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Spreadsheets masterlist

Just gonna make this a sticky post of the spreadsheets that I make. Still working on updating the ones I did previously with season information but the new ones I’ve listed have all that down. Any names down there that don’t have links yet means I’ve not quite made the data presentable yet, but they’re coming…soon-ish.

List after the jump.
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#248 – Horimiya: Tomatsu Haruka x Uchiyama Koki x Iwai Yuki

Roundtable discussion between two of my favourite voices Tomatsu Haruka and Uchiyama Kōki, as well as comedian Iwai Yūki, about the ‘Horimiya’ anime.

Super popular youth-oriented manga ‘Horimiya’, with over 6 million copies in print, will finally receive an anime adaptation in January 2021!

The original web comic ‘Hori-san to Miyamura-kun’ (author: HERO) began serialisation in 2007, with Square Enix publishing it in book form in 2008. In 2011, it was adapted into a manga titled ‘Horimiya’ (author: HERO, illustrations: Hagiwara Daisuke) with new writing and art, which continues to receive much love until today.

At first glance, this story about polar opposites Hori Kyōko, a popular schoolgirl, and Miyamura Izumi, her inconspicuous classmate, seems to be your typical tale of ‘romance’ and ‘friendship’. The charm of ‘Horimiya’ however, lies in how each character’s circumstances and emotions are depicted so carefully and lovingly that it seems natural that readers would be able to empathise with their feelings. The series is popular not just with teens who are from the same age group as the characters in the story, but also among those who are now reminiscing about their school days.

This time, we welcome Tomatsu Haruka, who voices Hori in the TV anime, Uchiyama Kōki, voice of Miyamura and Iwai Yūki of [manzai duo] Haraichi, cheerleader for the ‘Horimiya’ series. Let’s have them chat openly (!?) about ‘gaps’, an important keyword in the ‘Horimiya’ universe.

[Photography: Kawano Yurika, Interview & Text: Abe Yūka
Hairstyling: Katō Yui [Tomatsu], Fukushima Kanako [Uchiyama]

“Super semi-sparkling”: Bonds that may break if there’s too much human intervention

Q: Please tell us your initial thoughts upon reading ‘Horimiya’ and whether it left any deep impressions on you.

Iwai: The series is marketed as being about ‘super semi-sparkling school life’; not ‘super sparkling’ but ‘super semi-sparkling’. That distinction is so good…! (laughs)

Relationships are so fragile that they might shatter if you allow interference from too many other people so they can be likened to being in a state of ‘ultra-light carbonation’. This is a series that depits these undefined, naïve character relationships with the utmost care.

Tomatsu: My first thought upon reading the series: “Oh I miss dumbphones!” (laughs)

Iwai: Ah, that’s true!

Uchiyama: You know how some series turn out to be so boring when you start reading them only after you’ve landed the job offer…

Tomatsu/Iwai: Oh ho ho.

Uchiyama: But when I began reading this series it brought back all sorts of memories of my high school days. It made me think, ‘Ooh, we had those kinda activities as well’ or ‘Ah, I wasted time doing stuff like that too’. We definitely had to change clothes before PE classes and it was always a rush (laughs)

It’s not just the big events, but the mundane daily happenings that help to form a complete portrait of our memories.

Miyamura refuses to expose his skin for certain reasons so he detests pool lessons and is dressed up to the nines even on sweltering days. In junior high, I too, had particular days or classes that I disliked. Reflecting upon those days brings back these memories in more detail and I realise now how trivial my problems truly were.

Heart-warming to see how polar opposites Hori and Miyamura balance each other out

Q: What are your impressions of the main characters Hori and Miyamura? Let’s start with Hori.

Iwai: She’s responsible and takes good care of others. She’s quite insightful even though she’s only in high school (laughs) A type of person I’ve never come into contact before, which makes me wonder whether such a schoolgirl exists – they probably do, right?

Tomatsu: Yeah yeah. She’s really caring towards other people. The way Hori-san treats her father is a bit…ermm… (laughs), but her devotion to her family is to be admired. She’s well-grounded and confident, and her determined personality is cool!

Oh, and Hori-san loves horror movies – I really like them too….!

Q: You like horror movies too, Tomatsu-san?

Tomatsu: Full-blown horror or B-horror, I watch everything enthusiastically (laughs)

Hori-san worries about being perceived as ‘not being cute since she’s a girl who enjoys horror movies…’, so I really get the scene where she tries her best to act scared. There was definitely a point in time where I thought I might be shunned for being a horror-loving girl (laughs)

Uchiyama/Iwai: Ahahaha!

Tomatsu: I think we’re similar in that sense (laughs). Miyamura doesn’t do too well with horror, so there’s a good balance between the contrasting personalities of Hori-san and Miyamura – it makes me smile seeing them together.

Uchiyama: Hori-san has a breezy personality that puts people at ease….I wish I had someone like her working at my agency (laughs) It’d be nice to have someone like Hori-san around when everyone’s tired – she moves about cheerfully and seems like she’d have the power to light up a room.

Tomatsu: That’s so true! (nods vigorously)

Uchiyama: She looks like the kind of person who’ll succeed (to a certain extent) in the future no matter what she tries to do.

Q: What then, are your impressions of her polar opposite Miyamura?

Iwai: Miyamura-kun is someone who, at first glance, you think of as merely being a ‘shadow’ but it turns out he’s difficult to grasp due to his situation and surprising aspects of his personality.

The truth is that living, breathing humans have differing characteristics which means they shouldn’t be pigeonholed. Miyamura-kun’s the type of character who can’t be defined in one word. It’s a good kind of complexity to have.

Tomatsu: I think Miyamura’s adorable; his aversion to horror included. Hori-san goes through a lot of emotional ups-and-downs and her feelings can gravitate towards the dark side at times; it’s Miyamura who has the heart and compassion to embrace of all of that.

I think these two balance each other out very well. So if there’s one word to best describe Miyamura-kun, it would be ‘kindness’.

Q: Uchiyama-san, as the voice [of Miyamura] would you say you agree with Iwai-san and Tomatsu-san’s impressions of him?

Uchiyama: I do feel his kindness. Though sometimes, it backfires and he ends up at loggerheads with Hori-san. On the other hand, as Iwai-san says, he’s quite the complex character; you can see that he’s elusive.

Everyone in school sees him as quiet and timid but you’ll see a different side to his personality as you get to know him better. He behaves differently in front of his junior high classmates too. There’s a huge contrast between how he appears in school and outside it.

As an actor, it’s easier to play characters who are oriented in a certain way. Miyamura however, experiences a lot of changes so the answer isn’t always clear – depending on the scene, it can be quite trial-and-error for me when it comes to deciding how to voice the role. Amongst the many considerations I have to make, I think of his ‘kindness’, as Tomatsu-san mentioned, as a foundation.

Don’t overthink the gap when voicing a character

Q: When the cast was announced, I felt that both of you were totally perfect for your roles and I wanted to watch the anime as soon as possible! But hearing what you have said, it seems that you do have your own worries regarding your performances.

Uchiyama: When I saw the manga art and the character designs for the anime, I did wonder what type of voice would be suitable.

Classmates such as Hori-san and Ishikawa (Toru, CV: Yamashita Seiichirō) are virtual strangers to Miyamura at first before they get acquainted and gradually become closer. I spent time considering how to portray the emotions behind his dilemma of being hesitant to take that first step of reaching out to someone else.

I feel the same way when I work with someone for the first time – how should I communicate with them; how much should I say? I may no longer be a high school student, but as an adult there are always starting points for new relationships and I find myself picking up hints [through this series].

Q: How about you, Tomatsu-san? Apart from a shared love for horror movies, did you find any other aspects of Hori-san easy to grasp or close to your heart?

Tomatsu: When I read the manga, there was so much about her that I could relate to. Not that I’m similar to her, but she resembles some of my friends. An honour student who always helps out friends with their homework? I do recall having friends like that…. (laughs)

These recollections gave me some ideas as I was considering how to play Hori-san. She’s the model ‘friend you wish you had’ so it wasn’t completely impossible for me to visualise what she’d be like even if I don’t personally know someone like her.

Though my family is structured differently from that of Hori-san’s, she’s the type of character who I can naturally act out without feeling awkward. I didn’t have to set out deliberately thinking ‘Let’s make her this way!’; rather, I was able to play the role without overthinking it.

Q: Both Hori and Miyamura possess ‘gaps’, or inconsistencies in their personality that you don’t get to see when they’re at school. Is there anything that you’re careful with in your approach towards voicing such characters?

Tomatsu: Hmm, gaps…the Hori-san you see at school is slightly different from the Hori-san you see when she’s at home with Miyamura, but I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly thinking about making one distinct from the other.

The scenes where Hori-san’s making an effort to be more girlish and cute can easily be discerned from what you see on screen. Even in scenes with no background music and only sound effects to complement Hori and Miyamura on screen, the animation alone sets the tone so I hope that [viewers] too will see how the worldview and mood flow naturally as they are watching.

So…hopefully, you’ll be able to tell the differences when you see Hori-san having fun with a group of friends in school, or how she enjoys poking fun at Miyamura, or how she gets a little nervous when she’s alone with Miyamura. Don’t you think she gets a bit jittery when it’s just her and Miyamura and there’s a lull in conversation? (laughs) I hope you’ll observe how girlish Hori-san is in realistic scenes like this.

Q: Uchiyama-san, you say it was trial-and-error for you. What was it like voicing the contrasting sides of Miyamura?

Uchiyama: Lately, I’m all about not being overly calculative or overly deliberate…about not producing work that sounds stereotypical. That’s what’s been on my mind.

Tomatsu: Ucchi, what’s wrong….!?

Uchiyama: I’ve made good progress in my ability to perceive what staff want from a piece of dialogue in terms of mood, so I tend to think that I should produce something that’s different from the norm, or something more refined. I’m not referring to this series specifically; it applies to other works as well.

Which is why I’ve been facing this problem recently – ‘how far ahead should I read the source material’? I used to think that it was standard procedure to read the entire series but when I did that, I’d find myself backpedalling all the time.

