Acclaimed actor Mackenyu will wear the winged mantle of protagonist Pegasus Seiya.

When Saint Seiya, also known by its English-localized title Knights of the Zodiac, first hit shelves as a manga back in 1986 it would have been impossible to predict how far its popularity would spread. The tale of the orphan Seiya and his quest to defend the reincarnation of the goddess Athena has captured hearts and minds over the decades through not just the original manga, but also its various spinoffs, anime adaptations, and films.

A few years ago, it was announced that Hollywood would be taking its own stab at the Bronze Knights’ story…despite a comparative lack of a fanbase in the English-speaking world, especially when contrasted with similar titans like Gundam, Dragon Ball, and even Ranma 1/2. Still, even with numerous delays, the Knights of the Zodiac movie has finally finished filming and solid details have emerged. The movie, produced by both Toei Animation and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, is directed by Tomasz Baginski. Baginski is especially well-known for his executive producer work on Netflix’s hit adaptation of The Witcher. The most recent scripts were written up by John Campbell and Matt Stacken, and stunt coordination handled by Andy Chen.

Especially exciting is the cast list, which includes Japanese-American actor Mackenyu as main character Seiya. Mackenyu has already appeared in numerous high-profile projects in Japan, from Rurouni Kenshin to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure to Chihayafuru, but Knights of the Zodiac will be his first breakthrough role for English-language audiences.

Other actors confirmed for the lineup are Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Still the King), Diego Tinoco (On My Block, Teen Wolf), Mark Dacascos (Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight), Nick Stahl, (Sin City, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), Famke Janssen (X-Men, Taken), and Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones).

Japanese-language reactions to the news have run the gamut from excitement to see an acclaimed actor like Mackenyu in top billing to gentle puzzlement that they’re making an American Hollywood movie of Saint Seiya, despite Hollywood’s less-than-stellar track record with adaptations of Japanese 2-D media.

“A live-action Saint Seiya by Hollywood, huh… I can only imagine that it’ll be a flop.”

“It’s gonna be live-action…? And by Hollywood, at that? Um…”
“There already is a live-action adaptation, though. The Hollywood one will only be the second live-action adaptation.” [presumably this refers to the 1991 stage play musical where the five Bronze Knights were portrayed by popular boyband SMAP]
“So they’re making a Hollywood version of Saint Seiya… And it’s an origin story? Huh? Okay… I can’t really imagine any of the cast photos matching up to the cast except for Seiya.”
“Mackenyu gets to be a Hollywood star? That’s so cool for him. Good luck!”

▼ Here’s how the SMAP boys looked in Saint Seiya outfits, by the way.

Only time will tell if Basginski’s take on the Saint Seiya story will prove as popular as Hollywood Pikachu or as…well, as…as infamous as the mess that Dragon Ball Evolution eventually became.

Top image: Pakutaso
Source: MyNaviNews/Comics Natalie via Otakomu, My Game News Flash, Twitter
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