Hokuto Matsumura and His Two Faces

Hokuto Matsumura, a member of the boy band SixTONES, has been flying high since the group released their debut single last year. He also stars in “Liar x Liar,” a film that hit theaters just last month. Fans are sure to get butterflies watching Matsumura, who’s known as a hot guy with chiseled good looks, as he performs in this rom-com.

In the film, Matsumura plays Toru, a student whose personality can completely shift depending on who he’s talking to. For example, he treats his stepsister, played by costar Nana Mori, with indifference, telling her that she’s in the way or not taking anything she says seriously while showing his sweeter side when he’s with his crush, gushingly saying things like, “I’m super happy [being with you] now!” Toru is a classic example of the “tsundere” character trope, someone whose personality flips between standoffish and lovey-dovey. He also manages to somehow end up in a curious love triangle situation.

“The story has a very dramatic setting and develops in a dramatic way. It’s not about a mundane and everyday life. Even so, the characters are so realistic that viewers are sure to know someone around them that’s similar,” Matsumura said. It’s for that reason, he did his best to make his performance as natural as possible by doing things like paying close attention to the natural tempo of conversations.

The film, directed by Saiji Yakumo, is based on the slice-of-life comedy manga series of the same name by Renjuro Kindaichi.

Minato (played by Mori), a university student with absolutely no romantic experience, and Toru, a playboy who is popular among girls, have become step-siblings after their parents marry each other and their relationship is a rocky one. One day, Minato dons a blonde wig and flashy gal-style makeup and goes out in the guise of a high school girl. She happens to come across Toru and introduces herself as Mina on the spur of the moment. Unaware that she is Minato, Toru enthusiastically asks her out. Finding herself unable to tell him the truth, Minato agrees to go out with him as Mina.

When asked if he has ever shown any tsundere traits himself, Matsumura said, “Back in high school, I used to sit in the classroom like this,” and frowned. He added that he would speak with his classmates using polite language and could be very curt. “I wanted to focus on my studies, which was easier without anyone around,” he said.

On the other hand, he was all smiles when hanging out with his best friend, whom he met around that time, showing off his more intimate side. Apparently, there was even a rumor that they were an item …

“I’m the type of person who can very clearly say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” he said with confidence. While many pop idols have boisterous personalities and like to chatter around, Matsumura remains true to himself and doesn’t bend to the will of others. Having such a distinct personality is probably what draws people in.

Struggles in acting

The filming schedule of “Liar x Liar” was very tight, spanning only three weeks and the set was filled with people with a passion for acting. When he heard the “OK,” after shooting key scenes, he fist-pumped with the director, feeling elated.

“Acting is what I’m most interested in and is the profession I want to challenge myself in the most,” said Matsumura, with quiet ambition. He added that he found the set comfortable because there was no one there who wanted to discourage him when he became passionate about a scene.

It has been announced that he will appear in NHK’s serial morning drama starting this autumn, a welcome addition to his expanding acting resume. “There are times when I struggle with how to act in certain scenes or when I’m worried about something or my heart is broken, but that’s one of the real pleasures of acting,” he said, adding that he thinks finding such a rewarding job is his life’s treasure.

Matsumura was born on June 18, 1995, in Shizuoka Prefecture. He joined Johnny & Associates, Inc. entertainment agency during his first year of junior high school, after sending in his resume several times. As a member of Johnny’s Jr. dance and vocal team, his good looks boosted his popularity and he was chosen by a magazine as the Johnny’s Jr. member that readers most wanted to go out with. During this time, he also experienced hardship, as other members of the Johnny’s Jr. unit he belonged to formed a separate group that debuted before he could and forced the remainder of his group to disband.

In 2015, he joined SixTONES, which finally released its debut single last January. This means that it took him 11 years, from the time he joined the agency, to make his debut. His patience is noteworthy.

“It was … long,” he quietly said of the road to his debut, adding that there were times when he almost succumbed to the thought that his chances were vanishing. “There may be some who think even one year is too long to wait for a debut. But to each their own,” he said with his usual unique charm.

Cool but mischievous

Since his debut, however, he has been unstoppable. The debut single of SixTONES sold over a million copies, and the group appeared in NHK’s “Red and White Year-end Song Festival” last December.

“That was a year I sprinted through, taking care of everything I could,” he said.

Even after the group’s fame grew, the members’ comradery and dedication remain unchanged as they take pride in their unyielding team spirit. Last December, his fellow SixTONES members attended a screening of “Liar x Liar.” Matsumura was a bundle of nerves that day but was relieved after they raved about the film and his acting.

Jesse, one of the group’s members, texted him that evening, saying: “Seriously, that was the best. That was a great film I just saw.” While Matsumura regards the other members as his “best business partners” and maintains a certain distance from them, he couldn’t help the joy he felt as Jesse’s warm words touched him.

“Even though our work keeps it so that we’re treated as a group, him telling me what he thought [of the film] as a fellow human being left me a little flustered. I was like, “Puhleeze, don’t!” Matsumura said, wearing an embarrassed smile.

His dual personality can be seen on SixTONES’ official YouTube channel. Despite his ever-present cool demeanor, he also plays pranks on his fellow members. The posted videos showcase various sides of his personality, sometimes mischievous and sometimes gentle — the sides of himself that he may only show to those he feels comfortable around.

“I’m an amanojaku [a contrary person],” he said at the end of the interview. Just like his character Toru, there’s no doubt the stark gap in the sides of his personality is one of his charms.

Theme song by SixTONES

The film’s theme song, “Boku ga Boku ja nai mitaida” (I don’t seem to be myself) is the SixTONES’ fourth single, which was released Feb. 17. It’s a love song about a man who tries to tell a lie to hide his frustration of being at a loss that he’s so unlike himself. The song relates to the film’s overall theme, an unlikely romance born out of a lie.

“This film makes you laugh as well as feel butterflies. There are also many touching scenes. I think this song is a perfect match for the film because it shows that people are driven by emotions and this song wears its emotions on its sleeve,” Matsumura said, adding that the highlight of the song is the hook they sing as if they are leaning forward and pouring their feelings into the melody. The song reveals the new charms of SixTONES, known as a group of great vocalists.