Iwai: I see.

Uchiyama: For example, if you know what happens to a character in the future, you start to contemplate whether you should express certain lines in certain ways; something like foreshadowing. It can prove to be counterproductive and sometimes, I ponder how important it is to keep track of the overall flow [of the storyline].

Q: Tomatsu-san, what’s your view on this issue of ‘how deep should you dive into the source material’?

Tomatsu: I’ve never actually thought about it. I read it normally without even connecting it to my acting (laughs) So when I hear Ucchi talking about ‘backpedalling’ I’m thinking ‘Oh wow, that’s interesting!’

Obviously I’m mostly reading with my focus on the actions and facial expressions of the characters that I voice so I’m not thinking about things super objectively; my main takeaway from reading is whether something is ‘interesting’ or not.

(glancing at Uchiyama) You’ve been getting a little philosophical lately though, haven’t you?

Uchiyama: Hahahaha, ya think so?

Tomatsu: We were doing another feature for ‘Horimiya’ recently and he was talking philosophy too. Like…about the universe. I was thinking…well, (right now) is the time to think, isn’t it?

Q: So how far into ‘Horimiya’ have you read, Uchiyama-san?

Uchiyama: Ah, so it comes…

Tomatsu: Heehee.

Uchiyama: Not all of it. I’ve read the parts that the anime will cover.

Because they’re polar opposites, they get to discover worlds previously unknown

Q: ‘Horimiya’ weaves a heart-fluttering romance story between ‘the most popular girl in class (Hori)’ and ‘the most inconspicuous guy in class (Miyamura). What do you feel about the coupling of such contrasting characters?

Iwai: It seems special but not entirely special. They see, and are attracted to each other as individuals – ‘No matter what you are, you’re still you’; it’s a straightforward love they have. It feels like they’re looking at each other’s personalities without prejudice.

I read BL works myself and I do think it’s very good getting to see the romantic aspects without focusing too much on the ‘same sex’ factor. After all, relationships aren’t formed based on superficial impressions.

I view ‘Horimiya’ similarly. While it’s true that they’re drawn to the sides of the other that they don’t allow to show at school, I don’t think that Hori-san and Miyamura-kun are attracted to each other specifically because of those ‘gaps’. It feels pure to me.

Tomatsu: It’s comforting to see these two contrasting types get together. They both possess something that the other lacks and when they’re together, establish a relationship where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

On the flip side, what if you have a pairing where one talks and the other’s silent? It’s a thought that’s occurred to me (laughs). All couples are bound to have something interesting about them but Hori-san and Miyamura are to me, pieces of a puzzle that fit together perfectly.

Uchiyama: There’s no guarantee that sparks will fly between opposite types but if you have someone close to you whose personality, way of thinking and values are different from yours, it might actually be a fun relationship where you discover worlds previously unknown.

This also applies to things I wasn’t interested in at all: when you first approach a subject that happens to be one that your friend considers as a hobby, it’ll open up your eyes to new worlds, broaden your horizons and help you see things from a different perspective. It helps enrich your life. I think that’s a good thing.

Q: Do you have a favourite pairing in ‘Horimiya’?

Tomatsu: The pair that brings me most joy is Ishikawa and (Yoshikawa) Yuki (CV: Kozakai Yurie). I love their relationship, both as friends and anything that goes beyond that. I sense that they’ll always be good friends no matter what happens. They’re a solid pairing.

Uchiyama: Voicing Miyamura allows me to savour the joyful atmosphere of the Hori household. Whenever he’s visiting and and the Hori family members are all present, he gets a good look at how unique each one of the 4 personalities is. I personally enjoy watching the scenery that is the Hori family.

Iwai: As long as (Kōno) Sakura-chan (CV: Kondō Reina) is happy, any pairing would be fine for me… (laughs)

All: (laughter)

What kind of ‘gap’ do you favour? Their answers are…

Q: ‘Horimiya’ features various characters with certain personality ‘gaps’. So let’s hear it from you: what ‘gaps’ are you partial to? Do you like any specific ‘Horimiya’ character’s ‘gap’?

Tomatsu: Personally, my favourite character in ‘Horimiya’ is Yanagi (Akane, CV: Fukuyama Jun)!

My first impression was that he’s ridiculously good-looking but it turns out his eyesight is so bad that he becomes the butt of all the jokes (laughs). Gotta say I’m vulnerable to that kind of ‘gap’.

Whatever the series, discovering that your favourite character is not quite as conventional as you think they are does get you thinking ‘Woah! Are they really taking them there?!?’ Or ‘You seem them maybe once every 10 chapters so I’m super happy whenever they appear!’ (laughs)

Uchiyama/Iwai: Ahahahaha.

Tomatsu: This type of character does tend to have ‘gaps’ and I’m a bit of a sucker for people like him (laughs). Kinda tsundere in the way he’s normally super cool but is actually a family-oriented guy. The fact that he shows us such a side that already has me falling for him.

Uchiyama: Gaps? I….hmm…

Q: There certainly will be people out there who think Im not interested in gaps. Whats your view?

Uchiyama: Characters with ‘gaps’ are pretty common, right? Normally, they’re calm but get all heated up when triggered by a certain something. When it comes to those type of characters in anime and manga, I can’t help but to view them from an acting perspective.

Like, ‘so this person has a certain characteristic so if you make it too obvious then it might project future developments. I have all these boring habits…I can’t see things with a fresh pair of eyes (laughs)

In ‘Horimiya’, Sawada-san (Honoka, CV: Asakura Momo) is the interesting one for me. She’s a bit of a firecracker and flashy to boot, but she’s got a lot of things going on in her life. I think she’s pretty deep.

Q: What about you Iwai-san? What gaps are you weak to?

Iwai: What gaps I’m weak to….? (at interviewer) Well actually, would you say that you have a favourite kind of ‘gap’? (laughs)

Q: I like characters wearing glasses so my heart skips a beat when they remove them.

Iwai: Ahh~! I like glasses-wearing characters too but my preferences are the opposite of yours.

I don’t think about it much, but I must say I like characters who make me think ‘Oh they look cute when they put their glasses on! It suits them!’. Sometimes they’ll stop wearing glasses and put contacts in instead and I’ll think ‘that looks wrong!’ (laughs)

So yeah, my favourite in ‘Horimiya’ is Sakura-chan.

Q: Youre right, theres something appealing about characters who look cute when they wear glasses…but what about non-superficial gaps?

Iwai: A gyaru who’s an ex-yankee is cute. To me, there are two types of gaps for gyaru. The homely type of gyaru, and the ex-yankee gyaru.

The latter group is inwardly strong, and holds more appeal for me. It makes you feel like they’re not just messing around when they try to rationalise something. That kind of gap is good (laughs)

“It might be difficult to talk to Miyamura…”

Q: If you knew someone like Hori-san or Miyamura in real life, how would you approach them?

Iwai: A top-tier girl like Hori-san wouldn’t even acknowledge my existence though…I know Hori-san is a kind person but she has plenty of friends already so why would she bother to befriend me? I might get along well with someone like Sakura-chan though (laughs)

Tomatsu: Ahahahaha

Iwai: And Miyamura-kun would probably find my blabbering annoying. That’s how I feel when I try to evaluate how compatible we would be.

That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be able to get on. I’m sure they’d try to make friends [with me] but there would be others who’d be a better ‘fit’ for them than me…that’s my view(laughs)

Tomatsu: Hori-san can get along with anyone and everyone so I think she’d definitely be the one who approaches others first. Personally, I’d be happy if a shining star like Hori-san would come talk to me. Having someone like Hori-san in your class would brighten it up for sure; maybe even unite everyone! She’s not the type to care about social hierarchies.

As for Miyamura…. (ponders worriedly) I know his good sides because I read the manga but if I was actually in the ‘Horimiya’ world I might be going ‘how I should approach him…?’ (laughs) Though from a ‘Horimiya’ outsider’s viewpoint I’d be thinking ‘Miyamura’s such a good guy though! And he’s got such a fun personality ‘gap’!’.

Iwai: Yeah yeah.

Tomatsu: I’d love to start a conversation with him but it might be tough to do so without an excuse. The first thing I’d get stuck on would be be ‘how should I address him?’ and then, ‘what would I say and how would I say it?’. I’d lose track of time pondering all that and my chance to speak to him would have slipped away…and after a year we’d probably be even farther apart (laughs)

Miyamura doesn’t particularly give off an aura that makes others think he’s open to a chat. If anything, he seems like the type to slam down a brick wall to shield himself. It’d be nice if I could effortlessly socialise the way Hori-san does, but I’d get nervous and shy….so you’ll likely see two flustered people putting the halt to a conversation that never even started (laughs)

Q: What about you, Uchiyama-san?

Uchiyama: From my current perspective? Or from when I was 17 or 18?

I still hang out with my high school friends nowadays but if I had to list down why I get along with any of them, I’d come up with all sorts of trivial reasons like I talked to them ‘cos they were sat in front of or behind me in class (our seats being arranged in alphabetical order), or because we were in the same club, or they were a friend of a friend. So it might be that you start talking to someone for no real reason.

Q: Finally, do please leave a message for the Horimiya anime viewers!

Tomatsu: It’s not just a simple love story, but one that goes much deeper than that…you get to see more than just ‘Yay fun! Pitter Patter!’ moments, and it’s something that anyone can enjoy regardless of sex or age. I’m sure you’ll find parts that you can relate to, whether you’re a high school student like our protagonists or even if you’re older.

Its broadcast begins in January, and I hope it will keep you warm this winter. ‘Summer’ may be the season that reminds you the most of youthful romance, but I think ‘winter’ is what suits ‘Horimiya’ best. It’s a series that will warm your heart, so please look forward to it.

Uchiyama: This series started off life as a web comic ‘Hori-san to Miyamura-kun’ before transforming into ‘Horimiya’, gainings fans along its journey towards receiving this anime adaptation. It’s a tall order, but I hope that we can meet the expectations of fans of the source material.

The series is set in the era of dumbphones and although that doesn’t necessary mean that things have changed all that much since then, I must say I’m curious about how the high school students of today will feel when watching ‘Horimiya’.

