Yukari Tanaka for JAPAN Forward

Rikiya Imaizumi, one of the leading directors in romance films, has a new movie – his. It is a sequel to his: I Didn’t Think I Would Fall in Love (2019), a TV series that portray the love story of two high school boys, Shun Igawa and Nagisa Hibino.

The new movie picks up from the point where Nagisa unpredictably breaks up with Shun. As the two decide to go their separate ways, Shun chooses to leave his urban life behind. He moves to Shirakawa-cho in Gifu prefecture, though still fears that more people would come to know about his sexual identity.

Eight years later, Shun is busy building a new and quiet life in a cottage in the suburbs of Shirakawa-cho, when two unexpected guests show up at his door: his former partner Nagisa and Nagisa’s six-year-old daughter Sora. While Shun is, fairly enough, struggling to process everything, the three begin to live together in his cottage.

Shun is played by Hio Miyazawa, 25, who says this was his first lead role in a movie since he made his debut as an actor in 2017.

Ahead of the movie premier on Friday, January 24, Miyazawa spoke about the experience of taking up an LGBTQ role in an interview with JAPAN Forward, as well as the social changes he hopes this movie will bring. Excerpts follow.

What was your first impression when the starring role in this movie was offered to you?

It was an honor, as I’ve always wanted to take part in a movie or a drama that portrayed LGBTQ issues. I spent 13 years of my life at an all-boys school. A lot of my friends were gay or bisexual. And, growing up with them, I’ve always considered their sexual identities as something completely natural.

When I graduated from school, however, I saw my friends become disappointed at how Japanese society treated sexual minorities. So I wanted to give them a helping hand by having their voices heard.

Tell me a little bit about your role as Shun Igawa.

He’s 30 years old and used to work as a businessman in Tokyo. But that didn’t work out because he felt pressure from people learning that he’s gay. He moved to Shirakawa-cho to start a new life, but he’s always felt like he’s lying to himself as he struggled to be more open about his sexual identity.

It was difficult, because his boyfriend from university had dumped him, and there was no one he could confide in. As the story goes on, he finally finds a place where he can really be himself and have trust in other people. Even so, being gay was both tough and scary for him.

The role was very challenging, as I didn’t know much about LGBTQ before working on this movie.

How did you prepare for the role?

I watched a couple of movies, like Brokeback Mountain (2005) with Heath Ledger and Happy Together (1997). Both are about a gay couple.

I also spent some time with my school friends back before we started shooting. We had dinner, went out for drinks, and I just observed their natural behavior — very subtle things, like postures, movement, the way they talk, the way they eat and think.

Even though there is a limit to how much you can observe, the experience really helped me build the character of Shun.


By - Ben K.