Producers have already cast an actor to play heroic teen swordsman Ichigo.
Next week will mark the end of an era as manga series Bleach, which has been in serialization for 15 years, finally reaches its end. This comes four years after the franchise’s TV anime ended its eight-year run, and coupled with the conclusion of the Naruto manga in 2014, leaves pirate saga One Piece as the last remaining member of the three boys’ manga series that have dominated the industry for the past decade-plus.
But that doesn’t mean that fans will never again see Bleach’s squads of supernatural Soul Reapers after the final manga chapter is published. There’s still the stage musical version to enjoy, and now comes word that Bleach is getting a live-action movie adaptation produced by Warner Bros.
23-year-old Sota Fukushi is set to star as series protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki, a high school student who gets dragged into the conflict between vengeful spirits and the samurai-like entities charged with pacifying them. Fukushi’s previous roles include Kamen Rider Fourze in the special effects action series of the same name, and he also served as the real-world embodiment of male lead Yamato Kurosawa in the film adaptation of girls’ manga Say “I love you.”
Directing the live-action Bleach movie will be Shinsuke Sato, who can list on his resume the live-action films based on manga and anime Gantz, I Am a Hero, and Library Wars, the last of which Fukushi was cast in for a supporting role.
Details are still scarce, but in his message to fans, Sato tells them they can look forward to seeing the monstrous Hollows, otherworldly Soul Society, and destructive Zanpakuto sword-fighting techniques on the big screen. A storyline covering the earlier arcs of the manga seems like the most likely scenario, especially in light of series creator Tite Kubo commenting that he hopes the movie will end up as something “even people who know nothing about Bleach can enjoy,” although he lightheartedly mentions that he’s concerned about Ichigo’s bright orange hair looking strange in live-action.
While recent years have seen a number of favorably received live-action movies and TV series in Japan based off of romance or teen drama manga and anime, the track record for action or adventure titles is far less impressive. A notable exception, though, was the trilogy of surprisingly entertaining Rurouni Kenshin movies, which were also Warner Bros. projects heavy on Japanese-style swordplay.
With that in mind, perhaps the live-action Bleach has a fighting chance, though it’ll be a while until audiences can pass judgement. Sato no doubt has his hands full putting the finishing touches on his current directorial endeavor, the upcoming Death Note: Light Up the New World film, and Fukushi was also recently cast to play the lead in the adaptation of anime Laughing Under the Clouds, so the live-action Bleach won’t be hitting theaters until sometime in 2018.
Casey is a little sad the Bleach movie didn’t go into production back when he still had Urahara’s hairstyle and could have tried out for the part. Cheer him up by following him on Twitter.