Monthly Archives: October 2015

#89 – Suwabe Junichi

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Name: Suwabe Junichi (諏訪部 順一)
DoB: 29 March 1972
Hometown: Tokyo
Agency: Haikyo
SNS: Twitter, Blog

2015 marks Suwabe Junichi’s 20th year anniversary as a seiyuu. When you look at the guys who have just or are going to celebrate that milestone, it’s not a bad club to be in – people like Suzumura Kenichi, Sakurai Takahiro, Kuwashima Houko, Yoshino Hiroyuki, Taniyama Kishow, Kishio Daisuke, Kamiya Hiroshi, Fukuyama Jun. How many of the class of 2015 will still be around in 20 years’ time? One wonders.

This Calpis-sponsored Geneki Interview runs on KAI-YOU.net which is a mainstream website, so the questions are generally more serious than your typical seiyuu fluff.

What kind of person is Suwabe Junichi?

Q: You’re active in various areas revolving around your profession as a seiyuu. Please tell us once again about what you do.

A: My activities centre upon the art of expression through ‘voice’. I think many will be aware of how people like myself, who provide the voices for characters in anime and games, are known as ‘seiyuu’.

In truth, (my) career has been prolonged due to my work as a ‘narrator’ for TV programmes and CMs, as well as by being a ‘radio personality’. Apart from voice work, I’ve dabbled in other areas such as the planning and production of music and video projects, lyric writing and designing. I’m involved with things that are both related and unrelated to my work as a performer.

Q: Ratio-wise, I suppose voice work still dominates?

A: In terms of the amount of work I’d say voice acting and narration work are the mainstays. Nowadays there is a wide range of work available that is derived from voice acting itself and it makes me feel like I’m a jack-of-all-trades (laughs).

Q: This year makes it the 20th year since you made your début. What inspired you down this road?

A: I hadn’t originally wanted to be a performer; instead, I wished to be a director. As I was a member of a film circle throughout both high school and college I had worked on making my own movies, but I found it difficult to assemble the acting talent that was required.

At that point, I thought it would be a good idea if I could learn a bit more about acting so that I could demonstrate what I wanted to people who had no prior acting experience. Thinking that it would aid my film-making aspirations and treating it like a visit to a cultural centre, I knocked on the doors of training schools.

Q: Did you enrol in training school immediately after college?

A: After I graduated I went straight into employment. The company I worked for produced merchandise for film and music, two of my favourite industries. Despite eventually leaving the company, I did not abandon my film-making dream. My next port job was at a production company that was technology-related and not directing, so I took up an additional role of camera assistant. At the time, an unexpected mistake led to a rather uncertain period for me and I ended up drifting from publishing companies to multimedia firms that were all the rage back then; I worked at a few of these places.

During the tail-end of my salaryman life, my weekdays were spent at the office and the weekends at training school – that went on for about 1 year. After jumping through a lot of hoops, I finally got accepted into a (voice acting) production agency. I decided to dive straight in since I had gone through all that trouble already!

And without me noticing, 20 years have already passed. Time really does fly. At the beginning, I was still working as a full-time employee while doing voice work on the side and I’d write “Going home” on the office’s schedule board when in truth, I was heading off to record some narration work (laughs).

Student days devoted to film

Q: You mentioned that you made films during your student days – where did your love for movies come from?

A: I’m not sure how exactly it came about, but I’d always loved movies since I was a child. I loved them so much that I’d watch anything and everything regardless of genre. When I was young I mostly watched movies on TV and it was only in high school that I started going to the cinema. Once I got into college I threw all my time and money into video rentals, which were getting a lot cheaper at the time.

Q: What made you think about wanting to make, and not just watch movies?

A: I was member of the broadcast committee throughout elementary and junior high. We not only produced school broadcasts, but also organized contests to create radio programmes. Maybe it was just something that suited my personality, but once I got into it I was really hooked. I began to ponder, “If there was not only sound, but video as well…”; to me, that was a very natural step to take.

