Despite being interviewed as part of Da Vinci’s Rookie Seiyuu series, Arakawa is not really a newcomer to the industry, having first come to public attention when she was cast as the lead female protagonist Takakura Himari in 2011’s Mawaru Penguindrum. I suppose you could say she’s an Ikuhara Kunihiko favourite since she’s once again been cast as his leading lady, this time in Yuri Kuma Arashi as Yurishiro Ginko. That’s not all she’s been doing; in the intervening years she’s had roles in Hunter X Hunter (2011), Akuma no Riddle, Wizard Barristers and the Dangan Ronpa games. You can check out more of her roles on MAL.
Q: You voice the heroine Yurishiro Ginko in the TV anime Yuri Kuma Arashi. Do you live tweet for other shows the way you are doing for Yuri Kuma Arashi?
A: Hmm, I do sometimes do that for my other shows but especially for Yuri Kuma Arashi; it’s an original story so it’s fun to watch the show along with the rest of the viewers since we ourselves don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Q: You also tweet using terms unique to Yuri Kuma Arashi.
A: That’s because I think viewers are interested in those words. But I’m also careful not to reveal any spoilers. You never know when you might accidentally drop hints. For example, each character makes different kinds of bear sounds so I take care not to reveal whether someone is a bear or not.
Q: Ginko is a girl who was revealed to be a human-eating bear right from the start. What are your impressions of voicing her?
A: My initial impression of her based on her appearance was that she was lively and boyish. She is a person of few words and isn’t the type who tries to please others. In truth, Ginko’s head is filled with delusions and she has this cute side to her. Her delusions about Kureha (CV: Yamane Nozomi) are particularly imaginative. I’ve been enjoying that contradiction between her character traits of late.
Q: There doesn’t appear to be much of a plot at first.
A: Most of the time we only find out more about the plot as we progress through recording.
Q: So you get surprised by the scripts when you receive them.
A: I do get excited. Naturally, it’s exciting to see what happens to my own role but since we’ve already seen a few characters disappearing halfway through the series, I’m always wondering…who’s next (lol). I’m always kept in suspense over whether Ginko-chan will make it through (lol).
Q: Surely the heroine of the story won’t disappear half way through…(lol).
A: I’d hope not (lol). Previously, in my début anime (Director Ikuhara’s Mawaru Penguindrum) I was always on the brink of disaster so you really never can tell what’s going to happen. It’s very frustrating to have to wait to receive the next script.
Q: By the way, what is the atmosphere during recording like?
A: All of us spend time discussing the strange terminology used in the show, or explaining to guest seiyuu about the show’s setting. About how everyone’s so interesting (lol).
Q: Obviously the show’s unique setting incorporates much of Director Ikuhara’s tastes; is he actually there during recordings?
A: Well, yes. Because he’s the sound director as well. He gives guest seiyuu special individual explanations.
Q: You have voiced the heroine in two consecutive works by Director Ikuhara. From your point of view, what are the unique features of Ikuhara’s world?
A: These are worlds only Director Ikuhara can create. They feature concepts, sounds and colours that you wouldn’t normally imagine. Though you may not be able to empathize with his characters at first, for some reason, the world he creates will draw you to the screen and perhaps, even overwhelm you.
Q: Speaking of being drawn to what’s on screen, we hear that the actors are told to make sure their lines leave as much of an impression as possible in every scene.
A: What we were told was important for us to do was to “linger in the (viewers’) ears”. To create something that will pull viewers in to watch more and more. This applies to each and every single episode. Since there basically are no next episode previews, we are all the more aware of the fact that we have to “hook the viewers in before the visuals end”.
Q: With regards to the sound and colour schemes – what leaves an impression on you?
A: First of all, I find the sound effects interesting. For Yurikuma that would be things like “Kuma Shock” or “Yuri Dark”. You wouldn’t normally come up with such things and even as someone who provides voices for the characters, I too am constantly being surprised. The music has its own nuances as well and there are instances during recordings when we see “this sound plays at this timing” (in the on-screen prompt) and then the music comes in at the same time. “Wow, the music plays right there…” is what comes to mind. It’s easier to express the characters’ feelings that way, and there are times when I feel sad just listening to the music.
Q: Now that we’re headed towards the show’s climax, we’d love for you to tell us about what we should be looking forward to.
