Monthly Archives: December 2014

#34 – Terui Haruka

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Name: Terui Haruka (照井 春佳)
Birthdate: 7 March 1987
Hometown: Iwate
Agency: Aoni Production

I uh…sort of got to know Parunyasu for not so savoury reasons – she’s a bit dim (claims to have never seen Mt.Fuji before despite having lived in Tokyo for 7 years), is a supposed G-cup (or H-cup depending on the maker). She’s also played the lead in two anime this year – Mikakunin de Shinkoukei’s Yonomori Kobeni and the titular character in Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru.

This is her Map of the Future, published prior to Yuyuyu.

Haruka’s PAST

10 years old – Learned about seiyuu
When I was in kindergarten I liked to pretend to be animals and characters, so I decided “I want to be a seiyuu!”

13 years old – Became a middle distance runner
I joined the athletics club and took part in middle distance running. My personal best performance was placing 2nd in the regional tournament…but I don’t think I’m actually that athletic (lol).

15 years old – Chose a high school with a drama club
To realize my dream of becoming a seiyuu, I chose to go to a high school that had a drama club. We really enjoyed writing our own scripts and putting on our own stage plays.

18 years old – Moved to Tokyo and entered voice training school
I wasn’t living alone – I actually moved in with my sister (in Tokyo), so I never truly felt the sadness of leaving home.

22 years old – Entered A&G Academy, First radio work
Tomokazu.Miki no Radio Big Bang was my first work as a seiyuu.

Note: This would be Seki Tomokazu and Nagasawa Miki’s radio show on Bunka Hoso that just ended its run in September 2014 after 15 years on air. Terui was one of the 11th generation assistants alongside Tanaka Yuka and the now-retired Hayashi Saori.

2014 – Voiced Yonomori Kobeni in Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
Everything was a new experience – my first regular anime role, my first time singing. When I found out I had won the role of Kobeni, I felt happiness from the bottom of my heart.

Haruka’s FUTURE

28 years old – Aim to expand the width of my roles by a 100 times!
One of the challenges I’ve set for myself is to expand the type of roles I play, starting obviously from kids all the way up to grannies. I hope I’ll be able to convey acting that is rich with emotion!

Early 30s – Voice a costumed cartoon or stuffed toy character
I’d like to provide voices for the sort of characters that appear in the educational programme Okaasan to Issho. I’d be happy if I could make even one child out there feel “I want to imitate this character!’, the same way I felt when I was young. I really want to do this!

Note: kigurumi and nuigurumi, respectively.

Late 30s – Take on the stage
I’ll have expanded my versatility by a 100 at this time, so I’d like to take on the challenge of acting as a mother, something I’d never done back in my drama club days (lol).

40 years old – Take a trip around the world
I’d especially love to visit Mont-Saint-Michel. Also, I’d love to see castles in Germany, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Past 50 years old – Be a seiyuu that continues to love their work
I hope to become a seiyuu who is like my seniors who I am indebted to – gentle, a mood maker in the studio, while never forgetting their love for their characters and their works

10 questions for Terui Haruka

Q1. What’s your favourite food?

A: Chocolate and ice-cream…and meat! Incidentally, to prevent my stomach from growling when I am working during afureko sessions, I always bring a packet of Weider in Jelly in my bag…ah, does that mean it’s my favourite food!?

Q2. What’s your hobby?

A: Karaoke! I always sing Junky’s Melancholic. I also love singing Ikimogokari’s, aiko’s and KOTOKO’s songs.

Q3. Any special skills?

A: I’m good at takeuma (stilts)! When I was in elementary school we had classes for that so I think I don’t think I’ll lose to anyone! I can even climb stairs and kick a ball on stilts,

Q4. Anything you’ve been addicted to recently?

A: An activity that combines the building up of physical strength and dieting – walking. Intentionally losing my way and then retracing my steps to find my way back – I enjoy that. Urban Tokyo is safe for walking as you’ll soon bump into a train station no matter where you go.

Q5. What are your charm points?

A: Maybe my long lower eyelashes? (lol). I don’t stand out much in any way, but my lower eyelashes, they’re long!

Q6. Is there anything you’ve been doing progressively over a period of time?

A: I’ve been writing a work diary for 3 years. Though lately, my challenge is that the challenges keep on piling up (lol). Also, I read the Tensei Jingo* every morning, then I continue through a series of exercises for vocalization and abdominal and spine muscle training.

*an op-ed column in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Literal translation of the Latin phrase Vox Populi, Vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of the gods)

Q7. What are the differences between Tokyo and Iwate?

A: The trains arrive frequently! Also, I was surprised to see that the buildings here are vertically long. The buildings in Iwate are mostly horizontally long. Apart from that, the huge number of karaoke. It’s a lifesaver for me (lol).

Note: vertically long (縦長) – longer than it is wide, horizontally long (横長) – wider than it is long. see illustration.

Q8. What’s your favourite item?

A: An iPod that I received as a gift from my older sister. I only got it recently, but I’ve never owned this kind of fashionable item so it’s what I treasure most now. I use it to listen to music while I’m walking.

Q9. What’s your favourite quote?

A: Something a friend taught me – “Don’t be apprehensive, be positive!”. I got a little teary-eyed hearing that for the first time.

Note: the Japanese here is 向き不向きより前向き (muki fumuki yori maemuki). 向き不向きroughly means that a given person is cut out for certain things and not others, that they have their own strengths and weaknesses. In this case the phrase would kind of literally translate to “instead of worrying about or trying to find out whether or not you are suited to something, just be positive about it/go for it”.

Q10. What are your favourite books?

Jinsei wa Nyantoka suru! and Jinsei wa Wan Chance!. I read them when I’m feeling down or need a bit of cheering up.

Note: both are self-help books feauturing cats (nyan!) and dogs (wan!)

From Terui Haruka
34_terui
I’m Terui Haruka, pleased to meet you. Perhaps there are some amongst you readers who are hoping to become seiyuu. I too, wanted to become a seiyuu and spent many years studying acting with that goal in mind. From now on, I will give my absolute best so that I can be the hope of everyone who continues to work towards achieving their dreams.

I hope to repay the kindness of all the people who have supported me up until now by becoming a seiyuu who acts from the heart and continues to love her characters and series, so please do cheer me on.

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#33 – Ohsaka Ryota

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Name: Ohsaka Ryota (逢坂 良太)
DoB: 2 August 1986
Hometown: Tokushima
Agency: Early Wing
Representative roles: Sanada Yuki in Tsuritama, Himenokoji Akito in OniAi, Mao Sadao in Hataraku Mao-sama!, Sawamura Eijun in Ace of Diamond, Tanikaze Nagate in Knights of Sidonia

Ohsaka got his start in the seiyuu industry relatively late compared to some of his leading man rivals/peers (Ishikawa Kaito, Hanae Natsuki), landing his first lead role in Tsuritama in spring 2012 at the grand old age of 25 & 1/2. He has really clicked into gear since then and you can hear him in a variety of roles in a variety of shows.

