Monthly Archives: July 2015

#77 – Yamaoka Yuri

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Name: Yamaoka Yuri (山岡 ゆり)
DoB: 7 July
Agency: Holy Peak
SNS: Twitter, Blog

Yuri’s been around for a while but has remained somewhat under the radar. Following her graduation from Amusement Media Academy in 2009, she enrolled in Holy Peak Actors School and has been at the agency ever since. She made her debut in Umineko no Naku koro ni as Beelzebub and has since voiced the likes of SHIROBAKO’s Yano Erika, Kyokai no Kanata’s Shindo Ai, Hibike! Euphonium’s Yoshikawa Yuko and Tamako Market’s Mochimazzi Choi. This season, she can be heard in VENUS PROJECT -CLIMAX- (Chia), Tribe Cool Crew (Otosaki Kanon) and Aikatsu! (Arisa).

This interview was conducted in May and published end-June.

Q: How was the photoshoot today?

A: It was so hard~~! My face probably turned really red, and I also broke out in a sweat. Since I was young, the camera has always hated me. Even the photo in my agency profile was that one miracle shot out of a few dozen failures. I’m fine with appearing in public in events or Nico Nama, but I’m terrible with cameras~. I’ve always been like this, so today was the first step in overcoming my problems.

Q: Thanks for the hard work (laugh). Let’s get to talking. In Hibike! Euphonium you voice Yoshikawa Yuko. Like Yuko, you’re good at the trumpet, is that right?

A: I’ve been playing the piano since I was 2-3 years old so I had intended to join the music club once I entered junior high. While I was trying to decide on which instrument I should choose, a super pretty senior who played the trumpet called out to me “Yuri-chan, pick the trumpet!”! When a pretty senior invites you, there’s nothing you can do but say “Yes!”, isn’t it? (lol)

Note: Here’s a video of Yuri playing the trumpet (from Kyokai no Kanata).

Q: I’d have said yes too (lol)! Did you end up playing trumpet for a long time?

A: For all 6 years through junior and high school. In high school we went to the nationals and grabbed the top prize. I did actually consider going on to music college but by that point, I felt like I’d done everything I wanted to do already. Just when I was thinking of trying out something different, a friend complimented me on my voice. Hence, I enrolled in Amusement Media Academy to become a seiyuu. It was a really sudden change of plans (lol).

Q: If we’re talking about music, then your current line of work would still involve singing…

A: I think voices and instruments are two totally different things. I can play the trumpet but if you were to ask whether my singing was any good, then I’d say not at all (lol). I may understand things like pitch and rhythm, but to reproduce those ideas in sound, using my body…that’s a whole different story (lol).

Q: We’ll spread that story around then…how was it voicing Yuko…?

A: Hmmm I don’t know about that (lol). But I see Yuko being similar to myself, she’s a character who loves her seniors. What’s more, my beloved senior Nakaseko Kaori-san is voiced by Chihara Minori-san. I love Minorin! Also, the trumpet Yuko plays is silver, coincidentally the same colour as my own.

There was also this story in the anime about the school participating in the Sun Festival. When they showed Yuko playing the trumpet, I noticed that her stance was exactly the same as mine when I play. That surprised me (lol).

Q: You’re both totally in sync (lol).

A: Even our personalities are similar (lol). We’re moving towards the climax of the story now and there is still much in store for Yuko so everyone, please watch Hibike! Euphonium. The DVDs are being released in turn, so please look forward to that as well.

Q: You have also been voicing the role of Otosaki Kanon in Tribe Cool Crew since September last year.

A: Kanon is a girl who has been uploading her dance videos onto the internet. Initially, she was a very quiet person who rarely let her emotions show but she’s livened up a lot. You get to see a cheerful Kanon-chan now.

Q: Dance is the main theme of the story, and it seems there are dance scenes every episode.

A: There are scenes featuring Rhythm (note: Kanon’s internet persona), and the dancer whose movements were utilized for Rhythm had moves that were cool and a little different. It was difficult to express that feeling of lightness…somehow it ended up a little awkward (lol). Everyone else has tripped up over Rhythm’s part at least once (lol).

Once, I went to learn how to dance at Avex. My body was screaming out in pain but I had fun! Nowadays dance is a compulsory subject in elementary school, so kids and adults as well can enjoy watching the anime. It airs a little early at 7am on Sundays, but I hope that you can wake up and watch Tribe Cool Crew!

Q: Moving on to one of your most memorable roles – Yano Erika in SHIROBAKO. It was an anime filled with cute girls and amongst them, Yano-san stood out with her hairstyle and fashion as well as her slightly harsh way of speaking.

A: Yano-san was very popular, apparently even among the staff members (lol). She acts as a sounding board for the other characters so there is a bit of pressure there. I faced a bit of difficulty in that I was required to speak persuasively using words that were unfamiliar to me – it was my first time voicing a character such as Yano-san and I feel that I was able to grow together with her.

Q: You also voiced the role of Tatiana in Musashino Animation’s Third Girls’ Aerial Squad.

A: Everyone had multiple roles. While I was voicing Tatiana, I thought to myself “Ah, she’s starting to resemble Yano-san~”.

Q: The two Kyokai no Kanata movies – “The Past” and “The Future”, started screening in cinemas in March and April this year.

A: Kyokai no Kanata is very much a human drama. The movies focus on each character in turn, so the mysteries that were left over from the anime will be resolved. “The Past” is a retrospective look back on the events of the TV series so first-time viewers can enjoy it, while still being able to provide a richer experience for the anime’s viewers.

Q: Shindou Ai is a youmu disguised as a cute girl, isn’t she?

A: She’s a cute character but in truth, she’s lived many hundred years. You can sort of see that her ‘cuteness’ is intentional (lol). Still, that trait wasn’t that obvious in the TV anime or the movies. Letting her sarcastic side slip through might cause others to hate her, so she just focuses on being cute. You can see a bit of her ‘other side’ on the web anime.

Q: You visited Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto for (the movie’s) stage greetings, did you get to eat delicious foods?

A: I got to eat takoyaki in Osaka, Mitarashi dango in Kyoto and tenmusu in Nagoya. Also, since the events were held in movie theatres, there was always popcorn available backstage. I would stuff myself so full of popcorn that I had no appetite left for the local specialty foods (lol).

Q: You seem to get along well with your Kyokai no Kanata co-star Taneda Risa. When did the two of you start getting friendly with each other?

A: It was because of the Kyokai no Kanata radio show Fuyukai Radio. When we worked together on Genshiken Nidaime, we greeted each other saying “We’ll be together on Kyokai no Kanata following this”. As we spent so much time together all the way through to the radio, we became fast friends.

Q: Seeing photos of the two of you together, it seems that you both look quite similar.

A: Ah, people often tell us we look alike because we both have long, black hair, with the only difference being our (hair) partings. Our belongings appear to be similar as well. At the Kyoto event, we both wore star-patterned clothing, and when we went out on a date to Asakusa we wore the same shoes but in different colours. We went “Woah~!” at that (lol).

Q: Do your hobbies match?

A: I don’t think we’re similar to such an extreme level. My mom and I do share a theory though – that the two of us were twins in a previous life (lol).

Q: Being with her, during what times do you think “Ah, she’s a great girl?”

A: This will probably take an hour or so for me to talk about (lol). Anyway, she’s just really easy to get along with. She may appear quiet but easily slips into a jovial mood, plus she also has her airheaded moments. We probably think on the same wavelength. She surprised me on my birthday last year by making reservations for a restaurant. The bracelet I’m wearing now was a birthday gift from Tane-chan as well, and I always have it on. She looked up the effects behind precious stones and chose one that suited me. Tane-chan has the same one in a different colour, so they’re pair bracelets. I’ll make sure never to lose it (lol).

Q: Haha. You voice Chisa in Zettai Geigeki Wars, which will be released on 2nd July.

A: She’s a newbie operator who, if nothing else, has fighting spirit to the max. She’s also a bit dumb at times, but it’s pretty cute (lol). As her role involves the handling of data, her dialogue includes a lot of difficult operator-specific language and I spent plenty of time practising my lines.

Q: The world that’s shown in the videos looks really cool.

A: I wanna play it as soon as possible (lol)! You get to choose whichever operator you like and there are so many rich individual characters, from the cool types to the mature women. Though..I’d be glad if you would choose Chisa~ (lol). This rookie sends you her regards (lol).

Q: It seems like a game that will get more and more aggressive as it goes on, is that something you’re good at?

A: I’m confident of my overall gaming ability, so yes I do think I’ll probably do well (lol). Rather than playing with other people, I like to sit alone and hit the targets by myself. On my days off, I just want to speedrun through games (lol).

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the readers.

A: Thank you for reading until the end. I might hate having my photo taken but I’m sure that there will be that 1 miracle shot in there somewhere! In the future, I will take on any challenge where my voice is required. I love voice work so I hope that I can keep on doing it. I’d be happy if, after reading this article, you would reserve a little corner of your mind for Yamaoka Yuri.

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#76 – Seto Asami

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Name: Seto Asami (瀬戸 麻沙美)
DoB: 2 April 1993
Hometown: Saitama
Agency: Sigma Seven
Notable roles: Ayase Chihaya in Chihayafuru, Takatsuki Yoshino in Hourou Musuko, Miyamoto Konatsu in TARI TARI, Iona in WIXOSS, Onna in Death Parade

This is a translation of a short interview by Animate about how Asami became a seiyuu – by passing the 3rd edition of Sigma Seven’s open auditions. Previous applicants include Tamaru Atsushi, Ogame Asuka, Nishi Asuka and Fuchigami Mai.

