First live-action adaptation of anime franchise to open in Tokyo this summer.

To many people, the Digimon franchise will always be nothing more than a poor man’s Pokémon. It’s kind of a shame, since, as Digimon loyalists will tell you, the series has charm and merits all its own. There’s less emphasis on acquiring new Digital Monsters and more on nurturing the bond with the creatures the human characters have already paired up with. Then there’s the fact that Mamoru Hosoda, one of the anime industry’s most celebrated directors, helmed two of the Digimon feature films.

And yet, Digimon can’t seem to get out from Pokémon’s shadow. That’s partially something Digimon brought upon itself when it chose a name that was extremely similar to the already phenomenally popular Pokémon. Then there’s the fact that Digimon is always one step behind the more successful, Pikachu-personified franchise. The first Pokémon game was released in 1996, and its anime adaptation came in 1997, as opposed to 1998 and 1990 for Digimon.

But Digimon finally has the chance to leapfrog Pokémon and arrive first in a form of media, thanks to the upcoming live-action Digimon stage play. With opening night now less than three months away, the producers have released the play’s first in-costume visual, showing off the actors who’ll be starring as Taichi and Yamato (also known as “Tai” and “Matt” in the anime’s English dub).

The play is part of the continuity of the divisively designed sequel series Digimon Adventure tri., and officially titled Digimon Adventure tri.~The August 1 Adventure~.

▼ Digimon Adventure tri.’s anime art

Playing the role of Taichi will be actor Gaku Matsumoto, a member of the cast of tokusatsu series Suriken Sentai Ninninger who was also part of the stage adaptation of anime Joker Game. Filling the role of Yamato will be Shohei Hashimoto, whose otaku-related professional credentials include appearances in Hakiyuu!!, Touken Rambu, Diabolik Lovers, and Brothers Conflict stage plays.

The Digimon Adventure tri.~The August 1 Adventure~ official website says its events unfold on a camping trip teen Taichi and his friends take to reconnect and reminisce about their childhood adventures on August 1, not knowing that a secret is waiting for them.

Other Digimon characters set to appear are Koshiro, Jo, and Takeru (“Izzy,” “Joe,” and “T.K.” in the dub), played by Taro Morishin, Junya Komatsu  and Kenta Nomiyama, respectively. No female characters have been announced yet, though starting with the male performers is a pretty standard marketing strategy for anime-to-stage projects in Japan, the audience for which tends to be predominantly female. The promotional image, though, does make it look like powerful Digital Monster Omegamon (also known as Omnimon), or perhaps variant Omegamon Zwart, will be part of the show, at least from the shoulders up.

Digimon Adventure tri.~The August 1 Adventure~ is scheduled to run from August 5 to 13 at Tokyo’s Zepp Blue Theater Roppongi (though the theater will be dark on August 7 and 10). Tickets are priced at 7,800 yen (US$70), and can be reserved online here.

Related: Digimon Adventure tri.~The August 1 Adventure~ official website
Source: Animate Times via Otakomu
Images: Digimon Adventure tri.~The August 1 Adventure~ official website