Source here.

1. Please tell us how you became a seiyuu.
I wanted to be like the hero Reid in Tales of Eternia.

2. What was your debut anime role?
The role of a soldier in Deadman Wonderland. The only thing I did was scream ‘Argh!’ while my character got kicked aside, but I still remember how my hands were shaking as I held the script.

3. Of all the shows you have acted in thus far, is there any character that has left a particularly strong impression?
Yuki in Tsuritama, my first ever lead role. If I hadn’t done that role, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

4. Please tell us if any of the characters you are voicing now share any similarities to yourself.
Unswerving self-belief. There are other things I could write but I’ll just leave it at that one.

5. From all the shows you’ve been in, please tell us about any one scene that left a particularly strong impression.
For Ace of Diamond, it felt like I’d been screaming non-stop for a month. I think my throat grew stronger thanks to that.

6. Please tell us any horror stories or memorable tales from the recording studio.
Basically my stomach growls easily. So I’d cause NGs whenever it started rumbling during good takes or crying scenes.

7. Are there any seiyuu you see as rivals or as someone to aim for?
I became a seiyuu because I wanted to be like Reid, so Ishida Akira-san is my goal. My rivals are all other young seiyuu.

8. If you weren’t a seiyuu, what do you think you would be doing now?
I went to a technical high school so I’d probably be doing something related.

9. What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced as a seiyuu?
This happens on occasion – when I’m unable to express myself the way I want even though I know what it is that I need to do.

10. On the flipside, what’s the happiest thing(s) that has happened to you as a seiyuu?
When I see the finished versions of the shows I am involved with.

11. Do you like singing? What has left the biggest impression when it comes to singing thus far?
I’ve been given the chance to sing for various shows of late; basically, I do like singing. I used to go to karaoke alone as well.

12. From all the radio shows you have hosted, were there any mails that left an impression on you?
When I read the first ever mail I read on my first ever radio show. I don’t remember the actual contents of the mail, but I remember being very nervous as well as being incredibly happy.

13. Is there anything you take particular care about when you’re acting?
Just to have fun while I’m acting.

14. What kind of roles would you consider your specialty?
A slightly cheerful male high-schooler.

15. Tell us what goals and dreams you have as a seiyuu?
I want to be a versatile seiyuu who has a long career.

16. To the people who are aiming to become seiyuu, please give them a word of advice.
I don’t think I’ve been one long enough to impart any advice, but I would say that it would be advantage for one to “know” a lot of things.

17. Apart from the shows that you’ve been in, are there anime that you like to watch?
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun).

18. In relation to the above, are there any types of roles you’d like to voice or perhaps, characters that you admire?
As long as I get to act, any character will do.

19. As a viewer, what kind of anime do you like?
Any show that makes the passion rise from the bottom of my heart.

20. What kind of child were you?
I was probably a lot more well-behaved than I am now.

21. Please tell us what TV programmes do you often watch?
I love a show called Matsuko & Ariyoshi no Ikari Shinto, I catch it every week.

22. Tell us what your favourite books are.
Dragon Ball.

23. Tell us what your favourite games are.
Tales of Eternia, Chrono Trigger.

24. Tell us what your favourite movies are.
Kaettekita Doraemon. Recently, I also liked The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

25. Tell us about your favourite music.
JAM Project. I will do my best so that one day, I can be connected to them by acting in an anime where they sing the theme song.

26. Tell us what your motto is.
Keep the faith.

27. Tell us about any of your experiences with sports.
Baseball, softball.

28. Tell us what songs you often sing when you go to the karaoke.
In general, JAM Project’s songs.

29. Tell us what your favourite foods are.
Monjayaki, ramen, curry, mentaiko (marinated pollock/cod roe) pasta

30. Tell us what foods you hate.
Foods that have differing textures on the inside and outside. Liver.

31. Tell us about the stores you often go to.
Darts bars, electronics stores.

32. Do you have any favourite snacks?
Takenoko no sato (a Meiji chocolate snack), Yuki no Yado (a brand of senbei/rice crackers).

33. Do you drink? If you do, what sort of drinks do you like?
I like sweet cocktails, as well as Mio sake.

34. What did you do on your last day off?
I slept. After I woke up, I whiled the time away in an electronics store.

35. If you had a whole week off, what would you do?
I’d go on a trip to refresh my mind and my body.

36. Are there any hobbies that you’ve been obsessed with recently?
Cameras. Thanks to this I’ve become an outdoorsy person of late.

37. Tell us about any qualifications you have.
Hazardous materials handling certification level 4, normal driving license.

38. What challenges would you like to take on within the next 10 years?
I’d like to go on trips to various places.

39. What type of girl do you like?
A mature type of lady – it’d be even better if she has big boobs.

40. Which part(s) of a girl do you notice most?
Her hairstyle, voice, legs.

41. Tell us the most expensive thing you’ve bought recently.
I think my wristwatch.

42. What is the one thing you most desire now?
A holiday. Also, a camera lens.

43. If you could bring only one item to a deserted island, what would it be?
Water. Or else I’d die.

44. If you had 1,000,000 yen that you could spend as you wish, how would you use it?
On camera parts. Or audio equipment.

45. Please tell us if there is anything that you do on a daily basis, habits etc.
I think it’d be fine if I just laugh out as loud as I can.

46. Please leave a message for your fans.
I’d be grateful if you could in your own time, show support for the works that I appear in. Also, please do come see the Amazing Soul Fes 2014 –flying- event that is being organized by my agency, on 1st November.

47. What’s your biggest memory of Hanae Natsuki?
I’m doing a radio show with Hanae-kun right now; I really can’t help but have fun being the straight man to his comic*.

*or the tsukkomi to his boke, if you want to maintain the Japanese terms.

48. What do you wear in bed? Are you clothed?
A T-shirt and boxers. Lately I’ve been wearing a haramaki* under my T-shirt as well.

*haramaki are belly bands to keep warm during winter.

49. Please tell us which seiyuu you get along well with.
Ono Yuuki-san, Ishikawa Kaito-kun, Hatano Wataru-san, Hanae Natsuki-kun, Tsuchida Hiroshi-san, Sakurai Takahiro-san, Asanuma Shintaro-san, Murata Taishi-kun, Ono Kensho-kun, Yamashita Daiki-kun, Namikawa Daisuke-san, Shimazaki Nobunaga-kun.

50. Please leave a question for our next interviewee (Hatano Wataru).
What’s your favourite colour of women’s underwear?

#32 – Hanae Natsuki

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Name: Hanae Natsuki (花江 夏樹)
DoB: 26 June 1991
Hometown: Kanagawa
Agency: Across Entertainment
Representative roles: Maeda Atsuhiro/Wein in TARI TARI, Sakishima Hikari in Nagi no Asu kara, Kaizuka Inaho in Aldnoah Zero, Kaneki Ken in Tokyo Ghoul, Arima Kousei in Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

I only really got to know of Hanae-kun’s work for real this year through Tokyo Ghoul and Aldnoah Zero. I still don’t know much about him personally, but this set of 50 questions is hilarious – he must be an awesome guy to hang out with…online. Definitely gonna check him out more in the future!