It’s a series that covers a broad range of subjects, delving into male-female relationships in quite a lot of detail and I would like this show to reach as many people as possible. I also do hope that viewers will be inspired to read the manga after watching the anime.

Iwai: I may be the official cheerleader but I’m in the same position as all you viewers, so let’s be enjoy watching the show together. Look forward to the January broadcast of ‘Horimiya’!

#247 – Hataraku Saibō BLACK: Enoki Junya & Hikasa Yoko


Interview with stars of the Hataraku Saibō spin-off Hataraku Saibō BLACK, Enoki Junya (Red Blood Cell AA2153) and Hikasa Yoko (White Blood Cell 1196).

Perfectly Black!?
Q: Impressions of the manga & its characters?

Hikasa: It’s different from Hataraku Saibō, isn’t it? This manga’s bloody, with so many all-black panels. Since it’s called BLACK (laughs). It feels like a constant battle. A seiyuu’s life is filled with fights. We find ourselves wielding weapons and wearing armour instead of school uniforms (laughs). Once, I was working on another series in a studio next to the one where Hataraku Saibō was recorded, and I quipped, ‘I’d love to appear on Saibō too!’. And they went, “Hikasa is…hmm” (laughs). I’m on the ‘BLACK’ side? That gives me confidence. It’s a great fit for me.

Enoki: Compared to Hataraku Saibō, the art style is a little more intense and the ailments are geared towards adults. They’re illnesses suffered by stressed-out people and that alone makes such a difference! I too, make my red and white blood cells work overtime so like Hikasa-san, I’m on the ‘BLACK’ side (laughs)

Hikasa: And the narration is provided by Tsuda Kenjirō-san.

Enoki: And his voice is so low.

Hikasa: But Tsuda-san’s in an Asadora*!

Enoki: But we’re all perfectly ‘BLACK’.

Hikasa: Why am I ‘BLACK’?

Enoki:Your darkness shows!

Hikasa: It does?

Q: Impressions of the characters?

Hikasa: White blood cells protect the body by eliminating enemies that are out to harm the body. She’s the type that’s devoted to her mission and unflappable in the way she dispatches her foes. She may wear the same clothes as her counterpart in the other series but her look is totally different…

Enoki: Seems she can’t really fit in her clothes?

Hikasa: Certain parts of her are kinda big (laughs)

Enoki: I voice a novice red blood cell. His motivation and hard-working personality make him similar to his Saibō counterpart, but he finds out what his work entails in the ‘BLACK’ world and realises the suffering he has to go through, all while wondering ‘What does it mean to work?’. He asks questions, learns, and grows.

Hataraku Saibō is a world where ‘work is wonderful!’ but this is so different…real life is full of harsh lessons, and this series should be easier for working people to identify with.

Important to gauge the mood when it comes to jokes!
Q: What’s recording like?

Enoki: Recording during the pandemic means limits on the number of people allowed in the studio, so it was often me, Hikasa-san, KENN-san and Tsuda-san recording at the same time.

Hikasa: There was one session where it was Tsuda-san telling dirty jokes, surrounded by female cast members. It seemed painful for him ‘cos nobody laughed.

Enoki: If we were there we would’ve burst out in laughter (lol). Hikasa-san laughs during my tests so that makes me quite proud. Though we don’t laugh when recording is in session.

Hikasa: It’s all about gauging the mood when you’re telling jokes.

Q: Any challenges specific to this series?

Hikasa: I tend to play lively characters; it’s rare for me to voice someone who’s quite so dispassionate. I consider myself the expressive type so I was a little concerned over whether I was suitable for the role. While recording the PV I was asked to be ‘more subdued’ and I kept that in mind. It was tough to maintain a good balance – it felt like I was battling against myself.

Enoki: It doesn’t apply to this series alone, but I’m always conscious of not being overly controlled, or striving for perfect harmony. This time though, I was asked to make him sound ‘rural’.

Hikasa: We recorded together but I don’t think you sounded particularly rural.

Enoki: You might think there’s something that feels out of place; that he sounds a little crude. He does actually get a bit rural at times. Even though he’s from Tokyo (laughs).

In the seiyuu world, a breath of air like none other: The appeal of Enoki Junya
Q: ‘As long as you’re alive!’ is a pretty memorable line from the PV. Have you ever had a life-threatening experience?

Hikasa: I once hyperventilated and collapsed. I’d gotten too immersed in voicing a character that was going batshit insane; I blacked out and the next thing I knew I was in one of the recording studio’s meeting rooms. After that I said ‘I’ll redo the scene!!’, and that’s what I did. This was the 2nd time I’d actually hyperventilated and lost consciousness though. Maybe I scream too much and expend all my energy? Or I take in too many breaths?

Enoki: I get dizzy sometimes too. Maybe it’s lack of sleep? I’m the type who takes ages to do script checks; around 3 hours for each 30-minute anime episode script. I might even spend 30 minutes going over a single word. I keep thinking ‘what sort of emotions are going into this?’. And I end up not getting enough sleep…but it doesn’t happen every day.

Hikasa: This is my first time working alongside Enoki-kun in leading roles. What a mysterious guy he is.

Enoki: We’ve co-starred on other series a few times. Back then…never mind, Hikasa-san won’t remember anyway (laughs)

Hikasa: You blend into the scenery perfectly.

Enoki: In other words, I have zero presence (laughs)

Hikasa: It was quite the shock for me to be co-lead with Enoki-kun. He’s like a breath of air that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the seiyuu world. Whenever I think ‘Enoki-kun might do this’, he ends up going in a direction that I don’t expect.

He’s interesting, and I can see why he’s become so popular! (laughs) He’ll go far…he’s amazing.

Enoki: Make sure you print that part!

Hikasa: Your personality really comes to the fore when you voice a leading role. I wonder if you’re a chameleon. Enoki-kun, praise me too!

Enoki: Depending on the work in question, Hikasa-san’s acting can switch between twisted and natural. Her role in ‘BLACK’ leans towards the twisted, and the authenticity (of her performance) adapts to the tone of the show. ‘Real’ can mean different things for different series, but she always fits in seamlessly. Whereas I’m stubborn and tend to make everything sound ‘realistic’ in an identical way. She’s so amazing…and she’s loved everywhere she goes. She might join in a show halfway through but it’ll be like she’s been there from the start.

Hikasa: How shameless I must seem. To behave like I was there from episode 1 even though I only joined in during the 2nd cour.

Enoki: Your personality shines through in your acting. Oh hey, edit out all my remarks about Hikasa-san please (laughs)

Hikasa: Don’t edit it out! You’re the one who said ‘make sure you print this!’!

Q: Anything ‘BLACK’ when it comes to your health or physical condition?

Enoki: I developed GERD (reflux) so I went for a check-up but my numbers were all good and it was just stomach inflammation. I guess I’m alright? Relieved, but I still lack sleep.

Hikasa: I’m generally healthy. When I was in my 20s I’d go to the hospital if I had so much as pain in my throat. Nowadays, if I feel fine, I’ll just go ‘Ah I should be alright!’. Also, I get about 8 hours of sleep normally. It was 10 hours last night. Does that count as oversleeping? I also started taking tons of different supplements during the stay-at-home period to improve my health.

Q: Lastly, tell us your thoughts looking back on 2020 and your resolutions for the new year.

Enoki: The year flew by so quickly. We went through a stay-at-home period that gave me the opportunity to do some plays and watch all sorts of shows. So I do think it was quite a fruitful year work-wise. I hope next year will be just as fun. I’d like to be able to rehearse [in groups].

Hikasa: I’d love to see you on stage, Enoki-kun. You’d be dazzling.

Enoki: I’ve made guest appearances here and there but I’d love to physically appear in stage shows on a regular basis.

Hikasa: Due to my work commitments, I’ve become ‘that seiyuu who can’t leave Tokyo’, but last year was a year where I’d had lots of plans to go abroad. ‘I want to go overseas for work!’ was what I said and that was supposed to happen in 2020, but everything got cancelled…. I guess I really wanted to keep that title of ‘that seiyuu who can’t leave Tokyo’ (laughs). It’s been a year where my lifestyle has changed – I used to run non-stop and at full speed, thinking that it’d all be over if I ever stopped…so when we had to stay at home, I realised ‘hey I can actually live like this!’. I’ll continue running in the future, but I think it’s fine for me to look around at my surroundings a bit more as well.

Notes:
1. Tsuda Kenjiro guested on an episode of NHK’s 2020 Asadora ‘Yell

2. I translated jishuku (自粛) as ‘stay-at-home’. It’s just less cumbersome than ‘period of self-restraint’ and has less serious connotations as ‘lockdown’…

#246 – Fate/Grand Order Camelot: Sakamoto Maaya & Miyano Mamoru

Mobile game Fate/Grand Order (FGO), the top grossing* game in the world with 50 million global downloads, is finally getting an anime film adaptation. The story being adapted this time is Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot, one of FGO’s most popular chapters. Our heroes are transported to Jerusalem, A.D. 1273, where the Knights of the Round Table, led by the Lion King, await them. Here, the cast members and author/Fate series creator Nasu Kinoko discuss their thoughts on the film. What is the ‘origin’ of this epic tale?

*according to App Annie The State of Mobile 2020

Long-time co-stars in their first face-to-face interview!

Sakamoto Maaya and Miyano Mamoru have completed recording for Fate/Grand Order Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot Pt 1: Wandering; Agateram. What thoughts did this pair, who play historical heroes, have when approaching the film? Super popular FGO character Da Vinci makes an appearance in Da Vinci!

Sakamoto: The opportunity to do this interview today makes me glad that I’m Da Vinci (laughs)

Miyano: I’m honoured to be interviewed alongside Maaya-san. It’s been around 10 years since we last did one together.

Sakamoto: This might be our first time doing one as a pair as well. The photoshoot did feel like the pictures were being taken for a special occasion. I’ve come to think of Mamo-tan as a cute younger brother.

Miyano: Thank you. We’ve worked together on all sorts of shows throughout the years though.

