• Film & TV

Snow Man members bring anime sextuplets to life

The nine members of the boy band Snow Man have added to their skill set as entertainers as they recently starred in the film “Eiga Osomatsu-san” (Mr. Osomatsu — Movie), which was released on March 25.

Six of the members portray sextuplets, while the other three play mysterious characters created for the film, which is based on a popular TV comedy anime.

They belong to the Johnny & Associates artist management company, which has produced a string of popular boy bands in Japan, such as Arashi. The top idols, however, have unabashedly put aside their pride and have fully dedicated themselves to acting in a comedy. The Yomiuri Shimbun sat down with the band to find out why they pushed themselves so hard.

The anime “Osomatsu-san” is based on Fujio Akatsuka’s comedy manga “Osomatsu-kun,” which is about sextuplet boys of the Matsuno family. Osomatsu is the eldest brother’s name. “Kun” is a title similar to “san,” but one that is generally used for young males.

“Osomatsu-san” is a sequel that depicts the brothers, who are now over 20 years old but are still completely dependent on their parents. When the anime aired in 2015, it generated a lot of interest, especially on social media, because of its absurd storylines.

In the film, the six brothers hold no regular jobs and waste away their days, such as by playing pachinko.

One day, Osomatsu happens to meet a couple who say that they want to adopt him because he resembles their son who died in an accident. As the husband is the CEO of a major corporation with a market capitalization of tens of trillion yen, fighting breaks out between the brothers, as the other brothers want to be adopted in Osomatsu’s place.

The movie is directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa, who is known as the director of “Tokyo Revengers.”

Koji Mukai plays Osomatsu, who tends to get a bit carried away.

“He has the heart of a child and is mischievous,” Mukai said. “There are many similarities between us, so I based his personality on my own.”

Hikaru Iwamoto, who plays the narcissistic second-oldest Karamatsu, said: “He is the wet blanket and is a bit awkward. But I did as I wanted to do because his role is to make people laugh.”

Ren Meguro plays the third oldest Choromatsu, who’s an idol fanatic. As the character serves as the straight man in terms of comedy in the story, Meguro said he struggled to fulfill the role. “I realized that timing was important to make people laugh. It’s incredibly difficult!”

Tatsuya Fukazawa, who plays the apathetic and dark-natured third-youngest Ichimatsu, said, “I didn’t do much to prepare for the role because I also tend to hunch over, and my eyes always look closed” like Ichimatsu. However, he said Ichimatsu’s voice is lower than his own, so that was a challenge for him.

Daisuke Sakuma, who plays the goofball second-youngest Jyushimatsu, said he was aware of resembling the character in the anime. “I kept my center of gravity low and was trying to keep my hands covered by my sleeves,” he said.

Raul, who plays the cleverest and youngest Todomatsu, said that he blinked during his scenes whenever he could. “I thought that over exaggerating his cleverness would be more like an anime.”

Shota Watanabe, Ryohei Abe and Ryota Miyadate played the film-only characters End, Close and Period, respectively, who are trying to “end” the story.

“Since my character isn’t in the original anime, I had too much freedom, so it was difficult for me to figure out how far I could go,” Watanabe said.

Abe had to speak with a Kansai accent in the film. He said that he was initially learning it from Mukai, who’s from Nara Prefecture, but stopped learning because of Iwamoto’s advice. “I’d be happy if I could create a suspicious atmosphere of the fake Kansai man.”

Miyadate said he tried to make his character appear stuck-up. But he also remarked, “It was my first time doing an action scene, and I ended up tearing my leather pants.”

“Osomatsu-san” is known for its raunchy parodies and dirty jokes, so did they have any issues with that?

All the members immediately said no.

“Not at all,” Sakuma said. “Definitely not a problem,” Abe said.

“We didn’t come across any issues,” Iwamoto said. “We actually wanted to make sure it felt like ‘Osomatsu-san,’ so we could’ve done more.”

“Once we have accepted our roles, we have to do what we can,” Mukai said.

“While acting, I exposed my butt to people in a shopping district. I had fun in a scene where my character pees on a luxury car. Since it’s not something we can do in real life.

“Kids, don’t try that at home,” he added.

Watanabe said that he had wondered how far they could go.

“I didn’t find many restrictions placed on us. Maybe we’ve taken on a new style.”

Meguro said he had to work really hard to figure out his character.

“In the beginning, I was really nervous and panicked,” Meguro said. “But I didn’t want to do it half-heartedly, so I watched the anime over and over again to ease some of my anxiety.”

Despite how they felt before and during shooting, the band said they greatly enjoyed the experience and had a lot of fun on set.

“Filming was so physically taxing that we often had a hard time breathing,” Sakuma said. “I’m looking forward to how the fight scenes will look in the movie.”

Abe commented that even the confusion of the storyline is very much like the “Osomatsu-san” anime.

“All of us play characters that are most suited to us, so the casting was perfect,” Abe said.

Raul said that he had a hard time suppressing his laughter during shooting with the other members. “We have a special relationship with each other — not only as band members but as if we’re brothers or friends. It seems to me that the work is the result of good memories with good buddies.”

All nine members said they were happy to be in the movie together.

“Everyone was aware that this is our first movie and could be our last one, so we took the shoot seriously to enhance the work,” Fukazawa said.

Miyadate added: “Time seemed to pass so quickly when we were filming. I think it’ll motivate Snow Man to move in the right direction.”

Iwamoto said: “I liked the sextuplets, the three new characters and the atmosphere of all of us working together. I was really happy to be able to work on ‘Osomatsu-san,’ an anime that everyone knows.”

The members really came out of their shells in the movie, and we’re looking forward to their future endeavors.