In an exclusive interview with Arab News Japan, Akira Takarada, popular for his roles in multiple Godzilla movies over the years including the original Godzilla (1954) movie shared insight into some of the Western movies and pop culture films that inspire him.
Takarada shared how: “I was still a child who experienced the mass exodus of Japanese from Manchuria of the China continent after the war in 1946” and confessed that life was very hard and he sill struggled even when returning to Japan, but found that movies offered him inspiration.
“My favorite Japanese movie is Seven Samurai because the leading actor Mr. Toshiro Mifune had lived almost the same situation in Manchuria before and after the war, so he was like a big brother for me. We had a tight bond. Coincidentally, we had both mega-hit movies in 1954, which were Samurai, and Monster movies from Japan,” Takarada continued.
Takarada shared how one of his favorite movies is Fiddler on the Roof because of the underlying theme of hope. He also expressed gratitude at being given the opportunity to act in this film.
About his inspiration regarding Japanese anime and manga, Takarada said: “I think that the Japanese people has much of aesthetic and the visual auditory senses especially on performing arts, and cultures” he continued by stating how these “characteristics of our nation was one of the main reasons for the explosion of many famous comics and anime shows around the world”.
Takarada’s favorite anime is Grave of the Fireflies from Studio Ghibli as he appreciates the theme of brotherhood prevalent throughout.
About the establishment of his acting career, Takarada shared how he started his career in 1954 and “was absorbed so much and motivated to do anything I can,” clarifying that his first film role was a story written by Yukichi Fukuzawa, starring as Sotaro Masuda who was the son of a samurai.
Takarada is known for playing one of the main characters, Hideto Ogata, in the original Godzilla (1954) movie, sharing how Toho Films saw potential in him to play the role, and this made him “very pleased.”
Takarada is also well known for doing the voice of Jafar from Disney’s animated feature Aladdin across Disney’s platforms, and has done dubbings for many other foreign titles.
Takarada also offered some wisdom, sharing how “a lot of challenges in my life either went good and bad but I have learned many things from those experiences to make things better.”
Takarada was impressed at being part of the Godzilla franchise, and although he never anticipated such widespread success he now believes Godzilla caught the attention of viewers because it highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons.
Takarada also expressed enthusiasm at visiting the Middle East one day as he heard “there are huge Japanese films and other pop culture fans in Middle East region too, so I am very much looking forward to visit there” and attend conventions like the Middle East Film and Comic con, Saudi Anime Expo as well as some in Qatar and Bahrain too, he shared.
Regarding his upcoming projects, Takarada shared how most of them were postponed or canceled indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.