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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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#198 – Reflections on Yagate Kimi ni Naru 1-6: Takada Yūki x Kotobuki Minako

Animate Times put up a lengthy piece with Yagakimi’s main pairing Yū (Takada Yūki) & Tōko (Kotobuki Minako), looking back on and discussing the first half of the anime series. This kind of thing is normally limited to radio talk so it’s nice for fans of Yagakimi to read how they break down the show episode by episode

“Tōko’s true intentions, hidden behind her words, Yū’s true desire, hidden behind her obliviousness”

Character relationships that are redefined every week and the direction of the arrows

Q: The anime recently aired episode 6, the turning point in the series. The original manga is popular in its own right, so it’s not surprising that viewers responded in a big way [to the episode].

Kotobuki: We’ve received a lot of positive feedback! ‘It’s unexpectedly deep’ or ‘that was erotic’ – we hear all kinds of things (laughs)

Takada: That’s right! We’re happy when people say ‘I didn’t expect certain scenes (in the anime) to go that far’, but it’s also embarrassing (laughs). What makes me happiest though, is when others say to me ‘You’re exactly like Yū’ or ‘You’re perfect [for the role]’.

Obviously I was already aware of how popular the series is when I first took the audition and I must admit I was a little apprehensive about whether [my performance] would be well-received. Thus, I was really happy when people started saying to me that I was perfect after they watched episode 1 and I’m glad that I continue to hear positive comments as the episodes go by.

I’m also very thankful to hear people say ‘Thank you for voicing Yū’ but to be honest, I am the one who’s filled with gratitude (laughs). I never thought I would be able to receive such encouraging words from the viewers – I’ve been overjoyed ever since the first episode aired.

Q: The two of you also serve as hosts of the Bloom into You ~I Think I Might Come to Love this Radio~ (Yagate Kimi ni naru~Watashi, Kono Radio Suki ni Narisou~) web radio show. You’d have the chance to hear candid impressions from listeners who mail in to the show.

Takada: We get to hear the listeners’ honest opinions – putting their feelings into words. The mails aren’t limited to fans of the manga; we do hear from anime-only viewers, writing in saying things like ‘I’m looking forward to future developments’. I’ve come to realize that there are quite a lot of people who are learning about the existence of this series through watching the anime.

Kotobuki: It makes me happy to know that the anime served as an entry point to the manga for some people. The Sensei [author Nakatani Nio & editor Kusunoki Tatsuya] also attended episode recordings every week; working [with everyone] to ensure that the worldview of the series was kept as close to the original as possible. We want that passion to be conveyed to the audience and it would delight us all if manga fans and newcomers to the anime end up being captivated by the series.

Q: We’ve reached the halfway point in the blink of an eye – let’s look back on proceedings, shall we?

Kotobuki: I’m feeling nostalgic about recording sessions already~!

Takada: That’s right! For the first half of the series, episodes 3 and 6 were particularly memorable for me, especially since I voice Yū.

Kotobuki: I personally thought that although episodes 3 and 4 had scenes that made them memorable, it was episode 1 with its aggressive directing and Tōko’s behaviour that made people think ‘I wonder what’s gonna happen from here?’ – and it never betrays those expectations as the story develops, which made me think ‘this is amazing’.

I had read the first 3 volumes of the manga beforehand but once my casting was confirmed I decided not to read the rest. This makes every script feel fresh for me, as well as giving me a sense of excitement as I work on each episode.

Q: So you approached each recording with a fresh perspective.

Kotobuki: That’s right. I prioritized that ‘feeling of freshness’ for recording. Moving into the second half of the series, the story is increasingly seen from Tōko’s perspective. The first half was mainly from Yū’s point-of-view, but starting from the closing scene of episode 6 we’ll be able to glimpse more and more into Tōko’s heart – that makes the latter half of the series even more interesting.

Takada: On the other hand, I have read the series up until the latest published volume so every time I received a script I’d think ‘oh so they’re covering up ‘til this part’, and I’d marvel at how detailed the depictions were.

Also, the scene in episode 5 where the characters all stop by Yū’s family bookstore warmed my heart – I loved that part even when I read it in the manga*! However, this type of short scene tends to be omitted from animated adaptations or get shifted elsewhere due to the lack of available airtime, but this series really takes time to cover them thoroughly and I can’t help but feel pleased as a reader (laughs). I’m thinking, ‘Wow, I get to play Yū in this scene too!’ and right then, I realized that episode 6 will be up next….!

*Volume 2 extras.

Kotobuki: Ah, the riverbed scene! It represents the emotional peak in the series, marking it as a standout episode. You could say that each and every character in this series is important…as we see from episode 6 with the conversation between Yū and (Saeki) Sayaka, or the chat between Maki (Seiji)-kun and Yū (in episode 4) – every character is essential to the storyline.

Not only that, it’s also really interesting to see which way the arrows are pointing in terms of the characters’ human relationships. If we were to draw up a relationship chart, the arrows would be pointing all kinds of different directions and you’d be able to discern the unique relationships shared by certain pairings by reading the accompanying text. Still, I think this series is amazing in how it manages to pull together all [of these characters].

Takada: With the airing of episode 6, I think we can finally see the whole relationship chart. Up until now it’s been hard to tell which direction Yū’s arrow has been pointing towards, hasn’t it? But with the ‘and yet, I lied…’ and ‘I must have been lonely too’ parts of Yū’s monologue, you can begin to see the faint arrow that connects Yū to Nanami-senpai.

There was also a scene where you can catch a glimpse of a new side of Sayaka-san. Generally speaking, we’ve only been shown a vague view of the relationships between specific characters in the first half of the series.

Q: The arrows seem to come in different shapes depending on the individual as well.

Kotobuki: That’s true~. Not all of the arrows looks straight (laughs)

Takada: In that case, I wonder what shapes Nanami-senpai’s arrows would be (laughs)

Kotobuki: Oh, I’m curious too! I get the feeling that they’d be complex arrows that are bending so much that they might sustain a fracture!

Takada: Watching episodes 1-5, you’d be thinking that the arrows looked quite straightforward but in episode 6 there’s a moment where you’ll go ‘Oh…?’ (laughs)

Kotobuki: Well it’s not just Tōko who’s like that; everyone seems to be shouldering some kind of heavy burden in some way. While still keeping an eye on Yū, Tōko’s biggest priority is to consider what kind of person she should be – in a sense, I kind of felt as if she was ‘in love with herself’.

But to be ‘in love with herself’…is a kind of a misleading thing to say; the basic idea of wanting to be like her sister, or doing it for the sake of her family – it’s something she’s been fixated upon since she was young, which is why she places such importance on what she should be. Those desires may come to her naturally, but they do make the people around her worry.

However, harbouring these thoughts means that they’ve taken root within her heart and often causes others to think that she’s doing such things for her own sake. In that sense, she may give off the impression of being ‘in love with herself’ to others. Though at the same time, she’s not the type of person who allows her feelings to show, which is probably what makes other people feel like they want to do something for her.

Q: Compared to episode 1, the characters’ mental states and relationships have undergone great changes. I’d like to discuss what it’s like playing such characters – for Takada-san, you mentioned on the radio that when you auditioned for Yū, you felt like you could voice the character exactly as you were.

Takada: Yes. Regarding the flow of the audition process, I normally begin practising once I receive the pre-selected audition lines. In this case, when I started reading the lines I was able to hear Yū’s voice inside my head automatically and I felt that I could fit the character’s [voice] within the tones of my own speaking voice. Instead of manufacturing a voice for the character, I felt confident that it was a role that I could compete for with natural acting, using my natural voice.

It’s the first time I’d ever felt this way – to be honest, when I’m reading lines for all the other shows I’ve worked on, I tend to feel like I’m unable to hear my own voice in there. I’m often burdened by anxiety; thinking ‘does this voice work?’ or ‘is that kind of acting OK?’. Mostly, I follow the pattern of creating [a character voice] based upon reading the source material and getting to know the character better.

But in Yū’s case, thoughts like ‘she’d say that in this tone’ or ‘she’ll be feeling this way when saying those words’ flowed naturally through my mind as I was reading her dialogue. Thus, even though I was nervous heading into the auditions I also felt confident, thinking ‘This is definitely the kind of person Yū is!’ as I performed. Yū’s the first girl who made me feel this way.

Q: Definitely the kind of role that you’d find absorbing. On the other hand we have Kotobuki-san who played Tōko in the manga PV that preceded the anime – we hear that you received some pointers from the author on how the character should be played.

Kotobuki: There were a number of lines to be read within a fixed time-frame – the PV came in digest format, featuring a couple of scenes from the manga. That was when I started reading the source material – my first impression was that Tōko was cool and refined, and I strongly felt that I needed to bring those characteristics out in my acting.

However, the digest showed a weaker side to Tōko that becomes all the more evident the further you read on into the series, so I was asked to ‘bring out a little more vulnerability’ at certain points.

Despite its short length, I recorded my lines for about an hour. Thanks to this session, I received hints from [Nakatani] Sensei that Tōko wasn’t just a cool type of character.

Q: Seeing the various expressions that Tōko possesses must’ve been a great help towards your audition [for the anime].

Kotobuki: 2 years after I’d recorded the PV, I received word of the tape auditions that were being held for the anime. Embracing the emotions that Sensei had spoken of, I thought ‘This is how I would choose to play Tōko now’ and ‘if it was me, this is the nuance I’d pick!’ – I did my best with those thoughts and plans in mind.

Q: We hear that the audition involved lines that ran the gamut of emotions – could you whisper some examples of Tōko’s?

Kotobuki: Yeah. In terms of the spectrum of emotions, I think I recall doing 2 different tones – the riverbed scene from episode 6 as well as a normal, everyday conversation with Yū.

Q: I think it’s fairly obvious from episodes 3 and 6 that Tōko is a character with a wide range of emotions.

Kotobuki: That’s so true, isn’t it~! As the episodes go by I’m seeing how her expressions keep on changing. I’m sure everybody has a sense of admiration for someone like her – a person who’s able to think ‘this person is wonderful!’ must surely be someone who has a rich range of expressions.

For example, she might look like she wants to say ‘I’m sad ‘cos this happened~’ but instead, she makes herself smile and says ‘I still had fun!’ – experiencing that change in her facial expression makes you want to see more and more of it.

From episode 1, I could already feel that Tōko was a person who possessed such characteristics. She may take pride in being a perfectionist but in reality, she’s so very human – I was relieved to discover that about her.

Their first encounter and the beginning of something special

Q: Moving on, let’s talk about the best scenes from episodes 1-6. First of all we have episode 1, which featured Yū and Tōko’s initial encounter.

Kotobuki: Yūki-chan, it’s that scene!

Takada: Ahh~ I really loved that part~ (laughs) But for me, the scene before the part where Yū replies to the confession she received, where Nanami-senpai patted her on the head, saying, ‘it must’ve been tough on you, feeling like you had to love him back’ – I love that bit where her ahoge pops back up; for me, that may actually be the best scene (laughs)

Both: (laugh)

Takada: Ah ahoge that’s unbendable…is what I was thinking (laughs) But I did feel what a cool senior Nanami-senpai was in that moment. Yū was calmed down by that one ‘It’ll be all right’ phrase and she was able to take a step forward because of that – it’s one of my favourite scenes. The coolness of our refined Nanami-senpai was very much evident here.

And I also like their first encounter! The part where she said ‘I’m Nanami Tōko from the Student Council. Nice to meet you’, with the breeze blowing in the background – what amazing presence she had (laughs). It was as if there was a new wind blowing inside Yū herself, and the way the anime depicted that was impressive.

Q: As for Tōko, in the B part of the episode preceding the scene where Yū consults with her on how to reply to the confession, there is this really cool line where she says ‘…because you look like you want to say something’.

Kotobuki: That’s true! (laughs) She’s the type of girl who, if going out for a meal with Yū, would say ‘Ah, by the way I’ve already paid the bill’, having done so when Yū’s away from her seat for a moment (laughs)

Q: (laughs) How about you, Kotobuki-san? What are your thoughts on the episode?

Kotobuki: For those who’ve watched up to episode 6, Tōko’s ‘I think I could fall in love with you’ line might make you think, ‘back then, did she say those words while having those kind of intentions?’. Let’s look forward to finding out the answers going forward.

On a personal level, I was constantly reaffirming throughout recording, the emotions that I believed she harboured, but as the weeks passed by I would be surprised. ‘Wow, was Tōko really thinking that deeply!?’

Takada: There’s also the part following Nanami-senpai’s ‘Because…I think I might fall in love with you’ line; the moment where the distance in Yū’s heart materialized…but I love that kind of disparity.

Going from the instance where Yū believes that she’s met someone who possesses a similar mindset; someone who’s ‘the same as me’, someone who ‘won’t harbour any kind of special feelings’, to the moment where the distance opens up in her heart as she realizes that [Tōko] de indeed ‘hold special feelings…’ – I was especially careful when acting out this scene.

Kotobuki: When you think about it in such a way, you realize how, despite how thoughts like ‘my heart has grown apart from yours’ or ‘we’re together now’ were not put into actual words, you could still read into, and comprehend a character’s emotions by seeing their movements and hearing their lines, which is something that’s fascinating about Yagakimi.

From the confession scene in episode 1 you could tell that Tōko had unsealed the bottle of rationality and I felt like she was starting to act solely by instinct…I describe it as ‘animalistic’ myself (laughs). The beginning of ‘Animal Tōko’.

Regardless, I believe that courage is a necessity if you wish to live life being true to yourself, so seeing Tōko put it into practise makes me realize how amazing she is. The part where Yū thought ‘I don’t understand… a single thing this person is saying’ – that’s a scene from episode 1 that I like. And in Yū’s monologue at the end, that phrase appears again: ‘In the end…I still don’t understand this person’. Ah, it’s so true! (laughs)

‘Unfair!’ and ‘unfair’. The story of Yagakimi that could not be told without Yū’s feelings

Q: Next up is episode 2 – when we mention this one, it’s got to be…!

Takada: And by episode 2 they….already did that (laughs)

Kotobuki: Woahhhhh! (laughs)

Takada: This is the kind of thing you’re referring to when you mentioned ‘animalistic’ earlier; I thought ‘did that just happen out of the blue!? In episode 2!?’ (laughs)

Kotobuki: Animal Tōko! Tōko’s thought process is never explicitly mentioned in the scripts. The script notes basically cover the characters’ actions, so when I first read the script for this scene, I was thinking ‘Hmm, Tōko doesn’t appear to have any line—oh wait!? Are they kissing!?’ (laughs)

I was surprised by the sudden speeding curve of developments but as I worked to unravel it all, I felt like I was able to link that to the kind of love that Tōko was seeking, a love that would ‘allow her to do those things [like kissing]’.

Her demeanour is normally calm so she does want to treasure her feelings of being in love with Yū – it is her first time experiencing such exhilarating emotions after all. You could say that she’s still taking Love 101 classes, fumbling around with her clumsy, earnest feelings.

Q: The exchange that ensues after the kiss: ‘…what should I do…’, ‘…that’s what I should be asking’ – the distance between them was so perfectly depicted.

Takada: Ahhh~ that was great, wasn’t it~!

Kotobuki: That made me blush! I wanted to butt in and say ‘that’s rich, coming from you!’ (laughs)

Q: Voicing Tōko in that scene – you’d say your feelings were those of ‘embarrassment’?

Kotobuki: I was feeling embarrassed inside. I’m sure that Tōko was inwardly thinking ‘I love her! But if I let her know about those feelings it’ll be over, so what I can do to express them now would be…this!’ and it ended up being a kiss. The result of her acting upon her feelings was that – a kiss.

Tōko normally has a commanding view of everything going on around her but when she’s experiencing these overflowing emotions of love, her perspective is narrowed. After the kiss, she came back down to earth and recognized that ‘there are people all around us…!’; as they continued walking she could feel her heart beating faster and the heat rising within her.

