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Spreadsheets masterlist

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

List after the jump.
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#208 – Liz to Aoi Tori: Tanezaki Atsumi x Toyama Nao

I watched Liz to Aoi Tori recently…yes, I know – belated! I just needed to get through the 2 seasons of Euphonium and that took…forever. I hadn’t felt particularly strongly about any of the main characters in the series but NozoMizo is such a precious, realistic pairing and I am absolutely in love with them and the movie. Needs about 10 rewatches! (I am still 1000% bummed it did not get a theatrical screening in Malaysia)

There’s already one pretty in-depth interview with Tanezaki and Toyama by Manga Tokyo that you should read (please excuse the Engrish); this one covers similar ground with some fluff tacked on at the end. I guess it’s finally time to move this post out of my drafts!


Q: Now that recordings over and the film is done, tell us how you feel!

Toyama: The distinguishing feature of the Hibike! Euphonium TV series is how the visuals and themusic match each other and that rings true for the film as well – the pieces written especially for it are very much highlights by themselves. It’s the first time I’ve felt this way about a film; where ‘footsteps’ coalesce into ‘music’ and how amazing it sounds. Mizore’s and Nozomi’s footsteps are both distinct and out of sync, but at times they overlap and end up on the same wavelength with the music. It moves, and truly excites me!

Tanezaki: The music comes first for me too. The animation was only halfway-done when we were recording, with ‘Liz and the Blue Bird’ and ‘Mizore and Nozomi’ progressing in parallel; even so, the world of the picture book already seemed wonderful at the time. The book’s style may be completely different from that of Mizore and Nozomi’s world, but the two stories move alongside each other.

Now that the visuals are complete we have a clear picture of both worldviews; the stories still progress along parallel paths but seem to be more vivid than before. I also really love the usage of watercolour at certain points, where the colours gradually spread across the screen.

Q: As the leading characters in the film, what were your thoughts when you first heard about the production, as well as your impression of the scripts?

Toyama: My first thought upon seeing the script was ‘This day has finally arrived!’. Mizore and Nozomi started appearing from the 2nd season of the TV anime. The close friendship between them had broken down once before being restored – it was a case of adversity building character, and I thought that maybe that was all that we would be shown of their story.

But this time over an entire movie, (to borrow the director’s words), the focus would be on the two of them, fleshing out their emotions in more detail. From Nozomi’s perspective, I was very surprised when I first read the script. The TV series had given me the impression that she was an unreservedly cheerful and unaffected girl, much admired by others.

That’s why I was very surprised by the fallibility Nozomi showed – how she worried over her talent for music and in the diverging ways in which she and Mizore cherished each other. It took some time for me to get my head around it. I feel the viewers will come to like Nozomi even more once they have the opportunity to feel such raw emotion.

Tanezaki: When I heard that they were making a story about Mizore and Nozomi, I was just incredibly happy that I’d have the opportunity to voice Mizore again! I was excited to find out whether it’d be a story about their past that preceded the TV series or whether it’d be a sequel of some kind. When I saw the title and looked through the script, I could tell how lovingly it portrayed the moments between them, the conversations they share and their time spent together; things that we had not seen in the anime.

The script notes were so finely detailed and they proved to be a life-saver. In Euphonium we got to hear quite a lot of monologues and narration by Kumiko, but this film did not have a single monologue. Their words are few, and what they say conflicts with what they are thinking. Even though there are no monologues, everything you see will tell you the story – not just the acting and the visuals, but every element in the film captures and portrays it all.

Q: The film digs much deeper into the two characters and their empathy when compared to the TV series – were there any aspects that you were particularly careful about this time around?

Toyama: The two of them are best friends, but the ‘love’ they feel for each other is not the same. In the TV anime, Mizore seemed like one of the many friends that Nozomi has and it never occurred to her that Mizore thought of her as someone special. So Nozomi quit the club on a whim and that ended up hurting Mizore. In this film however, Nozomi appears to possess similarly special feelings towards Mizore.

The vector of her feelings is somewhat different from Mizore’s feelings of reverence and love towards Nozomi – envy of Mizore’s musical talent and a certain amount of possessiveness towards a girl who does not belong to her but whom she believes will never leave her side. Nozomi is used to Mizore always giving her the time of the day so she is stunned when Mizore gives her an unexpected reply at one point – the bruising that Nozomi’s ego receives is an example of the subtlety of their emotions that we didn’t get to see in the TV anime.

Tanezaki: Unlike Nozomi, Mizore remains largely as we saw her in the anime; cherishing Nozomi and always wanting to stay close by her side. I had a lengthy discussion with the Director prior to recording and one of the things she said was that ‘every moment and conversation she shares with Nozomi feels as if it might be their last time together – like a climax, or a final episode’.

Her feelings are unchanged from what they were in the anime and when I was able to reaffirm that, I understood what kind of film we were making. In the words of the Director: ‘All the things of this world are bystanders – the wind, the trees and the sky; they’re watching over the two of them’. Mizore may remain the same but viewers are watching her from the sidelines – I may not be on this side either but I tried to keep in mind what the film was trying to do.

Mizore’s place in the TV series was as part of club activities but in this film, the story revolves around these 2 girls. Naturally, there is elegance in the way they are drawn and an intricacy in their endlessly shifting emotions – that’s the kind of film we were making, but I tried not to be too preoccupied with being too much of a stickler for details and just stayed mindful of the perspective of the work as a whole.

Q: I get the impression that the workings of their minds shift as we moved from the first half to the second half of the film. Did the Director give you any advice on how to approach the two halves of the movie?

Toyama: There were no signification instructions; I think the process went smoothly and our performances were based on our own interpretations. Liz to Aoi Tori is a very quiet work and is in that sense, very much suited for a theatrical screening where you can hear each and every breath being breathed.

The film is such that I would encourage people to rewatch it on Bluray/DVD after watching it on the big screen, but do first of all go watch it at a cinema near you. It’s not a film with speedy developments that turn into something big; rather, the emotions are like snow falling in complete silence, with a finale that makes you think ‘Ah, we’ve come so far’.

In terms of recording sessions – for the 30-minute [TV] anime, they were split into two – before and after the commercial. For the film, we went scene-by-scene so the process would go something like ‘So for this scene, this is how I feel and for the next scene, this is what will happen’ – breaking them down and treating each part with care made it very easy for me to handle.

Tanezaki: Nothing dramatic happens in the movie – it’s just our individual hearts moving steadily, more and more. From the outside it doesn’t look like anything has changed, but the film really excels at expressing what’s inside the heart. I had never thought of the possibility of doing things this way. As long as I give a performance that replicates the human state of mind, the film would be made with utmost care, to reflect it. ‘I’m glad to be with Nozomi, I’m happy to have this conversation with you’ – I was able to play those parts naturally, without having to think about needing to make it that way.

It’s an anime but it feels almost like a photo shoot. Even if she feels the desire to shout out loud the feelings within her heart – she’s an anime character of course, but when you think of Mizore as a person, she wouldn’t actually do that – the desire might be there but she wouldn’t go through with it. I’m not saying that I try to avoid putting too much [emotion] into it since in anime, verbalizing [emotions] is what makes the characters human. I do feel like I was playing [Mizore] from the heart.

But, (turning to Toyama-san) there was this scene where we had to do our parts one-by-one, wasn’t it? There were no specific instructions apart from that so we did our scenes the way we wanted to until we got a good take out of it.

Q: There’s one scene in the film that mentions breakfast – what kind of a breakfast person are you?

Toyama: I’m a coffee person! And an assortment of fruits (bananas, tomatoes, kiwis). I just choose whatever I can eat quickly. I’d love to say that I’m a French toast person!

Tanezaki: Apples are something I absolutely must eat. Can’t leave ‘em apples out! Bananas are technically the easiest to consume but I still like my apples best, I suppose.

Q: Any experience with wind instruments?

Toyama: I played the flute!! In junior high/high school you’d normally play the recorder and harmonica and melodica but for some reason, we had to choose a specific instrument to focus on. I ended up with the flute because it looked elegant but I was awful at it ‘cos I didn’t have enough breath in me.

