Finally, we get the continuation of this piece which came out at the tail-end of the anime last year. The manga is drawing to a conclusion with only a couple more chapters before the curtain comes down on what has been a pretty emotional ride – my only hope is that we’ll get to see the ending in animated form as well. Please announce a Season 2 during the event end-May! (fingers crossed)
Hope found within the improv, and parting words for Yū and Tōko
Second Half: Inside Tōko’s heart, and how Yū faces her burgeoning feelings
Q: The TV anime aired its final episode in December last year – tell us how you feel about the show coming to an end.
Takada: Firstly, ‘I’m really curious about what happens after this!’. The manga is continuing its run and while the TV anime features original scenes, it’s come to a stop for the time being but it did feel like a truly wonderful conclusion.
To be honest, I was a little worried about not being able to show the student council play in the anime. But the inclusion of an improvised part for the play during their aquarium date in the final episode allowed Yū to show a little bit of her true feelings…the lines were almost like a confession, words designed to confront Tōko. It’s a scene that’s unique to the anime and I was very happy to be able to act that part out!
Kotobuki: I started feeling lonely once the final episode was over (laughs). I was grateful to have worked alongside such wonderful cast and staff members and we did talk about how ‘it’ll be sad not to see each other every week’ after the series is done, and I feel glad to have worked on a production that made people feel that way.
The manga is still ongoing so I’m quite curious as to where Tōko’s feelings are headed towards but of course, Yū’s words in the last episode saved her, in a sense. There was a scene that made me think ‘I’m so relieved’ and I found myself crying when I first read the script. I do think that I was able to handle the challenge of recording that final episode because of the feelings I had.
Q: Episode 6, the midpoint of the series, also marked a turning point for Yū and Tōko with a significant change in their relationship as a result. How did you approach recordings for episode 7 in light of the changes?
Takada: The riverbed scene in episode 6 was where we saw Tōko-san’s feelings deepen and Yū making a decision to keep her own feelings hidden. Despite possessing that knowledge, I tried to keep Yū’s emotions whenever she encounters Tōko-san the same as they were when they first met.
It goes without saying that Yū’s undergoing a lot more emotional turmoil after the events of episode 6 if compared to the first episode. But I was careful to keep those feelings locked away whenever she was speaking to Tōko, making it seem pretty much like Yū’s wearing a mask.
I think it was important to ensure that the Yū that we see from the outside remains unchanged but as for the feelings hidden within her..it’s a completely different story. I wanted my acting to to show clearly the differences between those 2 conflicting feelings during the second half of the series. And that’s why the feelings of frustration inside me started growing bigger and bigger from episode 7 onwards…(wry smile).
Q: Kotobuki-san, what was it like for you? In the earlier interview you mentioned that you chose to approach recordings without reading the manga – did you make any conscious changes in your performance moving into the second half of the series?
Kotobuki: The first half of the series was all about the discovery of love and learning how to face Yū, but starting from episode 7 we see Tōko starting to grow a backbone as she uses the student council play as ‘a way to look at, and face up to the one thing that weighs upon her most’ – her sister.
In order to play the Tōko who’s pouring out her feelings, I approached recordings with a mindset of showing Tōko as ‘a younger sister’ rather than ‘the dependable Tōko’.
Q: Not the elegant Tōko we all know from being the student council president or an honours student, but Tōko as a younger sister.
Kotobuki: That’s right. I tried to make the instances where she’s getting into character as easily recognizable as possible, and I tried to incorporate elements of what being a younger sister is like. On the other hand I was also trying to show how she softens whenever she’s in the presence of Yū so when you look back on the series you may oftentimes notice a sharp edge to her.
From Kotobuki-san’s perspective: The relationship between Tōko and Sayaka
Q: From here on, let’s talk about the highlights from episode 7 up until the end. Episode 7 starts off with Koyomi asking Yū ‘What kind of person is Nanami-senpai?’ and from there we see Yū considering and describing the attractiveness of Tōko.