Source of interview here.

1. Please tell us how you became a seiyuu.
Because I hated school lessons (the five core subjects*). When I was in high school I started to feel “I absolutely do not want to go to university”. Right around that time I was pretty obsessed with going to karaoke alone and that led to me vaguely thinking that I’d like to work at something that utilized my voice.

*5 core subjects would be Japanese, math, English, sciences, social studies.

2. What was your debut anime role?
That would be in the web anime Golden Kids. My appearance was as brief as the length of a single breath but I remember getting all panicky about it.

3. Of all the shows you have acted in thus far, is there any character that has left a particularly strong impression?
Nagi no Asu kara’s Sakishima Hikari. He is the pillar that supports my heart.

4. Please tell us if any of the characters you are voicing now share any similarities to yourself.
The unwholesome parts maybe.

5. From all the shows you’ve been in, please tell us about any one scene that left a particularly strong impression.
For TARI TARI I had some scenes that required me to speak in German, so they brought a German teacher into recordings. Apart from that, the scenes where we’d suddenly break out in song were memorable too.

6. Please tell us any horror stories or memorable tales from the recording studio.
There was a time in the studio, around the time when I had just made my début – I was trying to study the facial expressions, breathing technique and movements (stomach control etc) of one of the seiyuu seniors, so I was staring at him/her intently while sat on a chair near the mic when he/she said to me “Don’t look at me, it’s embarrassing. Sorry”. I felt like such a failure.

7. Are there any seiyuu you see as rivals or as someone to aim for?
The seiyuu I look up to is Yamadera Koichi-san. In the future, I’d like to be as loved as Namikawa Daisuke-san. I don’t really feel rivalry towards anyone. It’s more like I’m fighting myself.

8. If you weren’t a seiyuu, what do you think you would be doing now?
My family runs a home security business. If by some chance a miracle happened, I might be doing design-related jobs.

9. What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced as a seiyuu?
When I moved to Tokyo I had to everything by myself, and also the times when I was suddenly called up for a job or to attend an audition when I had already scheduled my shift for my part-time job – that was pretty tough.

10. On the flipside, what’s the happiest thing(s) that has happened to you as a seiyuu?
I’m happy that I’m able to get proper work. Back when I was in school I’d never have imagined that I’d be where I am today.

11. Do you like singing? What has left the biggest impression when it comes to singing thus far?
One of the reasons I wanted to be a seiyuu was because I loved singing. Singing Kokoro no Senritsu and Netto Hero Ganbaranger for TARI TARI left big impressions on me.

12. From all the radio shows you have hosted, were there any mails that left an impression on you?
“Every time I hear Hanae-san’s voice I get all worked up!” (from a guy).

13. Is there anything you take particular care about when you’re acting?
It really depends on the anime and the character, but I try to sound as natural as possible.

14. What kind of roles would you consider your specialty?
Cocky middle-schoolers. My voice is more suited towards loser characters but I find it easier to voice cocky types.

15. Tell us what goals and dreams you have as a seiyuu?
I’d like to be successful enough so I can live out my older days at ease. I’d like to produce my own game as well, or at least I have delusions of doing so.

16. To the people who are aiming to become seiyuu, please give them a word of advice.
Remember and cherish the feelings you go through in your daily life and use them as a learning experience!

17. Apart from the shows that you’ve been in, are there anime that you like to watch?
Ouran High School Host Club, the Kaiji series, Planates.

18. In relation to the above, are there any types of roles you’d like to voice or perhaps, characters that you admire?
Tamaki Suou (Ouran), Tonegawa (Kaiji), Hachimaki (Planetes).

19. As a viewer, what kind of anime do you like?
Basically I like gag shows or anime that feature mind games. Also, I think shows that get you pumped up are great.

20. What kind of child were you?
A pretty annoying kid. I’d run around the whole day long, I think I couldn’t sit still at all.

21. Please tell us what TV programmes do you often watch?
London Hearts, Ame Talk!, Matsuko & Ariyoshi no Ikari Shinto, Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahen de!!, Tunnels no Mina-san no Okage deshita, Shiru shiru Mishiru, Shabekuri 007.

*London Hearts is a prank show hosted by manzai duo London Boots, Ame Talk! is a comedy/talk show, Matsuko & Ariyoshi is a talk show hosted by Matsuko Deluxe & Ariyoshi Hiroiki. Tunnels no Mina-san no Okage deshita is a variety show where the infamous Brain Wall was developed, Shiru shiru Mishiru was a TV Asahi variety show, Shabekuri 007 is a talk show hosted by 3 manzai groups – Cream Stew, Neptune and Tutorial

22. Tell us what your favourite books are.
Calling You by Otsuichi. I read the novel when I was still in school, and when I was training to become a seiyuu I’d use the manga version as practice material.

23. Tell us what your favourite games are.
Magical Vacation (GBA RPG, 2001). I first bought the game when I was in elementary school but I loved it so much that I played it all over again when I was an adult. The world view and the characters were amazing and the battles were made to stir up men’s hearts. I myself bought 3 game cartridges so I could utilize the system*.

*the game had an ‘Amigo system’ that utilized interactions using the GBA’s multiplayer link in order to earn spells etc. See here.

24. Tell us what your favourite movies are.
The Shawshank Redemption. Clichéd choice, but it’s something that I wouldn’t mind watching over and over again.

25. Tell us about your favourite music.
BUMP OF CHICKEN. I like a lot of their older songs but of their more recent stuff, 66gosen is one of my favourites.

26. Tell us what your motto is.
Play video games for one hour each day!

27. Tell us about any of your experiences with sports.
When I was a child I did gymnastics and swimming, in elementary school tennis, and in junior high soft tennis.

28. Tell us what songs you often sing when you go to the karaoke.
Pierre and Catherine (by Blue Film, a Kuwahara Moichi electro project) Iyokan (Koyasu Takehito). I tend to sing “interesting” songs.

*Iyokan is a character song from Saber Marionette J to X composed by Okui Masami

29. Tell us what your favourite foods are.
These are seasonings rather than food, but olive oil and sesame oil. Adding either makes my food doubly delicious.

30. Tell us what foods you hate.
Mackerel. The one and only food that I cannot conquer in my lifetime…my body just refuses to accept it ;__;

31. Tell us about the stores you often go to.
A certain T-shirt store in Shinjuku. I buy most of my clothes online but I do go to the shops some times.

32. Do you have any favourite snacks?
Jagariko!

33. Do you drink? If you do, what sort of drinks do you like?
I like umeshu (plum wine) and sweet wines. I do drink quite a bit of beer. But I don’t drink at all at home.