I think her ‘what should I do?’ line comes about as a result of realizing that she ‘might have done something rather embarrassing’ but while blushing, she knew that there was no going back now and was perhaps, rather surprised, that she managed to ‘take a step forward!’

Q: On the other hand we have Yū, whose monologue during her recollection of the scene was ‘I felt nothing’….

Kotobuki: That’s so mean! Even though that was her first kiss! (laughs)

Takada: (laughs). Being Yū, I think she was overwhelmingly confused more than anything else. My personal feeling was ‘Oh my god~! They kissed~~~!’ (laughs)

As she’s thinking about how to process the situation, Yū’s shock and confusion leads her to question, ‘why did she kiss me at that moment?’. What happened in the interval after [the kiss] was memorable – Nanami-senpai’s ‘….My love, is the kind of love that makes me want to do these things with you’ line was immediately drowned out by the train rushing past and the flowing crowd – that very moment!

When I was reading the manga I’d thought that this kind of scene would look more realistic if animated. Things like confusion or time silently flowing between the two of them. It’s something that really moved my heart as I watched the anime – I realized how anime had the ability to express such bittersweet feelings.

Kotobuki: That’s true! So even though there are a lot of scenes that I like in episode 2, as Tōko I would pick their first kiss as the best scene.

Something else in episode 2 I’d like to mention is the scene where they’re taking a group shot for the student council election, and Yū holds Tōko’s hand. The way Yū reacts with an ‘Eh?’ upon seeing Tōko, whose heart skips a beat when Yū takes her hand in hers. These actions appear to be testing Tōko and I honestly think Yū is amazing. She does have such courage – normally, you wouldn’t even dare to do something like that~ (laughs)

Takada: That’s definitely true (laughs)

Kotobuki: Since I’m voicing Tōko I honestly did feel happy at that moment (laughs) It makes my heart skip a beat, sets my pulse racing. Unaware of Yū’s hidden intentions, Tōko goes ‘Koito-san…?’ the moment she feels her hand being taken into Yū’s – inwardly, she’s probably thinking ‘Why is she doing this?’

Despite the uncertainty: ‘I’m not sure what’s going on but…maybe she’s trying to comfort me?’, Tōko still feels happy. As Tōko’s voice actress I was definitely glad, but I also went ‘Yū….!’ as I read the script. Because the light from her eyes disappeared at that point (laughs)

Takada: The world as Yū perceived it, had changed considerably (laughs). The anime does very well in transmitting the shock [that Yū feels], more so than in the manga. However, she still felt disappointed in herself for being unable to feel any kind of emotion despite being kissed.

Q: Even so, Yū still continues to assist Tōko who is running for student council president.

Takada: I’m sure Nanami-senpai told Yū to help her out with her student council election speech not because she needed the help, but because she wanted to do it together with Yū. Yū has a strong sense of responsibility so she’d view the situation as ‘I’ve got to follow up on Nanami-senpai’ and ‘I’ll need to work hard’, but when she held Nanami-senpai’s hand she saw a girlish side to her.

Yū’s ‘Unfair!’ monologue that came up right after that was as shocking as it felt when I read the part in the manga.

Kotobuki: With just three syllables*.

*unfair – zurui (ずるい)

Takada: That’s right! I was surprised that those 3 syllables were the first thing that came to Yū’s mind but I do think that it’s an essential ‘emotion’ in the world of Yagakimi. Like anger, loneliness, jealousy. I did have some trouble, pondering how to express that complex desire of ‘wanting to be on the other side’.

Looking at Yū, her determination to not to allow herself to be fearful is conveyed clearly and instead, you can see her feelings of envy and the shock that lies somewhere within her heart. I was doing my best to express those mixed emotions – I would be happy if the viewers could share in those feelings through the role I play.

Q: The ending part features another monologue from Yū – this time she says ‘she’s totally unfair’, with a nuance that is different from the ‘Unfair!’ we mentioned earlier.

Takada: That’s right. It may be the same word – ‘unfair’; but the careful work that goes into animating the difference between the 2 ways the word is expressed is amazing. You can see how such scenes are born from the love that the staff have for Yagakimi.

Q: So would that be your choice, Takada-san? That ‘Unfair’ scene?

Takada: As the voice of Yū, I would have to pick the first ‘Unfair!’ and the 2nd ‘unfair’ together. The 2 scenes where you can pick up the different nuances behind the same word.

The weaknesses and strengths that Tōko shows to Yū alone

Q: Another high point of the series would be episode 3, where we finally see the student council election speeches.

Kotobuki: During recordings for the election speech scene, Yūki-chan actually copied down all of Yū’s speech lines from the script. The manuscript that Yū was reading in the speech – you wrote that out, right?

Takada: Yes I did…!

Kotobuki: The original draft had been prepared and given to her by Sayaka, but I’m sure Yū added her own little things to the speech which is why she rewrote the whole thing. I noticed [Yūki-chan] turning her script sideways in the studio, reading some handwritten notes off the page so when I asked her about it later on, she told me ‘I tried writing it out’…she’s just so amazing!

Takada: No way! (laughs) Yū’s speech had a great number of words in it. I was wondering what kind of feelings she’d have, memorizing the content of the manuscript and delivering the speech by heart. The script splits up the dialogue for each cut so I wasn’t quite able to tell just how much text there was overall.

Which is why I tried transcribing the entire speech. When I did, I could see just how great the number of words were. Yū, who’s not fond of standing in front of an audience, has to memorize the speech and deliver it with confidence – seeing how magnificent she was spurred me on to do the same in my performance.

Q: And you could hear the change in Yū’s voice when she declared her own intention to become a member of the student council, compared to how she delivered her speech. You could sense Yū’s strong will packed into the words of her declaration.

Takada: Thank you very much. I think transcribing the speech text definitely helped me out there.

Also, the vulnerability that Nanami-senpai showed before the speech left a big impression on me. It was the first time that Nanami-senpai showed this side of herself to Yū, and the ‘it’ll be all right’ phrase that I mentioned earlier from episode 1 was now being used by Yū herself [on Tōko] – what a contrast. This particular scene gave me the strength to stand on stage…but ahh, there are just too many scenes that could be my ‘favourite’ (laughs)

Kotobuki: So true (laughs). There’s also the last bit of the A part, where Yū’s trying out the planetarium that she received as a gift from Tōko, and the monologue goes: ‘Am I happy to receive this? Yeah, pretty happy. Just normally happy. Well, I do love the stars after all’ – she’s asking questions and answering them herself. And I’m just thinking ‘Ah we do that ourselves, we definitely do!’ (laughs)

I think everyone does do that – run their own Q & A sessions in their mind! The way Yū’s contemplation scene was depicted feels so realistic; it was wonderful to watch it.

Q: Speaking of the planetarium, Tōko looked really girlish when she was trying to hand the souvenir over to Yū (laughs)

Kotobuki: Plus, the words that were coming out of her mouth were a mass of contradictions (laughs). Yū was just giving her indifferent responses, but the way Tōko reacted in such a flustered manner was great (laughs)

Takada: Nanami-senpai was really cute in that scene (laughs). The colour in Minako-san’s voice allows you to feel like ‘Nanami-senpai is right next to you, but there are moments when you do think ‘Ah, she’s cute!’ (laughs). But even if Yū thinks so, she’s the kind of girl who’d never let it show on her face.

And that’s why I think Yū definitely knew what was on Nanami-senpai’s mind when she was trying to give her the souvenir. ‘I’m not thinking of anything special, but why are you here?’. I was trying to keep that indifference in mind when I was voicing the scene.

Regardless, that ‘just how much do you love me line’ of Yū’s is incredible!

Kotobuki: That’s right! Like episode 2’s hand-holding and this ‘how much do you love me?’ line in episode 3 – they’re things that you’d never say out loud in your whole life (laughs)

Takada: In the studio, we were all going ‘I’d never say that kind of thing in my life!’, weren’t we? (laughs) But it’s because Yū is aware of Nanami-senpai’s very direct emotions, that she could actually say something like that. The scene where Nanami-senpai responds ‘I love you a lot’ with a smile, truly allows her to feel the amount of love that she has for her and that is what makes her start questioning herself.

Q: What would you vote as the best scene of episode 3?

Kotobuki: We’ve discussed a few of them already but for me, I’d definitely pick the part where Tōko shows her weakness to Yū behind the school building. The scene where she suddenly switches to a sharp, loud voice saying ‘That’s no good’ was pretty tough to record, and I had redo it again and again.

As I was performing, I was thinking about Tōko’s state of mind; how she let herself show such vulnerability and how she raised her voice all of a sudden. By the second half of the episode viewers would have learned of the situation with her older sister, allowing everyone to better understand where she’s coming from.

I too was surprised by Tōko’s fluctuating feelings, but it helped me to understand how strong she is at her core and to also draw out the kind of emotions I needed for my acting. It’s also a fairly important scene in terms of her future development.

Takada: For me it’s got to be Yū’s speech. How she delivers the speech she’s prepared for and also, following the scene behind the school building, how she declares that she will join the student council – these parts show how Yū is thinking honestly about Nanami-senpai and conveying how she really feels, and I love that. Coupled with her monologue, the flow of scenes that culminated in that declaration made it the best scene for me.

What Maki brings – minor changes and major triggers

Q: With the end of the student council arc, we have episode 4 up next, where Tōko officially becomes the student council president.

Kotobuki: For episode 4, Maki-kun stole the (best) scene.

Takada: That’s right. It’s the episode where you learn what kind of boy Maki-kun truly is.

Kotobuki: During the interval between episodes 1 and 3, the radio staff were like ‘Isn’t Maki-kun just one of the student council members?’ – I suppose that would be the general view for those unfamiliar with the source material (laughs)

Q: There are indeed, a lot of memorable scenes throughout the episode. You kind of feel like [Maki] was just their peer up until this point.

Kotobuki: Episode 4 is Maki-kun’s turn and his way of thinking becomes clear – personally, I do feel like I can understand what he’s saying. Obviously I don’t enjoy observing other people’s love lives as much as Maki-kun does but at the very least, I don’t dislike the idea of witnessing the exact moment where a person’s thoughts and feelings of love, or the relationship between two parties, becomes evident.

In that sense, I won’t say that I don’t see where Maki-kun’s coming from; though my interests are not as pinpoint as his are, I do think that he has an interesting way of thinking. I do also like that part where he notes that it’s bizarre for the star of the stage to fall in love with an audience member like him.

It’s an expression that was part of the original manga as well and I recall thinking that [Nakatani] Sensei’s amazing for coming up with a scene like this, but it was also the moment I felt afraid of Maki-kun.

It’s not just Yū and Tōko that he can’t take his eyes off of; it’s the same for every other character – that is the kind of perception that this episode was built upon. Thus, I’d pick the part where Maki-kun talks about what drives him as my best scene.

Oh, but episode 4 is when Tōko’s ‘erotic’ scene happens!

Takada: Ah, this is when that blew up right – the famous ‘Erotic Pass’* power phrase.

*Erotic Pass (ero-tōge, エロ峠), Pass referring to routes through a mountain range, which are normally very tough paths to travel. Erotic Pass is a phrase casually coined by Ichikawa Taichi, CV of Maki-kun, during recording. It ended up as a sort of catchphrase amongst cast and staff. Mostly used to describe flirting scenes between Yū and Tōko ie ‘oh that was an unexpected Erotic Pass today’ or ‘let’s climb the Erotic Pass’ [as described on Yagakimi radio ep 3]’

Kotobuki: It’s not either of us who came up with that though; it’s Ichikawa-kun (laughs)

Takada: But I have to say I was surprised by how smoothly Nanami-senpai’s mouth moved – ‘She’s really enunciating each syllable in E-RO-TIC!’ (laughs)

Q: (laughs). I personally found that the flow of dialogue there; from ‘Erotic’ to ‘Wait! Don’t!’ to ‘Let’s do it’ made a huge impression. Your suggestive, captivating acting and how the nuances of each of the 3 lines were different – I was very much impressed.

Kotobuki: There is a part of Tōko that is unexpectedly sadistic – those lines were her attempt to be a bit playful with Yū. You can see the many different expressions that she possesses throughout these scenes.

Q: How about you, Takada-san? Would the conversation between Yū and Maki be your favourite scene?

Takada: Probably yes – that last scene between Yū and Maki-kun. It’s the first time that their relationship has been exposed, and when Maki-kun says to her ‘Koito-san, you do actually love Nanami-senpai after all’ and she replies ‘Not really, it’s just something normal’ with a certain kind of expression on her face – it’s not normal anymore, and I love it (laughs)

Up until that point Yū and Maki-kun had been talking under the shade of a tree but the moment she thinks about her feelings, saying ‘…love? ….me?’, she’s stepping out from the shade. I think the directing was meant to express the change in her emotions as well. It’s not just their faces, but the environment around them also goes through small changes that represent Yū – that kind of direction left an impression upon me. Yū might be saying ‘no, it’s just normal’ but her surroundings are telling her ‘you have contradictory feelings’ – I was impressed by the direction of that scene.

Yū’s true feelings, hidden within her heart

Q: In episode 5 we see the depiction of some of the relationships of the people around Yū. What would you pick out as your best scene?

Takada: The scene where they go to Yū’s house to study! Yū’s question of ‘Is this what people are like when they’re in love?’ and Nanami-senpai’s reply of ‘My heart is beating so fast right now’, while placing her hand on her heart – it’s so erotic (laughs). After the events of episode 4, even a scene like this starts to feel erotic (laughs)

All: (laugh)

Kotobuki: Tōko’s supposed to be feeling embarrassed here and yet, she tries to provoke Yū. With such behaviour and the way she gazes [at Yū], I can’t help but think that people would fall for her so easily. You feel how naturally attractive her personality is at that point, which is good. Also, the part that follows shows how she’s obviously jealous – these all add up to make it my favourite scene!

Q: You can see the shy nuance behind Tōko’s ‘Wanna listen?’ line. If the person opposite her was anyone other than Yū, Tōko would surely display her normal, dignified look. But Tōko only blushes because it’s Yū.

Kotobuki: That’s true, she has many expressions that only Yū is allowed to see, as in this particular scene.

Takada: Yeah. In episode 5, we also see Koyomi-chan writing a novel. It’s a scene that allows the audience to see the kind of things that Koyomi-chan has an interest in.

She only hands over the novel that she’s written for Yū to read because of their friendship, and the belief that they have a kind of emotional connection. It was sheer happiness for Yū in that moment and I do consider it one of my favourite scenes.

Q: This was true of episode 4 as well, that we’re gradually digging deeper into the people around Yū.

Takada: In that respect, episode 5 is full of scenes that’ll make you think ‘Her family’s amazing!’. Like (Koito) Rei-chan’s casual ‘Nanami Tōko. Nanami-chan huh…please take care of Yū’ line. I was watching the recording of this line [by Komatsu Mikako] from the back and to be honest, it made my heart skip a beat!

Rei-chan is Yū’s older sister and is very observant about a lot of things (laughs). Those of you who are reading the manga would be going ‘Oh yes’ at this scene, and having voices added to it made it all the more emotional.

Also, every episode tends to end with a monologue by Yū and in episode 5 we hear her say ‘if only my heart would choose for me….’ Yū’s monologues are always where she most clearly expresses her honest thoughts.

Kotobuki: Her choice of words is wonderful.

Takada: That’s right. So for me, the best scene in episode 5 would be Yū’s ending monologue – ‘If only my heart would choose for me…’.

The lie that Yū told, and the truth that Tōko finally reveals. What is special to them eventually brings them to the next step

Q: And now we arrive at episode 6, the peak of the first half of the series.

Kotobuki: Will you go for the riverbed scene too, Yūki-chan…?

