"Mushishi" To Be Adapted Into Live-Action Movie, Otomo (Akira) to Direct

Yuki Urushibara's popular comic "Mushishi" (serialized in Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon Magazine, recently licensed in North American by Del Rey) will be adapted into a live-action film starring Jo Odagiri. The director will be Katsuhiro Otomo of AKIRA fame.

The movie, with an all-star cast headed by Odagiri and Makiko Esumi, will portray a mysterious fantasy world inhabited by life forms called "mushi" (lit. insects), invisible to the human eye. Mushishi is Urushibara's debut work, which won her Afternoon's 1998 Four Seasons Winter Award. It has been running bi-monthly (even-numbered months) in Afternoon since 2003, and quickly amassed a large following、 with 7 volumes of graphic novels published and cumulative sales topping 2.5 million copies.

Director Otomo, who has created many notable animated theatrical pieces including AKIRA and Steamboy (2003), fell in love with the series and pushed for a movie adaptation. Production finally got under way after 2 years in the concept stage. This will be Otomo's second live action movie, his first being World Apartment Horror (1991).

Mushishi's protagonist is Ginko, an expert in "mushi," alien life forms which are invisible to the average person's eyes. Because he possesses a trait which attracts mushi, he cannot stay in one place for very long, wandering across many lands and solving mysterious phenomena that mushi cause along the way.

In the original series, Ginko is portrayed as a character with silver hair and green eyes. Odagiri was chosen for the role because "he's mysterious and hard to get a grasp of, and his calm demeanor was perfect."

Filming commenced in August of last year and took 3 months, mostly in the mountains of Shiga prefecture. The "mushi" themselves will be drawn with CGI, and production is currently under way.

Esumi was chosen for the role of a female character who has a large influence on Ginko. Other actors in the film include Nao Omori and Yuu Aoi.

Urushibara, after seeing editorial-stage footage, gave her stamp of approval to the project, saying "I felt overwhelmed watching the world that unfolds when Mr. Otomo portrays these fictitious 'mushishi.'" The film will be distributed by Toshiba Entertainment and is slated to open next spring.

Source: Sponichi Annex