Featured post

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.
Continue reading


#181 – Hinamatsuri Interview Vols.3&4 –Tanaka Takako & Murakawa Rie

Continuing the series of Hinamatsuri interviews is Vols 3 & 4 featuring the voices behind the Hina-Anzu pairing, girls (?) from a similar background but with such contrasting fates in our world. Anzu is so precious…!

Pt 1

Q: Now that the show has started airing, please give us your impressions of it.

Tanaka: The art is too beautiful! The visuals were already done by the time we went for recordings and they looked good then, but they look even more amazing now. And they’re moving so smoothly There’s so much detail, to the point where I’m thinking, ‘Eh, they move that much!?’. And oh, Hina-chan’s cute!!

Murakawa: The anime’s cute, the manga’s cute too. Both are cute.

Tanaka: They’re both cute! All the heroines are cute!!

Q: You do keep track of viewer reactions on Twitter as well.

Tanaka: It’s my first lead role so I was curious about how people would react and I had a look. I do tweet in real-time as well. I enjoy sharing in the fun with everyone else.

Q: There was a viewing party held on the evening the first episode was broadcast, with Director Oikawa (Kei) and author Ōtake Masao-sensei, other staff members and some of the cast present.

Tanaka: That’s right. I was there too.

Q: What were your impressions of the screening seesion?

Tanaka: It starts. [The characters] appear. Huge laughter, along with cheers of ‘Yay-’. I laugh at the same places that I laughed at during recording. One of the lines at the start, ‘My smartphone…!’ was one that the Director had specifically emphasized – everyone loved it and laughed along.

Q: Murakawa-san, were you there too?

Murakawa: I would have loved to go but was unable to, as I had an event in Sendai the following day.

Q: Seems like the recording studio is as fun as the anime itself appears to be. Was there good teamwork from the beginning?

Tanaka: We still hadn’t found out who had been cast as Anzu when we were recording episode 1. I was wondering who it would be, and I found out later on through SNS (laughs)

Murakawa: Same for me. I didn’t know who else would be voicing what character until I saw it on SNS.

Tanaka: Done in such a laidback way, Hinamatsuri-style.

Murakawa: It feels that way for sure. But when I saw Hikasa-san’s name on SNS I guessed ‘…gotta be Utako-san, right?’ straight away (laughs)

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

Tanaka: It’s very cheerful.

Murakawa: There are a lot of people there after all. I only came in from episode 2, but I’d already started communicating with the others before that in our SNS group so I was like ‘Ahh!’ when I arrived at the studio. It was a strange feeling.

Tanaka: It’s like, ‘Hi, nice to meet you!’ but ‘it doesn’t feel like my first time meeting you’.

Q: Is it a common thing to create SNS groups for a particular series?

Murakawa: It was quite unusual in that a group was created right from the start. Most of the time, it’s only after recording has begun that you see little circles or groups forming. For this particular show, there are many faces that are familiar individually and its those individual ties that have helped to form one big circle.

Tanaka: Groups started to form from episode 1. It was Nakajima-san who took the initiative to expand those little circles. Nakajima-san is a really nice guy, like a big brother to me.

Q: What were your impressions of each other?

Tanaka: ‘Kind, gentle, small-faced, slim’ – that’s like a 4-piece golden combo!

Murakawa: Thanks (laughs)

Tanaka: Also, you have a loud voice!

Murakawa: Is that meant to be a compliment??

Tanaka: It is. When I get nervous my voice gets quieter ‘til I get told, ‘Eh, what did you just say?’. I want to be like Rietion, whose laughter can be heard all the way from the waiting area next to the [recording] booth…

Murakawa: That sounds like a diss to me though? Are you being serious??

Tanaka: It’s a compliment!

Murakawa: Okay, if you say so (laughs)

Tanaka: You have such great presence – I get so excited that I’m at a loss for words when I’m talking to you.

Murakawa: I see, so I have the power to draw you in.

Tanaka: Yes, I am pulled in by Rietion’s laughter and it makes me laugh too.

Murakawa: Is that one of my charm points? (laughs)

Tanaka: It is! It’s a way of laughing that makes everyone happy.

Q: Murakawa-san, what’s your impression of Tanaka-san?

Murakawa: I didn’t think she had a small voice at all so I’m surprised to hear what she just said. I think she’s the complete opposite of Hina. Hina tends not to allow her facial expressions reflect her mood changes while (Tanaka-san) on the other hand, talks a lot and is cheerful. The two of them might share the same comical nature. It’s not intentional, but they do come up with the most amazing remarks.

Tanaka: I do?

Murakawa: Hmm, how should I put it? It’s like, there’s value in playing the straight man (to her fool). There are times when you do think ‘what the heck did she mean?’ or ‘I think she’s got the wrong idea?’ (laughs)

Tanaka: It is true that most of my friends and co-stars say that I’m the complete opposite of Hina. I didn’t actually think I was, so I’m surprised to hear people say to the contrary. It made me think, ‘Ah, so I’m the total opposite of Hina’.

Pt 2

Q: Are there any aspects that you’re particularly careful about when it comes to playing Anzu?

Murakawa: At first, I was emphasizing the ‘fun’ aspects of the show through my acting but over time, the instructions I received turned into things like ‘you don’t need to make it sound funny’ or ‘Anzu is cute. Don’t kill that cuteness’. By the second half of the show Anzu’s angelic aura has been awakened and I was banned from ‘making her sound funny’ – my only mission was to ‘make her an angel’.

Q: In episode 2 we see Hina and Anzu using their super powers to do battle – if the two of you could have a super power, what would it be?

Tanaka: Cleaning. I was just cleaning up yesterday and there was about 15 garbage bags’ worth of garbage. You can’t throw clothes away, can you… my apartment is in the state where you can’t even take a single step back or forth. That’s why I want a super power to help me clean my room. Do it like ‘fwip, fwip, sparkle!’

Murakawa: Mine is a standard choice – I really want to be able to fly.

Tanaka: Let’s fly! Let’s go!

Q: That battle scene in episode 2 really was something else.

Murakawa: It was funny enough in the manga already but once you see it in motion it becomes even more hilarious. The director and the other staff members have great respect for the manga, so it was a scene they wanted to get right.

Tanaka: When they were playing Acchi Muite Hoi and their faces go UEEEEEEEEEEEEE – there actually wasn’t any dialogue written into the script. When you see that part animated you do feel that there definitely should be voices to accompany the scene and I was given a free hand to do whatever I wanted.

Q: My impression was that you were shivering and talking at the same time.

Tanaka: That was my first time doing something like that. I tried to imagine what it would feel like to be pulled by the force of gravity, and since it’s Hina I had to try to not do it in such a loud voice.

Q: Tanaka-san spoke about her audition in a previous interview. What about Murakawa-san, do you remember what your audition was like?

Murakawa: Actually, it had been decided earlier on that I would be doing the theme song. I love Hinamatsuri so I was like ‘Yay!’, and then I also found out that I’d be auditioning for the show. Never in my dreams did I think I would get chosen to play Anzu; I was insanely happy. People will probably think that I’m only in the show ‘cos I perform the theme song but it seems that my casting was because I fit Anzu really well, so that made me very happy.

Tanaka: From my conversations with the producers, the Director and the author Ōtake-san, they’ve all said that the person who fit the characters best was selected for each of the roles.