Sakamoto: I’d originally intended for my work on the FGO game to focus mainly on Jeanne d’arc and never thought Da Vinci would evolve into a character of such importance. I didn’t even understand why they’d appear in a female form (note: with Mona Lisa’s likeness) either, so I just voiced the role as a beautiful onee, an effeminate guy*.

Miyano: A beautiful onee?! (laughs) Ahh, I get what you mean.

*term used here is onee (オネェ), slang word used to refer to an effeminate man or cross-dressing male/transvestite. Used interchangeably with ‘okama’

Sakamoto: I’d intended for (Da Vinci) to be like a friendly onee who cheerfully serves you the best drinks when you visit a bar. Or maybe someone who goes ‘How ya doin’, c’mon in!’, like a weapon shop master in an RPG would do. Seeing Da Vinci-chan become so prominent in the storyline was surprising for me, initially.

The two of them have been involved with the FGO game from the beginning. Sakamoto Maaya writes the lyrics and performs the theme songs for Parts 1 and 2, while Miyano Mamoru voices the characters (Charles-Henri) Sanson and Jekyll & Hyde in the early parts of the main storyline. We ask them to discuss the appeal of FGO.

Sakamoto: There’s the fact that I was asked to sing the theme song, but I was very much aware of FGO from its release (in 2015). To be honest, I didn’t anticipate that it would take off in such a big way. I think the pull of the story played a huge factor.

Miyano: Having these historical greats in the game really fires you up. I enjoyed putting my voice to the characters. Bedivere, Sanson, Jekyll & Hyde…that’s 2 voices for 1 character in Jekyll & Hyde’s case. It’s amazing that you have all these great people from different time periods coming together and fascinating that the story is written in a way that anybody can identify with.

Sakamoto: The text in FGO is fairly difficult. Not referring to just how unique the choice of words is, but also the sheer volume of it all. I don’t think you’ll find too many games with such a huge amount of text. It’s the perfect game for those who love to read.

At present, the volume of text in FGO apparently amounts to over 5 million words. With each new chapter you get an entire paperback’s worth of additional text.

Miyano: That much writing, huh. Sounds fun.

Sakamoto: It’s nice to strengthen and raise your characters but I also think that there’s a special kind of enjoyment that comes from reading. The setting may be fantasy-like with these legendary figures on a magnificent journey that transcends time and space, but what Nasu (Kinoko)-sensei wants to convey is actually quite simple; whether it’s the obstacles we all run into in our lives, or a boy-meets-girl story. Even if the setting is complex and the worldview breathtaking, the themes are simple enough for anyone to be able to put themselves into the [characters’] shoes and that is what gets so many people into reading [the game].

The sensitivity of Bedivere and Da Vinci’s composed nature

The film covers the popular 6th singularity of the FGO game, set in Jerusalem after the demise of the Crusaders. What is their take on this particular storyline?

Sakamoto: When I first received the theme song offer, the FGO script was still incomplete and I had to ask questions about the overall flow [of the story] and how it would conclude so that I could write the lyrics for ‘Shikisai’. Apparently, the script for the 6th Singularity was written up in one sitting after Nasu-san had attended one of my concerts.

Miyano: Oh wow!

Sakamoto: I think he was probably quite troubled by what direction to take Bedivere in while writing the scenario.

Miyano: The 6th Singularity is about ‘people’s hearts’ and the film’s script reminded me of just how interesting the story truly is.

The film centers upon the wandering knight Bedivire, who in 1273 A.D., has reached Jerusalem at the end of a long journey. What do our duo make of him?

Miyano: Bedi’s the central figure of this film so the story focuses on his thoughts. He possesses strong feelings of regret and contrition, and has the mental strength to have continued harbouring these emotions for such a long time. The wonderful thing about him is how he doesn’t keep those feelings locked up inside but instead, strives to work for the sake of others.

Sakamoto: We get to see the story from Bedivere’s perspective once again and while I can identify with half of what he says, the other half is something I can’t quite fathom. Why does he stick to his views so stubbornly? What does he desire? What kind of emotions is he going through? Bedivere’s a very popular character and I feel that him being emotionally sensitive makes it a difficult role to play.

Miyano: I see….it’s because of his sensitivity that I wanted to clearly establish what Bedi’s wishes and beliefs were. In the studio, I had (Shimazaki) Nobunaga-kun [CV Fujimaru Ritsuka] be my teacher and explain the 6th Singularity in detail.

I developed this version of Bedivere while getting to grips with the worldview of the FGO series and absorbing the story details and settings, with the conviction that ‘this is who he is’. Bedi is after all, someone who has great love. The fact that he harbours such regrets and remorse is because of this love. With this in mind, I could see how the story depicts the sins that Bedi commits. His journey is one that has become distorted due to his love.

In this film, Da Vinci, who usually serves in a supporting role on Fujimaru’s team, ventures out to the land of Jerusalem herself. Seeing this new side of her is a highlight.

Sakamoto: Da Vinci’s the type of person who’d never let herself be influenced by whatever happens to be going on around her. She’s always composed. Da Vinci already appeared in the Fate/Grand Order Babylonia TV anime and I haven’t really changed my approach towards the character. There are a lot troubled people in this film (laughs), so it’s good to have the casual breeziness of a character like her to brighten things up. She puts you at ease and is someone whom you can rely on.

Miyano: She’s the manliest of them all.

Sakamoto: She is, isn’t she? She never despairs whatever the situation, and I was able to play the part without any hesitation – I had a lot of fun with it. Strong and cheerful at all times; decisive and cool. Still, she might appear disturbing to some people. I do think there’s this something immeasurably deep within her.

It’s quite a grand cast that’s assembled for this recording.

Sakamoto: For the FGO game, we record our parts separately. We were able to record together for this film and it did feel so refreshing. It made me think, ‘Oh, so this character has this type of voice and speaks in such a way’. [Da Vinci] is a character I should be familiar with, yet the role feels slightly different when she’s engaging in dialogue with other characters. I think all of us do enjoy that kind of .

Miyano: My dad’s played by Uchiyama (Kōki)-kun [as Tristan] though. He undergoes a total transformation and that brings a lot of sorrow to Bedi. I do think that this is a film burdened with so much pain. When his bond with the [Knights of the] Round Table is severed, he forms a new bond with Fujimaru’s team. That is what saves him. And oh, Ozymandias is amazing (laughs). Koyasu (Takehito)-san! So powerful! The cast lineup is exceptional and so much fun.

Sakamoto: Also, the Director (Suezawa Kei) is so passionate. He’d join us in the booth for recordings with much enthusiasm and convey to us the meaning behind certain lines.

Theme song for Part 1 is by Sakamoto Maaya, and for Part 2, Miyano Mamoru

Both actors perform the theme songs for this film. Part 1: Wandering Agateram features Sakamoto’s ‘Dokuhaku’ while Part 2: Paladin: Agateram has Sakamoto on lyric-writing duty with Miyano performing (song title as yet undecided).

Sakamoto: During the production process, the Director requested for the theme song to ‘get close to who Bedivire is as a character but also for it to be a song that gets people to look forward to the second film’. I do believe we’ve managed to produce a song that stays close to Bedivere’s heart as well as raise your expectations for the next film.

Miyano: It’s a brilliant song.

Sakamoto: Bedivire is without doubt, the star of the film. Part 1 is more about ‘self-satisfaction’ for him – he regrets his actions and seeks to atone for them. By the second film this has turned into self-affirmation and he’s now able to forgive himself. The stories in these two films do feel like they’re at opposing ends of the spectrum.

Miyano: When I found out that they’d gone with Maaya-san singing for Part 1 and myself for the second, I just felt so humbled. I never thought that I’d be asked to perform…and for Maaya-san to sing about Bedivere’s story is truly an honour. And on top of that to have Maaya-san writing the lyrics based on a story where my character is the focal point, is something new and an honour as well. I haven’t really been involved with this type of series before and these are indeed, newfound feelings I’m experiencing.

Sakamoto: The theme song for Part 1 is about what lies between ‘denial’ and ‘affirmation’, the latter of which is the message of the second film. I was inspired by Mamo-tan’s character Bedivere’s ‘monologue’*, and I wrote the lyrics while thinking of the facial expressions he would have.

*独白 (dokuhaku), the title of Part 1’s theme song translates to monologue or soliloquy

Miyano: I was surprised when I heard ‘Dokuhaku’; to know that Bedi’s thoughts were expressed in song. Consequently I’d love to sing about what happens beyond that. Maaya-san’s song brings a sense of completion to the flow of Part 1, and I can’t wait for the film to be released.

Sakamoto: Reactions to this FGO film will differ depending on the individual viewer, but I’d like to think that it can also be interpreted as a story of salvation. I hope that you will enjoy the tale being told through these two films.

Miyano: Part 1 ends quite intriguingly, which I’m sure will make you anxious to see Part 2 as soon as possible. We too, are looking forward to recording the second film.

[pg 178-182, Da Vinci magazine No.317 September 2020]

#245 – Sakamoto Maaya: 25th anniversary interview part 2

‘Inspiration’ Received from Series Tie-Ups and Creators that Sparks the Relentless ‘Pursuit’ of Music

Part 2 of Real Sound’s interview with Sakamoto Maaya. Part 1 can be found here.

Sakamoto Maaya’s 25th anniversary album ‘Singles Collection + Achikochi’ (2CDs) that was released on July 15th includes all the tie-up songs that she’s put out since 2013. Disc 1 includes ‘Shikisai’ and ‘Gyakkō’ (theme songs from mobile game FGO) as well her latest release ‘Clover’ (OP theme for Arte TV anime); all songs that help bring you closer to the worldviews of the series they are featured in while at the same time, allowing listeners to experience the irrepressible creative changes that her work has undergone over an 8-year trajectory.

Disc 2 meanwhile, features Kannō Yoko’s ‘cloud 9’ & ‘Tell me what the rain knows’ (both from TV anime Wolf’s Rain), ‘Sotsugyō Shashin’ (Arai Yumi cover), ‘Mikazuki’ (DREAMS COME TRUE cover) and a brand-new self-cover of ‘Watashi e’, a Negicco song she contributed lyrics to. The material included is indeed diverse, conveying a deep sense of musicality.

