“Hula Fulla Dance” directed by Seiji Mizushima is an animated film and is part of Fuji TV’s project to support areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
It’s also the film that inspired forty-one-year-old comedian Dean Fujioka to take on the challenge of dubbing a film for the first time. He tells us why he thought “There’s no excuse not to do this movie.”
Fuji TV created three animated films ten years after the earthquake that struck the Tohoku region in northeast Japan. There is one in each of the affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, to help support disaster areas.
The project, called “Long-term support project 2011+10” or Zutto Ouen project 2011+10, is intended to help support tourism in the region over the long term by encouraging fans to make the pilgrimage to the location of the films.
One of the films is “Hula Fulla Dance,” a coming-of-age story about Hiwa Natsunagi, a new member of a dance group at a hot spring resort in Fukushima Prefecture. Hiwa lost her sister, who had been a popular dancer, in the disaster. Fujioka plays Ryota Suzukake, a senior hot spring employee who fell in love with Hiwa.
It was the first time that Fujioka lent his voice for such a role. Suzukake was a key character and brought out important story points. “It was a good opportunity to learn how to use and express emotions with my voice because it’s something I had never done before.”
He is also a musician whose new album is out in December 2021. And he has been active in a wide range of fields such as modeling and writing picture books.
“Trying out different modes of expression adds a new dimension to yourself,” he said.
But that was not the main reason. “I felt a connection,” he said, referring to the Fukushima and Tohoku region support project. “And there was no excuse not to do this job.”
Fujioka was born in Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture. Subsequently, he moved to Chiba, but often spent summer vacations during his childhood in Fukushima.
As an adult, he was active as a model and actor in Hong Kong and Taiwan. He had almost forgotten his home country when the March 11, 2011 earthquake hit northeastern Japan. When he was in Jakarta, Indonesia: “When I saw the earthquake news, I realized that Fukushima was my home and how important it was to me.
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“If you only think about yourself, you can live anywhere in the world. But I couldn’t help but think, ‘Is it okay to only think about me? ?’
“Now, using my acting, I hope what I do every day will have a positive impact on Fukushima, Tohoku, Japan, Asia and the earth.”
Fujioka explains that he participated in this film because he is from Fukushima as well as a human being in the global community.
The film’s other voice actors are Haruka Fukuhara, Karen Miyama, Miu Tomita, and Yuki Yamada.
The film can be viewed in Fukushima, Japan until March 17, 2022.
(Read the article in Japanese on this link.)
Author: Ken Ishii