isao natsuyagi nissan leaf

Read into this what you will, but Nissan may have given a subtle hint that it would prefer to have its all-electric Leafs powered by something safer than electricity make at a nuclear plant. The reason? The Japanese automaker recently presented a Leaf to an award-winning actor who starred in a dramatic film inspired by the deadly Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011.

During the 67th annual Mainichi film awards (sort of the Japanese version of the Oscars) the winner of the best actor award, Isao Natsuyagi, snagged a Leaf for his role in the film Kibou no Kuni ("The Land of Hope"). The film portrays the victims of a "what-if" Fukushima-like storyline and Natsuyagi plays an elderly cattle raiser who found out his home and family were close to a radioactive exclusion zone.

"This car is a mystery."

Natsuyagi said he identified with the character, and that the film's discussion of energy use is important not only in Japan but globally. "We humans need to think about what kind of energy we need to use in order to survive," Natsuyagi says in a Nissan video available below. It was the first time he'd ever been in a Nissan Leaf, or any electric vehicle, for that matter. "Only the image of a toy car comes to mind when I think of an EV," he said. "The car I received has the latest technology and it's amazing."

While taking it for a spin, the actor learned two things – zero tailpipe emissions and that EVs are very quiet. The Leaf impressed him when compared to his two personal cars – a Citroen DS21 and a Volvo. "Both of them make quite a bit of noise. Bom-Bom-Bom, like that. For me, this car, which does not emit smoke and is impossible to know if I turned the key or not, is a mystery," Natsuyagi said.