One thing after another happened, and I began to harbour dreams of becoming a film or TV drama director. At the same time, I was rational about it, thinking “There’s no way I’m gonna make enough from this to put food on the table”.

Q: It’s certainly true that merely having aspirations doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get what you want.

A: Yeah. As my family wasn’t well-off, I chose to get a very general job in order to obtain a stable income. But in the end…yeah, here I am (laughs). My parents were strongly opposed to my decision, so I promised them that if I didn’t make enough to get by within the first 3 years, I would quit the job right away. To get the results I needed as quickly as possible, I took on any offer of work I received – everything was ‘too good to refuse’.

Like I said, the path that I ended up on was different from what I had initially wanted to do so it was a case of me learning about how fun and how deep the job was as I went along. I can say right now that I do sincerely love what I do, and that I take much pride in being a professional.

Counting my life backwards, for the sake of my dreams

Q: You have a strong affinity for the visual arts including movies – was there any one work that ignited this passion?

A: I’m not the type of person who’s fuelled by a single reason, so it’s quite hard for me to come up with any film that I could say was ‘a turning point’. If I was pressed to choose, I’d say ‘everything I’ve seen up ‘til now’.

Since I was a child I had felt strongly about wanting to ‘work at something I love’. At one point, I used to think that, with the exception of sleep, ‘work’ would be what would take up the most of my time.

In other words, time is life. That is why I wanted my pour my time into my passions. It strengthened my resolve to ‘work at something that I truly wanted to do from the bottom of my heart’. However, I was always conscious of how that choice should be compatible with the necessity of earning enough income to survive.

Q: It’s rare for anyone to be considering things like the probabilities in life from such a young age.

A: I have been a logical and objective type of person since I was young. However, at its root is the fact that I am lazy. I wish to eliminate any form of hassle, and I want to reach the conclusion as quickly as possible. To achieve that, I try as much as I can to trim off anything that seems wasteful.

If ones sets clear goals in advance and considers the elements needed to get to that end-point, the shortest path to success will naturally be revealed. However, there is also the possibility that by loosely analyzing situations, more thorough results could emerge. Being in a state of flux taught me a lot. Right now, I prefer to take on challenges in that manner.

Q: I see. By the way, did you like studying?

A: I basically liked learning things, but I didn’t really like studying in school. I was just naughty and didn’t like having homework imposed upon me (laughs).

Q: Did you have any favourite subjects?

A: Up until junior high it was math and science but once I entered high school I preferred arts subjects. I loved reading before I had even enrolled in kindergarten and as a result, I studied very little and spent most of my time reading instead. That book knowledge served me well up ‘til junior high but once I was in high school my grades fell off a cliff.

Q: You loved reading even before you entered kindergarten?

A: According to my parents, I had loved reading for as long as they could remember. The number of books I read increased by the year; for example, during summer holidays when I was in elementary school, I would go to the library and read 3-4 books from morning, then borrow a couple more to read at home – that was a standard daily routine for me at the time. I not only read children’s books, but also a lot of adult-oriented light novels and paperbacks.

My parents often told me “You should study!”. They’d also get angry with me, saying “Don’t think that just because it’s a book you’re reading that we’ll let everything else slide!” (laughs).

Q: Lots of people grew up being told off for spending too much time playing games, but you were scolded excessive reading (laughs).

A: Most kids would be praised by adults for taking up reading, but things were different in my household. Well, maybe I did take things a bit too far. After all, I did get caught for trying to read books using the light of the street lamps outside my window when it was supposed to be bedtime and my parents had already turned off my bedroom lights (laughs).

Expressing myself in society

Q: Since you like reading, do you spend a lot of time thinking about things?

A: I liked to fantasize about different things. I developed this habit of looking at certain things from various points which I think might have stemmed from my reading habits.

