This is an English translation of an interview originally posted on: https://tamashii.jp/t_kokkaku/109/
Takeda Kouhei Special Interview – Kamen Rider Kiva, Kamen Rider Grease Blizzard and Hokuto Sanbagarasu Product Release Commemorative Event!
A regular cast member on two Kamen Rider productions, Kamen Rider Kiva and Kamen Rider Build, Takeda Kouhei has acted in various Kamen Rider roles. He has made a live appearance on stage during TAMASHII NATION 2018! (Available to watch via archived footage) This interview was held at the end of the stage event.
Q: First of all, let us hear your thoughts on TAMASHII NATION 2018 after experiencing it.
Takeda: 10 years have passed since the broadcast of Kamen Rider Kiva, but throughout this event held and the positive reactions from the audience, I can clearly feel that it is a production that is loved dearly even to this day. Recently I’ve been busy as a regular cast on Kamen Rider Build, so I’ve had no time to look back on Kiva. As such the time we’ve spent holding this event was very precious to me.
My dad and Kamen Rider and…
Q: Mr. Takeda, share with us your memories of “Kamen Rider”from your childhood.
Takeda: My generation didn’t get to watch Kamen Rider in real-time as it broadcasted, but my father liked Showa Riders and showed me videos of it. From there, my first experience with Kamen Rider was Stronger and I’ve watched all the way up till ZX, so I knew all the Showa Riders.
My favourite has to be Stronger, when he transformed, the sparks flying from his hands were very cool. And the most traumatic scene for me was when Riderman’s right arm melted.
Q: Was your father pleased to hear when your role in “Kiva” was decided?
Takeda: He was pretty surprised at first, going “You’re a Kamen Rider?”,but he was happy nonetheless. I still remember his reaction to this day. (Laughter)
Following that, he was also elated when my appearance in Build was decided. It is very rare to be selected twice as the main cast for a Kamen Rider production. Speaking of Showa Rider, I can be compared to Fujioka Hiroshi, as he’s acted in two productions as the main cast, like I have. I’ve joked about this with my father. (Laughter)
My parents also enjoyed watching me star alongside Inukai Atsuhiro whom I have previously worked within Hotel Concierge.
“Otoya” as a character everyone built up together – Masked Rider Kiva
Q: Can you share with us the memories you’ve had on site? Firstly, please tell us about your time as Kurenai Otoya on Kamen Rider Kiva.
Takeda: It was about seven years into my career at the time I was filming Kiva, but I was still unfamiliar with the culture and workplace. Even so, I tried my best to look for things I could contribute to, added facial expressions that weren’t on the script, ad-libbed, and generally thought of doing anything that would fit. The ones who supported me then was the crew, who approvingly said, “This is good!” and I accepted it as such.
As such, I think Kurenai Otoya is a character that everyone had a hand in creating and as such is loved by many even till this day.
Takeda: I was not particularly conscious of my actions, I was just trying to portray the character written by Inoue Toshiki. To the best of my ability, I played him to be as eccentric as I could [according to the script]. Basically, Otoya’s character was pure coincidence. (Laughing)
Q: Otoya was a character set in 1986, roughly when you were born, is that right?
Takeda: That’s right! Moreover, Otoya’s age (23) was pretty close to my father’s during that era, so I asked my Dad on various things during that era.For example, I would show my Dad a photo of Otoya and asked “Was this fashionable back then?” and he would tell me “Some weird people would be wearing something like that”. (Laughing)
I’ve also listened to many popular songs from that era like BOØWY’s album. Also, I’ve talked about songs from Onyanko Club that were played during filming with my father. (Laughing) As such, I was more enthusiastic about my role and managed to get into it, putting it to use during filming.
Q: We’ve heard that due to Otoya’s character being a genius violinist, you’ve also picked up and practiced the violin?
Takeda: I’ve practiced enough to have blisters forming on my hands. Because there’s a scene of me playing the violin almost every time, even if it is going to be dubbed over, I have to make it look realistic and still make play the violin properly.
I practiced roughly once a week before it is dubbed over and co-star Seto Koji would practice with me, it was a lot of fun. (Laughing)
Q: What scene and dialogue was the most impactful to you in “Kiva”?
Takeda: There are many, but the one that stands out the most was from the movie King of the Castle in the Demon World where I was in the Ixa suit, running alongside Kiva Emperor Form through the explosions.
During the rehearsal run, we practiced running without explosions, but the suit was very heavy and made it difficult to run. Kiva’s suit actor, Takaiwa Seiji, asked me if I could speed up a bit more, to which I replied “Impossible, this is as fast as I can go.” He said if that was the case, he would match my pace.