Takada: If you think about it objectively, I’m sure you’d draw the conclusion that she does indeed like Tōko-san. Gotta say though, that Koyomi-chan’s line of questioning is sharp. Of course, she’s doing that for the purpose of writing the screenplay for the student council play, but she’s just so perceptive! To the point where Sayaka-san mentions later on in a monologue, ‘Koyomi-san…does she really know nothing?’ (laughs)
The conversation between Sayaka-san and Miyako-san was also from episode 7. There was a hint of sadness to the exchange between the two of them, but it’s a scene that will make you fall even more in love with Sayaka-san.
There weren’t many opportunities for Sayaka-san to express her thoughts and feelings in the first half of the series so when she confided in Miyako-san regarding her feelings for Tōko, it was a scene that made me realize ‘so this is the way she’s been thinking’.
Kotobuki: Episode 7 was certainly a turning point in how people viewed Sayaka. For me the best scene in the latter half of the series was the one where Tōko and Sayaka compared their test scores. The words ‘I’m so glad you’re here, Sayaka’ left a huge impression on me.
Up until that point, I’d generally felt that even though there were times when their conversations were pretty straightforward, most of the time Tōko would be thinking along the lines of ‘If I say this, then Sayaka will do this’. But for that particular scene, Tōko was sincerely speaking to Sayaka as a friend and relaying the gratitude that she felt – it might just have been the most genuine conversation they’d ever had.
This is also purely based on my own imagination, but I don’t believe Tōko and Sayaka’s relationship will ever falter. On the other hand I could see Tōko and Yū not talking to each other if certain things were to happen.
I think the relationship between Tōko and Sayaka will persist as long as Sayaka doesn’t take that step forward. It might be painful for Sayaka but from Tōko’s perspective, I hope that their current relationship be maintained as it is.
Q: What do you think of Kayano-san’s performance as Sayaka?
Kotobuki: There was this part where Kayano-shi’s chilling voice sent shivers down our spines even though she wasn’t speaking particularly forcefully; it’s an exquisite balance that could only be achieved by someone like her.
Takada: For that scene in episode 6, where Sayaka-san says to Yū ‘Do you honestly think I’m naive enough to believe that?’, I was standing at the mic next to [Kayano-san] and it gave me serious chills. Since I’m Yū, I felt determined not to lose out and tried my best to stand up to her and acted as defiantly as I could, but when I watched the episode on air I realized, ‘Ai-san is truly amazing’.
Tōko and Sayaka, Sayaka and Yū, Yū and Tōko
Q: Episode 8 started off with a scene where Sayaka bumps into a senior from her junior high days.
Kotobuki: The way that senior talked to Sayaka without feeling any sense of guilt was just…a crime~ (laughs). It’s one of my favourite episodes thanks to the direction choice of having the 3 girls ask each other about their favoured colour of hydrangea.
Takada: And the scene where Yū and Tōko-san take shelter from the rain. Tōko-san’s eyes during that part were….!
Kotobuki: Her eyes definitely weren’t smiling during that ‘What exactly do you mean by ‘happy’?’ line. We saw that in episode 2 for Yū; now it’s Tōko’s turn to have the light disappear from her eyes (laughs). I mean, the scene just before that was them enjoying themselves. Flirting under their love umbrella, fighting over whose shoulder will get wet as they fail to cross the road when the walk signal turns from green to red…you were wondering ‘Just how much do you girls [love each other]~’ (laughs)
Takada: They were totally flirting~! What happy times!
Q: The part where Yū retorted ‘No way!’ when they were fighting over the umbrella – I enjoyed that from the bottom of my heart.
Takada: I was pondering what kind of nuances I should put into that line, and I thought that the scene would be one that would make viewers feel happy so I gave Yū a sort of ‘younger sister’ kind of feel for that part (laughs)
Kotobuki: It was really cute~!
Takada: Thank you! (laughs)
Kotobuki: I’d like to mention that us seiyuu are generally given a free hand when it comes to acting out scenes where the characters’ faces are not shown. I do usually try to stick to reciting my lines at the designated timing but for this particular scene, we really did go to town with our acting.
It’s such a happy scene with the two of them sharing a laugh against a peaceful backdrop. so for the light to go out of Tōko’s eyes so suddenly intensified the fear factor. I do think their little exchange on the way back home made Tōko happy though, and it’s another one of my favourite scenes.
