Japanese 2.5-dimensional stage play productions of anime and manga series are continuously making great waves not only in Japan but also in other countries including the Philippines. One of the most popular productions in the scene now is Hyper Projection Play “Haikyū!!” (ハイパープロジェクション演劇「ハイキュー!!」), adapted from the popular manga and anime Haikyū!! (ハイキュー!! ) by Haruichi Furudate. Due to popular demand, Cosplay Mania brought two renowned stage actors, namely Hiroki Ino and Asuma Kousuke, from the franchise in Manila as part of the headlining artists for its 10th year anniversary.

Hiroki Ino (猪野広樹) played as Sugawara Koshi, Karasuno Volleyball Team’s senior setter, while Asuma Kousuke (遊馬晃祐) portrays Oikawa Toru, Aoba Johsai Volleyball Team’s captain and senior setter. Both actors got to see and interact with their Filipino fans during their fan meet held last September 29 at SMX Convention Center. They were warmly welcomed by wild cheers as they entered the stage as seen in the video posted by Hiroki on his Instagram account:

While the audience was entranced by the young actors, Hiroki introduced himself in English while Asuma announced his presence in his Oikawa persona. It took quite a while before the fans calmed down because of the flying kisses, winks, and intimate gazes that Hiroki and Asuma gave them. As the actors settled on their seats, they answered some questions to let the fans know more about them. Hiroki tried his best to speak in English and asked for the support of the audience.

How did you start as an actor?
Hiroki: I was scouted by my manager when I was 15. Initially, I wasn’t interested to be an actor but when I first saw my audience on stage and how they cheered for me, I was really moved. From then, I decided to be into acting and continue being an actor.
Asuma: I was introduced by my friend.

What are the challenges you face as an actor?
Hiroki: The challenges depend on the character I will portray. For example, if the character uses a sword, I have to study how to use a sword for fighting and such. That’s one of the hardest part of being an actor.
Asuma: The challenge I face as an actor is changing character every so often so I have to study from the start. But right now, I want to try being Jollibee.

Because of his answer, Asuma was asked to try acting like the mascot of the local fastfood chain. After internalizing, he started acting like a server in Jollibee. Hiroki jokingly mocked him “Is that Jollibee? That’s not Jollibee!” So the audience started chanting for Hiroki to show Asuma how it should be done. Hiroki took over the center stage, side-stepped his right foot, waved like Ronald McDonald and shouted “This is Jollibee Spaghetti!” He asked the audience if he got it right and the audience agreed. “I’m Jollibee. You’re not”, Hiroki addressed Asuma, prompting the latter to acknowledge him as “Jollibee-san”.

Among all the characters you portrayed, which one is your favorite?
Hiroki: I know that you want me to say Koshi Sugawara but this question is so difficult for me – It’s like asking ‘Who’s your favorite parent? Your mother or your father?’ so I cannot choose who is my favorite.
Asuma:  Haikyū!!’s Tooru Oikawa.

Asuma then quipped his Oikawa voice to say the character’s lines ‘Yahoo~ Tobio-chan!’ and ‘Iwa-chan!’.

Can you tell us what was your happiest moment as an actor?
Hiroki: As an actor, seeing our audience and fans laugh and cry is my happiest moment.
Asuma: I share the same feelings with Hiroki. Since I debuted in Haikyū!!, I’ve met a lot of people who helped me grow and I thank everyone because I was able to come to the Philippines to meet you.

What advice can you give to people aiming to be actors?
Hiroki: Actors cannot be alone – we’re here because you’re here. Never forget to be grateful towards your fans.
Asuma: I know that every actor doesn’t know when will be his big break, but before that time comes, please continue to work hard and keep chasing your dreams.

What future roles would you want to be in?
Hiroki: I want to be a Prime Minister or a president or Spider-Man. Maybe I can’t?
Asuma: Like I thought, I want to be Jollibee 2.5!
Hiroki butted in to claim his title as ‘Jollibee-san’ but Asuma was quick to rebut that he will steal it from him, to which Hiroki confidently answered that he will still win.