During the actual filming, the explosion was louder than what I had expected and scared me, making me run for my life and I instinctively ran faster. After filming, Takaiwa asked me, “Hey you, why did you suddenly run faster!” and I didn’t notice until we were done with the shoot. (Laughing) Please do re-watch the DVD, the expression I had on me was not acting but was genuine fear. (Laughter)
Q: Did you receive any advice from Ixa’s suit actor, Okamoto Jiro?
Takeda: “Try walking around for a bit… Okay!” is the kind of advice he would give. This is Jiro’s style. When checking my running pose, he would tell me to do a little dash, and then call it a day. (Laughter) I guess you can say he taught me how to check my running pose.
Q: Now we’ll move on to asking about the products exhibited for this event. Takeda, do you personally know about the S.H. Figuarts line of figures?
Takeda: Of course I know about it! At home, Grease, Build, Cross-Z and Rogue are all on display. The reproduction on details are on point and really moves the child’s heart within an adult fan. I was impressed that the parts ofthe [Sclash] Driver and Twin Breaker moved despite being so small.
I’ve brought Grease and Build on set many times to take photos of side-by-side. Inukai Atsuhiro who acted as Sento and Akaso Eiji who acted as Banjou also thought the figures were really cool.
Q: What are your thoughts on Shinkocchou Seihou Kiva?
Takeda: The figures of Kiva made up till now have been able to capture how cool the suit looks, but there has yet to be a figure that captures its “impressiveness” or “impact”. However, that’s not to say it’s a bad thing, it’s only natural as it’s smaller than the actual suit.
However, I am able to feel that “impact” from Shinkocchou Seihou Kiva as if
it is the real thing. There is no doubt as I’ve seen the Kiva suit up close
many times on set. I’ve also transformed into Kiva himself in the final
episode. More than anything, I am surprised to see Kiva’s “expression” to be
Q: And this “expression” is?
Takeda: A Kamen Rider suit in itself has no expression or facial cues to speak of. However, the actions, emotions, in short, the “soul”, of the suit actor is expressed through the suit itself.
Furthermore, these “expressions” are not limited to the Kamen Rider in the
suit, but also out of suit. For Kiva, it is Wataru, for Grease, it is Kazumi.
To be able to recreate that “expression” is amazing.
Because of this, I can feel the realism of details like muscles even though
it is just a figure. That being said, this is my own selfish opinions.
Actually, the figures from the Shinkocchou Seihou line begins its development by using a model of a real human body as a prototype and we build upon the figure from that. Even though none of that was said, it is surprising you were able to see that.
Takeda: Wait, really? It’s moving that you guys begin developing the figure carefully from that step.
Kamen Riders are a product of us and the suit actors working together. Jiro and I make up Ixa, and Fujita Satoshi and I make up Grease. That’s why I feel that I am the Rider in the suit even after transformation.
Q: Ah, it’s because you [and the suit actor] play the same person. Also, how do you feel about the detail of the pose [of the figure]?
Takeda: The pose that Kiva does right before his Darkness Moon Break is amazing. Being able to raise the head while tilting it slightly is a subtle but striking point. This is also my personal opinion but because Kiva has large compound eyes, when he looks down even slightly, Kiva would look mopey. That’s why Takaiwa constant lifts his face up even when standing normally [in the Kiva suit].
As you can see, the suit actors are always conscious of the way they stand to look good in front of the camera. I think it is impressive to be able to recreate that as a figure.
To be capable of replicating that movement on the head, the collar on the figure moves as well.
Takeda: I am happy that was a detail included. If you showed this toTakaiwa he would be moved to tears. (Laughter)
This is already beyond a regular discussion about a figure. Being able to fervently talk about Shinkocchou Seihou Kiva is almost like praising an artwork, being something like “That play was good” or “This artwork is amazing”. It can be compared to Van Gogh’s artworks, Mona Lisa, and even Munch’s The Scream. There are so many good things about this figure such as the colour, angle and even the background, it’s hard to describe at all.
With these kind words from Takeda, I think the sculptor will be moved to tears as well.
Takeda: This is a feeling that can be understood between us and thesculptor. I can see his efforts and his expertise in this figure. “If I can’teven do this, then there’s no point in making this figure.”
It’s like a skilled chef going “it’s not true soba if it’s not 10%buckwheat!”… Something like that? (Laughter)
My parents are from a line of craftsmen. My maternal side carved the guardian stone statue of dogs for shrines while my paternal side has a history of managing a cleaners’ for well over 110 years. Growing up seeing my family put such car into what they do, I can understand exactly how much effort was put into this [Kiva] figure.