Tanezaki: I’ve only ever played the recorder (laughs)

[in the background, Toyama: but you play the oboe with the same pose as when you play the recorder!]

I tried the guitar as well but I couldn’t even play the F chord properly so it was goodbye to that. I’m not playing anything now but if I had the chance I’d love to have a go at banging the drums!!

#207 – Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!?: Uesaka Sumire, Goto Yuko, Ishigami Shizuka & Yamamoto Nozomi

Newtype interview with the 4 teachers from spring anime Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!? (Why the Hell are You Here, Teacher!?) – Uesaka Sumire (Kojima Kana), Gotō Yūko (Matsukaze Mayu), Ishigami Shizuka (Hazakura Hikari) and Yamamoto Nozomi (Tachibana Chizuru).

It’s an adaptation of a very titillating manga by Soboro-sensei that has boob master Kaneko Hiraku (Seikon no Qwaser, Valkyrie Drive) overseeing things as chief director so if even if there’s little of substance, we can always look forward to jiggly [censored?] breast physics!

Q: Tell us what your impressions were upon reading the Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!? manga.

Uesaka: I was surprised, thinking ‘Does this really run in Young Magazine!?’ It’s a mainstream weekly comic that’s sold at convenience stores so I didn’t think they’d have such an ‘extreme’ manga within its pages (laughs) The content may seem over the top but once I read it, I could see how pure the teachers were. I’m also thinking how you could enjoy this as a pure love story as I’m reading.

Goto: The series is constructed very cleverly. “So if you have a certain situation and you’re given a specific prop, this is what will happen!’ is what I’m thinking as I’m reading, but the series always seems to go above and beyond my expectations (laughs)

Ishigami: Before the auditions my manager checked with me: ‘it’s a lewd anime, is that fine with you?’ but I was totally alright with that (laughs). What I mean is that the lewd stuff only happens as a consequence of certain ‘incidents’ and that means they don’t feel lewd at all to me. Still, it’s not something you should read on the train (laughs). Every volume features a different teacher-student pairing so I’m always excited to see what comes next.

Yamamoto: My first impression was ‘boobs!’ (laughs). Each and every pair of boobs seem soft and the way they move is amazing. While being overwhelmed by boobs, the scenes still contain plenty of laughs and charm as well – definitely lots of appeal in this series.

Q: Describe the appeal of each of the teachers whom you voice.

Uesaka: She’s nicknamed ‘Demon Kojima’ and seems to have a Spartan approach towards education. But in truth she’s quite shy and retiring. She tries her best to overcome her introverted nature, working hard at playing the part of a tough teacher. The anime does kick off with an extraordinary scene featuring Kojima-sensei, but I feel that she’s the most naïve and purest of the 4 teachers.

Q: Were there any aspects that you were careful about when it came to voicing Kojima-sensei?

Uesaka: Her gentle nature that she lets slip from time to time. In front of her students she may act sophisticated but only her partner Satō-kun is aware of the truth. I’m doing my best to show the contrast between the expressions she shows when she’s working and those when she’s in front of the one she loves.

Q: What about Matsukaze-sensei?

Goto: Matsukaze-sensei looks cute on the outside but as her nickname ‘Saint Matsukaze’ suggests, she’s someone who’s overflowing with motherly love. Only for Suzuki-kun does she seize the initiative in love and yet, ends up being super klutzy – which is really quite charming! Matsukaze-sensei and Suzuki-kun’s story is indisputably one of pure romance so I’ve got rom-coms on my mind as I play the role. Please continue to watch over how their love grows even as your heart beats faster!

Ishigami: Hazakura-sensei is probably the most childish of them all, and she’s also the one who gets closest to her students without showing any bias. I’d originally thought that she lacked self-awareness as a teacher but considering the fact that she’s also the student council’s adviser, I guess she’s actually the type who knows how to do her job properly (laughs) As for her relationship with her partner Taka-kun – they were childhood friends so I’m trying to play her as the ‘friendly neighbourhood onee-san’.

Yamamoto: Tachibana-sensei’s nickname is ‘Absolute Zero Tachibana’ in reference to her cold image but she’s not really the type to snub people – it’s just an inability to express herself properly that makes her misunderstood. She’s worried sick about that and wants to get along well with everyone. I do think that those inconsistencies are endearing. Her facial expressions don’t change much so although the range of her emotions is quite limited, the sweetness she shows only to Tanaka-kun is adorable. Her spaciness punctuated by random moments featuring an outpouring of emotions is similar to my own personality, so it felt relatively easy for me to slip into the role.

Q: Tell us what you think of your male partners. Do you see them as viable choices in real life? 

Uesaka: Sato-kun is your stereotypical lewd manga hero. He doesn’t fight his desires, and despite all the events in the manga that seem to happen like a Rube Goldberg machine* he manages to impose himself in a pretty masculine way. I’d go for him in real life (laughs)

Goto: Suzuki-kun’s a boy who looks scary on the outside but is actually sensitive, gentle and overly serious on the inside. I personally adore him very much, his incredible obliviousness included.

Ishigami: Taka-kun is really cute both inside and outside and the word ‘boy’ suits him perfectly. I think the phrase ‘Onee-shota’ [older sister-young boy] was made for the two of them (laughs). I do love boys who react to being teased so Taka-kun’s a good fit for me.

Yamamoto: Tanaka-kun is an honours student, as you can tell from his student representative’s speech during the graduation ceremony. But there’s that unusual side of him that you see from when he works part-time at a mysterious restaurant full of macho men. It looks like it’d be fun to spend time with him, and I definitely see him as marriage material (laughs)

Goto: Oh wow we’re all into our boys!

*Uesaka uses the term ‘Pythagorean device’ here which is a reference to a segment on the NHK show PythagoraSwitch

Q: What should we be looking out for in the series?

Uesaka: What could possibly happen when you get 15 minutes of extreme nipple works? Our chief director is the anime world’s boob master Kaneko Hiraku-san, so it’s definitely gonna be a flawless treatment (laughs). I will never forget the impact that (the Kaneko-directed) Seikon no Qwaser had!

Goto: We only get the rough line art during recording sessions but the strokes already tell me that those boobs are gonna be soft! I’m looking forward to how much more wonderful they’ll be when they’re coloured. And please do pay attention to the cast performances as well. We take it too seriously sometimes and attack our lines with such fervour until we have to do retakes ‘cos we sound ‘too explicit’ (laughs)

Ishigami: What I loved reading in the manga was how the teacher and student pairings would grow closer at a steady pace. I’m happy that the way the relationships develop in the anime is just as superb. Do look forward to watching how they play out.

Yamamoto: I’ve actually got the series notes in hand now and… ‘although there is normal content contained within, there are extreme phrases that cannot be read aloud in public’ (laughs). I am curious to see the results of what they’ve been working on with such seriousness ….do please watch the series.

Q: What kind of emotions do you feel coming from the staff working on the series?

Uesaka: ‘Purity’ that seeps through to the bones. The visuals we’d seen prior to recording had seemed outrageous but the director instructed us to remain pure in mind as we voiced our roles.

Ishigami: But I’ve got to say that the passion directed at the depiction of lewd stuff really is amazing. I personally want you to observe how the nipples become erect (laughs). In every episode, the process is laid bare, giving it plenty of air time. But it seems that it might be too difficult to show on normal TV so you might just have to wait to enjoy it on DVD/Bluray. I too, am looking forward to it!

Q: Apart from the teachers whom you play, name your favourite character.

Uesaka: I like Tachibana-sensei’s partner Tanaka-kun. He has the knowledge but lacks the ability to take action – I do find the sight of a guy crying when he can’t achieve the results he desires, to be adorable (laughs)

Goto: I like Tanaka-kun too. What the other students can handle smartly, clumsy Tanaka-kun fails miserably at. But he can offer you comfort when you’re feeling down. I tend to self-insert into his cycle [of endless misery]. I think most guys watching would be the same (laughs)

Ishigami: I like Tachibana-sensei’s outward appearance and personality. Hazakura-sensei and Tachibana-sensei seem to be good friends and I do wonder how they got close to each other.

