Legendary manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka's MW is being adapted into a live-action film starring Hiroshi Tamaki.
Based on a manga serialised in Big Comic between 1976 and 1978, MW stars Tamaki as a high level banker leading a double life as a calculating serial killer. He takes revenge on the people responsible for accidentally leaking a military chemical weapon code-named MW while ultimately planning to use it himself to destroy the world. He confesses his sins to his best friend who is a priest, played by Takayuki Yamada (Crows: Zero).
Actor-model Tamaki is best known for his roles in Waterboys, Midnight Eagle and TV drama Nodame Catabile. The film also co-stars Yuriko Ishida and Ryo Ishibashi.
Under veteran TV director Hitoshi Iwamoto, the film started shooting in late April and moved to Thailand for location work this weekend. Death Note screenwriter Tetsuya Oishi wrote the adapted screenplay. MW is executive produced by Amuse Soft Entertainment's Hisahiro Kitsuta, with Studio Swan and IMJ Entertainment as consortium partners.
Distributor Gaga Communication is set to release the film next year, as part of ongoing releases to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Tezuka's birth this November. Previous adaptations of MW failed due to echoes of the Tokyo sarin gas attacks in the 90s.
Tezuka, who died in 1989, is often referred to as 'the father of anime' and considered to have Walt Disney-like influence on Japanese comics and animation.
The last live action adaptation of Tezuka's work was 2007 top 10 hit Dororo, which grossed $32.91m (Y3.45b) with Universal Pictures picking up North American rights.
A big-budget CG version of Astro Boy is currently in pre-production at Imagi Animation studios, with Freddie Highmore set to voice the titular robot boy.