Murakawa: Ya hear that, guys? I’m glad!

Q: Now tell us what the highlights of your theme song Distance are.

Murakawa: The lyrics of the song are very much related to Hinamatsuri; they’re written for Nitta and Hina. It might not make much sense to those who don’t read the manga though… but there are parts that will be amazingly on-point for readers. Do go and read the manga again, and look for the corresponding sections in the song. For those who are watching the anime, do try looking out for these parts in the show as well.

Tanaka: I’m hearing that (story) for the first time. By the way, when I wake up in the morning I hear Distance playing in my head. DO~RE~DA~KE is stuck in my brain.

Murakawa: That’s good! Distance when you wake up is good, as is Distance when you’re commuting. It’s 100% refreshing!

[Interview/text: Satō Keiichi]

#180 – Hinamatsuri Interview Vols.1&2 –Tanaka Takako, Nakajima Yoshiki, Hondo Kaede

One of my favourite shows of the season is the non-stop barrel of laughs that is Hinamatsuri. Turns out the ensemble cast is as interesting as the anime itself; and for the first joint interview we have the rather barmy Tanaka Takako aka TT, the voice behind Hina, the level-headed oniichan Nakajima Yoshiki (Nitta) and TT-makes-her-look-normal Hondo Kaede (Hitomi).


Q: Tell us your thoughts upon finding out that you’d been cast in your respective roles.

Tanaka: This was my first time (landing a major role) so I had to ask again to confirm. Like, ‘Eh?’. When I was told, ‘You’ve been cast in the role of Hina’, I had no idea whether it true or not, so I just replied ‘….thank you’ in a small voice while the others around me applauded. In a ‘Congrats!’ kind of way. It didn’t hit me right at that moment. It was only after I left the agency office that I suddenly screamed ‘Ah—-!!!’. And I knew I had to work hard. I wasn’t thinking about anything else.

Q: Since it’s your first leading role, did you reward yourself in any way?

Tanaka: I bought some strawberry flavoured Haagan Dazs.

Q: How about you, Nakajima-san?

Nakajima: After being told that I’d been cast, I went back to read the manga and realized that Nitta is what I’d call a ‘calorie-burning’ kind of role and it made me go ‘Now, things are gonna get real serious’. He has plenty of lines, he’s making all the witty responses and he’s the one who sets the ball rolling. I was also looking forward to seeing who my co-stars would be. I got really excited ahead of finding out the cast list.

Q: Hondo-san?

Hondo: Quite some time had passed since the audition until my manager informed me ‘you’ve been cast in the role of Hitomi-chan’. At the time, my impression had been that she was the only one with common sense [amongst the cast]. Then I read the manga and what I thought was, ‘Ah – she’s a pretty dangerous girl’ (laughs). She’s a junior high student who looks mature and acts like a guardian [to the other characters], but it all gradually starts to fall apart in her work etc – I was nervous about having to show that through my performance but at the same time, I felt happy. I’d been thinking of growing my hair out around that time, but I gave up and had it cut short…

Q: Do you try to resemble the characters you’re cast as when it comes to aspects such as hair etc?

Hondo: Personally I do like to try to look like them. Even the costume I’m wearing right now is based on Hitomi’s – I enjoy doing that. But I cut my hair, so I’ve had to wear one of the wigs that I keep for my other hobbies.

Q: Can you tell us what similarities you share with your respective characters? Let’s start with Tanaka-san.

Tanaka: I do really do things at my own pace. If I wasn’t working I’d be like Hina, living the slacker life, playing games while sprawled on the floor, eating potato chips…I’d be a dried fish woman (laughs) I’d probably be thinking things like ‘When was the last time I used the washing machine…? A century ago?’

Q: That means that you’re usually a lot more sloppy?

Tanaka: Yeah I’m quite sloppy. Slovenly, slow-paced. I might even be offending other people without knowing it.

Nakajima/Hondo: You haven’t yet.

Tanaka: Really? I’m glad.

Q: How about Nakajima-san?

Nakajima: I’m quite domesticated, surprisingly. I like looking after people.

Tanaka: Yes, yes (nods).

Nakajima: Do you have any self-awareness of the fact that you’re always being looked after? (laughs)

Tanaka: Yeah I do think you look after me.

Nakajima: I guess you could say in a way, the two of us are similar to how Nitta takes care of Hina. Also, I seem to have played a lot of delinquents, rascals and gangsters in the past. I’ve always wondered why though, since I’m such a gentle guy (laughs)

Q: Hondo-san, do you share any similarities [with Hitomi]?

Hondo: I wonder what we have in common. After all, I cut my hair (laughs)

Nakajima: Maybe you find it hard to say no (to other people’s requests)?

Hondo: I don’t think so (laughs). ‘cos I know if I don’t turn them down the regrets will keep on piling up… (laughs) I suppose that nature of Hitomi’s where she finds it hard to leave people alone is something that might apply to myself as well. Like when Hina first transfers into her school and she’s seated next to Hitomi, she helps her wipe her drool off. I’d probably do that too, helping others to wipe away their drool.


Q: What do you think is the appeal of Hinamatsuri?

Tanaka: The series has a surreal kind of humour that anyone in the world would get addicted to if they gave it a chance. Plus, it has the ability to make you cry a little~. The manga does make you feel the warmth of family bonds and love etc. What’s interesting is how it takes an unconventional approach to the comedy – you’ll be left thinking, ‘ah, that’s where they’re coming from’ when the jokes fly in from unexpected directions. You’ll never get tired of re-watching the show, making new discoveries and laughing away.

Nakajima: Hinamatsuri isn’t about making you laugh out loud – it’s more about the little chuckles, making you go ‘heh’. You get that once every 2-3 panels. Before you know it, you’ll be rolling around laughing. Each joke is peculiar and surreal, and you’ll even laugh at panels that have no speech bubbles, where characters aren’t saying anything.

Q: I believe the way Tanaka-san normally speaks is different from the way Hina talks – is there anything you’re especially conscious about when you’re playing the character?

Tanaka: I try to imagine my own voice when I’ve just woken up. That’s what Hina’s voice sounded like in my head, when I was reading the manga ahead of the auditions. What you hear is close to what I sound like when I’m waking up. So I’m not really forcing a voice; it’s kind of natural to me.

Nakajima: On the other hand, when you put a bit more feeling into it you’re told, ‘please make it more emotionless’, aren’t you?

Tanaka: Yeah, I get told that even when I put just a tiny bit of emotion in. I have to make it as close to zero as possible. The other characters are super passionate so when I try to do it with a little more feeling I get told, ‘Ah, Tanaka-san. Please do it ‘blank’, like you normally do’ (laughs)

Q: Do you have any favourite episodes, taking into account the manga as well?

Tanaka: The part where Hina is disowned and in a sign of contrition, returns home and hands Nitta a 2900 yen vase, forlornly (?) saying ‘Nitta…’ Nitta somewhat forgives her, saying ‘let’s go home’ and Hina goes ‘Oh!’ – that’s the Hina part I loved the most. It made me think, ‘So this girl can make that kind of expression too!’. And that’s the moment I thought ‘they’re parent and child!’. Even if they’re not related, they can still have a loving relationship.

