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)
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)
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]