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I’m never really sure what I should call the zombie action series that began as a hit PlayStation game in 1996. Resident Evil, its internationally used name, is a lot more colorful than Biohazard, its Japanese one, but only the first of the many games takes place primarily in a home. What’s more, the source of the trouble is science run amok, not dark magic, so the “evil” part seems a touch melodramatic.

On the other hand, there are now five films in the franchise, with a sixth on the way, all of which are produced in English and usually come to Japan only after already premiering overseas, so score one point for Resident Evil.

But in the case of its upcoming stage adaptation, set to open in two months, I really think Biohazard is the most appropriate name, because it looks like every single member of the cast is Japanese.

The events of the play, called Biohazard The Stage, take place in Australia. When a bioterrorism incident occurs at Philosophy University, it’s up to the brave members of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, including multiple-time Biohazard star Chris Redfield and his teammate Piers Nivans, to save the day. Luckily, they’ve got some local support, as it turns out ex-Special Tactics and Rescue Service medic Rebecca Chambers is now a professor at the school, and ready to lend a hand in handling the zombie-related crisis.

While the stage production’s producers have yet to release any in-costume pictures of the cast, they have announced, through the play’s official Twitter account, who will be taking on the principal roles, such as Chris…

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…who will be played by Seijiro Nakamura.

And of course, there’s no mistaking Ms. Chambers…

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…since actress Rin Asuka is practically the character’s doppelganger.

Meanwhile, the mysterious youth Tyler Howard, who seems to know just a little too much about the sudden zombie outbreak, will be portrayed by Hiroshi Yazaki.

As a matter of fact, all of the actors so far announced are Japanese, while at the same time not a single character is. Other confirmed performers are:

● Wataru Kuriyama as Piers Nivans
● Haruki Kiyama as Barrington Myer
● Atsushi Kimura as Lucas Butler
● Yuji Kishi as Ryan Howard
● Yoshiaki Umegaki as Posh Brown
● [Japanese vocalist] Raychell as Sophie Home
● [Japanese gurabia model] Saya as Olivia Price
● Shimon Okura or Makoto Uenobori [depending on exact day] as Matthew Russel
● Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba as Ezzler Sennet

Granted, it’s become sort of a given that non-Japanese characters will be played by Japanese actors in Japan-produced live-action adaptations of popular anime and video games that have the country as their primary target market. The same thing happened with the live-action versions of Kiki’s Delivery Service and Attack on Titan, after all.

But it seems like it might be a little more jarring in the case of Biohazard. While both the Kiki and Titan anime take place in European-looking cities, neither one explicitly reveals the name of the country where its events are happening, or even if it’s supposed to be part of our world, which makes it a little easier to play with the details when making an adaptation. Moreover, both of those live-action versions establish that they’re set in non-European locations: Japan for Attack on Titan and “a town in Asia where people believe in witches” for Kiki’s Delivery Service, making their all-Japanese casts seem more natural.

Biohazard The Stage doesn’t have either luxury, though. The series regularly lets gamers and viewers know where the action is going on, generally the U.S., Africa, or Western Europe. It seems especially odd that the producers didn’t just go the live-action Attack on Titan route and set the play in Japan, since its story appears to be an original one that was made specifically for the stage production. Perhaps they thought that having some Japanese actors play must-include non-Japanese series icons like Chris, while other Japanese performers stepped into Japanese roles on the same stage, would have seemed even more jumbled and confusing.

And as is always the case in situations like this, there’s no question that it’s easier for director and scriptwriter Jun Yoriko to communicate in his native Japanese, rather than having to work through an interpreter, when speaking with his cast and crew. Plus, though many of Biohazard The Stage’s actors may be, by international standards, big fish in a small pond (excepting the well-known Sonny Chiba), it’s doubtful that the production’s budget is large enough for it to recruit Western talent high enough on the Hollywood food chain to have the local audience-drawing power of its all-Japanese cast.

Biohazard the Stage opens on October 22 and is scheduled to run until November 1 at Tokyo’s Ex Theater Roppongi. Tickets go on sale September 1, starting at 8,900 yen (US$74).

Related: Biohazard The Stage official website, Twitter
Source: Jin
Top image: Biohazard The Stage official website
Insert images: Wikipedia/Theo’s Little Bot, Wikipedia/SNAAAAKE!!