Yamamoto: I like Matsukaze-sensei. She’s cute and does have the look of a teacher but at the same time, possesses a wealth of adult knowledge. She’s so assertive in pursuing Suzuki-kun and the way that contrasts with her cuteness really gets me. If her partner was anyone other than Suzuki-kun then they’d be together already and the story would be over in a flash, so I do think that this couple is perfect (laughs)

Q: By the way – when you were in school, did you admire any of your teachers?

Uesaka: I was in an all-girls’ high school and there were teachers who were popular but I wasn’t really interested in any of them. I may be the delusional type but my teachers didn’t appear in my fantasies.

Goto: Who’s your dream partner?

Uesaka: I started to get into Russia when I was in high school, so probably the Russian Emperor or the General Secretary. I guess my high school days were more ‘Why the Hell are You Here, Emperor!?’ or ‘Why the Hell are You Here, General Secretary!?’.

All: (laughter)

Goto: It’s a no for me as well. My parents and grandfather were all teachers so they definitely weren’t gonna be the kind of people I’d target. For me it was already ‘Why the Hell are You Here, Teacher!?’ all day every day at home (laughs)

Ishigami: I’ve never had feelings of love towards a teacher, but I did have a lot of respect for them. That’s because one of my junior high teachers happened to be the one who influenced my decision to become a seiyuu by telling me ‘you have a good voice so you should find a career that utilizes it’. So for me it’s ‘I’m Here Because of You, Teacher!’.

Yamamoto: Nothing at all for me either. In terms of memories, I did have this otaku friend who was always fantasizing about teachers coupling up with each other, so I guess it was just a befuddled ‘Why The Hell Is It Teacher x Teacher!?’ for me (laughs)

Q: Thanks for the wonderful memories (laughs). Lastly, please leave a message.

Uesaka: April is the month for new encounters but some of you will still find yourselves alone. If you’re feeling sad and lonely, come and see your teacher. I will gladly & kindly ‘show’ you the way!

Goto: As Uesaka-san mentioned – watch the series and let the teachers heal your broken hearts! For those who feel they’re alright, do not allow yourself to be satisfied with what you already have. Watch ‘Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!?’ and let it open new doors for you!! (laughs)

Ishigami: Fans of the manga might have their doubts over how this outrageous manga could possibly be adapted into anime but have no fears – you expectations will be met. It might seem like a story for the guys but at its core lies purity. I’d love it if girls would watch the show too, as long as you’re not allergic to [an excess o] skin.

Yamamoto: In many ways, this is the kind of series that’s perfect to watch just before going to bed. Please do watch the show as a pleasant way to bring your day or your week to a satisfying finish!

[Interview & Text: Hoshi Masaaki]

#206 – Mitsuya Yuji

Translation of a very honest interview with veteran seiyuu Mitsuya Yūji, one of the biggest male actors of his era and one of the most popular seiyuu heart-throbs of the time – just think of a Kaji Yuki or a Miyano Mamoru of the 80s and that’d be Mitsuya.

He’s always been active and prolific and as this piece points out – he’s spent 50 years in the business, starting out as a child actor before moving into voice acting in the ‘70s. Mitsuya may not be too well-known amongst the generation of today but he ranks pretty highly amongst his peers, coming in at No.24 in the 2017 Seiyuu Ranking run by TV Asahi (a poll asking 200 seiyuu who they most respected). The role of Uesugi Tatsuya in Touch is his magnum opus and Mitsuya remains close to his leading lady Hidaka Noriko, with whom he later started a seiyuu agency (Combination). Their partnership even extended to the phenomenon that is Pop Team Epic, being the only male-female Popuko-Pipimi combo (in episode 1, part B) throughout the series’ run.

Mitsuya also hit the headlines in early 2017 when he finally acknowledged his sexuality on a TV show – ‘If you ask me whether I’m straight or gay then well, the answer is gay’, in the process becoming the first and only active seiyuu to have come out publicly.


50 years in entertainment – seiyuu legend Mitsuya Yūji preparing for the end of his days*: ‘I’ve had an amazing life’

Mitsuya Yūji, who has voiced so many characters including Touch’s Uesugi Tatsuya to Sasuga no Sarutobi’s Sarutobi Nikumaru. As one of the leading figures who brought the existence of ‘seiyuu’ to public attention , there is no word more fitting to describe him than ‘legend’.

At the same time he has taken on sound directing duties for the Rurōni Kenshi series and Shinkai Makoto works such as 5 Centimeters per Second. He has also written scripts and lyrics for The Prince of Tennis musical, proving his mettle as a multi-talented creator and transcending the label of ‘actor’.

Going into 2019, Mitsuya has been busying himself with what he deems ‘decluttering’ activities, including the sale of his much beloved training studio. Keeping the theme of ‘decluttering’ in mind, we conduct this interview with Mitsuya to look back on his half-century long career and to learn more about his current state of mind.

Listening to Mitsuya Yūji discuss his career in that high-pitched voice that we’ve become so accustomed to, a startling topic emerges at the end of the interview – belying a casual tone, he declares that he is preparing for the ‘end of his days’.

*the phrase here is 終活 (shūkatsu), which is a homonym for the 就活 phrase (an abbreviation of 就職活動 shūshoku katsudō, which means job-hunting). It was first coined in 2009 in a series of editorials in the Asahi newspaper, and refers to the preparations one makes to ensure that their life is in order at the time of their death, taking the burden off loved ones. These activities often include preparing one’s one grave and planning a funeral.

[Photoshoot: Takuma Kunihiro, Interview & Text: Okamoto Daisuke, Photography Cooperation: Christie, Toshimaen branch]


I’ve never not had a regular role throughout my 50 years

Q: Mitsuya-san – you started out as a child actor. Were you interested in acting since you were young?

A: Not really. I’d always loved singing and was in the school choir during my primary school days. I got my start when the teaching adviser invited me to join an amateur singing contest.

Q: The one that’s aimed at children?

A: That’s right. I was born in Nagoya and my local TV station Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting ran a amateur singing programme called ‘Acorn Musical Concert’ – I appeared on that.

And one of the judges said to me ‘you have a voice that would be good for opera’. I had no idea what opera was so when I went home and did some research, I found out that it was something that combined the elements of singing and acting together. Then it occurred to me that I must be able to act as well as sing, so I joined a child theatre group after graduating from primary school.

Q: That was your first encounter with ‘performing’.

A: Yeah my roots were in child theatre, where I was taught the very basics of acting. After 1 year as a member of the group, I was chosen for the lead role in NHK serialized drama ‘Heita from the Sea’ (Umi kara Kita Heita, 1968-69) – the relationships that I established there led to voice work further down the line.

Q: Your first voice acting job was in NHK Education’s Pururu-kun (1973-76) puppet show, wasn’t it?

A: Yeah. The person who had given me that opportunity was Nagai Ichirō-san, and he then recommended that I take an audition for a TV anime which turned out to be Super Electromagnetic Robo Combattler V (1976-77).

Q: It was your first TV anime and you were suddenly selected to be the lead.

A: My choir teacher, my child theatre instructor, NHK producers and Nagai Ichirō-san – it seems that other people were telling me what to do with my life and I’d just go with the flow (laughs). They all led me in the right direction though, and that’s brought me to where I am now. And throughout these 50 years, I’ve never not had a regular role – not even once.

Q: That’s honestly amazing, isn’t it?

A: I’m grateful. It’s been 50 years where I’ve been supported by everyone around me; countless people who I could only describe as my ‘saviours’.

Acting theory I learned from Nozawa Masako, my voice acting mentor

Q: Would your Robo Combattler co-star Nozawa Masako, whom many consider to be their voice acting ‘mentor’, be among those [saviours]?

A: When I was struggling with my first ever TV anime recording session, Nozawa Masako-san was the one who so kindly took me through aspects such as script-checking and mic work.

I wasn’t able to grasp the nuances of lines like ‘Combattler V’ or ‘Let’s Combine!’ from the entrance and combination scenes, as well as the ‘Super Electromagnetic Spin!!’ special move, and racked up plenty of NGs. That was when [Nozawa-san] intervened and suggested to me: ‘Try doing the line while visualizing yourself doing a Mie (in kabuki)]….