Takada: It’s got to be that~!

Kotobuki: From Tōko’s perspective, her ‘I’d rather die than be told that’ line was severe. It pierced right through the heart; hurting both the one who said it and the one who had it said to them.

I always rehearse my lines at home, where I read the scripts first and then do a V-check*. I’d try to predict the expression she would have on her face as I read the script, and then check it against the video to see if they matched up. For this scene I was especially able to relate to her expression: ‘Oh I knew she would have that look on her face!’. It was a moment where I personally felt connected to Tōko, which made me very happy.

After that part we have Yū approaching her, but that reply of ‘I’d rather die than be told that’ made her fearful of Tōko. And from there we went into the C part.

*V-check refers to early-stage video that seiyuu are provided with prior to recordings, that allow them to check the dialogue timing etc

Q: The C part was where we first get to hear a monologue from Tōko’s point of view.

Kotobuki: The direction up to that point had been interesting. The B part ended with Yū’s perspective and once the ending theme played and we entered the C part, you’d realize that it starts off exactly the same way as Yū’s monologue part did. Even during recording, we were thinking ‘Oh, we’re repeating the scene’. Just as you’re thinking that they’re copying and pasting the same thing, we suddenly move into Tōko’s monologue.

And from this scene onwards, we finally start to see things from Tōko’s point of view, which opens up a new path for the story to develop, but also makes you feel uneasy about whether Yū will struggle moving forward. When one of them steps forward, the other one stops moving, and vice versa…the incompatible sense of distance between them is agonizing.

Takada: Nanami-senpai has been showing a variety of expressions to Yū over the course of episodes 1-5 which makes her feel like she knows everything [about Tōko]. And that’s why the shock was so great when she heard ‘I’d rather die than be told that’ coming from her – it was as if she had run straight into a brick wall.

So if I were to specifically pick outthe best scene , I’d say the ‘I can’t fall in love with you…senpai’ part.

The monologue that follows, where she thinks ‘And yet, I lied…’ ‘Because I’m lonely too’ shows that Yū is aware of her own feelings and understands that she was telling a lie when she says that [she can’t fall in love with Tōko] – and that shook my heart to its core.

Yū may not have been present during the scene when Nanami-senpai says ‘Please, Yū…don’t fall in love with me’ in her monologue, but hearing it alone sent a jolt of pain through my heart. It’s a scene that shows viewers how Nanami-senpai is expressing herself while harbouring those kind of thoughts, and it’s a painful episode for me.

Q: We’re seeing a monumental shift in the relationship between Yū and Tōko just as we move into the second half of the show. For many manga readers, this may be where the story truly begins.

Kotobuki: The tightening feeling in your heart from watching the climax of episode 6 will only worsen from now on and I’m sure the viewers will feel the same agony as well. Still, there are many scenes coming up that show how everyone is oh so very human, trying to live their lives being true to themselves.

We talked about the character relationship chart and the direction of the arrows earlier, and there will be an increasing number of episodes covering these relationships in future. I hope that you will watch over them with a feeling of warmth in your heart, and as we approach the end, please watch over Tōko and Yū as they learn how to relate to each other. Do continue to watch all our girls in the second half of the series.

Takada: For all of those who have watched episodes 1-6, you will probably be experiencing a mixture of feelings. In episode 6, you will have seen a side to Nanami-senpai that you never knew existed and I’m sure everyone will be worried about [Tōko and Yū] and wondering what lies ahead for them. I’d be glad if you could continue observing their emotions and the distance between them until the very end!

And by the way, this is my own opinion, but the lyrics from the TV size, 1 min 30sec version of the ending theme ‘hectopascal’ performed by Minako-san and myself reflect the events of episodes 1-6 while the lyrics of the 2nd verse are perfect for the latter half of the series starting from episode 7!

The part where Yū sings ‘going on without recognizing that ‘special’ means ‘special’’ is a phrase that can only come forth from her lips after the events of episode 6, Also, the difference in vocal tone between Yū and Nanami-senpai when she’s singing the line ‘let’s forget about that and go somewhere tomorrow, without destroying the distance between us’ is all the more remarkable after watching episode 6.

You can feel the depth of the lyrics from the song, and the second half of the show will be equally profound so please continue watching to the end!

[Planning, interview, text: Toriyabe Kōhei]

#197 – Kishuku Gakkō no Juliet: Kayano Ai x Sakura Ayane

One of the shows that has pleasantly surprised me this season is the anime adaptation of Kaneda Yōsuke’s Kishuku Gakkō no Juliet manga, a modern-day take on Romeo & Juliet with humans named after dogs & cats. I’m not normally one for harem stories with the endless squabbling over who wins the heart of the main guy/girl, so Juliet works for me in that the main couple is established from the start and everyone else is just harmless romantic fodder.

The source material is still ongoing so I wonder what kind of ending the anime will give us, but hopefully not one that entails er…double suicide….

Here’s an interview with the 2 main female cast members from the show – Kayano Ai, voice of heroine Juliet Persia and Sakura Ayane, voice of Komai Hasuki, Persia’s (non) rival for MC Inuzuka Romio’s affections.

A worldview that can be enjoyed by both guys and girls

Q: What were your initial impressions of the series upon reading the original manga?

Kayano: My first encounter with the manga was when I took part in the ‘Let’s try acting as Persia!web video feature – my initial thought was that the art was pretty.

The lines of the art were so fine, giving me the impression that they were the work of a female artist so when I arrived at the studio, I was surprised to see that Kaneda-sensei, who attended the recording, is a man.

The series is very simple to read and you get sucked into its world easily – there are so many attractive male characters as well, so I do think that it’s a work that both guys and girls can enjoy.

Sakura: I just remembered this the other day – around 2 years ago I went out for a meal with Kayano-san and we were discussing this series & she said to me ‘There’s this character in it that really looks like she might be voiced by Ayane-chan’.

Kayano: We were full after eating lots of rice but Ayane-chan was like ‘I still have room for dessert’. I’m thinking ‘Wow she’s amazing…’ while watching her munching French toast, and that’s when I mentioned it.

Sakura: It was only some time later that I heard auditions were being held [for this] and I thought, ‘Oh, so this is the series that Kayano-san was talking about’. That’s when I started reading the manga – I’d thought it was a shojo manga based on the cover art but as I got further into the story, I could see its style gradually morphing into a shonen manga. The more I read, the better I understood why it was being serialized in (Weekly Shōnen) Magazine.

The male characters are interesting though, so I do think it’d be nice if the series gained more female fans.

Kayano: There are a rich variety of personalities on display (laughs)

Sakura: Though all of them seem to be lacking a little ‘something’… (laughs)

Kayano: In the studio we’re always going ‘This is supposed to be a school for geniuses, but why are they all so stupid?’ (laughs)

The mature Persia and the youthful Hasuki

Q: What are your impressions of Persia, the character that Kayano-san voices?

Kayano: The first impression I had of Persia was ‘Cute!’, but she’s not just cute – she possesses great inner strength as well. Her self-confidence is evident in the way she speaks, so I try to make sure that I don’t only focus on showing that cute side of hers through my acting.

Still, the way she interacts with Inuzuka is completely different from her exchanges with Scott – you can see the natural charm that shines through whenever she’s with Inuzuka, so I am always thinking how it would be nice if I could bring that real-life high-school girl cuteness of hers to the fore.

Q: Did you consult with sound director Tsuruoka Yōta-san when it came to the creation of Persia’s character?

Kayano: When we were recording the PV, we did discuss how old Persia should sound and Tsuruoka-san said not to make her sound ‘too young’.

Sakura: There needed to be a contrast between Persia and Hasuki, so we were told to ‘make Persia sound mature and Hasuki sound young’.

Kayano: The Persian cat is her motif so you would imagine her to be similarly imperturbable but it appears that she’s easily flustered throughout the show (laughs)

Sakura: You can see how she doesn’t allow that distress to show in front of the other White Cats though.

Kayano: There are expressions that she would only show to Inuzuka but when she’s with the White Cats, she wants to come across as dignified. It was tough for me to get that balance right at first.

‘It’s alright to not try so hard to make yourself seem young; don’t worry – just look around you’ was what I was telling myself (laughs)

Sakura: You’re referring to the cast members around you (laughs)

Kayano: I was surrounded by veterans so it gave me a sense of security; I felt that I was safe in their hands.

Q: What about Hasuki – what impressions did you have of her?

Sakura: Hasuki is a character with visuals that very much appeal to me. Long, dark hair with a prominent fang plus the fact that she’s one of those characters who won’t ever get the rewards that she deserves, makes me think ‘I want to be on her side’.

Q: Hasuki’s personality changes upon donning her glasses. How do you go about portraying that duality?

Sakura: That’s why I was in a dilemma – for the PV I had been told to make her ‘young’, what should I do if I was then told to make her sound ‘very mature’ [for those scenes]?

Thankfully, I was asked not to stretch it too far; to focus on showing how she ‘drags along those low-IQ Black Dogs despite her low IQ’. She’s actually pretty smart, but I try to play her as if her brain has frozen (laughs)

I also had to switch things up a bit for the parts where I voice a young Hasuki, but now that she’s surrounded by the Black Dogs she’s enjoying herself being at the same intellectual level.

Kayano: When she’s embarrassed she’ll start drooling and wagging her tail, which is so different to the Hasuki we see when’s got her glasses on – I like that contrast between the two (laughs)

Sakura: A couple of the other cast members have said the same thing – ‘She seems like the type of character that Ayaneru would play’. And I’m thinking, ‘What impression do people have of my voice…’ (laughs)

Kayano: I’m guessing everyone thinks that, like Hasuki, you’ve got a fang and you wag your tail? Everyone’s got a good grasp of their characters – there’s Kamiya Hiroshi-san with his super loud Scott voice that’s way too funny. I’m trying so hard not to let myself to be affected by his performance (laughs)

Sakura: The cast members tend to be quite different from their respective characters, though we have Kamiya-san, the voice of Scott, who’s quite sharp in the studio. On the other hand we have someone like Kayano-san who’s very cheerful, gentle and bright. Inuzuka’s seiyuu Ono Yūki-san is very friendly too.

Kayano: Not a single part of him could be described as scary, unlike Inuzuka (laughs). But we do have Shimamura Yū-san, Char’s actress, who has a slightly sadistic streak about her, though not on the level of Char’s. When she’s smacking people about I’m thinking ‘she’s kind of like Char, isn’t she?’.

Sakura: It’s a cast with a lot of familiar faces, so it’s fun.

Even ‘Male Student A’ is a veteran seiyuu!

Q: Kishuku Gakkō no Julie has a really star-studded cast list. What’s the mood like during recordings?

Kayano: We talk a lot. When the seiyuu for the 3 Idiots (Maru Chizuru, Tosa Kento, Kohitsuji Eigo) gather, it gets even livelier. Kohitsuji’s seiyuu Shimono Hiro-san always fails to read the situation and goes and does all kinds of stuff… (laughs)

Sakura: There are things that you wouldn’t normally do in the studio that Shimono-san did… (laughs) Like taking a razor out of his backpack & starting to shave. The thing is, Shimono-san’s seat is in quite a prominent position, where everybody [in the studio] can see him.

Kayano: That’s a seat that I honestly wouldn’t want to be seated in (laughs)

Sakura: Anyone who’s on that seat would be easily seen by the cast whose turn it is to record at the mic so we’re all saying ‘don’t sit there’ but for some reason, he stubbornly refuses to move.

Kayano: So when there’s this scene where Persia or Hasuki are trying to say ‘~na no yo’ or ‘~da zo’ cutely, you’re faced with the sight of Shimono-san shaving right in front of you. And he fools around with sound director Tsuruoka-san as well (laughs)

Sakura: Apparently [Tsuruoka-san says] ‘it’s okay to treat Shimono-kun as if he doesn’t exist’ (laughs)

Kayano: I think they’re words filled with affection, but they really do fool around in such a manner (laughs) The cast’s more or less 50-50 in terms of the gender split, so it’s really fun when we record the crowd noise in the background of certain scenes. There are quite a few scenes where the guys get quite hyper, so it’s something people should try to look out for.

Sakura: It gets pretty hot-blooded; a lot of passion goes in to it.

Kayano: That’s why you have a lot of different people voicing ‘Male student A’ so it might be worth trying to figure out who’s providing the voice.

Sakura: You get experienced veterans who recently stopped playing mob characters popping up throughout – their voices have so much presence and they’re allowed to do whatever they like (laughs)

Kayano: Though we get scolded if we overdo things (laughs) I enjoy listening to them every week.

What if you were to live in dorms?

Q: The series is packed with colourful personalities – who are your favourites?

Sakura: I’m quite the fan of the White Cats. Julio (cross-dressing Persia), Scott and Cait Sith, for example. I’m looking forward to Okitsu Kazuyuki-san’s Cait Sith.

Kayano: Okitsu-san’s in his element there (laughs). I myself quite like the Black Dogs; perhaps it’s because Persia’s usually amongst the White Cats that I have this point of view, but their dorms seem like a fun place to be. You don’t see much of the White Cats’ dorms.

I was able to take part in Hasuki’s tutorial sessions while disguised as Julio, and seeing that made me think that it’d be fun.

Sakura: The Black Dogs are about ‘unity’, while the White Cats are ‘independent’ – that’s the kind of aura that you get.

Kayano: Cats tend to operate on their own while dogs work better in packs, so that lively feeling they exude makes it seem fun. Maru may say ‘it’s better to be alone’ but he always ends up as part of the group of 3 Idiots. It’s quite cute to see them that way. I’m a fan of the whole Black Dogs group (laughs)

Q: One of the main points of the story is that it’s set in the dorms of a boarding school – if you had the chance to live a dorm-style life with your own friends, what would you like to do?

Sakura: That sounds fun!

Kayano: It may be quite different depending on who you get as a room-mate though (laughs)

Sakura: Kayano-san and I, we’re both only children so we can’t quite imagine a situation where there are people other than our parents at home.

Kayano: I’d like to get in a fight over whether or not to turn on the TV.

Sakura: And fight over what channels to watch.

Kayano: Like, ‘I want to watch this!’. I’m always jealous of people who have siblings.

Sakura: You’d have someone else to play games with the whole day long at home too. I wanted to play cards. I’ve played cards alone my entire life, from when I was a kid.

Kayano: One-man card games…it’s so lonely! (laughs)

Sakura: I played solitaire or one man Speed or one man Daifugō, but it would always be more fun to play when someone came around to visit.

Kayano: You still get excited about playing cards now, right? For me, I was making up my own stories while playing with my Sylvanian Families set of toys (laughs)

Voicing a real dog!?

Q: The characters in Kishuku Gakkō no Juliet are named after breeds of dogs and cats. Are the two of you dog or cat lovers?

Kayano: It’s kind of complicated for us when it comes to cats and dogs, isn’t it? (laughs)

Sakura: We both love cat motifs and own plenty of cat-related goods but we both live with dogs at home (laughs)

Kayano: I’d love to keep a pet cat at home but for some reason, what we have is a….

Sakura: We even buy each other clothes with cat prints on them but at home we have..

Kayano & Sakura: ..dogs.

Q: (laughs)

Kayano: So let’s just say I like both. ‘Cute’ is not enough to describe them. Animals are so healing.

Sakura: They’re the best. We’ve got a toy poodle at home.

Kayano: Ours is a Yorkshire terrier. I’d love to discuss that with Wang Teria’s seiyuu Ogura Yui-chan when I next have a chance to (laughs)

Sakura: Come to think of it, this series doesn’t have a poodle anywhere, does it?

Q: It doesn’t. Though there is a Maltese dog (Maru Chizuru).

