By Kanta Ishida / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior WriterHarika Tsujisawa is nicknamed Hazure, which means “drawing a blank.” Abandoned by her parents and having no home, the 19-year-old introduces herself using her nickname. But her life takes a sudden turn when she meets a woman who has found piles of money hidden under the floor of her home.
Harika is the lead character in a TV drama titled “anone,” which is being broadcast on the Nippon TV network. Thrilling, with human touches and occasional surprising twists, the script was written by Yuji Sakamoto, who is acclaimed for his work on the TV drama “Mother” (2010), a suspense themed on motherhood, and “Woman” (2013), a social drama centering on a single mother.
Harika is played by Suzu Hirose, who is the same age as the protagonist.
“When I first read the script of the drama at home, I thought the line, ‘I’m Hazure,’ was so painful it drove me to tears,” the actress said. “My mother was so surprised and asked what was wrong. I just told her, ‘Well, watch the drama and you’ll find out.”
Harika, unlike Hirose, has no caring parents. She stays at an internet cafe by night and works part-time by day as a cleaner of places where people have died alone. Her only solace is chatting in an online game with someone named Kanon, whom she has never met. She wants to get money for this friend’s treatment at a hospital.
One day, Harika hears a story: A bag containing bundles of money has been dumped in Tsuge — her hometown. The heroine heads for the city, of which she has many good memories of life with her grandmother.
The money has been discovered by local resident Anone Hayashida (Yuko Tanaka) under the floor of her home, the first floor of which used to be a printing factory. However, for some reason, this middle-aged woman burns the money.
Hirose feels Harika is so different from her and that they have nothing in common with each other when it comes to their living environments. Nonetheless, the actress said she “can feel strong empathy with this girl.”
“I think people at 19 aren’t mature enough to have total control of themselves,” she said. “I want to know her better: What is she thinking? How has she lived so far? I’m still looking for clues about what she’s like.”
In the drama, Hirose has been given a new look — one that makes her look like a vulnerable boy. To make her appear younger, the actress had her trademark black hair cut short. However, she keeps the front relatively long.
“If I wear bangs, they work as a kind of filter hanging in front of my eyes, helping me feel comfortable,” she said. “When I was at elementary school, I was so shy that I wasn’t good at talking with people. Now I remember I wanted to grow my bangs at that time.”
A Shizuoka Prefecture native, Hirose made her debut in 2012 as a model for Seventeen, a young women’s magazine. Three years later, in 2015, she played her first lead in a serial TV drama titled “Gakko no Kaidan” (Ghost stories at school). She has also starred in many films, such as “Chihayafuru,” which follows young people playing competitive karuta, a classic one-on-one card game. The actress has also been chosen to play the lead in NHK’s high-profile serial morning drama to be aired in 2019.
In “anone,” Hirose skateboards for the first time. “Controlling a skateboard was more difficult than I thought,” she said. “I also don’t have much time for practice.”
However, the actress has done lots of training for various roles in past films, like when she was building her karuta skills. “I’ve learned from those experiences,” she said. “So I want to build up my basic skateboarding skills while being careful not to get injured.”
When asked what’s necessary to be happy, she said: “We need to feel fulfilled, I think. First of all, we are probably happy as long as we can feel various things, even if they are hardships or sadness. I don’t believe all people can think that way, including Harika.”
Counting down her remaining days as a teenager before she turns 20 in June, Hirose said she wants to do everything she has in mind.
“There’re so many things I haven’t been able to do,” she said. “Just ordinary things. Like playing with friends from high school, studying more ... I also want to travel alone. I’m more interested in visiting [other parts of] Japan than overseas, and I prefer mountains to the sea.”
The drama’s title, “anone,” sounds mysterious, and its meaning is yet to be clarified. Normally, the phrase is a friendly interjection to attract someone’s attention, particularly when we want to convey our true feelings. The title seems to indicate the protagonist’s honest feeling: “Anone, I’m not Hazure. I’m Harika.”Speech