In this NHK interview, So Okuno, Fuka Koshiba, and Director Takanori Tsujimoto share their thoughts about the drama Chousoku Parahero GandD and share behind-the-scenes knowledge!
A combination of para-sports, special effects, and youth give birth to a new genre of drama! The main character is a high school student with his eye on being the top wheelchair racer. Can he put the support gear made by his companions to full use in order to protect Earth from alien invaders? Don’t miss this transforming hero fighting in wheelchair action!
In this interview with NHK, Kamen Rider Zi-O‘s So Okuno (Sougo Tokiwa / Kamen Rider Zi-O) and Tokusatsu Gagaga‘s Fuka Koshiba (Kano Nakamura) share behind the scenes details of the NHK tokusatsu drama Chousoku Parahero GandD!
High school student Daishi Morimiya (So Okuno) dreams of becoming a wheelchair athlete, and Kei Fukai (Fuka Koshiba), a former track-and-field athlete, becomes his coach. One day, a handsome alien, Goo, falls from the sky while Daishi is practicing with Kei. Having escaped from a mass genocide in Earth’s binary star, Goo warns Daishi and his friends that Earth is in danger. Then, a giant lizard-like monster attacks Daishi’s household. Goo’s Mode Shifter begins to emit light and covers Daishi. Still in his wheelchair and his body now transformed by a special protector, Daishi charges at the monster.
This drama crosses para-sports and tokusatsu. What did you feel while filming?
So Okuno: My character, Daishi, is a wheelchair user and wants to be the top wheelchair racer. I’ve never tried being a wheelchair user or an athlete before so physical training and practices were tough. Still, it was an invaluable experience.
Fuka Koshiba: I play Kei Fukai, a wheelchair athlete coach. On set, I watched So work very hard to prepare for his role, so I was mindful to be as supportive as I could as Daishi’s coach during filming.
Could you share highlights of each other’s characters?
Koshiba: I think Daishi’s charm is in his conviction. He’s often smiling, but that’s just so others don’t see him troubled. When he decides to fight for everyone, I think the strength of Daishi’s resolve will be felt by the viewers.
Okuno: I think Kei is the most relatable character from the audience’s perspective. As a coach, she can be strict, but she can also be very kind. I sympathize with her because she also faces setbacks, and that’s really charming.
Koshiba: Was I really that strict as a coach? (laughs)
Okuno: I was already pushing myself to my limits, so when you’d go, “Keep it up!” I thought, “You don’t have to tell me!” (laughs)
Koshiba: “Swing your arms more!” and stuff, right? For your strength training, I also purposefully tossed the ball to whichever side looked like it hurt more.
Training must have been tough for your role as a track-and-field athlete.
Okuno: I rode a three-wheeled wheelchair used in para-athletics during filming. I thought it’d be easy, but it’s actually hard to go straight or turn corners on the first try. I felt for myself how hard practices can be for athletes.
Koshiba: But you kept up with the training, right?
Okuno: I was pretty frail to start, but I gained 5~6 kilograms (11~13 pounds) to approach an athlete’s weight. On the track, I was advised by Supervisor Nobokazu Hanaoka (Japan Para-Athletics). Mr. Hanaoka praised me a lot in the time we worked together. (laughs). I felt like I wanted to practice even more because of that. I’m very grateful that he could watch my growth with me.
Tell us about the tokusatsu scenes.
Koshiba: I played a tokusatsu fan in Tokusatsu Gagaga (2019), but I didn’t think I’d get to be in a proper tokusatsu production!
Okuno: I played the main character in Kamen Rider Zi-O (2018), but there was a special kind of filming this time that I hadn’t done before which was interesting. The filming of Daishi “in the mask” after transforming into GandD was notable. It was hard to grasp the nuance of how the director wanted me to act too.
Koshiba: Lucky! I’m jealous I didn’t get a role that could transform. Of Kei’s scenes, the one where Lagert’s tail wraps around her struck me as “tokusatsu”. CG would be added later, so the monster wasn’t actually there. I had to imagine and act that I was being carried very high up. I really had to picture being captured by a monster I couldn’t see.
From giant monsters to aliens, there are a lot of memorable characters. Who is your top favorite?
Okuno: Mine has to be Gen, Daishi’s dad.
Koshiba: I get that! Takeshi Tsuruno’s role, right?
Okuno: Gen’s a similarly energetic dad to Mr. Tsuruno, and I feel like even the viewers can feel energized by him. I know I did during filming. And of course, Daishi’s a hard worker. and I think you can cheer up watching him grow throughout the drama too.
Koshiba: All of the characters in this drama really are distinctive. Rio, Daishi’s childhood friend, often goes to his house making her unique dishes, and Goo is an alien who appears partway in who only says “goo”. There are so many characters to love.
Okuno: I want to point people to the trio working at Morimiya Motors, the factory Daishi’s family runs. They give a really tight performance. I think it’s fun to see everyone’s quirks.
Koshiba: It’s too bad that Miki Mizuno, who plays the big boss Laroux, was filmed separately from us. But it seems like people are excited for her on social media though, and we’re looking forward to seeing Laroux too!
To wrap up, please tell us some highlights of the drama!
Koshiba: So [Okuno] was a Kamen Rider. Mr. Tsuruno who plays the father was an Ultraman (Ultraman Dyna, 1997). Members of the staff have worked on tokusatsu before too, so I’m looking forward to how it looks when it’s finished. While this is a story of warm interpersonal relationships, there will be developments you won’t see coming.
Okuno: This may be a drama of people engaged in sports, but I think it’ll also make you feel many things from cheering in support to sharing pain with the characters. There’s also the charm typical of tokusatsu that I think make this an easy drama to watch. Please give it a watch. I think both children and adults will enjoy it.
From Director Takanori Tsujimoto
To think I’d be part of a new drama genre made by NHK! I couldn’t believe it all the way until I arrived to see the auditions for the main character. (laughs)
The drama’s main character is a young man leading life in a wheelchair. We wanted to portray this properly, so we brought on [Nobokazu] Hanaoka and Yoko Mizuno (Nippon Sport Science University) to supervise and advise. We learned much from them about wheelchair lifestyles and para-sports. Thanks to them, I could focus my energy on directing the drama.
We went all out on the tokusatsu side too. I had directed for Ultraman X (2015) and Ultraman Z (2020). Daishi is played by So Okuno who was a Kamen Rider, and Daishi’s father is played by Takeshi Tsuruno who was an Ultraman. We have Fuka Koshiba who had played a tokusatsu fan, and though I had worked with her before, Miki Mizuno made her debut with Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman (1990). On top of that, we have Tomo Hyakutake who worked on the special molds on Tokyo Ghoul and the Touken Ranbu movies, and Keiichi Sakurai, the lead cameraman on Shin Godzilla and Attack on Titan. I just can’t wait to see this finished. (laughs)
The special effects might be the only thing getting featured, but on the producion side, we’ve realized a new drama that intertwines para-sports, youth, and tokusatsu. I hope you’ll watch GandD without thinking strangely of it because of the special effects.