The Oshi Interviews

The Oshi Interviews: Nakao Kenya

Welcome to my regular blog segment, The Oshi Interviews. Here I will be finding out more about different actors by asking those who know them best, their fans!

Today’s interview is with Fox who I interviewed about her oshi Nakao Kenya (中尾健也) you can find Fox on Twitter @tokyolovejunkle.

Kenya headshot

Kenya Nakao is a stage actor best known for his portrayal of Eichi Horimiya in the SolidS & QUELL on STAGE, S.Q.S for short, series. Despite still being a relatively new actor he’s already appeared in stage adaptations for several high profile series like K Project & Sengoku BASARA, including his debut role as Yoshiro Akazawa in The Prince of Tennis Musical’s 3rd season. Outside of his work in stage plays Kenya also recently appeared in a movie, Engawa Lovers 2, which also featured several of his co-workers from S.Q.S, & has recently shown his ability for singing, featuring on 2 theme songs for the most recent S.Q.S plays.”

Personally, I knew of Kenya since his time in Tenimyu, but when did you become his fan? And why did he stand out to you?

To be perfectly honest I’m only a fairly new fan to stage plays, but as a fan of K Project I probably would’ve first encountered Kenya when he was cast as Kamamoto in the Missing Kings play back in 2017, though I haven’t actually had a chance to watch it yet. As such, I didn’t really take full notice of him until the first episode of S.Q.S came out in early 2018; I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Eichi so I was already curious to see what kind of actor they’d have portray him and Kenya completely blew away all my expectations.

I didn’t get the opportunity to watch any of the S.Q.S plays in full until quite recently despite following the stages since they first started, but when I did get a hold of them I ended up enjoying them so much I wound up marathoning the first 2 episodes, the 2 lives and the TSUKISTA empire episode all in the span of about a week. Kenya was easily one of the stand out performers to me, despite how large the cast was for some of the episodes, and one of the reasons I ended up enjoying the plays so much.

Despite Ichiru being my favorite member of QUELL normally, I constantly found myself watching Eichi most often whenever QUELL were on stage, especially in the dance segments. I think for me it’s how expressive he is when playing Eichi that really drew me to him, along with his chemistry with the other cast members, especially Tanaka’s Shu and Keita’s Tsubasa imo (though his interactions with the twins are always enjoyable as well). The fact he also gets to play not only Eichi but also a fan favorite side-character in some of the skit segments also makes him stand out quite a bit, especially when considering the contrast between how funny he is as “Daichi” versus how serious and emotional some of the storylines he’s played as Eichi have been.

Overall, I’m still a relatively new fan of Kenya but his lovable and skilled portrayal of Eichi made me not only appreciate the character more but also made me fall hard and fast for him as an actor!

I’m glad that S.Q.S. helped you to find him and that you liked his performance there.

You said that you like the difference between Kenya‘s “Eichi” and “Daichi”, but what about the differences and similarities between Eichi and Kenya? What do you think is different and similar about them?

For similarities, I’d definitely have to say both Kenya and Eichi seem to be very sociable and outgoing. Eichi is pretty renowned for being the “mum” of QUELL and being friendly with members from all the different units, similarly, Kenya seems to get on really well with all his coworkers and spends a lot of time with them outside of work settings, which I always find really endearing because it shows how close everyone becomes while working on the plays. He seems to spend a lot of time with Ryo (Dai’s actor) in particular and has even gone out to birthday celebrations and on snowboarding trips with his fellow TSUKIPRO actors.

They’re also both very passionate about their work and always put their best into their current job/project, no matter how big or small it is. It’s also pretty rare to see Eichi without a big smile on his face and the same can be said of Kenya for a lot of his behind the scenes photos/videos, and there are fairly obvious similarities in their looks & physique which is why Kenya is able to play such a good Eichi. Lastly, they both share a love of singing, with Eichi being an idol and Kenya having karaoke listed as one of his top hobbies along with singing being one of his “special skills” on his official profile.

As for differences… hmm that’s a hard one but I guess for me I’d probably have to go with the fact that Eichi can sometimes be a very anxious individual, always worrying about others especially the twins & Shu, whereas Kenya always comes across as very confident and sure of himself, which is understandable since I guess it’d be pretty hard to stand up and act in front of hundreds of people if you had no confidence.

Another difference probably comes back to something I talked about in the last question, humor: Eichi is often unintentionally funny or just put in humorous situations by the story, whereas Kenya is purposefully a very funny person from what I’ve seen, which is why he stands out so much in the comedy/skit sections to me. One other minor difference is Kenya seems to be a bit of a gamer (specifically, a fan of Pokemon), whereas Ichiru is the game enthusiast of the QUELL family; finding out Kenya was into games actually made me more fond of him because it just shows that actors can be just as nerdy as some of their fans.

It’s nice to see that Kenya can put some of his own personality into his performance!

For my next question, I want you to help people to learn to love Kenya. Please give us 5 reasons why you think he is amazing.

His voice. Possibly an unusual choice considering he’s a stage actor and not a seiyuu, but he truly does have a beautiful voice, not only when singing but when speaking normally too. He was actually the first person I could confidently recognize singing in the theme for SQS episode 4 since it has such a unique sound to it, please give it a listen if you can his short solo section was particularly beautiful!

