The much anticipated live action film adaptation of the GANTZ manga series was released in Japan on January 29. Arashi’s Kazunari Ninomiya and Kenichi Matsuyama sat down with Ori-Suta to tell us about their memories of the story and how they got along on set.
Q: I’ve heard that both of you were fans of the original manga series. What made you start to read it?
Ninomiya: I first heard about it while I was reading weekly manga magazines. I always read them while I was on the train on the way to TV stations. Back then I was a (Johnny’s) junior so I’d go from my house to the TV station to be a back dancer for my seniors when they were on music shows. Luckily there was always a senior group on TV every week so I could buy a magazine every Friday. Mind you, I’d always be reading it the day after it went on sale.
Matsuyama: I first saw “GANTZ” while it was a series on (Weekly) Young Jump, but towards the end. I first heard about it when I read an advertisement for it in the train. The pictures were really pretty, and that got my attention. It made me wonder what kind of manga it was. When I started reading it, I got distracted by the beautiful pictures again. It made me see that Oku sensei was trying something different, that was his challenge, and by that point I was hooked.
Ninomiya: That’s true. The finishing touches to the pictures were so unique, almost like a digital picture. The lines (Oku) sensei would draw looked so sharp.
Q: What do you think makes this movie different?
Ninomiya: ……I guess the fact that we’re wearing funny outfits? (laughs)
Matsuyama: (laughs) that and, you know how in movies the main character always fits the hero role. But Kurono and Kato aren’t real heroes, and I think the fact that they’re normal people is what makes this movie special. Young men living in today’s society happen to become heroes, happen to become the enemy, you don’t see that in other movies. They’re not showing people that heroes have weaknesses…it’s more that they’re like everyone else in the world, their lives are complicated.
Ninomiya: Yeah, it’s modern. They suddenly find themselves in world where they’re the stars, and the longer they stay in that environment, the more they let that become the norm. They don’t think about working harder to get somewhere, they let themselves become spoilt in the present. It adds something new to the hero genre, and it’s fun to watch because you don’t know whether they’re getting fired up or are being selfish.
Q: With this being an adaptation from an original manga, don’t you get distracted by the image you have of your characters in the original story?
Ninomiya: Not really. I think everyone has the same image of Kurono and Kato as me. I don’t get worried about things like, ‘the manga’s pictures are like this’, or, ‘the original story says that’, and it doesn’t make work harder or easier. Of course, I was always reading the manga, especially in between scenes on set. But I never studied from it for the movie.
Matsuyama: With the manga you have one visual image. But when you introduce a real person who acts into the situation, I think you have to be careful not stray too far from that image. That’s not to say that the closer you get, the better it is. There are a lot of things in the manga and film that don’t gel well together. With films there are a lot of things you have to get right, and as an actor you have to respect that. The other thing is that although the manga series is still going on, you have to provide an ending to the movie. So what makes this film adaptation different from others is that we had to bring in our own ending to the story. On that note, it makes sense to say that the original manga series wasn’t my main study guide while I was working.