Originally posted on 22 January 2016
Source: page 44-47

Ryu Encyclopaedia

Portraits of the Creators, Episode 2: Keiichi Asada/Masanori Mimoto

The men who have been performing the characters' movements for 10 years

Actor/motion actor
Keiichi Asada

Born on 2 August 1973 in Tokyo. He made his screen debut in 1995, a supporting actor who works in a variety of areas including stage, TV and adverts, and mainly film. He has been involved in the Ryu ga Gotoku series from the first game as a motion actor, primarily in roles such as Date.

Actor/motion actor
Masanori Mimoto

Born on 3 May 1977 in Osaka. He is an actor who is praised for his skilled and agile action. He plays the roles of Kiryu and Akiyama in Ryu ga Gotoku. He is highly praised as a motion actor, and has appeared in many action games aside from Ryu ga Gotoku.

Ryu ga Gotoku's filming methods are totally different from those used elsewhere

Keiichi Asada (below, Asada): I was called here at the wonderful time of Ryu ga Gotoku's 10th anniversary, but the Ryu ga Gotoku series is actually my only job as a motion actor, though I have been doing it for 10 years. I guess this means that in terms of being a motion actor, Mimoto will be able to say more?

Masanori Mimoto (below, Mimoto): I've worked as a motion actor in other places, but Ryu ga Gotoku is a totally different place to work. There's a huge amount of lines.

Asada: Is... that true after all? (laughs) I didn't think they were exactly few in number, but...

Mimoto: And when working on Ryu ga Gotoku, we memorise and perform all of the lines before the voice actors have their voices recorded. That doesn't happen anywhere else.

Asada: I see. Oh, that's right - what I wanted to say to the readers is that... Ryu ga Gotoku has a lot of long take scenes! There are scenes with cuts as well, of course.

Mimoto: The one-on-one scenes might take more than 10 minutes, but they're generally long takes.

Asada: The producer, Yokoyama, is actually the type to say, "There are no cuts!" (laughs).

Mimoto: This is why, although I'm working as a motion actor, working on Ryu ga Gotoku feels pretty much like doing a play. It's a unique filming method that I've only experienced on Ryu ga Gotoku, nowhere else.

Asada: If you're unlucky, though, there are even more lines you have to remember than for a play. I usually end up memorising a chapter's worth in the space of a week - it's really tough going.

Mimoto: That's because you in particular play so many roles (laughs). If we're talking about the kinds of characters who appear in every game, who have you played?

Asada: If Date or the Florist show up, it's definitely me. I often play the tough enemies that show up at the end, and I also get a lot of old man roles (laughs). Too many to count off the top of my head.

Mimoto: It's sort of like, "How many roles can one person play!?" The amount of material is different from other acting. I'm mainly Kiryu and Akiyama, but it does seem like you have a hard time playing so many characters. You have to bring out each of their personalities, after all. I think it's really amazing.

Asada: Flattering me like that won't get you anything (laughs). I do, naturally, keep their individualities in mind. For example, with Date, whom I've played from the start, I play him with a kind of model in mind. With characters that only appear in one game, I create them from scratch in my own way while asking Yokoyama what kind of person they are.

Mimoto: Famous actors and eminent people do the face capture for the characters that we give movements to, so being a motion actor is a really fun job, even though it's actually you (laughs).

Asada: That's one of its big pleasures. If I've heard who has actually been cast as the character, I will try to slightly make my performance match up with their image. I think that this gives the character its own sense of originality.

Mimoto: The other big thing that makes Ryu ga Gotoku different from working anywhere else is probably that the movements aren't caricatures. With normal motion capture you don't really have facial expressions, so often you exaggerate your performance. With Ryu ga Gotoku, though, I don't have that in mind. This is because Yokoyama's order is, "Do it naturally!"

Asada: Ahhh. Now that you mention it, there was that time when Yokoyama got really mad at someone who was giving an exaggerated performance (laughs).

Mimoto: Right. Also, with other works... We try not to really do things like linking arms or legs or touching faces. When bodies come into contact, you have to think about things like indentations in the skin and wrinkles in clothing, which adds even more work to be done.

Asada: I didn't know that. We don't really pay much attention to that on Ryu ga Gotoku.

Mimoto: Yeah. On Ryu ga Gotoku, though, we first try it in a rehearsal, and if there's meaning to it then it gets used. That's another thing you would only see here. There are scenes Akiyama's in where he yawns and rubs the sleep from his eyes. I think that if you did this on another game, they'd hate you for it (laughs).

Asada: For me, working on Ryu ga Gotoku was quite a lot like doing a live performance, which is a really unique thing. Yeah, that's right - doesn't Yokoyama sometimes demonstrate things himself?

Mimoto: He does. I did once ask him directly to stop doing it, though.