Hondo: Nitta hooks Hitomi-chan up with a nice place to stay and she’s forced to earn more in order to afford the rent. Knowing her plight, regular customers [at the bar] say to her ‘please help me out with this’ and she virtually ends up working full-time. Meanwhile, Hitomi hears one of her schoolmates remarking that they ‘want to grow up as soon as possible’ and she’s like ‘Working life…it ain’t a bed of roses’ and ‘It’s nice to be so carefree. I’m so tired from work’. That withered look filled with sorrow and exhaustion that she had – I loved it.

Nakajima: Due to a misunderstanding, Nitta ends up buried in cement up to his neck – the art had a lot of impact there.

Q: Hinamatsuri does have a lot of fun with the characters’ expressions and the art.

Nakajima: The characters’ expressions make them look insufferable. It really riles you up (laugh)

Q: Hinamatsuri is the title of this series – do any of you have good memories of the Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day) festival?

Tanaka: My family lives in a very remote area in rural Fukui, where most houses have a tiered Hina doll stand (hinadan). We had one in our house that had been passed down the generations and it looks beautiful in the afternoons. At night too. My family home was built 150 years ago. It’s a Taisho-era building that’s pretty classy. And at nights…[the dolls] give off a certain aura. Y’know, that kind of feeling. Like they’re watching you. Looking right at you.

Nakajima: They probably aren’t looking at you.

Hondo: It’s just your imagination.

Tanaka: When I was in primary school I was convinced that they could move. I actually saw it in a dream. It was the middle of the night in my house, and I wanted to go to the toilet – I passed by the red carpet (where the Hina dolls are placed)…and I could hear a ‘ten-ten-ten-ten’ sound coming from behind me. When I turned my head around, I could see the 3 court musician dolls…

All: (laughter)

Nakajima: It’s 5 court musicians*. Don’t kill off 2 of them. It’s 3 court ladies & 5 court musicians.

Tanaka: (laughs)…. My vocabulary sucks…

Nakajima: This isn’t about vocabulary, it’s about general knowledge.

Tanaka: (laughs). Anyway, they attacked me. They were using bows & arrows and shot at me in my dream, and I woke up with a sudden ‘UWAA~!!’. It was just a dream.

Nakajima: Of course it’s a dream! I know that much.

Tanaka: It’s just so scary when you see them at night!

*note: read this for a breakdown of the individual Hina dolls 

Q: Please leave a message for viewers who are looking forward to the show.

Hondo: Readers of the manga should definitely look forward to this adaptation; it won’t disappoint you. Those who don’t know much about Hinamatsuri too, can dive into the anime and immediately find it addictive. As the person responsible for voicing Hitomi-chan, I’d love for you to support her amongst the many adults and children that appear in the show. I am curious as to which of these characters will win your hearts. I’d be glad if you could let us know your thoughts once the show starts airing.

Nakajima: I think fans of the manga might be awaiting the anime with a bit of apprehension but please be assured that you will be bursting out in laughter…oh wait, it’s not ‘laugh out loud’. It’s an endlessly chuckle-filled anime. Fun times are usually over in the blink of an eye, aren’t they? Where 30 minutes feels like a mere second. Hinamatsuri is fun, but it feels like it goes on for a super long time. It makes good use of tempo and intervals and the difference in pacing between the A and B parts can be pretty intense. This is the kind of anime that you could go on watching forever.

Tanaka: Just give the show 1 episode, and you’ll definitely want to keep watching. And it’s the humour that comes from unexpected places thanks to Ōtake-san’s original manga! Also, the staff members are all having great fun making this. The ‘fun’ of the series comes from the love that everyone has for it. Stretching out on your bed, chilling in the bathtub or just relaxing – and then you wake up the next day thinking, ‘Ah~~, time to give it my best today!’. That’s the kind of feeling that [watching] this show gives you. Everyone, look forward to Hinamatsuri!

[Interview/text: Satō Keiichi]

#179 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.5: Hosoya Yoshimasa

The series continues with Hosoya Yoshimasa, voice of nice guy Matagi Tanigaki Genjirō. Love his delightful relationship with Huci & Osoma in the show!

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: It was very interesting. I think the premise itself is amazing: the map of the location of the gold has been tattooed across the bodies of a group of prisoners and to decipher the code, you’d have to carve the skin off each of them. It also tells the tales of soldiers who went through the Russo-Japanese War; the way historical facts are mixed in with the story is mesmerizing. The protagonist Sugimoto is a very human kind of guy. The series doesn’t only choose to take a positive approach, it also includes elements of savagery and craftiness – it’s the kind of story that guys would love.

Q: It’s fascinating to see how these different elements come together.

A: It’s not just serious developments all the time – there are plenty of gags thrown in as well. Furthermore, those gags aren’t flattering at all for women since they actually end up looking rather masculine. What’s great about author Noda (Satoru)-sensei is that he simply draws whatever he wants to. The characters’ faces are made to look deformed during the gag scenes – he could probably draw them prettier if he wished to, but that grotesqueness (excuse me for saying that) is what makes it so fun and amazing.

Q: What impressions did you have of Tanigaki as a character?

A: He reminded me of the actor Takakura Ken. Sugimoto has a little bit of crazy in him; an aura that shows through the stillness of his motions and speech, while Tanigaki is the opposite. He may have experience of killing people in the war, but he’s a very pure and clumsy guy at heart. That’s what made me think of Takakura Ken. I’m hoping that I can [make Tanigaki] live up to the image of Takakura Ken that I have in my head.

Q: Can you describe your feelings when you found out about being cast as Tanigaki?

A: I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be better if he wasn’t voiced by me?’. After all, Tanigaki’s not the talkative type. I feel that, when such people express themselves, there is a need for their words to possess the kind of power to persuade others, and I also think that they should sound deeper, lower, and rougher. My voice isn’t anything like that though, so I hoped to bring it closer to the character as I imagined him to be.

Q: Is there anything that you’re particularly conscious about when playing the role of Tanigaki?

A: From time to time and wherever possible, I try to channel Takakura Ken (laughs). Though it’s probably at a level where viewers wouldn’t actually be able to recognize it as so (laughs)

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: In terms of the character’s image, what I had imagined was practically the same as the vision that the Director and Jin-san had. However, for the scene in episode 3 where Tanigaki discovers Asirpa up in the tree, there was a particular line of dialogue that serves as the crucial point – in order to maximize its impact, the preceding line needed to be ‘spoken gently’. The difference in impact between those 2 lines was much more apparent in the final take than what I had originally come up with, so I was very grateful [to the Director and Jin-san] for the improvements that were suggested.

Q: Do you think that your performance has changed, progressing further into the story?

A: Tanigaki is one of the soldiers of the 7th Division, a position that puts him under a lot of stress. Being a soldier, his commander’s word is law. As he spends time living with the Ainu people away from the 7th Division, you can feel his demeanour softening. Actually, the tempo of the dialogue on the guide videos that we received prior to recording was markedly different; I could tell that his lines had been modified to sound gentler. I do believe that he wouldn’t be able to get along so well with the Ainu people he cares so much about if he had approached them with the mindset of a Japanese soldier. Rather than changing as a person, I think it’s more a case of different aspects [of his character] emerging, depending on the situation he’s in.

Q: Along the way, he encounters Nihei Tetsuzō.

