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Kano Maria Farewell Talk with Asumi Rio
Graph February 2017 (amazon) | (hankyu books)

Kano: You are always busy, so thank you for specifically making time to talk to me.

Asumi: It’s like you are reading off a script (laughs)

Kano: Now that my dream of doing Manzai with you has come true, let’s look back on our memories

Asumi: Yes (laughs)

Kano: I first met Sayumi (Asumi) when I was in Moon Troupe for my debut in Scarlet Pimpernel.

Asumi: Really?! Since then!? (laughs)

Kano: Yes (laughs) You used the washbasin near my dressing table...

Asumi: Ah! You were there when I went to wash my face in the morning! That's right, I remember!

Kano: That's right! I remember sneaking glances at you. (laughs) After that I was assigned to Cosmos Troupe and then transferred to Flower Troupe and performed in your debut Rose of Versailles at Chunichi Theatre. There was a lot I didn't know how do but every day as Rosalie, I would grab Sayumi around the waist...

Asumi: That's right! You would come running up to Fersen while he was yelling "My Queen".

Kano: I would rush out like a wild boar (laughs) Next was Elisabeth -The Rondo of Love and Death- when I found out I would be your next partner. That was the show that you debuted with and it was Ran-san's (Ranno Hana) retirement show. As I saw you both face the culmination of your partnership, I felt very emotional, but at the same time the feelings of "what am I supposed to do" started growing. On the day before closing in Tokyo, you gave me a letter. You wrote you had experienced the same feelings before and I felt happier and reassured.

Asumi: Yes, yes. I felt the same way in the time between when it was decided I would be Top Star and when I assumed the role. When a Top retires, you feel sad and uneasy, but you must also have to start preparing yourself for the responsibility. So I thought maybe Kano-chan felt the same way.

Kano: That's exactly how I felt. After that rehearsal for Ernest in Love started I couldn't easily get a grip on it. So you invited me out to dinner and we took the time to get to know one another.

Asumi: I thought it would be better to take the wall from between us as ordinary people.

Kano: It made me really happy!! At the same time this was happening was the Takarazuka Special. I felt like I had to do my hardest and pull myself together, but maybe Sayumi was worrying about that even more than me...

Asumi: Yeah (laughs) I didn't know what type of person you were, so I tried through trial and error to find a way to show you how. I think being gentle and tolerant is ideal, but I think I was just like "Face this way! Walk like this! Start with your right foot!" (Laughs)

Kano: Now I think that about it, there were a lot of things I didn't notice then. I relied so much on you, so much...

Asumi: You were young.You would cry and say "I'm sorry I couldn’t do it". But I wanted you to follow me saying "what the hell".

Kano: In addition, even though we hadn’t worked together for very long yet, we had to work on the shuffled duet dance.

Asumi: Oh yeah! I didn't think we would be dancing that much so it was hard.

Kano: When I was done rehearsing in another room, I would come see you. It was a little like I was going to see my mother...

Asumi: But I'm not your mother!! (Laughs)

Kano: (laughs)


Kano: Rehearsing for Ernest, every day I would do unexpected mistakes, but you always faced me very with kindness.

Asumi: I would get angry while having to explain every single mistake (laughs) Every time I would make you cry. You would weep again and again (laughs)

Kano: When you would turn to me and say "like this", you would wipe my tears away.

Asumi: Oh yeah (laughs) But, there were times when you cried because you were sad, and there were times you cried because you got it. People say you get stronger the more tears you shed (laughs)

Kano: That's right... One day you told me "when I tell you these things, I am doing it to protect you". That was really a shock to me. When I got home I thought about those words again, thinking about its importance over from different angles. It really stuck with me.

Asumi: It's probably better if I didn't say such terrible things....(laughs) but I was just thinking about what I could do.

Kano: I won't forget those words for the rest of my life.

Asumi: Yeah (laughs)

Kano: Yeah, (laughs) My debut performance at the Grand Theatre was the first time I had played one role for a long span of time. I fully realized how difficult it was and felt the weight of the duty. Gradually my heart stopped changing. At that time you really did something like therapy for me didn't you!

Asumi: I did! We would get up early. We would sit and then say "one, two" and stand up together. We tried a lot of things, like moving our bodies together. It was like an experiment. I'm not sure if it was effective but... (laughs)

Kano: I was really moved. Then, next was the Taiwan performance. At that time, I realized that if you didn't point it out to me, I couldn’t find and recognize issues myself. It was important that I came to understand that.

Asumi: I felt like, for example, you were like a shoji screen. If I just pop pop pop holes into it, you would only fix those areas as an emergency measure. After a few days, those holes would appear again It went on and on, and the door would never get repaired.

Kano: Yes. Although it was a show where I struggled, the audience was still pleased. I was uneasy onstage and had no confidence, and I felt I had to change that. I had to move ahead on my own.

Asumi: Yeah, we really can't fall into a rut. I thought you needed more enthusiasm on your side, so I changed the way I did things. You really looked back and then looked at yourself and how you were continuing forward.

