It turns out The Last Samurai was the not the last after all.

At least that's according to a new comic book called KAIZO, published by NPDC's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre.

KAIZO is the first time the gallery has entered the world of D.C. and Marvel and is International Artist in Residence Yuichiro Tamura's tongue-in-cheek way of remembering when Tom Cruise was in town during filming for the Japanese epic movie in 2003.

The Len Lye Centre's mirrored façade becomes "The Samurai Gate" in a story featuring other local landmarks including Mt Taranaki, Devon Street, the clocktower and Rampage Fitness.


The cast of characters include "The Lead Actor", a sushi chef, a general and his cult followers in "The Mirrored World", a hoon who crashes into the Len Lye Centre, a plastic surgeon and the Red Samurai.

Starting in 2003 during filming of The Last Samurai, the story moves to Japan in 1970 and concludes in the present day with a battle – including comic-book 'bams', 'zings' and 'zaps' - between the Red Samurai and the local hero outside of the Len Lye Centre.

Gallery co-directors Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh said the comic is an integral part of Tamura's Milky Mountain / 裏返りの山 exhibition which runs from now until 19 November.

"It's not a medium used by the gallery before. Through the comic and his exhibition, Tamura has woven together stories, histories and events that forge connections between New Plymouth and his home country, Japan."

Tamura's Milky Mountain exhibition features in the Mezzanine and galleries and includes videos, archival materials, an architectural dissection, artworks by Billy Apple from the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection, and original artwork from the comic.

The exhibition follows his time as International Artist In Residence and was inspired by a New Plymouth's sister-city relationship with Mishima in Japan, the biography of novelist, bodybuilder and Samurai warrior Yukio Mishima, the history and changes at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the filming of the Japanese-set, but filmed in Taranaki, movie The Last Samurai.

A short film by Tamura recently filmed outside the Len Lye Centre has also been premiered as well as a showing of The Last Samurai.