Apple made a live-action version of a manga classic for ‘Shot on iPhone’ in Japan

Takashi Miike directed the 18-minute short, based on ‘Midnight,’ a 1986 manga series by Osamu Tezuka

Published On
Mar 06, 2024
Poster showing the male and female leads of Apple Japan's "Midnight" film

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“The night has countless faces. And there is a man who peers into them one by one. His name is Midnight.”

So began each episode of “Midnight,” a comic series created in the mid-1980s by Osamu Tezuka, known as the godfather of manga. Now, it’s brought faithfully to life in a live-action adaption by TBWA\Media Arts Lab Tokyo and director Takashi Miike—the latest short film in Apple’s long-running global “Shot on iPhone” campaign.

The titular character in the “Midnight” comics drives all night as a taxi driver, as a kind of penance to save money for medical treatment for a girl who was injured while riding with him on a motorcycle. Apple skips that bleak backstory, instead bringing together a few different “Midnight” plot lines.

The gist of the 19-minute short film is that Midnight finds himself forced into saving a different girl who’s being pursued by a group of hitmen, including a particularly savage hand puppet.

 

As always with “Shot on iPhone,” the film subtly shows off the device’s camera, but in a way that’s basically invisible—the fact that it feels like a Hollywood production is all the product demo you need.

Adapating “Midnight” specifically gave Apple the chance to lean into a few camera features of the iPhone 15 Pro—such as its capabilities in low light (most of the film takes place at night) and with action sequences (the stabilized car shots, amazingly acrobatic, are marvelous throughout).

The team also used iPhone’s LiDAR scanner to scan the the taxi and its iconic fifth wheel—to create the base for a CGI model of it, which is also used in the mixed-media film.

See more about the technical process in the BTS film below.

 

The script was written by TV, anime and film screenwriter Yusuke Watanabe. The voiceover is Akio Otsuka, who also voiced the title character in “Black Jack,” an animated series based on another Tezuka manga. 

Kento Kaku plays Midnight. Konatsu Kato is the female protagonist, named Kaede. Yukiyoshi Ozawa plays the main villain. And in a nice touch, Miike, the director, plays Kaede’s father.

“Mr. Tezuka is something of a god among manga artists so it was an honor to take on the challenge of expressing his work using only iPhone,” Miike said in a statement. “As we were shooting, I naturally began to challenge myself to think about how we could make a work unique to iPhone, beyond the usual approach to a film. I truly felt that the iPhone has the power to do things that a conventional movie camera can’t.”

“Midnight” premiered today (March 6) on YouTube. It will roll out tomorrow on apple.com/jp, Abema TV and Apple TV on the 7th of March. The full film and BTS will also play in select taxis around Tokyo from 10 p.m. until dawn. The campaign will also include broadcast, magazine, OOH, DOOH, digital and social. 

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