his career and he also revolutionized TV drama production with his use of music video methodologies. So this scene meant something special for Tsutsumi. He had many prop guitars ready for the scene and put many picks on the guitar necks for reality. He even scratched some of the picks to make it appear like they’d been in heavy use.
The song sung in the scene, “I, Rock, You” [in Japanese, it means “Love, Rock, FRIEND”] was composed by The Moonriders’ guitarist, Ryomei Shirai. His concept in composing the song was, “a pop rock song that doesn’t rock.” Among some songs Shirai wrote, Tsutsumi and Urasawa picked the one used in the movie.
Tension rises as Kenji becomes offended by the pop rock song that doesn’t rock and confronts FRIEND. The heated response shown by the extras gives a dramatic effect. After the concert scene, the rest of the first episode is a non-stop rollercoaster ride!
Simultaneous Shooting of Two Movies
The second movie of the trilogy was shot at the same time as the first movie. As a result, it was typical to shoot scenes from Chapter 1 on one day and Chapter 2 on the following day. On more complicated days, scenes from both episodes were shot on the same day. Complicating the matter are the 1970s scenes that deal with the characters’ childhood. The shooting schedule was made with the timeline clearly stated to deal with the incredible number of scenes. On one occasion, Karasawa had to play Kenji in both 1997 and on New Years Eve 2000. Kenji went through a radical change in the years in between so Karasawa had to change his performance and appearance accordingly.
What came in handy was the on-the-spot editing system. It helped both cast and crew check the continuity on the spot. The principle photography of the first episode wrapped in mid May.
Toshiaki Karasawa as Kenji Endo:
Karasawa was born in 1963 in Tokyo and started to attract attention when he starred in the hit TV drama IN THE NAME OF LOVE (Ai toiu Nanomotoni, 1992). He also starred in the big budget period TV drama TOSHIIE AND MATSU (Toshiie to Matsu) and THE WHITE TOWER (Shiroi Kyoto), a hit medical melodrama of 2007, along with many movies. Working with the stage director Yukio Ninagawa, Karasawa performed MACBETH in New York and THE TRAGEDY OF CORIOLANUS in London.
Karasawa’s other film appearances include Koki Mitani’s THE MAGIC HOUR (2008), SUITE DREAMS (U-Choten Hotel, 2006), ALL ABOUT OUR HOUSE (Mina no Ie, 2001) and WELCOME BACK, MR. McDONALD (Rajio no JIkan), Kazuaki Kiriya’s CASSHERN (Cashaan, 2004), Yukio Ninagawa’s IEMON SNEERS (Warau Iemon, 2004) and THE BLUE LIGHT (Ao no Hono, 2003) and Takayoshi Watanabe’s FLY BOYS, FLY! (Kimi o Wasurenai, 1995).
Etsushi Toyokawa as Otcho:
Toyokawa was born in Osaka in 1962. He became well known after starring in a popular TV thriller NIGHT HEAD in 1992. He has been active in movies and TV dramas ever since. Awards he received for his performances include both Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading and Supporting Role Awards from the Japan Academy Awards, Best Actor Award for Takasaki Film Festival and Hochi Film Festival. He often chose to work with directors he’d never worked with to expand his boundaries.
Toyokawa’s other film appearances include Katsuaki Motoki’s 10 PROMISES TO MY DOG (Inu to Watashi no Ju no Yakusoku, 2008), Kaneto Shindo’s THOUGH THE PETALS HAVE FALLEN (Hana wa Chiredomo, 2008), Yoshimitsu Morita’s SOUTHBOUND and SANJURO (Tsubaki Sanjuro, 2007), Kunitoshi Manda’s THE KISS (Seppun, 2007), Junji Sakamoto’s TAMAMOE (2007), Yasuo Tsuruhashi’s LOVE NEVER TO END (Ai no Rukeichi, 2007), Tomoyuki Takigawa’s THE INVSTIGATION GAME (Hanin ni Tsugu, 2007), Shinji Higuchi’s SINKING OF JAPAN (Nihon Chinbotsu, 2006) and Takashi Miike’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR (Yokai Daisenso, 2005).
Takako Tokiwa as Yukiji Setoguchi:
Tokiwa’s acting debut was in 1993 in the hit TV drama DEVIL’S KISS (Akuma no kiss). Her first movie appearance was in Daniel Lee’s 1999 Hong Kong film, MOONLIGHT EXPRESS (Xing yue tong hua). Coming up soon are Yuzo Asahara’s FREE AND EASY, PART 19 (Tsuribaka Nisshi 19) and the big budget TV period drama TENCHIJIN (2009).