Kayano: But I wonder if we had Maltese dogs, whether they’d have voices that sound like Sugita-san’s… (laughs)

Sakura: A tiny Maltese… (laughs)

Kayano: I want to see an extra for that! We could have completely unrelated live-action video with the 3 Idiots providing voices for a bunch of dogs running across the prairie (laughs)

Sakura: Shimono-san would be the Old Sheepdog (Kohitsuji Eigo) and Hosoya-san would be a Tosa (Tosa Kento). And Maru would definitely be a tiny dog, now that I’ve thought about it (laughs)

A Hasuki (Siberian husky) is actually bigger than a Maru (Maltese), so that means I’d be bigger than Sugita-san too (laughs)

Kayano: It’d be surreal if we were to do that an event, but it sounds fun (laughs)

Q: (laughs), Lastly, please leave a message for the viewers, not forgetting to mention the highlights of the anime.

Kayano: The anime’s going to start airing soon and episode 1 kicks off with turbulent developments.

Do please look forward to seeing how Inuzuka and Persia stand up to the difficulties they face through this animated series, like in Romeo and Juliet. Thank you for your support!

Sakura: The story is easy to follow, yet the characters’ personalities and rapid-fire delivery make this a very unique series.

I am sure that the show can be enjoyed by those of you who are already aware of the manga, as well as those of you who are starting out with the anime. We actors are taking these fantastic scripts and putting our souls into our performances so that we can bring out the best of our own personalities to make each episode even more interesting. Make sure you keep an ear open for all those little details while you’re watching!

Q: Thank you for your wonderful stories!

[Interview & Text: Yoshino Kuranosuke]

#196 – Hondo Kaede

Next up in Animate Times’ Nichinare series is Hondo Kaede, the girl with the best shirts in the seiyuu industry who’s having a whale of a 2018 so far – you can catch her headlining MAPPA’s new show Zombieland Saga right now!

(Ps. I confess… this post has been in situ for almost a year now just ‘cos I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered to proofread & edit 10 pages’ worth of text ;;; perhaps I really should get someone to help me w)

Part 1

Q: Please tell us about yourself.

A: People call me by all sorts of things like ‘Ede-chan’, a name that was given to me by one of my high school seniors, ‘Pon’, something that only 1 particular senior called me, or even just by my surname or first name. Lately, I’ve grown rather fond of red wine and have developed a taste for sake as well. I’m hoping to become a mature woman (laughs). I sleep very well on my days off. Occasionally, it would already be evening or night before I even notice the time and I find myself thinking, “What shall I do?”. My strength is my positivity. In hindsight, I’ve come to realize that many things were possible (for me) thanks to the fact that I am a positive person. I guess my weakness is that I’m very frank?

A hobby that I picked up some time ago is playing acoustic guitar. When I served as the monthly assistant for Washizaki Takeshi’s Yoru Night x Yoru Night radio show, I thought Washizaki-san looked so cool showing off his acoustic guitar skills and I spontaneously thought, ‘I want to do that too! I’ll buy one ASAP!’. I ended up getting a guitar the following week and have been learning ever since. But my fingers can’t seem to form the chords at all and I’m seething with frustration sometimes (laughs)

Q: Maybe you get bored of things too easily? (laugh)

A: Yeah I give up on things easily (laughs). I’m quick to try my hand at anything I’m curious about that seems fun but the minute I think ‘nah it’s not quite my thing’, I’d stop doing it.

Q: Conversely, is there anything that you have done over a long period of time?

A: That would be acting. I joined the theatre club in my first year of high school, thought ‘This is fun!’ and for the first time, saw something through for 3 years right to the end. Up ‘til then I’d dipped in and out of basketball, track and field, swimming, music, soft tennis and softball.

Q: You seem to be good at all the sporty stuff.

A: I had poor motor skills (laughs). I’d get all enthusiastic about something, thinking ‘I’ll get better at it’ but I never did. When I stopped finding them fun I would ponder ‘There must be something out there that suits me better’ and end up joining some other club, but the same process would repeat and I’d quit again – until I found the theatre club. To be fair, I did do a lot of long-endurance running when I was in the track and field club so I might be good at that. The only other thing I’ve continued doing for a long time is trying out different ramen places.

Q: What kind of ramen do you like?

A: The famous spicy Hokkyoku [Arctic] Ramen from Mōkotanmen Nakamoto. When I visited the shop for the first time, Hokkyoku ramen was what I ate, and the only other items I’ve tried there since are the chilled miso ramen and the Hokkyoku Volcano ramen.

Q: The basic Mōkotanmen is already painful; you had to take the challenge of something beyond that (laughs)

A: I like spicy things. I can go for a karaoke session with friends right after eating a bowl of Hokkyoku ramen, no problem. It seems to give me extra strength (laughs). I generally like foods that have different degrees of spiciness; it’s not limited to ramen. Back in my high school days, I once used up 2 bottles of Tabasco on a plate of pasta. Nowadays I’ve moved on from Tabasco to Death Sauce.

Q: Let’s talk about the shows you’re appearing in now. First of all, you play the main character Minoa in Anime-Gataris, which started airing in October [2017]. Tell us your thoughts about the series.

A: There was originally an anime short called Anime-gatari, produced as part of the Shinjuku Animation Project. It ran during intermissions in anime theatrical screenings, and Anime-Gataris is an original anime project that brings together the characters from that short. The story is set against the backdrop of a high school animation research department and Asagaya Minoa, the character I play, is the one who sets up the club despite lacking knowledge of anime. As a result she tends to be easily swayed by the otaku around her even as learns about anime from them. Those who have already watched it will know what I’m talking about, but it’s a truly chaotic show. You have an anime that’s ‘talking about anime’ and ‘depicting anime’ –I’m always thinking how much this series is having fun playing around with its subject matter. The show walks a pretty fine line sometimes, but it pays respect and homage to various different works throughout. People who love anime can enjoy poking fun at the show – you can watch it alone or even better, liven things up by watching with friends. Those who aren’t familiar with anime can put themselves in Minoa’s shoes and learn alongside her – it’s a show I can recommend to anime newcomers. The other characters besides Minoa are very colourful types. It makes me jealous (laughs)

Q: Initially, the series revolves around the relaxing, happy days of the Anime Research Society but I see the PV on the official site warns viewers that ‘[the characters] inadvertently destroyed the world’ – that just makes me curious and anxious.

A: The world ends up in quite the pickle. It’s Minoa’s fault. I’m sorry (laughs). It starts off with her trying to avert the crisis [of the club] being abolished but what happens from then onwards is just pure chaos. The run up to the ending makes it feel almost like a completely different show compared to what you were watching in episode 1. The hint might perhaps, lie in the phrase ‘when normalcy disappears from normal life’? Don’t forget to find out what happens!

Q: The 3 main characters are also tasked with performing the ED theme ‘Good Luck Lilac’. It’s a cute, catchy idol-like pop song.

A: Minoa, Arisu (CV: Senbongi Sayaka) and Miko (CV: Tojo Hisako) form a unit called GATALIS to perform the song. After the anime’s over, they dress up as idols on stage and you see 3D models dancing full of energy. The ED is actually linked to the content of the anime as well. Those who watch the show might think ‘Ah, so the ED was referring to this part’. The song lyrics do reference quite a few things so it’d be great if you tried to remember them.

Q: It’s a show that never lets its guard down.

A: Yeah it doesn’t give the viewers any room to breathe at all; it’s a show that moves at such a quick tempo, throwing one thing after another at you. There’s a lot going on in terms of the animation and the dialogue that keeps things fresh, with plenty of ideas and fun stuff in the mix – the deeper you move into the show, the more entertaining it gets. A lot of love and passion has gone into this series so I hope people will give it a go. Do please anticipate the developments ahead as well as the conclusion that awaits you.

Q: Kamisama Minarai Himitsu no Cocotama (where you play the role of Yotsuba Kokoro) started airing in October 2015 and is now approaching its 3rd year.

A: It’s the first show that I passed an audition for – I signed up with my agency in April and took the audition at the end of May, so my first encounter with Kokoro-chan came fairly early on. At the beginning I was very much concerned over whether I’d be able to sustain the character’s voice over the course of an episode’s recording. Looking back on the first 2 episodes you can hear the innocence and rawness in my performance but nowadays, I think Kokoro-chan’s ingrained within me, and I mean that in a good way.

Q: You do play a 5th-year elementary student, so perhaps that innocence may have worked in your favour?

A: Perhaps it brought a sense of realism to the role. But fans do call Kokoro-chan things like High Angel Kokoro and Bodhisattva (laughs). She’s such a big-hearted person that you’d find it hard to believe that she’s just a 5th grader. Cocotamas, creatures that are serving their apprenticeships as gods, live with her and behave as you’d expect them to, twisting Kokoro around their little fingers. The longer I do this show the more motherly I feel towards them and that kind of seeps into my acting, to the point where the sound director has to tell me, ‘It’d be better if you sounded a bit purer’. So I have to suppress my overflowing maternal instincts in order to maintain the purity of a 5th grader (laughs). Also, it’s a show that lots of young kids watch so I have to make sure that my performance is easy on the ears, easy to comprehend and that the message gets across. Children have good instincts so I have to act straight from the heart, so that they won’t think that [my performance] comes off as sounding fake.

Q: Cocotamas are gods, or spirits born from objects whose owners have taken care of with love, so watching the show helps to cultivate one’s desire to cherish things [that you own].

A: I do feel that too. There are a lot of staff members working on the show in the studio and sometimes, they’ll mention how they receive letters saying things like ‘my child has started to help around the house recently’ or ‘[my child] is taking care of their things now’ and it does make me realize how an anime can help influence children in a positive way. This is a work that can be enjoyed by both the young and the old, and I take great pride in being involved with it.

Q: Where do you think the charm lies in this much-loved, long-running series?

A: The thematic aspects. Two of the major themes are to ‘cherish what you own’ and to ‘cherish your friends’ – these are two aspects that the cast and staff respect. All of us are working with the knowledge that we all have a lot of love for Cocotama, and I hope that these feelings are transmitted to our audience as well. It’s a wonderful series that I wish would continue running forever and I’m giving my best towards making that happen.

Q: Let’s move on to talk about Toji no Miko, which starts airing in January 2018. What kind of series is it?

A: It’s a show that depicts youth; the growth and battles of a group of girls who are attending schools that train them up as Toji, sword-wielding shrine maidens, to fight against creatures known as Aradama. The swords that they wield are real katana, each with its own unique special abilities and techniques. There are 5 training schools throughout the country that have their  own set of cute girls with distinct personalities, and they are all equally as strong as the other. There may be fun, everyday scenes but at the same time, you have battles that are incredibly intense. The fighting scenes are so stylish to the point where we kept being directed to ‘not be so conscious of acting cute, and to be serious and go all-out in battle’. You can feel the contrast between those two aspects.

Q: What type of character is the heroine Kanami, whom you play? Are there any aspects that you take particular care with when acting out the role?

A: Kanami is a character who’s bright and positive, with swordsmanship formidable enough to enable her to become a school representative during her junior high school days. On top of that, she is always desperately training and doing drills to improve her skills. During the audition phase, Kanami was the only role I tried out for – I found her easy to play and I’m having fun in recordings right now as well. My first impression of her was that she’s an unpretentious girl who gets along with everybody and loves polishing her sword skills – I try to be careful with how she expresses her feelings in a honest way. There were scenes when I got a little overexcited and I had to be told not to get too fired up and to keep it cool (laughs). We record our lines accompanied by the animation/CG and the Aradama can be big and powerful, making them quite scary. Sometimes I get worried, thinking ‘Can I really beat them?’ but I feel reasssured, knowing that I’m taking them on alongside Kanami-chan.

Q: 6 of the characters, including Kanami, perform the opening and ending themes.

A: Kanami, Hiyori (CV: Onishi Saori), Mai (CV: Waki Azumi), Sayaka (CV: Kino Hina), Kaoru (CV: Matsuda Risae) and Eren (Suzuki Eri) perform the songs. The opening theme ‘Save you Save me’ is a cool song that represents the girls in battle, with the sound resembling a strong attack. The ending theme Kokoro no Memoria is the complete opposite of the opening; it’s a relaxing song that illustrates the cuteness of these junior high school girls and their daily lives. Please look forward to seeing them on air!

Q: Once again, tell us about the highlights of this series.

A: It’s rare to see a 2-cour original series – I’m honoured to have the opportunity to participate in such an ambitious work. It has plenty of charms – from the blistering pace of the story right from the beginning combined with the intense battles and the cute and unique characters, to the more serious and brutal aspects [of the show]; it really strikes at my heart. The cast members are doing their best in pursuit of authenticity. I’d be glad if you could find a character to like, so that you can cheer them on or empathize with them as you watch the show. It’d be great if you developed an interest in swords or history as a result of watching the anime as well. Also, there’ll be a smartphone game. There will be another main girl within in the game as well, and the battles have realistic CG with smooth animation that allows you to feel immersed in the fighting. Do enjoy all these elements together.

Part 2

Q: When did you become aware that there was a profession called ‘seiyuu’?

A: It was back in junior high, when I bought a radio-style CD featuring the voice of a character from an anime that I’d been watching for a while. That was vaguely, the first time I thought, ‘so this is what a seiyuu is’. It was only in high school that I got to know about [seiyuu]. When I joined the theatre club, I found that many of my seniors were attending Nichinare. Most of my friends from Nagoya who were hoping to become seiyuu all went to Nichinare, and they’d tell me things like ‘Nichinare is a place where you aim to become a seiyuu; it’s a job where you can be in an anime’. That was the moment that I became aware of the seiyuu profession.

Q: Did you always like anime?

A: I love Naruto, to the point where I can say that it’s the only show I watched. The manga, the anime, the movies, the CDs – I devoured all of them. I loved the Naruto characters way too much; I’d always thought ‘Ahh, I wish I could have a chat with this or that character’. If I were to be a seiyuu, I could delve into the world of anime and use ninjutsu. That led me to the conclusion that ‘I should become a seiyuu’. I’d record myself doing imitations and let my younger brother listen to them.

Q: So that may have been the motivation, the origins behind your [desire] to become a seiyuu.

A: That may be right. I was confident in myself, but stopped in my tracks when my brother said ‘it’s you isn’t it, sis?’ (laughs)

Q: Why did you join the theatre club in high school?

A: When I was on a field trip when I was in the 5th grade, an elderly lady came up to me and said ‘You have a face that would look good with makeup’. I’d always thought ‘cosmetics’ were something only actresses and models used, and I ended up going for a series of auditions. It wasn’t just voice acting though; I tried out for drama and modelling auditions as well but since I had no understanding of makeup or fashion, it was obvious that I’d fail them all. The disappointments grew, as did my increasing desire to express myself in front of an audience. It was at that moment that I got into Naruto and I realized that acting was another possible avenue for ‘expression’. However, there weren’t any opportunities for me to get involved with acting in my immediate vicinity, so I searched and applied for a high school that had a theatre club in order to create an environment where I could perform on a daily basis.

Q: It’s surprising to hear that quite a few of your theatre club members also joined Nichinare.

A: The theatre club is a place where students who wish to pursue acting would naturally gather. But the number [of people who joined Nichinare] was extraordinary. A 3rd year senior whom I greatly respected was also a Nichinare student – when I was a freshman, I would have the tendency to close my eyes whenever I performed on stage. [My senior] said to me, ‘It’s fine to close your eyes, but if you were to open them, you would realize that you’re not utilizing the whole stage. Don’t you think that you should be moving around more?’. It was from that point onwards that I started taking acting seriously. Obviously I enjoyed the acting parts of a play, but I also loved the script-reading process and it occurred to me that that is what seiyuu do. Just then, a club member who was in the same year said to me ‘I’d like to go to Nichinare but it’d be lonely to attend by myself – would you like to go together?’. I thought ‘why not give it a shot?’ and hurriedly took on part-time jobs so that I could save up enough money to apply for Nichinare.