Takada: I think that Yū feels very happy when Tōko-san cheerfully starts talking about her childhood as she’s the only person Tōko-san would confide in. A part of Yū is thinking, ‘Oh, so I’m the only one whom she can talk to about this’.
Those soaring feelings are probably why she carelessly allowed the words ‘I was happy’ to spill from her lips. They’re words that Yū would normally never say, which means she must really have been enjoying that moment between them.
Q: Takada-san, what was your favourite scene?
Takada: I do love the scene that we’ve just been discussing, but my personal favourite scene has to be the one between Sayaka-san and Yū. Up until that point, their only interactions had been through student council activities or had involved Tōko-san; they’d not had too many one-on-one scenes prior to that.
Feeling nervous but still managing to invite Sayaka-san to a fast food place and then sharing french fries with her…what an amazing scene (laughs)
Q: As discussed on the radio show, the timing and the nerve of Yū’s invitation to Sayaka really was something (laughs)
Takada: She really is a fierce one, isn’t she! I couldn’t help feeling so nervous at the time (laughs) Watching it on TV, I was going, ‘You go girl!’.
Q: How did you develop Yū’s feelings in this particular scene?
Takada: Yū calling out to Sayaka-san was triggered by that one thing Dōjima-kun said. “Do you not get along well with Saeki-senpai?. My interpretation was that Yū, not wanting the atmosphere within the student council to get heavy, sincerely wished to talk to Sayaka-san alone.
Plus, Yū’s the type of girl who’d never let her nerves show outwardly. In this scene, a lot of things would be going through her mind, including the thought that ‘Sayaka-san might or might not accept my invitation depending on my actions and choice of words’.
So Yū had the guts to casually invite her out, and Sayaka-san eventually became aware of Yū’s feelings and caught herself thinking ‘Damn, it’s so uncool that my junior is having to be considerate of my feelings’. Seeing how she managed to draw out Yū’s feelings made me think just how mature Sayaka-san is.
And in the final scene, that exchange where Sayaka-san complains about how much trouble Tōko-san can be and Yū replies ‘I totally agree’…I really love those parts!
Kotobuki: I did feel happy, from Tōko’s perspective (laughs) Despite what they say, you can tell how both of them are thinking about Tōko. I’m sure that they’re words that can only be uttered when you feel an attachment to the person involved.
The Most Magnificent Erotic Pass: The Keyword: “PE Store Room”
Q: And now, the 9th episode that shows the sports day scenes. What a magnificent pass we’ve reached…!
Kotobuki: Oh yes, the Erotic Pass!* (laughs) At the end of the 8th episode, we started getting ‘Next week, we’ll have that scene….!’ type of reminders from everyone from the director to [Nakatani] Sensei to Editor Kusunoki!
*refer to the previous post for explanation of Erotic Pass
Takada: I’d read the manga so I was obviously aware of this particular scene, and I was thinking ‘Ah, we’ve reach this point…!’ After all, [the episode] starts off with Tōko deliberately shutting the door so that she can be alone with Yū in the PE store room (laughs)
Kotobuki: She transformed into Carnal Tōko! ‘I want it now!’ (laughs)
Q: And on top of that, Tōko starts to make a move on Yū without even locking the door (laughs)
Takada: Personally, I was thinking ‘if they’d shown that scene at the beginning nobody would’ve been able to concentrate on the sports events’ (laughs)
Also, I believe there are lots of people who watch the show broadcast in real time and when the episode aired, apart from the show hashtags, ‘PE store room’ also started trending (laughs)
Takada: I was wondering ‘what’s this?’ at first, but when I saw #yagakimi trending alongside it I knew ‘This is it!’ (laughs) It was such an amazing happening and made the ‘PE store room’ part the most memorable thing about episode 9 (laughs)
Q: (laughs) Watching that opening scene, we knew we’d finally reached Sports Day.
Kotobuki: I really do like the relay scene from the sports day episode. I’m personally quite partial to the ‘everybody works hard together’ type of shows and developments and immediately tear up when I watch such scenes! That’s why I was all ‘Ah, everyone’s working hard and doing their best (cries)’ as I was acting out the scene.
Q: Things didn’t go well for Yū and Sayaka at the beginning, but we got to see them do a perfect baton pass at the end of episode 8.