Delving into ‘Achikochi’ throughout this interview, we discuss her current state of mind as she celebrates her 25th anniversary and what her vision for future activities are. (Interview: Mori Tomoyuki)

Tie-up Songs: ‘It’s Easy to Change One’s Way of Thinking if Limits can be Disregarded’

Q: Your 25th anniversary album ‘Singles Collection + Achikochi’ is set to be released. All of your tie-up songs from ‘Hajimari no Umi’ (OP theme for Tamayura~More Aggressive TV anime) to your latest ‘Clover’ (OP theme for Arte TV anime) are included – they are all equally wonderful songs. And I have to say, each and every track really does try to do something audacious.

A: That’s right! Which made me want to put my heart and soul into them too (laughs)

Q: Haha. Does it make you feel like you’d tackled a succession of challenges?

A: It does. Listening to the songs on ‘Achikochi’ in chronological order, I’m once again reminded of how adventurous I’d been and I want to say to myself ‘well done, you’ (laughs). I don’t think I would’ve been quite so gutsy if these were my own album tracks. Because they’re tie-up songs, I got to take on challenges that I’d never imagined possible. I’d never have been able to come up with lyrics like for ‘Replica’ (OP theme for M3~Sono Kuroki Hagane~ TV anime) by myself and up until that point, would never have considered asking for song arrangements as dynamic as those found on ‘Be mine!’ (OP theme for Sekai Seifuku TV anime) and ‘Gyakkō’ (theme for FGO Arc 2). While I was singing these songs, it did occur to me that ‘oh, there might be a part of me that [wants] something like this’ and this would sometimes lead to new discoveries. So many different genres, so many people that I’ve encountered; half the time immersed in the colours (of the series at hand) and yet, there is a part of ‘me’ that remains untouched. I’m enjoying doing all of this but at the same time, I’m aware that ‘it’s okay to mess up!’. It’s good to build up experiences while having that kind of mindset which in turn, makes it more inspiring. Both for me and for the audience.

Q: While holding the view that a ‘tie-up song’ shouldn’t be a limitation.

A: In theory there should be limits set by the series at hand but I find that on the contrary, [such songs] seem like being they’re being plucked out of the air most of the time. It’s fascinating. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you set out to make something from whatever ingredients you pick out from your fridge and somehow, you manage to whip up the most delicious meal ever. It might be easier to change up your way of thinking if you don’t consider limits as limitations.

Q: For tie-up songs, does production start with the thought ‘how should we approach the world found within this series’?

A: Yes. It’s case-by-case, but oftentimes the production staff will provide conceptual themes while largely leaving the sound and style of the theme song to us. As an example, the theme given for ‘Be mine!’ was ‘conquering the world’ and I had to think of a tune and lyrics that would fit. I’d just gotten in touch with the band apart around that period of time so with nothing to lose, I asked them ‘shall we work together on this?’ and they willingly accepted the offer.

Q: ‘Shikisai’, mentioned earlier, was composed by la la larks. I think this song would’ve served up a considerable challenge as well.

A: ‘Shikisai’ is the theme song for a RPG game and my line of thinking was ‘aren’t theme songs for games something you listen to once & skip subsequently?’ (laughs). Which is why I thought I’d try something bold and play around with things a bit. But of course, I did consider the game’s worldview and interpreted the in-game material in my own way when coming up with the lyrics.

Q: I see. Even so, the writing credits list is quite spectacular. Ōnuki Taeko, the band apart, Suzuki Shōko, Uchisawa Takahito (androp), Rasmus Faber, Mizuno Yoshiki (Ikimonogakari) are all part of an incredibly diverse range of creators.

A: Amazing, isn’t it? I needed a lot of courage to approach Ōnuki-san. It’s a huge challenge for me to make the first move contacting writers I’d like to work with and I need to prepare myself mentally. The subject matter of the song etc, is obviously important but half of the time I’ll go with my instincts: ‘I love this person’s music so I want to work with them’. There are a few like Tomita Lab-san and Suemitsu Atsushi-san who actually got in touch first with songs they had in mind for me, and the results would eventually turn into works I could call my own.

Q: That would be referring to ‘Arakawa Shōkei’ (with Tomita Lab) and Lazy Line Painter Jane (with Suemitsu Atsushi) on Disc 2.

A: I was happy that they gave me a call. ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ isn’t an original song (cover of Belle and Sebastian), but I was able to sing it quite comfortably. In Tomita-san’s case, he was quite detailed with his instructions and I worked desperately hard to achieve Tomita-san’s ideals. It was the same with Cornelius (‘Mada Ugoku’) – I’m deeply moved to have the privilege to sing songs written by artistes I’ve always loved and listened to.

It’s Too Early to Be Satisfied

Q: ‘Uchū no Kioku’ (OP theme for BEM TV anime) was written & composed by Shiina Ringo – that attracted quite a big response.

A: Shiina Ringo-san is an artiste I love so I was really happy. The production and recording process were wonderful; it was fun and exciting in so many ways. The song itself is difficult to perform but gives me a lot of pleasure to sing. When I was young, I’d often listen to Shiina-san’s songs and had always thought of her as a respected senior of mine but the truth is that we’re not so far apart in terms of age*. There was so much to learn, covering everything from working style to mood creation. I’ve worked hard in my own way thus far, but this was an instance that had me thinking: there are such amazing people in my age group that I must not be content to stay as I am; that I should never allow myself to feel overly satisfied.

*Shiina was born in Nov 1978, making her 1.5 years older than Maaya

Q: And that gave you renewed motivation.

A: When you’re satisfied, you might end up not knowing what to do next. It’s not a bad thing to be content with what you already have but I still think you’d be better off being a little bit greedy. Maybe it’s just part of my pride but I always feel that ‘there is room for growth. I haven’t reached [my peak] yet’. But what if I’m mistaken and there is none [room to grow]; what should I do then…? (laughs). I’m always leaving myself some margins, so I don’t think I can ever quit until I get to a certain point. That’s how I’ve persevered ‘til today.

Q: Do you feel like there’s still room for growth, that you can still improve?

A: I do feel that way, always. I do think I’m constantly improving but since I’m never truly satisfied, I might never reach ‘that point’. Regardless, the end will surely come somehow, someday, so I’d like to be able to say that I’m satisfied when the time comes to call it quits.

Q: I see. I have to say though: knowing Maaya-san’s personality, I don’t think you’ll ever be satisfied.

A: You might be right (laughs)

Q: Disc 2 also includes a self-cover of ‘Watashi e’, a Negicco song you wrote the lyrics for. You’ve seen an increasing amount of work in the lyric-writing department of late, like for Walkure’s ‘Kaze wa Yokoku naku Fuku’ and KinKi Kids’ ‘Hikari no Kehai’.

A: That’s right, and I feel thankful.

Q: Does it provide a different level of satisfaction compared to writing lyrics for yourself?

A: It very much does. I’ve somewhat exhausted my repertoire of lyric material when it comes to my own songs. It’s fine if I keep singing about the same things and it’s actually important for me to come to terms with that, but I sense the potential to get bored if I express myself using only my own voice. I find however, that I can freely write lyrics with a completely different theme or story by merely being told that ‘this song will be performed by a voice that’s not your own’. Even if it’s my story, it feels fresh when someone else sings it and for some reason, I’m more inclined to confront how I genuinely feel inside; projecting onto other people’s songs what I’m unable to express through my own. The request to write lyrics for KinKi Kids happened thanks to my links with Dōjima Kōhei-san* – I must say I do enjoy such new encounters.

*Singer-songwriter Dōjima Kōhei wrote ‘Record’ (CLEAR c/w) for Maaya, and has been one of KinKi Kids’ main producers since the duo’s ‘D Album’ (2000). He also co-produced ‘Hikari no Kehai’

Q: Let’s talk about your future activities. On your 20th anniversary 5 years ago, you said ‘I want to take things slowly in future’. What about now?

A: For this 25th anniversary I didn’t have a concrete image of wanting to do ‘this or that’, like I did for my 20th. If I had to commemorate every 5-year milestone then I’d spend the intervening years constantly thinking about ‘anniversaries’… (laughs) so I’m approaching this 25th year in laid-back mode. Over the years I’ve had the tendency to hold live performances around my birthday in March but there weren’t any plans for one this year. It’s been a fairly relaxed period for me, from before the coronavirus started having an impact. Future performances will most likely be affected though. I’m hoping to hold a concert next spring and I’ll be part of a musical (Daddy Long Legs, starting September 2020) too, so rehearsals for that…will happen, I’m sure.

Q: On a personal level, what would you like to do in the future?

A: I’d like to write more lyrics for other artists. And of course, perform live. I don’t even like standing up on stage in front of a crowd so sometimes just before showtime, I’ll start thinking ‘Why the heck am I still doing this job?’. But half a year has passed since my last tour (Sakamoto Maaya’s 2019 ‘Kyō dake no Ongaku’) and I’m aware now, how fortunate I was to be able to hold live concerts on a regular basis. How blessed I would be to share a space with all of you once again; to sing in front of you. The next opportunity I get to sing [live] will definitely feel more special than it ever has, and that’s the dream I hold most dear now: to be able to perform live.

Q: You’re right. Very much so. Are you continuing to produce songs right now?

A: I sure am! Actually, I’ve written a song during this ‘self-restraint’ (jishuku) period. I’d like to put out new songs without too much of a gap between releases. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Just 1 song? You had so much spare time; surely you could write more’ (laughs). Achikochi features ‘Korekara’, (theme song from OVA Tamayura~Sotsugyō Shashin) a song I wrote and composed myself; when I listened to it as I was playing back the album chronologically, I sincerely thought ‘what a good song this is!’. Obviously the song could only have been completed thanks to Kōno Shin-san’s arrangement, but ‘Korekara’ being self-written, has a meaningful place in the midst of the many songs that I’ve requested brilliant musicians to write for me – it’s one of the things that I’d worked hard on over the past 8 years. I’d like to continue writing songs in the future.

