Ryoma x Yataro x Hanpeita : A 3-Way Talk (Part 1)
Fukuyama Masaharu x Kagawa Teruyuki x Omori Nao
The Story of Youth surrounding these 3 men, has begun to evolve
F: Masha (Ryoma) K: Kagawa Teruyuli (Yataro) O: Omori Nao (Hanpeita)
3 men with different upbringing and mentality, but linked together by an invisible bond.
F : I’m thinking of “Ryomaden” simply as a story of youth, surrounding the early life of Sakamoto Ryoma, Iwasaki Yataro and Takechi Hanpeita. In the rural town of Tosa, 3 young men with different upbringing and mentality, sometimes acting out of their own will, sometimes played about by the change of times, each searching for their own future. Young people like them exist universally in all ages. Only this time, the background of our tale of youth is the Bakumatsu - this is the approach I use.
K : And this tale of youth is told in retrospect through the memories of Iwasaki Yataro, a decade after the death of Ryoma and Hanpeita, that would be interesting. The story of these 3 young men told through Yataro’s flashbacks, alternating between the 2 time lines. This feature is novel to Taiga drama and should be quite fascinating to watch.
O : I’ve always loved the Bakumatsu era, particularly because I like Ryoma. So I felt a bit complicated when I heard that I was to play Takechi Hanpeita. (laugh) But after I tried to understand Hanpeita’s way of thinking, I began to find him very interesting too. This is the first time I will be spending almost a year in a character, what would I be feeling at the very end? I’m looking forward to find out.
K : Talking about the year we’ll be spending, before the filming, Omori-san and I went to see Fukuyama-san in concert. I was amazed! With a flick of the finger, he can make a 15,000-strong audience crazy, I was thinking, how am I ever going to get along with someone as incredible as that for 1 whole year! (laugh) I wouldn’t have gone (to the concert) if I had known.
O : That’s right! That’s right! I already had the image in my head that Fukuyama-san = Ryoma. So I was thinking, why is Ryoma singing up there? (laugh)
K : “Perhaps Ryoma is really a small fry in comparison?” That was my level of shock. I’m so glad I can get it off my chest now.
F : What are you two talking about?!! (laugh)
O : But Fukuyama-san does project a feeling of Ryoma about him. I really like that.
F : I’m not a dedicated full-time actor, so I was really worried that I had to perform in a taiga and to play a character as well-loved as Ryoma. But when I read the script together with Kagawa-san and Omori-san at the very beginning, I honestly enjoyed it very much. To put that feeling in words, it was like the anticipation of an “egg” about to be hatched and ready to spread its wings.
When filming started, there was a scene in Episode 1 where Ryoma and Yataro had a difference in opinion towards the treatment they had to endure as Kashi in the Tosa domain. At the same time, Hanpeita was there listening as well. I started to believe that these 3 men together would be able create a special atmosphere uniquely for the drama.
K : I have a strong impression from that scene as well, especially when the future Yataro was thinking back about it, saddened that the three of them were unable to escape from their fate as Kashi, and at the same time feeling that invisible bond linking them together.
F : In the drama, the three of them seem to be revolving on a axis, generating a centrifugal force against each other. While I was filming the taiga, sometimes I would have other jobs to do, but my heart was dying to get back on the set. It seemed I was so close to grasping onto something, I didn’t want to lose that feeling.
K : In fact, director Ootomo Keiji-san had said to me, “Use your acting to provoke Fukuyama-san.” But when we started filming, I found that it was a natural part of Yataro’s charater, I didn’t need to (provoke him) deliberately.
F : Yataro is the best! If there ever was a “Yataro figurine”, I’d want one too (laugh).
K : Oh I had to put in everything I got. Covered in dust from head to toe, dunked in water etc. Sometimes I’d feel, Yataro is just like a (variety show?) entertainer!
F : You had to colour your teeth black as well …..
O : As the make-up progressed, you could see Kagawa-san slowly degrading. (laugh)
K : I felt like I was giving up on myself. My speech would worsen, and I’d turn into someone nasty. (laugh)
F : My hometown Nagasaki-ken relies greatly on the Mitsubishi Corporation. I once worked for a subcontractor for the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding group, we made motor parts for ships and I was in sales. Now I’m playing a character who was a strong influence on Yataro, I feel that is really fate.
K : Oh, I understand.
F : Yep. When I was still in high school, I thought Yataro must have come from Nagasaki (laugh). In Nagasaki, a family would be considered elite, if they could have 3 generations working in Mitsubishi.
K : Oh, such a magnificent corporation that I founded …….
F : Well, Yataro goes without saying, but Omori-san’s Hanpeita is also particularly superb.
K : Yes, yes. I think Hanpeita’s role is extremely important in this drama. Although everybody knows what “Sonno Joi”* means, but the intricate relationships and conflict of interests arising between the Joshi and Kashi, or between the individual Daimyo and the country, are really hard to grasp in practice.
But Hanpeita’s loud appeal on the value and objective of ” Sonno Joi”, in contrast, was able to bring out clearly Ryoma’s course of direction; the Tosa clan’s course of direction and the country’s course of direction
F : And when the Joi movement started, Omori-san’s Hanpeita became terrifying. He turned menacing and his character grew more and more vivid. There was an awesome scene where he addressed his students at the dojo.
O : The scene in episode 11, where Hanpeita announced that he will “Use the power of the Kashi to make Tosa into the flagship of the Joi movement.” Oh, I had great fun filming that scene. Even though Hanpeita is not a dictator, I guess the exhilaration of a dictatorship is probably not far from that.
F : You improvised parts which were not even written in script. Like slashing your blade in anger (laugh).
O : Oh, my scream after that came as a surprise to me as well. (laugh)
K : I waited a long time on the day we filmed that scene. My shots were delayed for 6 hours……….That must have been because of Omori-san.
O : Not exactly, but you could take it as that. (laugh)
~ Continue to final part ~
From “Talk Session 1″ published in the 2010 NHK Ryomaden Special (Book 1) issued 2009.12.19
* Sonno Joi (Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians) is a slogan used in a movement during the Bakumatsu era to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate (bakufu) - more info here