Still, it took me a few hundred retakes before I got the hang of it (laughs)

Reminiscing about that makes me realize just how much patience Nozawa-san and the other staff and cast members had, in putting up with me.

Q: Your acting in Robo Combattler V received many plaudits and at once, you became one of the most popular seiyuu.

A: Nah, I think it was largely down to the fact that there were an overwhelmingly minuscule number of freshly-debuting seiyuu at the time.

As far as I know, the only seiyuu colleagues from my year are Inoue Kazuhiko and Mizushima Yū – just the 3 of us. We’d run here and there working on various different projects and before I knew it, I was in a situation where I had 11 or so regular shows per week. It was natural then to spend each day recording for 3 different productions – 1 in the morning, 1 in the afternoon and another at night.

Q: That’s a lot of work. How do you make each of those characters distinct from the others?

A: I hope this won’t get misinterpreted, but I can honestly say that I don’t put any thought into ‘role creation’. All I do is look at a character’s visuals, read the lines and allow the voice and performance to flow into my head without forcing it.

Let’s be honest – when you have to record 3 times a day, it’s physically impossible to put the amount of effort in to give maximum depth to each and every character. And that is why I mostly get into the studio and relish the inspiration that I get from being there.

Q: It’s surprising to learn that your ability to play dashing heroes or comedy relief roles was born from your time spent in studios.

A: There is the one exception though – Kiteretsu Encyclopedia’s Tongari. Tongari’s pretty similar to Suneo in Doraemon so prior to recording I did worry a bit about how to best express the character.

Q: So that was the first time you felt troubled by the role creating process.

A: I consulted Nozawa Masako-san, and her advice was to ‘go observe primary school students’.

I found myself hanging around the gates of a primary school in my neighbourhood, looking for a child whose appearance and aura was similar to that of Tongari’s and I observed and learned about the type of voice he had and the way he spoke.

Q: I see.

A: It’d be dreadful if I were to be mistaken for a suspicious old dude on the prowl so I had to try and pose as a wandering passerby (laughs). In the end I went around to a couple of primary schools and took what I’d learned from the children’s demeanour into the studio – and that resulted in Tongari’s voice.

Q: So I suppose recording went smoothly?

A: The sound director Komatsu Nobuhiro said to me ‘Mitsuya-kun, you don’t have to push yourself too hard’ but I was going ‘No no it’s fine, I’m not forcing it!’ (laughs)

Komatsu-san was worried about the condition of my throat since Tongari requires a fairly unique type of enunciation, but I was really determined to pull it off. Initially I did feel that the voice was perhaps a little too tough for me but once recording kicked off I found that I had sharpened my technique enough for the voice to be able to come out naturally; it wasn’t a burden at all.

Q: Tongari’s high-pitched voice was definitely memorable.

A: Tongari’s only a supporting character and he doesn’t appear that often in the manga so I really wanted to make him stand out.

Eventually he started to appear in every episode and became a regular character – I was so happy I let out a whoop of joy…Yeah!. I was delighted to know that I could create interesting characters that made a big impact, even if they weren’t the main role.

During the golden era of Touch, I was making around ¥100 million. I led quite the luxurious life

Q: Another character that the name Mitsuya Yūji is synonymous with has to be Uesugi Tatsuya from Touch. Touch was a national hit so you must’ve been really busy at the time.

A: I was already aware of the buzz surrounding it thanks to the enthusiasm of the director and producers before recording even began, and I thought to myself ‘A lot of [passion] will be going into this series’.

I remember, clear as day, the moment I got home after recording for episode 1 – the series’ 5 producers called me up, one after the other. And they all said the same thing ‘Wouldn’t it be better if you did it this way?’

Q: That proved just how much was riding on Touch, from the TV stations’ point of view.

A: That’s right, but it wasn’t too helpful when the 5 producers were giving me 5 different opinions….I was prepared for the worst since we couldn’t seem to reach any kind of consensus but once the show had gone on air and the audience ratings were out, no one said a single word to me.

Q: The results were there for all to see.

A: I remember thinking back then, how good it felt to have believed in myself. So much was going into Touch – not just an anime, but events and commercials were being developed in conjuction with the show.

There were events being held in local areas practically every weekend as well, which mean I got to tour the country alongside Hidaka Noriko.

Q: Having recordings on weekdays and promotion on weekends means barely any time off.

A: It was hectic. I’d have at most, a couple of days off per year.

Q: Just between you and me – the pay must’ve been good, right?

A: I think I was earning about 100 million yen a year at the time. But I was spending just as much. Splurging on clothes, eating fancy meals, flying first class overseas. I’m the type that works hard and plays hard.

Q: Guess you’re helping the economy along!

A: Even if you save up a ton of money you still can’t bring it with you to the other world when you die. If that’s the case it’d be far better to contribute to society by returning the money to the market and help stimulate the Japanese economy.

Q: Are you still spending lavishly these days?

A: Well yeah. Though I’m not wallowing in as much luxury as I was during the Touch era.

Ideally, I’d like to ‘spend the last 10 yen in my wallet before I die’. Wouldn’t that feel incredibly satisfying?

Q: I kinda get what you mean, but at the same time..not really (laughs)

A: If I had to deposit all my earnings in a bank I think my passion for work would be diminished. I’m only speaking for myself, but I feel that the act of spending hard-earned money is what gives me the motivation for my work.

The seiyuu of yesterday scored either 0 or 100%. Nowadays, they tend to score 75% on average

Q: With over 50 years’ experience in hand, what differences do you see when comparing your younger days with the ever-changing seiyuu industry of today?

A: I can’t really comment since I’m not too involved with the younger seiyuu of today but I suppose if I had to give my opinion, then it’d be that I feel like [seiyuu today] tend to produce error-free performances.

When I was young it seemed most actors would either score 100% or a big fat zero – if you were giving a zero performance then the sound director would give you a big earful. Still, you could feel the personality of the actor shining through his performance and it’d always be interesting to hear.

Q: It’s true that the old-school anime seemed to feature voices and ways of speaking that were unique.

A: Most of the time you’d only need to hear a single word to know ‘Oh that’s xxx-san’. On the other hand the kids of today are all pretty good and would probably score about 75% on average [for their performances] but in return, there are fewer outstanding personalities.

Q: Does that mean that they lack that special something?

A: No. It’s just that the working environment and qualities sought in a seiyuu nowadays are completely different – I have no intention of denying facts and I don’t feel like I am in a position to criticize.

After all, there were so few rookies in my generation which meant most of us had the chance to learn on the job. There may be an increase in the number of shows being made these days but the number of new seiyuu outstrips that by far – it’s really tough for everybody, I think.

Q: Allow me to probe a bit more into ‘performing’ aspects – Mitsuya-san, your acting has been honed through the years using your days as a child actor in live-action films as your foundation. How different is it compared to acting in front of a microphone, like a seiyuu does?

A: It’s exactly the same in my opinion. As an example – when you make a grunting sound ‘uhh’ as you’re jumping, or an ‘ugghh’ of pain when you’ve been attacked, you can only generate the required sound if you move your body into a position, or a way that simulates the act involved.

Q: That’s true.

A: Obviously if you can’t reproduce the muscle and vocal cord movements that you’d be using in real life, then it won’t sound realistic.

I was watching an anime recently and there was a scene where someone [got hit and] cried ‘Ouch!’ and I was thinking to myself , ‘well, he doesn’t sound like he’s in a lot of pain’. They must be sitting comfortably while they’re reading their lines. I used to emphasize those points back when I was still sound directing and [lecturing] in training school – it’s always been an aspect that I’d been especially careful with myself.

Q: Whether you’re an actor or a seiyuu, you need to learn to use your body in your acting.

A: I think it’s an important point. Nowadays seiyuu have to learn to sing, dance and MC – pretty much the same skillset as that of a tarento. It’s the kind of environment that makes it tough for you to focus solely on acting but still, I do believe that acting should be the defining part of a seiyuu’s career.

Q: This seems to be particularly true of the veteran seiyuu – the more experienced they become, the more they orient themselves towards theatre.

A: I agree. I got into the acting industry because of my love for singing but when I used to go out drinking back in the day, the talk would always turn to the stage, film and books. ‘Did you watch that movie?’ or ‘that actor’s performance was amazing!’, stuff like that.

