In this special interview, Mr. Kunihiro Sawada of Futurecomics Co., Ltd. takes us behind-the-scenes of the live-action movie adaptation of Dangerous Drugs of Sex, which is now available in the futekiya Library!
Thank you very much for your time! Could you please give us a quick self-introduction?
My name is Kunihiro Sawada, and I’m in charge of the media franchising operations at Futurecomics, a digital manga publisher. I acted as the producer for the movie adaptation of Dangerous Drugs of Sex (Sei no Gekiyaku).
We’d like to start with a question regarding your career. What kinds of work did you do before you became a media franchising professional?
Once I graduated from university, I started working as the assistant director for some prime-time TV shows, became a freelance director, and then ended up becoming a porn director after I stumbled upon some opportunities. I enjoyed working in the adult film industry and felt like that job was my calling, but around that time, I met someone that I thought I could spend the rest of my life with. I’m sure everyone has different opinions about this, but I personally felt like I shouldn’t continue working as a porn director after tying the knot, so I decided to change careers and entered the IT industry. I broke up with my partner right after I started my new job, though… (laughs)
Back in those days, feature phones were all the rage in Japan, and I used to develop game apps for services like i-mode and Ezweb. I then became a game app director for platforms like Mobage and GREE, but the section manager of my company’s e-book business suddenly quit, so I moved into that section after being asked to do so by the company’s president. I’ve been working with e-books for around 10 years, although I did change companies along the way.
I initially worked in sales and pitched our company’s content to our business partners, such as e-book stores and Dai Nippon Printing. Now that we’ve developed a relationship with most e-book stores and agencies, someone else has taken over that job. I now work solely in media franchising and am in charge of facilitating multimedia developments for our company’s IPs.
The growth rate of e-book stores has now begun to settle down compared to the dawning stage, but back then, the aim of each store was to get as many sign-ups as possible. It sounds a bit cocky if I describe it as “being there for the e-book stores,” but I used to brainstorm and suggest ways in which publishers like us could work with them to achieve that goal.
Ah, so your job is to turn e-books into transmedia franchises! Boys’ Love is a genre that is difficult to cinematize, so we assumed it would have been even more challenging for someone in the publishing industry. It’s interesting to learn that you had experience with cinematography!
In your opinion, what are some positive characteristics of the Boys’ Love genre?
I didn’t read much Boys’ Love before I started this job and only really learned about it after I started working with it, so I don’t think I’m in a position to say much. That said, I feel like Boys’ Love fans are particularly passionate about the genre and that the artists and fans share a very close emotional connection. I think a positive characteristic of the Boys’ Love genre is that the artists and fans are actively hyping it up together. It’ll only continue to get bigger and bigger, so I hope I can help the genre grow by releasing more Boys’ Love manga and movies.
Do BoysFan’s artists receive letters and comments from overseas fans?
They sure do! The movie trailer for Dangerous Drugs of Sex was really popular with overseas fans, and the official website had more views from overseas than from Japan. We got a particularly high number of hits from Asian countries, such as China, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Could you tell us more about BoysFan (Futurecomics’ Boys’ Love manga label)?
BoysFan’s concept is “you’ll love BL even more.” We’re hoping to show the world that Boys’ Love is a fun and liberating genre and that Boys’ Love is a subculture that should blend naturally into society.
Thank you very much for allowing futekiya to release your company’s titles! What made you decide to release them officially in English?
This doubles up with what I said just then, but I’d love for BL to be accepted by more people, and I want people from every country to enjoy it. Anime titles like NARUTO and Dragon Ball are being watched all over the world, and it’d be nice if the same thing could happen with Japanese BL culture. I’m hoping to deliver the joys of BL across the globe through futekiya.
What kinds of initiatives and/or developments will BoysFan make in the future as a Boys’ Love label?
There are already many BL labels out there, but we’ve still got a long way to go, and there are probably lots of people who don’t know about us. It’d be great if more people could fall in love with our label, so our editorial team will continue to produce more good manga, and I’ll keep doing my best with the media franchising to create more opportunities for people to find out about our titles.
We can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us! What made you think about adapting Dangerous Drugs of Sex into a live-action film?
When you think about Dangerous Drugs of Sex, you’d probably think about its explicit sexual scenes immediately, but its overarching theme is “finding the meaning of life through sex.” Since the theme is so deep, we immediately decided to use this title for our first film adaptation.
Are there any specific points that you focused on when creating the film adaptation?