Tokiwa’s other movie appearances include Kenji Uchida’s AFTER SCHOOL (2008), Junji Sakamoto’s Tamamoe (2007), Hisako Yamada’s FUDEKO AND HER LOVE (Fudeko, sono Ai, 2007), Tetsuro Shinohara’s ON THE METRO (Metoro ni Notte, 2006), Yoshimitsu Morita’s THE MAMIYA BROTHERS (Mamiya Kyodai, 2006), Shunsaku Kawake’s SHINING BOY AND LITTLE RANDY (Hoshi ni natta Shonen, 2005), RED MOON (Yasuo Furuhata’s Akai Tsuki, 2004) and Kazuyoshi Tsutsui’s GETUP! (Gerropa, 2003).
Teruyuki Kagawa as Yoshitsune:
Kagawa was born in Tokyo in 1965. He first acted in Kasugano LADY KASUGA (Tsubone), a big budget period TV drama in 1989. His talents have broadened ever since and he has had appearances in movies and on the stage. He is also a well established essayist.
Kagawa’s filmography includes Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s TOKYO SONATA (2008), Wakako Kaku and Shuntaro Tanigawa’s SEA GULLS (Л ЧАЙКА, 2008), Bong Joon-ho’s TOKYO! (2008), Yeming Wang’s TEA FIGHT (Tocha, 2008), Yuichi Sato’s KISARAGI (2007) and Mika Nishikawa’s SWAY (Yureru, 2006).
Hidehiko Ishizuka as Maruo:
Ishizuka was born in 1962 in Kanagawa, Japan. He is part of the comic duo, Honjamaka. Besides his comic performances he is often seen on TV in the variety shows TOKYO FRIEND PARK, HOW MELENGE FEELS (Melenge no kimochi) and many other shows. He also hosted the 2007 MTV MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS JAPAN.
Ishizuka’s film roles include voice work in Roger Allers, Jill Culton and Anthony Stacchi’s OPEN SEASON (2006), Tensai Okamura’s NARUTO THE MOVIE: NINJA CLASH IN THE LAND OF SNOW (Naruto Dai Katsugeki!! Yuki Hime Shinobu Houjou Datte Bayo!, 2004) and Peter Docter, Lee Unkrich and David Silverman’s MONSTERS INC. (2002). He also appeared in Hikaru Ijuin’s FAT MAN BROTHERS (1995).
Takashi Ukaji as Mon-chan:
Ukaji was born in Tokyo in 1962. After becoming the actor Bunta Sugawara’s assistant, singer/actor/director Akihiro Miwa noticed Ukaji’s talent which led to a career in stage acting. Since then he’s acted on TV, in movies, on the stage and provided voices for animated productions.
Ukaiji’s filmography includes Toshio Lee’s BACKDROP MIO PAPA (Otosan no Bakkudoroppu, 2004), Takuji Kitamura’s CHICKEN COP (Chikin Deka, 2004), Ikuo Kamon’s EIKO (2003), Masayuki Suzuki’s GTO (GTO-Great Teacher Onizuka, 1999) and Atsushi Muroga’s SCORE (1996). He also has done voice work for anime titles like Takahiro Imamura’s FIST OF THE NORTH STAR: NEW SAVIOR LEGEND (Hokuto no ken, 2007) and had a recurring role as ‘Commander Tsutsumi’ in Tsuburaya Productions’ television series ULTRAMAN GAIA (Urutoraman Gaia, 1998).
Hiroyuki Miyasako as Keroyon:
Miyasako was born in Osaka, Japan in 1970. He became popular as one of the comedians of Ameagari Kesshitai comedy duo. Besides his comedy routine, he’s also active as a musician and as an actor. His first movie appearance was in 1995 in MISFITS (Gontakure).
Miyasako’s other film appearances include Keisuke Yoshida’s CAFE ISOBE (Junkissa Isobe, 2008), Masato Harada’s THE SHADOW SPIRIT (Moryo no Hako, 2007), Hitoshi Matsumoto’s BIG MAN JAPAN (Dai Nipponjin, 2007), THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, Akio Jissoji’s SUMMER OF UBUME (Ubume no Natsu, 2005), CASSHERN, Masahiko Nagasawa’s THIRTEEN STEPS (13 kaidan, 2003) and Miwa Nishikawa’s MOCK STRAWBERRIES (Hebi Ichigo, 2002).
Katsuhisa Namase as Donkey:
Namase was born in Hyogo, Japan in 1960. After a successful career as a stage actor, he began appearing in movies and on TV as well as on the stage. He appeared in the TV dramas TRICK (2000) and GOKUSEN (2002).
