In a season where there has been precious few dramas that have sustained my attention, I’d devour Daikuukou 2013, director Mitani Koki’s latest effort with WOWOW right away. What makes Daikuukou 2013 distinctly different from regular dramas is that NGs are not permitted by both the cast and staff. It is a one scene 100-minute drama without any cuts or stops, much like watching a theatrical production on TV, but on a much grander scale than Mitani’s first attempt two years ago with Short Cut.
This time the setting is indoors at Matsumoto Airport with an ensemble performance by a principal cast of 12 headed by actress Takeuchi Yuko as well as a large number of extras. Hopefully, this means that there is also something resembling a decent plot too. That was what did Short Cut in despite its interesting premise. Takeuchi let on that she only received the second half of the script the day before rehersals started on the set in Matsumoto so Daikuukou 2013 could really go either way.
After four days of rehersals, the cast and production crew pressed ahead with the actual performance with five takes in five days. I can only imagine how challenging it must have been for all of them. The actors and actresses could move around freely within the airport while being partly in the camera frame, but they had to determine the exact places where they would stand, memorise and review it so that they would not block someone else’s face while acting.
Cinematographer Yamamoto Hideo disclosed in an interview that he had to carry a camera weighing 20 kg and keep filming the web of movement of the large cast in an actual confined environment for more than 100 minutes without a single cut. In addition, he needed to remember all the lines and actions of the actors and actresses as well as to respond instantly to sudden ad-libs. Because they hired the airport venue for only several hours in the morning outside operating hours, they had a window of 10 days including rehersals. The slightest blunder would have caused a day of filming to come to naught.
Then there was Mitani himself who surprised the cast by behaving unexpectedly each time they did the shoot. Noting that his actors and actresses would get accustomed after acting twice or thrice, he plotted all sorts of things in secret in order to stimulate their acting and to amuse himself with their reactions. Takeuchi referred to this as “dropping ad-lib bombs”. Mitani himself said he did not have to be in the actual performance if not for that.
From the master of comedy comes a study of human nature when a family forced to set foot at an airport due to inclement weather stirs up trouble that soon causes all hell to break loose. Come watch if not for the funny, then for the spontaneity of the rather impressive cast he has lined up.