It wasn’t only fantasy worlds that set my mind in motion, but also documentaries and critical essays that I’d read. I think I liked to learn about the structure and issues of the society I lived in.

Q: Did your desire to express yourself through film originate from that?

A: I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to create something for the sake of fulfilling the urge to produce output. I’m not entertainment-oriented or rather, I’ve never contemplated ‘expressing myself by giving physical shape to my thoughts’. Instead, my focus is on creating in the hope that it will bring fun or enjoyment to (others). That, I believe, is what drives me.

Just because you’ve delivered a piece of work doesn’t mean that the job is done; how, for example, is the reception to the work? Were they able to get anything out of it? I’d be curious about how people respond.

Q: In order to delight as many people as possible, would you say that it is your stance to provide entertainment that suits the tastes of the masses?

A: Excitement and emotion are feelings that come from within a person and aren’t something that others ‘give’ to you – that is my theory. Unless the mind is well-equipped, one will not be able to enjoy something that should in fact be enjoyable. My stance is that I act as a curator that offers handy tools that help to flip the switch that sends (people) into “Fun!” mode. That might be close to the image I have of myself.

Of course, I do have my own intentions so it doesn’t mean that I only make what people want. There are times when I create things to provoke discussion.

Q: Is this train of thought informed by your career experiences up ‘til now, or have you always had such a balanced view?

A: I think it’s in my nature. For example, during drinking sessions – when I see someone who’s sitting by himself and looking a little lonely, I can’t help but be concerned and go over and have a chat. Maybe I’m just sensitive to emotions. Since I was a child, I’ve never been the type who would do whatever I wanted to without giving a damn about other people. Instead, I always worried about how I could bring about a situation where everyone could have fun together.

Learning the importance of “human connections” through voice work

Q: Over the span of 20 years as a voice actor, did you run into any walls?

A: There was a point in time where I was just beginning to make headway in the narration industry and was working on 5-6 regular programmes a week – out of the blue, I broke three ribs in a traffic accident. In a desperate bid to avoid losing trust and hence, the jobs I held, I continued to attend recordings while going through the pain barrier. They’re such fond memories now (laughs).

It’s common for people to get depressed nowadays when things just don’t seem to be going their way. Fortunately, this business often involves working on several projects simultaneously so you can take a break and change things up ie. throwing off the stress from job A by working on job B, the stress from job B on job C, and so on.

All the same, it is difficult to make any progress if you only look at things from the same viewpoint. There will always be walls that you can’t climb over so why not try going around them? Oftentimes, the solution to overcoming these difficulties can be found by not thinking about things too deeply.

Q: At what point did you start to develop this method of confronting issues?

A: When I first started working in this job the Internet was still in its infancy and there weren’t many avenues for me to make my name known to people, let alone receive feedback etc.

On top of that, nobody watches TV programmes just to hear the narration. No matter how much work I produced, there was zero opportunity to have my work evaluated by an audience.

Q: You’re right – the choice to watch a programme would be made based on the celebrity guests and content.

A: I got really busy with work, with barely any days off – the non-stop round-trips between my home and the studio lasted about 5 years. Gradually, my emotions became like a stone being dropped down a well where it’d take forever to hear the little “splash” sound when it hits the bottom…back then, recordings would take place at any time of the day be it late night or early morning, and it was impossible for me to even go out for a drink with friends.

Living such a daily life made me feel pretty down but fortunately, I started to get anime-related work on a steady basis. It’s different from narration work that is mostly done alone – I got to work with a lot of co-stars and started to receive letters with feedback on my work etc; these things all helped to revive me.

It was then that I realized that what I was craving was communication. And I also realized how important it was. I could not live without human connections no matter what. Through these experiences, I understood that I associated the chance to cherish the memories that I had of working with people, with working at my job wholeheartedly.

Bittersweet days of youth…are a mystery to me?

