Interview: Actor Yusuke Iseya

Interview: Actor Yusuke Iseya

The passion and shock returns! The production cost totals 3 billion yen and it took roughly 5,000 people to complete. After six months of shooting, rushing throughout Japan, the upcoming films of the new Rurouni Kenshin series, Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends, will be released on Aug. 1 and Sept. 13, respectively. The series aims at a worldwide audience, and the trailer is already available in seven languages, including Japanese. The previous film was distributed in 64 countries and gained considerable popularity, and there must be many fans out there eagerly waiting for the premiere of the upcoming films as well. This time, we took a few spare moments from the busy schedule of Yusuke Iseya, the actor who plays Shinomori Aoshi in the aforementioned works, for an interview.

Yusuke Iseya’s Profile
Born on May 29, 1976 in Tokyo. In his fourth year of college, he studied films at NY for a short period. Afterwards, he acquired his master’s degree in fine arts at the Tokyo University of the Arts. He started modeling during his school years, and he made his debut as an actor in the 1999 movie Wonderful Life. He has starred in numerous movies and dramas since. He appeared in Blindness, the opening film of the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival, and he has a well-established reputation for his English performances. He also appears in the Japanese-Korean co-production The Tenor: Lirico Spinto, expanding his activities to other parts of Asia. He directed his first movie Kakuto in 2002. In 2008, he established Rebirth Project Co., Ltd. and is now also active as a businessman.

Fighting with two swords was really hard!

―About your training. For challenging this genuine action piece after Ashita no Joe 1, did you have to train your body differently?

Since these movies were centered around swordfights, I had to focus on my lower body when training. And because I was wearing jersey clothes during the fight scenes, I did some muscle training for my upper arms.

Although I had started training by myself four months before the shooting, I still felt that it wasn’t enough when it came to actually performing the swordfights. It’s best to continue on doing this kind of training rather than just suddenly doing it.

―In these movies, you play Shinomori Aoshi, who wields two short swords. What were your impressions about having to use two swords?

It was really hard! When you use two swords, you have to make two different trajectories, and it’s difficult to swing them. For a few months, I’d been doing basic physical training and swordfight training at the same time, it was very hard.

―In the Kyoto Inferno, similarly to the manga, you have a sword duel with Okina (Kashiwazaki Nenji) from the Oniwabanshu. What were your thoughts on the action scene between you and your opponent, Min Tanaka?

He is amazing. He performed his actions with such intense movements that belied his age, I was shocked. Also...he’s always very serious when performing! During the shooting, we talked about only grazing and not hitting each other. But his strikes were serious. I got hit so many times, it really hurt (laughs). For that part, I was also completely absorbed in the performance.

―What efforts did you make to play Aoshi, this man running down the road of carnage as the ghost of the Bakumatsu?

I was expected not to show a lot of emotions and keep a cool expression. However, most scenes were swordfights, there weren’t a lot of parts that required acting. And when the recording of the battles neared its second half, I was really absorbed in the action and I didn’t really have the chance (laughs).

Enjoy “The Dance Of The Wheeling Sword Six Successions” on screen.

―As an actor, and also as a director, what do you think about director Otomo, who supervised the movie?

I thought he was great at giving people tasks. I think that in this series, since there were exceptionally many action scenes, action director Tanigaki and his staff carried a big role. For that reason, they also had a bigger influence on the movie, and that must have been hard to control as a director.

Despite that, director Otomo boldy entrusted people with tasks. And when doing so, he guided everyone to the direction he wanted to go, without ruining the world of the film. From the viewpoint of a director or even as a manager of a company, I think he has excellent leadership abilities.

―Lastly, a message to the overseas fans who can’t wait for the screening.

There might be some of you who, after being told “It’s really interesting, so please look forward to it!” have experienced the exact opposite when you actually watched it. Still, I don’t think these movies will betray anyone’s expectations.

Please enjoy the upgraded Rurouni Kenshin, and the moment when I use “The Dance Of The Wheeling Sword Six Successions” as Shinomori Aoshi on screen!

^1^ A live-action movie based on the popular Japanese manga Ashita no Joe. Iseya took on pro boxing training and lost weight for the sake of the movie.

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno/The Legend Ends Official Site

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.Written by Kohji Sakurai, photo by Tetsuya Hara.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Great Kyoto Fire Arc/The Last of a Legend Arc Trailer
Rurouni Kenshin: The Great Kyoto Fire Arc/The Last of a Legend Arc Trailer
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