34. What did you do on your last day off?
I played LOL (League of Legends) the whole day long. Also did a bit of cleaning.

35. If you had a whole week off, what would you do?
I’d be playing LOL the whole week long….

36. Are there any hobbies that you’ve been obsessed with recently?
The only hobby I have that resembles a hobby is playing games…so yeah, gaming (lol).

37. Tell us about any qualifications you have.
SEGA Word Processing Qualification Level 1. It’s more of a typing game so yeah, it’s not a proper qualification of any kind.

38. What challenges would you like to take on within the next 10 years?
I’d like to hold my own live concert!

39. What type of girl do you like?
Somebody who’s like Final Fantasy VII’s Yuffie Kisaragi. I’m not the type to keep changing his favourite character; I’m loyal to her and her alone so if she existed for real that would be ideal. Somewhere along the line though, I realize that I’ve become older than she is…

*note: Yuffie is 16 in FFVII

40. Which part(s) of a girl do you notice most?
Armpit.

41. Tell us the most expensive thing you’ve bought recently.
A PC for gaming. I’ve mostly been playing foreign-made games lately so I needed to get a new one since my old PC’s specs couldn’t handle the 3D graphics.

42. What is the one thing you most desire now?
Speaking ability… I’d like to be able to make more interesting comebacks (retorts, remarks). Also, the ability to communicate well!

43. If you could bring only one item to a deserted island, what would it be?
My PC…I’d be worried about my folders of treasure.

44. If you had 1,000,000 yen that you could spend as you wish, how would you use it?
I’ll just leave that up to my desires!

45. Please tell us if there is anything that you do on a daily basis, habits etc.
Talk to my electrical appliances. I spend the most time talking to my fridge.

46. Please leave a message for your fans.
In July, the TV anime Tokyo Ghoul and Aldnoah Zero will start! Please watch!

47. What’s your fondest memory of Sakurai Takahiro?
Playing the Love Jenga game during the Ace of Diamond Christmas Nico Nama show.

*Love Jenga is a special edition of the block game that has questions printed on each block.

48. Is there an episode that made you think to yourself ‘Ah, that’s embarrassing’.
At the convenience store the cashier said to me “there’s a button on the screen in front of you, please touch it” – I only heard the second half of the sentence and I absent-mindedly touched the cashier’s hands instead.

49. Please tell us which seiyuu you get along well with.
The people who I go out with are Ohsaka Ryota-san, Ishikawa Kaito-kun, Kawahara Yoshihisa-san. Mostly I socialize with my net game friends.

50. Please leave a question for our next interviewee (Ishikawa Kaito)
What in your opinion, is the most interesting phrase in the world?

#31 – Ishikawa Kaito

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Name: Ishikawa Kaito (石川 界人)
DoB: 13 October 1993 in Tokyo
Agency: Pro-Fit

Ishikawa is still a relative newbie with just 2 years under his belt but he has had a pretty meteoric rise through the ranks and is already a regular leading man. You’ll surely be seeing/hearing more of him in years to come.

Source of translation here.

1. Please tell us how you became a seiyuu.
I’d been doing theatre in high school so the aim had always been to become an actor. I was a fan of both film and anime at the time and was considering getting involved in either industry; in the end I chose voice acting.

2. What was your debut anime role?
Student B in Ano Natsu de Matteru.

3. Of all the shows you have acted in thus far, is there any character that has left a particularly strong impression?
Sakurazaka Kohei, Ledo, Soda Manatsu, Matatagi Hayato, Yanagisawa Mitsuo, Saito Mao, Tsuchimikado Harutora, Logix Fiscario (Logy), Fukui Kensuke, Yoh Shunshin, Ignacio Axis, Charlemagne, Kajiya Aoi, Kageyama Tobio

*in order, the characters are from Nareru!SE, Suisei no Gargantia, RDG, Inazuma Eleven, Golden Time, Super Seishun Brothers, Tokyo Ravens, Atelier Escha & Logy, Kuroko no Basket, Daiya no Ace, Toaru Hikoshi e no Koiuta, Nobunaga the Fool, Romantica Clock, Haikyuu!!

4. Please tell us if any of the characters you are voicing now share any similarities to yourself.
I’ve been told that I resemble Tobio whenever I’m thinking of something.

5. From all the shows you’ve been in, please tell us about any one scene that left a particularly strong impression.
When a character who isn’t very good at expressing himself tries to get his feelings across – I find that kind of scene memorable.

6. Please tell us any horror stories or memorable tales from the recording studio.
When I tried to get rid of my nerves by lightly beating myself on the chest it freaked out the people around me…what a failure I thought I was.

7. Are there any seiyuu you see as rivals or as someone to aim for?
I am my own biggest enemy.

8. If you weren’t a seiyuu, what do you think you would be doing now?
I’ve never really thought about it, but I’d probably be doing something related to acting.

9. What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced as a seiyuu?
Managing my physical condition. ‘Cos my body is not that strong to begin with…

10. On the flipside, what’s the happiest thing(s) that has happened to you as a seiyuu?
When I received fanletters for the first time, I felt overjoyed at the fact that my acting had reached out (to others). It’s a feeling that hasn’t ever changed, up til now.

11. Do you like singing? What has left the biggest impression when it comes to singing thus far?
I like singing. I’m not very good at it though…

12. From all the radio shows you have hosted, were there any mails that left an impression on you?
When people write in with impressions of the anime that I’ve acted in.

13. Is there anything you take particular care about when you’re acting?
I try as much as possible to erase any traces of the person ‘Ishikawa Kaito’ in my acting, but it’s something that’s hard to do.

14. What kind of roles would you consider your specialty?
I myself am not sure about it but I hope to find out someday.

15. Tell us what goals and dreams you have as a seiyuu?
I’d like to be able to voice characters around whom the story revolves. It’d be nice to become an actor who can put on a convincing performance even with just one breath.

16. To the people who are aiming to become seiyuu, please give them a word of advice.
It applies to someone like me too, but to be a seiyuu or an actor, one needs to put in continuous effort. Keep thinking of how to move forward.

17. Apart from the shows that you’ve been in, are there anime that you like to watch?
I watched Card Captor Sakura. I’ve even got the Blu-ray box set. Lately I just try as much as possible to watch whatever’s airing at that moment.

18. In relation to the above, are there any types of roles you’d like to voice or perhaps, characters that you admire?
I admire characters that have a strong presence.

19. As a viewer, what kind of anime do you like?
I don’t really watch specific genres but what I do like are shows that are people-centric.

20. What kind of child were you?
I was the kind of kid who’d go jump into the park lake to play in the dead of winter.

21. Please tell us what TV programmes do you often watch?
Hiruobi! , Hodo Station, The! Tetsuwan DASH!!, Getsuyo kara Yofukashi, Matsuko & Ariyoshi no Ikari Shinto.