A: The scenes between [Tanigaki] and Nihei, played by Ōtsuka Akio, had great impact from start to finish. It was a priceless experience for me, spending time with him. I haven’t had many opportunities to work alongside Ōtsuka-san prior to his, so I was keenly observing the way he spoke and carried himself while we were in the waiting area. I recall that during breaks, Ōtsuka-san would insist that he wanted to do the voice for Nihei’s hunting dog Ryu (laughs). ‘cos he knew that Ryu would stay alive even after Nihei’s death (laughs). Seems that Ōtsuka-san really likes this series.

Q: Do you have any memorable stories to share from the recording sessions?

A: During the recording sessions, we have sections where we record background noises, things like the sound of people talking in a crowd etc. As a rule, we have to adopt voices that sound different from our own characters. For whatever reason, Tsuda (Kenjirō), Kobayashi (Chikahiro) and myself, oh and probably Sugita (Tomokazu) too, decided that we’d talk as if we had severe underbites (laughs). That was funny.

Q: Going through recording, are there any lines from the series that you feel are important in making the character’s charisma and presence felt?

A: Personally, the line that I thought most captures Tanigaki as a person was one from episode 9 – ‘So there are people who intend to betray Lieutenant Tsurumi? Who?’ [said to Corporal Tamai]. No reason behind that choice, I just really like that line.

Q: We look forward to seeing how Tanigaki develops moving forward. Finally, please leave a message for the fans.

A: It’s a series that has assembled a wonderful cast and is a very professional place to work – the more you chip away at the characters, the bigger their presence becomes. The actors and staff members will similarly work towards bringing this series to a higher level, so it would bring me much joy if you were to look forward to the developments as you watch the show.

#178 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.4: Tsuda Kenjiro

Part 4 of the series features Tsuda Kenjirō, voice of the sinister Private Ogata Hyakunosuke.

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: I could feel robustness and energy; with the kind of depth in its characters and story that you won’t find in other works. It doesn’t feel like modern times, which actually makes things more interesting. Anyhow, the expressions are powerful and the amount of passion is amazing.

I do think that one of the things that makes this series so potent is its setting in the hinterlands of Hokkaido during olden times instead of in contemporary Japan.

Q: Were there any particular elements that you think carried a lot of impact?

A: Probably the complexity of the characters. Especially Tsurumi-san, he’s amazing (laughs). Even the hero Sugimoto’s body is full of scars. Those physical aspects do contribute towards the depth of the characters.

Also, the very premise of the story – slicing off human skin in a bid to strike gold, packs a strong punch. The human beings are a wild bunch; mercilessly butchering animals and carving the skin off a man’s back in the same way.

There probably isn’t much difference between carving up a bear’s or a human’s skin when one is merely trying to survive in the lands of Hokkaido. It’s harsh, but also extremely hilarious. Discarding the unnecessary facets of humanity is another factor that makes this series so appealing.

Q: Can you describe your feelings when you found out about your casting?

A: The story and the character that I was to play seemed fascinating, so I was delighted to be able to take part in this series. I got excited, thinking ‘wow what should I do, this looks really fun!’

Q: What impressions did you have of Ogata as a character?

A: A calm or should I say, a very cool impression. Basically he doesn’t show his feelings. I do believe that there are plenty of emotions stirring within him, but he never allows them to rise to the surface. He might be in a conversation but you’d never feel like he’s particularly engaged in it. You could say that in a way, he speaks at a ‘temperature’ that is colder than that of normal human conversation?

Q: He appears to be talking, but you’re never sure just how much emotion he’s channelling into his words.

A: That’s right. There’s a scene in episode 9 where he’s talking to Tanigaki, and it is really tough to gauge what’s going on in his mind (laughs). Indeed, even Tanigaki himself was unable to get a measure of what position Ogata was coming from.

As the conversation progresses you can, to a certain extent, start to grasp the position [he’s coming from] but it was hard to differentiate between truth and the lies at the beginning. I think that mysteriousness is what makes Ogata’s presence so magnetic.

His personality and calm demeanour are consistent with the prerequisites for a typical sniper, which I thought was an interesting point. He does have the tendency to playing dumb sometimes though – all these things serve to make him a very interesting guy.

Q: Ogata makes his reappearance in episode 9 – what do you make of him at this point?

A: His reappearance is so very Ogata-like. Returning to the home of Fuci, who has been caring for him, Tanigaki sees Ogata there. But he has no idea what the purpose of his appearance is. A short while after Ogata departs without incident, Tanigaki realizes it’s a ruse and he’s actually sniping at him from outside (laughs). The way the situation was structured was really interesting, I thought.

Q: When you read the manga, did you think Ogata would turn out to be a character that would make his presence felt so strongly?

A: Not at all. His first appearance had him getting bitten by a dog after all (laughs). He falls off the cliff after briefly tangling with Sugimoto, and disappears for a lengthy period after. Episode 9 revived his character after a long absence; I bet anime viewers would be surprised to see him as well.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: My impression was that they pretty much just left it up to me. Basically, I used ‘indifference’ as the base for my performance. However, when I was reading the manga I did see that his expression would change from panel to panel – he even made a happy face, albeit fleetingly, at one point.

For such cases I will consult with Director Nanba and ensure that I maintain nuances that are consistent with he manga. During recordings for episode 2, I was requested to tone down my expressiveness and to make it sound a certain way.

Ogata is a character who’s all about balance and definitely not the type to rush in headlong, so there are areas where I have to handle him a bit more carefully.

Having said that, that doesn’t mean that he’s on edge all the time though. He is human after all, so it’s interesting to see where the emotion comes in. It’s about adding the right amount of emotion on to the base.

Q: Do you formulate an acting plan ahead of recording?

A: Only to the extent of ‘I guess I should do it this way’?. In the end, I think the kind of performance I produce depends on the overall balance [of the cast] so that’s determined by the Director who has a bird’s-eye view of the whole process.

Even if you pinpoint the way I express indifference in a certain scene as being ‘good’, it may be the case that [the Director] wants it to be a bit more vibrant after assessing the overall flow [of the scene]. So in a way, I try to leave a bit of margin when it comes to my acting.

Q: A great number of cast members have been assembled for this series – tell us what the atmosphere in the recording studio is like.

A: The story is pretty savage but the studio itself is warm and bright. I think the atmosphere’s great. Our seniors seem to be having fun, and I do feel the enthusiasm and unaffectedness of the leading actors Kobayashi (Chikahiro)-san and Shiraishi (Haruka)-san spreading around the studio.

Q: Are there any scenes or lines that you feel were significant in capturing the essence of Ogata?

A: He hasn’t appeared in a lot of episodes so far, but in episode 9 there is a scene where he says ‘It’s time to go Tanigaki-hunting’ – that text was highlighted in bold in the manga. It showed Ogata’s awareness, that the ‘hunt’ meant taking down Tanigaki. I kept his coldness and brutality in mind as I acted out that scene.

Ogata has a lot more lines in episode 9 than in previous episodes. He barely said a word when he first appeared, so [episode 9] felt like an introductory story for me (laughs)

Q: We look forward to seeing how Ogata stirs up the plotline in future episodes. Finally, please leave a message for the fans.

A: Thank you for watching the TV anime Golden Kamuy. I finally get to make my reappearance as Ogata, and he’s brushing his hair upwards so coolly in the key images (laughs)

To meet your expectations in the future, I will take an unconventional approach with Ogata that ‘betrays’, and I mean that in a good way. I hope that you will continue to enjoy this fascinating, magnificent and obscene story.