His social media presence. Kenya posts quite a lot, especially on Twitter, and is always sharing behind the scenes photos from whatever his current stage project is & interacting with his co-workers and friends he’s made over his career. Not all actors are particularly active on SNS, which is understandable as they can be quite busy, so it’s really nice when actors do have the chance to share more of their day to day stuff with fans, and even occasionally take the time to interact directly with the fans. One of my favorite parts of this, in particular, is that he (or his family) owns an adorable little pug and he can’t help sharing photos of it, it’s so cute ^^

His expressiveness & acting range. I’ve already talked a bit about this in some of my other responses but it truly is one of my favorite aspects of him. I’m still overall pretty new to stage plays so I’m no expert, but I’ve definitely noticed that some actors can be a bit stiff and not show many expressions (sometimes that’s down to the character they’re playing, admittedly), and at the other end of the spectrum some people over-act which can come off a bit cringey for the audience watching. From what I’ve been able to see Kenya is neither unemotional nor too dramatic with his performances, except for when he’s being over-the-top for comedy purposes of course. He’s been able to make me laugh hard during the skits, completely entranced me during the dance segments, and nearly made me cry during dramatic scenes; I’ve never been able to see any noticeable flaws with his performances so far, which is pretty impressive considering how relatively new he still is to such big plays.

His personality. A fairly standard answer to this kind of question, but for a good reason; good looks can only endear you to someone for so long if their personality isn’t interesting too. I’ll admit I was initially drawn to Kenya for his looks but he became a favorite for me for his cute personality. I’ve already talked about his personality a bit previously so I won’t ramble on too much but he definitely strikes me as quite a funny and sociable guy, but he’s also a very hard worker and always takes the time to thank his fans and co-workers at the end of each plays run.

His enthusiasm & passion. Kind of connected to the last point but it felt important enough to me to warrant it’s own section; no matter what Kenya‘s up to, whether he’s on stage & working or if he’s goofing off with his friends and partaking in some of his hobbies you can really tell how much fun he’s having and that he loves what he does! I think that having enthusiasm for your job can make a big difference in the end result of what you’re doing, especially in creative fields like stage acting. So having someone be really passionate about their work and put their all into the character their playing can really change a performance from being just “ok” to being absolutely amazing & is definitely a big part of what draws people to a specific character or actor over another. I can only speak for my own experiences watching Kenya in his various plays but for me, even though I loved several of the other actors on stage I just couldn’t help but end up watching his character/s because of how earnest and engaging his performances were.

These are all great points! They all show how much you seem to like him as a person too, which is nice. I have also seen pictures of his pug on Twitter and it is indeed super cute, so I’d like to see it again! Can you find the cutest picture you have of it (bonus if Kenya is also in the picture!) and show me?

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He posted one of him and the pug on Twitter recently (he even made it his icon), but I think these two he posted last year are cuter ^^

So cute! I want to steal him and take him home for myself.

You’ve already told me a lot about Kenya, but I’d really like to know, what is the most interesting thing you know about him?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of proof so to speak for either of these facts so I may be completely wrong but I recently heard two potentially interesting things about him ^^

Despite how coordinated he is when dancing on stage and how sporty he is in his spare time Kenya might actually be quite clumsy! Some fans have noticed that whenever he has to come off the stage and walk through the crowd during a play he pretty much always ends up tripping up the stairs when returning to the stage.

He also might be a bit of a scaredy-cat! Apparently in a segment of SQS tv when trying to decide what they should do for fun Kenya mentioned going to a haunted house as a bit of a joke, but Tanaka thought it sounded fun; Kenya quickly changed his mind, sounding quite worried (lol)

I can personally confirm the first fact. I have also seen him fall off a stage pretty much every time I’ve seen him, so it’s definitely true.

My next question is to hopefully get other people to experience him too. If you could recommend just one thing we should watch Kenya in, what would you recommend and why?

Oh dear…… He looks so cool and composed most of the time I never would’ve guessed he’s clumsier than me lol!!

If you could only watch one of his performances then I’d definitely have to go with S.Q.S Episode 2 Seibou no Kanata -Tsukino Hyakkiyakou Kitan- (星芒の彼方-月野百鬼夜行奇譚-), specifically ver.Blue! For me this was easily the most moving of his performances so far due to the dramatic and emotional nature of parts of the story, but still with enough funny scenes to balance the drama out nicely. With Eichi being one of the two focus characters for this play, especially in ver.Blue due to its QUELL focus, Kenya was given significantly more stage time and lines compared to episode 1, giving the audience more of a chance to fall in love with him and his portrayal of Eichi! Plus, the costumes Kenya got to wear for this stage, in particular, were gorgeous: his kachofugetsu outfit during the dance section is one of the prettiest he’s worn in my opinion, but you also can’t deny how cute he looks with the kitsune ears and tail ^^

Overall, I would recommend this play not only for its excellent story just as is, but also because out of all his performances so far this stage probably best shows the range of Kenya‘s acting and gives him a large amount of time on the stage as one of the main focuses of the story; definitely a must-see for anyone who is interested in Kenya as an actor!

I hope that everyone can check it out! We are almost at the end of the interview now, but before we finish, if there’s anything else you’d like to tell us about Kenya that we haven’t already mentioned, please let me know now!

My only other comment I guess for the moment would be for everyone to follow Kenya’s adventures as a corona NEET (coroneet in his words) on social media while stage actors are in quarantine for the time being ^^

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about Kenya, it was fun and made me really think about what I find so endearing about him. Hopefully he’ll catch the attention of even more people from now on!


If you guys want to join in the fun by allowing me to interview you about your oshi, then please feel free to contact me on Twitter @riceandcomet or by email at riceandcomet@gmail.com. 

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