Levi, one of Attack on Titan's most beloved characters, is not in the new live-action movie. There must be a reason for that. Turns out there is.
The movie's screenwriter Tomohiro Machiyama, who's also a well-known critic and columnist, talked to Japanese website Cinema Today about the rationale behind some of the decisions made in the forthcoming movie.
Instead of focusing on Levi, the most badass member of the Survey Corps, the movie centres around the relationship between the characters Eren and Mikasa.
From the start, some fans did not want Japanese actors to play German characters — probably because while drawing and animating Japanese-speaking German characters works fine, it might be uncomfortable to see Japanese actors trying to pull off Germans.
The live-action movie's director, Shinji Higuchi, came up with the idea of shooting at Gunkanjima. "That's already a different world from the original, so the only choice is to change the setting to Japan," explained Machiyama. That means that the actors and the characters appearing in the film are Japanese.
By changing the setting to Japan, there arose new issues, such as making the experience believable. The tricky part became the characters' names. Briefly, there was the idea to make all the characters have Japanese names, including Levi's. The final decision, however, was to keep the names of the principal characters the same.
The issue is that in Japanese, Levi is written as リヴァイ (Rivai), and the problem is that the katakana character ヴ (v) is a character and sound not used traditionally used with Japanese names. It looks even more foreign that other katakana characters, which is ideal for the manga. Japanese readers would have a stronger sense that Levi is foreign. What's more, use of the character isn't exactly widespread, and some dictionaries don't even use it. (More here, if you are interested.)
All the other names in the movie, including Eren, can be written out in Japanese in a fairly natural way. Cinema Today reports that this would need some sort of explanation — that's why Levi was abandoned for the live-action film. Don't be surprised, though, if the character pops up in sequels in the future.
Picture: Wit Studio/Production I.G | MBS/Tokyo MX