Asada: What!? It makes it easier to get a hold of the image. What's wrong with that? I like it.

Mimoto: He does a really good job of it, though, right? Then I start to wonder if I have to imitate him, and that sets up a lot of hurdles. That's why I asked him to stop.

Asada: You're quite courageous to go up against Yokoyama like that - the same Yokoyama who says, "You haven't memorised the lines!" and sends actors home? (laughs)

Mimoto: Uh... I think it was after I'd had a couple of drinks (laughs).

Secrets of recording for Ryu ga Gotoku told for its tenth anniversary

Mimoto: Since we're commemorating the 10th anniversary, we should talk about some episodes that the readers wouldn't know about.

Asada: Yeah. I apologise if this shatters the dreams of the people who play the Ryu ga Gotoku series, but... I actually play quite a lot of the girls' roles.

Mimoto: Yeah, that's right. It felt so normal to me (laughs).

Asada: For example, I was also T-Set from Ryu ga Gotoku 5. I've played the role of a high school girl, too. Thinking back on it, I also played a woman in a scene at the soapland at the time of the first Ryu ga Gotoku. Me and another guy wrapped around each other... you know? (laughs) The scene ended up being shelved, but I guess this is a behind-the-scenes story that only a motion actor could really tell.

Mimoto: It's not just girls, either, is it? Haven't you done a lot of other weird roles?

Asada: Oh! I played a kappa, too! There's nothing you can use as reference for a kappa, so I was pretty stumped. Not only that, but it was this nonsensical thing with a kappa coming out of a manhole (laughs). Well, there's someone else who plays a bear, so it didn't really feel all that interesting to me, personally.

Mimoto: And what about that story? The one about Richardson.

Asada: Oh. We usually go to recordings having memorised the lines, but there was someone on the motion team who was really troubled. We went out to eat together, and I decided to ask what was going on so I could give him advice... and it turned out that he had gone to all the trouble of trying to memorise Richardson's lines in English (laughs).

Mimoto: He really didn't have to do it in English.

Asada: I told him that it was fine, and he was really happy.

Mimoto: Everyone on the motion team is good friends, so after work each day we go out for a drink together. This means that if we haven't memorised our lines properly, we can't relax and go for a drink. Whether or not we know our lines is a matter of life and death.

Asada: You can't use, "Oh, I have to memorise my lines for the recording tomorrow" as an excuse not to go drinking; it wouldn't be allowed (laughs).

Mimoto: But we really are all good friends. When I'm done working on Ryu ga Gotoku, it honestly feels like I get "Ryu Loss Syndrome". It really feels like we're a family that's open with each other even in our private lives, with Yokoyama as the head.

Asada: Being such good friends is a real benefit in terms of our performances, too. For example, we'll start punching each other with all our strength in the rehearsals for a scene where someone gets hit. Even with live action filming, hits never actually connect. But our relationship is such that we do this like it's nothing, and it's a great environment to be in when everyone is of the same mindset like this.

Mimoto: Everyone openly talks about everything from discussing performances to dirty jokes. Even the women join in.

Asada: We used to stay up drinking until 5 in the morning and have lively talks about all of this, but these days it's kind of... (laughs). Changes like this, too, make me feel the 10-year history of Ryu ga Gotoku. Oh, right - we actually went to Tokyo Game Show 2015 the other day, and watching a trailer for Kiwami really made me remember the old days and I got a bit emotional. I'm so glad that even after 10 years, it's going to be shown to the world once more.

Mimoto: I joined for Ryu ga Gotoku 2, but you've been here since the start... It must be a special feeling.

Asada: Weren't you actually involved in the first game as well?

Mimoto: That's right. I participated in the first Ryu ga Gotoku as a voice actor. And now, for some reason, I'm a motion actor.

Asada: It looks like they've done quite a lot of re-recording for Kiwami. Did you join in?

Mimoto: No. According to Yokoyama, "We had all of the things you were bad at re-recorded by another actor!"

Asada: Hahaha (laughs). By the way, what kind of scene did you do in the original?

Mimoto: It was the role of the yakuza who's an underling of Majima's who says, "Die, Kiryu!" and tries to stab him at the batting centre. I did a few other things here and there...

Asada: You got quite a good role for yourself.

Mimoto: I did. Looking back on it, working on Ryu ga Gotoku with such a great team has been so much fun. Sometimes I even get to see you looking all passionate.

Asada: Looking passionate?

Mimoto: I saw you giving this passionate lecture to a Sega staff member, like, "I want you to become great!" Your seriousness really touched me.

Asada: I want to do everything I can on Ryu ga Gotoku. That means I want all of the staff and the actors, of course, to be with me until the end, right? That's why I get a bit passionate sometimes... you know?

Mimoto: Right. I totally understand how that feels.