Former AKB48 idol group member Atsuko Maeda will play the heroine Kyōko in the first live-action television series based on Yasumi Yoshizawa's popular gag comedy manga Dokonjo Gaeru. Ken'ichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Gantz, Nana, Detroit Metal City, Usagi Drop, Kamui Gaiden) plays the main lead Hiroshi.
The original manga follows a boy named Hiroshi who accidentally squishes a frog. However, the "Flat Surface Frog" Pyonkichi turns into an imprint on Hiroshi's shirt, and the two become constant companions.
The live-action series is a brand-new story set in the summer of 2015, 16 years after Hiroshi and Pyonkichi's fateful meeting. Hiroshi has now turned 30, and he meets Kyōko again after a long time apart. When he learns that Kyōko-chan is no longer in a relationship, he resolves to "save" her.
The other cast members include:Ryo Katsuji (Crows Explode, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer) as Hiroshi's younger former schoolmate Gorō, now an excellent police officer protecting the peace at the town's police box
Ken Mitsuishi as the sushi shop worker "Ume-san." He still has feelings for Yoshiko-sensei, even though he has not been able to utter the word "marriage" in 16 years.
Denden as Hiroshi's former homeroom teacher Machida-sensei, now the school principal after 41 years of service
Yuri Shirahane as Hiroshi's middle school teacher Yoshiko-sensei
Hirofumi Arai as the former delinquent gang member "Gorillaimo," now the young head of a bakery
Hiroko Yakushimaru as Hiroshi's tough but gentle mother who raised Hiroshi (and Pyonkichi) by herself. She now works at Gorillaimo's bakery.
In addition, Kayoko Shiraishi will play the new character of Kyōko's grandmother
The show will start running at 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays this July on NTV and its affiliates. It will be the first live-action commercial television series starring Matsuyama since NTV's 2009 Zeni Geba series about six years ago. Yoshikazu Okada (Zeni Geba, Antique Bakery, Ohisama, Nakuna, Hara-chan) is writing the scripts, and Hajime Sakita (M3 the dark metal) is scoring the soundtrack. Shintarō Sugawara and Shunsuke Kariyama are directing the episodes.
The Dokonjo Gaeru manga series launched in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1970. The gag manga follows the antics of Hiroshi, Pyonkichi, the heroine Kyōko, the delinquent gang member "Gorillaimo," the sushi shop worker "Ume-san," and others. It inspired two television anime in 1972 and 1981. More recently, an adult Hiroshi and Pyonkichi have appeared in television commercials for Taiho Pharmaceutical's Solmac medicine for the digestive system.
The television anime ranked #100 in TV Asahi's nationwide poll of the top 100 anime in 2009. It also ranked #56 in TV Asahi's 2006 poll of 100 Japanese celebrities. Director Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Mind Game, Ping Pong) personally recommended two episodes from the anime to run in a screening of his Kick-Heart short. The story inspired a 2013 American hybrid live-action/animated pilot under the English title Gutsy Frog with Frankie Jonas (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) and Mischa Barton (The O.C.).
Source: Comic Natalie
Images © Yasumi Yoshizawa/Ofice Yasui