Q: That was a quick decision. What course did you choose?

A: The weekly class. There was only that one course at the time, and my lessons were on weekends.

Q: What were your impressions upon admission?

A: What surprised me first of all, was the age range of the students – you had high school students all the way up to those in their 30s. There weren’t any age-related hierarchies so we could learn alongside people of various ages – the older students would teach us younger ones many things and they would make many new discoveries of their own; it was nice to be able to work together and learn from each other. Before I signed up, I had this image that [all we’d do] is read scripts in front of a microphone but when I started attending classes, I found out that we would be taught starting from the proper foundations. That was incredibly important, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the me of today wouldn’t exist without having built upon the right foundations. The instructor who lectured us during the basic course is a stage actor by trade, and they’d teach us how to utilize our bodies through stretching exercises etc. As a seiyuu, it’s also imperative not to create ‘noise’ in front of the mic so we had to learn how to play our roles without excessive body motion – the stage lessons taught us how to use our muscles and so on.

Q: Would that have been easy for you to handle, since you had the experience of being in a theatre club?

A: I have difficulty memorizing things and could not remember my lines at all so I was often scolded (laughs). However, being able to balance both Nichinare and the theatre club meant that I spent my days feeling fulfilled. I had been taught some of the basics of vocalization etc when I was in the theatre club but those aspects were easier to comprehend in Nichinare with the aid of visual guides.

Q: Which lessons left an impression upon you?

A: The 2nd year of the regular course would focus on stage performances before we’d migrate to microphone work as part of the training class, but my 3rd year instructor was someone who worked as a radio show host and recorded train station announcements so all of a sudden, we were expected to work with the mic. Rather than studio recording, it involved more of voice dramas and other speech-centric methods and I became deeply aware of how tough it was to express myself solely using my voice. The instructor would say, ‘Please look for ways to present yourselves, think of your special skills and unique selling points’. What really helped me at that point was when he took the trouble to teach me how to create my own voice sample. I was grateful that he was so earnest in his teachings about the differences in vocal colour and voice quality – how one could be good or bad, or be suited or unsuited for something in particular depending on the individual. The Nichinare instructors are all very warm people.

Q: I’ve heard that during auditions, people tend to perform what they’re fond of rather than what they’re good at.

A: It’s all about supply and demand, isn’t it? I’d always wanted to do little girls’ voices. I thought that I’d like to act selfish and throw tantrums, but when I started working and came across such roles ie someone’s little sister, I was never asked to audition for them. I was mostly asked to try out for junior or high school characters and at the beginning I struggled to realistically portray a child.

Q: Can you outline how you progressed through the basic course?

A: I spent 1 year in the basic course, 1 year in the regular course and after 2 years in the training course I gained admission to my agency. There are progress reviews when you move up through the courses – not only are you being evaluated by the instructors who teach you on a daily basis, but you also have to ‘sell’ yourself to the agency managers that are present – it’s extremely nerve-wracking and scary. I recall being extremely happy just to be able to go on to the regular course.

Q: You progressed up to the regular course in your 3rd year of high school, which is right around the period when you’d have to think about your future career path.

A: I was really impatient, wasn’t I? I lived in Nagoya, so I thought it’d be nice if I was able to get into an agency while I was doing the regular course, just in time for me to able to move to Tokyo. But those hopes did not become reality so I discussed with my parents about whether I should go on to tertiary education or move to Tokyo. I thought about transferring to the Yoyogi branch [of Nichinare] while attending acting college and I actually attended an open day with that intention, but my parents opposed the idea. So I asked my parents, ‘If I manage to gain admission to an agency or start getting job offers, can I move to Tokyo?’ and they said ‘Yes’, so I applied to a college in Nagoya and passed the exams.

Q: It must’ve been hard to study for your entrance exams and attend Nichinare lessons simultaneously.

A: I only started studying for my entrance exams in October*…. Ah well, things turned out alright anyway (laughs)

*college entrance exams typically take place in January/February

Q: Being in the theatre club throughout your 3 years of high school and attending Nichinare from your 2nd year onwards – having exams added on top of that must’ve made life really busy?

A: I didn’t actually feel that it was that busy. It actually felt fun since I loved anything related to performing.

Q: So when you were on the training course and prior to your agency admission, you were attending college as well.

A: It was towards the end of my freshman year in college – I was really happy and relieved when my acceptance was confirmed. ‘Finally, I’m standing at the start line and now have the chance to convince my parents’. Before I joined the agency however, in association with Nichinare I’d voiced a mascot character for Nagoya Gakuin University’s Project 758 and I was able to inform my parents about that. And they said to me ‘you can move to Tokyo now’. I’d been given the green light, so I started saving money for that purpose.

Q: As you had hoped for, you were accepted into I’m Enterprise and then moved to Tokyo. And you made your debut within the same year.

A: Denpa Kyōshi is the first anime that I was in that was broadcast on TV, but my first experience of recording in a studio was actually for Aoharu x Kikanjū – my one line was ‘That was cool’. My seat was next to my agency senior Ayase Yu’s, and she kindly explained anything that I was unfamiliar with and really helped me out. It was my first time in front of a mic and I was just doing my best to avoid bumping into my seniors and thinking about how to recite my line without making any noise – apart from that my mind was completely blank.

Q: In the same year, you were a regular cast member in Himitsu no Cocotama and Fushigi na Somera-chan.

A: Both were roles that I auditioned for and I was surprised when I was selected. When my manager called to inform me of the news, I was so happy that I started crying.

Q: Were you worried about landing such big roles right after your debut?

A: Honestly, I was scared. ‘What if this was to be my peak as a seiyuu, and what came after would be a roller coaster making a sharp descent?’ – that was what was on my mind. But I do think that there’s a thrill in not knowing what lies ahead. Though it’s scary (laughs)

Q: And you’re still voicing one of those roles at the moment – that’s amazing.

A: In Cocotama, the actors voicing the Cocotamas around Kokoro-chan are all veterans; even the guests are esteemed names. These 3 years have given me the chance to study my seniors; how they treasure their characterizations, performing in their hearts. It was fun to think that I could use the knowledge that I gained from Cocotama and Somera-chan towards other roles that I would audition for in the future.

Q: You continued on the training course even after joining your agency.

A: The system allows us to continue training even after being accepted into the agency and I am grateful for that. I spent the 1st year after I joined [I’m Ent] at the Yoyogi school that I had long admired, with Artsvision’s Hayamizu Risa-san teaching us about studio recording and foreign language dubbing.

Q: Were the lessons useful?

A: All of them proved to be useful but I’d say that my decision to start from the basics by performing in the theatre club was not a mistake. People who are aiming to become seiyuu generally want to start acting in front of a mic as soon as they possibly can but I came to realize that it’s impossible to use your voice to act unless you understand how to project your voice from your body. I learned how remarkably difficult it was when I worked on drama CDs and recitals that weren’t accompanied by visuals. Also I was really grateful that I managed to work out my USP during my 3rd year in the training course. To be able to talk about my own strengths in public, to have the courage to appeal to people – it was a challenge often filled with embarrassment and vulnerability, but because I was allowed to keep trying, I arrived at a stage where I could take pride in my own abilities.

Q: Having experienced studying at Nichinare, what do you think are its merits?

A: First of all, the school building is in a well-accessible area. The Nagoya school had its own building where I studied and it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be who I am today without Nichinare. The tuition fees too, are reasonable enough for students to be able to cover by themselves if they do part-time jobs. Thanks to that, the age range of the group is quite wide. There are classes for junior seiyuu as well so you can join even when you’re in primary school, plus it’s easy for adults and working people to take up a course as well – lots of opportunities are available. The instructors are all very earnest in their teaching; they’re all experts in their respective fields so I’m grateful to have taken part in their lessons based on actual experience. The instructors would also do demonstrations and attentively guide those who were newcomers to acting. They were strict at times, but also passionate.

Q: Many Nichinare graduates go on to become professionals – is there a high probability of meeting alumni whatever recording studio you go to?

A: There really are so many of us. You’ll often hear things like, ‘He’s from Nichinare…oh so’s she!’. You meet alumni wherever you go; the school does produce so many active seiyuu every year. It’s both amazing and provides reassurance for me in the studio as well. When you meet a fellow Nichinare graduate it helps to kickstart a conversation, be an opportunity to communicate and helps people to get closer.

Q: Tell us about the seiyuu you admire, any future goals you have, and what kind of seiyuu you would like to become?

A: There are so many seniors that I admire but I’d like to mention two whom I worked with recently on Demi-chan wa Kataritai – Suwabe Junichi-san and Hikasa Yoko-san. My character Hikari-chan frequently interacts with both of their characters, and there was so much for me to learn from them in the studio. Outside of recording, they were like caring teachers. For this anime, we were often instructed to ‘sound as natural as possible’ and their performances really got to the heart of the characters. When I first tried [acting naturally] in the studio, I was able to reaffirm how difficult it was to pull off. Having that knowledge in mind allowed me to see [Suwabe and Hikasa] as seniors whom I respect and aspire to be like. I would like to become an actress who can be the mood-maker, putting on a performance that brings out the essence of the character without sounding forced. I want to become an actress who not only creates beautiful sound, but I also want to be a person whose existence blends into the natural sounds in the fabric of daily life.

Q: Please leave a message and some advice for those who aspire to become seiyuu.

A: First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude for taking the time to read both parts of this interview. I’ve always been a fan of this column myself and read the previous articles as well. It’s a surprise to me that I’m able to feature within it as well. Some of you readers are probably aspiring to become seiyuu as well; based on my own experiences I would say that ‘make hay while the sun shines’ is a very apt phrase [that applies to me]: the desire to do something and to be able to enjoy doing it is incredibly important – the existence of such emotions will prove to be the stimulus you need to take that first step [towards your dream]. There may be various circumstances at school and work that prevent you from making that initial move but I encourage you to try attending the weekly course for starters. Once you get a taste of it you’ll see many possibilities opening up. Stage work might be your kind of thing, or you might find narration work to be intriguing – there are many people around me who have developed an interest in narrating. The first step always appears to be the hardest but you will discover that it’s surprisingly simple. I’m speaking from experience (laughs). As long as you possess the hunger to do something and to enjoy it at the same time, keep pushing towards your dream and you’ll live a life without regrets – it’ll definitely be a useful life experience for you. I am still just a rookie walking down the path of a seiyuu; from being involved with Kamisama Minarai Himitsu no Cocotoma since my debut year to appearing in Animegataris [October 2017] to acting in the 2-cour series Toji no Miko from January 2018, my days are filled with challenges and enjoyment. Going forward, I hope to continue living this exciting, heart-pounding seiyuu life. I may love rollercoasters, but I personally hope that I don’t experience too many steep drops myself (laughs). I’ll do my best to become a good seiyuu with a unique flavour that manages to stay the course, so please keep listening to my voice!

Interview & text: Nagai Kazuyuki

#195 – Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Kayano Ai

Interview with Kayano Ai, the voice of the lovely Saeki Sayaka-senpai. Sayaka is popular enough of a character to warrant her own spin-off light novel written by Iruma Hitoma (he of Denpa Onna to Seishun no Otoko and Adachi to Shimamura fame), and I hope people will see why she’s much loved as we start to move into her storyline in the anime in a couple of weeks’ time.

Once again, SPOILER ALERT. The angst throughout the interview is real!

Sayaka is all about the balancing of relationships – a lack of objectivity would make the role difficult to play

Q: What were your impressions of the series upon reading the original manga or the episode scripts?

A: I had yet to read the manga when I went for the auditions – when my casting was confirmed and before recording began, I was in a dilemma over whether or not I should read the source material. Initially, I was minded to go straight in without touching the manga so that I would be able to read the scripts without any preconceived notions but once I did, I knew that ‘this is no simple love story’. The more and more scripts I received, the more I came to love the series. It was a mysterious feeling, the way I grew to be obsessed with the charms of Yagakimi. After we recorded the 1st episode I thought ‘I might like this’, and after episode 2 I was sure: ‘I love this’. I started to get so curious about what would happen in the future and wanted to know more of Sayaka’s thoughts over the course of the story, so I ended up reading the manga. In the 1st episode, Tōko specifically picks Yū to be her recommendation officer, right? I felt that I shouldn’t place too much significance on what Sayaka made of that decision so I did feel glad that I hadn’t read the manga before recording episodes 1 & 2. But as the Sayaka-centric episodes started edging closer, I had the desire to gradually bring to the surface those feelings hidden within her heart and I said to myself ‘I definitely chose the right time to read it!’ (laughs)

Q: (laugh)

A: I’ve gained exposure to a variety of works up until now but not even I could foresee that I’d be so strongly drawn to a story of love between girls. ‘So it does exist, this part of me that gets flustered upon seeing a love between girls’ – I discovered new sides of myself; things that would make my heart beat a little faster. I attended an all-girls’ high school where I was friends with a girl who liked girls as well, so I could somewhat relate to their feelings.

Q: I see. I would like to hear you elaborate more on the process behind how you ‘fell more and more in love’.

A: The more I learn about Yū and Tōko, and Sayaka, the more exquisite I find the balance between them to be. Striving to maintain an equilibrium that seems so fragile that it might break at the slightest contact…I like those fine margins. There’s a delicate touch to the art; you’re able to see how the emotions are expressed so gracefully on the page. For the anime, I can tell that the director and staff are handling its creation with loving care. Combining the manga and the anime gives us Yagakimi. I feel that it’s a really great series to work on.

I think of it as being like a set square. Its three sides are of different lengths, right? With the set square supported by its base to maintain equilibrium. But I’m having fun imagining situations where the involvement of Maki-kun and the others upsets that balance (laughs). Perhaps I might be observing things from Maki-kun’s perspective. I may be Sayaka, but I feel that I might also just be a spectator like Maki-kun.

Q: Over the course of getting to know Sayaka better, tell us which parts of her you found yourself empathizing with or on the other hand, anything about her that you failed to understand but had to adapt to in terms of reconciling with her emotions.

A: Had there been such a trigger in my life, I believe that it might not be out of the question for me to have turned out to be like who Sayaka is. Perhaps, if the first person who said ‘I love you’ to me happened to be a girl, then something similar might’ve happened. If I, like Sayaka, fell in love with a close friend, I might choose to be content with remaining by her side, just like Sayaka does. Finding the courage within yourself to say those words is amazing, I think. You would certainly destroy the status quo, and this kind of one-sided love where you want to express your feelings but you can’t, has the added element of both parties being girls – ‘what should I do if [the person I am] were to be denied?’. When you start to think ‘Maybe I’ll never ever be able to say those words’, you’ll start to wallow in loneliness – if I were to be put into such a position I would probably feel very lonely. She may be right next to you, yet she will never be yours. That is indeed, a truly sorrowful thing.

Q: Yū and Tōko are quintessential examples of people who ‘do not understand what it feels like to be in love with somebody’, though coming from a slightly different angle. On the other hand, Sayaka possesses crystal clear feelings of being ‘in love with Tōko’, which is directly in contrast [to Yū & Tōko]. Which means Sayaka is the one who is suffering the most, isn’t she?

A: But if she were to express those feelings, it would be the end of it all. I myself lack the courage to do so, but if I were Sayaka I think I would try to express them (laughs). Looking at Tōko as she is now though, I do think that it’d be impossible…even when it comes to Yū, saying something like ‘I love you, but please don’t fall in love with me’ – that’s just too cruel.

Q: That’s true – there certainly are situations where her actions and words come off as being cruel, even if she bears no malice. And surprisingly, the characters in this series do tend to have their own scary-looking moments.

A: They do. Even Sayaka – I do think ‘She’s scary!’ whenever she’s talking to Yū.

Q: (laughs) That scene where Sayaka is reading Koyomi’s novel while talking to Yū who’s drinking a packet of milk – that was pretty scary too.

