Hyper Hobby interview with Takayuki Shibasaki, Kento Handa, Masahiro Inoue and Gaku Sano
Prior to the release the movie Heisei Riders vs. Showa Riders: Kamen Rider Wars feat. Super Sentai, Hyper Hobby sat down with the director of the movie, Takayuki Shibasaki, as well as three of the main actors, Kento Handa (Kamen Rider 555), Masahiro Inoue (Kamen Rider Decade) and Gaku Sano (Kamen Rider Gaim), to discuss how it was to work on the film, working with the director once again and working with Hiroshi Fujioka.
Hyper Hobby: Director Shibasaki, you were the Assistant Director in Kamen Rider Kuuga, the Chief Assistant Director in Kamen Rider 555 and finally the Director in Kamen Rider Decade. You are also directing the currently airing Kamen Rider Gaim. Did you take this process into account when directing the movie?
Shibasaki: Yes. Well, it’s not that I just boast about it, though. This is the result of doing my job time after time and continuing for 15 years.
Handa: This is the first time I’ve worked with Shibasaki as Director. What I found to be most impressive was that he hadn’t changed his stance from being an assistant director. Which means he’s been this imposing ever since he was an assistant director.
Shibasaki: I’m not imposing (laughs). What I do say to assistant directors is that the directing crew is one big team that needs to stick together and advance. Be it third or second assistant director, you need to think of what kind of direction is needed in the scene you’re assigned and ask yourself what the director is aiming for. I certainly had that in mind since that time.
Handa: That’s why I relied on you that much back in 555.
Inoue: There is no doubt I get a vibe from him. Especially from his hair (laughs). I can’t think of his hairstyle but as a homage to Takumi Inui.
Handa: That’s right, Shibasaki. Not even your hairstyle has changed. I have the impression that your stance and your way of doing things have not changed at all.
HH: And Kamen Rider Decade was your first work as Director.
Shibasaki: Back then, we had the intention of reinventing the Heisei Kamen Riders that started with Kuuga. But just as with this movie, reaching a balance was difficult. I have a certain fondness for 555, but if I get too carried away with that, it may bother other people.
Handa: You mean being partial in featuring a particular series, right?
Shibasaki: Yes. It is important to be objective when balancing. In Decade, they were travelling through different worlds, starting with Kuuga. When it was the time to feature 555, it might have been because of how fond we are of it, but there were discussions. We did include some elements from the original series since people would want to see some, but in the end, the main theme was to create a new 555 within Decade’s series. For the Heisei Riders, we have the premise of ‘Doing something new every year’, however, in Decade it was about seeing the series objectively but getting the best of each. That notion helped a lot for this movie.
HH: Could you say that it is thanks to Decade?
Shibasaki: You could call it an experience that contributed nourishment. The opening day is the day before the first anniversary of Director (Takao) Nagaishi’s death. I didn’t have quite a grasp of the fact before filming, but I personally think that if he had been in good health, this project would’ve been headed by him. This movie is Nagaishi’s cut, meaning that I spread elements found in Director Nagaishi’s works. It may just be me trying to copycat but Nagaishi taught me a lot of things.
HH: Like being selective with locations?
Handa: He was really picky with locations. In one of my scenes, for example, it is set in the clinic. It was cold but it was really good.
Shibasaki: That was a good one. In this scenario, Keisuke Jin (Kamen Rider X) is a doctor but back then, he was supposed to be “the world’s number one sailor”. As such, we asked for his scenes to be near the sea and we also had people look for a clinic and a dining hall that could produce a Showa era-like atmosphere.
HH: Are there any scenes that you remember in particular, Inoue?
Inoue: Director Shibasaki had the habit of going “So it is like this!” when going to the different locations. In particular, there is a scene on set in which I appear with who you could call a partner of mine, Narutaki, played by Tatsuhito Okuda. It was not possible to imagine the scene just from the screenplay. There was a question mark when Tsukasa said Narutaki’s name, but you’d think that at this point it would not make sense for Tsukasa to call his name like that. We thought it was a printing error at first, but then you went to the location and everything made sense. There were many moments like that, it was fun.
Shibasaki: Narutaki explains a lot in that scene but I think the children may grow bored. That’s why I thought of doing something interesting then.
HH: What about you, Sano? This movie seems to be quite different to the series currently airing.
