Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Sakamoto Yuji - Soredemo Ikite Yuku interview Part 4

I sort of finished this before my last trip and was waiting for Chuks to get back to me with some answers but forgot to copy my work to my phone. I'll probably need to go back and clean up the translations but I doubt I'll have time. The way Sakamoto Yuji talks is a pain to translate. Original text can be found here. Corrections and comments are most welcome. Big thanks to Chuks and Satomi for helping with the translation!

Abiko: In a previous review, the scene where the wrong-doer’s family and the victim’s family were eating soumen together. (Episode 6: Uninvited guest)

Sakamoto: Yes.

Abiko: The viewers were always interested in how the mother of the victim (Otake Shinobu) was going to end up meeting the wrong-doer’s family as she did not want to meet them. The cause of the meet up was when the son Eita scolded the mother, “Why are there no teas and cakes?”. I don’t know whether that was real or not and but I thought that it was a good attitude for the promise (to keep it real).

Sakamoto: As I thought. The situation that killer’s and victim’s family are in is an unknown world to me. In the end, I don’t know what’s real or not. In that case, I feel the danger when the two meet. Everytime I write I write this scene, it becomes something ordinary but I wrote with a feeling that it was something that could not be avoided. About that scene, I once wrote a normal scene where Otake-san from the victim’s family spoke her mind while the killer’s family listened and answered. However, that really felt out of place so I took it in a different direction. Even so, it took a lot of courage for me to remove it.

Abiko: Even if you cut that scene, in the end, the characters came to life in your head. The mother’s actions became very natural. Sakamoto-san, don’t you think that was very natural?

Sakamoto: I didn’t want to write it as I one sided scene so they ended up eating soumen together although there was the emotion of hitting something.I think regardless of what happens, those characters have defects. That’s what make a ‘character drama’. There are cases where someone says, “This character say such a thing.” In the past I thought this was strange and couldn’t be helped. “Wouldn’t it be weird if someone said something?” Of course, tone when speaking is a trait of the person expressing his/her feelings. People think about good things and also about bad things as well. People who are calm and composed do lose their temper. If one where to write their characters as if they were real, there is no such thing as there is no way a character would say this.

Abiko: One cannot capture the multifaceted picture of human life without moulding your characters as 3-dimensional. About moulding the characters, was there any feedback from the actors that unfluence the moulding?

Sakamoto: Of course, did not harden in the end? In the planning book, it was always written ‘this character is the mood maker’ or ‘this character can’t stop being angry’  but to follow that absolutely is not interesting. In actual fact, people are not so easily defined.

Abiko: This type of one sided coding is to make it convenient for viewers and readers.  Are you prepared to refuse to follow the pattern and say you don’t care about ratings?

Sakamoto: If I don’t code characters into certain archetypes, there won’t be any ratings. Normally, such a dark protagonist won’t appear on a television dorama. Actually, when I was doing trendy doramas back in the day, it was much more relaxed. During the age of trendy doramas, the characters’ setting was created by one writer but this is the age where even the conclusion of the first episode is written by multiple writers. They can’t write without deciding what their characters are beforehand.

Abiko: The first thing I am most concerned with is how did you set up the criminal's story? There is even talk that although he was rehabilitated, people around him constantly looking at him caused him to return to what he was! There is also the possibly that he was already born with the characteristics of a killer or a psychopath. However, in the end although I felt that it was ambigious,  the modelling of the character could only be done by Sakamoto-san's gaze.

Sakamoto: Although I've watched a lot of movies and read a lot of books, in the end, I could not find out how to illustrate a killer's feelings or his internal thoughts. People kill other people in doramas is usually because of a grudge or an easily understood reason but whichever one chooses, to project the image of a psychopath cannot be done. From the first episode, I was conflicted with how to create the ego of a killer. How do I illustrate something that I do not understand? So as not to write a poor script because of it, I had to procceed carefully and think when I was writing. On that point, when I decided on the second incident, there were objections from the staff and I heard talk that the actors were also uneasy about it....

Abiko: So there was a possibility that the second incident would not happen?

