Interview: Actor Ryunosuke Kamiki

Interview: Actor Ryunosuke Kamiki

Before the role was cast, the talk on the street was that nobody could play the part of Sōjirō Seta besides Ryunosuke Kamiki. Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends were then cast with him in the role of Sōjirō and he’s performed exactly as everyone hoped.

How did he acquire stagefighting skills that rival Takeru Satoh, who plays the part of Kenshin Himura? How did he show the mind of Sōjirō, considered to be a particularly difficult character to play out of all those in the series? To learn more about the live-action version of Sōjirō, we listened to what Kamiki had to say.

[Ryunosuke Kamiki Profile]
Japanese actor. Made TV drama debut in 1999. After appearing in several works subsequently, took on voice acting in Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars in 2009 and has appeared in several anime films, such as Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty. Gave a well-received performance as a cowardly high school student in The Kirishima Thing in 2012. Upcoming projects include Kami-sama no Iu Toori (to be released Nov. 15) and drama Henshin (premiering July 27 and airing Sundays at 10:00 p.m. on O.A./WOWOW).

"I loved Sōjirō."

──Please share your thoughts on playing “Heaven’s Sword” Sōjirō.

I was a fan of the original series to begin with and I loved Sōjirō. I was really happy to get the chance to play him. But on the other hand, because I was a fan, I had a way I wanted him to be, and that put a tall hurdle in my path. Portraying Sōjirō as an actor, I fought with myself on how to show him as a real human being. In the original series, Sōjirō Seta is always smiling, and he lacks any emotion other than being at ease. But, I thought it would feel off and be strange for me to always smile as I played him, so I also used expressions where I didn’t smile. Making a connection with the idea I had of the original series in my head, I came up with reasons why he was smiling and tried things like cracking a smile and loosening my expression. At the same time, I also tried to show a glimpse of him being human at moments such as when he assassinates Ōkubo. I struck my own balance between the original series and the films and kept an ideal in mind as I played the part.

──The Rurouni Kenshin manga is popular outside of Japan as well.

Rurouni Kenshin is a series with a great deal of popularity in other countries as well. While fans overseas has an image in their head of each character, I want to show that this is how they are when depicted as people and not pictures. Without using CG even. I would be happy if everyone seeing the Rurouni Kenshin film series kept in mind that this is the end result of an effort to come as close as possible to a faithful portrayal of each and every role.

Even with the stagefighting. There are certain areas like the buildings that had to use CG to some extent, but all of the swordfighting was done by us. We show every battle scene and the characters’ thoughts in those moments. With that there are things that give an exhilarating feeling different from the original series. I hope everyone outside of Japan as well can get a sense of how hard we worked. I hope they enjoy it and think, “The swordfighting is amazing!” or, “They showed that really well!”

Stagefighting Practice Began Before the Role was Cast

──Regarding the stagefighting, I heard that you received particularly intense training.

For my own personal reasons, I began swordfighting before my role in the film was cast. I even began while the first film was shooting. The story for this upcoming series hadn’t even been revealed yet, so it really was for my own personal benefit. [laughs]

It was because I was a fan [of the series] that I continued stagefighting with such enthusiasm, like with a school club. The character of Sōjirō Seta is the most difficult opponent Kenshin faces aside from Shishio [in the Kyoto Arc]. He’s also one of the swordsmen that drives Kenshin to have second thoughts about himself. Because of that, I felt that my skill in stagefighting would have to be as good as, if not better than, Takeru’s, who has been in the film series from the beginning. It was with that as my main goal that I worked hard in my training.

The Battle with Kenshin is a Bloodthirsty Clash

──How was the battle with Kenshin Himura, played by Takeru Satoh?

How shall I put it... It’s a bloodthirsty clash. It’s highly charged in a good way and there’s a tenseness looming over. In a manga, you can write out sound effects to show that tenseness, but I think we were able to show it through the actual drawing of swords and the clash of blade on blade. There was a feeling on both sides of, “I’m coming to kill you!”

Takeru took in this spirit and these feelings from the story from Sōjirō and even returned them. That exchange is shown through the meeting of swords. I think you can get the sense when you actually see the film that it’s a clash of the experiences Kenshin and Sōjirō have had.

──Could you offer some words to our readers overseas?

I think we’ve put together entertaining films that fans will be happy with. We will be able to unveil them with confidence.

But, Kyoto Inferno won’t be enough. [laughs] The Legend Ends is more shocking and has more surprises. I hope you genuinely enjoy them.

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno/The Legend Ends Official Site

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

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