These days when I talk to younger seiyuu I am surprised to discover that so many of them say that they became seiyuu because they love anime or video games.

I don’t necessarily mean that it was better during my time; not at all, but I still hold the belief that ‘voice actor=actor’ and that’s something that will never change, so it’d be nice if the younger ones would look to study other forms [of entertainment].

I’m already losing interest in my zest for the seiyuu industry

Q: You touched a bit on how seiyuu are increasingly becoming like tarento. What do you think about the future of the seiyuu industry?

A: That is…to be frank, ‘I don’t know!! I haven’t a clue!! Sorry!!’ is all I can say (laughs)

During my time, I gave my best in the environment that I was working in and was able to produce fairly good results, but I have absolutely no idea about what’s going to happen in the future.

Q: You have 50 years’ experience and yet, are unable to make any predictions.

A: It’s impossible. I’ve already passed my 60th birthday and to be honest, I’ve already lost the interest and passion in the future of the seiyuu industry.

Q: Really?

A: Personally, I feel like I’ve already achieved everything that I wanted to achieve as a seiyuu by the time I turned 60. When I think about the future beyond [this] and what I can do as a seiyuu in the industry of today, there really isn’t much left for me.

Q: That can’t be true.

A: The biggest thing for me is that it’s hard to find the motivation that I used to have in the past. In the old days when I was doing script-checking and I saw that I had a lot of lines I’d go ‘Hell yeah!’ with joy. Nowadays it’s the opposite – the fewer lines I have the more likely I am to go ‘Banzai!’ (wry smile). Plus it’s starting to feel taxing on my body.

Q: So it’s age-related?

A: I’ve been doing this for so long that I can still kind of cover for my shortcomings using certain techniques, but I can see the differences very clearly.

And most of all, it used to be rare for me to screw up or fluff my lines but it’s happening more and more often – even for short lines. Plus it’s getting harder to read the words in scripts thanks to presbyopia

Q: Based on what you’ve said, does it mean that you’re gradually withdrawing from the frontlines of the seiyuu industry?

A: It’s about time for me to go into semi-retirement. Mostly, I just want to rest. I’m very grateful and blessed to have been a regular [in anime] for 50 years but it also means that I’ve been spending every week in a recording studio for half a century now.

Q: You haven’t had the chance to go on a long vacation since you made your debut.

A: I go to New York every year to see shows on Broadway but I can only stay for a few days at most, so what I get to see is pretty limited. I’d love to see some minor off-Broadway works too.

Turning 60, I began to prepare for ‘the end of my days’, starting with ‘minimalist living’

Q: Recently you tweeted that you were putting up your training studio for sale as part of an effort to ‘declutter’ your life. You also mentioned that you have semi-retirement on your mind – does this signify a change in your outlook on life?

A: Well this particular tweet was merely an attempt to sort my stuff out while I’m moving. I’ve never really had to think about throwing things away before so I used the the relocation as an chance for me to reorganize [my life], the training studio included.

Q: Why the decision to move?

A: I’ve been living alone in a huge apartment all this while and I realized that most of the rooms were used for storing things.

I’d always liked it there but once I passed 60 I lost the lust for things like that. It’s as if I’ve decided to become a monk (laughs)

Q: Maybe it’s a natural reaction to hoarding things.

A: That is a possibility but to be honest, I just wanted to keep everything to a minimum. And I gradually came to think that ‘I’d like to live a simple, minimalistic life’ and realized that my ideal was to live in a hotel.

Q: Hotel living?

A: I don’t have the kind of money that would allow me to keep staying in a hotel for decades on end, so it’s merely an ideal. So yeah, I bought an apartment suitable for living alone and equipped it with the bare necessities.

Q: In other words, downsizing to fit the space available.

A: In my old place there were dozens upon dozens of unopened cardboard boxes filled with clothes that I never wore, DVDs that I never watched etc. Basically loads of stuff flooding the place that I decided to get rid of in one fell swoop. I’m not quite done yet, but significant progress has been made.

I just want to devote the rest of my life to doing the things I like

Q: Still, hearing Mitsuya-san talk about ‘semi-retirement’ and ‘decluttering’ will surely leave your fans with a sense of loneliness.

A: These acts are in a sense, me preparing for ‘the end of my days’; it’s not like I’ve started hating the seiyuu profession nor will I quit the industry permanently.

Now that I’ve passed the 50-year mark and started to divest of the unnecessary things in life, I feel refreshed. I feel like I’m finally starting to take control of my own time, and that excites me.

Q: Anything specific that you’d like to do in the future?

A: I’d like to study my favoured field of singing more seriously and of course, stay in New York for an extended period of time to take in as many shows as possible. If there were to be a production that I particularly took a liking to then I’d love to bring it to Japan as well. I’d also like to remain involved with the stage for as long as possible, whether it’s directing, acting or script-writing.

At the moment I’m working on a stage play depicting a same-sex male couple. Details about it should be out in April or thereabouts, and we plan to perform it at Ikebukuro Sunshine Theatre in July this year. I’m going to take a bit of a break in the autumn and then in December, I’ll be performing in an original play by the Alter Ego Theatre Group.

Q: You’ve been involved in LGBT-related works as well recently. Providing narration for the documentary film ‘Over the Rainbow’ and so on.

A: I took part in a LGBT parade the other day as well. I never intended to hide my sexuality but I just happened to mention it on TV and it became a [huge] ‘coming out’ kind of thing (laughs)

Q: And you started appearing in even more variety shows after that.

A: The people around me had known [about my sexuality] for decades so they just shook their heads thinking ‘why the hell are you getting even busier off the back of this?

Q: You’re thinking of semi-retirement yet you’re still so busy.

A: Life is a lot more relaxed compared to before. Having said that, I’d still give up my life for the stage. I might not be able to sprint any more but I can still run pretty quickly (laughs)

#205 – Emiya-san’chi no Kyō no Gohan: Sugiyama Noriaki

The other (actually the first) part of the Emiya-san’chi no Kyō no Gohan series of interviews, which also features Kawasumi Ayako and Ueda Kana.

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Sugiyama-san in sync with the Emiya family!?

Q: Tell us your initial impressions upon reading the series.

A: This is the Fate universe yet none of the characters seem like they’re on edge (laughs). It’s a warm and gentle series where the days flow by peacefully.

The depiction of the characters being surrounded by delicious food, to me, signifies days of bliss – it’s just warm and lovely, isn’t it?

Q: Sugiyama-san – do you often cook?

A: I do try to make dishes that I’m curious about or whip up my favourite food, but I wouldn’t say that I’m actually any good at cooking.

I’m the type of person who for example, might get obsessed with Arrabbiata pasta and keep making it over a period of time, brushing up my technique…. To be honest, I simply make whatever I like and wanna eat… (laughs)

I’ve always liked soba so I was trying to make New Year’s soba for myself to coincide with the anime’s broadcast. I wouldn’t make it in time if I were to start cooking as the episode aired, so I pulled out the recording scripts and made the dish based on [the recipe inside] (laughs)

Q: That’s interesting. So you were fully in sync with the animated Emiya family, in real-time.

A: To be fair I was merely thinking that it’d be nice if I was able to finish making the dish on time and hadn’t actually planned to synchronize with the show – I only realized at the last minute that there was quite a lot of prep involved. So I started from there and unintentionally finished dishing up at the same time as in the anime (laughs)

As I was cooking I noticed that unlike the manga where the amount/of ingredients required is properly listed, the anime doesn’t do so, for presentation’s sake.

So I remember thinking at the back of my mind, ‘how much kaeshi do I need here…?’ (laughs)

Q: You don’t cook on a regular basis so this might be a tough task, but what would you like to serve Shiro if you had the opportunity to cook for him?

A: You mean I have to cook for him!? It’s really nothing special, but I guess it’d have to be Arrabbiata pasta…but if I really were to have Shiro eat that there might be some debate over things like how strong the sauce should taste or how firm the pasta should be…so maybe that’s not such a good idea (laughs)

A series that can be enjoyed in different ways by casual viewers and the hardcore fanbase

Q: Did any of the manga chapters make a big impression on you as you read them?

