June 10, 2009
Rome Kanda is best known to us as the dynamic and energetic host of Majide, the fictional game show within a game show on I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Kanda is also an award-winning comedian, accomplished actor (yes, he was Kei Kato on The Unbeatable Banzuke), and teacher of traditional samurai sword fighting. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us via e-mail, so we could learn more about the man behind Majide. Here's what he had to say.
Question: Hi Rome! Thank you for taking some time to do this! What have you been doing in the year between the first season and this upcoming season of I Survived a Japanese Game Show? I've read that you've been very busy!
Rome Kanda: I have done a Norway version of the show and a movie, The Informant, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon. I am also in the middle of writing my own book which will be published in Japan.
Q: You seem to have unlimited amounts of energy on the show. How do you prepare yourself for such a role, and are you always so upbeat and energetic?
Kanda: I don't do anything special to prepare. I just drink sake!
Q: What can you tell us about the upcoming season? We've heard that there are even more games this time, which is great!
Kanda: Yes, there are many new games for season 2. I also did many skits and improv so that should be fun to watch. There is a lot more Rome Kanda this season to watch. More Rome = More fun!
Q: Last year's winner, Justin Wood, told us that the language barrier was a bit tricky for him, but that everyone was very friendly and helpful. You speak English very well, but did you notice any problems in communicating with contestants?
Kanda: Not really, but the contestants really, really talk a lot and it was hard to get them to focus.
Q: I read on your official web site that you teach Samurai sword fighting. How long have you studied this art? Can you describe the techniques involved?
Kanda: I have been studying it for about 20 years. I also teach a class in Los Angeles. It is not really just about technique, but also a teaching of the way of the samurai and its beliefs and ideas.
Q: Have you tried any of the games yourself, on Banzuke or I Survived a Japanese Game Show? Are they as difficult as they appear to be?
Kanda: No. I don't want to put on a bib. I leave the fun up to the contestants.
Q: At the end of 2008, we conducted a poll that was answered by readers, asking them who their favorite new game show host of the year was. You won that poll by a handy margin. Are you at all surprised by the reception you've had as the host of Majide? Do strangers approach you and shout "Majide!"?
Kanda: I'm very honored by the result and love from the viewers. I think a lot had to do with how well the show was created. Yes, I had many people approach me as well as shout from far away. My mailman, my neighbors, children, drunk people, cats, groundhogs...
Q: You've won awards and recognition for your stand-up comedy. How did you get involved in this business, and do you prefer live comedy to acting?
Kanda: I was born in Osaka, Japan, which is the center of Japanese comedy. I was born into a world where people have to be funny.
I love both live comedy and acting. I would like to be known as a comedian that can act as well as an actor that can do comedy.
Q: What other projects are you working on now? What can you tell us about the upcoming book?
Kanda: I just produced a short comedy film about a yakuza boss coming to Los Angeles. I am also starring in this. The book is a biography focusing on how a Japanese foreigner as myself, struggles to find jobs and work towards success.
Q: One of the things about I Survived a Japanese Game Show that is so interesting for North American audiences is the reaction of the fans who are in the studio. Why do you think Japanese game show fans are so enthusiastic?
Kanda: Japanese people love these types of games. It has been around for a very long time. I think this is one of the ways they relieve their daily stress. They work hard from 9 to 5; afterwards they become crazy.
Q: It seems that you have a very hectic schedule - what do you do to relax?
Kanda: Everywhere I move, I have noisy neighbors, so I am usually looking for my next place to live. Otherwise, I go to the beach to relax.
Q: What does the future hold for you? Are there other projects or directions you'd like to see your career take?
Kanda: There are many projects that I would like to produce. If I can also be in these, that would be ideal.
Q: What would be your dream film or television role?
Kanda: My dream film role would be to become the next James Bond.
We want to send out our sincere thanks to Rome Kanda for speaking with us! You can visit him online at RomeKanda.com, and catch him on I Survived a Japanese Game Show, season 2, starting June 17th on ABC.