|BIG IN JAPAN
According to the Chinese
astrology, a horse is ambitious, hardworking and happy to be in the spotlight. So it comes
as little surprise that Tomoya Nagase, lead singer with Tokio, Japan' most successful
pop-idol band next to SMAP, is a horse. Tokio was formed in 1991 but leapt to prominence
in September 1994 when Nagase joined the band and the hit single "Love you only"
Since then, they have gone on to have numerous hits, including (dubious) titles like
"Boku no ojisan," "Ai wa nude," and "Spicy Girl"-
occasionally assisted by such music moguls as Michael Jackson, who produced their
The horse's courage proved useful when Nagase was stung by a bee during a live concert. As
if this wasn't enough to contend with, the guitar amp failed during his solo performance,
but he continued in true Freddie Mercury-the-show-must-go-on style, assisted by fellow
band member Taiichi improvising on the piano.
One of the reputed reasons for Tokio's success is that not only can all the members
actually sing and play their instruments - a shocking revelation in the world of
J-pop-but they also write their own songs as well as act. Nagase pursues his cosmic love
of challenges through various dramatic roles, most recently playing a husband joining his
wife's family and taking her name in the TV drama "Muko Yoshi."
Until recently Nagase was always the youngest person on the set. Now, at 22, he finds
himself taking more senior roles, but he resists growing up. "I am worried that
adults have nothing to really enjoy with all their heart... that if their work is taken
away there'll be nothing left."
Even though filming on location takes a lot more time, he prefers it to the studio. One of
the roles that had the greatest influence on his life was the TV drama "Hakusen
Nagashi: Ring - the last chapter" that involved fishing on Lake Kizaki. Since then,
he's become a fishing fanatic and heads to the water at every opportunity. "I'm hot
tempered, so I think it may be suitable for me," he says. "I went berserk the
first time I actually caught a fish!" When he isn't fishing, acting or singing, he's
playing billiards: "Be careful! I'm very good!" is the modest quote straight
from the horse's mouth.
In love, a steed enjoys the chase more than the conquest. And with his sultry good looks,
long hair and "dirty-smart" fashion sense, there's no shortage of admirers. At
19 he thought 20 would be a good age to marry. Now he thinks 23 or 24 would be better,
although "30 may be more appropriate." His ideal girl should be "cheerful,
considerate and pleasant." Nothing very remarkable in that, but she should also like
Guns N' Roses, be able to cook (especially sushi), like pets, be a good listener and
punctual. Don't be late for a date: "I won't wait more than three minutes," says
the talkative talent.