Harajuku Girls: Interview with the Cast

After watching the play Harajuku Girls I got thinking to how the actors related to the roles as the production was made up on an entirely pan-asian cast. We talk about Japanese culture and panties!

Haruka Abe 

Having being born in Japan and going to drama school as a child – Could you relate to your role?

I am incredibly lucky because growing up my parents were always supportive of me pursuing whatever dreams I wanted to pursue, but I do know a lot of people who had to give up their dreams because they are not considered as legitimate/respectable careers.

Have you ever cosplayed?

In fact, yes! I’m a massive geek and used to go to all the big cons and festivals, and I made many cosplay outfits but never found the courage to wear them out. My favourite outfit I made was of Reiha from Vampire Miyu.

Do you think having a young face is a blessing or a curse for acting roles?

Haha, I don’t think I’m as old as you think I am! But I don’t see having a young face is hindering me. Ask me again in 20 years and I might have a different answer for you, or worse you might not want to bring up the topic at all 😉

Looking at all three girls why do you think Marie clung to Keiko rather than Yumi ?

Mari really loves them both, but I think she sees Keiko as an ideal self; she is the cool, free-spirited popular girl who gets away with doing whatever she wants. On the other hand, Yumi is the girl she would have been if she hadn’t met Keiko; a shy and nerdy girl who is conformed to her parents’ wishes. So of course she is more drawn to Keiko, because she wants to be more like her.

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Elizabeth Tan 

Was it a change playing this role compared to your past roles like in Coronation street/Waterloo Road ?

Yes, Keiko is far more damaged and out of control than Xin (Corrie) and Princess (Waterloo Road). It was exciting to play such a tumultuous character with such an emotional journey.

If given the chance to do a photoshoot would you sport, a cosplay outfit or Japanese Fashion?

I would do Cosplay!

Do you think your character got a fair conclusion?

There were always going to be ramifications for Keiko’s actions. For Keiko, beneath the tough facade was a desperate fear and insecurity about her future. Perhaps she never got the love and support she needed at that difficult time.

Looking at all three girls why do you think Keiko hated Yumi so much?

I don’t think Keiko hated Yumi. Yumi was just a constant reminder of what Keiko needed but didn’t have – a loving supportive family.

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Sadao Ueda

Were you aware of ‘Otaku’ fetish before doing this role?

I do know some Otaku people. Otaku doesn’t mean they are perverts at all. For example, train spotters, they are train Otaku. Otaku is someone who is fanatical about one particular thing. Panty Shop Owner is an Otaku who has vast knowledge of used uniforms and underwear. But Mr Narita and Mr Nakamura are not Otaku. They are just a bit wierd.

The underwear scene was quite shocking – do you think this would happen in real life?

I would say welcome to the real world. I have seen many things you may not want to know.

Playing your two different characters in the play – did you feel females take advantage of men’s perverse fantasies in Japan?

I actually play 3 characters. I do not believe female sex workers are taking advantage of men’s perverse fantasy. It is a business. Someone selling fantasies, and someone buying them. Personally, I did not think Mari did anything wrong. She needed money for good reason, and she earned it. Her parents couldn’t bear the thought of her working in an image club, because their morals wouldn’t accept it. It’s like a cigarette, it is not illegal to smoke, but many people hate it. Many campaign urges to stop smoking, but they never stop selling them.

Just for your information, there are places called “Host Clubs” in Japan. Female customers visit there to be treated like princess by good looking male escorts. So, it’s not only Japanese men who have perverse fantasies.

Harajuku Girls is running till the 21st March 2015 at Finborough Theatre, buy your tickets now!

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