Q: Do you have any interesting tales or memories from when you took the Sigma Seven auditions?

A: I was on my way to the second round of auditions but couldn’t find the venue so I had to call the number written on the guide sheet and say “I’m sorry, I’m lost”. When I knew I would get there late I thought to myself “Ah, I’m sure I’ve failed this”. However, I was still allowed to take part in the auditions but when I entered the waiting room I was taken aback by the sight of the other participants doing vocal exercises. To be honest I have little memory of what went on during the audition itself, but I do recall that I chose to sing during my self-PR segment. Why on earth did I sing. I might’ve been the one going through these things, but I myself understand little of my own actions (lol). The first time I ever stopped at that particular (train) station, the first time I met a variety of people – it was indeed a day filled with surprises.

Q: Please tell us why you wanted to become a seiyuu, and how you came to take the Sigma Seven auditions.

A: When I was in junior high I watched an anime called D.Gray-man and I was attracted to the performance of Kobayashi Sanae, who provided the voice of the lead role (Allen Walker) – this led to my interest in seiyuu. I was only vaguely dreaming about my future, but once I entered high school I started researching on how one could become a seiyuu. There were many different roads that others had taken in order to be able to do voice work, but I narrowed down the choices taking into account my status as a student as well as the environment I was in, my age and financial circumstances. And what I arrived at, was the Sigma Seven Audition. I had no idea what I was supposed to do for an audition but for the first time in my life, I recorded my own voice and had my photo taken in order to build my profile. When I look back on it now, the process was something that I knew so little about yet somehow, I was spurred to act purely on curiosity. “Let’s just give it a shot!” was how I approached it.

Q: Please tell us if there is anything you take particular care with when it comes to taking anime auditions.

A: For anime auditions, the basic flow goes like this – test, receive instructions, actual recording. During the test section, I utilize the information that I’ve already received beforehand to form my own impression of the role. When I receive instructions I use that information to present a different image of the character. While making sure not to be too stiff, I’ll try out for the character and if what I do suits the role perfectly, then that’s great.

Q: Please give some words of encouragement to those who are going to, as well as those who are thinking of taking the Sigma Seven Audition.

A: To those who are taking the audition, and even to those who are giving up on taking it – this is not the only road to becoming a seiyuu so please believe in the decisions you have made, and enjoy yourselves!

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Asami’s one for the 実力派 people. She’s never going to get the headlines, but she’ll be steadily landing roles.

I just think it’s great how Asami became a seiyuu because of Kobayashi Sanae, and by some amazing twist Sanae has just joined Sigma Seven. It’s fate!

#75 – Goto Saori

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Name: Goto Saori (後藤 沙緒里)
Nicknames: Saorin, Shaorin, 後藤 (弱), Sacchan [only for use by Shintani Ryoko & Tamura Yukari]
DoB: 8 January 1987
Hometown: Yokohama, Kanagawa
Agency: Freelance (formerly Broccoli, g-stella & 81produce)
SNS: Blog

In the Beginning…
It is easy to forget Saori is still just 28 years of age despite her 13 years of experience in the seiyuu industry. In 2002, she passed the 2nd set of auditions for Broccoli’s G.G.F (Gamers Guardian Fairies) project and subsequently made her début through the Galaxy Angel franchise.

Her first few years in the industry were eventful, for both good and bad reasons. On the one hand Broccoli was giving her quite the push with Galaxy Angel, G.G.F. and as part of airyth, an idol unit with fellow young newbie Iguchi Yuka. Saori however, didn’t appear to be able to cope with the pressures of work and school at the same time and her radio show Poro Poro Nikki often turned into a mess with Saori rambling and getting tearful over things like her pet dying. There was one slightly alarming episode in the show’s finale in September 2003 where she broke down when talking about her lack of confidence:

“I guess I’m just meticulous, or maybe it’s because I’m still a novice. Whenever I get worried about something, I always, really…really, I get so worried, there’s nothing I can do about it…I’m sorry. I’m always lacking confidence. Even other people’s eyes…I always feel conscious about them looking at me. But people tell me things like “Goto-san, you’re a bit airheaded aren’t you”. I want to say to them, “I’m not airheaded”. “I don’t actually think I’m airheaded at all” is what I’d like to tell them, but I get scared of how they’ll react. What if they think that I’m just a wolf in sheep’s clothing? I just can’t seem to say what I really feel. And I hate myself when I’m like that. That’s why there are so many things about myself I want to change.”

In 2005, Saori took a short hiatus from work commitments due to ‘health issues’ and returned later that year under a new agency g-stella, set up by Maezawa Hidenori and and former Broccoli employee 菅野貴史 (Kanno Takafumi?). In 2007 she once again shifted agencies to 81produce before eventually going freelance in October 2014, to most people’s surprise.

Work: Voice, Roles & Singing
Once upon a time, I described Saori as sounding “like a helium balloon”. She has a distinctly airy, erotic edge to her voice that is difficult to replicate, and possesses in her arsenal a variety of squeals and screams that have the ability to send both her colleagues and fans into a meltdown (more on that later).

For such a recognizably moe voice, her body of work is diverse. This video details some of her older roles – highlights include Galaxy Angel’s Chitose, Koi Koi 7’s Asuka Yayoi, Rozen Maiden’s Barasuishou, Rakugo Tennyo Oyui’s Tsukishima Yui and Sayonara Zetsubo-sensei’s Kaga Ai.

Saori is a Kumeta Koji favourite; she appeared in both the Sayonara Zetsubo-sensei and Joshiraku anime series and was also frequently featured in the Zetsubo-sensei manga ie. in chapter 166 there was a panel with a cake with the words “Happy Birthday Saorin” on it, there were parodies of her Goto (weak) nickname in chapter 216, and so on. Fans joke that Kaga Ai [description: A shy, insecure girl who constantly apologizes for trivial matters and things she didn’t even do] is Saori personified.

Additionally, Saori has accumulated a collection of odd roles, beginning with Toradora’s weirdo parakeet Inko-chan to the wordless Rise in Yuru Yuri to the freaky Kukuri in Joshiraku and Steins; Gate’s FB-obsessed Kiryuu Moeka. This season, she’s been cast as the procreation-obsessed Fuwa Hyouka in Shimoneta and creepy stalker Sadatsuka Nao in Shokugeki no Soma. Maybe it’s her personality that’s been influencing casting decisions…?

This Rozen Maiden drama CD segment The Barasuishou Makeover Project is one of my favourite pieces of voice acting featuring Saori, together with Sakurai Takahiro as Shirosaki & Ono Daisuke as Enju. Deadpan moe ftw.

Saori also had a singing career, though her last release was back in 2008. She released 1 single, 2 albums & 4 mini-albums in total on the Konami label, with her later works featuring self-written lyrics as well as contributions from Tange Sakura.

Just what kind of person is Saori?
She has always been a strange person to grasp, has Saori. Leaving aside that ancient dark history of her crying episodes, I can understand why people say she’s ‘airheaded’; the things she says and does some times are just so hard to fathom that all I can do is go ????. The general perception of Saori is that she is ‘fragile’ and other seiyuu (Hi, Inoue Marina) talk about wanting to protect her. She can also be rather gloomy and also quite scary thanks to her (un)intentionally cutting remarks. She appears to function better in one-on-one situations (radio, interviews) – in larger groups, she’s always the one spacing out.

The weak Goto-san
One of Saori’s nicknames is 後藤 (弱) or Goto (weak). The name first appeared in a mail on Sayonara Zetsubo-sensei’s radio show Zetsubo Hoso, where a listener apologized to Saori for describing her to a friend who was not familiar with seiyuu as ‘the weak Goto-san’. Kamiya Hiroshi and Shintani Ryoko both agreed that this might not necessarily mean that Saori was weak, but was more likely due to the fact that the other Goto-san in the cast (Goto Yuko) was simply too strong. Both nicknames ended up sticking and even now, people still refer to them as 後藤 (弱) and 後藤 (強) [even on news channels]…though some do joke that those nicknames should be reversed now that Goto (strong) is still on semi-hiatus due to illness.

The urban legend of Sawashiro Miyuki & Goto Saori
These two have known each other for ages, right from when Saori debuted and throughout the years where they’ve worked together in series like Galaxy Angel, Zetsubo-sensei and Rozen Maiden. Fans jokingly call them ‘natural enemies’ as they are the antithesis of each other, personality-wise. Where one is serious, the other one is always smiling. One is intense, one is forever “my pace”. One is focused, one seems to always be one step behind. It’s said that Miyuki the perfectionist has always been hard on Saori in the studio and got so exasperated with her that at some point she remarked “Goto-san, why on earth did you become a seiyuu?”.

The following story has no source and is more likely than not a fan-written joke but illustrates their love-hate relationship well.

“One day, Sawashiro was faring quite badly in the studio, repeatedly messing up her lines. She was also feeling a little depressed over a personal matter. Wishing to pour out her frustrations, Sawashiro typed up a mail saying “I hate myself” and instead of sending it to her mom as she intended, she missent it to Goto instead. Forever-slow-Goto took 5 minutes to respond and her mail read ‘Please don’t say that you hate the person that I love’”.