A: Probably Lancer’s chapter (chapter 2: ‘Foil-baked Buttered Salmon and Mushrooms’).

It’s amusing to have our Celtic hero manning a fishmonger’s; you can still sort of gauge the characters’ status within the series as a whole, and it somewhat reminds me of hollow ataraxia.

The closing scene where Shiro and Lancer are keeping a subtle distance between themselves while washing dishes allows us to fully realize that yes, this is a Fate series where the connection to the original work is maintained. It’s nice that you can slip into the story without feeling any misgivings.

Q: A satisfying point for fans of the series is that they’re able to see how characters that were enemies in the original story are now getting along fine.

A: Some of the cast members remain immersed in Heaven’s Feel though – during recordings, the sound director remarked to Saber’s voice actress Kawasumi (Ayako)-san ‘Somehow, it feels like a war is about to kick-off in here’ (laughs)

I do feel the same way at times too, all the more with Shiro not being the most emotionally expressive of characters. So we even had Nasu-sensei going ‘Please don’t get too engrossed and turn this into Carnival Phantasm’ (laughs)

Q: It runs in a similar slice-of-life vein, but I suppose you have to play it differently?

A: I can’t push Shiro to extremes or I’d run the risk of it turning into a gag anime.

Having said that, it’d be odd if we didn’t inject some emotion [into these characters] living in such a fun and peaceful world, so we do experiment so that we can find a level of expressiveness that suits this series – things like emphasizing the nuances of a seemingly gentle smile, or toning down the comical nature of the reactions so they don’t descend to gag levels.

Q: From the perspective of a casual viewer, I find it interesting how an episode that might make me feel ‘that was a really nice story’ might end up making the hardcore Fate fans cry instead.

A: I know what you mean. You do get to see these characters that met unfortunate ends in the main storyline, living happy lives.

I feel the same – knowing how Unlimited Blade Works ends, I feel so relieved to see Illya together with Sella and Liz in the opening and ending sequences. Plus we’ve just gotten to see the way Lancer made his exit in Heaven’s Feel so it’s reassuring to have him pop up in this [playful] mood.

Q: Something just wells up inside of me seeing how well Illya and Shiro get along…

A: You could simply enjoy this series as a cooking anime featuring the characters from the Fate universe, but having prior knowledge of the Fate series naturally enables and enhances viewers’ fantasies.

I think that’s a fascinating point about this series – that we’re all watching the same visuals but the feelings the show evokes can be completely different depending on the individual at hand.

Q: Personally, I find the episode where Shiro makes a hamburg steak for Kiritsugu (chapter 6: ‘My First Hamburg Steak’) to be particularly memorable.

A: Speaking of that chapter, I gotta say that seeing Kiritsugu in the opening makes me feel a little emotional. In the ending cuts we get to see Fuji-nee and Shiro when they were younger and it sets your imagination off – ‘oh are they on their way to, or coming back from school?’ or ‘oh, is this the garden of the Emiya house?’.

This also brings to mind a scene from Heaven’s Feel where Shinji appears in one of Shiro’s albums. Obviously there isn’t anything written about the photos and the show doesn’t necessarily touch on the subject, but it does get you pondering the kind of relationship that Shinji, Shiro and Sakura shared.

Coming to understand why Shinji ended up doing what he did and why Shiro was able to accept those actions and so forth – your perspective on previous works might change too.

Shiro’s cooking past that also intrigues Sugiyama-san

Q: Cooking and gastronomic series seem to be going through a boom of late – have any similar works influenced you?

A: I’m from a generation that grew up watching Mister Ajikko and it was kind of a culture shock for me to see beams of light shooting from eyes to signify how good something tasted (laughs) On the other hand, there were also series that managed to express the delight of cuisine without resorting to anime-like exaggerations, which I do feel is more meaningful.

For those aspects we look to Director Miura Takahiro-san , who’s one of the people who handles those cracking action scenes in the Fate series. In the case of Heaven’s Feel there was a majestic mapo tofu scene that overwhelmed and for [Emiya-san] there is no reliance on illustrated food stills either – ufotable’s passion towards the food is such that you begin to wonder ‘does food even move quite that much in real life?’.

It’s truly food porn on a whole new level so if you’re on a diet be careful – don’t watch this in the middle of the night (laughs)

Q: Sugiyama-san – are there are dishes that you consider must-eats when you’re ‘preparing for war’?

A: In all honesty I’m not that superstitious when it comes to food…

In my rookie days I was cautious about preventing my stomach from growling during recording sessions so I would make sure I ate properly before going to the studio. It didn’t take me long to realize that it’s actually quite hard to read [my lines] right after a meal (laughs)

Following that experience, I turned to munching on snacks to fill my belly up enough to prevent it from growling. So yeah there basically isn’t any food that I think of as a ‘must-eat’.

Q: Sugiyama-san – what do you think of a domesticated man like Shiro?

A: To put it simply – amazing; but as far as Shiro is concerned I have to say I’m curious – ‘where did he learn to make all that food?’

Fuji-nee doesn’t cook, plus Kiritsugu doesn’t seem like that type either…maybe it’ll be discussed somewhere at some point but it’s one of the things that I’d like to ask Nasu-sensei about someday (laughs)

Q: I’m curious too…! Lastly, please talk about the highlights of the series and leave a message for the fans.

A: Emiya-san isn’t only about the delicious food; it’s also a series that carefully teaches you how to make the dishes from scratch. If you were to gain an interest in cooking as a result of watching the show, I’d really encourage you to take up the challenge.

The topics handled are wide-ranging so it’s a study of food on a general level, plus you’ll gain practical knowledge while being entertained at the same time – it’s killing two birds with one stone*.

The manga contains more detailed recipes ie. Including the quantity of ingredients, so if the anime does pique your interest, I’d be happy if you could check out the source material alongside the anime adaptation.

*the Japanese that Sugiyama uses is一粒で二度美味しい (hitotsubu de nido oishii) which literally translates to ‘a single grain/drop makes food twice as delicious’. The phrase apparently originates from Glico, which coined the catchphrase for its Almond Glico line in the mid-50s. In language, the nuance in the phrase is similar to that of the more common一石二鳥 (isseki nichō, one stone two birds).

#204 – Emiya-san’chi no Kyō no Gohan: Ueda Kana

In typically belated fashion, here is a translation of an interview with Ueda Kana that came during the Emiya-san’chi no Kyō no Gohan anime’s run. I did the Kawasumi Ayako one a while back as well.

Ueda-san’s first encounter with this series – an unexpected accident…?

Q: Tell us your initial impressions upon reading the series.

Ueda: I learned of the serialization through Twitter and started reading it when it was posted online. That was around the part where Caster came over to Shirō’s place to cook (episode 9 ‘The Flavours of Autum – Caster’s Japanese Cuisine Training Edition’) and I thought ‘What a heartwarming series this is’.

Kuzuki-sensei and Caster’s conversations were like those of a pair of newlyweds and I remember feeling jealous as I was reading it (laughs). We were actually recording Heaven’s Feel at the time as well – how ironic it was that two series set in the same Fate universe could be so different in their worldviews.

Q: Do you have any favourite episodes in particular?

A: We’ve just seen this animated – the New Year’s Eve episode (episode 1 of the anime) is definitely memorable.

The joy of cooking lies not only in the actual making of the food but also in gaining the knowledge of why each step of the process is necessary.

It’s true for osechi in particular; that you learn of the heart that goes into each part of the dish.

At the end of the episode, Shiro is describing the meaning of the dishes and when he says [New Year’s soba symbolizes] ‘to be by your side for all time’, it made me think how cool he was.

I’d originally intended to convey some of those thoughts on Twitter on the day of the episode’s broadcast (laughs) but it was cruel of them to air it on New Year’s Eve.

Q: If Ueda-san were to make a meal for Rin, what kind of dish would you like to have her eat?

A: It’s kind of a coincidence but I’d just started attending cooking classes around the same time I heard about the [Emiya-san] series.

Lessons tend to move at a fairly brisk pace and I don’t have much time to prepare so I guess I’d have to cook a ton of different dishes and make Rin the guinea pig food tester (laughs)

Q: That does seem plausible since Rin would give you clear-cut, if perhaps a little harsh, advice.