*Hiruobi! is a TBS variety show aimed at women, Hodo Station is TV Asahi’s news programme, The! Tetsuwan DASH!! is a variety show featuring Johnny’s Group TOKIO, Getsuyou.. is comedy/satire show covering everyday issues (think Japanese version of Daily Show), Matsuko (Deluxe) & Ariyoshi (Hiroiki) is a talk show that answers viewer questions on issues of the day.

22. Tell us what your favourite books are.
Yotsubato!, Azumanga Daioh, To LOVE-ru.

23. Tell us what your favourite game is.
I don’t really play games that much, except for Monster Hunter.

24. Tell us what your favourite movies are.
Pirates of the Caribbean, Le Miserables, Captain America.

25. Tell us about your favourite musician(s).
(I like) Hirai Ken.

26. Tell us what your motto is.
Full speed ahead.

*note: Ishikawa uses 全力先進 here.

27. Tell us about any of your experiences with sports.
Baseball, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, winter sports, boxing.

28. Tell us what songs you often sing when you go to the karaoke.
Chiisana Koi no Uta (by Mongol800).

29. Tell us what your favourite foods are.
Chocolate, natto, cooked vegetables, meat.

30. Tell us what foods you hate.
Tomatoes, raw vegetables, fruits, tomatoes, foods dressed with vinegar, tomatoes.

31. Tell us about the stores you often go to.
I often go to large consumer electronics retailers.

32. Do you have any favourite snacks?
Chocolate!!

33. Do you drink? If you do, what sort of drinks do you like?
Yes I do. I like sake and whisky. But I’m terrible at holding my drink.

34. What did you do on your last day off?
I slept.

35. If you had a whole week off, what would you do?
I’d travel. Saitama in spring, Okinawa in summer, Kyoto in autumn, Nagano in winter!

36. Are there any hobbies that you’ve been obsessed with recently?
I bought a camera so I’ve been busy taking photographs.

37. Tell us about any qualifications you have.
Normal driving license, MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) for Excel.

38. What challenges would you like to take on within the next 10 years?
I’d like to improve my singing.

39. What type of girl do you like?
I’m drawn to girls who have short hair and are the active type.

40. Which part(s) of a girl do you notice most?
Her eyes and her legs.

41. Tell us the most expensive thing you’ve bought recently.
I bought a shredder.

42. What is the one thing you most desire now?
Perfect reading skills, a quick mind, a strong throat.

43. If you could bring only one item to a deserted island, what would it be?
A tough spirit.

44. If you had 1,000,000 yen that you could spend as you wish, how would you use it?
I’d buy a bicycle and a camera lens and bring them along on a trip. I’d also go for voice training lessons.

45. Please tell us if there is anything that you do on a daily basis, habits etc.
Stick a pen that I got for my birthday into my right pocket before I leave the house.

46. Please leave a message for your fans.
I’ll put all my spirit into the characters I voice so I’d be grateful for your support.

47. What’s your biggest memory of Hanae Natsuki?
The joy we both felt when we found out that we would work together in the show that Hanae-san scored his first lead role.

48. (A question from Hanae Natsuki) What in your opinion, is the most interesting phrase in the world?
“Hanae Natsuki”.

49. Please tell us which seiyuu you get along well with.
Ohsaka Ryota-san, Hanae Natsuki-san, Hosoya Yoshimasa-san, Sugita Tomokazu-san, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu-san, Shimazaki Nobunaga-san, Kimura Ryohei-san, Uchida Yuma-san, Okamoto Nobuhiko-san, Ono Kensho-san, Eguchi Takuya-san, Yasumoto Hiroki-san, Konishi Katsuyuki-san, Murase Ayumu-san, Akabane Kenji-san, Ono Yuki-san, Shimono Hiro-san, Yusa Koji-san, Takahashi Shinya-san. Yamamoto Itaru-san.

50. Please leave a question for our next interviewee (Ohsaka Ryota).
What do you wear in bed? Are you clothed?

#30 – The Yamayurikai: Shinohara Emi

shinohara_1
Name: Shinohara Emi (篠原 恵美)
DoB: 8th August 1963
Hometown: born in Fukushima, grew up in Nagano
Agency: 81produce
Representative Roles: Kino Makoto/Sailor Jupiter in Sailor Moon series, B-Ko in Project A-KO series, Mokuren in Boku no Chikyuu o Mamotte (Please Save My Earth), Angel Rosewater in The Big O, Ophelia in Claymore, Presea in Magic Knight Rayearth series, Uzumaki Kushina in Naruto series

When the cast list for Marimite was revealed, Shinohara-san’s name was the one that was most familiar to me. A regular fixture in 90s anime, Shinohara tended to get cast in strong, smart female roles. She is a graduate of the Kunitachi College of Music and was actually planning to be a music teacher before she became a seiyuu. An excellent singer, Shinohara released several albums as a solo artist and as part of Peach Hips, the seiyuu unit formed by the actresses from Sailor Moon.

As the elder stateswoman of the Marimite cast, Shinohara-san felt an added sense of responsibility (along with fellow veteran & good friend Ito Miki) in leading her younger castmates, the same way her character in Marimite, Mizuno Yoko the first Rosa Chinensis we meet, feels towards the Yamayurikai. Shinohara is actually younger than Ito-san, but gives off a much more mature air (though this is likely because Ito is a bit of a…天然ボケ). Incidentally, Shinohara was Ikezawa Haruna’s agency senior at 81produce and they actually worked together in the latter’s first ever anime show Mutant Turtles.

The following is a translation of a note on Shinohara Emi, written by acquaintance Suwa Michihiko, an executive producer attached to Yomiuri Television (ytv)’s anime division who has been in charge of the Detective Conan series since its inception. Given Shinohara’s tendency to stay out of the limelight, this piece at least gives some insight into her character and personality we don’t normally hear about.

“Today I will talk about the seiyuu Shinohara Emi-san. Here, I will refer to Shinohara-san as Emi-san like I always do. The first time I met Emi-san was during City Hunter 2. She came into the show as a guest, playing a client of the lead character Saeba Ryou, and from then began our long association.

I think the (role of hers that left the) deepest impression is probably Presea from Magic Knights Rayearth. She’s a character with a strong personality who lives with Mokona, and if my memory serves me correctly, she is the person who forges weapons for Hikaru and her group. Despite her position, the larger-than-life conversations she had with Hikaru’s group seemed to have a strange edge to them. For this reason most of the characters Emi-san voices are the smart, serious onee-san types. When Emi-san breathes life into those characters through her voice, regardless of the type of character it is she has the ability to take away their antagonistic edge. Perhaps this is a reflection of Emi-san’s real-life personality.

When I took up wine drinking sometime back in the 20th century, we’d have meals together in the private room of an established Western restaurant in Soshigaya-Okura. It was a space that was comfortable enough to live in, and the four of us (note: Suwa does not say who) along with Yoshida Rihoko-san would spend time eating and drinking there. I remember well, how good of a drinker Emi-san was, and just how endlessly cheerful she was.

