• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

At 25:00 in Akasaka BL Drama Cast Discuss Kiss Scene, Personal Hobbies at Live Event

by Ken Iikura-Gross,

The cast members of the new BL drama At 25:00 in Akasaka showed off what they do at 25 o'clock (1:00 am) at night. And it's nothing like what happens in the drama.

While somewhat underrepresented in the anime industry, boys' love (BL) has a strong presence in the manga and TV drama world. With at least one BL TV drama produced yearly in Japan since the 2000s, the genre's popularity has risen rapidly since the mid-2010s. But, now in an industry first, the Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo has partnered with LGBTQ+ streaming service GagaOOLala to bring a TV adaptation of the manga series At 25:00 in Akasaka by Hiroko Natsuno to fans around the world. On April 15, four cast members, TV Tokyo's head of international distribution, Hiroaki Saeki, and GagaOOLala's CEO Jay Lin, appeared at TV Tokyo headquarters for a special event to discuss the new series.

Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

According to English-language manga publisher Seven Seas Entertainment, the story follows Yuki Shirasaki and Asami Hayama. Shirasaki lands his first big break as an actor when he's cast alongside his former classmate and current in-demand actor Hayama. Shirasaki is cast as a gay man and decides to throw himself into the role by visiting a gay bar and participating in a one-night stand. However, he's surprised when he runs into his costar at the bar. The relationship escalates when Hayami suggests they begin a friends-with-benefits relationship.

As the show opened, event host and BL super-fan Haruka Mori greeted fans. After introducing the story of At 25:00 in Akasaka, Mori revealed TV Tokyo had partnered with the LGBTQ+ streaming service GagaOOLala to co-produce and simulcast the series worldwide. And to give us a little look behind the scenes, Mori welcomed Saeki and Lin to the stage.

Saeki spoke first and noted during the early development of At 25:00 in Akasaka, TV Tokyo incorporated GagaOOLala's opinions to make the show more accessible to international viewers. Saeki then spoke on the significance of partnering with overseas companies. It was pretty enlightening as he noted the ease viewers have in obtaining content. Saeki continued, saying, "To get out of the shell of Japan, it's important to create expressions that are not based on our own self-serving assumptions, but rather are as close to the end customer." These remarks show he is keenly aware that not all Japanese storytelling conventions work internationally; thus, by partnering with GagaOOLala, TV Tokyo hopes to better tailor their TV dramas to a global audience.

Lin said he was glad to be working with TV Tokyo to produce At 25:00 in Akasaka and poetically added that he hoped the series would inspire and be remembered by viewers, like the season's sakura blossoms. Lin said they are focused on the popularity and appeal of Japanese BL stories on GagaOOLala and internationally. While Japanese audiences commonly perceive BL as a minor genre, Lin noted how GagaOOLala greatly increased its acquisition of Japanese BL series. According to Lin, the top six countries consuming BL content on the service are the United States, Thailand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia. He added, "We can see the interest is quite global."

As for the popularity of the genre, Lin cited three factors. First, Japan is the home of BL due to the robust ecosystem created by publishers and TV production companies. Second, since there is a strong BL ecosystem, the quality of the content is high. Finally, he noted the diversification of stories within the genre. BL incorporates many other sub-genres, such as fantasy to slice-of-life. Lin told ANN after the event that romantic expressions in BL are also far more diverse than what we might see in other romance series.

Left: TV Tokyo head of international distribution, Hiroaki Saeki. Right: GagaOOLala's CEO Jay Lin.
Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

After Saeki and Lin's discussion, Mori introduced At 25:00 in Akasaka cast members Kiita Komagine (Asami Hayama), Taisuke Niihara (Yuki Shirasaki), Takuma Usa (Hajime Sakuma), and Shōma Nagumo (Kazuma Yamase). The cast first spoke about their feelings when they were cast and their current thoughts about the series. Niihara noted how he felt some pressure and pride when he received the role of Shirasaki and how he was happy some of the lines from the original manga were retained for the TV show.

However, Mori seemed keenly interested in a kiss scene in the promotional video. Komagine spoke on the subject and said the first kiss scene is important. Because of this, he and Niihara asked for advice beforehand about the proper angle, especially for the chin, from people on set. Komagine then demonstrated the chin angle by placing his index finger under Niihara's chin. Seeing this, Mori, holding back her elation, thanked both men for the demonstration.

Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

The two men continued discussing how they worked with the show's intimacy coordinator to create the best possible shots. After listening to Komagine and Niihara speak, Mori asked the latter about Komagine's ability to take charge. A curious Komagine also prodded Niihara. With a little embarrassment in his voice, Niihara mentioned how each kiss has a different level of passion. As a performer, he's having fun portraying his character, Shirasaki.

