This October 2018, Yudai Chiba will star in “Way Too Kawaii!” as Niimi Yoshitaka, where he works as an editor from the literary department and will be transferred to a fashion magazine. The story will revolve around his struggles in the fashion industry and how he will try to fit into his workspace even though he dislikes it.
Aside from the glitz and glamour, his character will eventually appreciate working in the kawaii world of fashion.
According to Chiba, the TV drama highlights “a highly pop-centric worldview, it raises the philosophical aspects of work as well.” Fans of Chiba from all over Asia can also watch Way Too Kawaii on GEM. The series premiered last October 18, 2018 on Nippon TV, a Tokyo-based television broadcasting company.
He first starred in a television series “Tensou Sentai Goseiger” aired in 2010, where he took the role of Alata /Gosei Red, a young and naive member of the Goseigers or humans born with mysterious powers. Chiba’s acting career continued until today where he portrayed various roles on more than 20 television shows and Japanese movies.
With this, the 29-year-old actor bagged awards such as Newcomer of the Year in 2017 and Best styling award in 2015.
In an interview, Chiba detailed what his fans can expect on his drama “Way Too Kawaii.” Check out the full transcript below:
Q 1: Please tell us about your role in the drama.
A: I play the lead role of Yoshitaka Niimi, also known as Nankichi, an editor who is unexpectedly transferred from a literary department to a fashion magazine. It is a workplace drama about Nankichi grappling with his work amidst the conflicts and fitting into his workplace even though he dislikes it.
Q 2: What do you think would be viewers’ first impression when they hear of your drama ‘Way Too Kawaii!’?
A: If you were to imagine just based on the drama title “Way Too Kawaii!,” I think there are people who would think that “Oh, Chiba is acting cute despite his age again.” Despite these presumptions, the character that I’m playing, Yoshitaka Niimi, is an ambitious person who does not understand the concept of “kawaii” at all.
Q 3: Do you share similar traits as your character in the drama? What are they and why?
A: I went to an all-boys high school, so if I were alone in a situation with many ladies around me, I’d be in a flurry and take some time to warm up to them. Just like Nankichi, who needs to hurry and get used to a different culture quickly, I think that’s how we are similar in that aspect.
Q 4: What aspects of Harajuku fashion are depicted in the magazine “Pipin”?
A: Harajuku fashion or “kawaii” in Japanese is a universal term which I think many people are familiar with. What represents “kawaii” is the unconventional and colorful range of fashion, for example, instead of clothes that are meant to catch men’s gaze, I think that “kawaii” fashion is about one’s self-expression.
Q 5: What is “kawaii” to you? How would you define “kawaii”?
A: “Kawaii” to me is…babies are cute, aren’t they? I heard that babies emit a lovely smell from the
moment they are born. But there are also cute people who attracts others even when they become
adults, aren’t there? I think that people who smell like babies are cute, but I am not too sure since I
haven’t smelled anyone like that.
Q 6: You have always been labelled as Japan’s cutest actor. How do you feel when your fans exclaim that you are “kawaii”?
A: Firstly, calling me Japan’s cutest is a little misleading. Since I have never taken part in any cute Japanese championship, I am rather embarrassed. But well, I am happy. Since I am getting older, I feel like I won’t be able to hear shrilling voices calling me cute very soon. So, I will enjoy the praises while I am still able to.
Q 7: How has your fashion style changed over the years?
A: I was a reader model (that is, an amateur model who appears in fashion magazines) and did modeling work just like the models of “Pipin” do in the drama. It was pretty bizarre at that time. I wore sarouel pants and tried androgynous fashion. As I got older, I switched to monotone fashion, mixing a single color at times. I think my fashion style has matured.
Q 8: If you were to plan a date course in Harajuku, what are the places and things that you would do?
A: It seems like a couple’s must-do on a date in Harajuku would be to eat crepes. Since I have never done it before, I would like to eat crepes and after all, there are really many shops. There are more beauty salons than convenience stores too. I guess I will dress up nicely and plan for a meal in a high-class restaurant; wouldn’t that be nice?
Q 9: In the drama, Yoshitaka Niimi feels frustrated that he is transferred to the fashion department against his wishes and has to work on a genre that is totally new to him. How would you handle such situations if it happened to you in reality?
A: I am not good at feeling hyped up, and tend to get nervous when people go “Hey what’s up man?” I live a simple lifestyle, so if I were to imagine myself in that situation, I think it’s important to enjoy myself, do my best to fit in with the atmosphere and overcome the tension.
Q 10: What are some takeaways from working on this drama?
A: I started to think about what it means “to work” on a deeper level through this role. How many people can land their dream jobs? Even if it is their dream jobs, how many people are working in an environment that they have dreamt of? Everyone tolerates and keeps himself going, even when he faces unreasonable situations and end up getting hurt. Then he meets with another obstacle and realizes that his comrade is there for him when he looks back. I think this is what the drama is about – life in the workplace. Please watch the glitz and glamour behind the people who create “kawaii,” set in the stage of Harajuku.
Q 11: Please share with us the highlights of this drama.
A: While this drama has a highly pop-centric worldview, it raises the philosophical aspects of work as well. In that sense, I think it brings a lot of entertainment to viewers. We took to the streets of Harajuku to shoot this drama, so I think it provides viewers with a peek into the realities of the cute culture of Harajuku and the lives of the people creating them. I would be elated for everyone to catch it. I love everyone!
Q 12: Your fans in Asia will also be able to watch this work of yours on GEM. What message would
you like to leave for them?
A: I had the opportunity to be filmed giving my comments in Chinese and English for publicity purposes, and that was when I felt that we are going global. I am truly glad that people beyond Japan can view this drama. As we were able to shoot in the streets of Harajuku where people from all over the world gather, I hope that the viewers can enjoy the scenes and appreciate the charms of Japan’s “kawaii” culture.