Q: You come to realise all sorts of things during this period of self-restraint. Have you been doing anything apart from writing songs?

A: I’ve been writing [essays], as well as reading all the books that had piled up. Also, working out and holding drinking parties over Zoom. It was definitely fun to fill up my schedule with ‘workout time’ or ‘drinking party’ from x am-y pm.

#244 – Sakamoto Maaya: 25th anniversary interview part 1

The Many ‘Encounters’ Throughout A 25-Year Career that Have Influenced My Thinking and My Personality


This is the first part of a Real Sound interview with Sakamoto Maaya in celebration of her 25th anniversary.

Sakamoto Maaya has just celebrated the 25th anniversary of her CD debut. She made her bow in 1996 with the single ‘Yakusoku o Iranai’, at the age of 16. Under the tutelage of producer Kanno Yōko she’d been refining her expressiveness as a singer and since 2005, expanded her musicality through working with an extraordinary group of creators while at the same time, establishing her artistic individuality by writing her own lyrics and compositions.

On July 15th 2020, her 25th anniversary album ‘Single Collection+ Achikochi’ was released. In this interview, we take a look at her musical growth and trace the changes in her stance towards her music activities as we reflect on her career thus far. (Interview: Mori Tomoyuki)

I used to think of myself as someone with ‘no personality’

Q: It’s the 25th anniversary of your CD debut. What are your feelings about this ‘25th year’ figure?

A: I don’t actually spend my days wondering ‘this is my how many-eth year again?’ but when milestones like this come up, I do think ‘Wow, it’s been that long huh’. There’s a certain gap between perception and reality that brings its surprises but I’d like to think that I’ve been lucky. Having the desire to ‘persist’ with something doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen – I’ve endured until today thanks to the folks I’ve met and of course, because there are people who will listen to my songs.

Q: You’ve been blessed when it comes to encounters as well.

A: I believe so. There have been a number of instances over the past 25 years where something comes along right in the nick of time to save me when I’m in trouble. I can’t explain it too well in words, but when you’ve been doing something for a long time you get into all kinds of situations, don’t you? Sometimes everything goes smoothly and at other times you just kind of get stuck in a rut. Maybe you’re not feeling up to it physically, or you’ve lost sight of your goals…it’s at times like these that you feel like throwing up your hands in surrender but it only takes an unexpected coincidence, a chance encounter or a random song; maybe even a lyric that I’ve written, to get me to think, ‘let’s just try a little bit harder at this’. And before I knew it, 25 years have gone by (laughs)

Q: I see. Let’s talk about your debut for a bit. You had just turned 16 when ‘Yakusoku o Iranai’ was released. You didn’t possess the ‘ego’ of an artiste or anything like that back then, right…?

A: Probably not at all (laughs) Especially since I only became a singer by accident, so it wasn’t as if I’d prepared myself for any of this nor was it a long-term goal that I’d had at the time. I basically stepped into this world on a level emotional plane, which you could say is equivalent to having zero ego as an artiste. I did love to sing though, so of course I was happy (to get a CD debut) but thinking about it now, I was very childish back then.

Q: You were a child actress since your younger days so was it unexpected for you to debut as a singer?

A: Prior to that I’d had the opportunity to sing songs for commercials and so on but honestly, I was surprised to get to put out a CD with my name on it and have somebody listen to the final product. The day ‘Yakusoku o Iranai’ was released, I paid a visit to the store where I normally buy CDs. To see a CD with my name on it placed on the shelves was actually shocking for me. It was a completely different feeling compared to being on stage as a child actress; ‘Yakusoku o Iranai’ is a song that I loved and wanted people to listen to but at the same time I was sort of thinking ‘God I hope my friends don’t see this, it’s embarrassing’. Quite a contradiction granted my line of work, but I wasn’t ever the type who wanted to stand out from the crowd.

Q: So rather than wanting people to look at you, you merely wanted to be involved in the art of expression?

A: That’s right. When I think about it now, the fact that my mother used to praise my singing a lot when I was young – that played a big part. I’d sing when I was playing, sing when I was watching TV; my mother would constantly shower me with compliments and that made me think, ‘I’ll sing because it makes mom happy’. She was very pleased when I made my CD debut but stopped praising me after that (laughs). Honestly, I’ve never actually thought ‘I’m good at singing’ – I just really loved to sing. For a while after I’d made my debut, I did my best to follow my producer Kanno Yōko-san’s advice to ‘try singing this or that way’. It was quite similar to acting in terms of the desire I had to meet the demands of directors. That was pretty much the foundation that my teenage years were built upon.

Q: Instead of reflecting Sakamoto-san’s own preferences and intentions, your expressiveness as a singer was guided by the musician named Kanno Yōko.

A: Obviously my own will gradually started to make its presence felt and I gained an interest in lyric-writing later on, but I suppose that back then, I thought of myself as having ‘no personality’. People would encourage me to do things in my own way but I’d turn shy and end up having no idea what to do whereas if someone told me ‘this is what this role is about’, I’d have no problems expressing myself, sometimes in ways that surprised myself. Even as a singer, I’d find that the scope of the expressions that I used in a song would expand if I had ‘this song is about becoming someone like this’ explained to me. Thanks to the acting experience I’d acquired from when I was young, I found that there were parts [of this approach] that I could utilise in my singing.

Q: But on the other hand, you had the desire to ‘find out who you were as an artiste’, correct?

A: I’ve always had a complex about that. I didn’t really understand ‘who’ I was or what ‘originality’ meant for me, and I wondered whether I could carry on doing what I did without [knowing]. So I’ve been searching for this ‘personality’ of mine for a long time. There was a point in time where I pretended to have ‘personality’ when I most certainly didn’t (laughs).

Q: Those are pretty complicated feelings.

A: But I do think that most of us, to a certain extent, harbour such feelings when we’re young. What I’m like when I’m at school, what I’m like at home, or the person that I think I am – there are bound to be a few inconsistencies between those [aspects], and one might end up being unsure of ‘where my true self lies’ or ‘what I want to do’. We all live our lives allowing certain aspects of ourselves to be exposed to others but for me, I had to put my own name out there; express myself outwardly. I think there were parts of my teenage years that seemed a bit documentary-like, where the aim was to show everyone just how much I’d grown.

Q: Do you think you absorbed a lot [of knowledge] through doing music?

A: I’m pretty sure that the reason I liked acting was because an inconspicuous, colourless person like me was able to find pleasure in the freedom to ‘become someone other than myself’ whenever I was given a role. Having gone down the music route, I was increasingly being asked to ‘express myself more’ and while I’d be thinking ‘I’ve got nothing worth showing…’, Kanno-san would reply ‘there must be something’ and she’d get me to keep trying out all sorts of different things to try and increase my [self-]awareness. With hindsight, I’m so glad that I was given the space during my formative years to ‘think about who Sakamoto Maaya is when she’s not playing a role’, and that I was able to grow up without turning away from who I am.

If “I” am nowhere to be found, it would feel fake

Q: You split from your producer Kanno-san in 2005 with the single ‘Loop’ – did that mean that you’d found your artistic personality?

A: I did find myself there, at that moment in time. But I do also feel that I was trying to become the Sakamoto Maaya that Kanno-san had wished me to be. Kanno-san really understood what ‘being Sakamoto Maaya’ meant and there hadn’t been a need for things to be explained up until that point, so I did feel anxious about whether I could sing adequately for someone whom I was meeting for the first time. ‘Loop’ came a short time after I’d graduated from university and was once again thinking about making a living in this industry. I was expanding the scope of my work by trying out musical work and so forth, and getting to meet such amazing people in my age group made me realise ‘what a narrow world I’d been living in’. And it pretty much crushed my perception that ‘I’d have no problem keeping up [with the others]’.

Q: Were you shocked to meet such talented people from your age group?

A: I really was. When I was a child actress, I was always the youngest wherever I went and hardly ever met any other children of my age. By the time I’d taken my first step outside, I was in my mid-20s and others my age were already working twice as hard, had tons of talent and shone at what they did. It felt like I’d been constantly playing truant; that I’d been brought up in a bubble. I’d only ever worked with the same people I’d known my whole life and would likely keep producing good works even if I ended up never broadening my horizons. I know that this is something I can only say now in retrospect, but if I’d continued going down that road, I don’t think I would have lasted 25 years. Something inside me would have died somewhere along the way, I think. Despite that, I was still uneasy about trying something new. Going back to what we were discussing – the last album I made with Kanno-san (2003’s ‘Shōnen Alice’) was a fantastically good album. Though I agree with that sentiment, I have to say that I didn’t feel particularly happy when I heard the acclaim it received. Most of it was thanks to Kanno-san being in charge – my thoughts were, ‘I am still not that accomplished yet’ and my own assessment clashed [with general opinion]. Instead of feeling down, I felt angry for whatever reason. I would often compare myself to other people and think ‘how naive can I be?’, getting annoyed at and disappointed in myself for being unable to accomplish anything of note. I do think I was quite selfish back then.

Q: That’s a pretty big wall to run into.

A: While splitting from Kanno-san as my producer wasn’t quite my version of going on a pilgrimage [to find myself], I do think Kanno-san felt a bit like a lioness pushing her own cub off the edge of a cliff. On my part I had braced myself, thinking that ‘If I go out into the wide world and don’t manage to survive, then I was never worth much in the first place anyway’.

Q: You ended up working with a diverse group of songwriters for your singles starting with ‘Loop’ – h-wonder, Suzuki Shōko, Cano Caoli and so on.

A: That was the intention, and my staff members thought it’d be good to let me come into contact with all sorts of different people. I thought of it positively – I might discover potential within myself that I never knew existed, or some crazy chemical reaction could occur when I meet someone new. That period was a succession of experiments for me.

Q: Through trial and error, you eventually reached the conclusion that ‘no matter who I work with, it’ll still be a Sakamoto Maaya song’?