“Overwriting” your career as an actor – Kamen Rider Build
Q: Next, I would like to ask about your role as Sawatari Kazumi on Kamen Rider Build.
Takeda: It was an offer from the producer, Takahito Omori. He was also aproducer on Kiva so he asked me what would I like to be on Build. Should I be a regular? What do you think about playing the roles of Sawatari Kazumi? It took roughly a year to think this through.
Q: Having transformed as two different characters, were you conscious to keep those characters distinct from each other?
Takeda: When transforming into Ixa, my poses were fairly simple, but somehow I wished to incorporate Showa Rider-like poses into it. I consulted the crew and I was asked to pose like Kamen Rider 1 for that. Following that, Grease’s transformation pose is also reminiscent of Rider 1’s with the flick of the left arm.
The pose my hands are in, provoking the opponent were also adopted from Otoya’s “Bring it on!” attitude. The day before filming my first transformationon set, I gave it a lot of thought. (Laughter)
Q: To date, you’ve transformed into 4 Riders, Ixa, Dark Kiva, Kiva and Grease, this will be the highest number of Riders anyone has transformed into excluding form changes, right?
Takeda: That’s right. Furthermore, the Ixa Belt, Dark Kivat Belt, KivatBelt and Sclash Driver are all unique from each other. And I’ve also used the Build Driver in my final transformation into Grease Blizzard, it really gave aspecial feeling of “form changing”. (Laughter)
Q: The Grease Blizzard Knuckle used to transform into Grease Blizzard is similar to the Ixa Knuckle right?
Takeda: Blizzard’s transformation was the same as Magma Knuckle’s, flipping over the grip, inserting the bottle and finally inserting it into the belt.
Because of this, director Kamihoriuchi Kazuya made sure to take inspiration from Ixa’s transformation pose. He was also an assistant director on Kiva, and we got to befriend each other through that. (Laughter)
And I was surprised that he grew to be such a skilled director when I met him ten years later. Although there were times we didn’t see eye to eye with each other on his direction, but he’s a really great director.
During Kazumi’s last transformation in Episode 47, I wanted Director Kamihoriuchi to film it and requested of it from Producer Omori. The part where the Driver goes “Are You Ready?” and I replied with “I’m prepared” was also discussed with Director [Kamihoriuchi].
Q: Of all the Riders you have been thus far, which has been your favourite?
Takeda: That would be Grease. Grease not only allowed me to write over my entire career thus far, but I also liked [suit actor] Mr. Fujita’s acrobatic movements. It is also great to be a Rider that belongs solely to you for the first time. Because Mr. Matsuda Kenji got to transform into Ixa, (Laughter) and Mr. Yamamoto Shouma and Mr. Niiro Shinya transformed into Dark Kiva.
But the design I like the most is Ixa, the cross on the face gives off a knightly feel and is very cool. Basically, I like all the riders of Kiva and Build. The transformation pose I like the most is Banjou Ryuga’s. Akaso Eiji who acted as him really put his spirit into it, his transformation pose is amazing. I wish to see him in a second Rider production. (Laughter)
Q: It seems that Grease’s powerup form was a request from you?
Takeda: On site, I was always begging “Please give me a form change!”. There were actually no plans for a Grease power-up form initially. But with my experience from filming Kiva, I knew that the script for Kamen Rider would change over the course of one year, and that is also the merit for Kamen Rider productions.
And so, I also told this to the Sanbagarasu actors. “If we work hard we’ll get popular for sure! For the sake of my power-up and for the sake of keeping your characters alive, let’s work hard!” I said. And Producer Omori said it would happen if my character got popular, so I gave it my all to make Kazumi a beloved character.
Q: As it was shown in a magazine back then, we thought the double Twin Breaker Grease that debut in Episode 39 was a power-up, so we thought there would be no form change for Grease.
Takeda: While we were doing the fitting for the summer movie outfits, Producer Omori and Director Kamihoriuchi were grinning and telling me “Isn’t it great you got a power-up” and I replied with, “Yes, I’m glad to be using double Twin Breakers”, but what I really thought was “Quit messing with me!”. (Laughter)
But in reality, Grease Blizzard was already confirmed to appear by then.
Q: And then the Blizzard Knuckle appeared in episode 44, but it seemed like it was an item that would be used by Banjou at first.
Takeda: Producer Omori had told me that it was a weapon for Kazumi, but at that point he had yet to tell me it was a power-up item for Grease. Grease Blizzard was announced to the cast around the filming for Episodes 44 and 45 and everyone was hyped up and thought it was very cool!
