Film & TV

Keiko Kitagawa can sell anything — even a real estate drama tv show

Former Sailor Mars, Keiko Kitagawa, plays quirky real estate agent Machi in "Your Home Is My Business! Returns"

There isn’t a house that Machi can’t sell. Single, beautiful and just slightly outlandish in her fashion sense, Machi is a real-estate saleswoman who is known for being able to close the deal no matter who the client is, even if she never smiles while doing so. She sticks her nose even in the private issues of her clients, and uses a wide range of tactics to solve their problems, just so she can sell the house! A strong believer of the maxim “The kind of home you live in becomes a true reflection of your life,” Machi will pour her heart and soul into finding the right home for you.

Coming this May on Sony GEM is “Your Home Is My Business! Returns”,  a two-hour special which airs on Friday, May 26 at 8 p.m. at the same time as Japan.

Due to the popularity of the first season of the highly acclaimed Japanese drama, they have decided to come up with this two-hour special that tells the story of property agent Machi Sangenya, played by Japanese actress and former model Keiko Kitagawa.

Keiko Kitagawa is a Japanese actress and former model. She was an exclusive model for the Japanese Seventeen magazine from late 2003 to mid-2006, and quit modeling when she left the magazine. Her first acting role was Sailor Mars in the Sailor Moon live action show Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (2003-2004). She has appeared in several films, including The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and Handsome Suit (2008), and has played leading roles in the TV Dramas Mop Girl (2007), Homeroom on the Beachside (2008), Buzzer Beat (2009), Lady Saigo no Hanzai Profile (2011), and Akumu-chan (2012). Keiko won Best Actress in the 20th Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix Summer 2016 for her role in Your Home Is My Business!

GIST: How did you portray and capture the character of Machi?

KEIKO KITAGAWA: Before filming started, I was so nervous that I rewatched the serial drama. Since I’ve been doing something completely different for this whole year, it wasn’t so much that I had forgotten, but I was worried about whether or not it would quickly come back to me, but when I got back on the set and put on Machi’s outfit and started working with the familiar people from the real estate agency, it all just kind of came back.

How did you first feel when you heard about the “special drama”?

I was really happy. All the staff and actors had talked about how we would all love to work together again with the same members. But it’s difficult these days for a serial drama to come back as a special, and so we were surprised and happy that it really came true.

What surprised you when you read the script?

Generally when you’re talking about a sequel, you expect that characters will grow or there will be really big changes, but I was surprised that all of the characters hadn’t really changed. I thought it was great that even though the characters’ lives had changed — such as Mika Shirasu having a child, Adachi who wasn’t the chief previously becoming the chief, Fuse becoming section head, etc. – their characters really remained the same. This time there’s a new character named Kagimura who comes into “Teko Real Estate” and I think he brings a nice fresh new vibe into the place.

Did you have to get into some kind of frame of mind to do Machi?

During the serial drama, I thought about that kind of thing, but this time since it’s a sequel, I don’t have to turn it on and off like that. In a sense, the identity is already there and all I have to do is get on the set and act with the others. But I also feel the difficulty of doing a sequel. I want to do the same thing, but the sequel has to surpass the original. Trying to figure out how to perform so as to surpass the original is the difficult part.

Because it’s a sequel doesn’t mean that we can just raise the cost of the real estate property or increase the comedic atmosphere. I think all we can do is to build upon the same foundation, and at the same time try not to do the exact same thing. If we don’t succeed this time, it will be the end of it, so it’s difficult thinking about what we should do so that it can lead into the future. We’re doing little changes like improving the camera angles and zooms so that it’s better than the serial drama. But Machi won’t change much, so I do think about what I should do.

The drama, “Your Home is my Business” is very popular in Asia, and a remake has been confirmed for China. Since the special drama will be aired on GEM at the same time in Asia as Japan, can you leave a comment for the fans in Asia.? 

I was so surprised. The serial drama was aired in Asia with only a one hour delay from Japan. But even so, the idea that the drama would have so many fans on GEM in the 6 countries around Asia really surprised me. I’ve gotten so many messages from overseas fans and there are so many people looking forward to it, so I’m very happy to be able to give them this sequel. There’s Chinese used in the show as well, so I think there are scenes that the Chinese fans will enjoy as well.

Since the show is in Japanese, I was concerned about whether they would be able to enjoy the show, but I think that the fans of the serial drama will really enjoy this as well, so I hope they watch and like it.

Is this a character you want to continue to play?

This is a real estate drama, but really it’s a human drama and I think what everyone empathizes with is the growth that all of the characters go through. I think it’s the kind of drama where people care about the way in which all the characters grow, so I’d like to continue it as long as it can go. If I could grow along with the character, that would be great.

Have your ideas about houses changed?

Well I’ve always loved houses as well as real estate, so it always felt I was working with something I was interested in. Lots of the lines really resonate with me. The biggest thing is that I’ve come to realize the fact that you can’t separate houses and families, or houses and people’s lives, and that houses are the best place to live one’s life. The type of houses that people want to live in depends on their lifestyles, and I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that houses are a symbol of one’s life. I’ve come to look at house listing in a much more detailed and critical way than before.

* * *

“Your Home Is My Business! Returns,” a two-hour special, airs on Friday, May 26 at 8pm at the same time as Japan, on Sony Gem. Sony GEM is available on SKYCable Channel 116 in Metro Manila and on Channel 222 in Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo, and Baguio.

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