Kotobuki: I was really touched, thinking ‘they managed to do the baton pass!’ All of them worked hard towards accomplishing a specific goal, and that included the development of Yū and Sayaka[’s relationship]. It was the ideal arrangement for Tōko.
From Tōko’s point of view, working hard in the student council is symbolic of the perfect image of her older sister that she held, and to have the members do their best and strengthen their relationships at the same time, happens to be one of her wishes. In that sense, the scene proved to be particularly memorable.
Q: The scene where we see Tōko running in the relay – through Yū’s eyes, the rest of the ground has faded away and it’s only the two of them in the world.
Takada: Tōko-san’s coolness came out very naturally in that scene and I was able to confirm that ‘she’s indeed wonderful~!’. To have that part so magnificently directed & expressed is something that’s unique to the anime!
Also, the exchange between Yū and Maki-kun was memorable. In the midst of a conversation where they’re trying to reaffirm that they’re people who can’t fall in love, Yū’s ‘I don’t feel alone any more’ and Maki-kun’s ‘..I don’t think you’re the same as me though. That expression just now…wasn’t one that someone who isn’t lonely would make’ monologue felt tinged with melancholy.
Maki-kun is kind of a cheerleader for Yū’s inner feelings, which makes his presence all the more important. This scene, which is one of my favourites, reminded me once again of how he’s an indispensable character within the series.
Q: Maki’s charm lies in how he never takes things too far. His monologues reveal what he truly thinks, but he never voices his thoughts aloud to Yū.
Takada: That’s right. I think that reflects his policy of ‘being a spectator’. And while we’re on the topic of Sports Day, I loved the exchange between Sayaka-san and Miyako-san too~!
Kotobuki: I know right~! I love that pairing (laughs)
Takada: Upon seeing Miyako-san who’d come to watch Hakozaki-sensei participate in the teachers’ relay race, Sayaka-san was thinking ‘wow, she’s got a lot of free time on her hands…’ (laughs). Sayaka-san’s able to let her guard down in front of Miyako-san, which means we get to see expressions from her that we’ve never seen before~!
Q: And after the sports events are over, we finally get to see Tōko and Yū’s Erotic Pass…!
Kotobuki: This particular Erotic Pass is also one of my favourite scenes, but I never thought that Tōko would get Yū to sit on her lap! Tōko led Yū so naturally that it made me think, ‘Tōko, are you really sure you’ve never been in love with anyone before?’ (laughs). We see Yū stopping just short of a kiss but on the other hand, Tōko’s already moving in for the kill herself… (laughs)
And on top of that, the scripts had ‘….[heavy breathing] (return the kiss) s-sorry! If Yū dislikes it then I’ll…stop…’ written after the first kiss, so I was surprised by the force at which they were kissing. “That hard!?’ ‘Until they ran out of breath!?’ (laughs)
Kotobuki: Still, those actions stemmed from the fact that she cherishes Yū so much. Setting aside Yū’s true intentions, I think that Tōko was just glad that Yū had accepted her in the end. I think she felt a sense of security in knowing that she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. But Yū’s monologue at the end still made me sad.
Takada: It was an important episode where we got to see Yū slam on the brakes as she came to realize that she mustn’t overstep her boundaries. And once again we were able to see how far apart their hearts are.
Q: That was probably what made it the biggest Erotic Pass in the anime.
Kotobuki: That’s right. I feel like Tōko tried to bridge the gap between their hearts all at once. Let me mention that during recording, we had to use whispery voices at all times and have our hearts beating quickly, to simulate the physical closeness that Tōko-san and Yū were sharing at that moment!
Q: By the way, there’s this behind-the-scenes story that Sensei and Editor Kusunoki shared on Twitter… (laughs)
“This is the episode where we got to hear Kotobuki-san’s ‘Wooh~~~!!’ of embarrassment for the first time, after that one scene
*The mysterious sound that Kotobuki-san made after recording that scene
Kotobuki: It was an episode where I just couldn’t help but make those sounds (laughs) For myself, even after I’m done with my lines I will continue standing at the mic until the scene is finished.
