Tsukikawa Sho Interview (BRODY February 2020)
My request was “Please create a masterpiece”
The theme this time is “The songs of Keyakizaka46”. I’m thinking of specifically asking you about “Kado wo Magaru”
Tsukikawa: I will be in your care
Reading the special booklet from Hibiki movie, in the part where you talk with Hirate-san, Director Tsukikawa was the one who suggested “Let’s make an ending song” which gives birth to “Kado wo Magaru”
Tsukikawa: Yes, that’s correct. At first I thought that we could use some instrumental music as the ending of the movie, but I want to make it feel richer. Then, I ask Hirate-san, “Would you like to sing?”. She was reluctant at first, saying “... If the Director says so, I’ll sing. But please don’t use it if you don’t think it’s good.”
So she’s asking you not to hold back, and to judge it when it’s finished.
Tsukikawa: We decided to go with the condition that we must listen to the song first before we decide whether to use it or not. And then I had to request to Akimoto-san what kind of lyrics I want him to write, so I talked with the original author of Hibiki, Yanamoto Mitsuharu. Then we decided to request “a masterpiece.”
That’s quite a rough answer (laughs)
Tsukikawa: We asked Akimoto-san to create a masterpiece for Hirate Yurina to sing at the end of Heisei, the same way we have Misora Hibari’s “Kawa no Nagare no You ni” at the end of Showa.
What was your first impression of “Kado wo Magaru”?
Tsukikawa: I listened to it on the train, and cried there. Somehow it feels like listening to the shouts of someone’s heart. Especially when I listen to “I’m sorry that I can never be the person you expected me to be” part of the lyric, I thought that a superb song have been created. I immediately contacted the manager and said “I want to use this as the ending song”.
I think that the lyrics of the song is linked with the lines in the movie, but for Director Tsukikawa, did you hear it as if Akui Hibiki is the one singing? Or did you hear it as Hirate Yurina singing?
Tsukikawa: I think that it is sung by both of them. When I first meet her, she has this great atmosphere about her. It’s as if she’s keeping people away from her. I thought, “I can’t look at her in the eyes”. But, sometimes when we look at each other in the eyes, it feels like the 17 years old girl looked inside the 36 years old me, and I thought “I can’t be careless.” But that’s before we started the movie shoot. When we are at the location, there is this comfortable feeling that made me wonder if this was the real her, and I wondered “I wonder who is she right now, Hirate-san or Hibiki?”. When I couldn’t tell the difference between the character role and the actual person, I was given “Kado wa Magaru”, and it sounded to me like Hirate-san and Hibiki sang it together.
After the movie shoot, there was a story that Hirate-san asked Akimoto-sensei for advice, “I want to change my name to Akui Hibiki”
Tsukikawa: Yes. I thought that that is just how much Hibiki matched with her. That’s why there are parts that she sung with emotions as Hibiki.
Is it “It’s okay”, or is it “I’m sorry”
How was it decided that Director Tsukikawa will be directing the MV?
Tsukikawa: Even after the movie shoot, sometimes we held “Hibiki Gathering”, a dinner party with the staff, Hirate-san, Kitagawa Keiko and other related people. And then one day, on the gathering, I was told “Would like to create a MV for Kado wo Magaru?”. At first, I don’t know what to answer.
Because it was originally a song made as an ending song for the movie.
Tsukikawa: Both me and Hirate-san agreed that “Kado wo Magaru” was only a part of the movie. That’s why there was no claims like “The theme song is sung by Hirate Yurina”. But I got interested in Nazca-san who composed the song. We decided that “This song is a part of the movie”, but when you think about the people who create the song they might have the feeling “Let it compete as a stand-alone song”. I thought about it all the time. When they ask me about the MV, I decided to accept. At first I suggested different patterns of story. But it seemed out of place adding stories other than Hibiki. The result of revising the plan many times was decided to be “Let’s create an MV that express through body expression”
How would you describe what was expressed in the MV in short?
Tsukikawa: “A battle of individuality”. At first it was just a pure innocent girl who likes to dance, but slowly they started to gain recognition from the world. More and more people are seeking her performances, and the girl forget the fun feeling they have as she tried to dance something that people accept. As a result, she hurt and lose herself. At the end, she has a question inside of her which is “What is my individuality?”
I see. While we at it, would you tell us the story of it scene by scene?
Tsukikawa: First, it started with the scene of her dancing on the stage of a theater. It’s expressing the time the protagonist is still dancing innocently. And then suddenly, she started dancing brokenly and she tries to end it, but anonymous people dressed in black appeared to stop her, and once again she returned to the stage. There, she struggled.
There are people in black who raises Hirate-san’s body at the beginning, and there are also people in black who sat in the aisle.
Tsukikawa: Audiences have many things to say. There are those who worship the protagonist, there are those who project themselves to her, there are also those who try to hinder her. Perhaps they try to reach out to help her, but she shook them off too and continues. And then, in the 1 minute mark (of the MV), there are three people in black who shook her head, right? That is to express the situation where she is being manipulated around. Trying to conform caused her to feel more suffering.
At 1:30 mark, she moves like a pendulum while holding her neck.
Tsukikawa: She was dancing around, but she’s dancing on inertia with the thought “I have to be the one everyone can accept.” And then in 1:58, the people in black who surrounded her a while ago could be seen creating another crowd around someone else. This indicates that the interest of the audience is shifting to somewhere else.