A: That was really frightening, wasn’t it? During that particular scene, the animation told the whole story, and it was wonderful. Even minus [acting] nuances or breathing, the art will tell its own story and the animators succeeded in painting a picture of Sayaka that draws close to her emotions. I did not have to add my own little touches – the depiction of Sayaka turned out to be very natural.

Q: The character in Yagakimi that you could perceivably dig the deepest into would in fact be Saeki Sayaka. The Sayaka-centric novel that is coming out soon is remarkably lengthy.

A: I’m looking forward to that. It might turn out to be something truly amazing regarding what lies inside Sayaka’s heart, [events] on a level that would require more than a single volume to cover. I received a copy of the latest [manga] volume from [Nakatani]-sensei too, and reading it at home made me go ‘Ooh~’; I wished I had someone to discuss it with.

Q: (laughs)

Kayano: I’m totally just a fangirl at this point. When we’re in the midst of recording in the studio, you would see Mina-chan (Kotobuki Minako CV Nanami Tōko) trying to hide her ‘Aah~’ kind of sighs of embarrassment (laughs). All of us do get a little bit flustered. Oh, and the adults in the show – ie. the teacher, does have her own love story depicted as well, doesn’t she? We all think ‘ah, that’s so mature’ about it. I think it’s really nice to have the cast feeling so enthusiastic about a series and when everyone’s headed in the same direction, you know it’s going to turn out to be a good series.

Q: Yagakimi is a series that is packed with the kind of memorable lines that would make its actors and everyone else watching them go ‘Aah!’, but Sayaka’s lines on the other hand, are the type that land with a heavy thud.

A: I know what you mean. Each and every word she says feels like it has a weight attached to it.

Q: Let me mention the two scenes I find most symbolic of this. The first would be from her monologue during a scene where she’s talking to Yū: ‘Would I be able to tell Tōko that I love her?’. That was filled with sorrow.

A: We only needed one take for that scene to get the OK. The conversation between Sayaka and Yū stemmed from an unplanned encounter, but the monologues that ran through each of their minds perfectly overlapped. It made me think ‘Wow, that’s amazing’. It was as if they were the only 2 people in the world at that moment and I was filled with a mysterious feeling as I was acting out the scene. I was perfectly focused on the scene, and my lines came to me with effortless clarity. It felt like I was perfectly in sync with Sayaka right at that moment. These interactions with Yū were another instance where I felt myself getting closer and closer to Sayaka.

Q: The other scene would be when she’s talking to Miyako-san in the café and asks ‘would it be cowardly if I hid my true feelings from her so that I can stay by her side..?’. It’s a line where Sayaka’s personality really comes to the fore.

A: During recordings, I was told ‘let’s make this scene memorable’. I think the directing was really wonderful. It was definitely a line of dialogue that showed Sayaka for the person she truly is.

Q: There’s a side of her that is unable to say the word ‘love’ because she fears that her relationship with Tōko would fall apart, but I also imagine that Sayaka cannot bring herself to express her feelings out of consideration for Tōko.

A: That is exactly what the situation is. I think it shows the extent of her love for Tōko, as well as just how kind she truly is. I know that her kindness could be what ends up hurting her, and it fills me with complicated emotions.

Q: If I were to talk like Yū would, I’d describe her as the ‘type that can’t help but be the one who loses out’. But she can’t change who she is.

A: Sayaka has a firm awareness of who she is and holds a certain amount of pride, doesn’t she? Tōko is depicted as someone who plays the role of ‘Tōko’, and I sometimes feel that part of Sayaka is doing the same – acting as ‘herself’. In reality, Sayaka might want to be ‘more like this, or do more of that’ and I feel that she is working harder than Tōko does at suppressing those instincts. Unlike Tōko, Sayaka does not have [a special] someone like Yū and that is truly depressing. I do wish that there would be respite for Sayaka’s heart. However, I feel like Yū’s presence may prompt Sayaka to finally take action.

Q: It could be that she’s gained awareness of the position she’s currently in. Before Yū’s emergence, there wasn’t anyone who could expose all the thoughts that inside her head.

A: There wasn’t. Which is why it’s so important that someone like Miyako-san is there for her. Finally, you get to see Sayaka acting her age. I do quite like that scene where Miyako-san hears her pour her troubles out over the coffee counter.

Q: Before Yū appeared in front of Tōko, I doubt Sayaka herself was aware of how much she was holding herself back.

A: That might be true. Everything…started from a certain senior (laughs). We were all going, ‘that senior (girl), she’s awful!’. Though she didn’t necessarily mean any ill will. Ahh, that episode was tough. Somehow…it just got me thinking ‘Wow, that kind of person does exist’ (laughs)

Q: (laughs)

A: When I saw that scene with her senior, my thoughts, from a viewer’s perspective, were ‘Ehhhhh!? I feel so sorry for Sayaka!’. However, because I play Sayaka it is my job to get as close as possible to Sayaka’s emotions and while I do feel angry on her behalf, I have to look at things calmly in a manner similar to how Maki-kun does or else the series might not be able to carry on. While I do think that is important to dig deeper into the role, someone like Sayaka is all about the balancing of interpersonal relationships, and I feel that a lack of objectivity [on my part] would make the role a difficult one to play. If she was the kind of character who’d behave the way you expected her to then I might delve deeper into the role, but I do believe that part of me has to remain a spectator.

I’d love to see Sayaka confess to Tōko, but part of me doesn’t want it to happen

Q: Kayano-san – you have spoken in the past about how you try not to ‘look too deeply into a series’. About a desire to avoid forming preconceived notions. Do you still take such an approach now?

A: Yes, that’s still my method. Depending on the series, I might choose not to read the source material though sometimes I do read through the scripts and check them against the source.

Q: Especially in the case of Yagakimi – I think the interactions & the dialogue that is created in the studio is of importance. Were there times when you felt like there were ‘chemical reactions’ that happened that were unique to this series?

A: I knew from episode 1 that this [series] would focus on natural conversations so the best thing to do was to stay as natural as possible. Since I’d gone into episode 1 recordings without having read the source material, the surprising developments came one after the other for me. They said to me ‘Sayaka’s up next. But her story is still some way further down the line’ and that convinced me that there was ‘information that I would need to know beforehand’. Yukki (Takada Yūki, CV Koito Yū) and Mina-chan both interact very naturally and working on episode 1 allowed me to see how the two of them put so much thought into their acting and there was no way anyone else could afford to put in a half-hearted performance. I thought, ‘This will turn out to be a great series as long as they’re both in the scene’. As I was considering how I could naturally slip inside the space that the two of them had created, I realized that I didn’t want viewers to see Sayaka as a character that could be easily dismissed – I wanted to produce a performance that would make people feel some kind of emotion.

Q: Like you mention; even as the voice of Sayaka you could still play the part of a spectator. You could be the subject and an audience member at the same time. There would be quite a few anime viewers and manga readers too, who would see things from the perspective of Sayaka.

A: That’s right. I find the position that Sayaka is in to be quite interesting, even as I’m acting the role out. However, certain scenes do make me feel very complicated emotions (laughs). Even a throwaway line has the ability to make me think ‘she’s probably thinking a dozen other things in her heart’. I would like to be like Sayaka, who remains unmoved by things like that.

Q: Also, this is a story that’s related to Kayano-san personally as an actress – you once said, ‘Every day, I enjoy working. So many different things happen every single day; I always have fun and never get tired of it’. Does that still apply now?

A: Nothing much has changed. After all, I get different types of roles every cour so I’m very grateful that these feelings of enjoyment never seem to come to an end (laughs)

Q: (laughs) But you do feel depressed when you play Sayaka.

A: It may be tough but I still enjoy it. It’s definitely a joyful thing to be able to experience different emotions, and going through the pain is still part of having fun. I’d think, ‘It’s painful, so painful, oh how should I express this pain, it makes me feel excited’.

Q: That sounds like a masochistic story (laughs)

A: Hahaha. But I think most people in this line of work think the same way.

Q: Is that so?

A: I mean, you do have to go through this kind of tense situation in the studio every day. The attention is all on you, you can’t fail, you need to be in sync with everyone else. And you only get one shot at it. Plus, you’re required to repeat that sort of intense situation a couple of times in 1 day so it does tire you out mentally. You’re not running, but please act like you are; you may not feel like crying but please cry when you’re required to – you get to have your feelings all messed up and I kind of enjoy that. I hope that I’ll be able to act my whole life long. I don’t know if other people feel the same, but I’ve always thought ‘I would never be able to continue down this road if I didn’t learn to enjoy those parts’, ever since I started becoming a seiyuu.

Q: So for example, you could get people who declare ‘I can’t play any other role for a week’. It seems like they might go crazy if they had to do work that involves projecting their emotions upon endless numbers of characters within that 1 week.

On the other hand, there are people who love exploring their acting abilities, love dissecting the characters that they play. In other words, they place trust in their own skills instead of being worried about whether they can keep up with their emotions.

A: That’s an interesting angle. You can look at things that way for sure. I think that probably, anyone who’s involved in this field would have a different method of protecting themselves, of making sure they remain who they are. After all, if you put 100% of yourself into all of your roles, you’d probably think ‘It’s time for me to go on a journey’ at the end of it all (laughs)

Q: (laughs) This feature comes with the title ‘These feelings of ‘love: where are they headed?’ – the words apply not only to Yū and Tōko, but to Sayaka as well. I’d like for Kayano-san to answer this based on your own imagination and desires – where do you see Sayaka’s feelings of love for Tōko heading towards in the future?

A: Hmm…Judging by the current pattern…perhaps, to the grave? (laughs) That’s another form [of love], I would think. I want Tōko and Sayaka to remain good friends even when they’re adults. What did fleetingly enter my mind was the image of the two of them in dresses, offering their ‘Congratulations’ at a friend’s wedding ceremony. I believe that they can reach an ending where Sayaka never expresses her feelings – they remain very close, but with an appropriate amount of distance. Though I would love to see Sayaka confess to Tōko, there is a part of me that wishes she won’t. Even if the expression ‘taking your feelings to the grave’ makes me feel uneasy (laughs). ‘To the sky…’ would be more beautiful. But well, I guess, it’ll be ‘to the grave’ (laughs)

#194 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.7: Uchida Yuma

More Golden Kamuy: this time we get a short interview with the voice behind the weirdo that kicked off Season 2 – Uchida Yūma, CV of young taxidermist Edogai Yasaku.

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

A: At first I thought that this was mainly a gourmet-based, ‘food porn anime’. People would just sit around eating delicious meals, saying ‘Hinna hinna’ (laughs). However, after reading the manga and seeing its depiction of the incredible thought processes behind these characters that were waging a war over tattooed human skins, I was very much impressed by the depth of its human drama. Despite this backdrop it’s not endlessly heavy; there are also lots of relaxing scenes where they’re eating food deliciously and the presence of these 2 elements allows you to enjoy the contrasting sides of human lives – it’s one of the series charms for sure.

Q: What was your first impression of Edogai as a character?

A: He was incredibly quirky (laughs). Before I learned about the character in detail, the image I had of him was somewhat coloured by my initial impression of the manga – I thought he was just a normal young man. But as I started reading the story, I realized that he was completely different from what I had imagined. The way he gets so absorbed in taxidermy makes him detached from reality, plus there are scenes where he suddenly bursts out in an explosion of emotions – that was what prompted me to think ‘this guy’s insanely dangerous’ (laughs). You thought he was just having a normal conversation with his mom and it turns out he’s talking to a stuffed doll. That’s just shocking. On the other hand, the reasons why he turned out this way are explained properly, so I wanted to embrace the things that are engraved in his heart throughout my performance.

Q: Was there anything that you were particularly conscious about when it came to voicing Edogai?

A: These may be superficial words, but I’d say that that most people’s eyes tend to turn towards his over-the-top character but they don’t often see what’s hidden inside – a hunger for human affection and people who will acknowledge him for who he is; which are very pure desires at heart. It does feel like he hasn’t ever gotten too deeply involved with other people in his life which is why, when he connects with someone, having that person recognizing him as being ‘wonderful’ allows him to finally feel like he has found a place where he belongs. At the same time, his juvenile communication skills tend to show in his straightforward displays of joy and when he throws tantrums. I was considering whether I could express the purity of the words of a person whose body is that of an adult’s, but has the heart of a child.

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

A: I think that they basically respected my views [on the character] that I brought. I also recall that I was fairly careful about emphasizing his awkwardness at holding conversations and how that changed over the course of his interactions with Lieutenant Tsurumi.

Q: Edogai’s encounter with Lieutenant Tsurumi changed the course of his life; what are your thoughts on working alongside Otsuka (Hōchū)-san?

A: I mean, wow! Lieutenant Tsurumi’s practically got Edogai eating out of the palm of his hand or should I say, Edogai’s completely swallowed up by the commanding presence of Lieutenant Tsurumi but yet, he’s able to make him feel completely at ease. So I was thinking that I should just surrender myself to the flow and ride on the waves of each and every word that came of Lieutenant Tsurumi’s mouth.

Q: Do you think that you found a new side to your acting that you’d not previously been aware of?

A: I’ve never had the chance to play a character with such a wide range of emotions like Edogai before so I had fun with the part. I was glad that I was able to play such a role – the good-natured aspects of his character included.

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

A: I’s filled with experienced actors so it’s amazing to watch how everyone clicks into gear when it’s show-time. The mood is normally quite pleasant but once we actually started recording and everyone moves into position, you can feel how the studio turns into a well-oiled, compact machine at the snap of a finger. As the series itself contains fairly deep and heavy elements, the quick switch between moods in the studio is rather remarkable.

Q: Were there any memorable stories from your time in the studio?

A: I talked a lot with Takemoto (Eiji)-san, who voices Seargent Tsukishima. We had a lot of fun chatting about silly things like how we both liked spicy foods, stuff like that (laughs)

Q: Lastly, please leave your impressions and a message of appreciation to the fans.

A: Edogai-kun is a really expansive character – you think he’s just messing about at first but he turns out to be dead serious; I think that purity is what makes him endearing. He openly says the kind of things that normal adults wouldn’t dream of; the kind of emotional switch that Edogai-kun has inside him is what made the role so refreshing and fun to play. I’m sure viewers too will be surprised by the rapid developments; how he suddenly appears and then meets his maker by the following episode (laughs).

Q: This series does have a penchant for introducing dangerous characters, have them inflict painful scars over the course of a couple of episodes, and then dispose of them. Edogai’s one of them too, it seems.

A: That’s right. So in that sense, I’m really excited about seeing how my performance is perceived. I hope that everyone will remember the craziness of this guy who crowns the premiere of Season 2 and at the same time, continue enjoying the broadcast of this anime until the end.

#193 – Golden Kamuy S2: Kobayashi Chikahiro x Shiraishi Haruka

The Golden Kamuy features just keep on rollin’ in! This time, we return to an interview with our main pairing of Sugimoto (Kobayashi Chikahiro) & Asirpa (Shiraishi Haruka).

The soul of an actor who understands Asirpa’s feelings of eating raw brains!?

Q: The first season got a very good reception with positive comments from various parties – please remind us once again what this series is all about.

Kobayashi: When we were recording, we did so to work-in-progress visuals that had no sound effects, so our knowledge of the series only went as far as what we knew from our acting dialogue. Even in that state you could feel the world of the manga being expanded and discover how characters’ lines would sound, or how certain scenes could be interpreted.

It’s funny, it’s sordid and it’s energetic – I was surprised by just how much a show can change with the addition of acting performances and sound effects.

Shiraishi: I got the impression that a lot of women were watching the show as well. They’d say things like ‘Asirpa-chan is cute’, and of course there were guys who’d tell me that the show is interesting and so on. Based on the many comments I’ve received from people who watched the show, I’ve come to conclude that men and women view the series in different ways.