A: I only started to feel that way in my 30s. When you think about it, what a long time it’s taken, hasn’t it? (laughs) The songs included in ‘Achikochi’ (that were released post-2013) are all songs made with the firm conviction that ‘I can be myself no matter who I work with’ and with pleasure gained from the knowledge that ‘it’s okay to fail’ – I can listen to them with peace of mind. Up to that point, the experimental process had always troubled me. I’d start from scratch, trying to get across exactly what I wanted or didn’t want throughout the making of a track. I exhausted myself every single time, which I mean in a good way. Different recording engineers have different working methods and I was able to make discoveries regarding ‘what I should do to produce a certain type of sound’. It was a continuous learning process.

Q: 2011’s ‘You can’t catch me’, released to time with your 15th anniversary year, was your first chart-topping album and may also have been the first of Sakamoto-san’s albums to establish your ‘personality’. It featured a diverse group of songwriters and fully demonstrated your potential as a singer.

A: It really was an experiment though. I was still exploring all kinds of things and each song on ‘You can’t catch me’ featured a different engineer. Originally, I’d planned and thought it better to engage a single engineer trusted by one of the songwriters but by the halfway point [we] were thinking, ‘how on earth do you put all of this together on 1 album?’ (laughs) It was a very trying process, but I learned a lot.

Q: What are your thoughts on lyric writing? Since 2010, you’ve gained increasing attention as a lyricist.

A: I’d always loved to write lyrics but I was already in my 30s by the time I started to want to write about all kinds of things. When I was in my teens, I could only write based on my own experiences so even if I was trying to write a love song, I didn’t have the vocabulary for it. Now that I’m getting older, I find the content of my lyrics being enriched by my own experiences and those of people around me. When I was young, I would need a specific theme; for example, ‘Justice prevails!’ but now, I understand that there is a myriad of emotions within me and I’ve come to be able to express them through my lyrics. Once that was clear, lyric-writing became even more enjoyable to me.

Q: When one writes based on their own experiences, the tendency is for the songs to be a little bit samey, singing about repetitive themes. You could describe it as [a person’s unique] flavour but to me, Sakamoto-san is more of an ‘author’.

A: There is a part of me which thinks ‘I’d feel embarrassed to keep singing about the same things all the time’ but luckily, I have been entrusted with many opportunities to perform theme songs that are tie-ups [for series/productions] and that does help to broaden my range. Earlier, I mentioned that ‘through a role, I can express myself in ways that I never thought possible’ and this runs in a similar vein. I’m often asked to write in ways that would normally be unfathomable to me, such as ‘make “conquering the world” the theme of a song’, or write about ‘a teenager who gains superpowers out of the blue and he now rides giant robots’ – it’s fun to write lyrics as I’m gradually being fed bits of information. Still, it’d feel fake if the songs I wrote for tie-ups didn’t have a little bit of ‘me’ in there somewhere. Okay, maybe it’d be fine to have nothing of ‘me’ in a song but I try to include maybe 2 lines that represent ‘what I want to say right now’. I used to believe that it’d be bad if ‘I’ wasn’t in the song at all, but I can strike a fine balance between story and song nowadays. I think I’ve finally grown up.

#243 – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T cast interviews #15: Takaoka Binbin


Didn’t think he’d get an interview too but I’m sure some people out there are dying to hear the thoughts of Kihara Gensei (CV: Takaoka Binbin)! PS Takaoka’s words are adorbs tho ;;;;;

Psychological Warfare vs Shokuho Misaki is Worth Watching + Behind-the-scenes Interactions with Asakura Azumi

Q: How would you describe the A Certain Scientific Railgun series?

A: A battle story featuring students with special abilities in the futuristic Academy City. Each individual is attractive in their own way (they’re more mature than adults) – it’s a very intriguing story that’s both cool and funny.

Q: What’s the mood like in the recording studio?

A: The series has been running for a long time so it’s harmonious [in the studio] and a lot of fun to record. The dialogue is peppered with a lot of difficult technical terms – when I commented “It’s tough on everyone”, they’d tell me “It’s all your fault though (lol)”.

And the answer is…Yeah. It’s definitely Gensei’s fault…

Q: Were there any aspects that you focused on in particular when voicing Kihara Gensei?

A: He may be an old man but he has the energy to pursue whatever he wants to with his indomitable spirit, plus he never stops smiling.

It’s easy to stick the ‘mad scientist’ label on him but…nah, he’s just someone who enjoys life to the fullest…or so I think.

Q: The battle between Kihara Gensei and Shokuho is a highlight – was there anything from that exchange that left a strong impression on you?

A: It was psychological warfare that was a battle to outwit the other. Probably the part where it went from ‘oh crap~’ to ‘of course not, stupid.’

From a personal viewpoint – Asakura (Azumi)-san gave me Valentine’s Day chocolate so I’m really glad that the victory belonged to Shokuho-kun.

It’s Definitely Better to be a “User”

Q: Did any other scenes from the Daihasei Festival arc leave an impression on you?

A: Kuroko’s seiyuu Arai (Satomi)-san is incredible at ad-libs and I’m always so impressed by how she can produce all sorts of ‘Gyoee~’ or ‘Gyohoho~’ sounds…only to have the director give it an NG, describing them as ‘vulgar’…I still laugh when I think about it.

Q: Which of the characters are your favourites?

A: I’d say Kozaku (Mitori)-kun and Dolly. Kozaku ran into her at the research facility when she was young and at first, she wasn’t too willing to play with her but she found herself laughing naturally at how innocent Dolly was. And by the time Kozaku came to realise how important Dolly was in her life, she had stumbled upon a ‘secret’ that was supposed to remain hidden…

It’s quite sad, isn’t it? You wouldn’t want to be told that you were just fodder for experiments. It’s always better to be a ‘user’ [than to be ‘used’].

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the Railgun fans.

A: Thank you for your support, as always. Although my time with the series was short, the show is of great quality and the studio such a passionate place that it has been a wonderful experience for me. It would be nice if Gensei-san is still alive but…(lol). Please continue watching!

Links
#1: Sato Rina (Misaka Mikoto)
#2: Arai Satomi (Shirai Kuroko)
#3: Toyosaki Aki (Uiharu Kazari)
#4: Ito Kanae (Saten Ruiko)
#5: Asakura Azumi (Shokuho Misaki)
#6: Sasaki Nozomi (Sisters)
#7: Kotobuki Minako (Kongo Mitsuko)
#8: Tomatsu Haruka (Wannai Kinuho)
#9: Nanjo Yoshino (Awatsuki Maaya)
#10: Hayashi Daichi (Baba Yoshio)
#11: Abe Atsushi (Kamijo Toma)
#12: Kawanishi Kengo (Sogiita Gunha)
#13: Tomita Miyu (Kozaku Mitori)
#14: Kohara Konomi (Dolly)

#242 – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T cast interviews #14: Kohara Konomi


Next up is cutie-pie Dolly (CV: Kohara Konomi)!

How to Express the Purity of Dolly’s Heart

Q: How would you describe the A Certain Scientific Railgun series?

A: I had the impression that it was a story about girls with mysterious powers but it turned out that there was a lot more depth to it, and that it had the ability to firmly pull you in.

Q: What’s the mood like in the recording studio?

A: Everybody was really kind… I was a bunch of nerves approaching recording but by the end I felt so relaxed and soothed, even though it’s supposed to be work. It’s probably because everyone has been together for so long, but the studio was so lively and fun.

Q: What kind of character is Dolly? Were there any areas that you focused on, or were directed to do when acting?

A: She’s a pure child who knows nothing of the outside world. But there’s also a shadow of loneliness hanging over her, and she doesn’t really understand why. I kept that in mind as I played the part. She’s such a pure-hearted girl that it left me feeling a little sad at times.

Q: Tell us your honest thoughts when you learned about Dolly’s background (the fact that she’s a clone created by a research facility).

A: It was crushing. Not only her background, but also when it came to her emotions, I would just… But seeing her dream of the outside world and knowing how much she enjoyed spending time with the ones she loved made me want to draw as near to her as I possibly could.

Q: In episode 15, we learn how important Kozaku Mitori and Shokuho Misaki are to Dolly.

A: Dolly seems to enjoy herself so much when she’s with the 2 people she loves most which in turn, meant that I very much enjoyed voicing her. She could never have imagined that soap bubbles and sugoroku would be so much more fun and joyful when played with someone else, instead of alone.

Touched by Kozaku’s Thoughts and Actions Towards Dolly

Q: Were there any other scenes in the Daihasei Festival arc that left an impression on you?

A: I’ve got to say I was moved by Kozaku’s emotions and actions towards Dolly. And hearing Tomita Miyu-chan’s performance in the studio too – her words resonated in my heart…

Q: Do tell us if any characters in Railgun T piqued your interest.

A: Maybe it’s because I voice Dolly, but I grew more and more interested in Shokuho-san throughout the recording process and as the show aired. Not only because she possesses such fascinating abilities, but also because I love her cute way of talking.

Q: Please tell us what you’re looking forward to, or what you’re anticipating in the second half of the series.

A: While looking forward to seeing how Dolly gets involved with the rest of the characters in future, I’ll continue supporting the story!

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the Railgun fans.

A: I’m truly blessed to have the chance to be involved in this long-running series. Through Dolly, I hope I’ll get to make the story even more exciting so please continue supporting the series in future!

Links
#1: Sato Rina (Misaka Mikoto)
#2: Arai Satomi (Shirai Kuroko)
#3: Toyosaki Aki (Uiharu Kazari)
#4: Ito Kanae (Saten Ruiko)
#5: Asakura Azumi (Shokuho Misaki)
#6: Sasaki Nozomi (Sisters)
#7: Kotobuki Minako (Kongo Mitsuko)
#8: Tomatsu Haruka (Wannai Kinuho)
#9: Nanjo Yoshino (Awatsuki Maaya)
#10: Hayashi Daichi (Baba Yoshio)
#11: Abe Atsushi (Kamijo Toma)
#12: Kawanishi Kengo (Sogiita Gunha)
#13: Tomita Miyu (Kozaku Mitori)

#241 – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T cast interviews #13: Tomita Miyu


Next up is Kozaku Mitori (voiced by Tomita Miyu), who’s hardly likely to be anyone’s favourite character unless you have a fetish for bitche-

What it Felt like to Voice Kozaku Mitori, a Type of Role That I Find Challenging

Q: We hear that you were originally a reader of the Toaru series, but what are your impressions of A Certain Scientific Railgun?

