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Hyper Hobby Interview: Hiroshi Fujioka (Kamen Rider) x Gaku Sano (Kamen Rider Gaim)

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Hyper Hobby Interview: Hiroshi Fujioka (Kamen Rider) x Gaku Sano (Kamen Rider Gaim)

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In the May issue of Hyper Hobby, Hiroshi Fujioka, who plays Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider, and Gaku Sano, who plays Kōta Kazuraba, sit down to discuss their respective roles and the impact their characters have had on their fans.


“The Men who Carry on the Title of Hero”

Oono: Mr. Fujioka, have you ever watched a Heisei Rider series before?

Fujioka: Just a little bit. It was rather refreshing. My first thought when I saw it on TV was, “We have this many Riders already!?”

OH: Did you have any first impressions about them before seeing it?

Fujioka: They are very high-tech in armor and much more advanced now. Back in my day, we didn’t have any of that.

OH: You also performed your own stunts (for this movie) however, did you wish you did them yourself back then?

Fujioka: That’s how things went for me when we first set up (after the casting), but I guess I wasn’t cut out for that. Maybe I appeared too fragile (laughs). He (Takeshi Hongo) is a martial arts master so that may have been another reason why.

OH: Mr. Sano mentioned how he wanted to perform his own action scenes. The lead actor so far has action scenes with you and Double.

Fuijioka: I see

Sano: In this movie, I got to see Mr. Fuijoka himself and I was especially moved. I was told he was more dominant in the scene before he transforms (laughs)

Fujioka: You were watching? It was a really great scene.

OH: I heard you chose what clothes to wear for that scene.

Fujioka: That’s right. I believe everyone’s last image of Hongou was him travelling to South America and Europe. Everyone remembered that he went overseas to continue his fighting, which is why I decided on the outfit that I did.

Sano: That’s amazing. Just hearing about what went into that scene astounds me. I’ve only been in this role for half a year and those are things that can’t cross my mind. I can feel the weight behind it just by hearing it.

Fujioka: It’s because everyone knows that he continued fighting. It’s something I have to be thoughtful about. It’s something that fans will always have on their mind. They will probably continue to consider those things about you too. Kamen Riders are burdened with responsibilities, there are times where you judging yourself as such will be important.

Sano: Understood.

Fujioka: You’ll one day be someone people will look up to.

Sano: I see

Fujioka: Most likely as a hero who has taken up a lot of responsibilities.

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OH: Mr. Fujioka is a real hero whose image has never crumbled before good. Resolving to live that way

Fujioka: Even if I went to over 100 countries, the children will fly around shouting, “It’s the hero, Masked Rider!” These memories will influence children’s hearts forever. It doesn’t matter what country they’re living in. When I see this, I feel obligated.  Or perhaps I should say I become more stern rather than being shocked at how much of a presence I can be wherever I go. I know everyone’s watching me. The personnel at the airport customs would yell out, “It’s Masked Rider!,” forget what they were doing and take photos of me, and ask to shake my hand. It brings out the child in them. A hero like that has influenced them, and would get noticed wherever they go.

OH: Mr. Sano, have kids ever shown you that kind of reaction to you?

Sano: Not as much, to be honest. I don’t get noticed that much.

Fujioka: Children will eventually grow up, and one day there will be a time where your impact on them will come.

Sano: You mean when 10 or 20 years will pass, and they will eventually become adults.

Fujioka: That’s right. Don’t keep it in mind too long, otherwise you’ll regret doing it. When I started out, nobody noticed me.

Sano: Thank you so much for telling me that. At the speech at the end of the movie, we left an impression that “Kamen Riders are the heroes of the world.” The producers and other people involved in this film told me that everyone’s watching us, but I just couldn’t feel it.  However, thanks to you, Mr. Fujioka, I can once again feel like a hero, and I can’t thank you enough.

The Love of Fans Breathe Life into the series

OH: You were labeled a “fledgling” by Hongo Takeshi.

Sano: That’s because I am (laughs). I’m rather rude…or rather I still have yet to hatch. I’m still nowhere near a fledgling.

OH: When he (Hongo Takeshi) says that line, I believe it’s a remark about how the Heisei Riders are not at all resolved yet.

Fujioka: You can say that. I think it’s a great scenario. It was greatly emphasized. Nothing was sugar-coated. It really emphasizes the love of grown-ups. By telling them (the Heisei Riders) to stay strong, it communicates the stern affection. This movie leaves behind many deep meanings to young ones. He cautioned them by saying that “Unless they stand their ground, they’ll show how weak they are.”