Kano: Next was The Tale of Genji but you and I weren't together a lot so I had to find my own mistakes. I felt I needed to up the heat and act with the same enthusiasm as you. After that we did Ernest again, and then ME AND MY GIRL.

Asumi: Yeah, that's when you did it! Finally, Kano Maria arrived (laughs) During Genji I feel like you almost worked a little too hard, and we both ended up being a little negative. But when Ernest came again, which is such a happy show, you started to relax. I felt you got passionate. Yeah, you did.

Kano: Yeah.

Asumi: Everyone else was the same too. During the first time that we were overwhelmed by it being a masterpiece show and felt frantic. But the second time, we made it our own and it was fun.

Kano: Yeah, it really was.

Asumi: I thought that everyone would say things like "this role is really a perfect fit for Kano" or "She looks like she’s having so much fun". During rehearsal you even did your hair and makeup totally different. I saw that it really was possible to change if you had the sense of wanting to be even more beautiful. I really felt for the first time that you had the essence of a Top Musumeyaku that I always imagined.

Kano: Hehehe (laughs) Then was Me and My Girl. You kept telling me I needed to break out of my shell.

Asumi: I had total confidence you could you could do it. You did in the next show Romanesque Mask too, and this time too. You were doing a fair job, but I had the feeling that you could do even better and I wanted you to try new things.

Kano: But when I was playing Sally there was a period when I didn't know what to do. The audience has a very clear image of who Sally is, and I didn’t know how to create my own Sally. One time when I cried about that you said, "if you're crying and worried it's okay to come talk with me".

Asumi: I did. Bill and Sally aren't just a regular couple, and I didn’t want it to be me always saying then so during rehearsals, I wanted to do more sessions with you.

Kano: Because of that Sally became a really memorable role for me.

Asumi: Yeah. That last scene shook my heart every time. Every day, we created a new Bill and Sally and I felt we were in sync with each other.

Kano: It was really fun.

Asumi: Every day was different, wasn't it, I could do a lot of different things (laughs). Like changing the ad lib or dropping things...

Kano: (laughs)

Asumi: But no matter what I did you always responded. You're a comedian.

Kano: No, I'm not.


Kano: Between that fresh, fun take on Romanesque Mask and Golden Desert now, you have been surprising me with the new types of relationships we’ve been playing. It's a role that takes a lot of energy, but.. it's a little like dominos, your next move has to be careful so the dominos don't go cascading down.

Asumi: Yeah, yeah.

Kano: It's a difficult role, but I'm happy that I could do it with you as my last show. I wonder if at the final night, I will really think that I want to die. I'm sorry that final scene is so messy.

Asumi: Right! Our tears are really messy (laughs) but that's the least important thing at that point.

Kano: Yes. That's not the most important part. But if the audience think it's beautiful despite that, we must pour our souls into our acting.

Asumi: Yeah. We are working together and competing and in the play, it's like everything comes together. I feel like you can really feel that perfect moment where we can both play off the good points of each other... yeah.

Kano: Yes. The director Ueda-sensei (Ueda Kumiko) told me that even on the good days, we are at 80 percent and that we can't cover the remaining 20 percent unless we bring something from our hearts. I really want to cover that 20 percent. It's okay if I become a bad person in real life (laugh). Right now I feel I really want to do it.

Asumi: Right! Set your eyes on the goal! Keep pushing forward and giving it your all! That's the strong Kano-chan I always wanted to see (applauds)

Kano: I'll do my best until closing night!


Kano: And we've come to the end so I wanted to say that you are...

Mirio: Your mother?

Kano: No, not that! (laughs) You're my "mentor". You've taught me a lot of things and for everything, I'm grateful from the bottom of my heart.

Mirio: Mentor..It wasn't such big thing. But it's good that your courageous spirit have started to bud. Looking back, I think that I too changed a fair amount. I think because we worried about each thing, one by one that we now can stand on stage with confidence. It all links to the us now.

Kano: The reason I am the way I am now is because of you, because I met you and you showed me how to be onstage and changed the way I think about things. So surely when I die...

Mirio: When you die?! (Laughs)

Kano: When I'm dying, I'll think about "my mentor". Absolutely. You'll eternally be my mentor.

Asumi: Can’t you recognize your own strengths now?

Kano: Well, for example, it's like if I trained in your sushi shop and then went out and started my own restaurant that got a Michelin star. Wouldn't my mentor be proud?

Asumi: If that was the case, of course I'd be proud.

Kano: I want to be able to stand alone and make you proud.

Asumi: "My protégé..." (laughs) But I feel like more than that you are like a pony...

Kano: What! A horse?!

Asumi: So this is a horse track. You are a pony, and it's like "what? She has a number?! She's racing?" But from there you get stronger and become a racehorse.

Kano: But... but, I haven't yet?

Asumi: Yes, because I think you can do even better! I want you go forward with the aim to surpass me. When you’re about to surpass me, it will push me forward too. On your final day, I want you to able to say “I won!” and for me to accept my defeat. Until the end!

Kano: I will devote myself to becoming a Pegasus until the end.

Asumi: It's better to be something even stronger I think. Something that shines with a black luster (laughs)

Kano: Then I'll be a thoroughbred! (laughs)

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