#177 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.3: Nakata Jōji

Third interview in the series features Nakata Jōji, the voice of Hijikata Toshizō. Incidentally, Nakata previously played the same historical figure in 2003’s Peacemaker Kurogane anime.

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: The first thing that comes to mind when you mention Hijikata might be the ‘guys all love to hunt, right?’ feeling that he gives off. This is a very exciting series that reminds me of the hot-blooded nature that man possesses. Apart from the interesting way in which human desires and instinct are fearlessly pushed to the fore, the show has visuals that pack plenty of punch as well as a charismatic cast of characters. On top of that we get to learn in detail about Meiji-era Hokkaido and Ainu culture, including methods of communication with the Ainu people – it’s sure to satisfy one’s intellectual curiosity.

Such wide-ranging themes leads me to believe that Noda (Satoru)-sensei must have done very thorough research for his series. After you finish the first volume you’ll want to go on to Volume 2 and on and on – basically you’d want to keep turning the pages and never stop.

Q: Please tell us your first impressions of Hijikata as a character.

A: Every character in this series has a strong personality; intriguing characters that stir up my desire as an actor, making me imagine that I’d want to play a certain role in a certain way. And in the midst of them all we have Hijikata. My initial reaction was one of surprise, like ‘Eh, Hijikata – why is he in this era!?’. What left the next biggest impression was how the visuals showed these old fogeys teeming with energy and filled with unwithering ambition.

Borrowing one of Hijikata’s lines where ‘if you see an old man still alive in this day and age, then you should believe that he will be a survivor’ – he’s the figure who perfectly embodies that. As a performer, my heart was entranced by the pride and tenacity of the survivors of the turbulent Bakumatsu period. When I found out that I’d gotten the role I was so happy that I instinctively shouted ‘Yay!’ out loud.

Q: Is there anything that you’re particularly conscious about when playing the role of Hijikata?

A: Hijikata Toshizō is a well-known historical figure who has appeared as a character in many different works thus far; I’ve actually played Hijikata in another series. The Hijikata of Golden Kamuy differs from the real-life person – you could say that he’s portrayed as the incarnation of the obsession of a Bakumatsu survivor, or he could be seen as revenge personified; a man who is trying to fulfil a purpose that he had previously failed to accomplish.

Nobody’s played a Hijikata at this age, so it was a very intriguing role to me in that sense. I am constantly thinking about how to best embody Hijikata’s aesthetics and way of life that make him a man who, holding his own beliefs, pushes forward regardless of right or wrong.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: During initial tests I played the role with the image I had [of Hijikata] in mind, but the Director instructed me not to make him sound too old; that he should sound more ‘current’ in spite of his looks. [Hijikata’s] long-time acquaintance Nagakura (Shinpachi) also mentions ‘you don’t look that age – you seem much younger’ to him, so I think those instructions were consistent with the exchanges between Nagakura and Hijikata and also when you compare them with each other.

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

A: When I turned up at the recording studio, I could see that it was a bold casting with people selected based on whether they fit the role as opposed to name value and popularity. Both protagonist Sugimoto and Asirpa require a wide range of acting stretching from serious to comical and I think Kobayashi (Chikahiro) and Shiraishi (Haruka) both responded [to the challenge] splendidly. The remaining cast assembles an array of veteran actors as well. Though it may have been a bit painful for Shiraishi-san to not have any of her contemporaries around to talk to (laughs)

It’s really enjoyable to listen to everyone’s lines during the recordings. I myself read the manga ahead of time so I’d be thinking, ‘Oh, so Tsurumi sounds like that huh’, or ‘Ah, so that’s how Tanigaki is’ – it felt like [their] voices were coming in and erasing the images I had of the characters beforehand. This is what fans of the original works [on which anime are based upon] feel, and it thrilled me. There were quite a few members of the cast who had been fans of the series for a long time and had wanted to play certain roles. When such like-minded people are brought together to work on a show, it convinces you that the series, when completed, will turn out to be something pretty special.

Q: Does working alongside such a prestigious cast inspire Nakata-san to inject extra emotion into your performance?

A: Of course it does. There is a little bit of pressure since Nagakura is played by revered veteran Sugō (Takayuki)-san but once we get into the actual acting process we’ll work together, adjusting and fine-tuning the balance between us. There are many parts where I am helped along through acting alongside the other cast members.

Q: Are there any lines from the beginning of the series that you feel are important in making the character’s charisma and presence felt?

A: Being deliberate regarding such aspects might actually result in rather crude acting so I try not to be so conscious about it. There are lines that will come before and after your own, so conspicuous words would surely stand out. Having said that, even as I read the manga I came across quite a few striking pieces of dialogue that I’m sure fans will be looking forward to hearing from Hijikata.

But if I mention them here, viewers will probably be subconsciously waiting to hear them as they watch the show so I’ll just leave the specifics up to your imagination (laughs). I want to meet the expectations [that fans have] in a proper way, so do please recite along to your favourite lines as you come across them in the episodes.

Q: The anime has just started airing. To wrap things up, please leave a message for the fans.

A: Golden Kamuy is a full-blooded work that I’d love everyone in the present day to watch, and to empathize with the men who lived during such stifling times, showing how ‘there is such a way of life’. At the same time, the series skilfully weaves together elements that we rarely come across, such as tales of the Ainu’s lives and hunting culture, with thrills and action and the lovely moments of everyday life.

The leading combination of Sugimoto and Asirpa are as close as a pair of siblings, and they offer a different flavour from the typical hero-heroine romance story through their many [facial] expressions. The journey towards striking gold has only just begun and many fascinating older characters will appear as we move forward, so I hope that you will enjoy watching.

#176 – Asagao to Kase-san: Takahashi Minami x Sakura Ayane x Mogami Moga

A roundtable interview featuring the main seiyuu pairing from the upcoming Asagao to Kase-san theatrical OVA – Takahashi Minami (Yamada Yui) and Sakura Ayane (Kase Tomoka), alongside tarento Mogami Moga (formerly of idol group Dempagumi.inc).

I personally enjoyed working on this piece as the inclusion of Mogami, who publicly came out as bisexual last year, allows the interview to address the LGBT subject matter head-on instead of gently skirting around the issue in yuri-related interviews I’ve been unfortunate enough to read in recent times. Obviously it doesn’t go too deep but it’s at least a start in getting people like Ayaneru and Takamina to consider the topic in a serious manner rather than eliciting the usual ‘woooh yuriiii is hawt and cutee’ kind of reactions.

While the Kase-san series isn’t my favourite yuri title, I agree with the trio when they talk about this being the kind of show that anybody can enjoy regardless of their yuri mileage – God knows most people probably have a rather twisted view of the genre thanks to Citrus or NTR!

Note: Mogami uses ‘boku’ (a masculine pronoun) throughout the interview when referring to herself instead of the usual feminine ‘watashi’.

I was silently grinning (Mogami)

Q: The Asago to Kase-san OVA will begin its limited time theatrical screening from the 9th of June. Now, the three of you have just watched the show in its entirety – what are your thoughts?

Takahashi: Somehow, it felt a little embarrassing to watch it together with Mogami-san…it’s like she’s watching my personal love story play out (laughs)

Sakura: That’s true. We’re watching the final cut for the first time today as well, so I was a little more nervous than usual.