Scary to juniors
A listener mail on Joshiraku radio #09 asks Sakura Ayane if she’s scared of her seiyuu seniors. Goto-san then goes on to ask Ayane if she’s scared of her – Ayaneru’s answer: “I wouldn’t say I’m scared of Goto-san. It’s more like a feeling of…unfathomable despair. The feeling you get when you encounter an UMA (Unidentified Mysterious Animal)”.

Scary to guys
Sugita Tomokazu’s initial impression of Saori: “Someone I should never touch. The girls around her are always saying that they want to protect her. Once at an after-party for a Zetsubo-sensei event, I accidentally brushed my right arm against her and she screamed out loud. I thought to myself ‘This person is someone whom I shouldn’t talk to’. But Kamiya (Hiroshi) told me ‘She’s alright. She just freaked out a little. Why are you worrying about silly little things like that as if you’re a virgin?’”. Sugita also mentions that Saori is a great listener, giving an example of how he once mailed Saori at 2.30am in the morning after watched Steins;Gate complimenting her on her performance as Moeka, his favourite character in the show. She sent him an essay-length reply at 3.30am. After that their relationship improved where they could chat about things like Pretty Rhythm (which Saori is part of) and Sugita now treats her the same way he treats his male juniors.

The (weird) things Saori says and does
Saori tends to say the most inappropriate things at the most inappropriate times. She’s a bit like Kobayashi Yu in that she’s a walking time bomb who catches people off guard – you never know what she’s going to say or do, and whether her words and actions are deliberate or not. As a result of her weirdness she’s become the subject of various memes, most notably ‘boiled hair’ and ‘sadface Saori’.

Q: “If you could be a guy for one day what would you do?”
A: “Hit on girls”

“I don’t own a PC”
“I love money”
“I want to be reincarnated as a big tree in a safe place where I can watch over the world”

Shimoneta, Ero Shaori
From Digimaji event:
Kitaeri: Thanks for the food!
(Saori feeds her cake)
[crowd = Does it taste good?]
Kitaeri: It tastes of Saori~ So Saori, which part would you like?
Saori: Eh~~ Eri-chan, you can have your way with me.
(Kitaeri tries to feed her cake)
Saori: No way, you’re too big!

(in Shimoseka studio, to Ishigami Shizuka): Kobayashi [Yusuke]-san appears to be bending over, doesn’t he?

Ayaneru tickling Saori under the armpits to get her to whimper erotically

About kabedon
Saori: At the studio the other day, we were talking about this. And I concluded that I like it from the back.
Kitaeri: …can you say that one more time?
Saori: I like it from the back.
Kitaeri: Thanks, we got that down clearly.
Saori: I’m talking about kabedon, you know?
Kitaeri: How do you do a kabedon from the back?
Saori: Like this (demonstrates).
———————————————-
Kitaeri: So Saori-san, you’re fine with the idea of kabedon itself?
Saori: It’s good.
Kitaeri: Oh I see. So we can look forward to Saori-san in kabedon situations.
Saori: Yeap.
Kitaeri: Is it limited to guys? How about with girls?
Saori: Girls are fine. I’d do it with a girl.

Don’t confess to Goto-san
Ayaneru: I think it’d be hard to confess directly to Goto-san.
Saori: Eh, why would you say that?
Ayaneru: ‘cos it seems like you’d cut me down swiftly.
Saori: I don’t think I would..
Ayaneru: I mean if I said it right now, like…”Goto-san, will you go out with me?”
Saori: Why?
Ayaneru: See?? My heart just broke.
Saori: No no, it’s not like that..
Ayaneru: Then why??
Saori: It’s different…I mean, how about feelings?
Ayaneru: OK then. I like Goto-san.
Saori: What do you like about me?
Ayaneru: Your mysterious aura. Your silky hair.
Saori: Would you like to boil my hair?
Ayaneru: B-O-I-L? Yes I want to boil your hair. So will you go out with me?
Saori: Hmmm…I wonder…
Ayaneru: That’s something else I like about you.
Saori: Eh? Which part?
Ayaneru: How you can be a little bit suggestive…I find that irresistible.
Saori: Please stop that, you’re being frivolous.
Ayaneru: FRIVOLOUS??? I’M BEING FRIVOLOUS??????

Creepy confessions
Tanaka Rie: What was your first impression of me?
Saori: To tell the truth, you are totally my type.
Rie: Eh? What? What?
Saori: You’re really my type.
Rie: What do you mean?
Saori: Everything about you.
Rie: Everything?
Saori: You’re irresistible.
Rie: What? I don’t understand.
[source]

Mood killer
Saori guested on Anime TV in 2008, which was being hosted by Fujita Saki, and totally killed the show within the first minute – after Sakki introduced Saori and noted that she was “the most ‘my pace’ guest we’ve ever had”, Saori suddenly clapped her hands and said “I just remembered that I owe you money”. (story – one day, Saori had forgotten to bring her purse and didn’t have enough money left on her Suica to take the train, so Sakki lent her some money).

Later on in the same show Sakki asks her if she’s been into anything lately and Saori answers ‘flower arrangement’. Sakki asks how she got into it and Saori answers “I woke up one day and felt like doing it”.

How she spends a typical day off
gotodayoff
0200-0900 sleeping
0900-1500 clean up, laundry, cook
1500-1800 space out
1800-1930 cook, clean up
1930-2400 bath
2400-0200 clean up

Yes she apparently spends 4+ hours in the bath, but she doesn’t really remember what she does there. She does say that she brings her mobile in some times and that she wrecked the last when she dropped it in the bath, so she now owns a waterproof mobile phone.

saori01
OK this is out of context.

What fans do to Saori
Yes everyone thinks she’s weak.

Sadface Saori
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Someone made figures with that face.

Saori 4koma
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last panel: Goto-san, this ain’t gonna end even if ya keep cryin’

That scary video
A purported anti-abuse Advertising Council video for the Hokuriku region featuring Goto’s narration was uploaded onto Youtube. The content was fairly scary & disturbing, talking about airguns and domestic abuse and a lot of people believed it was real despite some fairly obvious signs of fakery ie. choppy dialogue & a Kajiura Yuki soundtrack.

Utsu Utsu Mode
Another lol MAD picking up some of Saori’s depressing dialogue (I have my limits/I died/it’s tough, isn’t it/don’t come near me/sorry/what the hell did you do/so scary).

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On a more serious note, here’s an interview with Saori from 2010.
7x_goto_1
Q: Please tell us why you aimed to become a seiyuu.
A: I joined the drama club when I was in junior high, and I found acting to be fun. We were just a minor club from a minor school, but we had a tremendous teacher who spurred us on until we made our way all through to the regionals, and the prefectural tournament. I think I really did enjoy the whole process. Then, when I was in high school I applied for an open audition, making light of it and wondering “How do these things work?”. And then I found out that I had passed.

Q: The road to becoming a seiyuu opened up from there?
A: After some time, I received opportunities to do voice work but back then, I had little knowledge of the seiyuu world and I had the impression that it was such a unique world. Obviously I had no experience so I had to learn on the job; the sound directors and actors would teach me a lot of things during recordings. At times, I would be scolded severely by sound directors in the studio, and I would think about it in my own childish way – “I want to stay in this world, I’m being paid for this, I’ve got to try harder…”.

Q: That isn’t the type of resolve that people easily possess. That shows professionalism, doesn’t it?
A: All of that came because I wanted to survive. People around me would say that I had a type of personality that was rarely seen – somehow or rather I had my own kind of ‘individuality’ that was cultivated based on the atmosphere of the studio I was in. Depending on the type of role I had, it appears that there were times others would look at me and think – “Goto-san, no matter what it is you’re doing, you always seem to be enjoying yourself” (lol). Still, when I feel that there is much expected of me, I cannot help but go all out. I want to live up to expectations.

Q: Haha. Is there anything you’re especially careful about when it comes to acting?
A: To be sincere towards any one role. I consider carefully – “what would this character be thinking of, why would (she) say such words?”

Q: Do you that even if you have read the script and found no common ground with the character? Would you still keep thinking about it?
A: I would keep thinking about it. I have received these words of advice before – “It’s good that you’re so diligent, but at some point you’re just going to end up hitting a wall”. I do try to take care but…it’s just my nature.

Q: Does this mean you would dislike playing characters you don’t identify with at all?
A: Human beings are made up of many different elements, one can be both “bright” and “dark”; no one word is sufficient to describe a person. Even if a role appears to be far removed from who I am, there are certainly elements that said character shares with myself. It depends on what I do to draw out those elements, or what I do to bring out the best in the role…”I wonder if humans all possess the ability to grasp any role well…?” or so I start to think. Of course, I do believe that experience and skills are a prerequisite.

Q: As a seiyuu, is there anything you would like to try out in the future?
A: A seiyuu’s job scope is very wide so in the future, I would like to take on anything, no matter what it may be.

Q: You’re full of curiosity, aren’t you?
A: That’s right. I want to test myself – what it is I am capable of doing, I want to try things out. However, I never want to lose sight of “myself”. Whatever work I do, I want to make sure that I leave “my” mark on it; it would be wonderful I could take on various genres to see how “I” am needed for them. To me, what’s most important is to see my fans happy, so I will work hard to meet everyone’s expectations.

