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As collectors ourselves, we'd argue that there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with toe-dips into light materialism. Like anything else, it's a question of balance and prioritization, taking care not to over indulge, and fall into the realm of obsession. Gacha Gacha lead Mika Toyama plays a character who does the exact opposite, taking us - the viewer - down a distressing path towards dark inevitability.

The actress discusses what happens when we allow consumerism and materialism to manifest as an engulfing manic obsession, turning a toe-dip into a cannonball, and a hobby into a religion. 

Our interview with "Gacha Girl" Mika Toyama


How did you come across the Gacha Gacha film project? Have you worked on other films before?


Yes in fact, a few independent films in Japan. I've been learning and improving my craft as an actor for over a year now. Many times during my performances I tell myself, “Does this suit what the Director is looking for?" After my first role in a film, I got to thinking, I really want to continue these new experiences. I want to act with new friends, people that don't know me, and hopefully in the process get to know myself better. With this particular film (Gacha Gacha), I came across the audition for the role on the internet.



The director remarked on how impressed he was with your audition.  How'd that go, and how did you prepare for the role?


I wasn't happy with my performance, and rode the train home feeling disappointed. So you can imagine how incredible it felt to hear that I had actually passed the audition! To prepare for the role, I studied and worked on both lead character personalities. The first was “Gacha-Girl”, and the other was “Gacha-Rival”, the latter being much more difficult due to the character's lack of facial expression and cold-hearted nature. I also searched “Gacha” on the internet and imagined the kind of people who would love them so obsessively. This lead me to ponder certain character traits and lifestyle choices. What the living room of such a person would look like, were they always prepared with 100 yen coin purses, maybe they only worked part-time jobs, etc. And because my own personality is the complete opposite, it took a lot of work getting into the mindset of my character. I'd stand in front of a mirror, in full concentration, and attempt to express my feelings as subtly as I could using as little facial expression as possible. Ultimately I was just happy to had been given the chance to act, and thrilled to find out that Ms. Yoshida got the part of the rival.




Tell us a little bit about the experience in working with the Phantasmes production crew.


It was an honor to work with the Phantasmes crew, and share in my passion for this work with everyone involved. The cast and crew were very passionate, which resulted in a great working atmosphere.



Were there any challenges as a result of language barriers? We understand the director Dave Jackson speaks lousy Japanese, ha-ha.


I was a little worried about the language barrier before we started, but it turned out not to be a problem once things got rolling. My English is terrible, but Hoshi - the on set translator - was very helpful. The director and cameraman were also able to communicate through body language, which allowed me to better understand their intentions for each scene. Plus, having had time to rehearse properly and watch Ms. Yoshida perform made things a lot easier. If anything, I think the language barrier put us in a situation where we were forced to better communicate our ideas, though if I have the chance to do something like this again, I'll likely study the foreign language beforehand.





If you were to classify this film as a specific genre, which would it be? Horror, comedy, romance?


I heard beforehand that this was going to be a horror film, but noticed that there were a lot of comedic elements to the story. I'd say it can probably be classified as a horror-comedy then.



Your performance was subtle yet effective, and came across so naturally! Were you given a lot of room to interpret the character your way?


Thank you very much, I'm glad to hear my performance came across that way. There is a large contrast between "Gacha-Rival" and "Gacha-Girl". The former is violent, and extremely lonely, while the latter is content with solitude; she isn't interested in relationships at all. For her there is only gachapon. The whole thing with collecting, it's kind of a religion for her, these gachapon resembling some sort of gods in a way. Her aim is to complete the collection. Really, I think everyone wants to believe in something meaningful - and that's good - but as you can see with this film, it can also be dangerous.






How was it working with your reptilian co-star?


It was my first time acting alongside a reptile, which was interesting. They aren't easy to control and direct precisely because they aren't human. Even so, I think the two of us played off each other well; the turtle understood me as much as any turtle would I suspect. Having it involved definitely made the film a lot better as a result.



Are you yourself a collector of gashapon capsules?


No, I'm not in any way a serious gachapon collector. Every once in a while I'll crank a gacha machine when I see one I think I'd like, but I'm hardly Gacha-Girl if that's what you're asking. I don't think there's a single item I collect as passionately as she does the gachapon.


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Great work, we hope to see you in future films!