Q: This interview is part of Calpis’ Geneki Interview series – did you ever experience the Calpis-like bittersweet* taste of youth?

A: “Youth” is quite hard to define but well, if I had to describe a period of time as being bittersweet…perhaps, my high school days?

*甘ずっぱい literally translates to ‘sweet and sour’

Q: Was that where you experienced first love etc?

A: I don’t recall ever thinking “I want a girlfriend” until I was in junior high.

Q: Was that because you were obsessed with reading?

A: It’s true that I did read a lot but at the same time, there wasn’t really anyone around me who I thought I’d like to be friends with. Ah well, I think the biggest problem was that I was eccentric (laughs).

When I started high school the number of female friends I had increased, and I’d hang out with a mixed-gender group. I was particularly close with one of the girls and our houses were in the same direction so we used to go home together. She already had someone else whom she liked, and she would ask me for advice. That’s why I never made a move on her, and we remained good friends right until the end. Ah, good old times they were (laughs).

Q: Hearing that tale makes it seem like your student life was very peaceful, but were there ever any periods of explosive love for you?

A: I’ve never experienced love at first sight, nor have I ever fallen in love with a person based on their looks. I’m the type that only starts harbouring romantic interest in someone once I’ve gotten to know them through conversations, and after spending some time with them and ensuring that our feelings are compatible in various aspects. Besides, I’m the kind of person who won’t cross a bridge unless I’m absolutely sure it won’t break apart if I pound on it.

Since I’m the type of person who has so many requirements of a potential partner to begin with, there’s no way that I’d ever experience some exaggerated thing like ‘explosive love’.

Q: What kind of woman ignites your passion?

A: I think it’s wonderful if we’d only have eyes for each other and if we’d always know what the other was thinking, but the thought of my life revolving around that kind of passionate romance is a bit… (laughs). I prefer a gentle type of person myself.

The importance of happiness in creation

Q: You’ve been involved in content creation from your days as a salaryman right up ‘til now – is there anything in particular, work-wise, that you’d love to turn into reality in the future?

A: I think I’d like to make something that is meaningful and doesn’t just drift around aimlessly. Also, I’d like for that ‘meaning’ to be one that makes people happy.

I’ll strive to create content that brings joy to both the makers and the audience. On a personal level, I hope that through my work, I can become someone who is meaningful to society, even if only on a small scale.

Q: What kind of ideas or approach should one have to become someone who can move hearts by telling a story?

A: It’s difficult to give a clear answer to that. From my own experience, you should try your absolute hardest no matter what you do. Nothing will come to fruition without hard work.

‘Spending money’, ‘giving up your time’ and ‘putting your life on the line’ – if you can put any one of these into practise then you might just surprise people but (to have the capacity to move hearts), I think you should do all three earnestly.

I personally believe that in order to gain or accomplish something, you need a certain amount of resolution and perseverance. Risk management is important too but nothing will happen unless you take the first step. I want to tell young people in particular, that “If you have enough time to feel lost, you should just stop thinking about it and run”. I myself have followed this philosophy and as of this moment, I have no regrets.

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#88 – Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry

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Animate.tv recently posted an interview with the four main cast members Ohsaka Ryota (Ikki), Ishigami Shizuka (Stella), Toyama Nao (Shizuku) and Asanuma Shintaro (Nagi). Translating it ‘cos I like the cast! Also in the photo above are Iguchi Yuka, Higashiuchi Mariko and Matsuoka Yoshitsugu.

The anime itself is LN by the numbers and not really my cup of tea so I guess I’m only kind of watching it because I listen to the radio show and want to stay in the loop.

Note: I left tsun and dere as they are, you know they sound silly in English.

Q: Let’s start off by introducing your characters, and tell us if there are any important points we should take note of.