However, I didn’t expect it to be a one-time transformation. Mr. Fujita said, “It is unheard of to have a form change appear only once.” (Laughter) But Grease Blizzard is a cumulative effort of me, Mr. Fujita and the Sanbagarasu, so we promised to make it an amazing Rider. To be honest I am happy to see that Grease was popular enough to receive a power-up form.
By the way, Grease Blizzard’s punching pose is the same as the one that Kazumi does in his debut appearance [Episode 17]. I’ve discussed this with Mr. Fujita prior to filming. (Laughter)
Q: Similar to Dark Kiva, Grease Blizzard was a transformation that ended up killing the user, right?
Takeda: I think the roles I play are fated to end up like that. I’m looking forward to my next Rider role 10 years from now. (Laughter) Furthermore, the Sclash Driver strains the body, so I thought it was similar to the prototype Ixa.
Q: What was your first impression of S.H. Figuarts Grease Blizzard?
Takeda: I am happy a figure of a one-time form was created. The sculpting of the robot hand on the left arm is simply amazing. I think the problem that comes with making miniaturized figure comes with maintaining the balance between being a figure and a replica of the suit, so the sculptor is always worried about that.
What was shown off on stage was simply a prototype, so I’m looking forward
to how the sculptor will further improve on this figure.
Q: Once again, please share with us your thoughts on the Figuarts ZERO Hokuto Sanbagarasu.
Takeda: Actually, I was only shown Castle at first. At that time, I was thinking “is this for real?” (Laughter) They told me in person they’ve planned till the last figure and even though it was just planning, I’m glad they even thought that far. Sanbagarasu’s Eishin, Serizawa and Takuya also wanted their own figures, expressing their wishes to display them alongside [S.H. Figuarts] Grease.
It’s a dream come true to have the characters we played to be immortalized as figures. The role that I have played is in a physical form and acts as proof of my hand in the production and lets me brag around that “this figure is me!” (Laughter)
But this is the first time I’ve seen all three of them lined up together, furthermore it is a nice touch to have the dog tags for S.H. Figuarts Grease.
Q: To be able to show off the closeness between Grease and his comrades in the form of a figure, it’s touching, isn’t it?
Takeda: Whenever there was a scene involving Kazumi and the Sanbagarasu, the four of us would have a meeting about it before filming. For example, “Let’s do this scene this way” or “Drop me on the ground after picking us up”.
I’m very glad to be able to replicate this kind of bond between us in any form.
Q: Please share with us if you have any character from this series you wish to see as a product in the future.
Takeda: Currently, all the Riders I’ve transformed into have been made into figures, and even the Sanbagarasu have figures made of them now, so I have nothing in mind. Rather, I would like the fans to give their replies on which character they wish to be made into figures.
Q: Could you clarify on that?
Takeda: Please send in any requests you have to BANDAI SPIRITS. For example, Shinkocchou Seihou Ixa Save Mode, or Masao’s very own Shinkocchou Seihou Kiva with his own colours… Things like that.
Ah, that’s not my request for anything, I was just giving an example. (Laughing)
Q: Understood. (Laughing) Now, could you please give a message to [Kamen Rider] fans nationwide?
Takeda: The Kamen Rider series will continue to live on and each year we’ll get a fresh production. This year, we have Heisei’s 20th production, Kamen Rider Zi-O. I think that is an amazing thing but it’s easy to forget past productions.
But if it is immortalized in the form of a figure like Kiva, Grease Blizzard
or Sanbagarasu, I think it’ll forever remain in the hearts of those who own it.
Please treat it as the proof that we have lived and acted out these characters
and think of us each time you look at it.
Also, always cherish the figures you have, because in these figures
encompasses everything, from the heart of the sculptor who made the figures to
those of us who have worked on the show.
Q: Lastly, please share with us the coming Kamen Rider productions you’ll be starring in.
Takeda: Heisei Kamen Rider 20th Anniversary Project: Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FOREVER begins screening on 22nd December, a movie I feel is fit to mark an end to the Heisei era.
The stars of this movie are Build and Zi-O, Sento and Sougo, and also
previous Legend Riders. Alongside Mikami Kensei who plays Beardo [Himuro
Gentoku], we’ll be transforming alongside each other. As usual, keep an eye out
for these unusual team-ups [between Riders]!
Furthermore, the coming V-Cinema Build NEW WORLD: Kamen Rider Cross-Z has one of favourite characters, Banjou Ryuga, in the lead role. Akaso Eiji has worked hard for this role, do expect a lot out of him from this coming movie.