———————————————————————————————————
Personally
I can honestly say I didn’t always like her. In fact, I felt a certain bit of animosity towards Saori when Broccoli cast her in their Galaxy Angel franchise as Karasuma Chitose and by default, became a member of the Galaxy Angel Tai unit. What’s this 17-year old kid doing alongside Sawashiro Miyuki, Tamura Yukari, Shintani Ryoko, Yamaguchi Mayumi and Kanai Mika? This was gori-oshi to me, before the term even existed.

Over the years I’ve been thoroughly won over by Saori. Really, really love her now. Seeing her grow from a cute-but-awkward teenager to a ero-voice oneesan with a penchant for dirty jokes has been strangely surreal, but her journey has been tough and I’m happy to see that she’s come out of difficult circumstances stronger. PS please remain ero-ero forever, Saorin~~

#74 – Ito Kanae

74_ito
Name: Ito Kanae (伊藤 かな恵)
DoB: 26 November 1986
Hometown: Nagano
Agency: Aoni Production
Height: 147cm

I wonder if people consider somebody like Ito Kanae a ‘veteran’ nowadays. She made her début in 2007 and has built up an extensive body of work over these 8 years, though she has become somewhat less prominent of late. This season, you can catch her work in Pripara, tldr 2nd, Aikatsu!, GOD EATER and Fate Prisma Illya.

This Animate corner featured “post-interviews” that Animate did for the seiyuu corner Voice Switch that was available to Animax subscribers. Kanae’s ran in March this year.

Q: How was recording today?

A: I had a lot of fun talking about various topics! I don’t get that many opportunities to do self-reflection, so putting my thoughts into words allowed me to notice certain things for the first time. There were also things that I had never mentioned before this.

Q: There were many questions asked today, were there any that were particularly memorable for you?

A: The question that went “What have your emotions been like lately?”. I felt a bit troubled. It’s hard to filter and consider your own feelings, isn’t it? Eventually…I ended up talking about things that were almost out of bounds, if you know what I mean.

Q: Ah, that “story”*. (lol)

A: Yes, that “story”. “Is it alright to talk about this~, would it be pointless~?” it was a fine line between those two thoughts (lol).

Q: We look forward to the airing (lol).

*The “story”: during New Year’s eve Kanae had influenza and wanted to go home to spend the holidays with her family but her mother told her not to so she wouldn’t spread her germs…it was the first time in her life Kanae felt so lonely 😦
——————————————————————————–
Les Miserables – helped broaden my views

Q: You talked about “loving theatre since your school days” – have you gone to see any theatre shows recently?

A: At the end of last year I went to see Mozart, which Hirano Aya-chan appears in. There are also a lot of stage productions based on manga and games of late; I have been to see quite a few of them.

Q: Could you name any one work from those you’ve seen so far that made you think “This is amazing!”

A: I just mentioned Hirano Aya-chan – the actual reason why we get along so well is because I went to watch the Les Miserables musical that she was a part of. I had never seen the film version before so the stage show she appeared in was my first time experiencing the story and it was truly amazing! Obviously the name of the show itself holds much power, but watching it made me realize just how great a musical, utilizing music and with virtually no dialogue, could be….the impact I felt then was just amazing!

Q: Do the things you learn from watching stage shows affect you in any way?

A: That is exactly what Les Miserables has done for me! Normally I only watch Japanese films as I can’t keep up with the subtitles for foreign language films – by the time I’ve read the words he scene has already changed…while for dubbed films I tend to slip into seiyuu mode and treat it as research and think “Ah, so that’s how you’d express such a phrase!”, which means I don’t actually get to enjoy watching the film itself.
Thus, I think Les Miserables, which I only watched because I was determined to see more foreign films, has helped to expand my horizons.

Q: What do you see as being the appeal of theatre?

A: I think that the appeal lies in being able to see the performers, who can touch viewers’ hearts, live in the flesh. It’s true that making an anime out of a given original work can be very difficult, but adapting the source material for a stage requiring actual people to fill the roles is even tougher.
What makes an actor amazing, in my opinion, is when he or she is able to bring out his or her own charms without killing the character’s personality. With things like ad-libs, one can instantly make a character more vibrant than in the original work and that can be heart-gripping for the viewer as well. The moment I see something like this happening, I’ll get incredibly excited and thinking “This person is a genius!” (lol).

Future goal is to become “an unchanging presence”

Q: Moving on, what would you say was the most fun experience you have had as a seiyuu?

A: There have been many, but if I had to pick one I’d say Shugo Chara! recordings. Shugo Chara! was my first ever proper work as a seiyuu standing at a mic, so the show is of great significance to me. Especially Hinamori Amu-chan, whom I voice my family has even said to me that “she’s exactly like you, Kanae”. I spent a long time with this character, so I have great fondness for her. It was tough when I was voicing her but once it was over I could say what a “fun” production it was!

Q: Tell us what you have lined up.

A: The première for the theatrical version of Pripara, in which I voice Akai Meganee, will be on March 7 (Saturday). It features a different storyline so I’d be glad if you could come to the cinema and watch it not just once or twice, but three or four or more times. Also, the TV anime version of Pripara will be continuing this spring, so please look forward to it!

Q: Like its predecessor Pretty Rhythm that first started 5 years ago, Pripara looks set to be another long-running work.

A: That’s right. Pretty Rhythm was originally an arcade game where there were little gems decorated with clothing designs coordinated to the characters that girls (players) would happily collect, seeing how “prettily everyone shines”. It’s the same feeling I get from Shugo Chara! – seeing kids playing the games or watching the shows with smiles on their faces makes me feel happy as well. I’d love for (Pripara) to go on forever.

Q: Do you have any future goals that you’ve drawn up for yourself?

A: I talked about this a little during recording as well – I’d love to broaden my acting skills, I want to keep on growing but at the same time, remain who I am going forward!

Q: So you want to “be yourself”.

A: Yes. I’m basically a lively person. That’s why I want to share a variety of things with other people and entertain them as well so that I too, can have fun. I’d love to be able to create a world where everyone can be as noisy as they want at any given time! As for the future, I wish to become a familiar, “unchanging presence”.

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the readers.

A: For this edition of Voice Switch, I had the chance to talk about episodes that I’d never touched upon up until now, and I was also able to reflect on certain things on the spot. Please watch the show, and I’d be glad if you could enjoy it while thinking “Ah, so that’s what it is!”

Q: Thanks for the good work!
——————————————————————-
Yeah I translated this short piece because (i) I found it interesting that Kanae and Aya get along well & (ii) it seems a while since I last heard Kanae in a lead role (Okami Shojo to Kuro Oji).

Here’s a two-shot of Kanae + Hirano Aya from May, when Kanae went to see Les Mis (from Aya’s blog):
74_aya_kanae

#73 – Omigawa Chiaki

73_omigawd
Name: Omigawa Chiaki (小見川 千明)
DoB: 11 November 1989
Hometown: Kanagawa
Agency: Hirata Office

Translation of Da Vinci’s interview with Omigawd. No, I still can’t stomach her acting…I was hoping to gain some insight into her mindset from this interview and all I can tell is that she’s still behaving like a newcomer, a whole 7 years after Soul Eater.

Q: You will appear in the anime GOD EATER, which starts airing in July. Your character Kusunoki Licca is a popular character said to be the waifu of many players.

A: She’s a girl who spends most of her time in the maintenance room, earnestly awaiting the return of the protagonist. Whenever he breaks his God Arc, he’ll come to see Licca. She’s really cute, but above all she’s an expert in maintenance with unrivalled knowledge of God Arcs, so I tried to play her as someone who’s capable rather than someone who’s cute.

Q: There are some pretty prominent seiyuu in the cast list.

A: Honestly, all these people are on a level where someone like me would feel embarrassed to be in their presence – I could feel my back muscles tensing up just by sharing the same recording booth as them. At first I was really nervous, but I was able to relax because Koyama Rikiya-san was there. I’ve worked together with Koyama-san many times, starting from my début work Soul Eater. He’s someone who often helps to calm (me) down during recording sessions.

Q: Have you had a chance to see the completed visuals?

A: I’ve only seen a little, but the graphics are gorgeous enough to make you think that it’s a movie you’re watching. I think it’s going to be amazing to have such visuals on a TV broadcast!

Q: You’ve also been appointed as the anime’s publicity chief, haven’t you?

A: Yes, together with Ito Kanae. It seems there will be opportunities for events so I am looking forward to meeting fans of the show. I think the gameplayers will attend as well, so I hope we’ll all have fun together. I believe people who have ploughed hours and hours of play time into the game will feel strongly about the anime. I hope to ensure that (this) will not only not betray their feelings, but will also exceed their expectations.

Q: And for the spring cour, you voice Mori Sono in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.

A: I was still in high school when The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi was broadcast on TV. At the time, I had not even considered the possibility of becoming a seiyuu.

Q: She’s the teaching advisor of the literary club and cuts an impressive figure in her red jersey. She’s not only a teacher, but she’s a maid as well.

A: She’s a mysterious woman. That’s why I found recordings tough. In “Disappearance”, the characters’ personalities have changed from the previous series so I wondered about how I should handle Mori-san. When I asked staff members, they told me “Play her as a capable maid!” (lol). Her twintails give her a cute image and I was thinking that she would have a warm and fuzzy feel to her, so to be told that she should be a “capable maid”…(lol). That’s why I made sure that I was careful with her speech, for example omitting the “ra”s*.

