Yui Koike, who portrayed Gokai Pink from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, provides updates about her life in this interview from Shueisha.
Shueisha: Ms. Koike, you haven’t made any social media presence in the last five years, which made fans anxious. There were talks that you retired from the acting world.
Koike: *laughs* That’s what it seemed like. But I’m not retired. I wanted to take the time to reflect on myself. I’ve been in the acting world since I was little so I wanted to try out regular work for a bit. I did office work at a place an acquaintance introduced me to, and even worked at an izakaya (a Japanese pub).
Shueisha: Oh thank goodness. So the rumor about you being married was a lie too?
Koike: It is a lie! I promise I’m not!
Shueisha: What a relief. Now then, I want to talk to you about your prominent role as one of the lead in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. How did you feel when you were casted?
Koike: I felt like I was dreaming. I auditioned many times for Sentai roles but never got casted. I was especially heartbroken when I didn’t make it in a role in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. When Gokaiger was announced, I told myself that I had to get in no matter what. It was the most determined I’ve been in my entire life. When the results were out, I became so exhausted and couldn’t wrap my head around reality.
Shueisha: Were you a Super Sentai fan from the start?
Koike: Of course. But I became a bigger fan when I was in High School. I went to high school with Rina Aizawa (Saki from Engine Sentai Go-Onger). She got casted, so I told myself that I wanted to do just that as well. But other than that, I was a fan since I was a kid. There was a time when I wanted to become a nursery teacher. But Super Sentai is a show kids watch so I wanted to be in it too.
Shueisha: The character you portrayed: Ahim de Famille, was originally a princess. She referred to herself with Watakushi ( a prim, proper, and former way to address oneself in the Japanese language), served tea for the others, and had a high class aura to her.
Koike: Everything about her was so high-class so it was hard to portray that. She used language that I didn’t use everyday. There was a formal word in the script (uketamawarimasu which means to receive) that I couldn’t read, which was a cause for concern to me. Her lift-off scenes were hard as well. Instead of the usual “toh!” yell, she says “hai!” When I first saw the footage of myself, I thought to myself, “she seems weak… can I really protect the Earth like this?”
Shueisha: But your lovely looks matched her. It looked like her pink ensemble is something you wear everyday.
Koike: Everyone tells me that (laughs). I like pink clothes but I never really wore them. It seemed like a very “girl thing to wear” and didn’t want to be thought of as that sweet and innocent girl. But I began to wear pink more after I portrayed Ahim. But I didn’t wear any fluffy stuff…
Shueisha: Do you think you relate to the character?
Koike: She’s careless and very airheaded. So yeah I would think so (laughs). But surprisingly, she has very strong points. She’s very stubborn, like I am.
Shueisha: The staff on the Super Sentai series sets are professionals and veterans, they’re very famous for being strict, have you ever gotten yelled at by them?
Koike: Not really. Maybe because of a sneeze once.
Shueisha: A sneeze?
Koike: Green and Silver were filming a very serious scene and I was having tea off to the side. I sneezed, and the Directors yelled “cut, who sneezed!?” And there was one time I was pulling on Joe’s long hair wig and it came off. I got yelled at then as well. (laughs)
Shueisha: (laughs) Anyway, so episode 29 was a God-Send for Ahim fans. You got to toy with an enemy and dressed up in all these clothes: a bride, nurse, policewoman, a schoolgirl etc.
Koike: Oh the cosplay episode (laughs). Ahim can’t fight so the Directors thought of a way around it. I was first worried that it wouldn’t go well since I was wearing something I didn’t wear during my normal fight scenes.
Shueisha: You’ve done Gravure shoots at that time right? Were you in a Gravure mindset leading up to that episode?
Koike: I didn’t (laughs). Maybe for the Nurse outfit.
Shueisha: Was there any episode that stood out to you?
Koike: If I had to choose, episode 41.
Shueisha: Who I don’t want to lose, right? That episode featured Ahim’s past. An evil monster destroyed your hometown and your character sought revenge, lost all sense of control, and confronted the monster.
Koike: I cried when I read the script.
Shueisha: Because Ahim’s parents were brutally murdered in front of her.
Koike: There’s that, and it’s because when Ahim thought she had to do this on her own, everyone told her “we’re with you too, right?”. That’s when you could feel just how close everyone was with each other. Just seeing everyone’s face made me well up. I cried all day that day. Actually, filming didn’t take just one day so I cried both days. My eyes were puffy (laughs). We filmed me having tea immediately after the flashback scene so my voice was very nasally. I will never ever forget that episode.
Shueisha: There was a lot of emotional weight, wasn’t there. Can I ask you a silly question? Who among the Gokaiger team did you like? I’ve always wondered that.
Koike: (laughs) Here we go again. I get that questions from fans all the time. I thought about it too actually. I think Ahim likes kind and masculine men, so I’d say Marvelous or Joe. Actually, they’ve interacted together from the beginning so it would be Joe.
Shueisha: Since she is a Princess she would like those Knight in Shining Armor types. How about you yourself personally?
Koike: I like mysterious quiet types. So I guess that would have to be Joe (laughs). People assumed I’d like people who would protect me, but it’s the opposite. I want to be their strength.
Shueisha: The fact that you wanted to be a Nursery Teacher means you have motherly instincts (laughs). Now for my very last question, what do you think the charm of Super Sentai is?
Koike: While it is cool in a lot of ways, its charm is probably the comradery and bonds. Being able to protect each other, and helping each other when someone is in need, that’s important. I’d like to think kids would watch the show and tell themselves that they’d like a friend like that. I myself gained such friends in Gokaiger, and for me, that’s a blessing.
Shueisha: Do you think about your days in Gokaiger?
Koike: Of course. Those days were full of hardships. And to me, is my treasure. My present exists because I had Gokaiger. I’m working hard to be better than I was back then.