#81 – Seki Tomokazu

Name: Seki Tomokazu (関 智一)
DoB: 8 September 1972
Hometown: Koto, Tokyo
Agency: Atomic Monkey

Seki-san will need no introduction (hopefully), he is a legend among legends and my first ever seiyuu love. Okay, so maybe everyone in Card Captor Sakura was a first love to me, but it was especially so with Seki.

He is a great character actor – supremely confident, cocky even. It also unfortunately means that he’s prone to the odd gaffe ie. giving away a massive ending spoiler that saw him being axed from the Mai-HiMe franchise. I remember that one really well…I got mad about it too! At least he’s never boring…

Here’s his Oshaberi Hotline interview!

Q: We’ve been told that you’ve admired the seiyuu profession since you were a child.

A: I was a latchkey kid so I did spend a lot of time watching dramas and anime. Those influences were what first led to my developing an interest in acting.

Q: What kind of anime did you use to watch back then?

A: I loved Getter Robo and Paul’s Miraculous Adventure, as well as Ogon Bat. I watched reruns as well, so my choice of shows was all over the place era-wise (laughs). By the way, my favourite seiyuu were Kamiya Akira-san and Inoue Kazuhiko-san. I used to think that all the voices I heard in anime belonged to one of these 2 people (laughs). I love unique voices like those of Nagai Ichiro-san, Ogata Kenichi-san, Nozawa Masako-san etc, all left a huge impression on me.

Q: When did you actually decide on becoming a seiyuu?

A: When I entered high school. I remember lessons being dull, which is why I wanted to try my hand at acting. I was a bit of a poseur and loved performing in front of a crowd. However, I was aware of how ugly I was at the time so I believed it would be impossible for me to become an actor (laughs).
I decided to become a seiyuu after considering the fact that acting seemed easy and my looks wouldn’t matter as much, and I applied for Katsuta Voice Actors’ Academy. Now that I look back on it, my motives were so simple!

Q: What were your impressions of training school once you actually got in?

A: I was honestly surprised by how unexpectedly harsh it was. I’d originally thought that with just a bit of practice, I could get hired straight away (laughs). The lecturers were quite Spartan as well. Still, I didn’t quit because I knew that they weren’t just getting angry for no apparent reason – they were giving proper guidance tailored to my needs. Plus, I had friends there who gave me encouragement. These two points left the biggest impressions on me.

Q: Do you remember your actual voice acting début?

A: Of course! After all, I did get fired from the role within 1 day (laugh). I made a senior angry. I absolutely didn’t mean to, but I was told that I was too behaving big for my boots. Following the incident, I couldn’t get any jobs for some time. “Always be on guard in front of your seniors”. That was a big lesson for me to learn.

Q: That was quite the fiery début (laughs). Would you say that the turning point for you came with “G Gundam (1994)”?

A: That’s right. I also appeared in Gundam Wing the year after that so for 2 years, I thought about nothing but Gundams.

Q: Landing a lead role in the second year since making my début – there must have been a certain amount of pressure that you faced…

A: Rather than pressure, what I was strongly thinking was that “I definitely won’t lose to my seniors!” Still, since I had already experienced a major failure in my début role I was just putting on a show of bravado. It turned out that all my seniors were in fact, very kind, so I never had to worry about such things. I voiced the role of Domon in G Gundam; he’s a character who’s usually reserved but burns with passion when in battle, so I was able to connect to the role and tackled it with a similar kind of bullishness.

Q: Can you name any one particularly strong memory from recording sessions for any of your past works…?

A: In Gundam Wing, I voiced a mechanic named Meiser and there was one scene where he had a line that I ended up doing more than 40 retakes for. It remains the highest number of takes I’ve ever done in my entire life. Up ‘til now, I still have no idea what I did wrong (laughs). Also, I’ll never forget my audition for Nadesico’s Daigoji. The lines in the audition script had the character saying the name of his Special Move. I thought to myself, “I’m never going to get this role” so I said my lines in a jokey manner. Somehow, I ended up getting a really good response. I was filled with joy, thinking “Wow, is that even possible!?”…and then, (Daigoji) was dead within 3 episodes (laughs).

Q: Finally, please leave some words of advice to those hoping to become seiyuu!

A: Skills are something that will definitely improve with daily practice. What is important is this – you will never know when ‘chance’ comes knocking on your door, so until it comes you must continue to endure. Obviously, it is not 100% given that you will succeed even if you persevere. But if you choose to give up the chances of you getting closer to your dream will definitely disappear, so please stick at it and give it your best shot. Also, please make lots of good friends. Good friends who support and drive you on will be the source of your own growth. I believe meeting good companions is also important for one’s work.


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