Satoshi Tsumabuki won the best supporting actor award at the Japan Academy Awards for playing a gay man in the film “RAGE.”

A scene from the film “RAGE”
right: Satoshi Tsumabuki as Yuma
left: Go Ayano as Naoto

On March 3rd, the 40th Japan Academy Awards was held in Tokyo. Satoshi Tsumabuki and Go Ayano received the best supporting actor awards for playing a gay couple in the film “RAGE.” The film became a topic of conversation for depicting real lives of gay people in Japan. They are probably the first actors who received the Japan Academy Awards for playing gay men in Japan.

“Thank you, thank you. I never thought this could happen tonight and I wouldn’t have received this award without support from Mr. Ayano. I feel like I’m dreaming now.” Mr. Tsumabuki looked overcome with emotion and expressed his joy in receiving the award.

“I’m happy for you, too!” Mr. Ayano passionately hugged Mr. Tsumabuki with tears in his eyes.

” I’ve wanted to depict true love through my acting in Japan.”

Mr. Tsumabuki played a role in the different film “Villain” before he was offered the role as a gay man in “RAGE”. The director showed Mr. Tsumabuki “Brokeback Mountain” when he was absorbed in creating the role in “Villain.” Mr. Tsumabuki has wanted to play a role that can show love like a character in “Brokeback Mountain” since then. After reading the original novel of “RAGE,” he convinced the director that he was the only actor that could play “Yuma.”

“I thought no one could play Yuma like me. This is how much I wanted to play Yuma.” Mr. Tsumabuki said.

“I always wanted to play a role in a gay film in Japan.”

Before the announcement of the winners, Mr. Tsumabuki talked about behind-the-scenes stories of the film. “Mr. Ayano and I actually lived together for two weeks. We took a shower and went to a gay town together. We had separate bedrooms, but I woke him up in the morning so that he wouldn’t be late for work. We were like a lovely couple.” Mr. Tsumabuki said with a smile.

“We shared a wonderful time together. I couldn’t have played that role without support and help from such a great actor like Mr. Tsumabuki.” Mr. Ayano said.

If homophobic actors had been selected for the film, they would have mocked gay relationships intentionally and expression of love like hugging would have looked insulting. So, it was amazing to see the two talented actors sincerely and naturally embracing their roles and depicting true love in the film. I would never think it weird if they kissed each other after the hug.

For your information, Mr. Tsumabuki has always caught so much attention and ranked as one of the sexiest actors in the gay magazine,”Badi.” He became very popular among gays when he played a high school student who fought to learn synchronized swimming in the TV drama series, “Water Boys” in 2001. The secret of his popularity is not only how he looks, but also his kind personality. “Bukky (Mr. Tsumabuki’s nickname) is gonna play a gay guy!” The news spread through Japanese gay community very quickly last year. Many gays went to movie theaters to see the film. There were a lot of voices celebrating Mr. Tsumabuki’s success when the news came out. I am happy for you, too Mr. Tsumabuki. Congratulations!

Here is the summary of “RAGE.”

The film “RAGE” is based on its original novel written by Shuichi Yoshida. (Shuichi Yoshida is known as a novelist who writes the most gay novels in Japan. His first novel, “The Last Son” was also about a life of a gay guy. )

The film was directed by Lee Sang-il and featured Japanese movie stars such as Ken Watanabe. “RAGE” depicts lives of gay people living in three prefectures, Chiba, Tokyo, and Okinawa. Mr. Tsumabuki plays a gay guy named “Yuma,”who dates a guy named “Naoto” played by Mr. Ayano. The film starts with a scene where Yuma is hanging out with his friends in a gay pool party. When his friends ask Yuma to go to 2chome together (the biggest gay street in Japan), he tells them he has to visit her mother in the hospital. But in the next scene, Yuma is in a bath-house and finds Naoto sitting on the floor holding his

knees. Naoto is not Yuma’s type, but he feels he has to do something for him. He forcefully takes him to the bed and has sex with him. After leaving the bath-house, Yuma and Naoto go to a ramen restaurant. Yuma finds out Naoto has nowhere to go, so he invites Naoto to his apartment and the two start living together. Although Yuma and Naoto have opposite personalities (Yuma is an outgoing person, but Naoto is a quiet and anxious person), they start to understand each other better. One day, they start to wonder if they can be buried together….

Both Yuto and Naoto are not ashamed of being gay (have already accepted their sexuality) and want to live together as a couple. It is very rare in Japan that a movie director makes a film that depicts, without excluding sex and partnerships, real lives of gay people who openly enjoy their life. No wonder the story of Yuma and Naoto caught a lot of gay’s hearts in Japan.