The girls place greater importance on the characters while guys spend more time chasing the story.

The show is a hodgepodge of serious and comical elements, and it was amazing how each and every line from the assembled cast carried so much weight and depth. Acting alongside these actors gave me the chance to hear the words that I read in the manga come to life.

Kobayashi-san mentioned this as well, but the addition of the voices enhanced the potency of the show, while the moving visuals allowed you to make observations like ‘ah, he’s making such a cowardly expression’ during the comedy parts – both the fun and the serious scenes proved to be even more appealing in the anime.

There are quite a lot of perverted characters in this series, as well as a lot of weirdos. They might seem scary at first but you’ll find that they possess surprising sides that will endear them to you as characters – it’s pretty amazing.

Kobayashi: Yeah there are perverts here, there and everywhere (laughs). Someone like Tsurumi’s depraved as well but for me, it’s from the moment Nihei Tetsuzō appeared that I felt was the start of an endless procession of weirdos.

A perfect example would be Henmi Kazuo, and he was followed by Ienaga Kano – it was incredible to see the appearance of these lunatics that topped the ones that came before them.

Q: You mentioned the star-studded cast list a moment ago – it’s remarkable how Nihei’s ‘Boner!’ became the talk of the town. It shows how powerful both the character and the actor inside him were.

Kobayashi: The goods produced were amusing as well. The stickers that came with the Blurays and DVDs had things like ‘Boner!’ etc written on them and I thought ‘what the heck am I gonna do with this?’ (laughs). I wonder where the female fans are going to stick them? (laughs)

Shiraishi: We’re all delighted with them (laughs)

Kobayashi: I honestly don’t think anyone’s ever come up with stuff like this.

Q: There were goods made that featured a selection of our heroine’s weird faces as well – you won’t see anything else like that.

(photo from Shiraishi Haruka’s twitter)

Shiraishi: That’s so true!

Kobayashi: And leading the way was that mug!

Shiraishi: Have we ever seen a heroine with so many weird faces!? (laughs)

Kobayashi: When I got home I made sure that I carefully put the mug away in a glass display case (laughs)

Shiraishi: I’ve got that at home too. It’s so precious that I can’t bring myself to use it. I don’t want to drink from this!

Kobayashi: It’s an heirloom.

Q: Do you have any favourite episodes?

Shiraishi: Personally, of all the pervs in the series Henmi-san was the one that made me go ‘Ah…this creep…’ the most (laughs). Seki Toshihiko-san’s performance and his sighs of ecstasy made me go ‘Oh my god what is this!! It’s so funny but so scary at the same time!!’ (laughs). Seki-san’s acting was so impressive that it made me fall in love with Henmi.

One of the bonuses given out was a Henmi sparkling sticker – I’d stuck it on my IC card at first but it got in the way and prevented the card from being charged so I had to remove the sticker in the end.

Kobayashi: Obviously you can’t scan it with that in the way (laughs)

Shiraishi: It was a shame ‘cos I’d stuck it somewhere designed to make it stand out as much as possible. I’m also fond of the part where Ienaga talks about how you should, if you’re feeling unwell in a certain part of your body, consume the same body part as a cure.

Kobayashi: One body part for another, as they’d say. Oh, would you like to try it? Which body part do you need to cure?

Shiraishi: No no no! (laughs) Ienaga’s just so beautiful and has such a refined voice so I was thinking about whether I could gain such a pretty voice or face myself… (laughs)

Kobayashi: Oh, so you’re gonna start off by eating the face? (laughs)

Shiraishi: I’m kinda scared of eating that, but I might be slightly interested (laughs). But no! It’s still too scary~! (laughs)

Q: Asirpa is pretty amazing, brains being one of her favourite foods.

Kobayashi: Isn’t that a first for any female character in the world?

Shiraishi: The other day I ate pig brains for the first time ever. It was really good!

Kobayashi: What did they taste like?

Shiraishi: It kind of looked like baked shirako, and there wasn’t anything particularly strange about it – just a bit sticky, very rich and delicious.

Q: I could probably enjoy eating it if I was served the dish without being informed what it is, but if you told me it was brains I would just say ‘no’…

Kobayashi: You’d probably ask what it is.

Shiraishi: It does look kind of shocking, those wrinkles in the brain. But now I can understand Asirpa’s feelings about recommending the dish to other people.

Kobayashi: So it does taste good. That part in the manga was pretty intense, when she’s digging the brains out of the deer’s skull and eating it.

Shiraishi: It certainly a big visual impact. There were quite a lot of scenes throughout the series that left me wondering ‘can we even broadcast this?’, but when you see it on air for real, it seems quite normal.

Kobayashi: Yeah, they did air that scene.

Q: But that just shows what it means to be alive. The meat and the fish that we normally consume come in product packaging so eating it in its raw form reminds us how we are taking away a life – to live, we have no choice but to hunt and eat our prey.

Shiraishi: That’s exactly right!

Kobayashi: This is the kind of life that hunting tribes of the past would have lived.

‘Dick-sensei was great!’ – a masterful performance that garnered acclaim

Shiraishi: Each and every pervert in the show has a cute side to them, which is why all the Golden Kamuy pervs are so lovable.

Kobayashi: Each character has their own saving grace.

Q: It’s testament to the brilliance of the veteran cast members that they can produce performances that have such impact while still leaving behind something that can capture your heart.

Shiraishi: Tsurumi’s ‘Oh my, it’s a kitty!!’ line for example – Otsuka Hōchū-san had so much fun acting that part out (laughs)

Kobayashi: It’s a Hōchū-san that you don’t get to see too often when he’s working on film dubs (laughs). I’ve never seen him like that before.

Q: Sugimoto, possessing the nickname ‘The Immortal Sugimoto’, is portrayed as someone who never holds back against his enemies, but he’s also a man full of emotion. As a soldier standing on the edge of death, his body is riddled with scars yet he’s also shown to be a guy who loves cute things – those contrasting sides make him a charming character.

Kobayashi: I didn’t really feel it until the anime started airing, and everyone described Sugimoto as ‘cute’.

Shiraishi: He’s cute!

Kobayashi: Really!? From a guy’s point of view, he just seems strong and cool and reliable – that’s all I see him as. Women say someone like Ogata is ‘cute’ too and I gotta admit that I’m thinking ‘Which part of him!?’ (laughs)

They’re watching it from an angle that’s completely different from my own, which I suppose relates back to what was mentioned earlier – that men and women view the series differently.

Shiraishi: All of the men that appear in Golden Kamuy are strong. But when we see glimpses of their adorable sides we just think that it’s ‘gap moe’.

Kobayashi: Oh, so that’s what it is!

Shiraishi: Well, the common assumption is that Sugimoto is strong isn’t it? But he’s not only strong, he’s also kind – so when we see Sugimoto looking at flowers and going ‘cute!’, then we see him as being cute too.

Kobayashi: It’s good that he doesn’t go ‘Eww, gross~!’ though.

Shiraishi: All of the characters are cute. Sugimoto sometimes goes ‘It’ll be alrightey’*, and I’ve noticed that Kobayashi-san has adopted a similar way of speaking lately. Like ‘’*Oh realleh’?* (laughs)

*she says なんとかなのぉ (Nantoka no-o) where Sugimoto adds a small ぉ at the end of his sentence.
**similarly, this is そうなのぉ?(Sou na no-o)

Kobayashi: Now that you mention it, perhaps I have been doing that! I was rewatching 203 Kochi the other day where its leading man Aoi Teruhiko-san took part in a battle that was so terrible that he’d lost his mind by the first half of the film. And at that moment, Sada Masashi’s song kicks in.

Tanigaki, Tsurumi and Ogata are similar characters, people who’ve lived through situations that have numbed their feelings towards life-and-death. The battlefield is their home and even Sugimoto too, will not hesitate to kill whenever he senses imminent danger. It’s a preconditioned reflex, and all the characters in Golden Kamuy possess that same trait.

The Sugimoto that thinks of animals as being cute is probably the person he has always been from the start; it’s inevitable that the war changed him and this leads to the contradictions in his appearance but I do feel like he originally was a kind young man who loved flowers.

Q: Let’s talk about Asirpa-san now – she’s another character with ‘gaps’ between her personality traits.

Shiraishi: That’s right (laughs)

Q: That applies to the acting as well – seems a pretty tall task to play the role when she has lines like ‘Osoma is tasty’ and ‘Dick-sensei.

Shiraishi: But those words, be it ‘Osoma is tasty’ or ‘Dick-sensei’ or ‘That’s shit!!’, didn’t feel embarrassing for me to say as I think of Asirpa-san as a child.

It’s only after recording is done and dusted when my seniors turn to me and say, ‘that line was kinda…’

Kobayashi: Like, ‘that Dick-sensei was great!’ (laughs)

Shiraishi: When I hear that being said to me I can only go ‘Ack!’ (laughs). The embarrassment came late. But I had awesome fun while I was performing, shouting those words at the top of my lungs.

Kobayashi: It was a great ‘Dick-sensei’, filled with your entire soul.

Q: On top of that, the conflict that you showed when Asirpa was trying out miso, thinking ‘Osoma = shit’ – that was splendid!

Shiraishi: For that part, I was instructed to keep the exact ‘Happu, happu’ line from the manga* – in most cases, you would make ‘Haa…, haa…’ kind of breathing sounds, but I was asked to exaggerate those bits and keep the ‘Happu’ intact; and the line ended up sounding like SFX.

Like the comical scene it’s meant to be, I played it with the goal of making sure everyone enjoys watching it. Same goes for the ‘Hinnnnn!!’ part** that follows. If I allowed the end of the line to drop off it would result in a more natural sounding ‘Hinn…!!’ but I was conscious about enunciating the word with clarity so that it would stand out.

That’s why I’m really happy when people tell me ‘I love that scene’.

*from chapter 20
**from chapter 25, the infamous ‘Hinnnn!! Don’t Die Sugimoto!’ scene. ‘Hin’ is an onomatopoeia indicating crying sounds

Q: The double entendre of the ‘Osoma is tasty’ line was funny as well.

Shiraishi: That was probably Asirpa-san’s first funny scene.

Kobayashi: Is that so? I’d always thought she was a funny person though…

Shiraishi: Her lines were mostly exposition up to that point, so I thought that scene opened up the comedic possibilities for her.

Kobayashi: So that was the moment she awakened!

Q: Like the moment in The Miracle Worker where Helen Keller learns of what ‘water’ means.

Kobayashi: Which in this case, means that ‘Osoma’s tasty’ is the equivalent of ‘water’!

Q: And at that age, she’s already a pro at hunting and surviving in the wild – that’s another hugely charming aspect about her.

Shiraishi: She’s able to expand on and make use of the knowledge and skills that have been passed on to her by her father. It’s almost unheard of for a child of that age to be able to take what they’ve learned and actually apply it.

Rather than staying at home and sewing, Asirpa-san would prefer to go out into the mountains – the combination of talent and her natural disposition allows her to make use of her knowledge to live life to its fullest. Seeing how she imparts that knowledge to Sugimoto and the rest makes me respect her. I think she’s cool.

Q: Another element is the Ainu language – how did you find it?

Shiraishi: The Ainu language as difficult, but it’s not that bad for me compared to Fuchi who’s always speaking in Ainu. Ichijō (Miyuki)-san must’ve struggled.

For Asirpa we mostly hear Ainu interspersed into her Japanese speech so I try to make sure that there aren’t any weird intervals when she’s switching between the two. The Ainu language has a few syllable sounds that are silent and are not pronounced. I’m always practising at home so that I can prevent myself from sounding like I’m stumbling over my words.

Kobayashi: You’d always be practising that whenever I observed you from the side. You’re like an Ainu person for real.

Shiraishi: No way! (laughs) It really did make my heart beat faster though. Especially during the first episode when I was just explaining one thing after the other, with difficult words and intonation randomly slipped in throughout – I had to be careful not to be distracted and let my Japanese get sloppy as well.

Q: Was there a specialist Ainu instructor present in the studio?

Kobayashi: Yes. Nakagawa Hiroshi-sensei, who supervises the Ainu language used in the manga, was present, as was an Ainu native who provided guidance for the songs.

We also went and ate Ainu cuisine ourselves; definitely a case of learning [about the culture] while on the job.

Shiraishi: We ate Ainu dishes like ohaw (soup) and ruipe (frozen raw meat & fish)

An even bigger pervert kicks off the show!?

Q: Starting with ‘Hinna hinna’, there are many Ainu words that we have learnt. There’s so much information packed into the show – what were the learning points for you?

Shiraishi: This series, which has given me the opportunity to play Asirpa, reminded me of the simple things in life, like showing gratitude after hunting your prey. This is how we know we’re alive.

Kobayashi: My appreciation for food culture has greatly increased. The bear sacrificial ceremony for example shows how we’re closely connected to Mother Nature. I definitely felt that way as well.

Q: Season 2 is kicking off soon. It hasn’t been too long of a downtime between seasons – how did the 2 of you feel about the wait?

Shiraishi: There wasn’t a gap in terms of recording – we went straight into the 2nd season after the first had ended. So for the cast members, it didn’t really impress upon us, the feeling the show had concluded – I’m sure that will come to us in the future.

The series was rebroadcast, plus there are ongoing Blu-ray & DVD releases so I never really felt like Golden Kamuy had ended after Season 1. So it’s more like a period where I was waiting for the excitement to start up again.

Q: Season 1 ended with Inkarmat’s identity still a mystery, while Hijikata and Tsurumi’s future movements remained unknown as well. What characters have piqued your interest, moving into Season 2?

Kobayashi: It’s gotta be Edogai Yasaku, the first guy we see in Season 2. We had all kinds of perverts in the first season but now we’ve got this guy, who tops them all for perversion, kicking the season off. Edogai-kun is the perfect pervert to crown the season premiere!

He’s a man who would doubtless be described as a pervert no matter who you ask – but he, like the others who came before him, is a wonderful character that will be much loved. He gets pretty intimate with Tsurumi-san so look forward to those interactions! Lots of crazy scenes await!

Shiraishi: Cikapasi’s cute too.

Q: That would be the kid who’s fixated on boobs. Edogai is quite the bizarre character himself, but he does seem awfully cute in the world of Golden Kamuy.

Shiraishi: Yeah I wonder why. Ah, these exquisitely cute, interesting characters drawn by Noda Satoru-sensei. That’s why people get addicted to Golden Kamuy! I’m sure we’re all mesmerized, thinking ‘Why are these dangerous guys all so cute!?’ (laughs)

Q: Having said that, I’m concerned whether Edogai’s ‘works’ are allowed to be shown onscreen.

Kobayashi: Hmm. I think Season 2 starts off crazily. We could end up with all sorts of bits being pixelated when it goes on air; that would be pretty bad (laughs)

Q: What did you think of Uchida Yūma (Edogai)’s performance?

Shiraishi: It was hard for me to stifle my laughter. And that ‘Innn!’* of his.

Kobayashi: When he hurls those rocks he screams ‘Innn!’

Shiraishi: He was asked to say that word as it is too.

Kobayashi: Uchida-san was like ‘Really?!’ at first but he made it sound as human as possible and produced an ‘Innn!’ that seemed like he was having lots of fun (laughs)

*From episode 2 of Season 2, & chapter 79 where Edogai’s hurling bits of coal at his pursuers – Innnn is an onomatopoeia to signify using physical strength/making effort

Q: From an actor’s viewpoint, does this series have a lot of dialogue that is very challenging?

Kobayashi: I do think it is. I think this series was definitely something something different for a lot of the others as well. That was true for Otsuka Akio-san (Nihei Tetsuzō) and Seki Toshihiko-san (Henmi Kazuo) as well. They’d say ‘Wow, I had fun!’ as they left the studio.

