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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oricon's interview of Yukawa Kazuhiko

Oricon conducted an interview with scriptwriter Yukawa Kazuhiko who is famous for his dramas such as 2011's "Kaseifu no Mita", 2012 morning drama "Jun to Ai", 2015's "Gisou no Fuufu" and 2016's "Hajimemashite, Aishiteimasu" who is making his directorial debu with the movie "Koisaika Miyamoto" starring Abe Hiroshi and Amami Yuki. The following is an extract from this interview which touches on his movie and his take on the drama scene these days:

- Initially, Yukawa did not have the intention to be the director for the movie "Koisaika Miyamoto" as he was only going to write the script for it. However, while writing the script, Yukawa wanted to include some pop elements into the story and found that the script became somewhat difficult to direct as a result. Although he did not volunteer at first, Yukawa was thinking deep down that he was the only one who could direct such a movie. After a number of directors were suggested, there was still no decision made so the producer suggested to Yukawa that he direct the movie himself. Upon hearing this, Yukawa was very excited that the opportunity had finally come his way.

- Yukawa entered the entertainment industry with the aim of becoming a movie director. However, due to circumstances when he first started out as an assistant director of a production company, there was no chance of him realising his dream. Nonetheless, he got the opportunity to write scripts and since then, there has been no looking back for him with never-ending offers. Even as he is an established scriptwriter now, he still wondered at times what he was doing when his original dream was to become a director.

- As a scriptwriter, Yukawa doesn't seem himself as a writer of literary works but rather he is just the designer of a story. When he was still an AD, he would make modifications to the script without permission and had "arrogantly" thought that it would be better for him to write the script since it would save him time to modify it. He was glad that what he wrote was liked by everyone although it took him a long 30 years before he finally got the chance to realise his dream as a director.

- Yukawa is known for being a scriptwriter who loves to give advice on the set to the cast and crew. He joked that it's probably due to his wish to become a director so he did that to fulfill his desire of directing. In actual fact, this is because he has a certain image of his script which he doesn't want to be distorted due to misinterpretation so that's why he became known as a "naggy scriptwriter" even though his intention is for the good of his work.

- Reflecting on his first collaboration with Abe, Yukawa said that the actor is exactly who he imagined to be: serious about his acting. Abe is one who knows how to act in the best way to deliver the greatest performance and ignores everything else. As such, Yukawa feels that Abe's concentration when it comes to acting is indeed a beautiful sight to behold and he has learnt a lot from the latter too. As Abe has to play a "little man" this time, Yukawa found it very amusing to see someone who is as tall as Abe try to look convincing as a man who is like a scaredy cat and lacks guts.

- This movie marks the 4th time that Yukawa is working with Amami and he deliberately chose her to play an ordinary housewife in the movie since he feels that this is the role which is most unsuitable for her. Although it was a risky attempt on his part, he remembered fondly in the drama "Gisou no Fuufu" where Amami played the character of a woman who was approached by her gay first love (Sawamura Ikki) to pose as his wife and how she was spewing with venom deep down and had to keep putting on a smile in front of others. This made Yukawa feel that she looked very cute in that drama. Besides, people are used to seeing Amami play strong characters so he wanted to show the weak side of her  as a housewife who is so tired, dragging her feet along in life and can't be bothered about her husband. It also seems that Amami has grown to like playing less-than-perfect characters so Yukawa hopes to explore this unchartered territory in future so that there can be endless possibilities for her.

- The drama scene was said to have enjoyed a resurgence in the Autumn 2016 season thanks to the popularity of dramas like "Nigeru wa haji daga yaku ni tatsu". In response to this, Yukawa commented that the TV stations have finally realised that what used to work in the past doesn't guarantee success now. In the case of "NigeHaji", a story like this would not be realistic enough if it was done a  few years ago but in the current times, the relationship between the lead couple has become more believable. Time have changed but at the moment, there seems to be a saturation situation in the drama scene so in order to break free, the challenge of creating new characters must continue in order to break free of the current situation.

- Yukawa felt that "NigeHaji" was successful in a few ways i.e. Hoshino Gen's theme song "Koi", the popularity of the Koi dance, the engaging story and Aragaki Yui's cuteness. It was a drama which conveyed the insecurities and loneliness of the young people today so it was a refreshing take on current issues. It is best to uncover the underlying issues facing the people of today rather than go back to past success examples and aim to replicate the same thing now.

- On the other hand, for dramas like "Doctor X" which has achieved high ratings to date, Yukawa feels that there must be something different in future sequels although he thinks that it's not wrong to stick to the same tried-and-tested formula which had worked well to date. However, it is still important to convey the issues of today and get people thinking which will then make the drama scene more vibrant than it is now.

- On the topic of "outsiders" like comedian Baka Rhythm becoming scriptwriters and delivering critically-acclaimed works like "Kuroi Juunin no Onna", Yukawa said that as long as the story is interesting, it doesn't matter who writes it. Although people may think that these outsiders are stealing the jobs from professional scriptwriters, Yukawa doesn't see it this way since each scriptwriter has to write at least 10 episodes for one season's drama so the more people there are to share the workload, the better it will be. However, he discouraged writing scripts together with acting in the same work as this seems to suggest to the viewers that the scriptwriter is just trying to boost his or her name value without devoting full attention to the script.

Source: Oricon

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