Sakamoto: Yes. At that point I wasn't sure where to take the conflict between the killer's and victim's families to in the end. Nevertheless, I had to do it by force! If I didn't do it, the show would fall into the pattern of a killer regretting his actions and I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to 100% beautify and wanted to avoid creating sympathy for a killer and explained that because a criminal did such a thing that such sorrow was created. However, I had to proceed without knowing how to illustrate such a criminal. And then when I was writing the 7th or 8th episode, I saw Kazama-san's acting which made me think a lot. He wasn't acting acting like a psychopath nor a regular human. Somehow, I felt that he had captured it. When stumped, its a good idea to watch the actors.

Abiko: Its a good thing Kazama-san played his character with ambiguit, isnt' it?

Sakamoto: I decided to write a scene in which his motive of murder is reveled to the extent that satisfies viewers somewhat, in not so explanatory way. But I didn't want the scene on the last episode, so it was on the episode before the last episode. I also didn't want the scene to be too focused either. So my compromise was him making a little confession to his grandparents. However, I myself has no idea why he killed the little girl, and it remains as my assignment (to figure out).

Abiko: Although I am surprised after hearing it, if there was not somekind of will, that certain moulding of the character would not be possible. I think that the acting of the character would not be possible. However, the scriptwriter did not change his mind and the actor had to act it out.... however, when Kazama-san did his blank acting of his character, I don't think there was an ominous rebirth of his character but I think that there was a jolt.

Sakamoto: When there is an incident, everyone tries to read a character's mind , don't they? I find that trying to read a character actually strange.

I myself don't really know what the character is thinking as well so no way can anyone possibly know. So for this type of acting, personally I think it is very good. No matter how I explain it, the viewer will be disappointed.

Abiko: From now one, what other type of doramas are you going to create?

Sakamoto: Whatever I will do depends on the job. Ah, however, have you seen Carnation?

Abiko: I haven't seen Carnation but I've heard good things about it.

Sakamoto: I think that is an excellent dorama. I've seen two weeks worth on NHK's On Demand.

Abiko: That's the so called morning dorama established tendency. Because of that, there is a lot of exposition and the dialogue is very explanatory.

Sakamoto: Carnation probably doesn't have to explain everything. There is narration, but as far as it is neccessary for the creation of the show. Explanatory narration should be omitted as much as possible. I found the directing and acting in Carnation, very interesting.

Abiko: So after this you want to do something completely different? I'm talking about doing something easy to understand.

Sakamoto: As for as it is requested from television doramas, of course something as easily understood as Mito Komon. However, there are people who say its ok to make another Mito Komon and there are people who are motivated to make something that is not made for ratings. Sometimes, the company would say, do something without caring about the ratings! I have encountered this interesting circumstance once in a while.

Abiko: Circumstance, eh. I thought you were going to say something about chemistry.

Sakamoto:This drama born because of the combination of the broadcasting company which was bold enough to make the decision, the producer who is originally from variety shows and has the permission of making as he wishes, and the skillful actors like Eita and Mitsuhima. I guess you can call it chemistry but it happened incidentally. I'm a veteran now and I'm not sure how many more years I get to do serial dramas. Creating such a dorama disqualifies me from being a television scripwriter.

Abiko: Are you saying that because you have previously complied with requests well, once in a while you want to do exactly what you want?

Sakamoto: There is of course an expectation that its something that I should do, but that is viewed as something young people should do. I made my debut earlier than usual, but I am writing scripts while having my keeping the thought that my job could possibly end at the back of my mind. There are basically no veteran writers for 9 o'clock love doramas. From now on, I expect job requests to steadily decrease.

Abiko: Have the requests decreased?

Sakamoto: Occasionally when talk of work comes to me, people come to be with book that they want me to adapt. Recently a lot of books are written about families where there has been a death. (laughs) This label has been stuck to me and I can't go back.    


bossmama said...

Omo. totally gonna try Carnation then, it was recommended by Sakamoto yuuji!!

Akiramike said...

I give Carnation a try but its hard getting through the beginning but I'll definitely give it another go later.

bossmama said...

What do you think of the show?

Akiramike said...

I'm still at the childhood part of Carnation, I think episode 4. Long doramas always do the this person is going to do great things but we're gonna spend 10 episodes on their childhood.