Mogami: Now that you’ve put it that way, I guess I should mention that I felt a little embarrassed sitting next to this innocent young couple… (laughs)

Takahashi/Sakura: Ahaha (laughs)

Mogami: I was grinning silently to myself. Ah, I wonder what this feeling’s called (laughs)

Takahashi: Now that I’ve had a chance to take a closer look at the picture, I do feel a bit flustered.

Mogami: So if you’re seeing the OVA for the first time today, that means the two of you recorded your lines before the visuals were completed, right? I’d always thought that recording for anime involved matching your lines to visuals in motion. So what about the opposite – do they animate [the characters] to match the voices?

Sakura: Yeah, it’s true that most of the time we’re putting our voices to black-and-white, mid-production image reels. There have been cases where we do voice our lines to completed visuals, but [the images are] all over the place as different cuts are handled by different production companies…

Takahashi: We’re suddenly delving deeper into anime industry talk (laughs)

Mogami: Interesting! Would it be the ideal situation then, to record your lines to completed animation?

Sakura: That too, has its own difficulties.

Takahashi: From the start, the Asagao to Kase-san production team had a very clear vision of what they wanted to do so it was easy for me to work with their detailed instructions – ‘this is what I want to do here’ or ‘this is how I’d like you to do that part’.

The mood of the manga is maintained in the anime adaptation (Sakura)

Q: So first of all, tell me your honest opinions after watching the show.

Mogami: The music and visuals were so pretty right from the start; it made me feel warm and soothed me.

Takahashi: I get what you mean! The art is so pretty, isn’t it? Light, soft and gentle, like a watercolour painting. And it goes together with the music.

Mogami: But somehow it brought a tear to my eye, like ‘Ah, so this is what youth feels like….!’. Though my youth was nothing like that (laughs)

Takahashi: (laughs) The best parts of the manga were captured so well by the visuals here. Seeing the anime in its completed form reminds me once again how glad I am to have the chance to participate on this production.

Sakura: I’ve been a reader of the manga all along, so I did consider how this series would be animated. Many recent anime works based on original manga have taken the path of producing content that is independent of its source, but I think Asagao to Kase-san chose to take the mood of the manga as is, and turn it into an anime. The staff members have great affection for the source material and you can feel that sentiment filter through to the visuals. To have those thoughts reflected in the [quality of the] series is a truly joyful thing.

‘It’s a good romance manga….!’ is what I thought (Takahashi)

Q: What impressions of the manga do you have?

Mogami: I read the manga before it was turned into an anime and it’s a very pleasant type of yuri manga to me. Leaving aside the fact that it’s [a relationship] between girls, I do think that the portrayal of how these girls are finding love normally is great. This world still has its prejudices against homosexual love and it remains a cause for bullying, but the world [of the Kase-san series] doesn’t depict those elements. You can purely enjoy the romance between Yamada and Kase-san plus the two girls seem to be enjoying themselves as well.

Sakura: That’s certainly true. The students aren’t spreading rumours or making a fuss over having a same-sex female couple in their classroom.

Mogami: There’s no ‘love that almost was’, no third party affairs or arguments, no convoluted problems, not even a love rival (laughs). My heart feels so warm watching what’s going on. I really like how Yamada honestly accepts her own feelings as being in love.

Takahashi: Indeed, there is no discrimination. No such ‘it’s no good for girls to be together!’ type of developments either. I first read the series as I was preparing for the audition – I’d never actually read any ‘yuri’ works prior to this so I was consciously aware, going ‘Oh, this is yuri’ at the beginning, but by the time I was done I was thinking ‘now that is a great romance manga…!’ (laughs)

All: (laughter)

Takahashi: Their romance was depicted so normally that I forgot that it is a relationship between girls. I’m a big lover of shōjo manga myself, and I realized that the romance elements found in yuri are exactly the same.

Sakura: I know what you mean. These girls, they’re just in love, aren’t they? Regardless of whether their partner is a girl or not. The series doesn’t treat it like an anomaly – it doesn’t make a fuss about things nor is there a big reveal of sorts; you can just let your guard down and read the manga with assurance. Having said that, it’s not just a slice-of-life series, there is a proper story in there that shows how they overcome their problems and grow together. It could theoretically have moved in a more scandalous direction, but the fact that it doesn’t just goes to show how overwhelming Takashima (Hiromi)-sensei’s power of positivity is.

Mogami: You do see Yamada pondering ‘Is it weird to like girls?’ at first, but that lasted but a fleeting moment. Once she acknowledged her feelings for what they were, she wasn’t bothered at all (laughs)

Sakura: Her issues were resolved so quickly (laughs)

Mogami: It’s like, ‘You’ll go out with me!? Yays!’

Takahashi: Not anxiously worrying or feeling conflicted about things – that’s what’s good about Yamada (laughs)

I mean, they’re linking their hands behind their backs! (Sakura)

Q: Do you have any favourite scenes from the theatrical OVA?

Mogami: For me, I love the scene at the beginning where Yamada and Kase-san are talking on the phone. They’ve decided to go out with each other and when Yamada asks ‘What do you do when you’re dating?’, Kase-san turns red and drops her mobile phone – it’s cute to see.

Sakura: I love that scene too. Yamada kicking her legs in the air is cute too.

Mogami: I really love Yamada’s line there – ‘It’s like a dream, to be dating [you]’.

Sakura: Mine is a bit specific…it’s when they’re on the plane during their school trip, and Kase-san and Yamada are joining their hands together behind their backs.

Takahashi: That’s precise! (laughs)

Sakura: I mean, they’re linking hands across their backs! That’s not something you normally do, is it? (demonstrates on the spot)

All: (laughter)

Sakura: It makes me feel a bit more excited than if they were to hold hands normally. It feels a bit indecent…it really strikes at my heart when they do something that appears irrational like that.

Takahashi: Hmm, you’re showing your true colours to everyone, aren’t you (laughs). I do think that the way Yamada and Kase-san’s feelings are portrayed throughout the story is wonderful. Even the intensity of the lighting depends on their emotions. It may be the same school, but the way it appears changes depending on how Yamada is feeling. I’m fascinated by how her state of mind has an impact not just upon other people, but also on aspects like the scenery, the buildings and the lighting.

Yamada would never blame other people (Mogami)

Q: What do you think is attractive about Yamada and Kase-san as individuals?

Sakura: Yamada doesn’t have a single bad bone in her body.

Takashi: She doesn’t!

Sakura: She absolutely does not ever spread negative feelings to other people.

Takahashi: She really is such a nice girl.

Mogami: What I thought was the most amazing thing about Yamada was how she made Kase-san a bento box around the time they started dating and went ‘Ahhhh!’ when she found out that Kase-san was absent. Instead of getting angry and demanding ‘why didn’t you tell me!?,’ she was just disappointed, thinking, ‘she’s not here today…’.

Sakura: She never takes things out on other people.

Mogami: That’s right. She doesn’t blame others – she’s such a good person. Girls would normally show their dissatisfaction when their partner doesn’t do what they’re expected to, and they’d send them an email or LINE message right away.

Takahashi: Ahh, Yamada doesn’t seem like the kind of girl who would be actively using LINE (laughs)

Mogami: Yeah yeah. But Kase-san is a child of the times so she’d probably get worried over such things.