As an example, my lines at the end were ‘it feels good…? Oh, Yū…’ and it segues into Yū’s monologue – it would’ve been fine for me to return to my seat at that point but since time was continuing to flow in the anime, I stood restlessly beside [Takada’s] Yū as she expressed the words that were in her heart.
Which is why, right after the scene wrapped up, whether out of embarrassment or because I was able to overcome the Erotic Pass safely, I made that sound (laughs)
I was aware that everyone else in the studio was concentrating during the recording of the Erotic Pass, not daring to breathe or make any noise so in a way, the sound that I made was like a magic word that released the tension in the atmosphere. All in all, episode 9 was a truly magnificent Erotic Pass (laughs)
A “Tense” Yū and a “Relieved’ Tōko
Q: In episode 10 we see the screenplay for the student council play finally been completed, meaning that preparations can start in earnest.
Kotobuki: More than half of the series centres upon the student council play, from episode 4 until the end. On the one hand we have Yū who is reluctant to get involved with the play while Tōko on the other hand, is proactively moving towards fulfilling her wish. We also get to meet a few more characters over the course of the play and in episode 10, everything finally comes together and starts moving forward.
There’s also a scene where Tōko, who’s using the play as a way to emulate her older sister, gets upset after her father tells her not to push herself too hard…once again, I thought ‘how young Tōko is’.
If that had been Maki-kun, he would be able to smile and say ‘Yes’ – the kind of response that would be deemed ‘mature’. But at the end of the day Tōko behaves the way a younger sister would, bluntly saying things like ‘Why would you say that?’ or ‘Why don’t you understand me?’
That is why, as I mentioned earlier, the Tōko we see from episode 7 onwards is the ‘younger sister’*, and episode 10 was an episode where Tōko channelled her older sister particularly strongly. Yū was there to comfort Tōko in that moment and once again, the kindness of her character shone through.
*as opposed to the ‘dependable Tōko’
Q: The scene where an agitated Tōko returns to her room and calls Yū, right?
Takada: As they’re speaking to each other on the phone, the lines of their monologues contrast each other. Tōko-san’s feeling ‘relieved’, while Yū’s feeling ‘uneasy’. But you could still feel the positive feelings extending from their conversation…that complex sense of disparity between them was painful to see. The phone scene happens to be another one of my favourites as well.
Kotobuki: That phone scene was especially fun to play, wasn’t it?
Q: Care to elaborate?
Kotobuki: I mean, you don’t know what the person on the other end of the line is doing, right? Some people might lie down on the bed while they’re on the phone while many others would be multi-tasking, so you’re making that call wondering what the other person might be doing. I’d like to think that Tōko was making that call, thinking that she wanted to know everything there is to know about Yū. When you’re on the phone, you can only rely on sound intervals and the tone of the other person’s voice. Which is why, when Tōko asks ‘Yū, are you listening to me?’ and Yū’s mood changes, Tōko is able to feel relieved.
The scene clearly illustrates the relationship between the two of them, and is a conversation that is only possible because it is the two of them. Such a phone call would not have been conceivable in episode 1 or 2, and I enjoyed acting out the scene with the knowledge of what it had taken to establish the relationship that they now have. And that’s why my favourite scene from this episode is the latter part, where we see Tōko behave like a younger sister, and how her mind is put at ease while on the phone with Yū.
Takada: From Yū’s point of view, the conversation she had with Natsuki-chan was a highlight as well. It’s been a while since I got to play Yū relaxing with her classmates. The chance to talk to a third party who’s not connected to Tōko-san also gives us a picture of the other emotions in play.
When they’re discussing Tōko-san, Yū says ‘She’s selfish. This person always decides everything by herself, whether it’s the elections or the play’ – and that is indeed unusual. Natsuki-chan’s response of ‘Sorry, but it makes me happy to hear that you’ve got your hands full’ allows us to see that Yū doesn’t normally behave in such a way, from the perspective of someone who’s known her for some time.
I do adore the relationship between Yū and Natsuki-chan that enables them to say things like that to each other. It’s nice to have friends with whom you can meet up to talk about everything even though you go to different schools; the conversation between these two is on my favourite scenes.
Kotobuki: Thank you for always saying what’s on your mind, no matter how old you are!