A: My thoughts were: ‘it’s a series that everyone knows’. I had watched [Railgun] when I was in primary school, and there were many kids around me who got hooked on anime because of this series. It was popular in my class as well, so copies of the manga would be passed around amongst the students.

Q: What’s the mood like in the recording studio?

A: Everyone’s just very kind and recordings were always relaxed – I looked forward to going to the studio every week. I learned a lot from my seniors’ performances and I’m glad that there was so much for me to absorb every week.

Oh, and Sato-san and Arai-san took turns to bring in snacks every week and I could feel how much they love the series – I hope I can be a senior like them someday!

Q: What kind of character is Kozaku Mitori?

A: She’s a character whose role is to thwart the protagonists – I’ve never voiced someone like her before, and it was a challenge.

The flashback story in episode 15 was very meaningful and even though she’s classified as an ‘antagonist’ in the storyline, you see that she too, has gone through many painful experiences and has someone dear to her…she’s just so very human, I think.

That’s why I’d say Kozaku Mitori is not an ‘evil role’. I actually had a lot of fun during recordings as I grew to understand her character.

Q: This series features many characters with unique speech inflections – was there anything specific you were careful about approaching the role of Kozaku Mitori?

A: I tried elongating the ends of her sentences; made her sound a little more languid and aloof so that it wouldn’t be easy to read into her mental state.

Mitori often puts on rather theatrical reactions so I was instructed to ‘make her sound more like a foreigner’ and to ‘make her sound like she does things deliberately’.

I hope you were able to catch that slight bit of creepiness I tried to inject into the ends of her lines.

I Felt Charmed by the Contradicting Parts of Kuroko, Whom I’ve Loved Since I was in Primary School

Q: Tell us what your favourite scenes in the Daihasei Festival arc are – both those involving Kozaku Mitori and those without, and why.

A: It’s got to be the flashback story with Dolly. With this episode you can clearly see the events that gave shape to what lies in Mitori’s heart as well as what drives her and to be honest, I could feel my heart aching as I was recording the episode. At the end however, she was reunited with Dolly and that final scene with the 3 of them felt like the greatest reward ever.

Also, I’d been chatting with Kohara Konomi-chan, the voice of Dolly, about wanting to see each other in the Railgun studio as soon as possible so with this episode it was like ‘finally, I get to meet you!’ – I was so glad (lol)

Personally, I’d like to recommend the pairing of Saten (Ruiko)-san and Uiharu (Kazari)-chan – they’re really adorable and I love them: it made me so excited to get to see them!

Q: Are there any other characters that pique your interest?

A: I love Kuroko-chan! She’s the one I’ve loved since primary school and if I could use any power in life, I’d like to be able to ‘Teleport’…it seems so useful (lol)

In terms of visuals she’s very cute but there are so many parts of her personality that clash [with her appearance] such as her facial expressions when she’s fawning over Mikoto or when she’s involved in a battle – that’s what makes her so charming.

Q: Please tell us what you’re looking forward to, or what you’re anticipating in the second half of the series.

A: There will be new characters appearing in the second half so I’m sure that both manga fans and those who know Railgun through the anime will enjoy the thrilling, heart-pounding developments!

As a fan, I’m really looking forward to the heart-warmingly cute everyday scenes alongside the exciting battles!

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the Railgun fans.

A: I’d be pleased if the Daihasei Festival arc managed to convey the charms of Kozaku Mitori as a character to all of you. Thanks to being involved with this series, my love for Railgun has grown more and more.

The excitement won’t stop and every week will leave you on the edge of your seat! Please continue to enjoy A Certain Scientific Railgun!

Links
#1: Sato Rina (Misaka Mikoto)
#2: Arai Satomi (Shirai Kuroko)
#3: Toyosaki Aki (Uiharu Kazari)
#4: Ito Kanae (Saten Ruiko)
#5: Asakura Azumi (Shokuho Misaki)
#6: Sasaki Nozomi (Sisters)
#7: Kotobuki Minako (Kongo Mitsuko)
#8: Tomatsu Haruka (Wannai Kinuho)
#9: Nanjo Yoshino (Awatsuki Maaya)
#10: Hayashi Daichi (Baba Yoshio)
#11: Abe Atsushi (Kamijo Toma)
#12: Kawanishi Kengo (Sogiita Gunha)

#240 – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T cast interviews #12: Kawanishi Kengo


Amazing Punch is in the house! Sogiita Gunha (CV: Kawanishi Kengo) is rather popular, isn’t he?

What’s Important When Voicing Sogiita Gunha, The Boy with Amazing Impact

Q: How would you describe the A Certain Scientific Railgun series?

I thought of it as a superpower battle series with a school setting, where characters would use their abilities to solve daily happenings etc

Q: This being part of a long-running series; what’s the mood like in the recording studio?

A: I’m only joining in starting this season so at first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit in well with the overall setup since it’s a long-running series, but everyone so welcomed me so warmly and I enjoyed working on the show.

Q: What kind of character is Sogiita Gunha?

A: With him, what you see is what you get, and he’s a straightforward ‘never say die’ kind of guy. The type of person who acts before they think.

Q: Were there any aspects that you focused on in particular when voicing Gunha?

A: As soon as [talk of] the role came up I went to look up the source material to find out what he was like and I ended up with one word: ‘Amazing Punch’. I knew that this was of great importance.

Q: Did you come up with the way to say ‘Amazing Punch’?

A: He immediately launches into ‘Amazing Punch’ when he first appears so I had a couple of ideas in mind, but it took many retakes to get it right.

The 2nd half of Railgun T: I’m Looking Forward to It All as a Viewer Without Any Advance Info!

Q: What were your favourite scenes from the Daihasei Festival arc?

A: The battle scene in tandem with Kamijo Toma. You can see glimpses of it from the opening animation – it really gets the boys’ blood pumping and I was thrilled even before I had started recording the scene.

Q: Are there any other characters that pique your interest?

A: Before I got involved with this series, I’d already heard of it and vaguely knew some of the characters but when I watched it for the first time, I took a shine to Misaka Mikoto and Shirai Kuroko right away. I may not possess deep knowledge of the series but even I knew of the way these 2 characters interact so when I saw them for real I was like, “This must be it!”.

Q: Please tell us what you’re looking forward to, or what you’re anticipating in the second half of the series.

A: Though the source material is always on hand, I’m admittedly the type who prefers to watch it in animated form since I am part of the business, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing everything as a normal viewer.

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the Railgun fans.

A: I am a newcomer to Railgun but I’ve given my best in hopes of livening up this series so please continue to support us from now on.

Links
#1: Sato Rina (Misaka Mikoto)
#2: Arai Satomi (Shirai Kuroko)
#3: Toyosaki Aki (Uiharu Kazari)
#4: Ito Kanae (Saten Ruiko)
#5: Asakura Azumi (Shokuho Misaki)
#6: Sasaki Nozomi (Sisters)
#7: Kotobuki Minako (Kongo Mitsuko)
#8: Tomatsu Haruka (Wannai Kinuho)
#9: Nanjo Yoshino (Awatsuki Maaya)
#10: Hayashi Daichi (Baba Yoshio)
#11: Abe Atsushi (Kamijo Toma)

#239 – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T cast interviews #11: Abe Atsushi


Chatting with the MC from that other show – Kamijo Toma (CV Abe Atsushi).

Even if the Series Changes, He Stays the Same: That’s His Charm

Q: Tell us your thoughts upon hearing that the Railgun series would be starting up again.

A: When a continuation to the Toaru project was announced, I was thinking ‘Maybe [Railgun too]…?’ so I was happy when I heard the announcement. It’s a story from a perspective different to that of the Toaru series, and it complements the main franchise in many different ways, which is part of its appeal.

Q: Talk us through your emotions upon seeing the familiar cast and staff members gathering in the studio.

A: I think it’s been about 10 years since the auditions, so I was quite moved by the thought of being able to record with everyone else once again (lol) Also, Index is recorded in the morning but Railgun is recorded in the evening so it’s always fun to go out for dinner after the sessions are done.

Q: Once again, let’s discuss the appeal of your character, Kamijo Toma.

A: The fact that he stays the same no matter if the series changes: that’s his charm. You feel reassured right from the very first moment he pops up onscreen.

My Impressions Upon Seeing the Explosive ‘Dragon Strike’ in Episode 14?

Q: You played a big part towards the tail end of the Daihasei Festival arc. Tell us your thoughts about Kamijo Toma’s scenes.

A: Dang, it was just so very amazing! I was already quite taken aback by the scene in the manga but it was even more amazing seeing it animated! Plus, the words that were said to Mikoto at the end were what you’d expect of Kamijo-san – utterly cool.

Q: Were there any other scenes that left an impression on you?

A: Kongo (Mitsuko)-san with Wannai (Kinuho)-san and Awatsuki (Maaya)-san’s friendship touched me. To think that these three had become so close at some point – it really hit me in the feels.

Q: Are there any characters that pique your interest?

A: Saten-san. We’re both Level 0s and in this season, our paths cross for the first time.

Q: Please tell us what you’re looking forward to, or what you’re anticipating in the second half of the series.

A: I think Kamijo-san’s work is done for now. Like the rest of the viewers, I’ll be looking forward to seeing the main 4 in action.

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the Railgun fans.

A: What kind of role will Mikoto and the other 3 girls play in the story moving forward? I’d be glad if you could watch over and support the show together with me!

Links
#1: Sato Rina (Misaka Mikoto)
#2: Arai Satomi (Shirai Kuroko)
#3: Toyosaki Aki (Uiharu Kazari)
#4: Ito Kanae (Saten Ruiko)
#5: Asakura Azumi (Shokuho Misaki)
#6: Sasaki Nozomi (Sisters)
#7: Kotobuki Minako (Kongo Mitsuko)
#8: Tomatsu Haruka (Wannai Kinuho)
#9: Nanjo Yoshino (Awatsuki Maaya)
#10: Hayashi Daichi (Baba Yoshio)