*there has been quite a fuss kicked up about the younger generation’s tendency to omit “ra”s from verb conjugations (termed “ra-nuki”//ら抜き). See discussions on this issue: in English & Japanese

Q: Given how extensive the Haruhi series is, you would have to take care when ‘creating’ the role, wouldn’t you?

A: I did feel a certain amount of pressure on coming into such a renowned title halfway through. I was very conscious of the (opinions of the) people who have worked to create the world that the story is based in. What I find funniest is that I voice the teacher despite being the youngest cast member (lol).

Note: Mori Sono was voiced by Omae Akane in the original Haruhi series. Omae has since retired from voice acting.

Q: Did you feel pressure during recording as well?

A: Yes I did. But I received support from my co-stars. Sugita (Tomokazu)-san asked me “Hey, how old are you now?”. When we first met I was just 19, so when I told him “I’ve turned 25 now”, he started to get depressed over the fact that he was getting older (lol).

Q: Kyon, whom Sugita voices, is a very kind person in “Disappearance” as well, isn’t he?

A: As a matter of fact, everyone is very kind and that creates a world that is filled with compassion. Just watching it heals your heart. Even so, I think it’s great that we still have Haruhi around; as ever, she remains the Haruhi we know. I was moved by the scene where she first appears, thinking to myself “Ah..this is Haruhi~”. This show is a perfect balance between the world of “Disppearance” and a Haruhi who never changes.

Q: You have appeared in numerous shows up to this point – is there any one Omigawa Chiaki work that you’d like people to check out?

A: I made my début at age 18 and I’ve always wanted to shout out loud about the works I’ve been blessed to have been involved with so in truth, I’d love it if people could watch all of them but…if I had to pick just one then I’d say Natsu no Arashi!.

Q: Your début TV anime role came in the work preceding that (Natsu no Arashi!) – as Maka Alban in Soul Eater, wasn’t it?

A: Yes. The Soul Eater (cast) is like family to me, so I actually consider Natsu no Arashi! (role: Kamigamo Jun) as my first ‘independent’ piece of work.

Soul Eater sound director Wakabayashi (Kazuhiro) is someone who will carefully guide you along the way, saying to me “This is what Maka thinks, so you yourself will have to consider how you should get to the same point, otherwise it is meaningless”. He allowed as many retakes as possible, took time to give me pointers. The cast was full of veterans as well, so it was a workplace where I was confident that I would walk the right path as long as I listened to the words of the director and my seniors.

Q: So what did it feel like when you flew the nest?

A: It felt like my first day in kindergarten (lol).

Q: Do you have any worries regarding recording sessions?

A: Sound director Tsuruoka (Yota) is the type of director who leaves the performance up to his actors; he’ll let you go about things freely and then pick up on points when he needs to. Up until then, I’d never had any experience of freestyle acting so I went “Eh?” and wondered what I was supposed to do. (Natsu no Arashi!) is a gag show so Sugita-san and Yasumoto (Hiroki)-san went all out with their ad-libs. “Wow, it’s okay to say things that aren’t in the script~~” is what I thought (lol).

Compared to the first season, Season 2 was gags all the way so it did feel rather embarrassing to be the only one who wasn’t putting in ad-libs. It would’ve been silly for me to hide in a corner so I tried my best to open up.

Q: So you tried to do ad-libs as well?

A: Yes. It was supposed to be a line of dialogue while (my character is) breathing, so for the first time I went to the director and told him what I wanted to do. I felt pressured, wondering what I’d do if my suggestions differed from the character’s perceived image. But thanks to that, I feel like this show represents the first time I took a step on my own.

Q: By the way, you seem to have voiced a lot of maids. Arashiyama Hotori from Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru has a part-time job at a maid café as well.

A: Yeah, my maids-to-anime ratio is quite high! Natsu no Arashi! and Soremachi both had maid cafés as part of their settings, Mami-chan from Mouretsu Pirates worked in a maid café, in Seiken Tsukai no World Break (my character) wore a maid outfit, and now, in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki, Mori Sono-chan is a capable maid. What’s more, most of them wear old-fashioned, long-flowing maid clothing and not modern styles (lol).

Q: That’s amazing!

A: I secretly proclaim myself as the “Maid Seiyuu” (lol). To the point where during auditions, if the character is as a maid I am certain that I will get the role (lol). Oh, and I forgot to mention Minko-chan from Hana Saku Iroha – the drama CD that came after the anime had her working in a maid café as well!

Q: It seems there’s no doubt that you’re a magnet for maid roles (lol). Have you ever worn maid outfits yourself?

A: I have worn them for photo shoots before and honestly speaking, that made me really excited (lol). Still, I have never bought maid outfits myself nor have I worked in a maid café before. I think if I ever bought a maid outfit, I’d never be able to return to normal (lol).

Q: Lol. Is there anything you like to collect?

A: Yeah I do have a bit of a hoarding streak in me. For example, I own 4 copies of the “Night on the Galactic Railroad” picture book by Miyazawa Kenji, who I love.

Q: Wow!!

A: The illustrations may differ, which is why I love collecting all versions of my favourite authors’ works. Both new and old translations included.

I also collect photos of Miyazawa Kenji when he was a boy as well as any photo collections with his picture in them, and I also collect the works of authors who study the works of Miyazawa Kenji. I enjoy comparing and contrasting my own views against the opinions of other writers.

If anyone out there reads Miyazawa Kenji, I would like to recommend “The Nighthawk Star (Yodaka no Hoshi)” and “Twin Stars (Futago no Hoshi)”! It’s fun to unravel the story alongside the characters.

Q: Come to think of it, you even own the planetarium DVD edition of Night on the Galactic Railroad which features Kuwashima Houko’s narration, don’t you?

A: (Yes), since I love Miyazawa Kenji and Houko-san’s acting as well. I was invited to see Houko-san’s live recital plays as well! (She) even brought me out for a meal and that made me happy.

I have an interest in the constellations so if there is ever an opportunity, I would love to take on the challenge of narration work for a planetarium. I often go to visit them myself. I will go whenever I have gaps between my schedules.

Q: You have written poetry before – do you like writing in general?

A: I’m the sort of person who finds it easier to convey my feelings through writing rather than with spoken words so when I want to get my feelings in order – I write.

Q: Tell us what kind of seiyuu you are hoping to be in the future.

A: This is something I’ve been thinking about this for a long while – I’d like to grow old along with my characters. Someday, I hope to be able to play maternal roles. Hence my ultimate goal is to play a grandma! In the many years to come, I will handle each and every one of my performances with care so that I can get closer to my ideals.

Q: Last of all, please leave your thoughts for the readers!

A: Thanks for reading all the way to the end. GOD EATER will begin this summer so I hope that you will enjoy both the game and the anime! Going forward, I hope to have a long-lasting career – there may be times when people who are cheering on me on have worries over me but please do not fear. I would be grateful if you would continue to watch over me at your own pace.

#72 – Ishigami Shizuka

72_ishigami
Name: Ishigami Shizuka (石上 静香)
Nickname: Zucchi (a name from her time in Kneesocks)
DoB: 14 September 1988 in Tokyo
Agency: Pro-Fit (formerly 81produce)

In my last post I mentioned how seiyuu usually only change agencies if they’re not happy with their management (or they’re following their old managers) or the way their careers are going. Maybe they’re not getting acting jobs or even auditions and the situation can drag on fo years until they quit acting altogether, or they can try to change their fortunes.

I’d like to point out Ishigami Shizuka as one of the latter group of people – she’s a rare case of a seiyuu who got absolutely nowhere at her original agency and has only turned her career around after shifting companies. Ishigami joined 81produce after graduating from Tokyo Media Academy’s seiyuu vocal class and made her debut in a bit-part role in 2010 in Bakuman, but made zero headway in the three or so years she was there. Her only notable anime appearance when she was in 81p was in Cardfight!! Vanguard as Tobita Mai, a role she was forced to vacate when she left the agency (it was taken over by Okubo Rumi). Within a few months of joining Pro-Fit in early 2014, Ishigami was voicing the second-lead heroine Kiyuna Kiriko in Kenzen Robo Daimidaler, her first ever role won through an audition.

Currently, Ishigami is voicing the lead roles of Kajo Ayame in Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Sekai and Tobitatsu Haneru in kids’ show Tribe Cool Crew, as well as Mito Ikumi in Shokugeki no Soma and Leiur in Symphogear. She will also voice the lead role of Stella Vermillion in upcoming autumn anime Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry. Other minor roles of hers you may know: Kashiwagi in Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, Ellis Fahrengart in Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance and Syr in Danmachi.

Voice-wise, she has often been compared to Inoue Marina, Koshimizu Ami and Shiraishi Ryoko. I would also like to offer Kobayashi Sanae as a comparison – Ishigami’s voice is similarly husky and pitched lower, enabling her to pull off both young boys and sexy oneesans with ease. She also appears to be competing with Hikasa Yoko in the ero heroine stakes – they worked together on Daimidaler and both were fun to listen to.

Ishigami is also a pretty good singer, was part of Kneesocks (Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance) and was tapped for the Tsukiuta project this year. Check out some of her singing:

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance ED
Duet with Hanae Natsuki for Daimidaler
Duet with Kobayashi Yuusuke for Shimoseka
Tsukiuta

I translated Q&A with Ishigami from earlier this year (source here, with videos featuring her Tribe Cool Crew colleague Hara Yuko):

Q1. Why you became a seiyuu.
A: Because I wanted to become a magic user.

