The latest behind-the-scenes featurette is now online for Knights Of The Zodiac, the ambitious new feature-length adaptation of Toei Animation’s hit 1986 Saint Seiya anime series based on mangaka Masami Kurumada’s best-seller. The footage went live on Wednesday and comes following its showcase at this year’s installment of Comic-Con International: San Diego.
Directed by Tomazs Baginski (director of the “Polish Legends” series and executive producer on The Witcher, The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf and The Witcher: Blood Origin), Knights Of The Zodiac stars actor Mackenyu (Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Revenge Of Scar, Fullmetal Alchemist: Final Transmutation, upcoming Netflix series One Piece), son of late action legend Sonny Chiba, in his debut feature role outside of Japan.
In the film, according to the official description, Mackenyu stars in the iconic role of Seiya, “a street orphan who is recruited to start a journey in pursuit of the legendary armor of Pegasus.” Also starring are Madison Iseman as Sienna, a girl who struggles with the responsibility of harnessing the power of goddess Athena; Sean Bean as Alman Kido, the recruiter and mentor who puts Seiya to the ultimate test to become a Knight of the Zodiac; and Famke Janssen as Guraad, the leader of a secret organization that aims to seize Athena’s power.
In an interview with Variety reporter Patrick Frater back in July during Comic-Con, Toei Animation’s international producer Ikezawa Yoshi stated he had been working on this particular adaptation for the last ten years. He also talked heavily about the importance of the company to branch out into a fully-fledged entertainment company outside of animation, banking of the global success of “Saint Seiya” in the last 35 years, citing Shinji Aramaki’s Harlock Space Pirate (2013) as one of its initial experiments.
“…Until quite recently, our audience were those people who enjoy anime. Those fans are unique and different from the audiences who enjoy American comics, or superheroes.” said Yoshi. ” Although the ceiling has been expanding gradually, we wanted to break free of these limitations and take a more businesslike approach.”
The film was shot on-location in Hungary between July and September last year, following delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic with the country’s rebate system and tax systems remaining stable. According to Yoshi, “the nationality of the film is Hungarian, but with 100% Japanese equity!”.
The producer further stated that the source material for the film is enough for a possible six-film venture, suiting a filmmaking atmosphere in which brands like Marvel, and franchises like Harry Potter, and Hunger Games continue to prosper.
Andy Cheng also spoke to Variety‘s Frater last September in an interview where the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings action director lended his words of praise for the star:
“Mackenyu is the full package. He is handsome enough to work with little makeup, has a fantastic body, and, thanks to his father, has been steeped in martial arts since an early age,” says Cheng...
…“This is definitely a first movie, one where we introduce the hero. We deliberately try not to make the story too big,” says Cheng. “I was given a huge amount of creative freedom, even as an editor, and it is a responsibility I take seriously.
Rounding out the cast are Diego Tinoco, Mark Dacascos and Nick Stahl, from a script by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken.
Sony Pictures will release Knights Of The Zodiac next year in all territories outside of Japan and China, where Toei Animation will distribute the film.
The official release date remains pending while you’re welcome to follow updates on the official Instagram page for the film here.