Q: Episode 11 depicts the training camp for the student council play. What are your favourite scenes?
Kotobuki: For me, it’s the bath scene featuring Tōko, Yū and Sayaka. Seeing the girls trying to check each other out made me go ‘I totally get that!’ (laughs) Yū’s ‘I can’t afford to hesitate here! I’ve got to make the first move before either of them get any ideas!’ is the kind of thing that happens when you’re at public baths – I know how she feels!
In all honesty I still get very conscious myself whenever I go to public baths or ryokan with friends, so I read the scripts with refreshed feelings, thinking ‘Thanks for always saying what’s on your mind, no matter how old you are!’
The same could be said for the scene where we feel nervous in the bath, and I enjoyed acting out Tōko’s inner thoughts: ‘Yū…she’s bigger than I thought’. Tōko’s just a normal human being; she might look perfect but I try not to make her too perfect, and I’m always looking out for parts where I can play around with Tōko’s character.
When I was seeking out such gaps where I could create something I found this particular scene which seemed fun, so I tried it out in the tests. If the staff were to say no then I’d go back to the original line, but I got the OK so we went ahead and recorded it based upon my line of thinking.
Takada: For me, a particularly memorable scene was where Yū’s stares at Tōko-san and Sayaka-san as they talk. I don’t think Yū had ever looked at Tōko-san and Sayaka-san with such eyes before.
I personally think that this ‘view’ caused Yū’s feelings to begin to grow. The sight [of them] provoked mixed feelings within her, and I think you could catch glimpses of the love triangle in this scene.
Q: Furthermore, we are introduced to a new character – Ichigaya Tomoyuki, school alumni and someone who had a connection to Tōko’s sister. Ichigaya tells Tōko that she is nothing like her sister, and those words are like a death sentence for her.
Kotobuki: I too, was shocked when I heard those lines myself. In episode 12 there is a scene where she recalls the words and the impact becomes even stronger. At the same time, the acting required for the role also became more difficult.
What she believes may not be the truth. But she doesn’t even know what else she should believe in. This is the point at which the hollowness within Tōko emerges and it unsettles her right away.
Tōko had had a purpose all her life, so for that purpose to be wide of the mark causes the anxiety and impatience that we see in Episode 11. Those emotions linger on into the fireworks scene and by that point, you can tell that Tōko is just human and still has much room to grow.
Q: During the fireworks, Tōko’s monologue scene, ‘I’m afraid that I’ll use up all of her kindness’ left a big impression.
Kotobuki: In episode 10, she does reflect upon her actions, thinking ‘Maybe I went too far’ and as she considers the possibility that Yū might be avoiding her, episode 11 shows Tōko gauging the distance between herself and Yū.
I’m sorry to say that even if she used up all of Sayaka’s kindness, it would still be possible for their relationship to recover, at least from Tōko’s point of view. But that may not be the case for Yū – things might end there and then. She can see the end coming, which is why she dares not cross the line and wants to take her time.
That’s why I could feel both sadness and joy in her monologue. Not too many of the monologues last longer than 5 cuts, so I wanted to handle the performance of these parts with care.
Takada: I felt a great deal of sorrow listening to this monologue. From Yū’s perspective, I do think Yū would’ve liked it if Tōko-san had talked to her about it. She’d sensed that Tōko-san might be holding something back, and the complicated feelings that enveloped her as she noticed the two, thinking ‘I wonder if she’s confiding in Sayaka-san…’ – that leads into the look you see in Yū’s eyes at the end of the episode.
The ‘idiot’ that was packed full of Yū’s frustrations
Q: The 12th episode continues to follow the characters as they rehearse for the student council play and as Kotobuki-san mentioned earlier, seeing how Tōko’s haunted by what Ichigaya said was one of the highlights.
Kotobuki: It’s one of my favourites too. When Dōjima-kun says ‘That was amazing…’ as the group watches how she gets immersed in her performance, she hears Ichigaya’s voice in her head saying ‘Mio and Nanami-san aren’t very similar’. Acting the part out became tougher and tougher as the intensity of her performance increased, and I had to do several retakes.
Tōko had reached a boiling time several times previously, but this scene was especially difficult to handle in terms of trying to maintain a balance amidst the explosiveness of the emotions.