OH: What’s at stake is the Heisei Rider’s privilege.

Fujioka: Transforming while being troubled. In the midst of thought, you’re stimulated and being impulsed. It’ll encourage them to find the strength within themselves, then they’ll transform. It’s a great conversation. Within seconds it happens, then the youngsters will be enveloped in strength, and that’s what the Showa Riders will expect of them. We adults all want our children to be strong and chase what they’re after. You can say it’s tough love, you can’t just spoil them. Speaking of which, it’s our way of telling them to man up. And that’s the main point of this film.

Sano: I thought so too.

Fujioka: Kind of like telling people to put your life on the line.

Sano: That was compelling (laughs)

Fujioka: If we also don’t drill that into you, then who will? The Heisei Riders are much too young.

OH: Right now is the turning point, isn’t it? It’s not about the Showa Riders being right or freeing the old generation, it’s about passing the torch onto the next generation.

Fujioka: That’s correct. It’s the same for America. Their films have generational torch passing as well. In regards to the new generation, you can say it’s passing on the old generations problems onto them. It’s the same for our areas. That’s what this hero movie is showing. That’s what we’re trying to match up. I think it’d be great if the kids nowadays could that take away from this film.

OH: It’s amazing just how fascinating an adult you are, saying how you live your life as a hero, Mr. Fujioka.

Fujioka: Not at all. There are things that I can improve on…

OH: Pardon me, but although you are 60 years-old,  just where does that vitality come from?

Fujioka: I would say from a time when I was doing the same things like putting my life on the line, betting on myself and pushing through. I’ll do things that other people can’t. I can only value the things that I can show people, something that only I can do. It’s no different even now. It’s an independent situation.

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OH: Mr. Sano, you still have a year of Kamen Rider responsibilities, is there any checkpoint you have in mind?

Sano: I’ve secretly thought of my start as Kamen Rider as a landmark. I can’t say there’s one in particular. I guess it eventually became not as distinct, and there are times when I am half-hearted, so maybe I’m not that strong. I feel like there are more things I should strive to become after hearing everything. I usually look to Mr. Fujioka’s words for guidance. Like when I lose focus.

Fujioka: It’s become a convenient era, and I find myself being at ease. With this (holding a smart phone) you can live life easily. All sense of livelihood comes to an end at home. It truly is the work of Shocker. It encompasses the problems all over the world, where everyone is just content with this. Which is why I prefer analog. Digital technology is also required as well however, we must balance our usage and use both.

OH: That’s the power of thought. Resolution, right?

Fujioka: That’s right. Finally, the power of the mind. You have to develop your mind. You have to transform your conscious.

Sano: Mr. Handa told me how the Showa Riders didn’t need to transform in order to win, because it was all due to the power of the mind. I didn’t think it was true. With the Heisei Riders and their weapons, they appear as long as they have their transformation equipment. But it’s different for the Showa Riders, where they transform with “ki,” and sharpen their minds.

Fujioka: In Japanese Martial Arts, they train their minds through the discipline of “ki.” Sharpening and raising their “ki,” developing your willpower can become a weapon itself. You can transform your entire mindset. The way one uses their mind can transform their lifestyle.

Sano: I see, thank you for the lesson.

Fujioka: Everyone is finding their way in life, maybe that’s enough.

Sano: I really am thankful for that. I want to grow up to be a fine man just like you, Mr. Fujioka. So please be good to me.

Fujioka: That makes me happy. I feel like you’re my very own son. Believe in me, as I fight my way through. And be strict with yourself, looking for your own path without losing your way. Your heart and mind are precious, it can change the world. Carry the world on your shoulders, and take on the world as your own. And continue to give your dreams and your romance to the world. I want you to be that kind of actor.  I look forward to the kind of man you become. I’m here for you.

Sano: Thank you so much.

Fujioka: Your reflexes are great. I’m sure you can find yourself anew if you really want to. Create your own menu and don’t be afraid when adults are hard on you. I’m sure you can do it. You have good eyes. You were able to stare me down in our own scene together. I was like that too. I watched my senior’s dramas until the end, and even when I was finished with it, I continued to watch. Because there’s someone like him.

Sano: I’m so happy. I’ll do my best!

All English translations are accredited to The Tokusatsu Network staff members. Please do not repost without crediting and directly linking back to the original Tokusatsu Network article.

Source: May 2014 issue of Hyper Hobby

Long time Tokusatsu fan and costume and prop maker.

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