“SWIM!” is an NTV drama that originally made it’s premier in January, 2017 and is the very first competitive swimming drama in Japan. Starring Ryo Matsuda, Shuto Miyazaki, and Tomoru Akazawa it follows the story of three students trying to keep their swimming club afloat.
Shuhei (Ryo Matsuda), Daiki (Shuto Miyazaki) and Reo (Shintaro Anzai) are obsessed with only one thing in their lives, swimming. Even though they pour their hearts and souls into passing the entrance exams for “Ryuho High School”, a private academy renowned for its top-notch swim team, only Reo manages to get in, leaving their friendship seemingly broken beyond repair. Shuhei and Daiki wind up at “Higashigaoka High School”, where the swim team is facing impending dissolution. Alongside Haruyoshi (Tomoru Akazawa), the lone other member of the team, the trio finds themselves armed with a new purpose in life – finding five new members to save their club!
“SWIM!” will be making it’s oversea television debut via GEM TV on March 21st, 2017. It will air every Monday and Tuesday at 9pm (Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong) and at 8pm for Thailand and Indonesia. Click here for more info on GEM TV.
Check out the full interview with Ryo Matsuda below, Shuto Miyazaki’s can be found on page 2, while Tomoru Akazewa’s is on page 3.
Please introduce yourself and the role you play.
Ryo Matsuda: Hi, my name is Ryo Matsuda. I play Shuhei Sakaki, the main character.
Is there anything different that you did to prepare for the drama?
Ryo Matsuda: I lost about ten kilograms.
Ryo Matsuda: I had to swim and train a lot so I lost weight.
How long did it take to lose that much weight?
Ryo Matsuda: It took about two months.
Did you lose the ten kilos because you got the role?
Ryo Matsuda: No, not really. I just thought that I should look like a real high school swimmer so that my acting will be convincing and not sloppy.
Producer: His specialty is the backstroke.
Who do you think has the hottest body?
Ryo Matsuda: The answer I’d like to give is “me” but Daiki’s (Shuto Miyazaki) body is the closest to a swimmer. But deep inside I feel like I’m at the same level. (laughter)
Shuto Miyazaki mentioned that you are good friends. How do you feel about working on the same set as him?
Ryo Matsuda: He’s the only actor that I can say is like a brother. I was happy to be able to work with him on this drama, but I also felt like the time had come for us to compete as actors. I don’t want to lose, I thought.
What was the most challenging thing you experienced while filming?
Ryo Matsuda: The swimming scenes were tough. There was one time when we started filming at 9 am and continued until 6:30 am the next day. I definitely tested the limits of my body that day.
Why so long? What are the things you did?
Ryo Matsuda: It takes a lot of time to film in a pool or using water. The director also didn’t want to compromise on the takes and angles underwater and he put a lot of thought into his artistry. He used a lot of techniques to shoot underwater. He used an underwater camera and also a drone. The director didn’t settle for anything less and that’s why it took so long.
So this drama is about school life. How was your school life in the past?
Ryo Matsuda: In one word, foolish. But I did everything, from the fun things to the difficult experiences, that you can only do at that time in your life. I have no regrets with my life as a student. I was impressionable and carefree.
Ryo Matsuda: Most things he can’t say. (laughter) But I loved school and my friends. Every day was really fun. It just came naturally for us to just take our clothes off and jump in the river. I know it sounds strange and bizarre. But looking back, if there’s one regret, I should have pursued romance. I didn’t have a love life because I was always hanging out with my buddies so I didn’t spend time with girls.
Ryo Matsuda: That’s a secret. (laughter) There’s nothing in particular right now so I’m looking for candidates. (laughter)
There’s a lot of sports dramas out there. How is this drama different from the other sports dramas?
Ryo Matsuda: In Japan and perhaps in the rest of the world, I don’t believe there has been a drama about competitive swimming. There are dramas on synchronized swimming, water polo, and other water sports but this is the first drama that’s particularly about competitive swimming and boys who go head to head in a friendly way. In this sense, it’s the first of its kind.
Will there be romance in this drama?
Ryo Matsuda: That question makes me depressed. (laughter) I think teenage romance and all its ups and downs are an important element when portraying those years, but the theme of this drama is how boys grow up through friendships and bonds.
Shuto Miyazaki said that he would take off his clothes and take pictures for SNS if the drama gets good ratings. What would you do?
Ryo Matsuda: What the heck is he saying?! (laughter) After hearing that, what else can I do? I guess a family trip. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool so now I’d like to go in a hot spring (onsen). A warm bath would be nice. I’m close to my family and I have only a few friends.
Have you been to Singapore? What’s your impression of Singapore?
Ryo Matsuda: I’ve never been to Singapore, but a friend who used to live there and I’m very interested in the country. I really hope to visit soon.
Have you been to Hong Kong? Any actors you’d like to work with?
Ryo Matsuda: No, I haven’t been there. What a privilege it would be to work with a Hong Kong actor. Jet Li. I used to do martial arts.
What kind of martial arts?
Ryo Matsuda: Karate.
Ryo Matsuda: No, not black belt but I used to represent west Japan.
What was your highest rank?
Ryo Matsuda: Fourth level during middle school, but we weren’t categorized by age.