Report: Actors Reveal All at ‘Zenra Meshi’ Official Photobook Press Conference–“My Favorite Shot Is the Two of Us Taking a Bath Together”
On June 24, a special event was held at HMV&BOOKS SHIBUYA to celebrate the release of the official Zenra Meshi photobook. The popular drama series, currently airing on Kansai TV, stars Yutaro and Shori Kondo, who both took the stage for a press conference prior to the start of the event.
The book includes over 30 pages of gravure photos of Yutaro (Miki Mahiro) and Shori Kondo (Futa Ichijo). Also included are 20 pages of solo photos of Futa wearing a suit and posing in front of a beautiful night scene and Miki wearing a hoodie in a restaurant that smells of spices. Both shoots were intended to look as though a lover snapped the images. The photobook also includes Mizuchi’s Recipe Notebook, highlighting recipes from around the world with comments by popular cookbook author Yummy. Fans can also enjoy plenty of interviews with the cast and crew along with behind-the-scenes filming and production details.
――What were your thoughts when you first held the photobook in your hands?
Kondo: “To be honest, I didn’t expect these images to be released in photobook form. I was surprised but happy.”
Yutaro: “During filming, the producer and I chatted a ton about how we wanted to create this. We took so many pictures of each other, but I didn’t expect doing that to take an entire day, and I didn’t expect to see interviews with the director and producer included too. When I first saw the book, I felt nostalgic…a little warm and fuzzy too.”
Kondo: “I didn’t know you wanted to do this from the beginning. (Laugh)”
――Tell us some of your favorite moments from shooting or the setups you like most!
Kondo: “I have some good memories of the swan boat race. Even though the two of us were in a swan boat, the photographer was shooting from a canoe. It was a ton of fun–we’d try to paddle away from him and things like that. There was this playfulness that I really love.”
Yutaro: “We had our first photo shoot at Ueno Park, and we did so much–had a picnic and ate together, played badminton, just had fun. I used Shori-kun’s legs as a pillow, which was so boyfriend-like. Finally being able to see what those shots looked like in the photobook made me smile. Obviously, I couldn’t see them during the shoot itself.”
Kondo: “We were pretty awful at badminton, weren’t we?”
Yutaro: “That’s why there are only three shots of it. (Laugh)”
――Which is your favorite shot of each other?
Kondo: (Immediately) “I have one! The one with the toothbrush…”
Yutaro: “Oh, totally!”
Kondo: “Yutaro was wearing glasses and PJs, brushing his teeth, right? It looks like a candid shot, like it was just shot at home. I love it.”
Yutaro: “Mine would be the shot of the two of us taking a bath together. Even though it’s my favorite, it doesn’t have a huge presence in the book, and it wasn’t even planned too far in advance. We were asked to come in and take that picture together at the last minute.”
Kondo: “We took it while I was asking if we could get in the tub in our PJs. (Laugh)”
Yutaro: “I just love that picture. We look so cute.”
――What does Zenra Meshi mean to the two of you today?
Kondo: “It’s my first drama and my first acting role, so it’s something that will stick with me for a long time.”
Yutaro: “I’ve done more drama work than Shori-kun, and compared to those, this series allowed the two of us to spend so much time together. Even after shooting ended, we’d meet up for dinner and chat about all the people we worked with and how much we missed each other. We really care about each other and that’s why this project worked so well. I don’t usually watch the drama series I star in, but I am watching Zenra Meshi on TVer, so I think that’s subconsciously causing me to become a fanboy.”
Kondo: “I watched the first episode so many times I lost count. I couldn’t believe it was me on the screen. I was so incredibly happy. I watched the video sent to me, then I watched it on TVer, then I watched it on Hulu!”
Yutaro: “You watched it live at your parent’s house too.”
Kondo: “Yeah. I watched a video of myself eating dinner naked with my mom. (Laugh) I told her that it would be too embarrassing to watch with her, but she called me and told me to come home. (Laugh) I was in Osaka at the time, and she told me that we’d never get another opportunity like this again. It was my first drama series, so we needed to watch it together. I got home, woke her up, and we watched it together. (Laugh)”
――Do you feel like the response to the series has been positive after 11 episodes?
Kondo: “So many people I know have been watching, including my friends back in Osaka and my old teachers. They’ve reached out to me to let me know! I mean, people I haven’t heard from in years have told me that they’re tuning in. I’m realizing how great it is to have media available in so many ways.”
――Yutaro-san, you mentioned that you’re watching the show on TVer. How is the response on social media in real-time?
Yutaro: “The show is available to watch around the world, and I’ve found out that it’s popular in Brazil. If you look at the show’s Instagram page, you’ll find people from other countries summarizing the series for those who can’t tune in and who have trouble understanding. I’m so glad that we were able to share this series with fans around the globe because they send so much love on social media.
――Do either of you want to do a sequel in the future? Maybe Season 2 or a movie?
Yutaro: “I feel like a movie would be good, right?”
Kondo: “I was talking to some of the higher-up staff behind the scenes, and a bunch of them were talking about heading to Okinawa. (Laugh)”
Yutaro: “Why Okinawa though? (Laugh)”
Kondo: “No idea, they just said they wanted to go. (Laugh)”
Yutaro: “Would this be set years later or something? (Laugh) That sounds like fan service! We were close, even if it was just for two months.”
Kondo: “We shot in specific places and all of the actors and staff members ate together, so we still hang out like we’ve been friends forever.”
Yutaro: “It looks like we’re doing a barbeque soon. I’ll have to tell everyone to come.”
――Fans would love to see the two of you having a barbeque together.
Kondo: “Well, maybe if there’s a Season 2…I’m not sure how that would work though.”
Yutaro: “Since it’s an original series, we could really put the characters into any situation.”
Kondo: “I think my character would get angry again. (Laugh) Basically, I’m the source of all the trouble, so I’m sure I’d get carried away…(Laugh)”
――If there is a sequel, do you think it would be difficult to stay naked?
Kondo: “I think so. I’ve become much bigger than when we first started filming. I was so skinny then, but it was what it was. I have a little more muscle and a better overall body now. (Laugh)”
――We’re looking forward to hopefully seeing that in the future.
Kondo: “Oh, I’ll always take it all off. (Laugh)”
――Do you have a message to the fans ahead of the final episode?
Kondo: “It seemed like everything would be tied up in Episode 11 and that a happy ending was on the way, but things suddenly got muddled. Since everything will wrap up in Episode 12, I think fans have a lot of action to look forward to. I really love the last scene, and I can’t wait for people to see it. It’s so sweet.”
Yutaro: “The series has everything–gourmet flavors, human drama, romance. Each time I see the bittersweet feelings the two main characters share, I feel a little impatient, sad, and frustrated. Even though I know how it ends, I want to watch it at the same time as everyone else. I’ve been watching every episode on TVer, and there were so moments when I wondered how we filmed certain scenes. I was happy to be able to watch them at the same time as the fans so that I could really hear their honest feedback. The ending is filled with hope for the future, and I hope that everyone will tune in to see how things work out for our protagonists. Even though it’s fictitious, the photobook shows how the two live their daily life together, so I hope you’ll enjoy it while you watch the show.”
Kondo: “If you check out what people are saying on social media, they always say that Ichijo is mad all the time. At least, up until Episode 10. In Episode 11, he finally takes a proper step forward, and we see how much he’s grown since meeting Mahiro. I feel like I also grew as an actor. I’m happy that I met Mahiro, and I hope that the fans feel that way too.”
Zenra Meshi Official Photobook -Our Recipes Start Here-
Release Date: June 23, 2023
Publisher: Tokyo News