Komagine and Ise talk about the Super Sentai franchise and their characters.
When Zenkaiger was first announced, people couldn’t stop talking about the line-up: four robots and a human. The human character, Kaito Goshikida, is white and not red.
Komagine: When my manager told me that I got the lead role, I was like “oh yeah, I’m gonna be red!” But when I looked at the artwork of the characters transformed, I was very surprised to see white. When I flipped to the page of the characters before they were transformed, I was surprised to see four robots. I reacted as if I were in one of those reaction videos, “like woah!”
Komagine: Then I stood up and paced around the room, looked at the materials one more time and thought, “yeah, I’m not seeing things.” I couldn’t believe that I landed the role, but the impact of it all turned into panic. Then I realized that I enjoy new things and that there is a fun quality to it all. This is probably what Kaito feels to be a “World’s First” at something.
How did you feel about the Zenkaiger announcement, Ise? I believe back then you weren’t cast as ZenkaiRed just yet.
Komagine: I want to know too.
Ise: I was like “things are going to change here!” The Super Sentai series has taken on many challenges before but I was surprised to see this new start in the 45th series of a commemorative year. Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patranger was structured like a versus series from the start, but for this new series I was shocked that red wasn’t the leader. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I thought it was a good reflection of the progressiveness in diversity of the world. It’s like they are gradually changing the “boys have to wear red, girls have to wear pink” mentality. It’s interesting to see how themes and motifs change with the world over time.
Komagine: Which did you feel more of, your anxiety or your anticipation?
Ise: Honestly, just anticipation! I was like, “Let’s go! Let’s go!”
Komagine: I’m happy to hear that. You really like Super Sentai. There were a lot of things you talked about on set that I just couldn’t keep up with (laughs).
Ise: Sorry about that.
Komagine: Oh no, I’m kidding! I think people who have been watching Super Sentai for a long time have their own ideas about the “axis of Super Sentai” that they don’t want removed. Many people have shared their opinions with me. “Zenkaiger looks like a rider” or that “he’s not red”, so I was wondering what you thought about it.
Ise: It’s all good. I wasn’t worried at all about stuff like that. I was more interested in who was going to sing the opening theme. I thought there was going to be an audition, but then Takeshi Tsuruno was announced to be the singer. I’m no match for him (laughs). But there’s a lot of past Super Sentai songs that were going to be incorporated, so I’m looking forward to hearing the motifs from the ones I sang, like Ressha Sentai ToQGer and Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.
Komagine: Actually (leaks something in secret)
Ise: Don’t say there here! Are you serious!?
Komagine: No, just kidding!
Komagine: Sorry! I tell a lot of lies on set!
Ise: You got me excited… Oh yeah, he tells a lot of lies. And they’re really cute lies.
Komagine: I told him “this water is 400 yen” (approximately $4.00) when really it’s 40 yen (approximately 40 cents).
Ise: I was like “400 yen? Amazing. Thanks!” But it was all a lie. I’m so gullible that I believe anything.
Komagine: I’m so sorry. It’s just how I communicate.
Let’s talk about the TELASA spin-off? Ise, you’ve appeared as a guest on ToQGer before, but this time you’ve been cast as red.
Komagine: I got used to seeing white during the filming for the TV series, but when I saw red for the spin-off, thought he looked really cool. I believed there was a possibility that I could become Zenkai Red, so I thought I was going to become red. I reflected upon that a bit, and realized that my attachment to white grew, as well as my love for Zenkaiger.
Ise: When I heard I was cast, I felt the same way I did before when I heard I was going to be a guest. I kept thinking, what would a human role be like in Zenkaiger. Would I be playing a mechanic? Then I heard that I would be transforming into red. “No way!” I thought. At the time, I was working on the theme song, I was also doing acting. I wanted to somehow be involved in the series as an actor. I never thought that my dream would come to fruition in this way. The transformation scene was super fun.
Komagine: Sounds like you had fun.
Ise: I can’t put into words just how much my emotions were uplifted. Like last year, I felt so depressed because of the Coronavirus last year. But I was so happy to see how things could be if I just didn’t give up. I wanted to call my family as soon as the announcement was made public. I wanted to call my mom immediately and tell her how to subscribe to TELASA (laughs).
Komagine: That’s important!
Ise: That’s the first thing I had to say. “Okay, this is the only thing you need to subscribe to”
Let’s talk about the characters you play.