Shiraishi: You can see how much fun people had from the comical scenes they did, and the same goes for the touching scenes. For the parts in the manga that brought tears to my eyes, I do hope that I can produce a performance that makes the anime just as emotional, and that makes me extra nervous on the days when we have to record those scenes.

Q: We also look forward to Asirpa-san’s interactions with Dick-sensei.

Shiraishi: Asirpa-san loves him too (laughs). The memories that were evoked when they ate curry together somehow led to her gaining admiration for him (laughs)

Kobayashi: I don’t understand their relationship at all (laughs). I’m sitting next to them but I’m still clueless, I haven’t an idea what they’re talking about (laughs)

Q: We’ll be moving into the crux  of the story soon – what are your thoughts?

Kobayashi: The first season saw a lot of characters appearing, where we spent time getting introduced to all these people and learning about their motives. In the second season, we’ll see rapid developments in the story-line.

In terms of highlights, you’ll start to see the character relationships get messed up – you’ll think ‘these 2 guys used to be enemies, why are they getting along now!?’, and [the group] gets increasingly disparate. That mish-mash feeling builds up quickly throughout Season 2, with the story getting more and more interesting as well.

Q: When enemies become allies they tend to appear weaker, but we’ve got people like Ogata etc who are very reliable.

Kobayashi: You gotta wonder, just how tough is that guy?

Q: The ability to divide or work with anyone for the sake of a common goal – it makes you feel that everyone is a professional.

Kobayashi: Each one of them has their own solid motives and they never lose sight of their goal, so if something were to get in their way, be it friend or foe, they would not hesitate to shove them aside. And that’s what’s amazing. Everyone in the series has a smart head on their shoulders. That applies to Asirpa-san and the other kids as well – they all see what’s going on.

Shiraishi: Asirpa-san too, makes her own reasoned judgements, is capable of baffling Hijikata, has the ability to negotiate – she’s amazing.

Q: That’s why everyone looks up to Asirpa-san.

Shiraishi: Oh yeah! They don’t treat her like a child. They have full trust in her, that’s why they call her Asirpa-“san”*.

Kobayashi: Yeap, we all call her that.

*the ‘san’ honorific is usually used between equals/people of a similar age, with ‘chan’ the more common honorific used for a young girl of Asirpa’s age

Q: Lastly, let’s have some words in support of Season 2.

Kobayashi: Every episode of this season will be packed with a greater number of intense scenes than you saw in Season 1 and the 30 minutes will be over before you realize it. Please look forward to enjoying that intensity!

Shiraishi: The relationship between Sugimoto and Asirpa deepens even further this season – I’m cherishing the role as I’m performing those parts, so I’d be grateful if you could keep an eye out for them.

There are of course, many emotional scenes, as well as plenty of perverts to look forward to – even the line-up of guest cast members is amazing. Let’s enjoy this journey together ‘til the end!

#192 – Yagate Kimi ni Naru Part 2: Takada Yūki & Kotobuki Minako

Part 2 of the Da Vinci interview with Yagakimi’s main couple Takada Yūki (Yū) & Kotobuki Minako (Tōko). Read the translation of Part 1 here. I forgot to mention this in the previous part, but please BEWARE spoilers if you haven’t read the manga!

These feelings of ‘love’: where are they headed?

Tōko-san’s ‘Okay, I’ll be more careful’ was…100 times cuter than I’d imagined! (Takada)

Q: This question is directed at Takada-san – were there any of Tōko’s lines to Yū that took your breath away?

Takada: There’s one in episode 4… (looks at recording script) that I marked up with a heart ♥ (laughs)

Q: Oh, this is going to be amazing (laughs)

Kotobuki: (laughs) Oh yeah that’s right, I remember this!

Takada: It’s just a single word that doesn’t even seem all that significant – Tōko and Yū are on their way home from school and Yū tells Tōko, ‘You’re walking too close to me’. Tōko is unaware of this, and when Yū retorts ‘Stop invading my personal space’, Tōko’s response of ‘Okay…I’ll be more careful…’ was about a 100 times cuter in real life than I’d imagined it to be when I read the scripts!

All: (laughter)

Takada: It was super cute and it made me go ‘You gotta be joking!’. I know that as Yū, I shouldn’t let a smile creep onto my face but I just couldn’t help it and decided ‘Ah, there’s nothing wrong with smiling here!’ (laughs). Her words overflowed with cuteness, and I’m thinking that it might’ve made Yū go ‘Hmmph’ in feigned apathy – I just wanted to freeze that moment and preserve it for eternity. I’ll be paying extra attention when that scene goes on air in the anime.

Kotobuki: Yūki was so considerate, trying to keep it discreet – only once we’d finished recording that scene did she show me the ♥ heart-mark that she’d drawn on the script, telling me ‘I love this part so much’. I was super happy, saying ‘Wow, there’s a ♥ heart-mark there!’. We’re always going ‘Woah, she really did say that!’ or wondering ‘just how far will they go next time out!?’ during recordings. It’s mostly ladies in the studio with just the 1 or 2 guys, and you’ll find that the girls are all going ‘tee hee hee’ similar to how guys would wolf-whistle (laughs)

Takada: It’s the guys who are blushing instead!

Kotobuki: Personally, I’m really very appreciative of how all the actors involved with the show, even those who only appear in a single episode, are able to say ‘this is such a wonderful series’. I want to tell everyone, ‘do look forward to what lies ahead’ and to ‘please watch the show’.

Q: Kotobuki-san, have you drawn any heart marks on Yū’s lines in the script?

Kotobuki: My scripts are always plain (laughs)

Takada: (laughs)

Kotobuki: Yū talks a lot, doesn’t she? Especially in her monologues – she may be saying ‘Yes’ on the outside, but on the inside she’s thinking the opposite. That happens quite often, and I must say I love those monologues of hers. I think this will probably come up in episode 3, but there’s a part where Tōko gives Yū a souvenir that she bought on her trip.

Q: Ah, the scene where she comes to see Yū who’s working the cash register at the [family] bookstore.

Kotobuki: That’s right, she comes to see Yū and hands her a mini planetarium. Maybe it’s because I play Tōko, but I was glad to see that she did use it when she was at home. I thought, ‘Oh, so she really did open up my gift’. It’s a scene where Yū lights up the planetarium and goes ‘Wow it’s beautiful!’, thinking of Tōko while gazing at the stars on her ceiling. Yū then begins to wonder, ‘will I too, grow to have such feelings?’ and ‘will I be able to reach the stars someday?’ and it made me joyful to see that Yū’s thinking seriously about [her relationship with] Tōko. From my perspective, I interpreted that as meaning that ‘her chances aren’t zero’, and it made me feel just a little bit more encouraged…though you have to wonder what I’m getting so motivated for (laughs). It made me feel like it was alright for Tōko’s burning emotions to get carried away in that manner. I was trying to pretend that I couldn’t hear Yū’s monologue but when it’s written in the scripts and I get to hear [Yūki] saying those words during recording, I can’t help but think ‘Ah, I’m so happy’.

Q: That souvenir scene was certainly memorable. Yū’s ‘How much do you love me?’ line had quite the impact as well.

Kotobuki: Yeah, I was thinking ‘Woah she’s being so aggressive’. We were discussing whether we’d use such a line in real life as well, weren’t we?

Takada: We did. And we were thinking, ‘you probably wouldn’t dare to say that for real’.

Kotobuki: I really love that scene.

Q: As the two of you record together, what do you feel are the aspects that you find ‘amazing’ about each other?

Kotobuki: I think Yūki-chan was like Yū at the beginning, struggling a little with the number of monologues that would also increase in their intensity – she would express her views and her honest thoughts [about certain scenes] and there was tendency for the mood to turn fairly serious. The Director would say, ‘try to lighten it up a little bit’ but as we’d been told ‘not to make it too heavy nor too light’ when were were recording the PVs earlier on, I was thinking to myself ‘that’s just too hard to do’ as I was listening to what he said (laughs)

But Yūki-chan would find all sorts of ways to deal with the circumstances; she’s always bringing up her own suggestions, going ‘How about this? Or maybe this?’. I think it’s brilliant how she manages to understand the situation at hand and instantly come up with a solution. She’s capable of responding promptly to everything. It’s up to the individual as to how they handle things – there are some who’ll say ‘let me have some time to think first’ and then they’ll come up with an answer. There aren’t many people though, who can respond as quickly to a problem the way Yūki can and it makes me feel like I have a Yū of my own beside me all the time…it’s amazing. I’m always watching you, you know? (laughs)

Takada: Thank you.

Q: Your senior’s really singing your praises there.

Takada: I feel so humbled to hear that. As to what I think is amazing about Minako-san, I’ll start by saying that she’s a very attractive as a person. She’s so very innocent and her smile is incredibly dazzling; she’s always looking out for those around her yet she’s forthright in the way she articulates her thoughts and expresses herself. It’s because Minako-san is playing the role that Tōko-san scores 100%, no, 120% on the charm scale for me – that’s what is on my mind as I’m acting alongside her. I think back to the time when I was first reading the manga and wondering, ‘maybe this is what Tōko-san sounds like’….ahhh, back then….back then…(laughs)

Kotobuki: (laughs) Yeah, way back when.

Takada: From there, and now that we’re working together, I believe even more strongly that ‘Tōko-san is truly by my side right now; she’s a lot more like Tōko-san than I had ever imagined would be possible’…it’s so hard for me to explain, but she’s so wonderful and I can’t help but think of her that way. The differences in how Tōko speaks to Sayaka, someone whom she’s opened herself up to, compared to the way she speaks to those around her, and the distance in Tōko’s heart as she speaks to Yū, the person she holds special feelings for – the acting [Minako] displays in each of those situations is so very exquisite. That is why I, when I’m acting as Yū, can hold a conversation with Tōko-san without any hesitation whatsoever. From the very 1st episode I was able to grasp exactly what kind of person Tōko-san is and that I feel, is something truly amazing.

Q: Does working on this series allow you to show a new side of yourself?

Kotobuki: Tōko’s naturally too perfect and her facial expressions tend to tell you ‘this is where I am’. There are times when I look at the situation and surprisingly, I find that I’m able to predict how Tōko might feel, or what kind of expression she would have on her face. That makes me believe that perhaps, our thought processes and personalities are more similar than I expected. She gets close to others without any sense of awkwardness and always feels so natural that you’d never think that she’d be able to become overly passionate about any one thing.

Takada: I too, try to voice the role as naturally as I can. There was a point where I thought ‘Maybe I was a little too enthusiastic there, especially when it comes to someone like Yū’, but my lines were accepted as they were and that made me think, ‘So doing something like that is fine too’ – that’s the kind of studio we’re working in, a place that allows us to believe [in what we’re doing]. In the past I would have my own views on my characters and come up with all sorts of ideas to build the role up, only to go to the studio and find that it would have to be revised [to meet certain specifications].

Q: Do you gain peace of mind by preparing for a role in advance?

Takada: Yes I do. As an actress, the most important thing I have to remember is that I am playing a character and not myself, so I do feel more secure when I’ve constructed and prepared for something ahead of time. However, Yagate Kimi ni Naru is the type of show that gives me the room to think that maybe, I should try to be less deliberate in my approach.

When I was reading the manga, I found that I could really relate to Yū; there were so many instances where I was nodding my head along thinking ‘Yeah yeah, I get what she means’. And it made me think that Yū would cease to be Yū if I tried too hard to ‘design’ her character so I used my natural voice as much as possible, with acting as natural as I could produce. It proved to be an adventure for me.

I treated the recording session as if I going for a karaoke session with Yū, and ended up really enjoying it (lol) (Kotobuki)

Q: Reading the author’s notes in the manga, it’s plain to see that author Nakatani Nio-san places great trust in Director Katō Makoto-san – how are things coming along in the studio?

Kotobuki: We can see that the Director is taking great care in the making of this series. When he saw us on the day we came to record for the first PV, he took one look at us and remarked ‘gee, the two of you really are Tōko-san and Yū-san in the flesh’, with this massive smile on his face. I think it was partly because our hairstyles and appearances happened to match our respective characters as well. On one hand I was going ‘Oh what a relief, we’re almost alike’ and on the other hand I was thinking, ‘Eh? I haven’t even said a single word yet!’ (laughs)

Takada: Oh yes I remember that very well.

Kotobuki: Most directors are the unflappable types who’d go ‘just leave the animation up to us’, but here we have Director Katō who maintains a good relationship with the actors and is always cheerful when we see him in the studio. On the other hand we’ve never seen his ‘monologues’ so I don’t know what he’s like then (laughs)

Takada: That’s right. After the end of recording every week the Director will leave us messages. ‘It was X or Y or Z today…or that scene will be coming up for Yū next week so do your best’, things like that.

Kotobuki: Instead of just saying goodbye and going home, all of us wish to know more about the series and naturally, want to talk about it as well. So before we’ve even gotten hold of the scripts he’ll tell us ‘these are the scenes that we’ll be covering next week’.

Q: The two of you perform the ending theme ‘hectopascal’ in character – it’s a really good song.

Kotobuki: It is indeed good, a very nice pop song.

Takada: It is. I’d imagined that we might get a more gentle song, so for us two to get a really poppy tune with lyrics that reflect the world of Yagakimi closely as well as putting the thoughts of Yū and Tōko-san into words, made it easy to get into the song’s groove; it was a lot of fun.

Kotobuki: Yūki-chan sang first, so I was recording my part while listening to Yū’s voice. Visualizing it from Tōko’s point of view, it was as if I was going for a karaoke session with Yū, just the two of us, so I really enjoyed the recording session that way (laughs). I was like, ‘ah it makes me so happy to think that she’s singing this cutely for me’ and I also loved the way our lines played off each other.

Takada: There is also a coupling track and that was the reverse, with Tōko-san going first. Likewise I had the chance to record while listening to Tōko-san singing and that did indeed make my spirits soar. Again, I felt I was maybe getting a little too excited if I was looking at it from Yū’s point of view (laughs). But I thought: since we’re having these two go for a karaoke session together, it’d be nice to let Yū have a bit of fun singing, wouldn’t it?

Q: Recording is still in progress at the moment – from your respective viewpoints, what do you see as the appeal of the Yagate Kimi ni Naru series?

Kotobuki: From Tōko’s view, it is thanks to Yū that she gradually starts to recognize ‘what this feeling of love is all about’, and I myself am able to learn of the depth of what it means to be human. You can see, in various places, indicators of where the personal relationships within the show are headed towards; where ‘like = LOVE’ in some situations and in others, it may just mean positive feelings. Each individual is completely different from the next, yet the relationships between them are drawn so clearly and there is not a single character in the show whom you could think of as being dispensable – it’s amazing when you consider how the series has been written in such a way. Even if the character is just Student A, you would think ‘that line of hers still carries so much weight’. That applies to the people around Yū such as Koyomi-chan and Akari-chan, as well the other characters that come into play – each one of their personalities stands out on its own, and I think it’s getting more and more intriguing as the dynamics between certain characters become visible. It might also be interesting to look at the overall picture and try to determine ‘which one of these characters you resemble the most’. I do feel that the point that appeals most [about Yagakimi] is its ‘humanness’.

Takada: ‘Just when I thought I could draw closer to you, you leave me behind’ – I thought long and hard about how frustrating emotional distance can be , and how precious those feelings are. This is a series that delicately illustrates how people’s emotions can be shaken to their very core. I confess that I myself have spent time thinking about what ‘love’ truly is; I believe viewers too, can use this show as an opportunity to explore and try to define ‘what it means to be in love with someone’ and I’d feel happy if you came to feel that ‘being in love with someone with something truly special’. It may feel frustrating watching our main couple’s diverging feelings but there is so much charm in that – their love is such a wonderful story that makes me wish that I could follow the anime and the manga for eternity.

Interview & text: Shimizu Daisuke