Namase’s film credits include Shinji Higuchi’s THE LAST PRINCESS (Kasusen Toride Akunin: The Last Princess, 2008), Nobuo Mizuta’s MAIKO HAAAAN!!!! (2007), SUITE DREAMS, Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s TRICK 2 THE MOVIE (2006). He will next been seen in Takashi Miike’s YATTERMAN (Yattaman, 2009).
Kuranosuke Sasaki as Fukube:
Sasaki was born in 1968 in Kyoto, Japan. After joining the theater company Wakusei Pisutachio (Planet Pistachio), he started to be seen on TV, in movies and on the stage. Currently he’s in MONSTER PARENTS (Monsuta Puarento), a hit TV drama.
Sasaki’s movie credits include Kenji Uchida’s AFTER SCHOOL (Afuta Sukuru, 2008), Renpei Tsukamoto’s OUR 700 DAYS OF BATTLE: US VS. THE POLICE (Bokutachi to Chuzaisan no 700 nichi senso, 2008), SANJURO, Yasuo Furuhata’s THE HAUNTED SAMURAI (Tsukigami, 2007), THE MAMIYA BROTHERS, Shosuke Murakami’s TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO (Densha Otoko, 2005) and Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s JAM FILMS (Hijiki, 2002).
Fumiyo Kohinata as Yamane:
Kohinata was born in Hokkaido, Japan in 1954. In 1977 he became a member of a theater company called On Theater Jiyu Gekijo (Freedom Theater) until the company folded in 1996. In this company he starred in HAMLET among many other stage productions. Since then he has appeared on TV, in movies and other stage productions.
Kohinata’s filmography includes Shinobu Yaguchi’s HAPPY FLIGHT (Happi Furaito, 2008), Koki Mitani’s THE MAGIC HOUR (Za Majikku Awa, 2008), Shin Togashi’s I REMEMBER THE SKY (Ano so ra o Oboeteiru, 2008), Takashi Yamazaki’s ALWAYS- SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- 2 (Always, Zoku Sanchome no Yuhe, 2007) and Masayuki Suo’s I JUST DIDN’T DO IT (Soredemo Bokuwa Yattenai, 2007).
Renji Ishibashi as Inshu Manjome:
Ishibashi was born in 1941 in Tokyo. He was active on the stage throughout the 70s. He was a member of Yukio Ninagawa’s Gendaijin Gekijo (Modern People’s Theater) and Sakurasha (Cherry Company). Ishibashi then founded his own theater company Dainana Byoto (The 7th Hospital Ward). He’s frequently seen on TV and in movies. Ishibashi has appeared in Hideo Nakata’s L: change the WorLd (2008), Tomoyuki Takimoto’s TO THE ABDUCTOR (Hannin ni Tsugu, 2007), THE HAUNTED SAMURAI, Mika Ninagawa’s SAKURAN (2007) and Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s TRICK (2002).
Katsuo Nakamura as God Kami-sama:
Nakamura was born in Tokyo in 1938 to the Third Tokizo Nakamura, a Kabuki performer. His first stage performance was in 1943. He first acted in a movie when he was still in high school. He has been in many movies and TV productions ever since. Kinnosuke Yorozuya, the star of the TV series of LONE WOLF AND CUB fame, is his elder brother.
Nakamura’s filmography includes Shinji Aoyama’s SAD VACATION (2007), Sadao Yukisada’s CLOSED NOTE (Crozudo Noto, 2007), Shin Togashi’s TETSUJIN 28 (2005), Katsuhiro Otomo’s STEAM BOY (Suchimuboi, 2004), Masaaki Tezuka’s GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (Gojira x Mekagojira, 2002), Shusuke Kaneko’s GODZILLA, MOTHRA & KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (aka GMK, Gojira Mosura Kingugidora Daikaiju Soukougeki, 2001), Setsurou Wakamatsu’s WHITEOUT (2000) and Yoichi Hogashi’s THE RIVER WITH NO BRIDGE (Hashi no Nai kawa, 1992).
Hitomi Kuroki as Kiriko Endo:
Kuroki was born in Fukuoka. After leaving The Takarazuka Music Academy in 1985, she made movie appearances and performed on the stage and on TV. She won the Most Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at Japan Academy Awards for LOST PARADISE (Shitsurtakuen, 1997).
