Ichimichi initially debuted as a teenage tarento/idol in 2006 as a member of Horipro Osaka’s HOP Club using the stage name Minami Rio before quitting in 2010 to move to Tokyo, where she joined her current agency Yellow Cab Next. Mainly active in tokusatsu, stage plays and gravure, she started off her voice acting career with Cookin’ Idol Ai! Mai! Main! in 2012.
For her mainstream work she uses her full name, while for her voice work she uses M.A.O. There is no significant reason behind the usage of M.A.O; it was apparently how her name was written on the scripts for her first voice acting role and Ichimichi herself liked that it looked like an emoticon so she maintained it as her seiyuu name.
This is a translation of a Da Vinci rookies interview from last April. Since then she has also voiced a mix of leading and supporting roles such as Komadori Renge in Sekai Seifuku, Dreamcast in Hi School Seha Girls and Sagisawa Fumika in IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls.
Q: First of all, please tell us why you wanted to become a seiyuu.
A: I’d loved manga and anime since I was young but my first direct experience of seiyuu work came through my involvement with the tokusatsu drama Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. I really enjoyed the voiceover sessions for the post-transformation segments of the show, and it made me think about how I’d love to take on the challenge of voice work if an opportunity arose.
Q: What was the experience of your first ever recording session as a seiyuu, which was for Cookin’ Idol Ai! Mai! Main!, like?
A: I was terribly nervous but my co-stars and staff members gave me a lot of advice, which was very reassuring.
Q: So, did your acting go smoothly?
A: I voiced the role of a fairy named Kirakira who had very peculiar characteristics; I had a lot of fun acting as her. She was a little mean (lol), and I tried to play her like a spoiled princess.
Q: You voice Kazumi in the currently airing Gokukoku no Brynhildr. How do you see her character?
A: Kazumi’s a technopathic witch who specializes in remotely controlling computer networks. Her mood swings can be violent; on the one hand she has the tendency to say whatever is on her mind but on the other hand, she finds it hard to be honest with herself when it comes to matters of the heart – it’s that little bit of cynicism in her character makes her appealing. Her comebacks can be pretty intense and maybe it’s because she’s at that awkward age that she tends to crack a lot of dirty jokes (lol), but she’s a truly wonderful character.
Q: Kazumi-chan has a friendly Osakan accent – you too, are from Osaka, right?
A: Yeah that’s right. I thought to myself how great it was that I could use my Osakan accent (lol). Though obviously there are differences between the way you speak in daily conversations compared to when you’re acting, so there are some parts that are tough as well. I tried to make sure the little nuances and intonations sounded as natural as possible.
Q: Dohiwai-sempai Hogo Club, which streams on Nico Douga and Youtube, is quite the shocking work isn’t it (lol).
A: Yes (lol). It’s a gag show with a very strange atmosphere. Moe is a soft-spoken girl but as the characters around her have such intense personalities, she somehow ends up being the tsukkomi (lol). The show has a good tempo and length that you can finish it off in one shot, so please do check it out.
*you can watch it here.
Q: What are recordings like?
A: Ah, they’re just so fun! Each and every line is hilarious, it was impossible to hold in my laughter (lol).
Q: The opening theme “Mamotte Kamatte Runrunrun” is hilarious as well (lol). What was the recording for that like?
A: We were advised to “Sing it without much intonation and in a monotonous voice”. The lyrics were written by the original creator Mado Haruka so I do think they match the world of Dohiwai-sempai Hogo Club perfectly. Also, do pay attention to the narration in the interlude (lol).
Q: The film Yuto-kun ga Iku will be screened starting 31 May, right?
A: Thank you! I’m both looking forward to and a bit nervous about hearing my voice in surround sound in a movie theatre! I voice a girl named Lulu whose hobby is saving money; she’s really strict over it (lol). She’s so young yet so upright, and she’s in charge of the family finances. If you read her lines you’d think she was a much more mature age, but I made sure not to betray her cute visuals.
Q: I hear your hobby is manga. Do you like to read them?
A: I love reading them! There are a lot of genres I like, but I’ve loved Shonen Jump titles since a long time ago.
Q: Are there any seiyuu you admire?
A: I admire seiyuu whose acting can cover a wide range of roles regardless of the age or sex of the character.
Q: What sort of characters would you like to voice in the future?
A: I’d like to take on the challenge of voicing a little boy. I’d also love to try voicing eccentric, weird characters!
Q: Last of all, please leave a message for the readers!
A: I will continue to work hard in the future, taking on the challenges of a variety of roles so that you will someday think “Ah! M.A.O was the one voicing this role!”. I might have a name that looks like an emoticon (lol), but I’d be pleased to make your acquaintance!
It only occurred to me when watching Brynhildr that Ichimichi’s voice has shades of Tomatsu Haruka’s in it, which is strange since I never thought about it when the two of them were working together as part of the Mineral Miracle Muse trio from Samurai Flamenco .__.