From Law Enforcement to Limelight: Anju Tanaka’s Surprising Gravure Debut | FRIDAY DIGITAL

From Law Enforcement to Limelight: Anju Tanaka’s Surprising Gravure Debut

Actress Anju Tanaka, who has a career as a police officer, took on the challenge of her first full-fledged gravure photo shoot. We asked her to talk about her time as a police officer, what made her decide to become an actress, and her goals for the future.

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Photo by Yuji Ehara

I was given a police commission after coming in second in my class, and I felt like I was on top of the world!

―― How was your first full-fledged gravure photoshoot?

“It was quite nerve-wracking at first. But the staff were so kind and made me feel comfortable, so it ended up being enjoyable. The photographer taught me poses in detail, and wearing six different swimsuits to express myself was a thrilling experience. My self-esteem soared (laughs). I’ve always wanted to do gravure, so I’m very satisfied.”

―― Your background as a former police officer is quite unusual before becoming an actress.

“When I was attending university in Miyagi Prefecture and thinking about employment, my parents asked me to come back to our hometown in Yamagata Prefecture. I thought if I were to return home, I might as well become a civil servant, so I was pondering what job to take. At that time, I happened to be watching ‘Police 24 Hours’ on TV and thought, ‘I want to become a detective. Police officers are cool!’ So, becoming a police officer was my only choice.”

―― It must have been tough to become a police officer.

“In Yamagata Prefecture, which has one of the highest crime clearance rates in the country, the competition for Category I recruitment for college graduates is incredibly fierce, about ten times the number of positions available. So, I studied intensely every single day. Thankfully, I managed to pass the first-round exam. During the interview for the second round, they asked me various questions. I had been working part-time at a convenience store, and there were many difficult customers, including some who threw heated rice balls at me. So, I passionately appealed, ‘I can handle any situation calmly.’ When I received the notice of acceptance, I felt like I was on cloud nine (laughs).”

I was handcuffed for the first time when I was caught red-handed!

―― What memories do you have from police school?

“During the six months at the police academy, the first month was strict with no outside activities allowed. It was quite a shock. Since I wasn’t confident in my physical strength, every morning I voluntarily went running to improve my basic fitness. Any mistakes made were collectively responsible for, like having to endure a 20-kilometer run, which helped strengthen the bonds with my fellow trainees. Additionally, there was a ton of law to memorize in classroom lectures, such as the Constitution, Penal Code, Civil Code, and Police Act. I diligently focused on memorization, and although I didn’t manage to be the top student, achieving second place in the class gave me confidence.”

Photo by Yuji Ehara

―― What happened after that?

“After three months of on-the-job training, followed by two months of probationary training at the police school, and then four months of practical training, I was finally assigned to the prefectural police regional division as a full-fledged police officer.”

―― That’s quite an extensive education! Being a police officer sounds tough. What are your impressions of working in the regional division?

“Once you put on the uniform, whether you’re a rookie or a veteran doesn’t matter. In patrol duty, receiving verbal abuse due to traffic violations, etc., is an everyday occurrence. But more than that, I found caring for the families of those who have passed away due to incidents or suicide to be challenging. No matter the situation, you mustn’t cry. We need to keep our hearts strong so that we can support others. Additionally, as a female police officer, I often deal with victims of sexual crimes. It’s difficult and painful to extract details from victims who have suffered deep emotional wounds. Experiencing my first ‘in-flagrante delicto arrest’ and putting handcuffs on someone at a specific time was an unforgettable experience.”

You attend the autopsy of a body of your age and decide to live your life with no regrets.

―― After that, you were transferred to the headquarters forensic division.

“Upon transferring to the forensic division, I began examining the deceased outside of hospitals, so I saw bodies almost every day. When I was dispatched to Miyagi Prefecture, I experienced that even now, those who went missing during the Great East Japan Earthquake may still wash ashore. It made me strongly realize that I never know when or how I might end up.

During my time in the forensic division, I also served in the music band, performing at various events. I played the flute, an instrument I hadn’t touched since elementary school band, so I practiced every day to catch up as ensemble rehearsals alone weren’t enough. When performing, we wear special white uniforms. Especially being in the front row as a flutist, I stood out. There were many people, from children to the elderly, in the audience, which made me nervous in a different way. My experience in the music band as a ‘bridge of the heart between the citizens and the police’ was also educational.”

―― Despite finding fulfillment in such roles, why did you choose the path of an actress?

“I’ve always admired actresses since I was young, but my parents and those around me didn’t have very positive feelings about it. I was even scouted a few times but turned them all down. However, at one point, when I was examining the body of someone who had passed away at the same age as me, I couldn’t help but think they must have had things they wanted to do but couldn’t. That made me realize that I wanted to live a life without regrets. So, I decided to retire from the police force.”

Photo by Yuji Ehara

―― What are your experiences as an actress? You’ve appeared in works like the “Kyojo” series starring Takuya Kimura, “Miman Keisatsu: Midnight Runner,” and “Kinkyu Torishirabeshitsu.”

“I was honestly overwhelmed by the professionalism of the actors. I struggled with the marching scenes and couldn’t quite get it right, so Yuko Oshima and Shohei Miura would come to me for advice on details like how to raise our hands. We all practiced marching voluntarily multiple times before and after recordings. Also, I was surprised when Takuya Kimura suddenly appeared in his instructor costume on a non-recording day to oversee our practice!

Furthermore, I’ve been invited to variety shows such as ‘Sekai Maru Mie! TV Tokuso-bu’ and ‘Hayashi Osamu no Imadeshō!’ as a former police officer.”

―― Are there ways your career as a police officer has helped you in your acting work?

“Police officers are incredibly fast eaters. Since you never know when an emergency might arise, there’s hardly any time to eat slowly. On drama sets, everyone eats their boxed lunches quickly due to time constraints, but I was used to it from the beginning, so it worked out well (laughs).

Also, I’m really fast at changing clothes and taking baths. In police school, we only had five minutes to change from uniforms to gym clothes or judo uniforms. And there’s the aspect of etiquette. We were thoroughly taught greetings and how to address superiors, so it became natural to me. I think there’s a similarity in the athletic club-like aspects between police officers and actors.”

―― Lastly, what kind of actress do you aim to be?

“Seeing the smiles of actresses myself always brings me comfort. As the only former police officer actress, I strive to be aware that I’m constantly being watched, representing the 280,000 police officers nationwide in a wide range of fields. Since there are many TV shows set in the police world, I’d like to play detective roles as well as portray despicable villains, of course, in a slightly exaggerated manner (laughs).”

Photo by Yuji Ehara

Anju Tanaka
Born on January 28, 1994. Born in Yamagata Prefecture
Dr. KOBAN, former female police actress.
At the age of 24, she left her job to become an actress and moved to Tokyo by herself. She has appeared in TV dramas, on stage, and on YouTube, including “Kyoban” starring Takuya Kimura and “Midnight Runner” starring Kento Nakajima and Shiyou Hirano as a student. For updates on her recent activities, please visither Xand Instagram.

Click here for Anju Tanaka’s gravure

  • PHOTO Yuji Ehara

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