Kuroki’s credits include Hideo Nakata’s KAIDAN (2007), Takashi Minamoto’s TOKYO TOWER (2005), Yoshimitsu Morita’s LIKE ASHURA (Ashura no Gotoku, 2003), Hideo Nakata’s DARK WATER (Honogurai Mizuno Sokokara, 2002), Satoshi Isaka’s THE FRAME (Hasen no Marisu, 2000), and the TV series RING: THE FINAL CHAPTER (Ringu: Saishusho, 1999).
Yukihiko Tsutsumi, Director
Tsutsumi was born in 1955 in Aichi, Japan. His directorial debut was in 1980 with an episode TO HELL WITH ENGLISH (Eigo ga nanda) in the omnibus movie BAKAYARO! I’M PLENTY MAD (Bakayaro! Watashi Okkote Masu). He then moved to New York and directed music videos and high-definition productions. He also directed HOMELESS with Yoko Ono in this period. In 1994 Tsutsumi joined the founding members of the production company Office Crescendo, Inc., so he could direct a wider variety of material. His broadened expertise includes movies, TV dramas, music videos, commercial advertisements, and publications.
Recently Tsutsumi directed movies such as THE LOST LEGEND OF YAMA KINGDOM (Maboroshi no Yamataikoku, 2008), SUSHI KING GOES TO NEW YORK (Ginmakuban Sushi Oji, 2008), THE BANDAGE CLUB (Hotai Kurabu, 2007), HAPPILY EVER AFTER, THE SWORD OF ALEXANDER (Taitei no Tsurugi, 2007), TRICK THE MOVIE 2 (2006) and MEMORIES OF TOMORROW (Ashita no Kioku, 2006).
Naoki Urasawa, Original Manga Artist/Screenwriter
Urasawa was born in Tokyo in 1960. After being one of the finalists for the Shogakukan New Comic Award in 1982, he began his professional career in 1983. Selected works: Pineapple Army (written by Kazuya Kudo), Yawara!, Happy!, Monster and 20th Century Boys. Urasawa currently draws Pluto for Weekly Big Comic Original magazine.
1989 The 35th Shogakukan Manga Award for Yawara!
1997 The Best Manga Award from the 1st Japan Media Arts Festival for Monster
1999 The 3rd Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Manga Award for Monster
2000 The 46th Shogakukan Manga Award for Monster
2001 The 25th Kodansha Manga Award for 20th Century Boys
2002 The 48th Shogakukan Manga Award and the Best Manga Award from Japan Media Arts Festival for 20th Century Boys
2004 The Angoulême International Comics Festival for 20th Century Boys
2005 The 9th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Manga Award for Pluto (with Takashi Nagasaki and Macoto Tezka)
and the Best Manga Award from Japan Media Arts Festival for Pluto
Takashi Nagasaki, Producer/Screenwriter
Nagasaki’s professional career started at Shogakukan Inc. as a manga editor. He worked with renowned manga artists like Osamu Tezuka, Sanpei Shirato and Takao Saito. He met Urasawa in the early 80s, then an up-and-comer. Nagasaki started to collaborate with Urasawa, working on most of his manga titles.
Nagasaki quit Shogakukan in 2001 to become a freelance manga producer. His job is to help manga artists create stories and plots and also with sales strategies. He writes stories for Shin’ichi Sugimura’s Diaspolis and Siemu Yoshizaki’s Deka Girl. He’s credited as Producer for Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto, a retold ASTRO BOY episode. Nagasaki is given the credit of Co-Plot Writer for the 20th Century Boys manga.
The main theme of 20th CENTURY BOYS is the classic rock hit “20th Century Boy” by T.Rex. The band featured Marc Bolan, the glam rock star. Originally named Tyrannosaurus Rex, the band was renamed T.Rex in 1970. With hits like “Get it On,” “Telegram Sam” and “Metal Guru,” the band became a phenomenal success, sweeping across U.K., U.S.A. and Japan in T.Rextasy. T.Rex continues to influence musicians like Oasis, Sex Pistols, and The Damned.
Their single “20th Century Boy” was recorded at Toshiba Music Industry (currently reorganized as EMI Music Japan) Studio in December 1972 when the band visited Japan. It became one of the songs that symbolized their career.
On September 16, 1977, early in the morning Marc Bolan was killed in a car crash at the age of 29, only 2 weeks short of turning 30.
The Single CD “20th Century Boy” by T.Rex (TECI-142 1,000yen) went on sale on July 23, 2008. The T.Rex tribute album “Tribute to 20th Century Boys” (TECI-25484 2,680yen) followed on July 23, 2008. For the first time the album includes the official re-mixed “20th Century Boy” by DJ Morgan Page.
