Japanese light novel gets Hollywood film

Screenshot of a scene from the movie Edge Of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise.

Following a trail blazed by anime and manga, a Japanese light novel is heading to Hollywood.

"All You Need Is Kill," a science fiction novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, has been adapted into a movie starring Tom Cruise. The film, rebranded as "Edge of Tomorrow," is set for worldwide release this summer.

"It's feeling less and less like reality," said Sakura-zaka with a smile.

The book was published in Japan in December 2004 from Shueisha Inc.'s Super Dash Bunko paperback series, and made its English-language debut in the United States in July 2009, published by VIZ Media.

"With the title's impact, the amazing central conceit of [the protagonist being trapped in] a time loop and the strongly visual descriptions of the battleground at the opening of the book-I thought it was perfectly suited to English translation," said Masumi Washington, who works with the US publisher.

Before long, the author was approached about turning the novel into a film. He signed a contract for film adaptation rights in 2010.

But Sakurazaka had his doubts that shooting would ever really start.

So, he thought he should at least revel in the good news for a while before the inevitable disappointing news arrived. Yet, to his surprise, the plan went ahead smoothly. Doug Liman signed on as director, and Tom Cruise expressed an interest in the film.

"I like Emily Blunt [who plays the role of heroine Rita Vrataski], and I think [Liman's] 'Bourne Identity' is great. I never imagined such great talents would get together for the film. I feel so happy about the work," Sakurazaka said.

In the run-up to the film's release, scheduled for July 4 in Japan, weekly manga magazine Young Jump started running a comic version of the story in January, with illustrations by Takeshi Obata.

The novel is set on a near-future Earth, where the invading Gitai alien race (called "Mimics" in the film) are overrunning the world.

Bill Cage (Cruise), a solider of the forces defending Earth, is captured in a time loop where he spends day after day in fields of battle.

As never-ending battles and deaths repeat themselves over and over, Cage polishes his fighting techniques.

As time loops back on itself, Cage's isolation delivers great emotional impact, as does the heartbreaking last scene.

"In a video game, you can see multiple endings, but in life, you have to choose only one out of the many options. Even though this is a science fiction novel, I sought to incorporate contradictions and pressing problems that our generation faces," Sakurazaka said.

The author visited the film's set in Britain. Though he has yet to see the completed version, he is excited to learn how his novel will be visualized for the screen.

The novel follows a process through which "a coward who is unable to do anything on the battlefield cycles through time loops, evolving into a superman. The film focuses on such changes, a viewpoint I find wonderful," Sakurazaka said.

"I'd like to enjoy myself and let the way the film presents the story be a surprise, rather than focusing on minor changes," he added.