Left to right: Usa, Komagine, Niihara, Nagumo
Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

After a fun little back and forth between Komagine, Niihara, and Mori, staff handed the four cast members photographs, and Mori inquired what the four cast members do at 25 o'clock at night. For those living outside of Japan, it's odd to hear the time 25 o'clock as there are only 24 hours a day. Simply put, it's to help denote one continuous business day. So, Mori asked, "What are you doing at 1 AM?" Komagine revealed he hosts a radio program.

Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

Niihara and Usa revealed they enjoy gaming. For Niihara, he plays mobile games more so than console games. Usa, on the other hand, showed off his two-monitor gaming rig. He noted he also engages in some of his other hobbies, such as music production, so it's not all gaming for Usa. Seeing Usa's setup, Niihara joked how nice gaming on a rig like Usa's would be, but he feared he'd only leave his house for filming days.

Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

What shocked the cast and Mori, though, was Nagumo's answer. Nagumo prefaced his response by saying he also enjoys partaking in his hobby. But upon revealing his photo, the other cast members interjected with laughter, with Komagine saying, "No one poses like that at the gym." In other words, Nagumo enjoys, as he said, "Pumping up his chest at the gym" at 25 o'clock. Nagumo added he enjoys physical activities and generally only goes home to sleep.

Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

Similarly to the cast's activities at 25 o'clock, Mori inquired what the four men eat or drink at that hour. They each had unique answers, such as kebobs for Komagine, custard or pudding for Niihara, and coffee for Usa. However, Nagumo confidently said that since he trains at that hour, he doesn't eat. Hearing this, the other three men let out a hearty laugh. But Nagumo noted that if he were to eat anything, it would be chicken breast.

Mori asked the four men for memorable moments on set as the event wound down. As if summoning his inner trainer, Nagumo spoke about an incident while filming at a Japanese inn. Since Nagumo was filming a shirtless scene, he decided to pump up by doing pushups in the green room. While doing the pushups, Nagumo said he heard some giggling, and when he looked, he saw Niihara. Not missing a beat, Nagumo asked if Niihara would like to join.

After hearing Nagumo's side, Niihara explained the incident from his perspective. He pointed out that Nagumo was resting in the green room between takes just as he entered for a costume change. When he came back from changing, Niihara saw Nagumo pumping up and thought, "What happened in the minute I was gone?" Niihara then praised Nagumo's musculature, which Nagumo was thrilled to hear.

Image courtesy of TV Tokyo

Usa then joined in on the fun and spoke about a moment Nagumo tripped in front of an elevator. Usa explained how Nagumo is generally a mature and extraordinary person, so seeing him trip made him look cute in Usa's eyes. While Usa was explaining this, Nagumo was smiling all the while and interjected, saying it was a bit embarrassing. Mori asked how Nagumo tripped, and Niihara performed an excellent performance, if not a bit exaggerated. To this, Nagumo couldn't help but break out a smile.

At this point, the question shifted from memorable moments on set to memorable moments with Nagumo. Komagine spoke about Nagumo filming a promo for At 25:00 in Akasaka's social media. Komagine prefaced the story, saying he and the other cast members shoot videos for the show's Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) in character. However, there was an instance when Komagine saw Nagumo filming, and he seemed confused about whether he was in character or not. Komagine then asked Nagumo how many shots he took. To everyone's surprise, Nagumo explained that it was ultimately seven. Komagine then added seeing Nagumo like this showed his cute side.

Finally, it was Niihara's turn for a Nagumo story. But rather than focusing on just Nagumo, Niihara spoke about how it's rare for the four men to get together, especially on set, and have a little fun. However, the four recently had a scene together, and it was Usa's birthday. So, they all celebrated on set and took photos with Niihara, Komagine, and Nagumo holding balloons shaped like "U," "S," and "A."

With all the joking and bantering, the four men lost track of time. While Mori was having fun listening, she noted their time was ending. The cast, saddened, said their final words and hoped fans would tune in to At 25:00 in Akasaka every week.

The At 25:00 in Akasaka event at TV Tokyo was entertaining and insightful. While BL dramas aren't as well-known as other genres, GagaOOLala CEO Jay Lin's comments on the genre's growth in popularity over the past three years put into perspective the potentially untapped narrative space the genre exists in. TV Tokyo is actively partnering with global streaming services, showing its willingness, or perhaps eagerness, to expand globally. On the cast side, getting a window into their private lives and the fun they have on set was entertaining.

Thankfully, TV Tokyo has posted the entire event on their TV Tokyo Drama YouTube channel. However, the whole event is split into two videos. The first, featuring Hiroaki Saeki and Jay Lin, can be found here, and the second, featuring Komagine, Niihara, Usa, and Nagumo, can be found here. At 25:00 in Akasaka will air every Thursday at 12:30 AM starting on April 18. The show will be simulcast on GagaOOLala worldwide. So, if you want to see some behind-the-scenes discussion before watching At 25:00 in Akasaka, check out the event on YouTube.

discuss this in the forum |
bookmark/share with: short url

Feature homepage / archives