Takaaki Ishibashi also praised! Let’s Go Yoshimasa reveals his “overflowing love for Drifting | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Takaaki Ishibashi also praised! Let’s Go Yoshimasa reveals his “overflowing love for Drifting

Let's Go Yoshimasa's impersonations of "Hitori Drifting" and "Ken Shimura without a trace" have become the talk of the town. We take a closer look at the roots of this up-and-coming impersonator.

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YOSHIMASA specializes in impersonating the true state of Shimura-san, such as “Shimura-san, who interviews in a quiet tone of voice. He has attracted a lot of attention, with “Knights” praising him on the radio.

Let’s Go Yoshimasa (33) is a new star who has suddenly appeared in the imitation world. He performed impersonations of all five members of The Drifters in the “240 Million Impersonations Medley GP,” a project broadcast on “Omnibus Comedy GP” (Fuji TV) in September of this year. In no time at all, he had become a household name throughout Japan.

Particularly striking was his impersonation of the “real Ken Shimura. His impersonation of Shimura in his calm, “off” state was highly praised by judge Takaaki Ishibashi (60). Let’s Go Yoshimasa’s roots are explored, including his awakening to the art of imitation, the influence of “Shimura Ken’s Daijoubu Daa” (Fuji Television), the reason for his dual career as a company employee, and his unknown connection with Shimura Ken (70).

The existence of a “legend” who inspired him to start impersonating.

–You became known to the world at once through the “240 Million Impersonation Medley GP. How do you frankly feel about the current situation?

Yoshimasa: I’m a little scared because so many things have suddenly started moving, and I didn’t expect this day to come. I was imitating someone who had passed away.

I was relieved to find that there was not as much criticism as I had expected. I was also surprised at the number of comments that said they were moved by it. That was really unexpected.

–I was really surprised at how many people said they were moved by the resemblance.

Yoshimasa: I am afraid, I am not Mr. Shimura (laugh). However, I am very happy to hear that from someone who is actually close to Mr. Shimura.

–I heard that you first became aware of the fun of impersonation when you were in junior high school, when you saw Mari Nakaji’s (60) impersonation of Sakiko Ito (“Himawari Musume”).

Yoshimasa: It was simply because the material was interesting. At the time, I didn’t know the original impersonator, Sakiko Ito (64), existed, but I was shocked as if I had been struck by lightning. I was shocked as if I had been struck by lightning.

It was amazing to be able to imagine what she must be like, while at the same time being visually and comedically interesting. Something began to change in me, and I often imitated Sakiko Ito’s “impersonations” at school.

I started studying Mr. Shimura when I was in junior high school. I would transcribe all of the lines of his comedy routines, or I would look at the newspaper and compile a notebook with all of the latte columns of “Shimura Ken no Daijoubu Daaa” (Fuji Television Network). But at the time, I was just doing it because I liked it, and I never thought it would lead me to the Drifting impersonations I do now.

He usually works as a company employee. His appearances on TV programs are increasing, and his schedule is packed until the end of the year. His two-faced life is extremely busy, but he seems to view it positively.

–After entering Gakushuin University, he has been active in selling his impersonation skills to show pubs and getting eventers introduced to him. On the other hand, why didn’t you think of making a living as an impersonator?

Yoshimasa: I simply thought, “It’s not such a sweet world. It was really just an extension of my hobby, something I liked to do. So I decided to get a job first. There were things I wanted to do at the company, so I thought, “It would be nice if I could work and do mimicry at the same time. I also thought it would be fun to work for an amusement company.

In fact, I feel that I am able to be more relaxed in my activities because I am a company employee. The head of Mr. Shimura that I use for my impersonations was made by “Yamada Katsura,” the same company that made Mr. Shimura’s wigs for his comedy acts, and I wear the same Ed Hardy T-shirts that Mr. Shimura used to wear. I think it is because I was a company employee that I am able to have the real thing.

–He joined Ota Productions in September of this year. Tsurutaro Kataoka (67), whom you met through Mari Nakajima, complimented you, saying, “Your impersonation of Shimura-san’s true colors and so on is very good.

Yoshimasa: I was so thrilled. He is like a god to me, so I was like, “Wow, that Tsurutaro-san! I was so happy that he saw me. I was so happy that he saw it, and I was really surprised that he responded immediately after I sent him the video.

–I was really surprised when he responded immediately after I sent him the video.

