Kyohei Takahashi EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘My Home Hero’ star & Naniwa Danshi singer is more than what we see on screen

Starring in current Disney+ drama worldwide, My Home Hero and member of J-pop group Naniwa Danshi, Kyohei Takahashi sits down with TheReviewGeek to explain his ‘personality gap’ and how he turns introversion into energy

In an exclusive in-person interview, 23-year-old Kyohei Takahashi talks about his current drama My Home Hero (Disney+, Hulu, MBS, TBS), recent film festival-trotting romance, And Yet, You Are So Sweet (Bilibili) and music group Naniwa Danshi.

While an early fandom page notes his special ability as ‘being fashionable’ and he’s openly referred to as the peacock of the group, Takahashi confesses he’s introverted but has learned to turn his nervousness into momentum. He affirms, “I’m still shy, even if it doesn’t seem like it on stage or in front of the camera. I guess I’ve just learned to turn those worries into energy.”

It’s more than simply awkward ole’ energy. Takahashi becomes his persona under the lights. “There’s a certain power when I’m performing with Naniwa Danshi. The seven of us rely on one another for strength on stage and to recharge when off. I know I can always count on them – they’re like my brothers.”

PURE ENERGY

Switching to refer to his more recent job, he continues, “On the other hand, when it comes to acting, I’m on my own. It forces me out of my comfort zone and requires me to get to know more people. As one of the youngest on My Home Hero and still very new to acting, I took in everything; not just from the actors, but the director and crew too. Nerve-wracking, but overall, it was a great experience.”

Kyohei Takahashi as Kyoichi in My Home Hero    © 1995-2023, Mainichi Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Taken from a manga (2017) and turned into both an anime (2023) and live-action series, My Home Hero is about a man who kills his daughter’s yakuza boyfriend, Nobuto, when he overhears him plot against her. An impulsive move, Tetsuo must figure out how to dispose of the body before gangster flunkies start to scrutinize. Helpfully, his hobby is crime fiction.

Tetsuo is almost instantly faced with Kyoichi, the gang’s ‘fixer.’ He’s given a deadline to pinpoint Nobuto but finds Tetsuo suspicious. Played by Takahashi, Kyoichi swiftly sees through the story built by the fiction enthusiast, only he can’t quite lock concrete evidence. With his canny character in mind, can Takahashi see through other people’s deceptions too?

“Not even slightly. Kyoichi is amazing. He’s so smart, but I’m a bit dense when it comes to that. I’m so trusting – the type of person who is easily scammed, even by my own group members.”

Takahashi goes on to explain how he built his character, “We both have a very cool outward persona, not animated with our reactions. Plus, we’re both quite young among the people surrounding us. While working on the character, the director said my eyes are expressive so I should use them. I took that to heart, aiming to convey surprise, doubt, even cold ruthlessness through the eyes.”

BUILDING CHARACTER

In episode 4, there’s a scene where Kyoichi reveals his backstory and entry into the yakuza world to the parental Tetsuo, transitioning the character into one with more dimension. “It was important to clarify – his dreams were stolen. When we meet him, his revenge quest is interrupted by what he considers little more than a nuisance. The internal struggle is where I focused my performance. Kyoichi is like 80% gangster, 20% messed-up kid. This balance helps the audience see his humanity and hopefully empathize with him.”

The series has just wrapped this week and Takahashi shares his favorite scenes, one resonant to the story and the other, enjoyable to create. “My personal favorite is when Kyoichi makes dinner for Tetsuo – the start of Kyoichi’s understanding that they’re not so different. I also enjoyed the gunfight scene when Tetsuo is tricked into a fake drug deal. It was my first time doing any sort of action or shootout scene – hard work, but a lot of fun.”

Conversely, Takahashi’s role in film festival selection, And Yet, You Are So Sweet (2023) is quite a different one. “Sui was a dream role – my first romantic lead, something I’d sought for a long time. He’s handsome and popular, but deep down incredibly shy; a complex character within a simple story. I was able to connect with him more easily than with Kyoichi. On the other hand, the challenge is one of the reasons I’m so proud of Kyoichi.”

He goes on to share highlights of his ‘boyfriend-material’ role, “I love his interactions with the heroine. Neither of them knows what it’s like to be in love and they play it out like a game. Sui receives as Maaya gives and this magnetic interaction finally locks into a sense of real love, almost by accident. It was fun and I’m very happy with the recognition it’s getting overseas.”

Takahashi notes his inexperience as an actor a few times, so I can’t help but inquire about his learnings.  He acknowledges the actor who plays Tetsuo as a bit of a guide. “There were many scenes with Kuranosuke-san, especially when it was just the two of us, and I learned so much from him. He was inspired by the source material and very much a ‘Dad’ with his on-set family – very loving and strong.”

“But with Kyoichi, there’s a timidness to him, like he’s one wrong look away from falling apart. He’s a great actor and I learned a lot, like how even something as simple as the way I take a breath can impact both my character and others in a scene.”

While he’s fairly new to acting, Takahashi has been in the spotlight since 2018 as part of J-pop group Naniwa Danshi. In a previous TRG interview, bandmate Joichiro Fujiwara talked about Pending Train and his role as ‘first penguin,’ an older brother position within the group. Takahashi is right in the middle by age – so where does he fit in?

THE ONE AND ONLY

“Everyone says I’m the handsome one, which is true, but I guess most would imagine someone who takes himself too seriously, not wanting to break the ‘looks façade.’ I’m definitely not that. To continue the bird metaphor, I’m the ‘odd duck.’ I don’t always do what everyone else is doing because I want to forge my own path on my own terms. I can be a bit vain – like a parakeet in front of a mirror – but I’m not afraid to also be seen as goofy or even ugly. More than any set adjective, I’m the one and only Kyohei Takahashi.”

Naniwa Danshi personify an area of Japan known for its sense of humor and playfulness. He shares a perfect example of embracing the silly side in a one-minute video here. Watch it and your question will be the same as mine – what the heck happened?

“Contrary to some reactions, it was a legitimate accident. In fact, during testing, I made a few shots. But the moment we ran it for real, *bam* totally ate it, face-first into the mat. Other people might have been humiliated, but not me. As soon as they realized I wasn’t hurt, everyone on set started rolling with laughter. Hearing that assured me it would make for good TV; perhaps even better than if I’d actually made the shot. The god of comedy was on my side that day.”

We wrap the conversation with an opportunity to speak directly to fans and TRG readers, sharing his thinking around his two different public sides. “I like to think of myself as an embodiment of the ‘personality gap.’ I like how I look and am especially proud of my work as a magazine cover model but there’s more to me. I love being a part of Naniwa Danshi and making people laugh.”

“I guess I try to be a little bit of everything, so you’ll have to keep watching to see all of me. I hope My Home Hero will become even more popular overseas and that it will open up opportunities not just for me, but also for Naniwa Danshi. I’d love for us to go abroad!”

 


Check out Kyohei Takahashi’s video message to TRG readers on X here. For more embarrassing video, check out the full Q&A. For a review of the My Home Hero drama series, click here. For a review of the My Home Hero anime, click here.

To read fellow Naniwa Danshi member, Joichiro Fujuwara’s interview, click here. To see more interviews, here. And to read more reviews of Japanese dramas and movies, here.

Stream the entire series of My Home Hero on Disney+ worldwide and Hulu in the US. Catch it on MBS or TBS in Japan.

 

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