• Film & TV

‘Akira and Akira’ delves into duo overcoming difficulties

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ryoma Takeuchi, left, and Ryusei Yokohama

The film “Akira and Akira” tells the story of two young men, who share the same given name and confront difficulties at a megabank and a major company.

The protagonists are Akira Yamazaki and Akira Kaido. Yamazaki aims to become a bank clerk who helps people because of his experience seeing a factory run by his father going bankrupt, and Kaido is the scion of a major shipping company who instead becomes a bank clerk from a desire to avoid family feuds and constraints. The two Akiras with contrasting backgrounds compete against each other as rivals hired in the same year by a megabank, but Yamazaki is demoted as a result of staying true to his principles. Meanwhile, Tokai Yusen Group, the shipping company run by Kaido’s father, faces a financial crisis. Yamazaki and Kaido join forces to tackle the problems.

The film is based on a novel with the same title by Jun Ikeido that was first published by Tokuma Shoten in 2017 and then by Shueisha Inc. Over 870,000 copies have been published.

The Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed the two actors who played the two Akiras: Ryoma Takeuchi as Akira Yamazaki, a compassionate and hot-blooded man, and Ryusei Yokohama who plays Akira Kaido, a calm and cool-headed man born with a silver spoon in his mouth. They discussed their thoughts on working together, episodes from the filming and must-see scenes.

© 2022 “Akira and Akira” Film Partners
Akira Yamazaki, left, and Akira Kaido join hands in trying to find a solution to save Tokai Yusen Group, a shipping company facing a crisis, in a scene from “Akira and Akira.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun: This is the first time you two have appeared in the same work.

Yokohama: When I was doing the sentai superhero team (“Ressha Sentai Toqger,” which aired from 2014 to 2015), he (Takeuchi) was doing “Kamen Rider Drive.” Although we had no chance to talk to each other at the time, I felt a kind of comradeship with him, so I’m glad we’ve been able to work together this time.

Takeuchi: I really agreed with Ryusei on some of the points he was concerned with or committed to during the filming, so I wish there were more scenes of us together having conversations and stuff.

Yokohama: We had discussions together with the director, Mr. Takahiro Miki, to make certain scenes better. I felt everyone was looking in the same direction while we worked on the production. That’s why I wanted to act in a more straightforward and close manner.

Takeuchi: There are surprisingly few scenes with only the two of us. Isn’t it only in the rain scene that we share a long scene together?

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ryoma Takeuchi: Born on April 26, 1993. Notable works include the TV drama “Ship of Theseus” and the film “Teiichi no Kuni” (“Teiichi — Battle of Supreme High”).

Yokohama: That’s right. (laughs) Yamazaki in the rain scene is cute.

Takeuchi: My character doesn’t use an umbrella.

Yokohama: Yes, he rushes to Kaido all wet.

Yomiuri: How did you prepare for your roles?

Takeuchi: Since the story is set in a bank, I was taught about working in a bank and stuff before the filming started. I also listened to an acquaintance who used to work for a bank and then started a business. It was very helpful because I could realistically learn about both those who lend money and those who borrow money.

Yokohama: I wondered, “What is a scion?” and watched the TV drama adaptation and met workers from a shipping company that Mr. Jun Ikeido had interviewed before writing the novel, who kindly agreed to see me. I think I gained a lot that allowed me to understand the environment in the company. I also saw the ship model on display at the company, the same model that appeared in the film as we borrowed it from the company.

Yomiuri: Which scene do you find most impressive?

Yokohama: … The last scene … the wind was too strong.

Takeuchi: It was really windy. It doesn’t seem that strong on screen, though.

Yokohama: But it’s one helluva great scene.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ryusei Yokohama: Born on Sept. 16, 1996. Notable works include the TV drama “Watashitachi wa Doka Shiteiru” (“Cursed in Love”) and the film “Usogui.”

Takeuchi: There is another scene that is linked to one of the scenes early on in the film. We adjusted the timing of our conversation to make it unclear whether the two, who are destined to have strong ties with each other, were aware of the link, so that it could be interpreted either way.

Yokohama: We discussed that a lot before doing the scene. I think we were right to do so.

Yomiuri: What do you want the audience to notice in this film?

Takeuchi: When you say “seishun” (spring of one’s life, one’s young days), you may think of your student days. But I think grownups have their own seishun, when you face many difficulties that put you under stress and make you feel down. But if there’s someone like a comrade-in-arms, with whom you aim high, then the happiness you feel when you overcome the difficulties with that person — I think that happiness can happen no matter what job you do. I hope this work can evoke that kind of passion in people working in society.

Yokohama: Yes. And I also want people who watch the film to pay attention to the ties between the two Akiras, the lives of these two people, each of them with an individual hurdle to overcome, becoming drawn to each other, crashing and then heading toward the same direction.

Takeuchi: The two complement each other, but it’s interesting to see their fiery rivalry until they acknowledge and accept each other.

Yokohama: I’d be glad if the way they live will give some vitality to those who watch the film.