Part 4 of the series features Tsuda Kenjirō, voice of the sinister Private Ogata Hyakunosuke.
Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.
A: I could feel robustness and energy; with the kind of depth in its characters and story that you won’t find in other works. It doesn’t feel like modern times, which actually makes things more interesting. Anyhow, the expressions are powerful and the amount of passion is amazing.
I do think that one of the things that makes this series so potent is its setting in the hinterlands of Hokkaido during olden times instead of in contemporary Japan.
Q: Were there any particular elements that you think carried a lot of impact?
A: Probably the complexity of the characters. Especially Tsurumi-san, he’s amazing (laughs). Even the hero Sugimoto’s body is full of scars. Those physical aspects do contribute towards the depth of the characters.
Also, the very premise of the story – slicing off human skin in a bid to strike gold, packs a strong punch. The human beings are a wild bunch; mercilessly butchering animals and carving the skin off a man’s back in the same way.
There probably isn’t much difference between carving up a bear’s or a human’s skin when one is merely trying to survive in the lands of Hokkaido. It’s harsh, but also extremely hilarious. Discarding the unnecessary facets of humanity is another factor that makes this series so appealing.
Q: Can you describe your feelings when you found out about your casting?
A: The story and the character that I was to play seemed fascinating, so I was delighted to be able to take part in this series. I got excited, thinking ‘wow what should I do, this looks really fun!’
Q: What impressions did you have of Ogata as a character?
A: A calm or should I say, a very cool impression. Basically he doesn’t show his feelings. I do believe that there are plenty of emotions stirring within him, but he never allows them to rise to the surface. He might be in a conversation but you’d never feel like he’s particularly engaged in it. You could say that in a way, he speaks at a ‘temperature’ that is colder than that of normal human conversation?
Q: He appears to be talking, but you’re never sure just how much emotion he’s channelling into his words.
A: That’s right. There’s a scene in episode 9 where he’s talking to Tanigaki, and it is really tough to gauge what’s going on in his mind (laughs). Indeed, even Tanigaki himself was unable to get a measure of what position Ogata was coming from.
As the conversation progresses you can, to a certain extent, start to grasp the position [he’s coming from] but it was hard to differentiate between truth and the lies at the beginning. I think that mysteriousness is what makes Ogata’s presence so magnetic.
His personality and calm demeanour are consistent with the prerequisites for a typical sniper, which I thought was an interesting point. He does have the tendency to playing dumb sometimes though – all these things serve to make him a very interesting guy.
Q: Ogata makes his reappearance in episode 9 – what do you make of him at this point?
A: His reappearance is so very Ogata-like. Returning to the home of Fuci, who has been caring for him, Tanigaki sees Ogata there. But he has no idea what the purpose of his appearance is. A short while after Ogata departs without incident, Tanigaki realizes it’s a ruse and he’s actually sniping at him from outside (laughs). The way the situation was structured was really interesting, I thought.
Q: When you read the manga, did you think Ogata would turn out to be a character that would make his presence felt so strongly?
A: Not at all. His first appearance had him getting bitten by a dog after all (laughs). He falls off the cliff after briefly tangling with Sugimoto, and disappears for a lengthy period after. Episode 9 revived his character after a long absence; I bet anime viewers would be surprised to see him as well.
Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?
A: My impression was that they pretty much just left it up to me. Basically, I used ‘indifference’ as the base for my performance. However, when I was reading the manga I did see that his expression would change from panel to panel – he even made a happy face, albeit fleetingly, at one point.
For such cases I will consult with Director Nanba and ensure that I maintain nuances that are consistent with he manga. During recordings for episode 2, I was requested to tone down my expressiveness and to make it sound a certain way.
Ogata is a character who’s all about balance and definitely not the type to rush in headlong, so there are areas where I have to handle him a bit more carefully.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean that he’s on edge all the time though. He is human after all, so it’s interesting to see where the emotion comes in. It’s about adding the right amount of emotion on to the base.
Q: Do you formulate an acting plan ahead of recording?
A: Only to the extent of ‘I guess I should do it this way’?. In the end, I think the kind of performance I produce depends on the overall balance [of the cast] so that’s determined by the Director who has a bird’s-eye view of the whole process.
Even if you pinpoint the way I express indifference in a certain scene as being ‘good’, it may be the case that [the Director] wants it to be a bit more vibrant after assessing the overall flow [of the scene]. So in a way, I try to leave a bit of margin when it comes to my acting.
Q: A great number of cast members have been assembled for this series – tell us what the atmosphere in the recording studio is like.
A: The story is pretty savage but the studio itself is warm and bright. I think the atmosphere’s great. Our seniors seem to be having fun, and I do feel the enthusiasm and unaffectedness of the leading actors Kobayashi (Chikahiro)-san and Shiraishi (Haruka)-san spreading around the studio.
Q: Are there any scenes or lines that you feel were significant in capturing the essence of Ogata?
A: He hasn’t appeared in a lot of episodes so far, but in episode 9 there is a scene where he says ‘It’s time to go Tanigaki-hunting’ – that text was highlighted in bold in the manga. It showed Ogata’s awareness, that the ‘hunt’ meant taking down Tanigaki. I kept his coldness and brutality in mind as I acted out that scene.
Ogata has a lot more lines in episode 9 than in previous episodes. He barely said a word when he first appeared, so [episode 9] felt like an introductory story for me (laughs)
Q: We look forward to seeing how Ogata stirs up the plotline in future episodes. Finally, please leave a message for the fans.
A: Thank you for watching the TV anime Golden Kamuy. I finally get to make my reappearance as Ogata, and he’s brushing his hair upwards so coolly in the key images (laughs)
To meet your expectations in the future, I will take an unconventional approach with Ogata that ‘betrays’, and I mean that in a good way. I hope that you will continue to enjoy this fascinating, magnificent and obscene story.