TheReviewGeek Interviews: Actor and ‘FANTASTICS’ Singer Yusei Yagi

Star of Japanese BL drama My Beautiful Man (Utsukushii Kare) and 2023 film My Beautiful Man – Eternal, Yusei Yagi of FANTASTICS talks to TheReviewGeek about his character and getting to know his counterpart, Riku Hagiwara. As a member of FANTASTICS, they release a new music video for Tell Me, hot off the presses – catch it here.

As My Beautiful Man – Eternal finishes its cinema run in Japan and Vietnam, the rest of the world’s ‘HiraKiyo’ fans await a subtitled glimpse of the movie that picks up from My Beautiful Man Season 2 (Viki) of the light novel-based narrative. The DVD (with English subtitles) will be available from Wednesday, 8th November. Meanwhile, Yagi has been busy touring with the group and releasing a new music video for FANTASTICS’s latest hit, Tell Me.

In an exclusive interview with the lead actor, 26-year-old Yagi shares one spoiler from the cinema release of My Beautiful Man – Eternal (marked below) and explains what it’s been like working on the two-season series. “Reading the original work, My Beautiful Man, was filled with detail – my mind was flooded, image after image. On top of that, there was the emotional atmosphere, the feelings of the characters and the difficult but humorous language – especially in Hira’s monologues. I don’t think I’ve seen many works that are so delicately and finely packed.”


One thing that makes My Beautiful Man stand out is the chemistry between Hira and Kiyoi, managing to strike a balance between the sometimes-silly tropes with heartfelt delivery. Yagi tells us that he met his counterpart and on-screen love interest, 24-year-old Riku Hagiwara, for the first time at a Season 1 costume fitting. “My first impression was that he’s very serious and gentle. But as we worked together, I began to feel that he’s truly innocent and open-minded. Riku is younger, but we like similar things, so we became closer and closer. He’s a guy who lives for his hobbies.”

He doesn’t reveal Hagiwara’s interests, but with the title of the series, we couldn’t help asking the question: What’s beautiful about your co-star and what would he say is beautiful about you? Yagi waxes about Hagiwara’s distinctive, pull-you-in black eyes but with a laugh, shares that his counterpart loves his muscles. It’s a great intro to a discussion about his character Kiyoi, whom he asserts he’s nothing like. “The only similarity is that we both want to feel loved.”


As for getting into character, he’d discussed it with Director Sakai (Tomorrow I Will Be Someone’s Girlfriend – Disney+) and they’d agreed. By far, Kiyoi is the princess-heroine of the tale. Kiyoi’s character arc shifts from entitled to desiring an equal partner. Yagi continues, “there’s a change in honesty about his feelings.”

But even with Kiyoi’s shift in self-understanding, Yagi explains that he needed the princess spirit to carry through their relationship to both stay true to his character and influence Hira’s emotional evolution. “Kiyoi still has the heart of a princess, yet he wants Hira to be able to face him on equal footing instead of looking up. Rather than having Kiyoi change to match Hira, I continued with the spirit of ‘Hira, you come to me, [I’ll wait’].’


With that in mind, Yagi talks about his most difficult scene and how, so intertwined with the character, the poignant piece struck him on a personal level. “There’s a climactic scene in an abandoned factory in My Beautiful Man – Eternal where Kiyoi desperately rushes to Hira, thinking he’s died.” Yagi goes on to explain, “It was difficult to find a balance because Kiyoi had to control his heartbreak, not able to cry or scream. But at that moment, character aside, I was in pain too.”


Sharing a bit of his own story, Yagi notes that taking on acting has aided his growth as an artist, helping him better express emotions. “I was able to expand my sense of values. It’s contributed greatly to my growth as a performer but also as a person.”


Having carried out such a believably emotive role so early in his career, it’s amazing to think Yagi may have never been an artist at all. Originally, he intended to pursue a football (soccer) career. But, after a serious injury, he had to rethink.

Did that setback lead to his current career? “Definitely yes. Without that injury, I would certainly not be where I am today. I was shocked at the time, but now I see it positively – it’s something that had to happen.” It’s a perfect example of one door closing and another opening.

Having entered the entertainment industry via a 2017 EXILE audition show, he confirms that it’s his fans that keep him going. He achieved one action genre dream through last year’s Netflix film HiGHLOW THE WORST X. His next aspiration is a historical drama. “It’s a big dream, but one day I’d like to be in a Taiga Drama, such as Shinsengumi [elite swordsmen] or Yoshitsune [a Japanese folk hero]. Living in the past is an experience I’d like to try.”

Yagi debuted in 2018 as a singer in the J-pop dance and vocal group that’s recently released the music video for Tell Me – a retro musical number set as a battle between opposing gangs. Then began an acting career in 2021 with My Beautiful Man, where he won the Outstanding Asian Star Prize at the Seoul International Drama Awards 2022.

Today, he continues to expand his scope as both an artist and an actor including a role in currently airing dramas (in Japan) 18/40 – Dreams and Love for Two and FUN! FUN! FANTASTICS SEASON 3 as well as the upcoming BACK TO THE MEMORIES PART 3. And hopes to continue performing for a long time to come. We’ll be watching for him. 

To read the full Q&A click here.

Watch My Beautiful Man Season 1 & Season 2 on Viki – and read all the news and reviews here.  For more Japanese drama and movie reviews, click here.

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