We focused on many things, but the biggest one was our choice of the film director. Director Hideo Jojo is called “the genius of the blue film world” and is known for his ability to create fantastic movies, even on a low budget. He’s also renowned for his depictions of intense sex scenes between men and women, but this was his first time filming sex scenes between two men. After watching his previous works, such as the boxing movie Thanatos, I knew for sure that Director Jojo is adept at depicting bromance. I scouted him in the hopes of incorporating that element into Dangerous Drugs of Sex.
All of Director Jojo’s works involve a warm, gentle gaze that watches over people going through rough times. This also applies to Dangerous Drugs of Sex. It may appear like a BDSM movie at first glance, but the human drama side is very compelling. I hope you’ll consider watching it if you haven’t done so already.
The film is available on Netflix in Japan. Will it also be streamed overseas?
We have no intentions of limiting screenings or distribution overseas, so we might be able to make that happen if enough overseas fans rally for it. If you’re reading this, please consider giving that a go! (laughs)
Even in this climate, overseas conventions focusing on Boys’ Love are held online. Are there any possibilities for ticketed movie sessions to be held on platforms like Zoom?
We’d love to try that once we’re in the clear regarding copyright and security issues! We already have an English-subbed version on hand, so all we really need to do is make the movie sessions happen.
On an unrelated note, this film was nominated in a number of overseas film festivals. It’s quite easy to visit neighboring countries like South Korea, so if it weren’t for COVID-19, I would have been able to stand on the red carpet… unfortunately, we’re unable to go outside of Japan at the moment, but we’ll keep making more movies, so hopefully, we’ll have more opportunities to walk on the red carpet in the future.
We have plans to take part in a few online Boys’ Love conventions, so hopefully, we can collaborate on something in the future! What are the differences between the manga and film versions of Dangerous Drugs of Sex?
I like to think that the overall message and visuals are consistent between the manga and film versions. However, we had to squeeze a full manga into just 89 minutes of screen time, so we needed to adapt different expression techniques in certain parts. Also, BL fans were our most important target audience since we’re a BL publisher, but this film opened up opportunities for movie fans and Director Jojo’s fans to get familiar with the title. As such, I wanted to make sure the movie would be enjoyable for people who don’t know anything about BL. That’s why the protagonist Ryuuji’s backbone was changed, but I’d be dropping a spoiler if I elaborated any further. Please watch the movie if you want to see what I mean. (laughs)
Speaking of “making the movie enjoyable”: in the manga, Ryuuji disciplines Makoto in his high-rise condo, but that would have been a bit boring to watch on-screen since the background would be all white for extended periods of time. To combat this issue, we tweaked the setting and made it so that Ryuuji had turned one of the empty basement rooms at his hospital into a BDSM dungeon. People have been like, “what’s with that room?!” and “what happened to the condo?!” but we made that decision so that the audience would look at the screen and immediately think, “Makoto is in a sticky situation. I’d also be scared if I were suddenly restrained in a room like this”. That movie set was actually pretty expensive… (laughs)
When we first saw that room, we thought, “where is this?” / “there are so many tools here” / “there’s such a large variety of BDSM toys.” Who would think there’d be a room like that in a hospital basement?
There’s a wide variety of tools there because Ryuuji keeps “borrowing” them from the hospital… (laughs). This backstory was Director Jojo’s idea.
Do you have any other behind-the-scenes stories about the filming process?
In terms of filming, we focused the most on the strategic camera placement during the sexual scenes since we felt like the visuals would look cheap if we just censored the genitalia. We were shooting in positions where everything would be visible if the camera shifted by just 1cm, so there were a fair few instances where we were like, “oh no, your bits showed on camera! Let’s do that again!”… We spent a good while adjusting the actors’ knee placements and such, but thanks to that, we’ve gotten a lot of praise about the camera angles.
Congratulations on your nomination for BL Award 2021 (Video Category)! How did you feel when you saw the announcement?
Chil-Chil is a news website that is very popular among BL fans, so it’s a real honor to be nominated for something like this. While Dangerous Drugs of Sex did become a hot topic, I’m sure there are still many people who are yet to watch it. I’d love for people to check out both the manga and the movie without any preconceptions, so it’d be great if this gives more people the opportunity to mingle with this title.
We heard that the next Futurecomics BL live-action title had been selected. Could you give us any hints as to what you’ll be working on?
I really can’t say anything at this stage, but we’ll probably be able to release more information within the next 6 months or so. Please hold tight…!
We look forward to your future announcements! Thank you so much!
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