Komagine: Kaito is very honest, and aims to be the “World’s First” at something. He goes all-in when he has his mindset on one thing, he has the power to achieve things, and there aren’t many others who would trust into the mysterious Kikainoids. I want to convey to our viewers why Kaito was chosen to be the only human hero of Zenkaiger. After the movie Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger: Red Battle! All Sentai Grand Gathering was released, I checked the feedback on social media. I was happy to know that what I wanted to convey got through to the audience based on the comments. I want to carry Kaito’s genuineness for the next year.
Ise: Zenkai Red’s purpose is to represent the belief of those who think that the center character has to be red. I took on this role to be the subject matter the Zenkaigers would eventually have to tackle in order to move forward. On top of conveying to Kaito that there are people who hold such values, my role is to reaffirm his values. Through this story, Zenkaired will also be forced to think about what he really wants to protect and what he really wants to do.
Speaking of your role, your outfit really does scream “the red.”
Ise: I added a bit of heel to it. My outfit consists of a red leather jacket with red shoes to compliment, and striped pants to create “the red.” The leather gloves were something I proposed. I based my outfit on what the Super Sentai theme song singers in the past wore and how many of the characters in the past used to ride motorcycles. I wanted to add that flare of the Showa Era.
Komagine, you usually work around suit actors for the TV series. For this particular spin-off though, you got to work with actors such as Katsuya Tagaki, Hiroki Sasamori, Sachika Nitta, Noriyuki Ohashi, and of course Daiki Ise. Did it feel different from what you’re used to?
Komagine: It felt completely different.
Ise: Yeah, he watched us from the lace of the umbrella.
Komagine: Right. In scenes with Kikainoids, their eyes don’t move and they don’t ever change facial expressions. However, with them as people, they react to my every comment and sometimes all of their stares become fixed on me. I became so nervous and embarrassed that I hid under the umbrella once there was a cut.
Usually people aren’t used to acting with suit actors. But it’s the other way around for you.
Komagine: It really is. I’m so used to acting with the Kikainoids. However, when filming ended, everyone wished me luck for the next year. I felt a bond with people and thought “humans are great.”
Ise: That’s something a Kikainoid would say (laughs).
Komagine: That’s right. I’m beginning to become a mechanical human at heart.
Tell us about your own “World’s First” experience, Komagine.
Komagine: Well, I get to be the World’s First white lead in Super Sentai.
Ise: That’s right. Also, you’re the first person in the world who was able to do a backflip within just two days.
Komagine: Oh right. I’m now able to do a backflip as of today. I practiced for about 20 minutes yesterday, and today I spent about an hour being taught by the action staff.
Ise: Isn’t that super fast? You learned to do a backflip in an hour and twenty minutes! And you practiced during a busy schedule?
Did you have previous experience in gymnastics?
Komagine: Not at all.
It would have been a real serious matter if you get injured. Were the staff not able to stop you?
Ise: I think that’s what everyone was thinking.
Komagine: Of course the staff is looking out for me. But the action department is enthusiastically and safely guiding me. And I wanted to do something other than just acting. Like the catchphrase “full-power full-throttle,” I want to give it my all outside of filming. If I can show the directors that I can do a backflip now, they might let me do it on the set. When I heard Naoya Makoto (Akarenger in Himitsu Sentai Gorenger) got injured a lot on set, I wanted to have that kind of energy too.
Ise: You wanna have that same kind of guts until the very end, right!?
Komagine: Yep! Of course, it’s best not to get injured (laughs). I want to show those who love the Super Sentai from the past that kind of Showa Era masculinity. Katsuya was also practicing today too wasn’t he?
Ise: He was really into it.
A lot of fans who’ve watched Kamen Rider Amazons recognize Katsuya.
Ise: Yep, he has a very fierce look, he’s big, and has a strong presence. As for my “world’s first”, I guess this is the first time a main theme song singer transforms into red. Although there were previous reds in the past who’ve done the same like Daisuke Shima from Choujuu Sentai Liveman, and Kenta Satou from Kousoku Sentai Turboranger. I also heard that I was the first theme song singer to appear in the Final Live Tour. But it’s difficult because it’s not a world record but a world first. I guess I’ll just have to star in the Super Sentai and appear regularly in Kamen Rider.
Komagine: Being the “World’s First” at something is pretty difficult isn’t it? I think it’s amazing that Kaito has so much energy to take on that kind of challenge. He’s inspired me to be the world’s first at something this next year.