We’re wrapping up BarraDrewda week with a little fireside chat with the man behind the original Barracuda, Rafael Matsunaga. We could go on and on about Rafael’s role in the Brazilian yo-yo scene, his current residence on 365yoyotricks, his eye for yo-yo photography, and just generally how much butt he kicks… but let’s get to the talkin’, shall we?
Drew Tetz: Hey Red! Thank you for letting me put my name on some of your signature yo-yos!.. and thank you for letting the illustration be me as a robot in his underpants blasting a barracuda in the face with a yo-yo arm cannon. Okay, now on to the important stuff: if you could have one yo-yo related cyborg power, what would it be?!
Rafael Matsunaga: I’m super-honored to have you robo-blasting on the Barracuda, bro! Your edition is the coolest thing to happen on a yo-yo in a long time. I would definitely choose flying, any method: super-jump, jet-pack, anything. I’m not too fond of IronMan’s palm-jets, though, those look a bit counter-productive. But that beats not flying any day. (Note to self: never shake hands with a recently-flown IronMan.)
Hey, it’s been a while, but I have to ask you: tell us about the process of turning your signature fro into pure good-looking awesomeness!
Drew Tetz: I would love to see the jetpack Texas cowboy, or a palm-jet-assisted turbo forward pass. Oh man, I still probably get more questions about the ‘fro than any actual yo-yoing, hahaha. Having a signature hairstyle is definitely a double-edged sword; on one hand, it’s awesome when people need to find you in a crowd or when you gotta draw caricatures of yourself, but if you start to turn into a caricature of yourself it’s good to take a step back. I am glad that i got to have the fro, though, if only for the pure joy of “Fros In Your Face” at the Wheel of Penalty in Worlds ’07. Me, Jake Bullock, and Sid chasing Dale Oliver around stage while Mark McBride gleefully cheered us on – wait, I just realized that Sid never even had a fro!
One of my all-time favorite wheel of penalty challenges – besides you winning the ’05 version with your pants around your ankles, of course – was Titifreak & Whip chasing Jon Gates around for “Brazilians in your face.” What are a few of your favorite things about the Brazilian yo-yo scene?
Rafael Matsunaga: Man, my Wheel of Penalty record is on par with my actual yoyoing record. I hope that keeps happening, I picture Wheel of Penalty at Worlds 2015 in Tokyo like those insane Japanese game shows on TV.
There’s one aspect of the Brazilian scene that I’m really fond of, and that’s not caring too much about the rest of the World. I mean, sure, we all love watching freestyles and learn from the best out there, but even some of the most competitive players here just go after their own style. I’d hate it if Marechal stopped doing his foot-suicides for a faster or more technical style.
It’s not something exclusive to Brazil, of course. I just love unique styles and I’m glad Brazil has a few unique players.
For me, unique players are like videogame characters with special moves. I’m sure you have your own list of unique players, right?
Drew Tetz: Absolutely! Everybody should have their own signature special move. I always get super stoked when you bust out helicopter, or Takeshi does top tangler. Unique players are the best players, in my opinion – I love the people that don’t play like anybody else. Abe and Johnbot are big time favorites for me, very few people view yoyoing the way that they do, and they have more fun than anyone. I’m also huge on Anthony‘s crazy body tricks, Janos‘ incomprehensible slacks, and Sebastian‘s everythings.
Part of the inspiration for this particular collaboration was our other collaboration, the Red vs. Drew 5A battle, which ended in a tie. I was busy with 365 last year and you’re busy with 365 this year… think 2014 will see a Round 2?
Rafael Matsunaga: Oh man, I was so bummed that battle ended in a tie back then! But now I think it’s pretty damn cool, it’s like a movie begging for a sequel! It’s unfinished business, and yeah, I’m definitely down for another round next year!
Drew Tetz: Being a veteran of the international yo-yo battle circuit, what do you think would be your dream one-on-one matchup?
Rafael Matsunaga: Can I dream a tag-team battle instead of one-on-one? I’m thinking East vs West: Anthony Rojas and János Karancz versus Hassan Marialis and Hidemasa Senba. I don’t think the World could possibly handle that!
Drew Tetz: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk! It’s always a pleasure, can’t wait to see what else you do in 2013.
Rafael Matsunaga: The pleasure in talking was all mine, bro! The YoYoDrews takeover was way too awesome! I vote for making that background permanent!