Saturday, August 15, 2015

"Attack on Titan" Movie: Interview with Haruma Miura, Kiko Mizuhara and Director Shinji Higuchi

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Meeting a fandom's high expectations is a rough deal, especially when a beloved anime is adapted to a different medium. So, it was inevitable that there was a gamut of reactions from those who have already watched "Attack on Titan" (AoT) Part One.

These ranged from the sheer disappointment of hardcore AoT lovers, to the "it's pretty OK" mentions by those who are not too invested in the franchise. Then, there are also the horror fans who relished the uncomfortable existential terror that ran through the course of the film, and those who loved the movie anyway.

AoT's creator Hajime Isayama, who is involved in the production, said that he was perplexed by the hate hurled at the movie adaptation, and assured that he as well as the director, writer and producers are taking in various opinions to better understand the fans' reactions.

Nevertheless, "Attack on Titan" topped the box office in Japan, with takings of about 600 million Yen (about SGD 6.8 million) on opening week.

Fans outside of Asia are eagerly waiting for the English version, and this week, FUNanimation announced the North American premiere dates. The Titans are set to stomp into theatres on September 30 for Part 1 and October 20 for Part 2.

Thanks to local distributor Encore Films, Red Dot Diva had a chance to ask AoT actors Haruma Miura (Eren), Kiko Mizuhara (Mizaka) and Director Shinji Higuchi a few questions:

Shinji Higuchi, Haruma Miura and Kiko Mizuhara with a "Titan"!

Red Dot Diva: Were you already a fan of the original manga series or anime series? 
Haruma: I am a big fan of the original manga, and I have already read the manga before discussion for the role. I have also seen the anime. Therefore, it was really a great honour to be invited for the role in the movie for this popular manga. I like the jokes and humorous parts in the original manga. When I was reading the manga, the story was exciting, and there were parts that made me burst out with laughter, and I really liked that.
Shinji: The Titans just appearing out of nowhere, and for no reason, the cruelty that humans are just being eaten by the Titans. The humans who built the walls and hiding within it from the Titans. The only way to break through, which is the start of the idea to counterattack by using the mobile maneuvering gears. It was heart-wrenching to see the unskillful youngsters who want to challenge the Titans. The mystery of the Titans, and the main characters shocked by the Titans’ ability to transform. I felt that the spirit and essence of the manga I read as a child has been updated into a modern version. I knew it would be tough to make it into a live-action movie, but the drive to do it just didn’t die down, thus I had to do it.
Kiko: The manga is very popular, so I knew about it long ago, but I always thought it was more for guys. I was recommended by a friend to read it, and I was fascinated by the manga after reading it.

Red Dot Diva: Kiko and Haruma, what made you decide to take up a role in "Attack on Titan"? 
Haruma: The original manga is very popular among the fans, and I was thinking if I would be the ideal person for the role of Eren. I felt pressurized about this, but nothing could change my passion for the manga, and it was most exciting to just imagine the scenes flying around with the mobile maneuvering gear. So, I thought that I must be part of the movie, and I was looking forward to the filming with the determination to make it a great movie.
Kiko: When I was reading the manga, the character that left the deepest impression was none other than Mikasa. As the heroine, I think she is pretty, strong and attractive. At that time, I thought if the manga were to be adapted into a live action movie, the role of Mikasa would be the best for me. When I was actually offered the role of Mikasa, I was extremely shocked, and happy at the same time. Since this is a well-known manga worldwide, there is no reason why I should reject the offer.

Red Dot Diva: How much did you all have to prepare/ train for the action scenes? Especially those involving your characters flying about using the 3DMG? 
Haruma: Before the actual filming, there was a lot of training on our own. It was not so much of training to have a more muscular appearance, but more of building our inner muscles to support our flying in the movie. Even during the filming, we had continuous training to practice the different movements necessary for the movie.
Kiko: Everything was new to me. It was the first time for me to be wired up, and it was very difficult to film with the green screen, but it was also interesting. When there was actually nothing in front of us, we had to imagine that we were being attacked by the Titans, and we had to react accordingly. With the other cast, we also had to make sure that our expressions were timely together, and that was very tough. However, I felt that we developed team spirit through this enjoyable process. It was my first time doing wired action scenes, so when I was offered the role, I immediately realized that I had to train my body because Mikasa is one of the strongest member in the corp. 

For 2 months, I went to the gym on a frequent basis, and I also went for chiropractic sessions, in order to make my body more flexible. I had a personal trainer who helped me to train my inner muscles. I also practiced together with the action team members. I practiced hard throughout the process, sometimes up to 8 hours a day. I was hoping to achieve the abdominal muscles of Mikasa, but sad to say, I did not have enough time to accomplish that. (laughs)

Red Dot Diva: There are a lot of character back stories in the original manga and anime series. How did you decide on which storylines to use?
Shinji: I followed my impressions of the original works.

Red Dot Diva: If you were right in the middle of the city with Titans all around, which character would you want standing beside you in the fight? 
Shinji:  Sasha
Kiko: I like Sasha. Sasha and Sakuraba Nanami shares many similarities, both very cute and pretty. The scenes where she was eating non-stop are very fun and cute, but during the fighting, she was able to fight strongly with the manipulation of bows. I felt a sense of closeness to this character.

Still not sure if you want to watch "Attack on Titan", maybe you can decide after this trailer:


"Attack on Titan" Part 1 is currently still showing at several local Red Dot Island cinemas.

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