Bros#86 “Hi, this is Fukuyama” (2010.03)
How’s everyone? This is Fukuyama.
Have you seen “Ryomaden”? Filming has been progressing smoothly. If you’ve been watching, or if you’re a Bros member, you’d know that I’ve made many new attempts in it. Things I couldn’t do before; things I’ve never done. Speaking in Tosa-ben; shouting at the top of my voice; tying my hair up; running around in kimono, slashing blades in a historical drama……..I’ve never tried any of these before! (laugh)
Before we go into “Ryomaden”, the last issue was published at year-end, so let’s have a brief recap. It seems like a very long time since I appeared at “Kouhaku Uta Gassen”*1 (laugh). I didn’t join the “Ryomaden” set until quite late, so my schedule was very packed. When I arrived on the (Kouhaku) set that day and found out that we’d be broadcasting live from the Glover Gardens*2, nothing made me happier. Perhaps if it may seem quite ‘ordinary’ if we describe it in words: “Fukuyama Masaharu, who was born in Nagasaki and stars in “Ryomaden” next year, will be broadcast live from the Glover Gardens…..” (laugh). But because of the significance of the locale, ‘ordinary’ within the context of a mega show like Kouhaku, shouldn’t be too bad. And during the course of the song in this highly noted and top ratings music programme, it started to snow………now that would up the scale of the performance, wouldn’t it? This was my impression of my year-end.
Although I’d known about the Glover Gardens since I was young, it’s a different feeling looking at it again, after I grew up and started to learn about the history of Japan during the Bakumatsu. This Glover-san…..put it this way, I believe he taught the Japanese people who had very little understanding of the world at that time, a brilliant lesson. (laugh). No matter how old you get, there’re always interesting discoveries to be made, perhaps it is with age that we can fully appreciate the epitome of history.
One more thing about the Kouhaku, many people have said to me: “I watched it”, so, many people did watch it! Oh, is this (piece of news) too ordinary (to be included in my report)? (laugh) Because I haven’t been for so many years, I’m once again reminded of what an incredible show the Kouhaku is, though you probably knew that already.
And after that, I was only able to spend New Year’s Day at home (in Nagasaki). Filming resumed again upon my return to Tokyo. In February, I turned 41………Spring at 41 years old (laugh). And then, it became a full 20 years after my debut.
A belated thanks to all! Really, thank you very much. I’ve received all your wishes and encouragement!
As a 41-year-old, I shall continue to take on new experiences. Let’s talk about “Ryomaden” now.
So how was I in this role of Ryoma……although it’s hard for me to comment objectively, I did find myself getting into character quite naturally. It’s a very happy set, this I noticed from the moment I joined. Most actors including myself, had never experienced such an extravagant method of filming.
Firstly, the camera, the set (buildings etc.), the props and costumes are very lavish. Although, it’s quite common for a Taiga drama, they are especially insistent on these areas this time for Ryomaden. Without allowing for any compromise, once the filming starts, the entire set transforms into the “real Bakumatsu”. And the camera never stops rolling. One scene one roll (take), with different angles being filmed simultaneously, sometimes we’d be running together, or moving all over the place. So besides the actors, the cameramen, the lighting and props staff - everyone on set must focus on that one cut (scene). There is no room for error, it’s just like a live stage !
Because of this method of filming, even the acting is novel, never to have been tried before.
So isn’t this just the same as a “live” show? The actors, the staff all share the same desire to “create the show”, a desire in its purest form, thereby resulting in that “Live sensation”, and the acting then becomes a “Live Take”. The sensation I normally get as a musician on stage, that adrenalin rush, is often present on the film set as well.
And I’d put in a lot of work to prepare for it. When I’m reading the script, I’d think to myself “Are you sure you can remember all those lines……”*3 It may sound like I’m talking about someone else, but I did it, I memorized all my lines. Of course, it goes without saying that we must treat our job with professionalism, but as the other actors have said, “the lines make you want to remember them”! Just reading the script makes you want to cry, so you cry during actual filming. Other than Yataro, every other actor have cried with running noses and saliva in the actual cut. It’s as if “If you didn’t release any body fluids, you’re not trying your best” (laugh), that’s the level of artistic mastery it’s become.
Because we’re constantly enveloped in that atmosphere; the script and the director’s impact on the set, the teamwork gets stronger and stronger as filming progresses. Let’s upscale the frequency and intensity where Acting = Live.
To achieve that extent of “Live”, there are many places where no compromise is tolerated, I’ve talked about it many times (laugh). We have cornstarch, dirt, dust, and smoke sprayed all over us, it’s not fun at all. This is the cornstarch that’s used for cooking, starch made from corn. We use it to re-create the impression of “dust” and “dirt”. Cornstarch is a real hassle! (laugh) It’s so fine, it drifts out of the filmset into the corridors and dressing rooms. There’s so much, it worries me (more than the production staff), wouldn’t it affect the equipment? Even my white coat hanging in the dressing room is covered with cornstarch.
