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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2015)

Front Runner
- Young People Making a Difference

This feature provides in-depth introductions of current students and young graduates who perform in their field by utilizing the perspectives and abilities which they obtained while studying at Waseda University.
In the fourth installment, we spoke with Maria Okada, a first-year student at the Graduate School of Human Sciences, as well as with Hirotaka Aragaki, an employee at Shochiku Co., Ltd.

Never hesitate to follow your heart

Click here for profile

Hirotaka Aragaki
Film Planning Office, Video Production Department, Image Headquarters

Upon visiting the Waseda Campus for entrance examinations,. Aragaki was overwhelmed by the power and passion which he encountered. It was then that he realized how much he wanted to attend Waseda. During his time at university, he focused on refining his sensitivity. During his first year, he watched five or six movies every night and was only able to wake up for classes starting from third class. He was also a member of the soccer club. In all, he truly enjoyed his youth. Then, his lifestyle suddenly changed by being impressed by a certain minor Western film.

“Due to my father’s influence, I had enjoyed watching movies ever since I was a young child,” said Aragaki. “However, I never thought of making films myself. One day, I noticed the name of a film-distributing agency listed in the credits at the end of a movie. It was then that I learned about the work of movie buyers who use their own judgment to bring outstanding foreign films to many people. This became my dream job.”

Mr. Aragaki realized that English-language ability would be necessary to work as a buyer. He used his personal savings to study English in Ireland during the long-term summer and winter vacations from university. During his fourth year, he spent one year as an exchange student at Beloit College in Wisconsin, USA. While studying abroad, he took courses such as Stage Art, Film Music, and other courses which weren’t available in Japan. His “studies” consisted of spending his days immersed in opera, dance, live performance, and other art forms.

“Every course that I took helped to refine my sensitivity. In a course related to the effect of music in film, students were assigned the task of giving a presentation by finding the best music for a short thirty-second scene. Since I love both movies and music, I was sure that my presentation would be the best. However, I was stunned when one of my classmates used hip-hop music in a black-and-white Mickey Mouse film. I truly learned the depth of film.”

Together with his roommate Assan while studying abroad in America. The two are still good friends today.

Although Aragaki entered the film industry with hopes of becoming a buyer of overseas films, he become involved in the exact opposite: the copyrights business for Japanese films. He worked to rediscover older Japanese films such as Otoko wa Tsurai yo (It’s Tough Being a Man). Despite having absolutely no prior experience, he was assigned the production of Hajimari no Michi, a film based on the real life of famous director Keisuke Kinoshita. The film generated an economic effect which exceeded the initial target and created increased interest in the works of Kinoshita. In recognition of this success, Aragaki was transferred to the Japanese Film Production Division. Today, he is busy working as producer of the film Nihon no Ichiban Nagai Hi (Japan’s Longest Day), which will be released in August 2015.

Ultimately, Aragaki’s work is the exact opposite of his original aspirations—instead of Western films, he handles Japanese films; instead of working as buyer, he is a producer. However, Aragaki happily discusses how he has always put his best effort into the task at hand. He will never forget how he was touched by films, and hopes to bring the same experience to others by providing outstanding works.

“Most people never find their dream. I hope that students will realize that dreams are elusive, and will instead follow their true feelings and put their best effort into the task at hand. It could be seminars, club activities, part-time jobs…it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to become immersed in what you are doing. That will ultimately lead to finding your dream. Even if such experiences don’t lead to a career, they will surely be of use in your life.”

Mr. Aragaki speaks passionately about the pride he feels from having studying at Waseda. He hopes to study again at Waseda and to one day give a lecture at Okuma Auditorium. For now, he is devoted to producing works which will inspire as many people as possible

Hirotaka Aragaki
Film Planning Office, Video Production Department, Image Headquarters

Hirotaka Aragaki was born in Oita Prefecture. He graduated from the Waseda University School of Education in 2003 and entered employment at Shochiku Co., Ltd. He appointed as sales manager for the copyrights business in 2005. He assumed his current position in 2014. He is a head of secretariat of the Shochiku-Tomon Association. He is a passionate fan of the Waseda University Rugby Football Club and often saw many games. Once he cried at the sight of a rugby player who played for ten minutes in the final game of the season after practicing with the team for four years. He has a habit of collecting Waseda goods. He enjoys wearing a bordeaux Waseda uniform while running along the Arakawa River as practice for his hobby of marathons.