By Yayoi Kawatoko / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterBlackmailing is wrong. But what if it’s the only way to save someone in trouble?
Dean Fujioka, who rose to stardom after appearing in a high-profile NHK serial morning drama, now plays a man who professionally blackmails people in the suspense comedy “Ima kara Anata o Kyohaku Shimasu” (I’ll blackmail you from now). The adaptation of Namiya Fujiishi’s novel of the same title is the popular actor’s first lead in a serial drama on a commercial TV station.
The drama, broadcast on the Nippon TV network at 10:30 p.m. on Sundays, focuses on Fujioka’s character, Kanji Senkawa, and Mio Kanesaka (played by Emi Takei), a well-off university student who is good-natured and extremely generous.
The two meet by chance after Kanesaka receives a strange video that Senkawa intended to send to another woman as part of a job commissioned by a client.
After Senkawa and his team finish the job with Kanesaka’s help, he continues to work with her, which leads to her involvement in a number of incidents.
Senkawa’s job as a “kyohaku-ya,” or a professional blackmailer who extorts others to save somebody else, does not exist in reality. Is he good or is he bad?
“Righteous heroes, dirty heroes — both are appealing to me because they have their own philosophies and ideas on what they believe is right,” Fujioka said. “Of course, you should not do something considered bad,” he added with a laugh.
Senkawa compassionately tackles clients’ problems that police cannot handle, and is clever in threatening his targets as he corners them into submission. He works calmly and diligently, though his actual personality is more comical as he often makes poor jokes and wears T-shirts with strange motifs.
“Senkawa puts a lot of effort into his work, while being relaxed and casual in his free time,” Fujioka said. “I like these two distinct characteristics of his.”
During shooting for the drama, Fujioka once wore a T-shirt with an image of Vietnamese pho noodles and chopsticks to make him more closely resemble Senkawa. However, “[The cast and staff] would only laugh when they saw it and didn’t respond in any other way,” he said.
Asked about his preferred attire, he replied, “I like to wear clothes that allow me to exercise at any time but also don’t look rude to others. I try to choose clothing that’s both practical and well-designed.”
Fujioka, who is from Fukushima Prefecture, developed his acting career in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The now 37-year-old actor broke through in Japan when he performed in NHK’s serial morning drama “Asa ga Kita,” which ran for six months from 2015 to 2016. In the show, he played samurai-turned-businessman Tomoatsu Godai, who mentors the protagonist, a pioneering businesswoman.
In addition to acting, Fujioka is part of the cast of TV Asahi news program “Saturday Station,” and will also embark on his first national tour as a musician next February.
Fujioka sings the drama’s theme song, called “Let it snow!” He also composed the music and wrote the lyrics. The piece is the first theme song for a drama he has created and performed.
Fujioka said he created the song with heavy snowfall during a Japanese winter in mind. “I made this piece to sound nostalgic but also fresh,” he said. “I hope listeners can feel something different every time they listen to it, and that such feelings collect in their minds like accumulating snow.”
Fujioka has not performed in many comedies throughout his acting career, even though he is “basically willing to act in such shows.” He hopes he can “find new approaches for acting and discover a new aspect of myself” through his latest undertaking.