I believe this is a side of her we only get to see because she’s [Mio’s] sister. Her feelings start to overlap with those of her character’s and I performed the part with the intention of unshackling Tōko and letting her unleash her emotions.
Q: There were parts of the character Tōko played that she could relate to, with some of her truths hidden within her lines.
Kotobuki: That’s right. In that sense, Koyomi’s amazing – each and every one of the character’s lines really pierced Tōko’s heart. And all this ties into the events of episode 13. The [episode 12] title ‘Suddenly Suffocating’ was so apt, I thought.
Q: What are your thoughts on this, Takada-san?
Takada: So much happened in episode 12…I’ll go through them one by one, starting off with the scene where Yū invites Tōko-san to her house. Yū’s intuition leads her to say to Tōko-san ‘I’ve been keeping my promise so please believe in me, senpai’; you can see her kindness shine through in that line and it’s one of my favourites. I also love the scene where the two of them are lying down in bed and Tōko-san’s slowly saying what’s on her mind, with Yū responding in turn.
Kotobuki: That was another Erotic Pass! I think this one was even more erotic! (laughs)
Takada: (laughs) I really love the part where they’re lying down and Yū’s playing around with her hair! But for Tōko-san to say ‘Yū, don’t fall in love with me’ at that moment and Yū’s ‘You idiot!’ line when seeing her off – it was like a knife to the heart.
During the scene that follows, where Yū asks Koyomi-chan to change the ending of the play, there’s a line in the monologue where she says ‘Still….I want to change her’ – I love that…I love everything in the second half of the episode (laughs)
Kotobuki: I’m saying this from Tōko’s point of view – ‘You’re so cool, Yū! Thanks for going to such lengths for me!’
Q: It’s an important scene where we get to hear Yū’s words, which are like a monologue, expressed as part of the lines. What kind of approach did you take towards acting out that part?
Takada: I believe that Yū wishes for Tōko-san to be able to love herself. During the bed scene, she was able to reaffirm just how much power her sister’s existence held over her, and how she desired to convey her feelings of ‘frustration’ and ‘love’ to Tōko-san. All of that pent-up frustration went into that one ‘idiot!’.
I did think it’d be okay for me to say it out loud, plus the director said ‘[Tōko’s] already far away so it’s fine, give it all you’ve got’ and that’s why I shouted at the top of my lungs. For someone who’s normally passive to come out with such emotional words means Yū must’ve seriously been rattled.
Q: Which means Takada-san’s favourite scene is the entire second half of the episode?
Takada: That’s right. I love all of the scenes, including the conversation that she had with Koyomi-chan.
The Improv: Yū’s evident feelings and Tōko’s…
Q: And we come to the final episode, which shows Yū and Tōko’s date at the aquarium.
Kotobuki: The best scene for me would be the anime-original dialogue between Yū and Tōko at the end of their date. A lot of things happened over the course of their improv but personally, I think Yū’s ‘Is there a need for you to make a choice?’ really saved her.
I thought Yū’s ‘I only got to know you after you came here, but I know your habits. I know your favourite authors, and I know what colour of flowers you like.’ conveyed her thoughts beautifully.
When Tōko is told ‘I don’t know anything else apart from “You”’, a part of her naturally wishes to respond ‘Even if you say that…’. Even in death, her sister’s existence is a noose around her neck that she cannot easily get rid of.
The Tōko of before would probably have replied ‘That’s what I am. It’s the kind of person I am’. But she averts her eyes and says ‘But I have to choose someone to be like, because I have no memories. Because I have nothing’. It’s an important point to note, that Yū has caused Tōko’s heart to start to move.
On my part I was thinking ‘Please stay by her side just a little more, Yū’ as this scene gave us a glimmer of hope that Tōko would begin to change, little by little.
This final episode came in the midst of an ongoing manga so it’s regrettable that we didn’t get to see the play and other parts animated, but through this particular scene Yū and Tōko both saw happiness and we could sense the possibilities that lie ahead for the two of them.
Takada: That exact same scene is my pick too. It works as an ad-lib (within the show), but also serves as the best possible confession that Yū could give Tōko-san at that moment.