There are two reasons I wanted to become a seiyuu, this was one of them!
I wanted to do things that I couldn’t do for real. How wonderful it is to breathe life into an anime character, it’s like I’m casting a magic spell!
(the other reason is something that’s more realistic!)

Q2. Recommended movies, books, manga.
A: Total Recall.

I’m referring to the 2012 remake of the 1990 original*. It’s set in a future where the gap between the rich and poor has widened significantly. The protagonist of the story learns about, and pursues “the implantation of his favourite memories in brain in order to enjoy life more”.

I really like the climax of this movie, I highly recommend it!

*note: both were based on the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale

Q3. What you are addicted to now (hobbies etc)
A: Caramel latte. Watching videos.

Whenever I stop by a cafe I’ll order caramel latte. I like it hot!
Rather than being addicted to watching videos, it’s just something that’s become a daily routine for me.
I’ll fire up some of my favourite videos to watch while I’m eating breakfast.

Q4: The first thing you do when you wake up.
A: Play mobile games (while still in my futon)

I can’t get out of bed immediately after I open my eyes so I let my eyes adjust by playing games!

Q5. What you must do before you go to sleep.
A: Take a bath.

I love taking a piping hot bath just before I go to bed.
I think it helps me sleep better.

Q6. A person you admire most, or seiyuu.
A: Parents.

The ones who are always cheering me on at all times, the ones who understand me the most, the ones who are always supporting me. The gratitude I feel towards my dad and my mom now that I have grown up. Thank you for your unconditional love.

Q7. The good things about being a seiyuu.
A: Putting a smile on people’s faces.

When I can put a smile on the faces of the people who watch my anime and characters. This isn’t something I can do by relying on my own strengths. That is why I am truly, truly happy when someone like me can help put a smile on somebody else’s face.
Anime is wonderful.

Q8. An anime character you fell in love with.
A: Kenzen Robo Daimidaler’s Shoma-kun.

Recently, I really like Shoma-kun from Kenzen Robo Daimidaler!
Having these feelings makes it easier for me to play my characters so it seems natural for me to be attracted to them!
I’d also like to mention Tribe Cool Crew’s Haneru-kun! I voice him myself, but his lines and movements are just so straightforward and cute…I love him! If I went to the same junior high school I’d definitely fall for him!

Q9. What kind of seiyuu would you like to be in the future.
A: “When you’re in trouble, call on Ishigami Shizuka!”

“This character’s tough…what should we do?”
“Hmm, let’s just leave it to Ishigami Shizuka!”
I want to be the kind of seiyuu who can do anything!

Q10. Place of birth, dialects (languages).
A: Tokyo.

I was born and bred in Tokyo so regrettably, I know no dialects.
Kansai-ben, Kyoto-ben etc – it’s fun listening to dialects, I love them!

Watching Shimoseka and its related programmes, you can tell Ishigami has zero inhibitions + a super dirty mouth, freely spewing vulgarities much to the bemusement of her male co-star Kobayashi Yuusuke. Her audition involved screaming man〇〇 & chin〇〇 at the top of her lungs and she still got the role despite misreading the character Onigashira Kosuri’s name (鬼頭 鼓修理) as Kito Kosuri…alas, we’ll have to wait ’til the blurays for completely uncensored dialogue. Looking forward to hearing Ishigami simulating sex between flies in its full glory!

#71 – Seiyuu castings, earnings & everything in-between

I read Otsuka Akio’s book Seiyuu Damashii recently. It’s not so much a tell-it-all on the industry as it is a primer for wannabe seiyuu on what they should and should not do to survive in the business, but it does reaffirm a lot of my general thoughts & opinions about the industry.

There are a lot of misconceptions people – not only fans, but aspiring seiyuu themselves, have about the seiyuu industry. These cover everything from salary expectations to the casting process to the role of agencies & managers. I am by no means any expert nor do I have any juicy insider information to impart, but here’s getting down in writing stuff that is swimming in my brain.

Warning: Extremely tl;dr, Unorganized Great Wall of Text follows. My thoughts, not necessarily yours.

Casting & Auditions
・Let’s go through the casting process, roughly:

1. Preliminary consultation meetings involving authors, producers, sponsors, director & sound director
2. Sound director contacts agencies to let them know about auditions (if any)
3. Auditions are held
4. More meetings held to discuss & finalize casting
5. Agencies are notified of the decision

・Auditions can take place any time from more than a year before, to just a couple of months away from airtime. In most cases, auditions are only for the main characters. Supporting roles are usually left to the sound director’s discretion.

・The most important considerations in casting seiyuu for anime: budget constraints & keeping those damned producers & sponsors happy. In an ideal world directors would cast experienced, top-ranked seiyuu, but not every show has a budget the size of One Piece’s. Hence the trend of casting ‘popular’, fresh seiyuu who are still within junior ranks and earning peanuts.

・There are two main ways to determine seiyuu castings – the ‘hard-coded’ castings demanded by authors, sponsors and producers, and those that are done through the traditional audition system. Sometimes, the cast can already be in place before a sound director is even hired.

・The author does have a big say in casting. Hata Kenjiro for example, specifically asked for Shiraishi Ryoko (and possibly also Tanaka Rie, Ito Shizuka & Kugimiya Rie) in Hayate no Gotoku!. Takahashi Rumiko anime will always feature Yamaguchi Kappei. And so on.

・Sponsors and producers have a bigger and bigger say in seiyuu castings. Aniplex & SME famously love exerting their powers over anime castings by way of shoving in the Music Ray’n girls in exchange for production dollars yen – package deals, basically. It used to be the case with Tomatsu Haruka, and now it is so with Amamiya Sora. I’m wondering by this point how many roles Amamiya has actually ‘won’ through auditions. You could probably count the number on one hand.

・Increasingly, producers and sponsors want to cast ‘popular’ seiyuu. This refers to both male and female seiyuu who have a considerably large number of fans, whose names can help sell event tickets, merchandise and so on. They can also be employed to do cheap PR for the show through radio, magazines, events etc.

・These ‘popular’ seiyuu usually have a short shelf life; once they’re out of junior ranks times will be tougher. Not to mention (kuso-DD) fans these days tend to have short memories where ‘popularity’ is as permanent as a cloud drifting by. In this respect male seiyuu tend to do better as the rabid fujoshi fanbase’s loyalty is not to be underestimated.

・Before auditions even take place, the sound director will place calls to agency managers and get them to send their seiyuu along. Not all agencies will get a call. The smaller agencies will probably get very few calls. Sometimes, the sound directors will ask for specific names. Auditions are by no means a level playing field, which is why budding seiyuu will always try to get into one of the big agencies to maximize their chances.

・Sound director Hamano Kazuzo has mentioned that he has conducted blind auditions before, where the auditioning seiyuu’s face is not shown and their info withheld to prevent preformed opinions of the auditioner’s ability. He however, notes that such a move can backfire as the committee becomes too fixated on playing a “guess the seiyuu” game instead of assessing a candidate’s suitability.

・Someone like Aketagawa Jin doesn’t really bother with cattle call auditions. Instead, he’ll call up the managers he’s friendly with and they’ll send along seiyuu he likes or might like. Aketagawa tends to cast from within a selected group of seiyuu, getting them to try out for multiple roles until they find one that suits them – this is how casting for something like Shokugeki no Soma, which is a roll call of Aketagawa favourites, went.

・Off the top of my head, casting for recent things like Punchline and Kyokai no Rinne went similarly – call a selected bunch of seiyuu in, have them try out for everything. Chiranosuke (the cat) was hard to cast – there was no gender limitation set, so both male seiyuu and even Kugimiya Rie tried out for the role but all failed ‘til they found Yoshida Yuri.

・Voice samples found on the agency websites do actually play a bigger role that you’d think. In the past, agencies would have to send sample discs along to sound directors for consideration but nowadays, directors just browse the websites to check out potential castings, especially for juniors of whom little is known. That is why even a dinosaur agency like Osawa Office has had to get with the times and put up profiles for all their talents.

Agencies
・Getting into a reputable agency doesn’t mean the roles will roll in. This is why building a good relationship with your manager is paramount. Most of the time, it’s the managers who decide which seiyuu to send once they receive news about casting calls. So if you don’t get along well with your manager…

・When I see that a seiyuu has left their agency, is switching to another one or is going freelance, the first thought that comes to my mind is that they are not satisfied with their management. If not, then the seiyuu must be following their old manager that has left their current agency.

・When I see seiyuu not getting any roles for X period of time, what goes through my mind:
1) They’re not getting along well with their manager, who doesn’t bother to send him or her along to auditions
2) They suck at voice acting so they keep failing their auditions
3) They’re ill or pregnant

・Freelance seiyuu who actually remain freelance (as opposed to just temporarily being ‘unemployed’ before joining another agency) are rare. You might not have to give a cut of your earnings to your agency as before, but it’s harder to get jobs that way unless you have a great relationship with the right directors and producers, or you are very good at what you do. Examples of seiyuu who have been freelancing for at least a year – Arai Satomi, Kobayashi Yumiko, Takagi Wataru, Narita Ken, Yuki Hiro, Asakawa Yuu, Yusa Koji, Takahashi Chiaki, Yajima Akiko. Hosoya Yoshimasa, Shimizu Ai and Goto Saori are also approaching their first anniversary of freelancing in the next couple of months. Nazuka Kaori used to be managed by her mother when she was a child but now handles her activities herself. These guys have all built up respectable banks of work and staff members know and trust them well enough to give them jobs.