A: As Ginko seems to especially favour and is obsessed with Kureha, I would like you to pay attention to how Kureha’s feelings change in response. You will also see the charms of Ginko’s partner Lulu-chan (CV: Ikuta Yoshiko) being drawn out even further. I believe more and more pieces of the story’s puzzle will fall into place with more mysteries being solved at the same time, so please continue watching to the end.
Q: Let’s focus on Arakawa-san for a bit now. Which amongst your works do you consider your turning point?
A: I guess I’ll say my début anime Mawaru Penguindrum (voice of heroine Takakura Himari). I was really surprised to have gotten the role since it was my first ever audition. I learned so much from my co-stars during recordings. It wasn’t just about acting, I also recorded songs and took part in events and those were irreplaceable experiences helped to build a foundation for my career.
Q: What was it like recording your first character song?
A: I was happy that I got a chance to sing in character. I have been involved with music since I was young so I love singing. I’ve actually taken singing lessons in the past. The songs were cover versions of ARB tracks so we did have our worries about how we should approach it. However, we were advised that we didn’t need to attempt to make ourselves sound cool to make up for the fact that we were singing songs meant for guys, so I was able to sing them in a natural, girlish way.
Q: Could you tell us about how you spend your days off?
A: I visit museums or go to see flowers. Also, I got a Goshuincho at the beginning of the year so I hope to travel around collecting seals from various shrines.
Q: Now that you mention that, I’ve just realized today’s photoshoot is here at Nezu Shrine…
A: Isn’t that a coincidence! I really should have brought my Goshuincho with me (lol). Nowadays, rather than just carrying it around with me at all times, I prefer to plan in advance for my days off. There are still many shrines nearby that I’ve yet to visit but when I travel for work I always wonder if there are any shrines in the area (lol).
Q: What sort of flowers do you like?
A: I’ve got to say lilies, haven’t I (lol) Ah, I do like them for real (lol). Apart from that, I think I basically prefer pinkish flowers such as roses, peonies and cherry blossoms. I also like daffodils. Recently, I visited an orchid show. I spent a lot of time agonizing and ended up buying 3 pots (lol). I gave 2 of them to my mother. Mine was a new, pink-coloured species. Apparently they’re only sold by that particular store and I just couldn’t resist the fact that it’s such a limited-edition item (lol).
Q: You look chic in your outfit of a black one-piece dress today.
A: I love monotone colours and floral prints. I also like ribbons so I have many hair accessories with ribbon motifs. I have quite a lot of them.
Q: You have several nicknames. Which do you like the most?
A: Mihopon, Mihotii etc. Mihopon is what my agency colleague Murakawa (Rie) calls me. At first she called me Miporin by mistake and that somehow evolved into Mihopon (lol).
Q: What new challenges would you like to take on as a seiyuu?
A: I’d love to voice many different types of characters in anime as well as take on the challenge of dubbing work. Taking advantage of my experience as a nurse, I would like to be involved in a series related to the medical field. After all, I loved the ER series. The medical system overseas is a little different from that of Japan’s so it’s cool getting a birds-eye view of proceedings (lol).
Q: You’d be able to make full use of your knowledge of medical terminology during recordings (lol)
A: Yeah (lol). Medical jargon has a very distinct accent to it; I may or may not have the chance to use it in my current field of work but I’m thinking how great it’d be if I could capitalize on my knowledge. Also, on a personal level I’d like to take care of my health this year.
Q: Your health?
A: I wish to lead a healthy lifestyle. Like waking up early so I can leave the house early. Right now I can usually walk about a station’s worth*. I’d like to make use of my spare time taking walks, things like that. Ah, I’ve also been able to go to various places on my own recently.
*a station’s worth (一駅分) is apparently about 4km
Q: What sort of places do you go to?
A: Well, I can go to shrines by myself now (lol). I never used to go to cafés alone either. I could get a takeaway, but I could never sit calmly in the store for a drink.
Q: What do you think is the most impressive thing you’ve done on your own?
A: I ate abura-soba on my own (lol). Next up, I’d like to go to yakiniku by myself too (lol). I often eat alone during lunch.
Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the readers!
A: From now on, I hope to continue my work the way I have up until now and at the same time take on new challenges. I will do my best to achieve my goal of living a healthy life, making sure to have a healthy work-life balance. I would be grateful if you could continue to watch over my future activities. Thank you!
I gave up on Yuri Kuma Arashi after 4-5 episodes; it’s just too Ikuhara for me. Very hard for me to keep up with stuff that is non-plot driven nowadays .__.
If you want to catch Miho when she’s live tweeting the show, follow her! Only a few weeks left gaugau~~