“The interest of people can easily shift”
Tsukikawa: And then she become tattered both mentally and physically, and pushes her way out from the people in black and become alone.
When she is thinking “I’m alone now,'' her passage becomes a dead end. Hirate-san then shakes her first and breaks the mirror in front of her.
Tsukikawa: In the end I wanted to say “It was all in the mirror”. Everything up until then was a virtual image. That’s why I make the camera work like passing through a mirror. Breaking the mirror reveals a different room, and she walks out of the world of virtual image, and shows her confronting her true nature.
Eh, what do you mean?
Tsukikawa: What we’ve seen so far is her public image. That’s why everything is a virtual image. The protagonist who was dancing happily without thinking at the beginning broke the mirror, and confrontsthe true essence of herself and grab a hold of “my individuality”.
When shooting the MV, what did you talk about with CRE8BOY’s Akimoto Rui-san (秋元類) who was in charge of choreography?
Tsukikawa: I said that I don’t want the dance to be something understandable, but a dance that gives different imagination like “This part have this meaning” or “No, I don’t think so”. I told him I wanted it to be a dance that could make you imagine various things.
Certainly there are many conflicting opinions from those who have watched the MV. So everyone can have different interpretation?
Tsukikawa: Yes. There are many interpretations that makes me go “Uwa~ So there is this kind of interpretation as well!”, there are also those who think that it expresses a child growing into an adult and I thought that it certainly looked like so. It’s fun to read those kinds of comments.
Hirate-san said something in the last scene, right? In that particular scene, there are many different opinions going around about what it was.
Tsukikawa: That was her own ad lib. Hirate-san is the kind of person who says “I want to give it another try” no matter how hard it is if she is not satisfied. Truth is, Hirate-san’s body has reached its limit because she had reshot it many times over. Whatever she may say, I have already planned to force her to stop. And then at the last take, suddenly she said something. After the shoot, I asked “What did you say back then?”, then Hirate-san said “I don’t remember.” So I asked her manager. They said, “She (Hirate) said that Director knows the answer”, but I was like “I don’t know it too!” (laughs)... But, there was a word that the choreographer had instilled in Hirate-san just before.
What was that word?
Tsukikawa: They told her “It’s okay” many times. That’s why I thought that Hirate’s last word was a positive sounding word of “It’s okay”. But, there’s a lot of people who think it’s “I’m sorry” (laughs).
Yes, that’s right.
Tsukikawa: But the person who said it doesn’t know it herself.
I guess the truth is in the dark?
Tsukikawa: There are also days where it looked like “I’m sorry” to me. Maybe, deep down I though it was “I’m sorry”. But as a work, I made it with the intention of making it a positive one.
Please tell us about your editing intent. Usually the title of the song appears at the beginning of the MV, then the name of the performer at the end. But in this work it’s reversed.
Tsukikawa: The end aims to imagine the future that comes next. Because this is not an ending point. Even in the movie, it ends on a scene with a patrol car with Hibiki in it turning a corner, right? She just turned one corner. In the same way, both the MV and her life still continues. I want people to imagine what will happen in the future, and then finally put in the title.
She properly turned a corner, where will she go from here?
What was the atmosphere of the shooting like?
Tsukikawa: Hirate-san is a stoic person, so the site is also in the mood. Even if I say OK, she would say “No, I can do more”. This didn’t happen with the movie. When I gave the OK, we move on to the next.
So this time it’s the opposite.
Tsukikawa: At the time of the movie, from start to cut, it feels like she has decided to live as Hibiki. That’s why even though she’s acting with the likes of Kitagawa Keiko-san and Oguri Shun-san, Hirate-san acting didn’t shake. Since she is living as Hibiki, there may have been a point where it was good enough. But, when she is standing in front of the camera as Hirate Yurina… She won’t stop. In the MV, there was a part where her knee hits the ground, she put in so much force that it got swollen. Unless someone forcibly stop her, she will say “I can still do it”, I wondered if she plans to keep going until she broke. Her feeling of “This isn’t my 100%” is amazing. What left the biggest impression was the scene where she smiled at the end, in which her manager cried when they see it. They said, “It’s been a while since I saw that expression”. That was something natural, but it was also the ultimate expression. It is really amazing how she drives herself until she shows it. It makes you wonder what will happen to her from now on. What she imposes on herself is too big… Speaking of which, I went to watch their performance in Tokyo Dome the other day.
Where Hirate-san performed “Kado wa Magaru” at the encore, right?
Tsukikawa: I felt that Hirate-san’s focus has been sharpened since “Hiraishin”. I also felt an explosion of expressive power in “Ambivalent” and “Fukyouwaon”. I already knew in advance that she will be performing “Kado wo Magaru” at the encore, so I thought “Can she switch from there?”. And she wonderfully managed to, and it really struck deep within my heart. I thought that that stage was really well done. That she have properly turned a corner.
Did you feel Hirate-san’s change trough Hibiki movie and “Kado wo Magaru” MV?
Tsukikawa: The image of her as “a person who only do things that she can accept” doesn’t change at all. Also, I feel that Hirate-san finds it easier to live after Hibiki movie. After filming the last scene of the movie, apparently she didn’t want to take off her costume and cried, saying “I still want to be Hibiki”. Hearing that… I’m glad that she got to meet Hibiki. We really can’t imagine where will she go next from here.