Ninomiya Kazunari x Yoshinaga Fumi talk
A long, long, LONG discussion talk with Ninomiya Kazunari and Yoshinaga Fumi, the manga artist for Ooku. Something to tide everyone over until the DVD is out! <3
“Aloofness” – that, is attractive
Their conversation begins smoothly and calmly with the image Yoshinaga has held since before, of “the actor, Ninomiya Kazunari.”
Yoshinaga: I love (your) dramas so I’ve watched them. Like “Stand Up!!”…
Ninomiya: Wow, that’s nostalgic… Really?
Yoshinaga: Yes. Somehow, I’m sorry, for being somewhat a mania. During “Stand Up!!” I thought
you were an adorable person, after I saw the way you said “Eh?”
Yoshinaga: That “Eh?” was said somewhat with a negative feeling, but it was extremely cute (laughs). I’m sorry, for saying this in front of you. On top of that, in such detail.
Ninomiya: No, no (with a shy expression)
Yoshinaga: If it’s something recent, then it’s “Ryuusei no Kizuna,” I recorded it and watched it twice back to back. I wonder what it is, the image of an aloof type of person. That’s attractive. In “Ryuusei no Kizuna,” it’s exactly that aloofness that had Nakashima Mika (who plays the mysterious woman, Sagi) head over heels in love, I think.
Ninomiya: That’s right. Just like that, she was head over heels in love with me (laughs). No, I’m embarrassed. When I’m praised at such a close distance, I have nothing but that to say. I’ve never expected you to watch “Stand Up!!” too. This is an unexpected development. I would have been able to cope better if the development had been “I’ve watched Letters from Iwojima.”
Yoshinaga: I’ve watched it, I’ve watched “Letters from Iwojima.” But I thought I’d look back in history.
Ninomiya: That I even have a history for people to look back upon, makes me happy (laughs).
Yoshinaga: Even in “Ao no Honoo,” you were at such a young age but as expected, being able to kill someone with aloofness…
Ninomiya: I was 19.
Yoshinaga: That was really magnificent. But “aloofness,” isn’t that a phrase that often appears with Ninomiya-san?
Ninomiya: That’s right. I wonder why, maybe because I’m not persistent. Whenever I act, I think “Well, this is the last.” “The next stage” or “Connecting to the next” – I don’t think of things like that. Even when I go to Hollywood, I don’t think of something like “I’ll use this as a stepping stone…” It’s like “Okay, with this, I’m done with America” or “Okay, movie over, drama over.” I do it with the feeling of ichigo ichie 一期一会 (Japanese saying that is used in tea ceremony with the meaning of “treasure each meeting, for it may never come again”). That might be “aloof” of me.
Yoshinaga: I see. I thought it might only be the image from your acting, but after meeting you, you in person is “aloof” too (laughs).
Yoshinaga: At the press conference, when you’re asked about the kiss scene with Kakizome (Nakamura), you joked around by saying something like “I’m really sorry. An old man of 27 going persistently after a young one is…” but you being able to call yourself an “old man” is “aloof” too (laughs).
Ninomiya: But still, I’m an old man (laughs). I’ve always been on the side of being kissed, but I’ve rarely been the one who is kissing. So I feel somewhat sorry. But because it’s written in the script, I thought there’s nothing I can do about it (laughs). We did it for about 5-6 times, but I kept apologizing. Mizuno is the navigator of the world of Ooku.
Yoshinaga: It’s your first time doing a period piece, right?
Ninomiya: That’s right. I love period pieces a lot so I really wanted to do them, but I have a hunched back, and I have a silver filling (laughs). Because of that, I’ve been dropped once in a period piece audition so I thought, “Well, period pieces are impossible I guess.” Then, I received this offer. I asked “Eh? I have a silver filling, is that alright?” I was really happy.
Yoshinaga: I was also very happy when I heard from (producer) Araki-san that it’s been decided that Ninomiya-san will be taking part. In any case, we’ve asked someone who will be excellent in acting to do this. When I heard your name I went blank like “Eh? Hollywood?” It felt like “No… no way, is that alright?”
Ninomiya: I’m happy. Thank you very much.
Yoshinaga: No, no, same here.
Ninomiya: The kimono, the wig, the gestures, the lines... It was all less difficult than I imagined it would be. About the gestures, it was movement that was matches reason, so it was really easy to do.
Yoshinaga: Is that so?
Ninomiya: Even regarding Mizuno’s Edo dialect or words that were used by the samurai, basically, I’m an Edo-person, so I’m a person who can leave it at that and chatter quickly. That’s why if I speak slower than what I’m used to, I would be paying attention to that, so I think I’ve put a good tempo to the way I said my lines. About words that were used by the samurai, be it nouns or verbs, they were words that I don’t know at all, so I remembered them by telling my brain, “So this is what it means, remember, you!” It was like I was using a totally different way. Only, I was wondering how the chonmage* would be, but people around me keep telling me, “It suits you, it suits you” so it was like “Well, in that case I’ll go with the flow.” (laughs) The rest of the (Arashi) members told me, “As expected, it suits you.” As expected, you say… But it’s the first time, for me (laughs).
Yoshinaga: Playing Mizuno…
Ninomiya: The director had only one thing he was picky about, which was “I want you to stay as a man with vitality.” I was told that, so whenever I feel lost or confused, I intend to return back to that starting point and act based on that.
Yoshinaga: I was allowed to intrude on location and the first time I saw Ninomiya-san as
Mizuno, it was the scene where Yoshimune lifted up your chin. In the manga, Yoshimune expressed interest because you had “eyes that did not show fear” but Ninomiya-san showed watery eyes like a puppy’s. I was watching on the monitor and felt my chest tightening… and, sorry… As expected, this is not something you can talk in front of the person itself (laughs).
Ninomiya: By all means, please.
Yoshinaga: There was a contrast with the strict Shibasaki-san, so I think that was also one of the reasons why it went to my chest.
Ninomiya: If it’s the Mizuno in the original work, there would have been a more efficient feeling to it.
Yoshinaga: That’s right. But when I heard that Ninomiya-san would be playing Mizuno, I’ve said it many times before, but you had an image of “aloofness” so I’m okay even if it’s not done exactly like the original work. Mizuno is the guide to Ooku. He has the same feelings, the same viewpoint as the readers. I want him to be surprised with the reversed world of men and women, to be sick of it, to be angered of it, and be like “What’s this?!” That role is important. It’s fascinating that Mizuno is a young hot-blooded character, but that’s not very important I guess. There are parts in the original work where Mizuno gets angry really quickly, but in the movie, it flows along without him getting angry… It’s changed unusually I suppose. As the original artist, I’m happy if it’s done according to how I drew it, but there are also moments where I feel happy as well, like if it’s done differently and gives me a feeling of “Oh, so this is how it’s been done.”
Continue on to Part 2