Cats and Crew 20th Century Boys

TAKAKO TOKIWA as YujikiProfile

Takako Tokiwa's acting debut was in 1993 in a hit TV drama. Her first movie appearance was in Daniel Lee's 1999 Hong Kong film, "Xing yue tong hua / Moonlight Express". Coming up soon are Yuzo Asahara's "Tsuribaka Nisshi 19 / Free and Easy, Part 19" and a big budget TV period drama "Tenchijin".

Takako Tokiwa's other movie appearances include, Shinichi Mishiro' s Listen to My Heart (2010), Kenji Uchida's "After School" (2008); Junji Sakamoto's "Tamamoe!" (2007); Hisako Yamada's "Fudeko, sono Ai / Fudeko and her Love" (2007); Tetsuro Shinohara's "Metoro ni Notte / On the Metro" (2006); Yoshimitsu Morita's "Mamiya Kyodai / The Mamiya Brothers" (2006); Shunsaku Kawake's "Hoshi ni natta Shonen / Shining Boy and Little Randy" (2005); Yasuo Furuhata's "Akai Tsuki / Red Moon" (2004) and Kazuyoshi Tsutsui's "Gerropa / Getup!" (2003).

Character

Yukiji, or Yukiji Setoguchi was the only girl in the Secret Base gang. She was proficient in judo and tougher than the others. She became a customs officer as an adult. When a friend tells her about the Friend cult, Yukiji makes the connection between the cult and her childhood. In 2015 she is a concerned surrogate mother for Kanna, feeling responsible for her safety in Kenji's absence. In 2017 she is the master-manager of the Gendokan judo dojo, while quietly waiting for the chance to revolt against Friend...

Interview

How did you first come to know the original manga?

TAKAKO TOKIWA as YujikiThere's this old friend of mine who I've known since elementary school. There are stacks of manga at her place like one of those manga cafes (laughs). That's where I first read it. I identify with childhood friends maintaining their friendships like my friend and I have. I'm just drawn into the incredible way the story unfolds. It's a lengthy story, but I could read it in a single sitting. I read the pages that would be shot on that day as a reference, but I couldn't stop myself from reading more.

What did you think of acting just the way in the manga?

My first scene was where Yukiji visits Kenji at his convenient store, she has one hand on her hip and is standing like a statue. People don't ordinarily stand like that, you know (laughs)?

TAKAKO TOKIWA as YujikiHow did you feel about being the only girl in the all-boy group?

My understanding of the Yujiki character is that she isn't self conscious about things like that. And I'm not either. I feel more strongly about being treated as equal. And these friends don't treat girls differently. Same age, same friendship and same camaraderie. I think it's a wonderful relationship.

I saw that the actors playing the old friends of the secret base got along well.

When you have first-rate professional people on the set, the atmosphere changes. But it was never tense. We all got in our characters like we were putting on shirts. We become friends with the same objective. It's a very cool experience. It's so great working with such a group of people. On many days, the shooting was long but I survived it positively with those acting friends of mine. And our objective was... to save the world! We had no time to be down and blue (laughing).

Is there anything interesting about the movie from a woman's point of view?

All the hunky handsome men (laughs). How can a girl miss it? They're not just good-looking but they all come with some twist to their personalities and history. And that's what makes this movie really interesting.

About Chapter Two:

I was very grateful that they made me look pretty in the first movie (laughs).

From Chapter 2 and onward, Yukiji is in her 50's so I have to wear special ageing makeup. So my youthful face in the first movie was short-lived!

I tried not to walk too briskly when I was playing a woman in her 50's. In the first movie, the director asked me to stand with my chin up and my shoulders raised to express the toughness of Yukiji's character. But in this movie, I was slightly hunched over and I lowered my voice. I didn't emphasise her age too much though because she does judo and is fitter than most women in her age.

Yukiji's role in this movie is to support Kanna in Kenji's absence. All the Secret Base gang think of Kanna as a daughter. And Yukiji is particularly protective of Kanna and has stronger feelings for Kanna than anybody else, even Otcho. Yukiji is single but she draws strength waiting for Kenji's return and as she looks after Kanna, she doesn't seem lonely.

Airi Taira, who played Kanna, was our little Kanna on the set. I was always checking to make sure if she wasn't hungry or cold. Also as she worked so hard, she gave me a positive energy.

There's a scene in the movie where my character reads pages from Ujiko-Ujio's manga book and says, "I'm not interested in superficial romance. I'd rather read something about a man who's out to save the world, no matter how ridiculous it sounds." I believe that line reflects the opinions of all the 20th Century Boys readers. Personally I like such heroic comic stories, too. I love stories that unfold to make me feel good and make me want to yell, "Yes! Go for it!" There's nothing wrong with romance and tear-jerkers but I want something that make me feel empowered and braver. 20th Century Boys is that kind of story, with depth."

About Chapter Three:

It's hard to believe that the trilogy has come to an end! I was on the shoot for a year and it began to feel like it was going to be my lifework (laughs)!

In this movie, Yukiji is 58 years old. My hair was styled to look convincingly 58-year-old... To add to the effect, I changed my posture. In the first movie I consciously kept my chin up, my chest out, and my back straight. In the second and the last movie I consciously hunched over slightly, lowered my tone and tried not to move too snappily. But because she practices judo, I figured she would be more fit than regular fifty-year-olds. In contrast, I moved quickly in judo scenes. In one scene I had to throw Musashi, who's actually a martial artist. I did a lot of practice before we shot the scene but he was heavy to throw (laughs)...my muscles ached after the shoot.

My character is 58 and has never married. But she's not alone because she's been taking care of Kanna, the niece Kenji loves. In one scene Yukiji actually refers to Kanna as her own. Yukiji's strength probably comes from her belief that someday Kenji would return. So she feels very responsible for Kanna. The scene when Yukiji and Kenji are finally reunited is romantic but understated, unlike conventional love scenes.

As a fan of the original manga, I was like other fans in wondering how the movie trilogy would conclude! When I saw the completed movie, I thought that it did justice to the original manga. It's the perfect ending, leaving the audience feeling upbeat. All the confounding secrets and mysteries resolve neatly. Nothing is left up in the air. The ending incorporates a mature outlook on childhood pain. Pain that is only recognised after you grow up."

1999, 2006 Naoki Urasawa, Studio Nuts, Shogakukan 2008-2009 “20th Century Boys” Film Partners 2008-2010 4Digital Media

TAKAKO TOKIWA as Yukiji