Yoshimasa: Mr. Shimura had no concept of “life” or “death” in my mind. He is really like Anpanman or Ultraman. However, I am sure that I learned a lot from his “Daijobu daa” comedy, including the quality of Showa-era songs and the sadness and humanity of people.

–In October of this year, Mr. Ken Nakamoto (81 years old) passed away as a result of a traffic accident.

My face is the closest to Mr. Nakamoto’s, so he is indispensable for my drifting impersonations. In fact, after “240 Million Impersonations,” he commented on Twitter that he had seen the show. I felt as if he recognized me, and I was really happy.

He is particular about playing “the real part,” not the role in a drama or comedy. For this reason, he says that he has thoroughly studied his quirks, such as the way his eyes open and the way his body leans.

–He says that he loved “Daijoubuttaa” and “Doriff Dai Bakusho” (both on Fuji Television) as a child, but the early 1990s was a time when the “third generation of comedy” such as “Tunnels,” “Downtown,” and “Uccchan Nanchan” were popular. Right?

Yoshimasa: Looking back, I guess I was influenced by the fact that my parents liked them, but I found myself watching them. I vaguely remember the last episode of the regular broadcast of “Daijoubudaaa” in 1993. You know! Grandma and Grandpa,” I remember being extremely shocked to hear him say, “Today is the end of the regular program.

That was when I was 3 or 4 years old, and by then I was already hooked. I was like a little kid who really loved Shimura-san, but I wasn’t the type to do anything in public. I was the type of person who didn’t get along with friends and would secretly draw pictures in the shadows.

–You never had any contact with Mr. Shimura?

Yoshimasa: This is the first time I’m going to tell you this, but when I was in the 6th grade of elementary school, I had the opportunity to observe a recording of “Shimura Ken’s Bakadensama” (Fuji Television), the 2002 “Tsukimi de Cheers Special,” I still remember the title.

I still remember the title. There was a scene where they were folding 1,000 paper cranes. After the scene was shot, Shimura-san stopped the camera just as it was about to cut to the scene where he said, “I’ve finished making the paper cranes.

I wondered what was going on. Shimura-san said, “There are clumps of origami cranes of the same color. Then Mr. Shimura rearranged the paper cranes to make them a little more colorful. The fact that they were clustered in red had nothing to do with the contrast. But he did it himself, even stopping the camera. It was a moment when I felt Mr. Shimura’s persistence.

It was truly a precious thing to be able to see it live. After the shoot, I had written a letter to Mr. Shimura, so I told the manager to give it to him and left. I don’t know if he read it.

–I don’t know if he read it, but I think he probably did. One of my co-stars in the play “Shimura’s Soul” told me that he read the letters he received from the children on his desk in his dressing room.

Yoshimasa: I’m glad to hear that. My first TV appearance was in “Clash! (TBS), and it was recorded in the same studio where I was a spectator. I remember I was so moved that I thought, “I am going to be there again as a performer.

My dream is to collaborate with JP, win an impersonation show, and perform with Drift.

He says that his tastes in music and comedy were all influenced by “Drifting” and Mr. Shimura. He always keeps respect for the great legends in mind when he does his impersonations.

–Real impersonators include Mr. Shachihoko (29) and JP (39) in recent years. Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with at this point?

Yoshimasa:JP-san has an imitation of Akira Emoto (73) in his repertoire, and personally, I would like to recreate the “Geisha Contrast” (a conte in “Daijoubudaaa” in which Ken Shimura and Akira Emoto play veteran geisha who are not invited to the tatami room) together. I don’t think anyone has done that yet.

–I would love to see him do it! It seems that performing together with the members of Drifting would also be a goal for the future.

Yoshimasa: One of my big dreams is to appear in the “Drifting Challenge Special” (Fuji TV) and perform with them as a comedian. However, I often receive comments like, “You should take on the role so that Drifting will not be forgotten,” but I don’t have any sense of “leaving Drifting’s laughter for future generations. I would like to continue doing what I do without changing my stance that I am just imitating what I like to do.

That is true no matter who I imitate. My two main goals right now are to win an impersonation show and to perform with Drifting. These are my two main goals right now. I also plan to do a lot of impersonations of Showa-era songs while increasing my material in the style of Mr. Shimura, whom I am currently imitating without exaggeration.

Let’s Go Yoshimasa, with his overflowing “love for Drifting” in mind, is working hard on his impersonations. His challenge has just begun.

  • Interview and text Asahi Suzuki Photographs by Yuri Adachi

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