Sano: As Kōta, the environment may have changed but I felt he would remain the same. We filmed the transformation sequence showing my face before the orange falls on top for the first time and I was really happy about it.
Shibasaki: The orange comes down when he’s almost completely become Gaim, so in the TV series you can only see the face inside the orange. But we played with the fact that in principle, you’d transform from the neck down and as long as you don’t don the orange, your face should be left like is.
–Mr. Fujioka taught us that transforming is about satisfaction–
Inoue: Fujioka said that transforming had been “one of the most satisfactory experiences” he ever had. From that point of view, I felt I had not achieved a level high enough to feel that satisfaction. I felt that I had to wait for a few years and increase my experience in order to do that satisfying transformation.
Handa: I learned that transforming is about satisfaction for the first time from Fujioka. I have not reached the level in which I can feel satisfied either.
Inoue: My transformation is still in a so-so level in that case. It must be different depending on the character. In the case of Tsukasa Kadoya, my “henshin” phrase is more about using a tool. Since it is about having to say “henshin” in order to use a tool, I don’t raise my voice much.
Handa: In my case, it wasn’t about doing it after 10 years. When I was approached, I was doing promotion work for the Kamen Rider 555 Blu-ray release. I was really happy that it had come with such good timing. I was feeling the need to become a Kamen Rider again. But, more than transforming, I felt satisfaction in playing Takumi Inui again.
Inoue: What is satisfying about playing Gaim?
Sano: Nothing at all! I am still far beneath any kind of achievement that could give satisfaction, really. But it was really difficult to keep in mind the different timings when we three transformed at the same time.
Handa: Yeah, it was the three of us at the same time.
Inoue: It was quite hard.
Shibasaki: Neither Decade nor Faiz have a lot of poses, really.
Handa: The sequences are really short compared to Gaim’s.
Inoue: It would be like transforming at the same time and Gaim saying “Huh? Why haven’t I transformed yet?” (laughs)
Sano: Gaim has a lot to do when transforming.
Shibasaki: Rider 1 would just say “Henshin!” and that’d be it.
Inoue: He just builds up energy and jumps. I feel Rider 1’s is the longest sequence.
Shibasaki: Takes him a long time. (laughs)
Handa: We heard you had Fujioka redo a scene.
Shibasaki: The problem was that the angle concealed his face no matter what, whether it be changing it slightly or making it a bit higher. I asked him to repeat his scene due to a camera issue.
Handa: (Imitating Fujioka’s voice) “I did this one twice, you’re lucky.”
HH: Did you have any scenes together with Fujioka?
Sano: I did.
Handa: I envy you. I didn’t.
Sano: Actually, I knew Rider 1’s transformation and the pose as well. Still, when you see it done right there, you feel the urge to imitate him. I kept imitating him all the time.
Handa: It’s true. It must be his presence. I was really impressed with how one gets to keep their presence after more than 40 years. That reminds me, Fujioka was wearing sunglasses. Was that something you asked or did he decide for himself?
Shibasaki: It was both. The sunglasses were not to make him look smug. It was more about not letting the enemy see where he’s looking. Fujioka also paid attention to realism and thought that it wouldn’t be unusual for Takeshi Hongo either. But for the underground scenes, it would not be natural.
Inoue: So, you both decided if he’d wear the glasses depending on the scene?
Inoue: So, you had discussions about even small things like the sunglasses. Impressive.
Handa: I had a chance to see the footage and I didn’t have words for Fujioka’s appearence with his sunglasses.
Shibasaki: Those glasses are actually his. We, of course, picked some colours to coordinate with his outfits so we would create sets with both his clothing and the pieces the costume department prepared.
Handa: So that means that this (Fujioka’s photo on Hyper Hobby March issue) is more “Hiroshi Fujioka” than it is “Takeshi Hongo”?
Shibasaki: Yes, he himself has said that he played Takeshi Hongo thinking about what he did during all this time. We wanted not to reproduce what happened back then but to show that Hongo kept fighting till this day in 2014.
Handa: Director Shibasaki told me the same thing when discussing Takumi. “This is not about reproducing what happened”, he said.
Inoue: Yes. With Decade, it was a similar process. He told me “I need you to keep in mind this is not about doing what we did again”. And at the same time, the character did not change his mind and I tried to picture what he had done during this time. I wanted to say “This is what I’m doing now”.
Handa: Even at Fujioka’s age, that pose still suits him.
