Ryunosuke Kamiki × Shota Sometani in Roppongi

It’s March 18, 2017, the opening day of the film “March Comes in like a Lion.” Foregoing an appearance at the film’s premiere, two of its stars, Ryunosuke Kamiki and Shota Sometani, visited a building in Roppongi. While it doesn’t have what you’d call a hanging garden, they’re happy to have a space from which to look up into the open sky.

Asking Kamiki about his familiarity with Roppongi, he says he “sometimes comes here to see movies.” There’s an appeal to being able to see movies on the big screen, he explains. Sometani, on the other hand, says he comes for exhibitions and such at art museums.

Talking about how the neighboring Azabu area is strongly associated with eating and drinking establishments, Sometani speaks up. “There’s a really good yoshoku restaurant in Azabu...I forget the name, though,” he says with a laugh.

Kamiki chuckles at this absolutely worthless bit of information.

Asking if they’re friendly with each other normally, they reply simultaneously, “We get along great.” Having both aimed to become actors from a young age and pursued it ever since, they probably understand each other well. That in itself brings to mind the relationship of friendly competition between the characters they play, Kamiki’s Rei Kiriyama and Sometani’s Harunobu Nikaido.

The film is the story of pro shogi player Rei Kiriyama and the people around him, depicting also the town in which they all live. The apartment in which Rei Kiriyama resides is impressively situated, facing a flowing river. Asking Kamiki about where they actually filmed, he says it was the “Sumida Riverside seen from Asakusa.” On the same topic I ask him what part of Tokyo he likes, and Asakusa comes up again.

“It’s laid-back. The shopping streets have a great vibe, and I feel a closeness with the people here.” 

Sometani adds his two cents.

“The same goes for the Sumida River, but there’s a lot of scenery in the film that I’m personally familiar with. It’s a trite thing to say, but for me it’s an area where I can feel a touch of humanity.”

We’re talking about February 22, 2017, when the two attended a private screening of the completed film ahead of its nationwide opening. Telling Kamiki that he did a great job in the onstage interview, Sometani agrees.

“That was truly great,” he says. “I was smiling the whole time.” A bit bashful, Kamiki says, “I’m glad to hear that,” and his smile brightens up the room.

We play a little shogi as we talk. It didn’t come down to win or lose, but I let slip that Kamiki is clearly a good player, which makes the two of them laugh.

Kamiki first played shogi in third grade, and Sometani as far back as he can remember. Both said they played against their grandfathers. To gain experience the two played against each other during filming, telling me an episode of how they were playing a heated match while shooting a scene in Nikaido’s limo, stopping and starting between cues from the director.

Seeing the two off as they headed to the premiere, we parted ways with Roppongi and made our way to Azabu-Juban. It’s a charming neighborhood that mixes new and old, with a great number of shops lined up.

Crossing to the opposite side of Azabu-dori Avenue, the address changes to Mita after passing under the Shuto Expressway. Tall buildings peek out beyond this townscape unchanged from the olden days.

Thinking of a scene from the film, I felt like walking along a broad riverside. While still too soon for cherry blossoms, I try to decide between taking a stroll along the Sumida River from around Ichigaya towards Iidabashi, or maybe heading over to Morishita and opening up a can of beer while looking out over the Sumida River. With this in mind, I say goodbye to the streets of Azabu and Roppongi.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Photos: Teppei Kobayashi

Words: Hideyuki Okamoto

Ryunosuke Kamiki

Born May 19, 1993. From Saitama Prefecture. Thrust into the spotlight when he won the Newcomer of the Year award at the 29th Japan Academy Awards for his performance in “The Great Yokai War” (2005; dir. by Takashi Miike). Following this he appeared in a number of popular films such as the “SPEC” film series (2012-13; dir. by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, “The Kirishima Thing” (2012; dir. by Daihachi Yoshida), “Bakuman.” (2015; dir. by Hitoshi Ohne) and “Too Young to Die! Wakakushite Shinu” (2016; dir. by Kankuro Kudo), and has been recognized as a young actor of outstanding ability. Continuously partners with Keishi Ohtomo, director of 2014’s “Rurouni Kenshi: Kyoto Inferno” and “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends.”

Received high accolades for his voice work in such anime films as “Summer Wars” (2009; dir. by Mamoru Hosada) and “The Secret World of Arrietty” (2010; dir. by Hiromasa Yonebayashi), and voiced the main character in record-breaking smash hit “Your Name.” (2016: dir. by Makoto Shinkai). Coming later this year is “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Chapter 1” (2017; dir. by Takashi Miike).

Shota Sometani

Born September 3, 1992. From Tokyo. Won the Marcello Mastroianni Award (newcomer of the year award) at the Venice Film Festival for his work in “Himizu” (2012; dir. by Sion Sono). Lauded as the rise of a tremendous acting talent after nabbing the Newcomer of the Year award at the 36th Japan Academy Awards for “Himizu” and “Lesson of the Evil” (2012; dir. by Takashi Miike).

Following this he appeared in such films as “The Kiyosu Conference” (2013; dir. by Koki Mitani), “The Eternal Zero” (2013; dir. by Takashi Yamazaki), “Parasyte” parts 1 and 2 (2014-15; dir. by Takashi Yamazaki), “Bakuman.” (2015; dir. by Hitoshi Ohne), “All Esper Dayo!: The Movie” (2015; dir. by Sion Sono), and “A Man Called Pirate” (2016; dir. by Takashi Yamazaki), gaining heaps upon heaps of praise for his unparalleled acting ability. Still to come are “PARKS” (2017; dir. by Natsuki Seta) and Sino-Japanese coproduction “KU-KAI” (2018; dir. by Chen Kaige), in the latter of which he will play the lead role.

March Comes in Like a Lion

Part One: Now showing to great acclaim Part Two: Nationwide double-feature roadshow April 22nd (Sat.)

Distributor: Toho / Asmik Ace

Official website: http://3lion-movie.com/ja/

©2017 March Comes in Like a Lion Film Production Committee