Emi-san’s signature role is that of Sailor Moon’s Sailor Jupiter. Through the character’s popularity, I got to know her good friend Fukami Rica, voice of Sailor Venus. At the occasional staff wedding (or even at their own weddings), I would have the opportunity to see Emi-san’s lively, wonderful performances that brought blessings not only to the couple in question, but to everyone in attendance. It truly fills me with joy to have seen such scenes so many times in my life.

For a while we have been exchanging New Year greeting cards. Her husband is the actor Wata Hiroshi-san. The years have flown by as we continued to update each other on the progress of our children as they grew up. Another point through which we have connected is birthdays. Emi-san and (Fukami) Rica-san share the same date of birth – 8th of August, which is easy to remember, and they’ve held birthday concerts together to celebrate before, so whenever that date comes around I will naturally give her a call to convey my wishes.

So this ‘twice-a-year-contact’ kind of relationship continued for some time, until I got in touch with her recently to get her to come in as a guest on Detective Conan. The role I asked her to do was that of the pool bar Blue Parrot’s bartender Fukui Yuzuki. Actually, there is a reason why we have the Blue Parrot as a setting in the show, so we’ll probably get to see more of (Yuzuki) in episodes to come. I look forward to seeing how this particular bartender carries out her duties diligently at the counter, as well the little relationships she’ll build with the characters who stop by the bar.

What did you guys think of the first part of the storyline that aired on the 10th of May? The second and final part of ‘Kogoro in the BAR’ that airs on the 17th will see Yuzuki getting a little more deeply involved in the storyline and is a must-see. Let’s enjoy her conversations with the unchanging Kogoro, or I should say, her conversations with Conan and Kogoro at the scene (of the crime). So please look forward to seeing the sharp-mindedness and brilliant reasoning of Yuzuki-chan as she gets to grips with the strange incidents that are occuring in her bar. Emi-san, I look forward to having you as part of our Conan team from now on.”

These days Shinohara-san is more or less limited to the motherly type of roles, but even amongst those she has produced some memorable work – Ushiromiya Natsuhi in the Umineko series, Misaka Misuzu in the Index/Railgun series, Uzumaki Kushina in the Naruto series, to name but a few. She is currently a lecturer in seiyuu and acting training at the Bunka Gakuin vocational school.

#29 – Kimura Ryohei

29_kimura
Name: Kimura Ryohei (木村 良平)
Date of Birth: 30th July 1984
Hometown: Tokyo
Agency: Gekidan Himawari
Representative Roles: Takizawa Akira in Higashi no Eden, Takakura Shoma in Mawaru Penguindrum, Hasegawa Kodaka in Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hachiken Yugo in Silver Spoon series, Nishimi Kaoru in Sakamichi no Apollon

Kimura’s had a bit of a roundabout career – he is attached to Gekidan Himawari, the same theatre troupe as Miyano Mamoru, and did not actively get involved in anime work until the end of the ‘00s. Instead, he started out as a child actor and for the early part of his adult career, was focused on dubbing for films and Western cartoons. Kimura’s first anime lead role was in 2009 in Higashi no Eden, and he won a Seiyuu Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2012.

I first heard of Kimura in 2002’s Full Moon o Sagashite (he was the voice of the dead childhood friend Sakurai Eichi) but he disappeared off the radar after that and I was quite surprised when he did resurface with bit-parts in Oofuri and Natsume Yujincho. Since then he’s gone from strength to strength and is a regular fixture in many an anime and otome game.

Source of translation here.

1. Please tell us how you became a seiyuu.
I have been doing dubbing work from before I can remember.

2. What was your debut anime role?
If we’re talking about Japanese animation, then it’s probably Taiho Shichauzo (You’re Under Arrest).

3. Of all the shows you have acted in thus far, is there any character that has left a particularly strong impression?
Yes there are. A lot of them, really.

4. Please tell us if any of the characters you are voicing now share any similarities to yourself.
Hmm, I’ve never sucked anyone’s blood before.

5. From all the shows you’ve been in, please tell us about any one scene that left a particularly strong impression.
The other day, I was completely destroyed by an arrow that had been fired by Ishikawa Kaito.

*This would be referring to Zion, his character in Madan no Ou to Vanadis being killed by Ishikawa’s Tigre.

6. Please tell us any horror stories or memorable tales from the recording studio.
It was during a quiet, graceful scene. I was supposed to gently whisper the heroine’s name but…I said my own character’s name instead.

7. Are there any seiyuu you see as rivals or as someone to aim for?
I love Yamaji Kazuhiro’s acting.

8. If you weren’t a seiyuu, what do you think you would be doing now?
I haven’t a clue.

9. What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced as a seiyuu?
I don’t have a hard time. I just have fun.

10. On the flipside, what’s the happiest thing(s) that has happened to you as a seiyuu?
The fact that so many people cheer me on in a job I’m actually working at because I love to. It’s an amazing thing.

11. Do you like singing? What has left the biggest impression when it comes to singing thus far?
I do like it, but I’m horrible. Neo Romance was my first stage performance.

12. From all the radio shows you have hosted, were there any mails that left an impression on you?
On Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai radio when many listeners wrote in reporting on how they gathered up the courage to confess to the person they liked.

13. Is there anything you take particular care about when you’re acting?
To breathe life into the show and the characters.

14. What kind of roles would you consider your specialty?
There aren’t any.

15. Tell us what goals and dreams you have as a seiyuu?
To enjoy, to delight, and to continue eating.

16. To the people who are aiming to become seiyuu, please give them a word of advice.
Just take in lots and lots of things.

17. Apart from the shows that you’ve been in, are there anime that you like to watch?
The shows I’ve watched to completion are Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell STAND ALONE COMPLEX and Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wa Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai.

18. In relation to the above, are there any types of roles you’d like to voice or perhaps, characters that you admire?
Nope.

19. As a viewer, what kind of anime do you like?
Ghibli productions.

20. What kind of child were you?
A cheeky kid.

21. Please tell us what TV programmes do you often watch?
Sekai Fureai Machi Aruki.

*note: A travel show that runs on NHK.

22. Tell us what your favourite books are.
Morning Girl (by Michael Dorris).

*I assume this is it – the title Kimura gave is 朝の少女 and there aren’t any Japanese titles like that otherwise.

23. Tell us what your favourite game is.
Chrono Trigger.

24. Tell us what your favourite movies are.
Dead Poets Society.

25. Tell us about your favourite musician(s).
I can’t choose.

26. Tell us what your motto is.
Carpe diem.

*note: Funnily, Kimura uses the phrase いまを生きる here, which also happens to be the Japanese title of Dead Poets Society (q24).

27. Tell us about any of your experiences with sports.
I was in the “Go-Home Club” in both junior and high school, but I did have a passion for soccer.