Shibasaki: He may be 67, but he’s a fighter. We felt he looked stronger before transforming than after. But since it’s a Kamen Rider movie, we need to have him transform.
Inoue: He certainly looks stronger as he is…
–This is what it comes to–
HH: Sano, so you really become more reserved when you are with senior Riders, like now?
Sano: Yes, since its a world I know so little about.
Shibasaki: Yeah, it was 10 years ago.
Handa: You may get a call 10 years from now.
Sano: The character Kōta is still growing. We don’t know what’ll become of Kōta Katsuraba/Kamen Rider Gaim yet.
Shibasaki: Look at Fujioka doing it after more than forty years. That doesn’t happen after doing a show for just a year. It’s about coming back in times like this and doing it just like you used to.
Inoue: It becomes part of you. This is what it comes to.
Handa: You’re right.
Shibasaki: Kōta is still in the middle of the process. Maybe after a year, you’ll be able to grasp what the character of Kōta really is about.
HH: Have you felt any difference now playing the character after aging 10 years?
Handa: I thought that’d come by itself. Unconsciously. I feared it would be weird if I tried to do it on purpose.
Shibasaki: I think you became Takumi. I felt really happy to see him there in you. I felt he had returned from the first cut.
Handa: It was more about becoming conscious as Takumi than building a character. I remember making that difference. But, the lines were very fitting for Takumi, so it wasn’t hard.
HH: What about you, Inoue?
Inoue: I tried just to change some of the perceptions my character had. I don’t make it conscious either.
Shibasaki: You appeared not long ago. (Kamen Rider Wizard’s last 2 episodes)
Inoue: People asked me about how it felt to transform after so long but, since Tsukasa has this unapologetic cockiness, I decided to do it along those lines.
HH: Tsukasa Kadoya’s format is really well-defined.
Inoue: Yes. The script was the biggest element. Reading the lines made me remember. Shoji Yonemura wrote a very faithful script.
Shibasaki: Yes. There were no moments in which the lines sounded unnatural.
HH: What do you think, Sano? Are you now keeping in mind that maybe in 10 or 15 years you may be doing the same as your seniors and come back?
Sano: Yes, I am. By that time Handa will be…
Handa: (Imitating Fujioka again) “No need for questions!”
Sano: Yes, that what he’d say so I’d just follow along.
Handa: Maybe I’ll be playing Takeshi Hongo instead of Takumi Inui, since I like Showa so much (laughs). I need to train and obtain a body that fits the Rider 1 belt.
Sano: And when that happens, the people of the new generation could look at Gaim like we look at Amazon now. Thinking how funny or different it is.
Shibasaki: Showa and Heisei Riders are completely different.
HH: Now, to finish, please tell us what you want us to see in particular in this movie.
Sano: I help Shu (a key character in the movie) fulfill his dream by helping people but there are many obstacles that Kōta has to deal with in his own way. He also gets advice from Tsukasa. I would like you to pay attention to how he grows from there.
Inoue: I visited many worlds in Decade, but I think this time was when I felt it the most. I didn’t work directly with them, but you have Fujioka or Mr. Ryo Hayami. I think an interesting point is the presence and impact that the “real” Riders have. I don’t think we have ever seen a more evident cooperation between shows like in this one.
Handa: Definitely Fujioka (laughs). Regarding Takumi Inui, Masato Kusaka appears. He is the key character that makes Takumi really shine as a character. Those who watched 555 may understand, the relationship between those two are really concentrated in this movie. It may be just a short scene, but you can see 555 truly coming back even if it’s just for a moment.
HH: Certainly, with Masato Kusaka’s appearance, the atmosphere becomes that of 555.
Handa: Yes. That’s why I’m so grateful for Masato’s appearance. This may sound like a 555 fan’s opinion, but the “Faiz-ism” present in the scenes are really intense and I hope you can enjoy it.
Shibasaki: Director Nagaishi used to say “Make it enjoyable for both parents and children.” I aimed for that as well when I shot this movie and I think it can be enjoyed both by the generation that saw Hiroshi Fujioka and the current generation that enjoys Gaim. So I hope you can go see it as a family.
Also, this may not be the concentration of everything, but those who ask themselves “What is Kamen Rider?” may find some of the answers here. I invite you to go to the theatre and see if you can find these answers.
Source: March 2014 issue of Hyper Hobby
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.