Junichi Okada and Kenichi Matsuyama star in the Taiga…but big-name actors play “minor roles” in “What to do about Ieyasu”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Junichi Okada and Kenichi Matsuyama star in the Taiga…but big-name actors play “minor roles” in “What to do about Ieyasu”.

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Junichi Okada, who has starred in the 14-year epic “Gunshi Kanbei

Junichi Okada, Takayuki Yamada, Kenichi Matsuyama and Hiroshi Abe ……. What struck me while watching this year’s NHK Taiga Drama “What to do about Ieyasu” was that a number of big-name actors appeared in supporting roles. Some of them have rather modest roles. ……

Aside from Okada playing Nobunaga Oda and Abe playing Shingen Takeda, Takayuki Yamada plays the role of Hanzo Hattori, a “ninja and samurai” who served Ieyasu Tokugawa. Kenichi Matsuyama plays Masanobu Honda, who later became Ieyasu’s chief vassal. Both of these roles add color to the story, but they are by no means absolutely indispensable to the drama. It is not as if these roles are played by actors of Yamada or Matsuyama’s caliber, who are usually cast in the lead roles.

Moreover, Matsuyama played the lead role in the same historical drama “Taira no Kiyomori” broadcast in 2012. Okada also starred in “Gunshi Kanbei” in 2002. His appearance in this year’s “What to Do About Ieyasu” is, at worst, a downgrade, but in fact, this kind of phenomenon is becoming more and more frequent these days. For example, Hidetoshi Nishijima, who is now considered one of Japan’s top actors, has appeared many times in small roles in NHK’s morning dramas, not limited to the Taiga series.

The goal is name recognition and schedule.

Matsuyama Kenichi and his wife Koyuki starring in “Taira no Kiyomori” in 2012.

Why are big-name actors now actively appearing in NHK productions in roles that are almost “small” to them? We tried to find out why.

There are a number of reasons, but the main reason is name recognition and schedule,” he said. Actors who are more interested in acting tend to prefer to appear in movies, but it is necessary for them to gain recognition on TV. However, commercial TV dramas have a long time limit and unstable schedules, making it difficult for them to get the film work that is so important.

On the other hand, NHK’s Taiga and Asadora dramas, although they are paid less, have a tight shooting schedule and rarely have any delays. More than anything else, NHK has a wide range of viewers. Even a small role in a TV drama can boost the actor’s name recognition. I think there is a big desire to eventually get commercial appearances, which are the most lucrative jobs,” said an employee of a commercial TV station.

Another factor is the low risk involved in supporting roles.

The reason for this is that the risk is so small because the work is not a flop. For example, Kenichi Matsuyama, who plays the lead role in a TV drama, is not considered to have much of a risk. For example, Kenichi Matsuyama’s “Taira no Kiyomori,” in which he starred, recorded the lowest ratings ever at the time. Mao Inoue, who starred in “Hanamayu” in 2003, which also recorded the lowest ratings at the time, was unable to work for a while, saying, “It’s all my fault.

In contrast, supporting roles in Taiga are full of delicious things. Since they are actors who originally had the acting ability to play the leading roles, they have an overwhelming presence when they appear even in minor roles. Then people would say, “He’s too good even though it’s just a small role! You’re a big star! and “You’re a big star! In fact, Mr. Matsuyama’s performance this time was highly praised, and he completely cleared his name. Even if he does not give a good performance, he will just be passed over, so it is truly low-risk, high-return. It is expected that big-name actors will continue to appear in small roles in major TV dramas in the future.

This means that the leading actor will be “eaten” by the supporting actors. As a viewer, this is a very complicated situation. ……

Takayuki Yamada walking in Ginza with his friends in April 2008.
Hiroshi Abe standing in a crowded place filming a drama in May 2010
Keiko Kitagawa and DAIGO at the beginning of their relationship; Kitagawa plays Oichi, sister of Nobunaga Oda
Nanako Matsushima plays Oota, the mother of Ieyasu
Alice Hirose plays Ooai, the mother of Hidetada, the 2nd shogun
Kasumi Arimura plays Sena, a woman devoted to Ieyasu
Matsumoto Jun plays the main character Tokugawa Ieyasu, who drinks with Yonekura Ryoko until dawn and shakes hands with her in November 2004.
  • Interview and text by Nanako

    Born in Ehime Prefecture. After working at a broadcasting station, became a freelance writer. She specializes in interviews with celebrities and articles analyzing popular events, and is always checking out serial dramas and popular Japanese movies. She is a well-known beautiful writer in the magazine industry.

  • Photographed by Yuri Adachi, Yumi Enohara, Yusuke Kondo, Sota Shima, Yasuko Funamoto, Kotaro Yamada

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