28. Tell us what songs you often sing when you go to the karaoke.
I like to get the people I go with to sing their own songs, so I’ll reply in kind.

29. Tell us what your favourite foods are.
I like all delicious foods. And sake.

30. Tell us what foods you hate.
I’m training myself to eat coriander.

31. Tell us about the stores you often go to.
Lately, I’ve taken a liking to a restaurant near my house that serves a variety of international cuisines.

32. Do you have any favourite snacks?
I kinda have a soft spot for things with fresh cream.

33. Do you drink? If you do, what sort of drinks do you like?
I’ll drink anything, but my favourite is whisky.

34. What did you do on your last day off?
I don’t remember. On my next day off, I plan to watch films to my heart’s content in the daytime, and in the evening I’ll go out and have fun with friends.

35. If you had a whole week off, what would you do?
Travel abroad.

36. Are there any hobbies that you’ve been obsessed with recently?
Little by little, I’m trying to make playing video games a hobby.

37. Tell us about any qualifications you have.
I desperately want a driving license.

38. What challenges would you like to take on within the next 10 years?
I want to do narration for Sekai Fureai Machi Aruki.

39. What type of girl do you like?
Girls who can think of themselves as cute.

40. Which part(s) of a girl do you notice most?
I’m attracted to whatever strengths that person actually possesses.

41. Tell us the most expensive thing you’ve bought recently.
It’s not the most expensive thing, but I did order batches of my favourite marinated salmon roe for myself, my friends and my parents.

42. What is the one thing you most desire now?
A driving license.

43. If you could bring only one item to a deserted island, what would it be?
A satellite phone that actually connects. If that’s not possible, whisky.

44. If you had 1,000,000 yen that you could spend as you wish, how would you use it?
I’d take my family and friends out for a good meal.

45. Please tell us if there is anything that you do on a daily basis, habits etc.
A bath in the morning, a drink at night.

46. Please leave a message for your fans.
Let’s have fun together, you and me. I hope to live that kind of life. Please support me from now on.

47. What’s your biggest memory of Toyonaga Toshiyuki?
When he sang Encounter right in front of me.

*note: Encounter is a song that Toyonaga wrote himself, with Kimura Ryohei in mind w

48. (A question from Toyonaga Toshiyuki) Tell the truth – what do you really think of me?
I love you♥

49. Please tell us which seiyuu you get along well with.
Hosoya Yoshimasa-san, Inoue Marina-san, Okamoto Nobuhiko-san.

50. Please leave a question for our next interviewee (Okamoto Nobuhiko).
So when are we going on that guys-only getaway?

#28 – Kuwashima Houko Pt.1

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Name: Kuwashima Houko
DoB: 12 December 1975
Hometown: Kanegaseki, Iwate
Agency: Aoni Production
Representative Roles: Misumaru Yurika in Nadesico, Sango in Inuyasha, Hinata Fuyuki in Keroro, Yumura Kirika in Noir, Flay Allster in Gundam SEED, Stella Loussier in Gundam SEED Destiny, Clare in Claymore, Sakagami Tomoyo in Clannad, Kagura in Azumanga Daioh, Kou Shurei in Saiunkoku Monogatari, Yukimura Chizuru in Hakuoki

Today is Houko’s birthday!

It’s crazy to think that Hou-chan will be turning 40 next year (2015), which will also mark her 20th year anniversary as a seiyuu. She is just someone who I really admire for her talent and versatility; pretty much she can do any type of role and do it well. I’d say she ranks among my top 5 list of all-time super duper favourites.

This lengthy 5-part interview is a blast from the past – 2005 in fact, when Houko was 30. I will be splitting it into two parts for easier reading.

Part1 (I, II)

I’d like to be in a movie

Q: When did you start getting interested in voice acting as a job?
A: I first became aware of ‘seiyuu’ when I was in elementary school, maybe in fourth or fifth grade. My uncle had Future Boy Conan videos in his house that I’d watch, and I found it really fun.. I do vaguely remember bits of the show but when I watch it back now I find myself getting addicted to it all over again.

At the time VHS wasn’t widely in use so even the tapes themselves were quite expensive but somehow, my uncle had a complete set of the Future Boy Conan series (lol). He might’ve bought the tapes, but they eventually became part of my personal collection (lol).

Sometime later I got to watch two Miyazaki Hayao movies, Nausicaa and Laputa, in quick succession… they really left a great impact on an innocent kid like me. It might have been a fleeting thought at the time, but it did instill the feeling within me that ‘I want to appear in a Miyazaki production someday’.

I learned of seiyuu from seeing their names rolling in the end credits. That was when I first thought that I would like to become a seiyuu.

Q: Did you continue to feel that way after that?
A: Yes. My feelings never changed.

Q: What clubs did you join in school?
A: Even though I didn’t think I was particularly suited towards it, I joined the kendo club when I was in junior high. I didn’t even last a year.

After that I kept thinking that I really did want to take up acting.. but my school didn’t have a drama club so I asked for advice from a teacher about setting one up. He told me “You’ll need to find 5 members to fulfil club requirements plus there are student council rules to abide by, but if you really want to do it I can serve as the Club Adviser”.

Q: So did you manage to gather enough members to form the club?
A: After talking to friends and others who weren’t happy in their own clubs, I easily gathered 5 people. The club was established in the spring semester of my 2nd year of junior high and with a lot of freshman 1st years opting to join, we had around 24 members when we started. Maybe because we were a new club, but there was a sense of anticipation and novelty surrounding us. Most members were girls.

Since I had been the one to get things rolling, I naturally ended up as the Club President. We worked pretty hard at things like articulation etc so that we could put on performances at cultural festivals and events. Still, it was a tough job to coordinate (all members) since not everybody is the self-motivated type. Maybe it’s because everyone had “ulterior motives” in joining the drama club (lol). The percentage of members who were truly “motivated” was fairly low. I gave my absolute best on my part but at times, it felt like…I was just going round and round in circles.

Acting is about self-expression

Q: So did you have much acting experience up until then?
A: I’d really wanted to try out acting since I was in elementary school as you know, I am from the countryside in Iwate prefecture so there weren’t such places for me. When I was in kindergarten I really wanted to act in Peter Pan so when I got to my 2nd year of elementary school I cooked up a plan to put on a performance of Peter Pan with the rest of my classmates.

It goes without saying that I was the one who wrote the script and played the role of Peter Pan (lol). I’m normally really quiet and obedient and the type who doesn’t stand out in the class at all so our homeroom teacher found it interesting, the fact that the quietest kid in class wanted to do something like this. Our teacher felt that putting on a play would be an enriching experience for us so he/she decided to support our efforts. Maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that it ended up being a “one-man show”, but it did feel a bit like that for me.

Q: So you were a child who loved to act.
A: I was the kind of child who wasn’t very good at expressing herself normally, but it was totally different when it came to acting. Maybe that was just my way of letting my feelings out (lol). Anyway I really wanted to perform since I was young, so being able to “act” was something truly enjoyable to me.