Seiyuu earn peanuts
・The ‘peanuts’ seiyuu earned formally referred to as ‘guarantees’ (gyara), amounts to around 15,000yen per 30-minute episode for the lowest-ranked seiyuu, no matter the amount of dialogue they get. The difference in earnings between a junior-rank seiyuu and seiyuu of a higher rank is not that much, give or take a couple of thousand yen per episode, but the costs do build up over the 1-2 cours.

・Seiyuu are ranked as juniors for the first three or so years after they debut. After that they climb a ranking ladder starting at rank 15, which signifies 15,000yen gyara. They slowly move up the ranks to 16 (16,000yen gyara) and so on. The highest gyara earned by a ranked seiyuu is apparently 45,000yen per episode. Anything higher than that and the seiyuu is deemed ‘no rank’, where they are free to negotiate their own pay levels. As a reference, someone like Kaneda Tomoko, who has been in the business for 15 years, apparently receives gyara of around 30,000yen per episode.

・Junior seiyuu are (apparently) not entitled to other fees such as TV broadcast fees, secondary usage fees (fees when your show gets released on DVD/BD), time premium fees (an additional premium paid to seiyuu on top of their basic gyara if a show runs longer than 30 minutes), and so on. If you’re interested in seeing the fee and percentage provisions for different media, please refer to the Japan Actor’s Union page (in Japanese, of course).

・Thus, rough calculations for a Rank-15 seiyuu whose anime show gets broadcast on TV, they will earn 15,000 + 15,000 x 80% initial utilization rate (初期目的利用料) = 27,000yen. From that, the seiyuu’s agency get a 20% cut and the taxman gets a 10% cut, leaving the seiyuu with a take-home pay cheque of 18,900yen.

・You can see why producers are reluctant to hire ranked seiyuu if they’re low on budget. Also, thanks to the need to pay seiyuu rebroadcast fees, some TV stations can’t be bothered to show reruns of older anime.

・Estimations by seiyuu themselves – only 10% of seiyuu (Otsuka Akio), or around 300 seiyuu (acc. to Namikawa Daisuke) can make a living from voice acting. The rest only get by with supplementary income from part-time jobs. And of course, no banks will give them loans because of their unstable income, though this is not exclusive to seiyuu but to the entertainment industry in general.

・Some basic numbers – average rent in Tokyo 23-ku is 97,000 yen/month, Saitama is 68,000yen/month & Kanagawa 66,000yen/month. Adding food, travel & living expenses, the average junior seiyuu would need at least 3-4 regular roles in anime shows per season to survive, not taking into account any other earnings from games, dubbing etc.

・Part-time jobs pay around 1,000 yen per hour on average, with a maximum of 29.5 working hours per week (if people work more, companies have to pay their health insurance).

Seiyuu schedules & the actual work
・A bit on seiyuu work schedules – I like to think of them in ‘blocks’. 3 potential blocks of work per day – morning, afternoon, night, any day of the week. That’s 3×7=21 potential blocks of work. If you’re a popular/idol seiyuu, weekends will mostly be taken up by events, so that’s 3-6 blocks gone.

・Afureko will take biggest priority on a seiyuu’s scheduling as you can imagine how hard it is to assemble a cast of X number of seiyuu at the same time. All other work revolves around those schedules. Afureko can take place at night as well if that’s the only time everyone is available. Game lines are recorded solo in a booth, so they can be done whenever the seiyuu is available. I suppose most seiyuu would prefer not to work at night so that they can spend time prepping (script check etc) or resting, but c’est la vie.

・Article 61 of Japan’s labour laws prevents under-18s from working between 10pm and 6am, so that’s late-night TV & radio appearances out of the question for young seiyuu idols and child actors.

Besides anime..
・Dubbing work doesn’t require auditions, the TV station, producers and audio directors will decide the castings. Games do sometimes require auditions, particularly if it’s a big title from a big maker.

・For drama CDs adapting manga/ranobe, most of the time the author of the original work can pick their own cast (within limits). The reason why anime casts can differ from drama CD casts is simple – different production companies, different directors.

・I’m actually quite conflicted when it comes to seiyuu radio shows. One the one hand it’s an opportunity for the seiyuu to show off their personalities and good fun for the fans to get to learn more about them, on the other hand they get paid next-to-nothing for such work, if at all. For every Suzakinishi there are 20 other shows with barebones listenership and they’re just taking a block out of seiyuu’s schedule which could be spent more productively.

・Instead of thinking about what type of jobs pay seiyuu the highest gyara in raw numbers, let’s think about a ratio: pay per hour. In this case, CMs would give seiyuu their biggest bang for buck. Game recordings are tiresome, but little preparation is needed – you’re just reading a phone directory-sized book of scripted lines. Anime requires a bit more thinking, especially if you’re voicing a major role where interaction and dialogue with other characters is important. Western film and TV dubbing is the least rewarding due to the amount of prep work needed – having to repeatedly check the source material to make sure your performance is as close to the original’s as possible.

・There is no hard and fast rule for earnings from things like gravure/PBs, solo DVDs, events & merchandise. Figures thrown around: for college festival events – 50k+ for higher rank seiyuu, 30k for junior/newcomers. For CDs – if it’s a solo release under your own name you get royalties amounting to maybe 1% of total sales, more if they wrote lyrics or music (+ more royalties if the song gets on karaoke machines). If it’s an anime-related one (charasong) you just get paid a flat fee based on your rank. If the charasong is recorded on the same day as afureko you get paid 0.5 gyara, if it’s on a different day then you get paid full gyara.

・Event fees depend on the scale of the event and what type of event it is. Promo events could pay nominal or even no gyara, large scale live concerts will obviously pay more. Don’t worry, the frontline iM@S & Love Live seiyuu are making enough out of these things. At least someone like Nakamura Eriko, whose anime work is almost non-existent, made/makes enough to survive.

・Something vaguely related – I always bought merchandise like T-shirts etc for all the indie band lives in clubs & livehouses I went to cos that was the only way they’d make money since they’d be in the red from the get go thanks to the noruma system. I’m pretty sure the same rules apply to any of the anisong artists playing venues such as the Shibuya-O groups (O-East etc), Duo Music Exchange, Liquid Room & Zepp…so please buy the merchandise!!!

Future expectations of seiyuu
・For a while I was actually quite angry about mainstream talent agencies muscling their way into seiyuu management *cough* HoriPro *cough*. I see the way these guys ‘manage’ their idols and talents and I really don’t like the idea of such practices being imported into the niche seiyuu industry.

・Nowadays I’m just resigned to the fact that the seiyuu/aidoru/tarento worlds are all converging and there’s no point getting all worked up about something I can’t stop. Whether or not Horipro exists, the seiyuu of today all need to be entertainment machines well-versed in the art of public appearance or they won’t get hired.

・Obviously, more and more kids are getting into voice acting before they’re truly ready – they’re still in school and haven’t even received proper training which inevitably means that some of them will crash and burn fairly quickly. We used to only see the truly talented ones like Sawashiro Miyuki and all the Himawari kids (Miyano, Irino etc) coming through but these days all you need to get by is a pretty face or an entertaining personality.

・If all a seiyuu has is a pretty face and an entertaining personality to go along with their very average voice acting, I am almost 100% certain that they’ll have faded into obscurity within 10 years. Talent doesn’t guarantee you a solid, long-term career either. I’m thinking of the early to mid-00s, of people like Shimizu Ai, Nogawa Sakura, Mochizuki Hisayo, Chiba Saeko, Kuwatani Natsuko, Matsuoka Yuki. The likes of Hoshi Soichiro, Toyoguchi Megumi, Orikasa Fumiko, Ueda Kana and heck, even Ito Kanae, aren’t getting as many roles as they used to.

・Even if you have a ‘good’ voice, the chances of making a lifelong career out of seiyuu work are slim. Examples of people who are still working steadily into their 50s and 60s – Tanaka Atsuko, Koyama Rikiya, Otsuka Akio, Ishizuka Unsho, Fujiwara Keiji, Inoue Kikuko, Yamadera Koichi. How many of today’s seiyuu do you think will survive in the industry until their 40s?

Tomatsu Haruka & her future career path
・I’ve been following Tomatsu Haruka since her debut in Polyphonica in the spring 2007 season. At the beginning she was rather obviously being gorioshi-ed by MuRay and unsurprisingly, gained a lot of haters. She was MuRay’s test seiyuu idol guinea pig, being pushed into anime, dorama & everything in between to see what worked and what didn’t.

・Hardly anybody bought Tomatsu’s first single naissance and it wasn’t until Kannagi that same year that people started paying attention. Her success gave Sphere the platform for success, though it was K-ON! that really cemented their status.

・Sphere itself is reaching a plateau as a group, no thanks to all the new kids on the scene including their juniors Trysail so I don’t foresee MuRay putting too much money or effort into them for much longer.

・On an individual level Tomatsu remains the most successful of the first-gen MuRay girls and has steady, diverse income streams – there was that series of ads for Furuta chocolates she did last year, she has her photobooks, voicing the PR mascot character for NHK’s 2015 taiga dorama Hana Moyu and most importantly, she has Youkai Watch (and Precure). At the very least, I am no longer worried about whether she’ll be earning enough to feed herself in 5 years’ time (discounting the fact that her dad is most likely super rich…).