Sakura: It’s surprising, but Kase-san seems to be the type who’s dependent on others.

Mogami: That’s another good thing about her. She’s super popular and is the object of admiration of many a girl but then you see how she falters when Yamada doesn’t reply her messages, thinking to herself ‘why aren’t I getting anything?’ (laughs). Yamada on the other hand, is more easy-going – it’s interesting to watch these 2 polar opposites together.

Sakura: It’s true – these two are perfectly balanced when they’re together. Kase-san is a positive girl by nature; when you read past episodes concerning her track club days you’d see that she’s the kind of person who would never speak badly of others. These 2 are such positive characters that you feel safe watching over them.

Takahashi: When I’m voicing Yamada I treat her as a totally ordinary girl. She’s a normal high school girl that you could find anywhere. That’s why, I think, she harbours a longing for a perfect person, somebody who can do anything, like Kase-san.

I do have the tendency to check people out like Kase-san does (Sakura)

Q: Do you identify with any of the characters within the series?

Takahashi: Identify huh…well, I can’t do sports and I’m not the sort of person whom attention would be centred upon… I wanted to be someone like Kase-san (laughs)

All: (laughter)

Sakura: Which means, you lean towards Yamada….?

Takahashi: I think rather than Yamada, I’d be more like her friend Mikawa? On the side, listening to other peoples’ love stories and commenting ‘do your best’ or ‘isn’t that just great?’ (laughs)

Sakura: (laughs) But you’re right, Takahashi-san – you’re a bit similar to Mikawa. When we were in the recording studio, I often observed how the staff members would say, ‘Takahashi-san, please keep quiet’ (laughs)

Mogami: (laughs) How about you, Sakura-san?

Sakura: For myself….if I had to pick one, then it’d be Kase-san minus all her cool parts.

Takahashi: But Sakura-san, don’t you actually resemble her looks-wise?

Sakura: Ehh? (laughs)

Mogami: Actually, that’s what I’ve always been thinking. That the 2 of you share a similar aura.

Sakura: No no….(laughs) But I’m similar to Kase-san in the way we like to check out other people’s faces and behaviour.

Takahashi: Kase-san was stalking Yamada from the rooftops after all (laughs)

Sakura: I’m not at the stalker level (laughs) but I have reached the extent where I can think, ‘Oh I saw this person at xx Station the other day’. I remember the faces of people I don’t know at all.

Mogami: That’s amazing! You must really be staring at them.

Sakura: Also, her dependent nature – as it suggests, I have the tendency to rely on other people.

Takahashi: So you get worried when people don’t reply to your LINE messages?

Sakura: I’m the type of person who’ll rely on friends, but still has to maintain a bit of distance in my interactions with them. It’d be nice if there was someone like Yamada who could fully accept me as I am, but reality is not that kind (laughs)

Mogami: I can’t say that I completely identify with any one character but maybe certain parts…for example, I quite like weeding.

Sakura: Ehh! That’s a little unexpected (laughs)

Mogami: I’ve always loved flowers, and weeding helps me to relax. I think there’s this one scene in the OVA where Yamada’s continuously weeding and it made me think ‘I get that! It’s fun, isn’t it?’. Also, my room looks a lot like a guy’s bedroom too, just like Kase-san’s does. I only leave the barest minimum of necessities in my room so it’s very simple. There’s a treadmill and dumbbells lying around, as well as a yoga mat.

Takahashi: That’s amazing – a live-action version of Kase-san’s bedroom (laughs)

I meet my ideal type of woman around once every 3 years (Mogami)

Q: What do you think about girls having feelings of admiration towards other girls?

Sakura: Hmm. Don’t you think that for girls around their age, the line between love and friendship tends to be blurred? As in, you don’t give much consideration to things like space between friends.

Takahashi: It’s true that girls tend to be clingy with their friends, even if they’re both girls.

Mogami: I was in the arts stream during high school, which meant there were only about 10 boys in my class. The atmosphere felt pretty much like that of a girls’ school and there was one girl x girl couple as well. The kids were all aware of that particular couple but there wasn’t any bullying going on.

Sakura: I too had a female friend who dated another girl. I’d go out for meals with this couple, hang around at their homes – seeing them made me think how wonderful it was. That they were experiencing such a lovely romance. I didn’t feel uneasy about it at all. Well, discomfort shouldn’t be something that other people feel.

Takahashi: It’s similar for me – there was a same-sex female couple amongst my group of friends – I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. They told us ‘actually, we’re going out with each other’ and I just went ‘Congrats!’. I do believe that when you fall in love with someone, you just love them for who they are and that it has nothing to do with their sex. And you just want [them] to be happy.

Mogami: Come to think of it, I was confessed to by a girl in my high school class. She said to me, ‘please go out with me’ and when I asked why, she replied ‘cos you kinda seem like you’d go out with me’ (laughs)

Takahashi: Ehhh!!

Sakura: That’s just your usual kind of terrible. It had nothing to do with whether you were a guy or a girl (laughs).

Mogami: She told me, ‘if it’s Moga you wouldn’t be discriminating or anything, and you’d probably date me’. It seems like anybody would’ve been okay for her (laughs)

Takahashi: I’d be shocked.

Mogami: I turned her down as you’d expect (laughs). Actually, I encounter my ideal type of woman on average once every 3 years. But it never progresses to the dating stage.

Sakura: Once every 3 years…I have no idea if that’s too big or too small of a gap in time (laughs)

Mogami: The first person I fell in love with was my ballet class senior – there was a huge age gap to be honest, and all I thought was how beautiful she was. She was so kind when she taught me. But I was just in primary school then so I wasn’t even aware of what romantic feelings were; all I knew was admiration and I felt that ‘I really like this person’. Then there was this one time where I was hospitalized and I fell for this older married woman whom I was sharing a room with; I remember being so nervous when I asked for her address before I got discharged (laughs)

Sakura: Amazing, you actually took action.

Mogami: But it didn’t go any further than that. Well, her husband and son came to visit her in the hospital after all. I did go out for a meal with her whole family later on though (laughs)

Sakura: You didn’t harbour hopes of going out with her.

Mogami: It’s a bit different I guess.

Takahashi: But it wasn’t just friendship either, was it…?

Mogami: Hmm, I don’t think I found the answer within myself either, to be honest. You could say I didn’t know what the boundaries were.

The aura that materializes because there only girls around (Takahashi)

Q: What do you think is the appeal unique to girl x girl relationships?

Mogami: The softness!

Sakura: Ah….

Mogami: Speaking frankly, girls are really so soft.

Sakura: Do you mean…physically?

Mogami: Physically, yes, but I’d say overall. Girls are more particular with things like skincare, which is why a female’s touch brings a whole different sensation.

Sakura: That’s a very realistic statement (laughs)

Takahashi: But I certainly do think a female couple would smell better.

Mogami: Yes yes. Even when you look at manga or anime depictions, girls would definitely have a tender touch. I think Yamada would definitely have a delicate touch, while Kase-san would be endlessly smooth.

Takahashi: That’s the kind of aura that’s made possible solely because there are only girls around.

Mogami: I’ve come to the realization recently, that men and women are different creatures. Their brains are different, or should I say, their trains of thought are wired totally differently. In a way, I think it’s fundamentally impossible for us to understand the other sex. On the other hand, female couples would be in a better position to comprehend each other in many ways.

