Team TokuNet debunks certain rumors that circulated around the tokusatsu community long enough to be considered as fact, in this new editorial article series.
For this debut post, we address whether or not Joe Odagiri “hated” his time while filming Kamen Rider Kuuga and tried to forget it.
This rumor first began when Odagiri’s agency website removed his role in Kamen Rider Kuuga from his actor profile. Kuuga was Odagiri’s first starring TV role.
Fans considered this to mean Odagiri’s agency or himself attempted to distance Odagiri from his tokusatsu roots, which many consider it to be “graduating” to more mainstream work. The profile has since relisted the role in his profile.
The rumor also expands further, stating that Odagiri hates toksuatsu in general, doesn’t like Kuuga itself, and doesn’t get along with his former cast members and staff from the show. Lastly, rumor also stated Odagiri purposely flunked a Super Sentai audition.
But what is true, and what is false?
Odagiri was a guest on a recent radio show hosted by Shigenori Takatera, producer of Kamen Rider Kuuga, called Shigenori Takatera Kaiju Radio. He addressed the profile issue and firmly denied his agency attempted to “hide” his tokusatsu beginnings.
He simply explained, “I was doing a lot of things back then (acting roles) and not all of them were listed either.”
He went on to say, “(Kuuga) wasn’t my debut role, so we’re not able to give it any special preferential treatment.”
Producer Takatera addressed the issue head on and asked, “Is it something you want to pretend never happened?” Odagiri replied, laughing it off, “It’s not like that at all. I was happy to appear in it.”
Fans also speculated Odagiri hates both tokusatsu and Kuuga itself. This is partially true.
Odagiri has been fairly vocal about not liking tokusatsu as a genre. In what has now become an infamous quote from 2005 Pict-Up (April 2005)magazine, “Heroes who transform and fight are gross.” In addition, he also said, “I don’t like transforming and kaiju stuff.”
When he received the offer for Kuuga, he was tempted to “quit acting” altogether. However, after being “attracted” by Takatera’s charm, he accepted. In the May 2009 Tokusatsu Newtype magazine, he said, “looking back at Kuuga, I think it was a great show.”
Even in the recent “Kaiju Radio” show, he stated openly, “I don’t like tokusatsu.”
On King’s Brunch, a late morning news talk show on TBS on April 26th 2014, when questioned about Kuuga, he said
Odagiri: I really hated it while doing it back then.
Interviewer: You hated it?!
Odagiri: Yeah. It was not a project I liked but still had passed the audition. I really didn’t know what to do. It was either giving up acting by leaving my agency or just hang in there and do it. Those were the only options I had.
It’s also worth noting Odagiri also auditioned for Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoV prior to Kuuga, forced by his agency. However, during the audition, when asked to do a pose by the staff, he refused and ultimately failed to land the role.
Agencies have been known to push their actors into acting in tokusatsu as it’s considered a first step into the entertainment industry. In Hyper Hobby magazine’s August 2013 issue, Yutaka Kobayashi, Kamen Rider Gaim‘s Kaito, stated one of the reasons he wanted to get a role on the show was:
It’s commonly said that Kamen Rider can open up a path in your career for new actors. I wanted to seize that chance. Some of the hottest actors right now all started with Kamen Rider.
At the time, Kobayashi was most likely referring to Sota Fukushi and Takeru Satoh, who played Kamen Rider Fourze & Den-O and whose careers sky-rocketed after their respective runs.
After passing the audition, Odagiri did not leave his agency and decided to work on Kuuga after meeting and discussing the show with the producer, Shigenori Takatera. He stated that he wanted to change what Kamen Rider was.
Interviewer: While doing Kuuga, right?
Odagiri: Yes. However, the producer, who is a very interesting and funny person, said that they wanted to “destroy the image that Kamen Rider had until then.” I then thought that was something I was good at. And I guess that became my motivation.
Odagiri, however, goes on to state, “In spite of me not liking Kamen Rider or hero shows, I cannot deny that my destiny was to play Kuuga.”
What is clear, overall, is Odagiri remained friends with his co-actors and staff members from Kamen Rider Kuuga. In 2008, Odagiri attended an informal reunion party and Wakana Aoi (Minori Godai)’s wedding in 2009. Takatera produced a television remake of Daimajin Kanon in 2010, which Odagiri had a cameo appearance in the final episode.
Finally, Toei has announced that Odagiri has participated in bonus features for Kuuga‘s Blu-ray box release.
Given the evidence above we can confirm certain things:
- Does Odagiri dislike tokusatsu – TRUE
- Did Odagiri attend a Super Sentai audition – TRUE
- Does Odagiri dislike Kuuga – FALSE
- Does Odagiri get along with the other cast/crew – TRUE
- Did they purposely remove Kuuga from his profile to pretend it didn’t happen – FALSE