The latest installment in Keita Amemiya’s GARO franchise, ZERO – Black Blood premiered on March 8th. The following day, Ray Fujita, who plays the main character Rei Suzumura, and director Ryu Kaneda made an appearance at one of the screenings. They spoke about the movie in front of many avid fans.
Q: So, you started the promotion for the movie here in Osaka. What is your impression so far?
Fujita: I came here a year ago while promoting GARO – Demon Dragon of the Blue Cries. People in Osaka are really sharp-tongued, so I came prepared (laughs). I am really glad you gave such a reception to ZERO, so please be gentle with me.
Kaneda: My impression of Osaka, more than anything, is its women. They are all so pretty.
Q: How did you feel when you were approached for the project, Fujita?
Fujita: After working with the franchise for 9 years and having Konishi (who played GARO’s main character, Koga Saejima) with them, I fought alongside Koga. We took GARO to the Japan Expo in France. But, since Konishi was not with me, I felt the pressure of having to do everything by myself.
Q: How did Amemiya approach you for this, director Kaneda?
Kaneda: This is actually a project I pitched. I told Amemiya, “I want to make a movie with Zero as the main character!” and he thought it was a good idea. Right when the Garo Special: Beast of the White Night ended, he started cooking up a Zero project. I had been working regularly with Fujita after the first season of Makai Senki and saw him grow up. He could finally walk straight (laughs). During the first season he was 17, still a young boy, and he’d walk in a twisted manner. But in Makai Senki, the second season, he could finally walk straight! (the whole room laughs). So along with Fujita’s growth, Koga’s story closed a chapter and everything had a natural timing to create this movie.
Fujita: After Makai Senki ended, we went to a fan event and I received flowers along with Konishi since I was “graduating”. I cried. But if you ask Amemiya, he’ll tell you he had no intention of having me graduate at all.
Q: It’s been 9 years, from 17 to 25. The way you construct the character must’ve changed, no doubt.
Fujita: Yes. Now that I was tagged with director Kaneda, I think I have obtained a better idea. I was able to construct the character of Rei Suzumura once again and I feel I was able to have a better grasp of what kind of human he is. What I paid attention to this time was the fact that back when I fought alongside Koga, it was clear he was the strongest, and Rei Suzumura was only another of his allies. Even if I was losing my battle, Koga would show up and sort it out. So, I was at ease. But, now he is on his own as a Makai Knight and I wanted to make that burden apparent and add that responsibility to the character. I also admired Koga, so I wanted to add what Rei had learned from him and pay my respects.
Kaneda: Koga left having earned respect (from Rei). However, what we should not forget is that the prodigy Makai Priest Cain (Naoki Takeshi) and Yuna, who could use a Makai sword in spite of being a woman, both had as part of their character the knowledge that Zero existed, thus giving him respect as well and incorporating their joy at finally becoming allies of the man they admired so much. It was in this sense that I called him “Fujita Senpai” (senpai means ‘mentor’ or ‘upper-classman’) during filming.
Fujita: It was really uncomfortable (laughs). That “Fujita Senpai” thing was the hardest thing during filming. Even the action director called me that so I could not fail… They wouldn’t let me practice. But before me, there is the “Great Professor Konishi”.
Q: The “Black Chapter” will premiere on March 22nd. Please tell us what we should pay attention to in this coming chapter.
Kaneda: I can’t tell you that! (laughs) As people who watched it on Family Gekijo will know, the format is 30-minute episodes and this movie comprises episodes 1 to 3 with some differences between them. The “Black Chapter” will cover episodes 4 to 6 and some unaired scenes may appear. A way to enjoy them is to compare the series with the movie.
Q: And Fujita sings the ending theme.
Fujita: I was shocked when I saw the movie version. I was singing. This song was written while we were filming and it expresses my feelings about what Rei had experienced up until now. You may understand Rei Suzumura’s feelings after having watched ZERO – Black Blood.
Q: Please give us a final word.
Fujita: Having brought Zero to Osaka is almost like a dream. I feel fortunate to have summoned Zero here to be received in such a way. Thank you very much.
Kaneda: (while watching Zero) Moving around on the Shinkansen was really tiring. (everyone laughs) It is thanks to your support that a secondary character like Zero could have its own movie. I don’t want to end it with this. Bringing your dad, your mum, your grandpa and grandma, that will give us the strength to make our next move.
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.