Interview Exclusive

Interview with Hiroki Sana, Star of the "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin" Musical

06/10/2022 2022-10-06 02:00:00 JaME Author: Anu Translator: Tomo

Interview with Hiroki Sana, Star of the "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin" Musical

Actor Hiroki Sana takes his work seriously, and getting cast into a story starring animals was no exception. "I did a lot of research and worked hard to be able to play a role of a dog," he says.

© Y.Takahashi/Shueisha, GINGA -NAGAREBOSHI GIN-/Nelke Planning
A rather unique 80s franchise starring dogs, "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin" (also known as "Silver Fang: The Shooting Star Gin"), continues to fascinate 40 years later with its wide range of intriguing personalities, touching character arcs, and thrilling battles. In 2019 and 2020 this evergreen story, presented previously through manga and anime, gained fresh life in Japan in the form of a two-part stage musical featuring performances from actors Hiroki Sana and Naoya Gomoto, among others.

This coming December, the first part of the musical, "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin - Kizuna hen" ("Ties of Friendship"), will be released in Europe both via streaming and as a physical DVD and Blu-ray. The second part, "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin - Gajo kessen hen" ("The Battle of the Stronghold"), will follow in 2023.

We previously published an interview with Naoya Gomoto, who played the role of Ben, an experienced leader dog. This time we continue delving into the musical version of "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin" with Hiroki Sana, who played the main protagonist, a puppy called Gin.

Firstly, how did you become a performer for stage plays and musicals? Is it something that you were specifically dreaming of and aiming for?

Hiroki Sana: I jumped into the show business industry through a contest held by JUNON magazine. Performing on stage was very difficult for me when I started out, and I was wondering if I should continue to pursue my career as an actor. Fortunately, I came across great people who mentored me about a lot of things, including what performing on the stage and becoming a character really mean. Thanks to their help, I became able to enjoy performing on the stage! From that point on, I started to have aspirations to be a better actor!

Were you familiar with the “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” series before getting a role in the musical?

Hiroki Sana: Of course, I knew about it! I’ve been watching the animation series since my primary school days. You would expect cuteness if the main characters of the cartoon are animals, but “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” is just exciting! Growing up, I learned what it means to be a real man through “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin”.

When you first heard of this project, what were your early thoughts of adapting the world of “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” into a musical? Did you wonder if some parts of this animal-led story might be challenging to translate from drawn art into a stage performance?

Hiroki Sana: I’ve been watching “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” since my childhood and I feel very attached to it, and was very happy to be able to get involved with it. I did not really worry about playing a role of a dog in “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin”. I watched a lot of SHIKI THEATRE COMPANY’s shows because of my parents’ influence. There, I watched shows whose main characters are animals, tablewares, etc. However, I did a lot of research and worked hard to be able to play the role of a dog. I watched a video explaining about dogs' bone structures with other actors. We did a lot of research.

It's already been a few years since the musical was performed and filmed. The first part was originally recorded in 2019 and the second in 2020. What memories have stayed with you from the time when you were working on it?

Hiroki Sana: I especially remember Takeshi Kitadai, who played the roles of Kurojyaki in "Kizuna hen" ("Ties of Friendship"), and also Benizakura in "Gajo kessen hen" ("Battle of the Stronghold"). Tomohiko Tsujimoto did the choreography for the shows. His choreography routines are amazing, but I had a hard time mastering them. I invited a member of the Ensemble as a coach, and rented the studio to practice dances after the rehearsal and during the rehearsal holiday. Mr. Kitadai heard about my voluntary training and asked me if he could join me. Practicing Kagami no Tora with him is a very special memory to me.

You have acted in many popular stage plays. Do you feel that your role in “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” was different somehow from your other roles? If so, how?

Hiroki Sana: It was my first time playing the role of a one year-old child. I don’t think I will have a chance to play such a role again for the rest of my acting career. It was difficult for me to play the role of a puppy dog because I have broad shoulders. Also, it was my first time playing a character who goes through such a big personal transformation during one show. I wonder if it’s because of a one year-old’s high learning ability. My character grew up from a cute puppy to a real man with a strong backbone through experiencing a lot of things!

So far, not many Japanese musicals have been published in Western markets, but many seem excited about this release. For example, in Finland, due to the strong positive reaction from fans of “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin”, this musical was also decided to run in cinemas in addition to the home video release scheduled for later this year. How does this kind of interest make you feel?

Hiroki Sana: The producer told me that it is an outstanding achievement for a Japanese musical to be screened in not just one or two, but more than 40 theaters in Europe! I am happy and proud to be a part of such an amazing show. We really made enormous efforts together for this show. Seeing our hard work rewarded like this gives me very strong motivation for the future! I hope a lot of people find out about our passion and the greatness of “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” through watching it on DVD at home or in the movie theaters.

Could you tell us a bit about your more recent work? What other projects have you been involved in lately?

Hiroki Sana: I will appear in "Chibimarukochan THE STAGE 'Highschool days'”! I am honored to be a part of a work that is loved by a lot of people. I will do my best to make the show fantastic! Also, I started with a show called “SANALLEGE”. We invite professionals from various genres and hear about the guest’s speciality in detail, as well as inside stories. The show aims to help the hosts and viewers learn a lot, broaden their perspectives, and achieve self-betterment together! Please join us if you are interested!

Lastly, what would you like to say to the foreign fans who are looking forward to seeing the “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” musical?

Hiroki Sana: Thank you for reading my interview! Your love of “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin” enabled the show to reach a lot of people across borders! Thank you very much! We at the theater company were able to put our lives on the line because we love “Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin”. Please enjoy the passionate story about the battle of real men! Please let us perform live in front of you one day!

JaME would like to thank Hiroki Sana and Nelke Planning for the interview.

Trailers for "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin - Kizuna hen" and "Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin - Gajo kessen hen" can be viewed below.