The expression Tōko-san makes upon hearing the ‘I don’t know anything else apart from “You..”’ confession, and Yū, who averts her gaze while saying ‘Is that so?’ in response to Tōko-san insisting that she needs to make a choice. I think those were the most painful parts.
I was really happy to hear Minako-san mention that she saw hope in their exchange. I feel sadness for Yū but when I think about it, I do feel that the Tōko-san of before would have kept her gaze steady while she says ‘I must choose someone’. She must’ve been aware that her swaying feelings were…[[Kotobuki and Takada look at each other in the eyes]] clearly visible.
It’s a crucial point that hints at future developments and the direction we’re headed towards, which is what makes me love this scene the most.
In episode 12, when Yū says to Koyomi-chan ‘It makes the period of time during the play seem meaningless…’, it also reflects Yū’s desire that her meeting Tōko-san and the time they spent together, alone and as part of the student council, should not be meaningless either. I believe that she did not want [everything] to end up as something that was done for the sake of the past.
Thus, this scene was one that I felt particularly strongly about as a performer and one that I hope will remain in everyone’s hearts. It was a final episode that made you curious about where the two of them will go from here; an ending that is full of hope, makes you want to know what happens next…Ah, talking about all this makes me feel like I’m going to cry (laughs)
From Takada-san and Kotobuki-san, to Yū and Tōko
Q: Now that you’ve completed recording for the final episode, tell us what you find appealing about the series.
Kotobuki: During recordings for the finale, the staff team discussed ‘what it means to love’. Throughout the series we got to see the numerous directions that ‘love’ moved towards, the many shapes it took on. The feelings that Tōko had towards her sister could be construed as ‘love’ as well; I don’t think it’s necessarily true that ‘this series was enjoyable because it was about love between two girls’.
It makes you reconsider, empathize and be surprised by the ‘love’ that exists in human relationships. The existence of these emotions within ‘Yagate Kimi ni Naru’ allowed me to perform my parts while treasuring those symbols of ‘love’. I’d be happy if, by watching a show about what it means to love someone, you could come to think about the meaning [of love] as well.
Takada: I think it’s extremely difficult to love someone. When you fall in love with someone, you have to consider not just the good but the bad as well; your feelings will waver and there will be a lot of pain involved.
Having played Yū up until the final episode, I’ve learned once again how wonderful it is to love someone. I felt that all the emotions involved, pain included, makes you who you are, and I realized how attractive people who experience these feelings are.
With the manga still ongoing I’m sure we’re all concerned about the status of their relationship but at the same time, I do hope that all of you will experience that sparkling feeling called ‘love’. ‘Love’ is of course, a wonderful feeling that can also bring pain, but I’d be glad if you came to discover that it’s a feeling that is necessary
Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to Yū and Tōko, who have drawn closer to each other by the final episode?
Kotobuki: Facing the prospect of voicing Tōko, I had worried ‘Can I get a hold on her character?’. I very thankfully grew up in a strong family unit with all members present. Still, it was my intention to play the role with feelings as close to Tōko’s as possible, so I would be glad if you were to think that Tōko was, in any way, good.
What happens next is in Nakatani-sensei’s hands – how will Tōko open up to a Yū who has already begun to move her? I think the story’s developments will depend on how much she changes herself.
With the last episode of the anime now over, what I would like to say to her is ‘I’m happy for you, Tōko’ and ‘From now on Tōko, do your best’.
Takada: I believe that meeting Tōko-san has turned out to be an irreplaceable moment in Yū’s life, and she has done so well in working hard to get close to her.
The feelings that have emerged within Yū are emotions that she is finally beginning to grasp. When you consider that she started off being troubled by the definition of ‘love’, seeing Yū pull Tōko-san’s hand along and being able to convey ‘You don’t have to choose, you are attractive in your own right’ to her makes you think that Yū has grown into such an attractive person.
The feelings that Yū has gained will be something that she can be proud of in the future, so I’d be pleased if Yū continues to live her life honestly, true to who she is.
And what I would like to say to Yū, who I’ve learned a lot about emotions from, is ‘Please cherish the many feelings that you have now’.
[Planning, interview, text: Toriyabe Kōhei]