Blade of the Immortal Interview with Hiroaki Samura

The 8th December sees the release of the 100th feature film by prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike, Blade of the Immortal! To celebrate, we’ve interviewed mangaka Hiroaki Samura, author of the original manga, about his involvement with the film and some thoughts on his other works. Read on to find out more!

We have also teamed up with Arrow Films to give away five bundles of amazing Blade of the Immortal merch to lucky fans, so make sure you read carefully and scroll to the bottom to find out how to WIN.

Visit bladeoftheimmortal.co.uk to book your tickets now! In cinemas December 8.

Blade of the Immortal

Your award-winning manga series Blade of the Immortal ran for 19 years – it has been a significant part of your life and your work, what was the process for you to have it adapted into a feature film?

Hiroaki Samura: I had received several offers of movie adaptation of BoTI in the past, but in each case it did not make it until the end, so I had given it up, thinking it was fate. So, when my publisher told me “They want to shoot the movie in 4 months. Please check the script immediately.  The lead actor is Takuya Kimura (who is the most famous actor in Japan)”, I doubted myself before I was happy, thinking “This is probably a mistake”.

Blade of the Immortal

In Blade of the Immortal, the protagonist Manji is immortal but not invincible; he feels all pain inflicted and only wants to be rid of his curse. Where did the idea for such a negative depiction of immortality come from?

HS: Since the 1960s, the Japanese manga has portrayed the protagonist “possessing supernatural power” and “the loss and sorrow of having to live with that power” as an element of two sides of the same coin. So, naturally, I thought about writing about an immortal protagonist whom the readers don’t want to become.

This is Takashi Miike’s 100th film – what was it like to work with such a prolific director, and did you think it took someone with his predilection for violent cinema to adapt it as a live action feature?

HS: Miike-san is one of my favorite film directors, so I was very happy to learn that he became the director of the film. I was especially happy about the abundant action sequences which surpassed my expectation, the way Manji fought which was not quite always so smart, and the “pain of being immortal” was carefully depicted. Rather than shooting an action sequence with an elegant flowing style, the nerve-fraying action sequence, which Miike-san excels, is the key to this film.

Blade of the Immortal

Are you an anime fan? If so, which are your favourite manga-to-anime adaptations?

HS: I do watch anime, but not so frequently. The latest anime I bought is RWBY and THE ILLUSIONIST. Recently my favorite manga called LAND OF THE LUSTROUS (original title “Hoseki no Kuni”) was made into anime, but I have not got around to seeing it yet. I don’t have a recording machine at home.

Many of the weapons shown have been greatly exaggerated from reality or created entirely from your own imagination – but where did you look to for inspiration for these?

HS: Most of them are my original ideas. I prioritized how the weapons would “look” on the screen rather than their utilities.

Blade of the Immortal

What other seinen manga would you like to see adapted into film, and would you rather that be into live action or anime?

HS: Most of my favorite manga have been made to either live action or anime. It’s not a manga, but there’s a game called INSIDE, and I would very much like to see it visualized.

An anime version of Blade of the Immortal was produced in 2008. Would you like to have any more of your work adapted to anime or live action? Do you think they’re more suited to one medium over the other?

HS: I would be happy if SPRING BREEZE SNEGUROCHKA (original title “Harukaze no Sunegurachika”) and WAVE, LISTEN TO ME! (original title “Nami yo Kiitekure”) which I’m currently writing were made into live action. I don’t watch anime that often, so I’d prefer live action.

Blade of the Immortal

Your works span multiple genres, time periods and locations – from feudal Japan to 1930s Russia. Is there another time or place you’d like to write about next?

HS: When I start a new series, I don’t like making rigid decisions about the setting beforehand. Rather, I like to keep things open so I can add things during the course of my creation. For example, things which pops in my head, or something I heard or saw (Honestly though, it is usually the result of myself running out of time…). For once, I’d like to challenge writing a genre which I need to carefully build the setting from before, like for example, high fantasy.

Visit bladeoftheimmortal.co.uk to book your tickets now! In cinemas December 8.

Competition

Blade of the Immortal

To celebrate the release of Takashi Miike’s Blade of the Immortal on December 8th, Arrow Films are offering 5 lucky readers the chance to win a Blade of the Immortal bundle: Poster / Fidget spinner / fan and t-shirt! Make sure to read the interview above and answer the question below to be in with a chance of winning:

How long did the original manga series Blade of the Immortal run for?
1. 14 years
2. 19 years
3. 21 years

To enter, email your answer to press@mangauk.com with the email subject ‘Blade of the Immortal’. Please include your full name, address & DOB. Entries close midnight Sunday 10th December – entries received after this time will not be counted.

Entrants must be UK residents and aged 18 or over. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason. The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

Can’t get enough of Takashi Miike? His Yakuza Apocalypse is available on DVD & Blu-ray now.

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