In another boost to its growing Japanese content slate, Netflix has greenlit a live-action movie adaptation of the classic Japanese manga City Hunter. Japanese leading man Ryohei Suzuki (Tokyo MER, Segodon) has signed on to star in the iconic role of Ryo Saeba, with filmmaker Yuichi Sato (Kisaragi, Strawberry Nights and The End of the Tiny World) onboard to direct.
Created by manga artist Tsukasa Hojo, City Hunter was a staple of Japanese pop culture throughout the 1980s, selling over 50 million copies around the world. The franchise spawned a popular anime series and numerous feature-length adaptations, including movies made in Hong Kong (one starring Jackie Chan), France and mainland China, but this will be there first time the property is adapted as a live-action film in its native Japan.
Netflix describes the project as “a modern-day updated version of the manga, set in the bustling streets of Shinjuku. The streamer has set a 2024 target launch for the film.
“When Ryo’s partner Makimura is killed,” the longline adds, “he and Makimura’s sister Kaori team up to find out the truth, thus forming a new duo.”
The adaptation’s screenplay was written by Tatsuro Mishima, who scripted several episode’s of Netflix’s Japanese original series Yu Yu Hakusho.
Suzuki says the adaptation will “aim to strike the right balance between realism and fantasy, as well as tones from the 80s and today.” He also notes a great deal of pressure in assuming the mantle of such an iconic character.
“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 says. “I cannot wait for both existing fans as well as newcomers around the world to fall in love with Ryo Saeba and his fun, action-packed adventures around modern-day Tokyo.”
According to Hojo, the Japanese feature adaptation unveiled Thursday by Netflix has been in the works for a decade. “I always hoped the lead would be played by someone who really liked City Hunter and thanks to Ryohei’s unwavering passion, the time has finally come,” he adds. “Thanks to the dedicated cast and crew, I’m looking forward to the title being brought to screen, with a fresh and realistic perspective that isn’t strictly bound to the original manga.”
Shinichi Takahashi is the project’s sole executive producer, while Keisuke Sanpei and Kosuke Oshida produce. Netflix is producing the film in partnership with Tokyo-based production companies Horipro and Office Shirous.