A: Sometimes it’s hard for the person cooking to figure out what’s missing. Shiro might try to be considerate and say ‘it tastes good’ no matter what, but I think Rin would just say whatever’s on her mind – there’d be no better adviser around than her.

Q: I believe the timing of the recording would mean that [Emiya-san] comes after Heaven’s Feel, a movie in a completely different vein – did you face any trouble performance-wise, switching between the two?

A: In my case, not really. I was chatting to Aya-san (Kawasumi Ayako, voice of Saber) about it beforehand so I was aware of what to do.

[Rin] did share many heart-warming moments with Sakura though but I have to admit that in my mind, I was a little creeped out by Sakura’s smile (laugh). Still, it was a refreshing feeling, and I felt a bit tickled to hear her call [Rin] ‘Nee-san’ (Big Sis)

The appeal of Emiya-san’chi no Kyo no Gohan from Ueda-san’s perspective

Q: From a lady’s point of view, what do you think of a domesticated man like Shiro?

A: I’m the type who would leave everything up to the expert if there was one around so I’d definitely appreciate someone who could cook (laughs)

As for why I’m going to cooking school now – it’s not that I like cooking in particular or have someone to cook for; it’s simply that I realize that it’s an advantage to have cooking skills as part of one’s repertoire when you’re trying to design a life plan.

Q: That’s a matter-of-fact way of putting it, which is very Rin (laughs). By the way Ueda-san, do you have a signature dish that you’d cook to win someone’s heart?

A: I suppose it depends on what’s implied by ‘winning’ but if I want to ‘win’ then it’s got to be tonkatsu* (deep fried pork cutlets), right?

If we’re talking about winning in a love war then nikujaga immediately springs to mind, old-fashioned idea that it may be. Curry and hamburg steaks seem to be the popular mainstream choice nowadays though.

*the katsu (カツ) part of cutlet is a homonym for katsu (勝つ) which means ‘to win’

Q: Please tell us what the appealing points of this series are.

A: I think the biggest attraction has to be the food. Shiro explains the cooking process throughout the anime and listening to him alone makes you feel like you might be able to make the dish too.

The dishes look so delicious in animated form that you’ll get hungry by merely looking at them.

Q: People might actually start learning to cook as a result of watching this series.

A: That’s right. For people who do so, it’s pleasing that the anime talks you through the recipe properly as well.

And from time to time during recordings, scripts would include supplements featuring culinary supervisor Tadano Makoto’s recipes with additional scenes added on.

Q: Lastly, please leave a message to the fans who are looking forward to the broadcast.

A: The Fate series has been going on for over 10 years with a huge number of spin-offs produced, and I believe this is the only work in the universe where none of the characters will truly ever be unhappy.

It’s a wonderful series that will warm your heart and bring  comfort whenever you watch it so I hope that you’ll continue to support this delightful world [of Emiya-san] going forward.

[Interview & Words: Yonezawa Takashi]

#203 – Sekai de Ichiban Oppai ga Daisuki! Drama CD cast interview (pt. 1) – Komatsu Mikako, Taneda Risa, Hidaka Rina & Kayano Ai

Part one of an interview with the drama CD cast of the boobalicious Sekai de Ichiban Oppai ga Daisuki! (I like OPPAI best in the world!) manga that was featured in this month’s Comic Cune. The drama CD will be included with preorders of Volume 3 of the manga, exclusive to Toranoana.

I’ll just let the manga blurb speak for itself.

High-school girl Ichihara Chiaki likes big breasts. If she doesn’t regularly fondle breasts, she finds herself unable to perform well in her archery club activities. Luckily a friend Harumi Hana, who goes to a different school, lets Chiaki fondle her breasts regularly. B-but i-it’s not like she likes it or anything….

Sounds terrible? Trust me, it’s the best thing ever – full of science, drama, comedy and maybe even romance!?

Komatsu Mikako as Ichihara Chiaki – cool girl from archery club admired by many juniors but is actually a bit of a dimbulb.

Taneda Risa as Harumi Hana – a tsundere girl of few words but with big boobs. Gradually starts to discover she may be feeling more than just boob-tingling for Chiaki

Hidaka Rina as Kashiwagi Kana – a junior of Chiaki’s & also Tōka’s neighbour. Has small boobs

Kayano Ai as Momose Tōka – Harumi’s BFF, also has big boobs. Loves flat chests and is secretly in love with her neighbour Kana(‘s boobs)

Q1: What are your thoughts on the recordings?

Q2: Was there anything you put extra effort into when it came to playing your role?

Q3: What are the highlights, or your favourite scenes from the drama CD?

Komatsu Mikako
A1: The recordings left me with a huge sense of accomplishment and today marks the day that I’ve said the phrase ‘breasts’ the most number of times ever in my life. The word ‘breasts’ has given me a lot of food for thought…

A2: She may look cool on the outside but the more she talks about something, the more passionate she gets – you can feel the contrast between the two sides of her personality. I worked hard at portraying just how much she worships, extols and adores Harumi-san’s breasts, as well as her recklessness that comes from a mind that is ‘filled only with thoughts of Harumi-san’s breasts!’.

A3: I’m really fond of the Harumi x Chiaki + the Kana-chan x Tōka pairings myself so I’d love for you to hear the differences between the forms of those 2 pairs’ love. Besides that, a lot of attention has been paid to the sound effects of breasts being fondled and the sound of [the characters’] heartbeats. Don’t miss out on hearing them!

Taneda Risa
A1: I laughed so hard sometimes I just had to wonder ‘what the heck is up with this recording session!?’. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve heard the word ‘breasts’ and its sound effects being used so much! (laughs). It’s a wildly expressive series and was so much more rewarding to work on than I ever could’ve imagined – it was a freezing day when we recorded this but the heat [we created] in the studio was enough to get me sweating. I enjoyed myself so I’d love to be able to do this again sometime!

A2: Basically I was allowed to express my emotions freely! The shyness, the affection, the insults – the scenes themselves are really funny at times but the characters say everything with such earnestness that I can’t help but take my acting seriously as well. I especially enjoyed acting out how Harumi’s heart starts fluttering in response to Chiaki!

A3: In the latter part [of the drama CD] we get to hear a certain situation between Harumi and Chiaki and how they go about resolving things; our dialogue during the scene felt strangely unearthly so keep an ear out for it! Also, a lot of effort went into the boob sound effects and the characters’ screams so do check those out as well (laughs).

Hidaka Rina
A1: Basically, breasts! (laughs) The impact I felt when I first saw the title of the series was massive but when I got into the studio I knew I was seeing and hearing things happening right before my eyes that I shouldn’t have been – yet, I was trying and almost failed to hold back my laughter (laughs). I was really glad to get to record alongside the other cast members and I think the listeners will get a good picture of what a fun time we had doing this.

A2: She’s just too pure! The others are all a bit…or should I say, complete perverts – all of them (laughs)… I made sure to keep Kana simple and pure.

A3: Ichihara-senpai and Harumi-san’s scenes really make you feel strongly about ‘the potential of breasts’ so I’d say everything is a must-listen! (laughs). I personally love Tōka-san though. I totally get why she feels the way she feels….!!

Kayano Ai
A1: I enjoyed myself!! It was really surreal but rewarding to be getting so serious about breasts in a mainly female environment (laughs)

A2: Her looks betray what she’s truly like on the inside so I stepped on the gas to the max and gave her monologues passion. Momose-san’s animated way of speaking is quite unusual and it was hilarious!

A3: Obviously Ichihara-san and Harumi-san’s flirting, but from Momose’s point of view I have to say that the moment Kana-chan first appears – you will definitely feel the purity and be restored!!

Preorder here! (you’ll need a Tenso account as well – those familiar with ordering doujin stuff should know the process)

#202 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.10: Ito Kentaro

10th interview and finally we get one with Shiraishi’s CV Itō Kentarō!

Q: We hear you’re a fervent reader of Weekly Young Jump, the magazine that Golden Kamuy runs in – what were your impressions of your series when you first read it?

