MyNavi interviewed Mio Kudo, who portrayed Sayo Oharu in Mashin Sentai Kiramager to talk about her role in the show.
The Kiramager series is reaching its finale (at the time of this interview).
This year has without a doubt become a year of growth for Sayo and me. While Sayo appears to have a graceful and warm presence, deep down she is zealous and strong-willed.
I’ve learned to become like Sayo after a year, who is dignified and caring. I’ve learned to become strong-willed like her.
Tell us one of your memorable episodes.
They’re all precious to me, but episode 32 has left an impression on me.
That episode featured a date scene between Sayo and Yujin Kusaka (portrayed by Koji Kominami), an old classmate from American Medical College.
That scene was shot with the intention of making it less like a hero show, with a lot of help from Director Kiyotaka Taguchi. He wanted to create something like the 9 PM Monday romance dramas and leave out things that define a Super Sentai series.
Sayo’s strong-willed personality was emphasized in episode 24.
She is the type of person who puts her dedication into things she likes and feels strongly about. So while she says she wants to enjoy the love for music, she speaks with a strict tone at band practice with the other members.
I wanted to portray that “I’m going all-in” side of her. Sayo doesn’t always show such emotion but in this episode, I wanted to convey her ferocity.
The contrast between her usual self and that side of her is very impactful.
That’s right. While I do enjoy portraying her when she’s always smiling, I do have moments where I want to bring out that other side of her. I can’t remember how deep into filming we were, but I seized every opportunity to bring out more of Sayo (laughs).
The scripts also included a wide range of Sayo so I’m happy that there were so many opportunities to bring more of her out.
I’m always watching how Atomu Mizuishi and Kohei Shoji improve their performances per the Director’s vision and now I want to be more like them. I have no idea whether or not I was able to do so like them but I’ve come this far always with the intention of challenging everything.
The Double-Heroine Story featuring Sena and Sayo’s relationship is very popular.
I love that episode. We were told that there was going to be a double heroine episode and the Producer asked us what we would like to do. And I think they listened to my wishes. I always loved how the Super Sentai series featured a heroine becoming an idol.
Since Yume Shinjo (who portrays Sena) does tea ceremonies and I do traditional dances, we wanted to have a traditional Japanese-feeling episode. We did request to wear traditional clothes however, eventually, we had a more serious episode that featured Sayo helping Sena on the beach.
What’s the Kiramager team like when the six of you are together?
We began with a team of five and we were great together, but when Kou (who portrays Takamichi) joined the team, a new wind blew through and we became a much better team. With Kou here, everyone feels relaxed. He’s a very reliable person. Our team of five was delightful, but our team of six was much more so. I really do think the Kiramagers are the best team.
Sayo’s character song kiseki wo yume miru? is characterized as romantic jazz. It highlights your character’s mature personality. What are your thoughts?
I’ve been looking forward to hearing her character song when it was decided, wondering what it would sound like. The Producer let me listen to just the melody of the song and I was surprised thinking “what is this stylish song?” It really does sound like something that would be played in a fancy restaurant and I imagined how Sayo would sing this song.
When adding lyrics, I thought about how to give the song a sweet flavor and more enjoyable to listen to while I was working on the recording. My ideal artist I strive to be is Ringo Shiina. Before recording, I listened to a lot of her songs and learned the many ways of singing. Of course, I don’t have the ability to imitate her singing, but I did have fun.
What are some things you were conscious of while singing?
Sayo has a gentle outward appearance, but there is a side of her that she almost never shows. While adding that mysterious side to her, I wanted to sing the song in a way that captured her cuteness and the emotions she feels.
When I was recording the song, I made sure to have a smile while singing in order to convey the happiness in her voice. I did want to try incorporating a bit of sexiness as well so I mixed in some long breaths. I wonder how what kind of impression it left on the fans though (laughs).
What are your impressions on the interaction between Mashin Helico and Sayo?
At first, I thought Sayo was the older sister in the relationship but eventually, I found them to have more friends of the same age kind of relationship.
Helico may not understand human emotions, but Helico does comfort Sayo in her times of sadness. When Sayo’s happy, so is Helico. They are the best pair. Whatever conversations they may have, they share a deep bond.
Yuki Nagaku (voice of Helico) has the highest of cuteness in her character voice.
In episode 19 titled Partner, Helico’s soul entered Sayo. What parts of your acting did you have to be conscious about?
Helico is very immature, so I thought I should channel Sayo when she turned back into a child. But then I felt that should try and make it look different.
Kiramai Pink’s suit actor Ayumi Shimozono had to portray Helico’s soul in her body first so I talked with her first.
She told me that “Helico’s never become a human before, so you should move in a way that’s not characteristic of a normal human.” That allowed me to get into character. I wanted to channel Helico’s cuteness so I tried out different things.
What kinds of things did you and suit actor Shimozono talk about in regards to Sayo’s portrayal?
When reading the scripts for each episode, we do talk about how we’ll portray Sayo, but it’s not like we’re always talking about it. If I had one way to describe it, I’d say we observe each other’s motions and move in a way that’s close to each other.
In my case, I’ll look at gestures and movements that Shimozono does and think “hey, that’s very Sayo-like” and include it into my acting.
The way Shimozono stands as Kiramai Pink is so graceful, I try to make my stance and posture similar to hers.
In Episode ZERO, I found Sayo very sexy when she sat on a Bechat with her legs crossed and firing a gun. So I actually requested Shimozono that she fight sexier as Kiramai Pink (laughs).
Can you tell us of any instance where you realized you got to portray Kiramai Pink?
Around the summertime, I wasn’t in great health and I was filled with anxiety, thinking that my condition would be trouble to the others. But my castmates stood by me and supported me with kind words.
Especially Yume Shinjo, who comforted me and told me everything was going to be okay. She’s always helped me with my personal life and she’ll share with me her varying opinions on things. She’s a real lifesaver.
This past year, the other five members have been a positive influence on my life and there are a lot of things about me that I believe have changed.