Sakura: There are experiences that are unique to women, aren’t there? It’d be great to be able to share such aspects from the start [of a relationship].

Takahashi: And you wouldn’t be able to make the excuse that ‘it’s ‘cos you’re a man/woman, that you can’t be so-and-so etc’.

Sakura: It’s not about the gender differences but it’s a more fundamental issue regarding an individual’s way of thinking as well as a divergence in values. I think it’s possible to go into such depth regarding this subject matter precisely because it’s a yuri series, or perhaps I should say, that it’s unique to works featuring same-sex relationships.

Don’t mind the yuri, just be soothed by this cute couple’s love (Mogami)

Q: Lastly, please briefly describe the highlights of the theatrical OVA.

Takahashi: This is a theatrical OVA production and I’m sure there are some of you who’d already know all about the original manga. For those who are encountering this series for the first time, you’ll get to see in detail the youthful days that Yamada and Kase-san are experiencing, so I do hope that you enjoy it. Also, the OVA’s story begins from the point where they start dating but you can also enjoy the heart-pounding moments from before they started going out through the manga and the drama CDs so I hope that you will deepen your experience with the world of Asagao to Kase-san.

Sakura: The Asagao to Kase-san series has great momentum right now. A yuri-loving friend of mind sent me texts saying that they’re making an Asagao to Kase-san anime and that ‘if they were going to animate any one yuri work, this has got to be it’. This was before the cast list was announced so I had to refrain from replying even though I was inwardly thinking ‘Yeah I know, and I’m doing it’…. (laughs). But that was the high level of expectation that fans of the original work have, and I think that we’ll be able to live up to those hopes by delivering a production that preserves the good atmosphere of the manga. Obviously, the OVA can be enjoyed by those who are using this show as an entry point to the series so I do want both those who know the manga and those who don’t, to enter the world [of Asagao to Kase-san].

Mogami: This is the kind of series that will definitely cheer you up when you reach home after getting off work, or whenever you’re feeling tired. Life isn’t only about the good things; there are plenty of hardships and accumulated stress as well – Asagao to Kase-san is a series that will help you forget all that for a moment in time. I think you’ll surely come out of it feeling positive so don’t mind the yuri – just be soothed by the love between this cute couple.

[Interview/text : Masuda Momoko, Photography: Satō Rui]

#175 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.2: Otsuka Hochu

Second in the series is Ōtsuka Hōchū, the distinct voice behind Liutenant ‘I’ve had half my brains blown out!’ Tsurumi. Ōtsuka’s been very prominent in recent years, playing memorable antagonists such as Ajin’s Satō and the Kizumonogatari series’ Guillotine Cutter. Tsurumi seems like the kind of role tailor-made for him, as he mentions in the interview.

Q: What are your impressions of this series?

A: I was trying to get a feel for the story and characters through reading the scripts and I found it really interesting. Receiving this casting for Lieutenant Tsurumi subsequently allowed me to recall a memory from my elementary school days, where I had borrowed a novel called Whistle in My Heart* (コタンの口笛, Kotan no Kuchibue) from the library.

It was such a long time ago that I don’t remember the exact details but I do recall that the story depicted the persecution faced by Ainu and how they tried to compromise, and that it was extremely interesting and exhilarating to read. It was my first experience of Ainu culture so thanks to that, I had a little bit of knowledge about the Ainu. Being given the opportunity to be involved with this work revived the excitement that I felt within me 50 years ago. I do feel a sense of affinity with this work and at the same time, I realize that I’ve been given such a good role.

*2 novels by Ishimori Nobuo released in 1957, which were turned into a feature film by Naruse Mikio in 1959.

Q: Please tell us your impressions of Tsurumi as a character.

A: He’s the sort of character that I’m very well-versed in playing – a guy filled with madness and ambition but also one who cares for his comrades. Anyway, he’s an endlessly interesting character. I mean, he’s got juices seeping out of his skull (laughs). That rendition alone tells you a lot about the type of personality he has, plus it also gives me plenty of ideas from an acting perspective. That means that I thankfully have no qualms over how to play the character and in fact, am having a ball with it.

Q: Is there anything that you’re particularly conscious about when playing the role of Tsurumi?

A: It’d be boring if I pushed his maniacal nature up front and centre right from the start so I tried making him as quiet as possible in the beginning. Tsurumi’s an intelligent person and it seems that he does have a rather colourful history. He can start off in a passive state but end up behaving rather chillingly, so I hope that I can liven up proceedings in a way that will reveal his true nature.

Q: So Otsuka-san, you too are looking forward to finding out how Tsurumi changes in the future.

A: Yes I am. I mean, he’s gonna run into trouble by the end of it all, isn’t he? (laughs) So I’d like to start off with my lever at 1/10th of the maximum output value and then raise my level gradually. At the same time, he’s the kind of guy whose actions conceal a meticulously assembled plan so I’m trying to bring that across in my acting to make sure that [what you see now] ties in well with future developments.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: Nothing special. If anything, the only advice I received was to inject more energy into the parts in his monologue where his emotions are gradually soaring.

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

A: Basically relaxing. I’ve been going around to a couple of different studios to record for anime recently, and it seems that I’m always the oldest one there (laughs). This series though, features lots of colleagues my age and actors I’ve worked alongside on foreign film dubbing, so I feel like I’m finally back on home ground.

We share lots of chit-chat and gossip away; it’s pretty fun. Even when it comes to acting – when you’ve been working with someone for decades, you can generally predict what the other person is going to do. It’s like, ‘you’re gonna do this, so I’ll respond like this’ – it’s a bit like telepathy, in a way.

Q: Are there any lines from the beginning of the series that you feel are important in making the character’s charisma and presence felt?

A: I do think that the biggest hint that you’ll get is from that part where he’s talking about the juices flowing from his skull. I’m playing [Tsurumi] while thinking to myself, ‘Ah, this kind of guy is just awesome’. Through this line of work [I’ve learned that] a random line might turn out to be pivotal in grasping the essence of a certain figure. So be careful not to miss those moments when they come along – when you spot a line with such potential, make sure that you sink your teeth into it.

Q: You’ve played a lot of crazy villains in the past – is Tsurumi any different in any way?

A: Oh he’s different~. Since I often play villains I do worry about what I should do if he was similar to any of them, but that wasn’t the case at all. Even amongst the many characters with complex inner workings that I’ve done so far, [Tsurumi’s] a new type of person for me. I don’t see many opportunities to play a human from the Meiji era so it’s extremely fascinating for me. When I’m voicing my lines I try to maintain the mindset of someone who was living through that period of time.

Q: The anime has just started airing. To wrap things up, please leave a message for the fans.

A: Golden Kamuy is a type of series that you will experience for the first time, and that is true even for an industry veteran like me. It will be the catalyst for you to learn about the origins of modern Japan as well as the culture of the Ainu people – I think it will give people fresh perspectives on many things. Real historical figures appear in the show as well, so if you do happen to develop an interest regarding that aspect, you might wish to deepen your knowledge of the matter by reading the books.

Not only is this is a work that is packed with elements that will stimulate your intellectual curiosity, there is also a genuine sense of fun surrounding the story itself. I’m sure that there’ll be an army of developments awaiting in the near future so do please watch this series to its conclusion without taking your eyes off the screen for even a second.