A: My first impression was: ‘Wow, this is coming out with all guns blazing’ (laughs). Noda (Satoru)-sensei’s previous series Supinamarada! had already shown off his knack for vibrant facial expressions. That’s why I had pretty high hopes upon hearing that Noda-sensei would be writing a series with this kind of theme. This might sound a little condescending, but from a manga reader’s viewpoint, I do believe the that nothing matches the thrill that comes from turning the pages of a comics volume. As you turn the pages to read Golden Kamuy, you’ll find that each and every panel has the potential to either surpass or betray your expectations. The ideas and expressions contained within are just mind-blowing; it’s as if Noda-sensei is controlling the rhythm as you turn the pages – you can’t help but be exhilarated by the joy of reading the magazine.

Q: Since you’re a manga reader, did you ever harbour hopes of being part of the cast if the series were to receive an anime adaptation?

A: I certainly did. Seeing how it gained in popularity and recognition levels made me feel certain that it would get an anime adaptation at some point. I even put pressure upon myself to read the manga in depth so that I’d be prepared for the auditions no matter what role I was asked to try out for. Having said that, such thoughts would disappear from my mind whenever I read the manga with only a sense of pure enjoyment left behind.

Q: Were there any characters that you were particularly fond of?

A: To be honest, when Shiraishi first appeared, I vividly recall thinking ‘if I were to get a role in this series, it’d be something in the line of [Shiraishi]’ (laughs). It’s a bit presumptuous of me to say so myself, but I honestly thought that I’d be the happiest person alive if I was to voice Shiraishi. Perhaps if I was a bit younger I might’ve considered the role of Sugimoto as a possibility.

Q: Were you conscious of anything in particular during the auditions for Shiraishi?

A: I just wanted to perform my vision of the ideal Shiraishi. I went all-out with no room for regrets in my recorded audition tape and told myself – ‘if I fail, then it’s because [the image I have of Shiraishi] doesn’t match the anime’s vision of Shiraishi, and I will give up’. When you audition for a series where you have little knowledge of the source material, you do tend to wonder whether you’re on the right track. But for [Golden Kamuy] I was familiar with the manga and I had no such hesitations. There was however, a fear within me that I might be too fixated on the image I had [of Shiraishi]. Noda-sensei would certainly have his own vision for Shiraishi, and other readers would have their own interpretations as well. That would obviously apply to the anime staff as well, but I was sure that these individual views would all overlap at a common point, and I wanted to ensure that I didn’t lose sight of that.

Q: How did you approach the first day of the recording sessions?

A: I decided to reset whatever image [of the series] I’d had beforehand to zero. An anime production is a group effort after all. I also do theatre on the side – if you tried to act based solely upon your own opinion, you’ll end up sticking out like a sore thumb. To prevent that from happening I told myself, ‘Calm down, first of all’. And try to be flexible.

Q: What were your thoughts, once you’d had the chance to interact with your co-stars?

A: When I saw Chika-chan [Kobayashi Chikahiro] and (Shiraishi) Haruka-chan performing, it felt like the Sugimoto and Asirpa I’d pictured in my mind when reading the manga, were right there in front of me. It gave me confidence in my views [of the characters] and I felt comfortable being part of the group. Shiraishi’s role within the story is pretty well-defined, which in a sense makes him easier to get to grips with compared to the other male characters.

Q: This is your first time working with Kobayashi-san and Shiraishi-san, isn’t it?

A: On an anime, yes, but I had worked with Chika-chan on a foreign dub production just before Golden Kamuy started. Same for Haruka-chan; we’d previously worked together on a foreign drama dubbing and I had a chance to chat with her during a post-recording drinking party. So yes, we were all acquainted but not quite buddies so there was a desire within me to make sure we synced well both as acting partners and in terms of our characters. With that in mind, I was able to naturally build up a rapport with the two of them in the run up to Shiraishi joins Sugimoto’s group in the story.

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

A: In terms of major aspects, I was told ‘you’re trying to sound too cool’ on the first day of recording (laughs). I suppose I didn’t want to come off sounding too affected initially. While trying to maintain a carefree attitude, thinking ‘the first impression is the most important and I’m gonna produce a performance that makes viewers get even more excited!’, I had to let a bit of sex appeal slip out.

Q: Shiraishi’s existence is for the sake of comic relief – what’s your view on that?

A: I think it’s important to balance the extreme sides of his personality. There are scenes where you see how the more foolish [Shiraishi] is, the cooler it makes Sugimoto seem and that does set the tone for the series. Though he is comic relief, I can honestly say that I don’t actively seek to make people laugh through my performance – it’s natural character traits such as Asirpa’s weird faces and Sugimoto’s girly nature that I find even funnier (laughs)

Q: Those parts really do steal the show (laughs)

A: That’s right. (I) may try my best to stand out as much as possible but in the end, Shiraishi exists as a part of Sugimoto’s group. There were plenty of laughs brought about by the interactions between the main trio and at the halfway point, I’d forgotten about Shiraishi’s role as comic relief. On the contrary, the more [Shiraishi] tried to stand out the more he was deemed to be ‘useless’ – I think that better reflects the status of their relationship, to be honest (laughs)

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

A: The pool of acting talent was pretty deep, a rare sight in the recording studios of recent years. It’s the gathering of members who have much experience in dubbing foreign works, which made it quite a lavish environment to work in when you consider the current state of Japanese animation works. Given my age [note: currently 45 years old], it was a rare chance for me to adopt the stance of a junior actor, or should I say…a place where I could behave childishly (laughs). I’m the kind of guy who likes to fool around with my seniors but I did have the impression that the personal relationships formed in the [Kamuy] studio somewhat resembled the ones developed between the characters in the series. As more and more veteran actors came in, the clearer my role within the story was, and from that point onward, recording progressed more smoothly.

Q: Were there any differences between recordings for the first and second seasons from an acting viewpoint?

A: Thanks to his colluding with Hijikata, Shiraishi starts to harbour a fear of Sugimoto and the drama that builds within his consciousness was something I tried to remain keenly aware of. Still, I wouldn’t say that my approach towards the role altered too significantly over the course of 24 episodes. I’ve played quite a lot of aggressive roles since I was young but ever since I turned 40 I’ve been trying to make a theme out of producing performances that are a bit more restrained, in a good way. And Shiraishi has proved to be the type of character that allows me to draw out a lot of different weapons from my arsenal.

Q: Do you have any favourite episodes?

A: I like all of them, so it’s hard to choose (laughs). If I had to pick one, then the racecourse scene in the 12th episode was a good opportunity for me to stretch my acting range? Shiraishi’s being toyed around with by Inkarmat, so it was an episode that gave me plenty of room to flex my acting muscles. No matter which other character Shiraishi’s involved with, the conclusion always seems to be that he’s useless, and I get a kick out of that. Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about something like that being a part of this cast but really, [Shiraishi] is such a meaty role (laughs)

Q: The DVD bundled with Vol 17 of the manga animates a popular story from the manga where Shiraishi falls in love.

A: It’s an essential episode from Shiraishi’s point of view. When I first heard that the anime would be covering the Abashiri Prison arc within 2 cours, I had prepared myself for the inevitability that this story would be left on the cutting room floor (laughs). So I’m happy for the story to be adapted in this format. The content is of course amazing, but the cast is even more so. With so many veterans already on board, I just couldn’t help but expect a legend class actress to fill the Sister’s role. And of course, it turned out to be Shimamoto Sumi-san. She’s perfect, what else can I say? I mentioned my wish to put in more restrained performances earlier on, but I’m also aiming to be able to switch between two extremes the way Furukawa Toshio-san does. I was very pleased that I was able to work with Furukawa-san, who voices Kumagishi Chōan, this time around. You’ll get to experience a story about the libido of the man they call the ‘Escape King’, so please look forward to it.

Q: Lastly, please leave your thoughts about having played Shiraishi.

A: This opportunity to play Shiraishi has afforded me many experiences and new encounters. I will utilize what I’ve learnt as fuel for my daily undertakings as an actor and persist in my belief that there will be Season 3 announcement in the future. I also hope that all of you will read Young Jump weekly like I do in preparation (laughs). And I look forward to seeing you all again as Shiraishi soon.