Tsurushima, who portrayed the main heroine of Kamen Rider Zero-One, talks about the show and her character.
MyNavi: Not only were you an excellent secretary, but you also calmly explained Aruto’s jokes. Then you would follow up with “a very funny joke”. You’ve become a hit favorite from the start of the show. What do you think made your character a hit?
Tsurushima: After every episode, I wondered what part of Izu’s character stuck most with fans so I often checked the comments on Twitter. Throughout the year, there were many fans who illustrated Izu’s notable scenes and famous lines. I always looked forward to seeing them.
MyNavi: Throughout the year, there were many Izu figures that demonstrated her rise in popularity. What are your thoughts on this?
Tsurushima: It makes me very happy. Even people from Bandai mentioned that it was rare for them to create figures outside of Kamen Riders. When I heard that, I was like “Heck yes!” I cherish all of them at my house (laughs).
MyNavi: Posing with Aruto after he delivers his jokes, having a silent reaction to hearing Aruto’s words, even in casual scenes Izu’s presence can be felt. How did you create those impactful movements?
Tsurushima: I had to put quite a lot of thought into them. Even my script says “Izu does something” here so I have to put a lot of thought into what I have to do. When I look back on Zero-One, there’s a lot of serious episodes but I feel like many of our viewers looked to Izu’s scenes for comfort. Izu makes expressions that only non-human AIs can do. I made it a point to have a blank expression and comical movements in my acting.
MyNavi: Can you share with us some of your character’s performance that wasn’t in the script?
Tsurushima: Izu’s lip bite in episode 19 had a strong response from fans. I was introducing the Humagear Smile to our opponent Tatsumi Shinyashiki and he called my joke “lame”, so I did that in response. That part wasn’t originally in the script, but Director Hidenori Ishida told me to do it. Izu has never done anything like that before so I was surprised he had me do it. I followed along and he was like “Oh that’s good”.
MyNavi: What were the difficulties in that scene in episode 42 (where Izu dies)?
Tsurushima: I channeled my feelings into the character so it wasn’t the acting that was difficult, but it was the special effects make-up that showed the robotic parts underneath my skin that made it hard. It wasn’t painful or anything, but it was hard to make facial expressions or even move my mouth. I also couldn’t eat so I had to have my meal before getting the make-up on.
MyNavi: In the last episode, you and Aruto incorporated some ad-lib in the final scenes of the series where you both were running through Aruto’s pose. Can you talk about that scene?
Tsurushima: The final scene was actually a long running shot, where I had to shift my timing of the pose many times. We had Director Ishida watch us do the Aruto Jyanai To pose and continue with our gag. He allowed us to take one running shot as many times as it took until we felt we were satisfied with the scene.
MyNavi: What were your thoughts on filming the final episode?
Tsurushima: For me, it’s my first acting job so I experienced a lot of firsts throughout the year. I felt a sense of accomplishment after being able to complete more than a year of work.
MyNavi: What was the last scene you filmed?
Tsurushima: The scene where I played Azu and gave the Eden Driver to Esu.
MyNavi: Because of the Coronavirus, the Final Stage and Cast Talk Show had to be postponed from Spring to September. There were also preventive measures in every location the event was held. Can you tell us how you felt when you were able to see the fans?
Tsurushima: They weren’t allowed to open their mouths, but we could feel their cheers from the beating of their claps. It wasn’t that different from the usual stage shows, as we could feel their intense support for us.
MyNavi: The film takes place after the ending of the TV series run, and the Izu in the movie is a completely new Izu. How did you portray Izu this time around?
Tsurushima: I portrayed Izu as a completely new individual who has been brought back to their original design.
MyNavi: What are your thoughts on the story of the movie?
Tsurushima: I think it’s interesting that the sixty minute time limit before the end of the world. The movie takes place three months after the events of the final episode. Although Izu is a completely new individual, she has learned many things in those three months.
MyNavi: There’s also that evil Azu, who is acting as a messenger of the Ark Satellite. How do you feel about that character?
Tsurushima: I portrayed her as a complete contrast of Izu. If Izu is a gentle and honest girl, then Azu would be someone filled with malice.
MyNavi: Who are you more like?
Tsurushima: I’m not the type to devote myself to someone like that, so maybe not Izu. If you ask me who I’m more like, I wouldn’t know how to answer (laughs). If I think about it, Azu is more human than Izu is but I don’t feel like I’m either of them.
MyNavi: How do you feel about the black theme of Azu’s outfits?
Tsurushima: I was happy to hear that Azu would be wearing something new. They’re all tailored to my size, and I was ecstatic when I put on the dress. It felt very Princess-like and there were a lot of accessories everywhere on the outfit. Izu on the other hand wore the same thing over and over.
MyNavi: Can you tell us about what we can look forward to?
Tsurushima: My personal favorite is the very last scene of the movie. You’ll be like “Is this really a Kamen Rider movie?” It’s very romantic in its atmosphere.
MyNavi: If there’s a movie that focused on Izu as the lead, what would you like happen in that film?
Tsurushima: I actually talk a lot about that with the producers (laughs). If Izu were the main character, it’d be nice if it had a “A Day in the Life of Izu” kind of feel, a slice of life drama that develops from Izu’s point of view.