Netflix, the streaming juggernaut, is expanding its Japanese content catalog with a live-action adaptation of City Hunter, one of the most successful manga of all time. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will star Ryohei Suzuki as protagonist Ryo Saeba and will be directed by Yuichi Sato.
Long before Netflix was even in existence, City Hunter was an integral part of pop culture in Japan in the 1980s. The manga sold more than 50 million copies in Asia and around the world and inspired multiple screen adaptations. In fact, it created an entire media franchise, which included four anime series, three television specials, multiple animated films, and even several live-action films, one of which starred Jackie Chan.
The manga even inspired film adaptations in China and France, making it a worldwide phenomenon. Netflix’s City Hunter will be the first live-action adaptation made in Japan, however.
Netflix was drawn to the manga, originally created by writer and illustrator Tsukasa Hojo, for its strong plot and popularity. The original City Hunter is about a man named Ryo Saeba, who works as a “sweeper,” or hitman, and a private detective. At first, he is living his best life, working to rid the streets of Tokyo of crime while chasing pretty girls.
He and his partner, Hideyuki Makimura, run an underground business called “City Hunter,” which can be contacted by writing “XYZ” on a blackboard at a train station. The pair use a combination of sharpshooting and investigating skills to stop criminals.
The friends’ charming lives take an unexpected turn when Hideyuki is killed. Ryo must then take care of his partner’s sister, Kaori, who then takes Hidekuki’s place as his partner. Romance, humor, and absurdity ensue, as the two work together to save the city’s beautiful women from the criminals who wish to do them harm.
Netflix’s City Hunter film will reportedly be an “updated” version of the manga, set in modern-day Shinjuku. It is scheduled to be launched in 2024.
Starting with the same main plotline as the manga, Netflix’s City Hunter logline reads: “When Ryo’s partner Makimura is killed, he and Makimura’s sister Kaori team up to find out the truth.” The story will reportedly not be firmly tied to the original manga, allowing it to showcase a “fresh and realistic perspective.”
Netflix has apparently been working on this City Hunter adaptation for more than 10 years. According to Hojo, the original creator of the manga, the project had been looking for a perfect lead, which it finally found in Ryohei Suzuki.
Suzuki, who has previously starred in Tokyo MER and Segodon, is a big fan of the manga and its other adaptations and is “thrilled” to be playing Ryo Saeba. He says that he can’t wait to help Netflix bring City Hunter to audiences who are both new and veteran fans of the franchise.
The screenplay was written by Tatsuro Mishima, who has also written for Netflix’s original series Yu Yu Hakusho, and Shinichi Takahashi will serve as City Hunter’s one and only executive producer. Netflix will be working in tandem with Horipro and Office Shirous, two production companies based in Tokyo, to bring the film to its large audiences around the world.