“Happa Mutoshi” and “Nagato Isamu” Contrasting two great stars of the early period < The 4th > Asakusa Rokku Geinoden|The Asakusa Monthly


Isamu Nagato, the third leader of the troupe, was born in Okayama Prefecture in 1932. He dropped out of high school, jumped into a traveling company that happened to be in Kurashiki, and went to Tokyo with them. After performing at several small theaters in Asakusa, he became a member of the Rock Theater. In 1954, Kiyoshi Atsumi, who had served as the second president of the theater, suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and had to undergo long-term medical treatment.
Celebrities are generally aggressive and sometimes push people forward. However, Nagato had no such characteristic, and he was a very gentle and kind person. In this world, its reserved personality was somewhat unusual and, conversely, outstanding (laughs). He was different from the type who overwhelms others like Yatsunami and Atsumi, and he was a comedian with a charm that attracted viewers before they knew it.
The year before Nagato joined the Franco-za, 1953 was the year when the TV broadcast started, and the influence of the broadcast spread quickly among Asakusa comedians. Nagato also received a lot of TV work, but despite his talent, it was hard to sell. As mentioned above, Yaba was on the way to becoming a star, and Atsumi, who had returned from illness, began to see signs of selling well, and some of his juniors began to appear who were active … Of course he must have been impatient, but he never showed such a pretense and was always calm. I loved that kind of thing, but to be honest, I was worried that his character, which was rather too kind for a comedian, would be a disaster and that he would not see the light of day ….
But people who are watching are supposed to be watching. A director who appreciates his characteristic character, which is full of humanity, appeared and he flourished as an actor several years after graduating from the French Theater.
The warm-hearted Okayama dialect Nagato speaks in the TV period drama “Three Samurai,” which rose to prominence, reflects his character as it is and adds even more depth to the character. Every time I hear that, I remember nostalgically his smiling face, which he kept smiling all the time even though his friends made fun of his Okayama dialect which suddenly appeared on the stage of the French Theater.
Nagato never forgot his kindness to the town where he grew up, and he frequently visited Asakusa even after he became a popular person. His attitude did not change throughout his life, and when he heard that Nagato was coming back, many of his old friends and juniors who admired him always gathered around him. Nagato Isamu achieved great success as a star while valuing consideration for those around him without pushing others away. He was an impressionable Asakusa Geinin who was also a super first-class person.

In this way, great predecessors such as Hachi Ha and Nagato opened up the path to the world of film while groping in the dark. But of course, no matter how talented you are, you can’t just jump the gun and become a star. Through repeated experience in the demonstration stage, they learn a lot from their seniors, get trained in the relationship with the audience (laughs), and develop their ability not to be discouraged by trivial things. That is the power of Asakusa Geinin and our pride.

Now, the times have moved on, and in 1959, there was a state of affairs between His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince (present Emperor) and Her Imperial Highness Princess Michiko.
With the wedding parade and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, television has rapidly spread to ordinary households. In inverse proportion, Asakusa Rokku Kogyogai will gradually be in trouble, but the brawny Frenchmen’s struggles still have a long way to go …!

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