Everyone wants to appear in kids’ shows for a reason
・Forget about that boring line seiyuu feed you in interviews about ‘wanting to give children dreams’ when they talk about why they became seiyuu or what type of shows they want to appear in. The true reason anyone wants to be part of big-name franchises like Precure, Doraemon and Shonen Jump adaptations is that involvement in such shows means they can pay their bills for many years down the line. TV series, movies, games, merchandise, rebroadcasts, CDs, Blurays, events – the potential earnings are mind-boggling. That is why I’m happiest when my favourite seiyuu land big roles in kids’ anime – happy for their bank account.

SHIROBAKO
・What you see happening in SHIROBAKO is the cattle call audition where dozens of seiyuu from dozens of agencies try out for specific roles over a span of many hours – sometimes auditions can even stretch on for days, if there are a significant number of leading roles that need to be filled. The process is both tiring and tiresome for the audition committee and too often by the end of the day, everyone sounds more or less the same, which makes it difficult to make a proper judgment. Hamano Kazuzo also notes that it’s not necessarily true that the seiyuu who audition first will have an advantage over those who audition later on during the day – sometimes, an amazing performance will snap the audition committee out of a lull.

・And yes it can be intimidating to see the other seiyuu who come in to audition for the same role that you’re trying out for. Look at this talk about auditions between Ueda Kana & Shimuzu Kaori back in 2008….
marunage
・That one episode where different parties with different interests duke it out over the seiyuu casting? Maybe exaggerated a bit, but it’s a good illustration of how castings aren’t made based on who fits the role best. They might not fit the role at all, or even be fit for voice acting in the first place (Hi, Denpa Kyoushi).

The people
・Anal directors who have doubled up on duties as sound director – Sato Junichi, Ikuhara Kunihiko, Matsumoto Rie, Mochizuki Tomomi, Chigira Koichi, Mizushima Tsutomu, Oizaki Fumitoshi, Inagaki Takayuki.

・Prolific sound directors whose names you’ll see appearing again & again in anime season listings – Aketagawa Jin (much more on him later), Tsuruoka Yota, Iwanami Yoshikazu (the SHIROBAKO parody guy!), Kameyama Toshiki (Shaft’s chosen sound director), Mima Masafumi, Iida Satoki, Wakabayashi Kazuhiro. I’m actually working on a sound director spreadsheet so maybe that will see the light of day…some time before I expire.

・Seiyuu-turned sound directors: Inoue Kazuhiko, Chiba Shigeru, Tsujitani Koji, Fujiwara Keiji, Goda Hozumi, Mitsuya Yuji, Nakajima Toshihiko, Shioya Yoku.

・It goes without saying that sound directors play favourites. They like certain types of voices, they like to work with certain people who they know can get the job done. Nothing galls sound directors more than having recording slowed down by hapless, inexperienced seiyuu who mess things up & force retakes. Though, as Otsuka Akio points out – if a director doesn’t ask for a retake it doesn’t necessarily mean the seiyuu did a good job. It could also mean that the director thinks that that is the limit to a particular seiyuu’s ability and it’s a waste of time and resources to ask for retakes when they won’t get better performances out of them. Tomatsu Haruka has also mentioned that early on in her career, a (director) sent her home early from the studio as he didn’t think she’d be able to produce anything better than what she’d done that day.

Aketagawa Jin
aketagawa
・Let’s talk about Aketagawa Jin. He’s 43 years old, the son of Aketagawa Susumu, a veteran sound director and one of the founding members of the now-defunct Group TAC studio. He started working in anime in the mid-90s on shows his father had a hand in such as Those Who Hunt Elves and in 1999, broke out as a sound director in his own right.

・As Jin started his sound directing career at a young age he has always been close to his seiyuu. Many of them treat him as a personal friend – Iwata Mitsuo addresses him as Jin-kun and even today, someone like Matsuoka Yoshitsugu refers to him as Jin-chan.

・Aketagawa’s casting patterns are fairly predictable. Within a certain window of time (let’s say 2-3 years) he fills his main cast with his favourite junior talents. When they’ve moved up ranks and their guarantees get too expensive, he’ll move on to another batch of young seiyuu. That doesn’t mean Jin will cast aside his past favourites – when there are side characters or guest roles he needs to fill, he’ll give his ex-faves a quick call and into the studio they come.

・When Aketagawa plays favourites, he really plays favourites. You can do a quick google of the keywords ‘Aketagawa Jin’ and ‘pillow business’ and come up with plenty of hits and supposed examples of seiyuu that he literally ‘favours’. Of course the list also includes plenty of male seiyuu.

・Aketagawa loved/loves Tomatsu Haruka. He was the sound director of her first ever anime Shinkyoku Sokai Polyphonica in 2007 and continued steadily casting her – in 2009, 9 out of 18 of Tomatsu’s roles had Aketagawa as sound director. By 2014, this was no longer the case – only 1 out of her 17 roles was directed by Aketagawa and she was being hired equally by people like Mima Masafumi and Iwanami Yoshikazu.

・Let’s look at another recent example. Around 2013, Taneda Risa was accused of engaging in pillow business with Aketagawa. Of her 24 anime roles that year:

Aketagawa Jin 16
Iwanami Yoshikazu 2
Tsuruoka Yota 1
Fujino Sadayoshi 1
Ishibashi Rika 1
Kikuta Hiromi 1
Mizushima Tsutomu 1
Motoyama Satoshi 1

・However you play it – that’s just a crazy amount of roles being handed out to you by the same guy.
taneda
The tabloids covered the ‘scandal’ too. Whoopee.

・Coincidentally or not, Taneda’s Jin-chan ratio dropped to 4/14 in 2014 and so far this year, it’s been 4/11.

・Aketagawa has been casting from within a larger pool lately – Ishigami Shizuka is quite obviously a new favourite of his with her count at 7/18 for 2014 & 5/10 for 2015, including 2 upcoming lead roles (in Shimoseka & Rakudai). He also likes Ozawa Ari and Kimura Juri and for the guys, Hanae Natsuki & Kobayashi Yusuke are his golden boys of 2015.

For 2014 he had 13 shows:

10 Nakamura Tomo
9 Yamamoto Itaru
8 Murata Taishi, Yamamoto Kanehira
7 Ishigami Shizuka, Sakurai Hiromi, Soma Koichi, Suwa Ayaka, Yanagida Junichi, Saito Hironori
6 Hikasa Yoko, Kakuma Ai, Minase Inori, Ishiya Haruki
5 Kawamura Rie, Kayano Ai, Furukawa Makoto, Nogawa Masashi, Kanemoto Ryosuke, Matsumoto Shinobu
4 Taneda Risa, Takahashi Minami, Sakurai Takahiro, Koyama Rikiya, Onishi Saori, Kido Ibuki, Noto Mamiko, Tezuka Hiromichi, Yamagishi Haruo, Dendo Rina, Kawanishi Kengo, Nose Ikuji

And for 2015 so far he has 13 shows, 1 of which he had little control over casting (Grisaia):

8 Furukawa Makoto
6 Sakurai Hiromi, Murata Taishi, Hashimoto Chinami
5 Ishigami Shizuka, Hanae Natsuki, Nose Ikuji, Kakuma Ai, Yamamoto Itaru, Kayano Ai, Kimura Juri
4 Taneda Risa, Kobayashi Yusuke, Onishi Saori, Takahashi Minami, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Nishi Asuka, Muranaka Tomo, Nogawa Masashi, Ozawa Ari
3 Tomatsu Haruka, Uchida Maaya, Hikasa Yoko, Noto Mamiko, Sakurai Takahiro, Miyake Kenta, Suwa Ayaka, Minase Inori
2 Ono Kensho, Komatsu Mikako, Ono Yuuki, Suzaki Aya, Koyama Rikiya, Hidaka Rina

Not full data, but just some of what I picked up by looking at cast lists. You haven’t heard of some of those people? That’s ‘cos they only voice mob characters.

Ozawa Ari
・Yes I’m totally biased towards Ozawa-chan, but I’m not the only one who loves her. At the very least, I’m Enterprise + her manager loves her enough to get her tons of jobs. And sound directors love her enough to keep casting her. Look at her stats for 2015 thus far:

Total roles: 19
Of which are leading roles: 6
Sub-leads: 4
Anime-related radio shows: 4 (Monmusu, Aquarion, Gakkou Gurashi, Classroom Crisis)
Other radio shows: 2 (Ozanari, Nairaji)
Sound director breakdown:

Aketagawa Jin 6
Motoyama Satoshi 2
Okuma Akira 2 (1 joint with Urakami Yasuyuki)
Iida Satoki 1
Morishita Hiroto 1
Shimizu Yoji 1
Fujita Akiko 1
Hata Shoko 1
Inagaki Takayuki 1
Oizaki Fumitoshi 1
Yamamoto Koji 1
Tanaka Akiyoshi 1

Incidentally, one of her mob roles was in Doraemon.

I guess I think about stuff too much. But then, I always worry about whether my favourite seiyuu
Okay this post has been sitting in my drafts for way too long. It’s not finished but I think this is as far as I’ll get at this point in time (ok I’m just lazy).

On a somewhat unrelated note, Sore ga Seiyuu! starts airing next week. Please do watch it!