I’ll just say it here, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been working so hard in that air…..Masha normally doesn’t get the flu, but he’s had it two or three times this year already. So please take care of yourselves. Who am I to talk now! (laugh)
Oh yes, I go back to the NHK every day, resting only occasionally. I feel just like a salaried worker. I know the inside of the NHK pretty well now and I eat at the canteen too. There’s an anecdote I heard: during the filming of “Ryomaden”, Kagawa-san went directly to the canteen as Yataro, complete with makeup and clothes. Because he looked so dirty, he frightened many of the customers eating there. (Laugh) That’s why I try not to go in Ryoma attire, I’d change into a sports suit first. But I’ve really seen samurai casually having their curry there, it’s an eatery with a very good ambience. I’d gargle my mouth before I eat, I have to gargle quite a few times a day, this cornstarch is just too…… persistent, I’m afraid.
In a nutshell, I’m having a great time on the set, my real life is feeling very complete.
I guess there wouldn’t be another opportunity for me to play Ryoma in a Taiga drama again, in my life. “What I’m experiencing now, will not happen again!” This thought is resounding very strongly inside me. What would life be like if every day wasn’t as enriching as this? Hence, let me enjoy more of what I’ve got now.
By the time this issue reaches you, “Ryomaden” would have entered Season 2, I can only tell you that Ryoma will turn wild. Also, don’t forget that I’ll be attempting new challenges all this time.
In my days as a cornstarched “salary worker”, did you notice that I’ve been working on my music too? I’ve produced the Dunlop and Asahi Super Dry CM songs. Dunlop was recorded last autumn. Super Dry was written and recorded at the beginning of the year. I worked really hard. (Laugh) In fact, for the Super Dry song……the part of the melody that first came to me, was not the part that subsequently developed into what you heard in the CM. So please look out for the entire song when it is released.
When I received the job for the Super Dry CM, I immediately thought of the Ochiai Nobuhiko version*4….I had a very strong impression of it in my day (Oh? Was it too far back for you?) I don’t know if I was able to present a unique image of my own in my version. What do you think?
Besides my CMs and “Ryomaden”, there is another opportunity to see you all this year, that is, the release of the dual DVDs on 04.28 – “Fukuyama☆Big Summer Anniversary Festa at Mt.Inasa” and “FUKUYAMA MASAHARU 20th ANNIVERSARY WE’RE BROS TOUR 2009 Michishirube”.
I don’t think it’s necessary to explain the details of these DVDs to all of you at BROS, so I’ll just talk about the following.
Inside the “Fukuyama☆Big Summer Anniversary Festa at Mt.Inasa”, we released the bonus video recording of the legendary “10th Anniversary FUKUYAMA TEKI SAITEN FUKUYAMAGNUM INASAYAMA” in year 2000. That was my first concert in Inasayama 10 years ago. It was hidden away all this time, finally to be used for this wonderful 20th anniversary project. Needless to say, I went to check up on the contents of the video recording myself.
It was……..a shocking scene. Fukuyama Masaharu, on stage, wearing a see-through, sort of stocking like, body hugging……shirt (?). Nipples….showing. Worse still, towards the latter part of “Tsuioku no Ame no Naka”, as expected, the outer shirt…..came off……
What was that all about (laugh)? Yes, it’s true the clothes were prepared for me by the stylist, but that Fukuyama Masaharu just happily put it on………I can’t believe myself (laugh).
And I finally understood what the “bonus” in “bonus video” really means.
With the way I write, it might seem as if the contents of this stage (show) were awful. But there was only this 1 show in the 10th anniversary Inasayama concert and there was the Fukuyama Masaharu who put everything he had into his songs. And the audience response was magnificent too.
But the clothes…….!!!!!
After all that’s been said and done, what I want to say now is, to all of you who had not given up on that see-through clothed, juvenile and callow Fukuyama Masaharu, to all those who have stood by me through my growth and followed me all through these 20 years, a heart-felt thank you.
Really, I think BROS. is amazing. I feel so grateful (to have you). No, I’m not joking.
It embarrasses me so, to look at my past images again. Thinking about it, the one “now” is still incomplete (even now, I’m not mature enough). But it is because we have (made it upto) “now”, that we can sit back and enjoy those precious images from the past.
That’s right, and because you’re BROS members, I hope it makes you happy to hear my thoughts above. Please have a good look at the DVD…….. though it’s very embarrassing…….
~ The End ~
*1. Kouhaku Uta Gassen - Red & White Song Contest (NHK)
*2. Glover Gardens - more info here & home page. Click on the English link for explanation. The Japanese home page is full of beautiful pictures of the gardens.
*3. According to fans, that last scene between Takechi and Ryoma at the end of episode 19, had a 9-page long script.
*4. Ochiai Nobuhiko is a Japanese writer. His works have been translated into many languages internationally.
Some of the Asahi Super Dry CMs starring Ochiai Nobuhiko in the late 1980’s: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Translated from the Chinese version in Fukuyama Honne (Articles 8195 and 8240) with reference to the original article in BROS#86.
This English translation was first posted on MashaPlus [dot] Info Forums. (Registration required to enter.)