NHK Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Interview

NHK have released an interview with Tatsuya about his role as Mikado (the Emperor) in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit as the third season comes to a close. Read the interview below (very roughly translated by Pan!)…


“I never imagined such an emotional and intense character”

After three years of playing the Emperor is coming to an end, I never imagined portraying such an emotional and intense character. In the beginning, it was worrying too. For example, if this were theater, I could imagine that the intensity would be created with sounds, costumes, makeup and so on… But, when it is for TV over three seasons, how far can can I take the role?

In the early stages, of season 1, the director told me “The Emperor is pushing his emotions so much inside him, but to make his jealousy and anger towards Chagum come out, I want you to tap into his human side”. The result was interesting, to have to show the emotion not in words, but in how he was thinking.

One thing I was able to do as the Emperor is instruct everyone. Just saying “You go here, you go over there!”, and didn’t have to go out there myself (laughs). Up until now, I have done various actions in other works, but this time it was a role where I didn’t partake in any action scenes, other than telling other people to go do them. I guess it was fun to do something other than what I am used to.


“This is the scene I feel leaves an impression of salvation”

The Emperor was born into an absolute blood line, where there must be absolute power. Even to the point that he is exalted with God. Actually, Chagum has inherited such power himself. Even though I know that, I can’t show that on the surface. Since growing up, Chagum has been against everything the Emperor stands for, thinking “I will protect this country as a man”. Looking at the child, who is completely the reverse of himself, the Emperor thinking of himself as a father… it is actually quite a sad story.

In the final chapter, it is as if the Emperor is trying to destroy himself. He cannot reverse time and go backwards, so he knowingly has to continue forward in the wrong direction. The Emperor is lonely, isn’t he? But, in the last episode, the director chose an interesting scene. The Emperor is looking at the solemn waterfall, alone. But, we don’t know if it is reality or a dream. Chagum appears there… in the scene. This is the scene I feel leaves an impression of “salvation”.

In the first season, towards Kai Kobayashi who played Chagum as a child, while it seemed that his life would be extinguished by his father… I felt a need to protect him, he expressed it without hesitation.  In season 2, Mizuki Itagaki as Chagum, I was surprised, at just 16 years old, how strongly he was expressing the emotion of the role so confidently. For me, there were many times I learnt from my two young co-stars.



“I will always remember Hira-san”

What was the biggest moment among all the seasons for me, was when Mikijiro Hira (who played Hibitonan) died before the 3rd season. Personally, he was the one that really took care of me… At the first meeting for season 1 (in 2015), he said “If I leave the role, I will support the actor Takeshi Kaga”. I think Hira-san regretted not being able to complete the role. I went to see Kaga-san who took over the role, and felt he put a lot of pressure on himself to fulfill the role, but he did it in a superb manner. I felt the preciousness of connection with people during this work, and it was a very valuable experience for me because of this.

For new works like Moribito, I often find it difficult to evaluate how it can be achieved. However, I think that it’s important to challenge yourself with an experimental big project, and it’s one of the charms of the work. This final season is the last chapter that concludes what is a magnificent story. I’d love you to enjoy the story as much as I did, and my last thoughts will be of Balsa, who is portrayed by Haruka Ayase.


Very roughly translated by Pan. Read the original interview here.


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