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Joji Nakata Plays Hijikata as a Manifestation of Pure Vengeance in Golden Kamuy!

Joji Nakata Plays Hijikata as a Manifestation of Pure Vengeance in Golden Kamuy!

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by July 20, 2018 Anime

Joji Nakata Plays Hijikata as a Manifestation of Pure Vengeance in Golden Kamuy!

Golden Kamuy‘s official website is releasing a series of interviews with cast and staff over the course of the Spring season, which we’re translating and brining directly to you! They started things off with the character designer, Ken’Ichi Onuki, followed by animal designer, Ryo Sumiyoshi, the art director, Atsushi Morikawa, firearm designer Koji Watanabe, prop designer Shinya Asanuma, composer Kenichiro Suehiro, and director Hitoshi Nanba.

But they didn’t stop there! They interviewed Kamikaze Boy from MAN WITH A MISSION about Golden Kamuy‘s opening theme, “Winding Road” and THE SIXTH LIE, the creator/performers of the ending theme “Hibana”! They’re making their way through the voice cast, starting with Chikahiro Kobayashi and Haruka Shiraishi, the voice actors behind Sugimoto and Asirpa, Hochu Otsuka, the voice of Lt. Tsurumi, and now Joji Nakata, the voice of Toshizo Hijikata!



Tell us what you thought when you read the manga.

Well, Hijikata might say something like, “Boys love to hunt, don’t they?” It’s a thrilling book, one that reminds you of the passionate instincts that all men have. Not only do you have that thrill that happens when human desires and instincts are really pushed to the forefront, but the art is also really impressive, and the characters themselves are all fascinating. Then there’s the detailed depiction of how Hokkaido was in the Meiji period, and of the Ainu culture and the way we Japanese interacted with them. It keeps your intellectual curiosity interested at all times. When I read it, I thought to myself that given all the different things this manga has to offer, Satoru Noda, the artist, must have done a lot of really detailed research. Once I read volume 1, I had to read volume 2, and then it kept going like that. I just couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Tell us your first impressions of Hijikata’s character.

Everybody in this manga has such wonderfully strong personalities, the kinds that give you a really good idea of how you might want to play their roles. But my first impression of Hijikata was, “What? Hijikata’s still alive?!” The next thing that really left an impression on me, though, was the image of how powerful he was, even in his old age, and how his ambitions were as strong as ever. To borrow one of his lines, “If you see an old man in times like these, assume he’s a survivor.” That’s really who he is.  As an actor, I was thrilled to play a character with his pride and obsession, which came after surviving the chaos of the shogunate’s collapse. I was so happy when I got the role that I yelled, “Yes!”

What was particularly important to you when you played the role?

Toshizo Hijikata is a famous historical figure, and one who’s been in a lot of different media. I’ve actually played him in another anime. To me, the Hijikata in Golden Kamuy seemed less like the historical figure, and more like the obsession of a man who survived the last days of the shogunate given physical form.  He’s like a manifestation of pure vengeance, trying to achieve the things he once failed to do. In that sense, he’s an extremely appealing character. I’m trying my best to put into the lines I speak this idea of a person who’s going beyond good and evil as he tries to push forward.

Did Director Hitoshi Nanba and Audio Director Jin Aketagawa give you any special instructions about the role?

During the first test, I played him the way I had him in my mind, and the director said to me, “He looks old, but I want you to play him like he’s in his prime, and don’t focus on his age so much.” His old friend Shinpachi Nagakura says to him, “You don’t look your age. You seem extremely young,” and so I think the director said that because of lines like that, and comparing him with Nagakura.

What was the atmosphere like at the recording studio?

When I actually got to the studio, I thought to myself that this cast wasn’t chosen because of popularity, they picked people who were seriously the best for the roles. Characters like Asirpa and Sugimoto need to have a wide range, from serious to comedic, and (Chikahiro) Kobayashi and (Haruka) Shiraishi did a great job with that. The other characters were all veterans. It might’ve been tough for Shiraishi to have nobody from her age group to talk to [laughs]. It was a ton of fun to hear everyone’s lines as they were recorded. I always read ahead in the script, so I have my own image of how Tsurumi or Tanigaki is going to say their lines, and then I get to hear them actually said. I’m sure that’s how it feels for fans of the original manga.  Also, a lot of the cast are fans of the manga, too, and had wanted to do these roles. Because of the passion of everyone at the studio, I think the finished product is going to be something great.

Did the fact that everyone around you was so serious about their work inspire you to put more of yourself into the role as well?

Of course. Nagakura is played by the famous (Takayuki) Sugo, so I felt a little bit of pressure, but once we started recording together, we could help each other adjust and balance out.  I’ve gotten a lot of help from everyone else, actually.

Were there any lines early in the series that really helped establish your character’s identity?

When you really start thinking about individual lines like that, it ruins your performance, so I try not to.  The famous lines only stand out because of the lines that come before and after them, after all. But there were several lines I noticed when I read the manga that I thought fans would be really looking forward to hearing Hijikata say. If I say what they are, though, the viewers are going to be focusing on them, so I’ll just leave that to your imagination [laughs]. I want to do my best to live up to your expectations, so watch out for your favorite lines when you see the anime.

The anime has just gotten started. Let’s finish with a message for the fans.

Golden Kamuy is a very big story, a story filled with things that boys who live in a stifling era like this can watch and say, “I didn’t know it was possible to live your life like this.” But at the same time, there’s also motifs like Ainu life and hunting culture, things you really don’t get a chance to see often, along with thrills, actions, and even cute scenes of everyday life. The protagonists, Sugimoto and Asirpa, are as close as siblings, and you can see a lot of different expressions from each of them that you don’t usually see from two heroes in a romantic relationship. The search for the gold is only just getting started, and there’ll be a lot more wonderful old man characters coming, so please, watch and enjoy.

Peter Fobian is an Associate Features Editor for Crunchyroll, author of Monthly Mangaka Spotlight, writer for Anime Academy, and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can follow him on Twitter @PeterFobian.

Source: Anime News
Joji Nakata Plays Hijikata as a Manifestation of Pure Vengeance in Golden Kamuy!