Ryohei Suzuki, the star of Fuji TV’s Thursday night drama series, ‘The Romance Manga Artist’ talks in depth about his thoughts on the new romantic sitcom!
Q: How did you feel when you found out that you were going to appear in the drama series?
I thought that a romance drama like this one would be something that I would never work with, so I felt that it would be a new challenge for me. Although, the character which I am playing is a strong-willed one. (laughs)
Q: And your thoughts on being casted for the leading role on a drama series for Fuji TV?
In my 20s, I was able to appear in many dramas produced by Fuji Television and Kyodo Television helping me to brush up my skills as an actor. So, I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with this team again, at a time when I’m playing the leading role in a regular drama series for a commercial broadcaster for the first time. I also feel privileged to be with the director, who I have already worked with many occasions in the past.
Q: How did you feel after reading the script?
I’m sure that an entertaining and pop romantic comedy like this one is something that everyone needs right now to brighten up our spirits. Each line of dialogue created by the scriptwriter, Yuko Matsuda, is just so interesting, sending you on an emotional rollercoaster. Seiichiro has Aiko go on a mission to find pseudo-romance but be sure to pay attention to the ‘unique’ guys who appear each time!
Q: What kind of character is Seiichiro?
It's almost comparable to a modern version of the “Beauty and the Beast.” This is because it depicts a reclusive guy who isn’t good at love, but when he meets Aiko, a girl with a strong determination, he begins to remember the kindness and feelings of love that had been stored away in himself, and gradually begin to grow as a person. Seiichiro is an eccentric genius, a little foul-mouthed but has a very pure personality. He is someone who believes that love is something that is out of his reach, which is why he has always depicted it in his works. I’m sure everyone will feel that “love is amazing” when they see this unique guy beginning to face up to it himself. I hope the scenes are charming enough, so that everyone will come to love this clumsy character as the drama progresses each week.
Q: What kind of things did you discuss with the director?
We continuously discussed a lot of things. The work has a strong comedy feel, so we talked about doing the scenes quite boldly, and I always tried to keep this in mind whilst playing the role. The director also told me that he wanted me to play Seiichiro as a character that everyone loves. We also discussed about various other issues every time filming for a new scene came up.
Q: Seiichiro is a manga artist, but what is your image of the profession itself?
When I’m filming, I just focus on playing the character I’m portraying. But if you were to compare a manga artist to a drama production, I would imagine that he or she does the script, direction, character visuals, lighting, costumes, and everything else all by themselves. I think it’s a ridiculously hard job, creating a comprehensive form of art all on your own. In this role, I also learned about the work of a manga artist, especially the fact that it takes a lot of physical stamina to work on a weekly series!
Q: Seiichiro forces Aiko to fall in love in order to help him get new story ideas for his work. How do you think about that?
Well, I can relate to some aspects of it. For example, when I get a role, I sometimes wonder how I would feel in a certain dramatic situation. So, I think it would be helpful if there’s someone who could experience it for me and report back. (laughs) It seems to be a good method for when one must build the foundation for a particular character. In the case of Seiichiro, I can meet and talk to actual manga artists and ask them about their works, but there are some roles when that is not possible. In his situation, he seeks it in love. In relationships, emotions can vary greatly from person to person, so I think I understand why he wants to learn from Aiko's experience too.
Q: What was the atmosphere like on set?
I had a great time. Since we were filming during the Coronavirus pandemic, it was quite difficult to have too much fun on-set like before, but at the end of the day, I think that if the actors don’t enjoy it, then the viewers won’t either. Therefore, we all tried to create a comfortable atmosphere whilst considering of all the precautionary measures.
Q: What are the highlights of this work and your message for the viewers?
There are many, but I think the dialogues between Seiichiro, Aiko, and the editor is one of them. The rhythm is so good that I found myself wanting to keep doing it. At first, Seiichiro and Aiko are bickering with each other, but it’s interesting from that part. It’s sort of like a tug-of-war between Seiichiro, who is a quick-witted and a sharp genius, and Aiko who is not. I wondered about whether I was the right person for such a romantic drama, but I hope I did my best to bring you a wonderful love comedy that you can look forward to each week. It’s a romantic comedy that you can watch with a good, peaceful feeling without thinking too hard. I hope this will be a mindful nourishment for when you feel a little tired. And this drama is recommended for all you guys out there too! You will surely sympathize with Seiichiro’s clumsy way of life. For those who are in love, forgotten about love, and those who want to find new love. This is a heartwarming love comedy series.