At the time, TV stations like NHK broadcast theatrical programmes and I loved watching things like Gekidan Shiki’s musicals for children. Those shows had a significant impact on me. It was an era where video had yet to exist, so I frantically tried to memorize the phrases and lyrics of the songs in the musical. Rather than depending on trying to learn the lines based on watching them on TV, it was more fun to recall and learn them while acting (lol).

Also, there was a Noda Hideki-produced show that was airing around that time – I never missed it. When we finally got a video player at home I’d tape the shows and watch them repeatedly to the point where I’d memorized all of the lines. I remember it being just around the time when Noda Hideki-san abolished Yume no Yuminsha, the troupe he was president of.

Apart from that, Takarazuka was something I’d record off TV and watch when I was in junior high. I guess you could say that I was a bit of a strange child when compared to my peers. Obviously I had it in mind to become a seiyuu but I think basically, I intended to act for a living.

Q: What did your parents think of that?
A: I think my parents were a little weird too, freely allowing their kids to take control of their own lives and respecting their choices (lol). They never imposed any particular rules or restrictions and I was allowed to be whatever I wanted to be, as long as I didn’t get in their way.

Q: So what material did you choose to do in your junior high drama club?
A: We’d choose titles from the high school drama script collections and so on. Somewhere along the way our club adviser was changed to another teacher who taught home economics; she was good at making puppets so we actually considered putting on puppet plays using fairy tales such as “Hansel and Gretel” or Hans Christian Andersen stories. We actually visited kindergartens as well.

Honestly, we were allowed to do whatever we liked. It’s just that whatever the activities were, whether on a personal level or as part of the club, I wasn’t really able to produce anything of real substance as our adviser had no previous acting experience. It was probably less of a club and more of a gathering. In the end, though I went through so much trouble to start a drama club, there weren’t enough members and within 2 years of my graduation, the club was abolished (lol).

Entering a high school with a drama club

Q: How did you choose which high school to go to?
A: When I was in my third year of junior high, the Tohoku regional high school drama tournament was held in Iwate. It was my first time watching it and I was really touched. “This is what youth is all about~” was what I thought, and I resolved to participate in it myself someday. That is why I decided that I needed to enter a high school that had an active drama club, and I spent some time researching. Boarding schools were probably not right for me, so I looked for a school with a historically strong drama club that was within commuting range from my family home. Eventually I found one that although outside my school district, was actually in a neighbouring town; I took the admission exams and managed to get in.

Q: So how was the drama club there?
A: I was really frustrated at first; there was a huge gap between my expectations and the reality. Let’s not talk about the Tohoku regional tournament – we couldn’t even get to the prefectural tournament. Every performance I was involved in – all I got out of them were disappointments to reflect upon, and I started getting really down about the whole thing. Those feelings might have stemmed from the fact that I was too used to being the king of the castle and having my own way back when I was in junior high. When I reflect upon those high school days now, I feel really ashamed. Whenever things went wrong I’d smugly blame the teaching adviser or everyone else around me. I had such a narrow-minded point of view back then…I hadn’t even considered what I would do about college after graduating high school, I had been so intent on choosing a high school that had a drama club – it all came as a shock to me.

Most of the students were so focused on getting into college that they were always in “study mode”, and I was unable to adapt to that kind of atmosphere.

Before I noticed, I had come to hate being part of the drama club and even in classes I’d wonder why on earth I was learning to solve all these difficult equations… I was caught in a deep dilemma and losing sight of the reason I had entered this school in the first place. By my second year, I was no longer attending classes.

Beyond the Dark Era

Q: It must’ve been a really difficult period for you.
A: Definitely. My parents were really sad and my mother even ended up attending support group meetings for parents of truant children… My father was a civil servant and also served as the regional head of the Boy Scouts at the time, so I think that disappointed them even more – he was such a good father who was passionate about children, yet his own daughter refused to go to school. It was also bad for his reputation and he was really troubled by the whole affair. I was such a burden to my parents.

This was a dark period for me. Since I hadn’t attended most of my classes during my 2nd year, it was impossible for me to move on to 3rd year. My school informed me that there was a credit-system based high school in Morioka that would allow me to be admitted as a 3rd year and asked if I would like to transfer there?

Anyhow I just took the admission test and after passing, I transferred to the credit-system school. I spent my final year of high school there in order to obtain my leavers’ certificate.

Q: So when you were in your 3rd year of high school I’m sure you had to think about your future again. How did you to come to a decision?
A: I discussed my future at length with my teacher. There were people in my year who attended the school with specific career aims, ie. I had a classmate who wanted to be a flamenco dancer, so I learned that my situation wasn’t a special case.

I spent much of that 1 year watching films and reading, plus I also had plenty of personal time that allowed me to think. It was a really meaningful time for me.

I thought a lot about my future career. Entering Gekidan Shiki had been a personal wish from early on, but I lacked the ballet and vocal training background for that. I considered entering a theatre troupe’s training school, but I realized there was no particular theatre troupe I wanted to go to. There was little information available in the countryside… so while researching theatre schools, I looked up voice acting schools at the same time.

I felt uneasy thinking about whether I’d be able to cope with big cities that I wasn’t used to, or whether I was ready to uproot and live in Tokyo on my own. To be honest, at the time I had thought that voice acting school was a “softer” option. At that time anyway (lol). So instead of running into the hard wall of theatre school, I decided to go to voice acting training school.

Q: Why did you choose to go to Aoni Juku?
A: What drew me in was the fact that Aoni Juku promised results within a year. Many other training schools appeared to have curriculums that lasted 2-3 years and offered no career guarantees beyond that.

There were Japanese and modern dance lessons and I could also learn the basics of stage acting there – during the one year I spent in voice acting training school I planned to do a lot of research on the theatre troupe I would like to enter so I could eventually take up the challenge if I wished to.

Since I lacked confidence, I decided that this 1 year would be a good opportunity for me to get accustomed to both urban environments and the acting world.

In the end, I only applied to enter Aoni Juku – I had never thought about what would happen if I had failed to get in (lol). My parents were really worried but they were supportive of my decision since it was much more positive compared to just sitting at home doing nothing.

Q: What was Aoni Juku’s admission exam like?
A: I don’t remember it to well, but I think it involved hand-miming and a recital. I had travelled to Tokyo with my father, staying at a business hotel when I went for the exam. I was definitely nervous. When I was passed the exam I was glad since I had only applied for the one school; if I had failed I’d have had nothing to fall back on. Looking back at it now, it was such a reckless thing to do (lol).

(end part 1)

You wouldn’t have thought that Houko was such a lazy tearaway in her teenage years would you?

Some notes here: The high school that Houko hated and quit was Kurosawajiri Kita High School. The credit-system school Houko attended was Toryo High School

Part 2 will come…in a bit. I have other translations that are ready to go first >_>