── In the sequel you act as Kaoru again, and what do you think Kaoru’s charms are after acting as her again?
【Takei】At any rate, it’s Kaoru being direct and frank. She’s a woman that doesn’t lie, and seeing that makes me happy, but she also tries to be tough, so having that quality makes her precious. She has definitely grown compared to last time, but she has not changed at the core. I find that fascinating.
──Since you are playing the role, I think that adds to the honesty and frankness of the character.
【Takei】I also want to be a person like Kaoru, but I am happy that you said that.
──To say that Kaoru has grown in some areas, what specific areas are those?
【Takei】Before now, Kaoru would chase after Kenshin right away, but now she knows what she can do herself. Pursuing Kenshin might become an annoyance to him, but when Kenshin said his farewell, Kaoru may have never had the chance to meet him again in her lifetime. She felt that loneliness and used that as her motivation to pursue Kenshin. Kaoru didn’t do this impulsively, she chased Kenshin knowing her feelings for him, and this is how I think Kaoru matured.
──While you were expressing that growth, what was it that you particularly noticed?
【Takei】This time [Kaoru] had many conversations within. During the emotional parts where I had to put more care into, I became able to express abundantly the parts I couldn’t portray, so I realized that I truly had the emotions down. I learned various things from doing this role.
──What is a concrete example?
【Takei】This series is the first time I am working with Director Otomo, and he created an environment in which we could act freely. When he gave us those circumstances, he allowed us to live as our characters to an extent. What I mean by that is from an acting viewpoint, I got the feeling that he allowed us to live the life of another person. Because of that, I was able to sense the charms of that person (i.e. my character) and I was able to pass time as that person.
──You were able to learn something very important.
【Takei】I truly was able to. What I knew before and after has changed dramas/movies for me from here on out.
── In the previous movie, Kenshin found a place to return to: the Kamiya Dojo, where Kaoru and the others are. Because he has a place to return to, in this movie Kenshin leaves to go to the battleground. As for you, do you have a place to return to, or is there a thing that supports you?
【Takei】Delicious food? (Laugh) I say that because I really like eating. Cooking rice in a beautiful pot and then eating it out of a beautiful is the best happiness there is.
── It is an important time. Meal times are when you have to proceed with great care, so what are the customs of the Takei family?
【Takei】That time being important was the case until now, as I try my best to eat with my family no matter how busy I am as my family waits for me to return even though I come back late because of work. Everyone eats together, and my tired body eats what it needs. Because of doing that, I can feel my heart and my body being connected. Though I have my likes and dislikes concerning food (wry smile), I love my mom’s home cooking.
──You have a very warm family.
【Takei】Yes. My family supports me with their kindness and our relationships with each other are good.
──Since you were raised in such a genial family, you may be able to express the kindness that will make Kenshin want to return. In the scene which Kenshin and Kaoru give their exchanges, it is both heartrending and genial.
【Takei】There are several scenes that make me tug at my chest. Although [the characters] don’t talk in a lot of those scenes, I can understand them. It’s not just between Kenshin and Kaoru, you could say it’s for any character, and as an actor, it is difficult. If there are lines, you can express it through speech, but it is difficult to do without lines, but it is worth doing in the end. Even though I said it loudly in the last film, Kenshin really is cool. I think I’ll fall in love with him in this movie as well!
── We’re falling in love with Kenshin and Kaoru. There isn’t anyone who couldn’t fall in love with Kaoru after seeing her go to such lengths to chase after Kenshin, doing it in a bravely manner while putting her life on the line. What was the scene that you portrayed as Kaoru that made your chest tighten the most?
【Takei】The scene which Kaoru chases after Kenshin, meets up with him, and asks if he’s mad is really good. Though she is a little irritating in that scene, she is very clear with her emotions, so I love that scene.
── If you were to be placed in a situation that resembled that scene, would you be like Kaoru?
【Takei】I don’t know if I could say that I would. However, it would be good if I was like Kenshin and returned those gentle words. I want to pull in a person like that (Laughs).
──Kaoru would truly be a perfect woman if she had the power to draw people in like that.
【Takei】That’s right. Kaoru’s weakness is that she is terrible at cooking (wry smile). I don’t do very well with cooking either (Laughs).
──Well, in regards to cooking, there would be someone like Megumi in the Kamiya Dojo (Laughs).
【Takei】That’s true (Laughs).
── While I am worried about the direction of the love line between Kenshin and Kaoru, the action scenes in “Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno” and “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends” look amazing.
【Takei】“Kyoto Inferno” is an impactful movie right from the outset! I don’t think one is able to see true action to the extent shown in “Kyoto Inferno” in other Japanese movies. Truthfully, I stood up to the challenge in “Kyoto Inferno” by wielding a long sword.
──Which scenes were hard for you?
【Takei】The long sword had considerable weight and length, and it kept on getting caught in my clothes, so I couldn’t fight well with it, so wielding the long sword was difficult. I also had to put the movie’s emotions into the sword arts. Director Otomo and action director Sadakazu taught me how to do it, so my body became reliably accustomed to the action, so I was able to add to the meaning of Kaoru’s fight. I realized that and fought seriously. I have the feeling that I skillfully drew out that real part [translator note: the real emotions in Kaoru’s fight(s)]. I think that Kaoru was able to project her desperation through her love towards Kenshin.
── No matter the scene, Kaoru’s love for Kenshin is there. Kenshin intruded on Kaoru’s nip-and-tuck danger and went to assist her, and I was touched by Kenshin’s love for Kaoru.
【Takei】That’s right! Kaoru has faith in Kenshin in that he will protect her no matter what. There are a lot of tremendous scenes in the movie! Well, all of them are cool. Anyhow, as for Kaoru, Kenshin is an irreplaceable human being.
── Though it is just a role, if you were to be protected by a man like Kenshin, wouldn’t there be hurdles for that man who exists in reality?
【Takei】Inevitably I would give him hurdles. Definitely. If it’s Kenshin, he will protect me, so wouldn’t he protect me no matter the hurdle?! I guess my greed came out (Laughs).
Translation: The Real CZ @ Hallyu Interview