Ryomei Shirai, Composer
The music composer of 20th CENTURY BOYS is the guitar player of The Moonriders, one of Japan’s legendary bands. He provided music for Seijun Suzuki’s PRINCESS RACCOON (Operetta tanuki goten, 2005), and Tomorrow Taguchi’s tribute to Bob Dylan, IDEN & TITY (2003). The Moonriders released an album titled “Don’t Trust Over Thirty”, derived from the famous Dylan quote, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.”
Close in age, Shirai has a recognizable musical connection to the original manga creator Urasawa and Director Tsutsumi. And his contribution to the movie adds another rich layer to its universe. As analyzed by Tsutsumi, the film’s underlying theme is Rock music, which prompted Shirai to compose some 60 pieces. With T.Rex’s “20th Century Boy” as the theme music, Shirai composed music reminiscent of 70s rock for the soundtrack. Shirai explains, “The music for the finale is something like the condensed sounds of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Led Zeppelin.” In his ingenious experiment, the theme motif for Friend featured an electric guitar made to sound like a Horagai shell-trumpet. The music also features a piece Urasawa played himself for the movie.
Shirai thought “20th Century Boy” was glamorous, decadent and catastrophic when he first heard it. He elaborates, “Despite the androgynous look of the band members, the sound of the song was really straight forward rock music with driving riffs.”
The song played over the ending credit is “Bob Lennon,” (written and composed by Kenji). Toshiaki Karasawa, who plays Kenji gave life to this significant song. Shirai is satisfied with Karasawa’s performance, “He has an energy that’s different from other musicians. He’s got the flair or the knack.”
20th CENTURY BOYS (20-Seiki Shonen)
2008 / 142 min / Color
Screen Size 1:1.85
Japanese Theatrical Release: August 30th, 2008
AFM 2008 Screening: November 6th, 2008 (Thu) 10:00am- @ AMC Loews Broadway 2
Toshiaki Karasawa as Kenji Endo
Etsushi Toyokawa as Otcho
Takako Tokiwa as Yukiji Setoguchi
Teruyuki Kagawa as Yoshitune
Hidehiko Ishizuka as Maruo
Takashi Ukaji as Mon-chan
Hiroyuki Miyasako as Keroyon
Katsuhisa Namase as Donkey
Fumiyo Kohinata as Yamane
Kuranosuke Sasaki as Fukube
ARATA as #13 (Masao Tamura)
Nana Katase as Mika Shikishima
Chizuru Ikewaki as part-time worker Erika
Takahiro Suzuki & Toshikazu Miura (Taka & Toshi)
Atsuhiko Nakata & Shingo Fujimori (Oriental Radio)
Mirai Moriyama as mangaka Kakuta
Yu Tokui as convenience store employee
Miyako Takeuchi as Setsuko Ichihara
Yoriko Doguchi as Mitsuko Kido
Kenichi Endo as bloody man
Ken Mitsuishi as Yama-san
Shiro Sano as Yanbo and Mabo
Bengal as Oriko President
Tomiko Ishii as Chiyo Endo
Raita Ryu as Cho-san
Renji Ishibashi as Manjoume Inshuu
Katsuo Nakamura as Kami-sama
Hitomi Kuroki as Kiriko Endo
Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Original graphic novel 20th Century Boys and 21st Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa, published by Shogakukan, Inc.
Screenplay: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Naoki Urasawa, Yusuke Watanabe
Music: Ryomei Shirai
Theme song: “20th Century Boy” – T.REX (Imperial Records)
Executive Producer: Seiji Okuda
Planning: Takashi Nagasaki (Studio B)
Producers: Nobuyuki Iinuma, Morio Amagi, Ryuji Ichiyama
Co-Producers: Futoshi Ohira, Makoto Omura
Associate Director: Hisashi Kimura
Director of Photography: Satoru Karasawa
Production Designer: Naoki Soma
Lighting Director: Akio Kimura
Sound Recording: Mitsuo Tokita
Editor: Nobuyuki Ito
VFX Supervisor: Koji Nozaki
Assistant Director: Tatsuya Shiraishi
Production Coordinator: Hidekazu Yoshizaki
Line Producer: Kiyoshi Inoue
Produced by: NTV, Shogakukan, Toho, VAP, Yomiuri Television, Dentsu, Yomiuri Shimbun, Cine Bazaar, Office Crescendo, d-rights, STV/MMT/SDT/CTV/HTV/FBS
Production Companies: Cine Bazaar, Office Crescendo
NTV 55th Anniversary Film
©1999,2006 Naoki Urasawa, Studio Nuts/Shogakukan
©2008 ”20th Century Boys” Film Partners