Have you ever adlibbed on stage? If yes, how did you do it?
Asuma: I am not good at adlibbing. I make sure to study and prepare for the character so I will be able to portray the role correctly.

Out of all the characters you’ve played, which one did you related to the most and why?
Hiroki: Koshi Sugawara. He is a pretty normal character but he doesn’t like his role being taken by his junior.

What was your reaction when you were invited for the first time in an overseas event?
Hiroki: Yesterday, I was actually nervous because this is the first time I’m coming here in the Philippines. But thank you to all of you guys!
Asuma: Initially, I was very nervous and worried that there won’t be enough fans to visit us in this event but I’m surprised that a lot of you came. I would like to enjoy this event together with you until the end.

Hiroki asks the audience if he read the Filipino sentence correctly | Screen capped from video: Day 1 Highlights of Cosplay Mania 2018!

The second half of the fan meet focused on activities such as having the actors speak some Filipino sentences and acting short skits according to the roles they randomly picked. The activity was spiced up by adding a punishment to whoever loses between Hiroki and Asuma.

The first skit had Hiroki playing as a cheerful okama and Asuma as an easily surprised dog. It started with the okama (Hiroki) approaching the jumpy dog (Asuma). After getting a hold of the dog, the okama asked for its name and was answered by the dog with ‘Jollibee’. He then asked if it wants to drink the water from his mouth and it answered yes, which surprised him and made him scold the dog to drink the water by itself. The dog looked sad and the okama apologized. Hiroki asked Asuma to stand up then he sipped from his water bottle and leaned his face close to Asuma’s. He faked a kiss by turning his back from the audience. Their fanservice raised a more energetic furor from the audience.

Asuma trying to speak in Filipino | Screen capped from video: Day 1 Highlights of Cosplay Mania 2018!

The second skit had Asuma acting as a drunk man and Hiroki as a dog in a school setting. Asuma immediately said that it is not good for a student or person to be drunk in school. But for the challenge, Asuma began acting drunk and asking for San Miguel – a local beer brand, from Hiroki (dog). Hiroki told Asuma, in English, not to talk to and touch ‘puppy’, to which Asuma replied with “I only speak a little English”. Hiroki then greeted him “annyeong” and “nihao”, making the audience laugh hard. Asuma reiterated that he only speaks Japanese but Hiroki continued greeting him in Korean. Hiroki sipped from his water bottle and offered one to Asuma. Asuma, thinking that the bottle contains beer, drank from Hiroki’s bottle. Hiroki exclaimed that its ‘puppy’s’ and Asuma apologized. To make it up to the puppy, Asuma offered Hiroki to come to his house. Hiroki then asked Asuma if his house is big and he confirmed. The skit ended with Hiroki agreeing to go to his house.

After a tough voting, Hiroki was declared as the winner so Asuma was asked to do the dance craze Boom Boom by the Korean pop girl group, Momoland. Asuma closely watched the video on the screen and followed the steps. He was joined later on by Hiroki. They asked for the audience to dance along with them and the fans willingly complied. Towards the end of the dance, Hiroki did the Gangnam Style move instead that made the audience burst into laughter.

Hyper Projection Engeki “Haikyu!!” actors Hiroki Ino and Asuma Kousuke pose with their Filipino fans in Cosplay Mania 2018 | Source: Asuma Kousuke Twitter

The actors took a group photo with the fans as a memento of their first visit in the country. As a parting message, Hiroki thanked everyone for coming and promised to be a better actor. He ended his message with aishiteruze, translating to the highest degree of ‘I love you’ in Japanese. Asuma also thanked the audience and assured his fans that he will continue doing his best and prepare for the upcoming run of the Hyper Projection Play “Haikyū!!”

  1. Asuma and Hiroki posted on their social media accounts the side activities they did as a tourist in the Philippines. Both rode a kalesa, a horse-drawn carriage used as a mode of transportation during the old times, in a famous tourist spot in Manila. Hiroki also posted some photos of his stroll along Manila bay while Asuma posted a photo of him in a cab. With their short stay in the Philippines, they expressed their desire to come back again to meet their fans.

Otakultura is an official media partner of Cosplay Mania 2018.

Header image source: Hiroki Ino’s Instagram account