Ohsaka Ryota: I voice a character named Kurogane Ikki. He’s a cool guy who, despite being disliked at school, refuses to let such an environment break him and instead, finds the strength to confront his problems without ever giving in. However, when faced with girls he tends to get carried away and easily panics…. Voicing Ikki, I do think that at times, he says the most unexpectedly cool lines which is why he’s popular with the girls around him.

I was asked to say all those cool lines without sounding overly serious, yet making sure that I imbued them with honesty. That made me think to myself ‘Ah, so he’s that kind of guy’ and I played him, keeping in mind that everything he says comes naturally.

Ishigami Shizuka: Stella is a girl who transfers into Hagun Academy from the Vermillion Kingdom. She’s the second princess of Vermillion and the top-ranked knight in her country. While in Vermillion she had remained at the top unchallenged, which led to everyone around her treating her like a genius – in order to further her growth, she decided to change schools. Right now, she’s aiming to scale the heights of the Blazers, together with Ikki-kun.

Stella is by nature, a tsundere, but when I read the scripts I can see that she’s not necessarily that tsun. In fact, every tsun of hers has a significant amount of dere hidden within, so I voiced her with 10% tsun, 90% dere. I hope she’ll be a character who doesn’t get too harsh. Her words may sound a little tsun, but try to keep in mind that behaviour is very much deredere.

Ohsaka: She was amazing in episode 1, wasn’t she (laughs).

Ishigami: I was surprised by just how dere she could get (laughs). As she’s a princess, she’s had very little prior contact with guys so she obviously starts developing an interest in Ikki when she finds out he’s her roommate. From the first episode you can already see that she’s a mischievous girl who likes to send things flying.

Toyama Nao: Shizuku is Ikki’s younger sister; she’s been living away from him for a while so Hagun Academy is where they are reunited. She does like her brother a lot and when they first meet again, she ends up doing something quite shocking. That’s the extent of her adoration for her brother; those feelings are born out of the difficult circumstances Ikki faces, and that is perhaps why she has so much affection for him. I’ll try not to do anything that might venture into forbidden territory… (laughs).

She’s a character that isn’t afraid to show aggressive behaviour and as a younger sister, she’s not afraid of making fun of her brother. Even though she’s so close to her brother, she keeps her distance from other people; she does dislike humans to a certain extent so I hope I can adequately show the difference in ‘temperature’ between the ways she treats people coldly, or warmly. She has a rich array of expressions as well, with a tendency for violent mood swings.

Ohsaka: She may be small but she’s sexy.

Toyama: She’s a precocious kid.

Asanuma Shintaro: Arisuin Nagi is Shizuku’s roommate; he’s a guy with the heart of a maiden (laughs). He’s the aunt agony for Ikki, Stella and Shizuku and he’s such a friendly guy that even Shizuku, who deliberately distances herself from other people, ends up opening her heart to him. He’s good with words and seems like the jovial type but he’s probably reached a state of enlightenment, judging from the way he’s able to impart appropriate advice quietly to other people. I hope I can pull off how he comes off as motherly (laughs) as well as his gentle side, while trying not to make him seem too ‘perfect’ of a character.

Ohsaka: It feels like he’s staring into the depths of your soul sometimes.

Asanuma: Still, the tone he uses when he’s talking makes him seem a bit aloof. He’s a rather inscrutable kind of character.

Q: Is there anything about your character that you feel is either similar, or the complete opposite of yourself?

Ohsaka: Most of the main characters in light novels are depicted as cool and fit the image of the ‘perfect man’ so yeah, I think I’m pretty similar (laughs).

All: (laughter)

Ohsaka: I guess we share similarities in that we’re both sore losers. We’re competitive in a different kind of way but I hate to lose as well – even when I know I’m going to lose I just get really frustrated.

Toyama: That’s right! Previously during recording for another show, the cast went to play darts together and I faced off against Ohsaka-san. It was my first time playing darts so I was throwing them randomly and I managed to beat him, probably because of beginner’s luck. He was in a really bad mood after that (laughs).

Ohsaka: I screamed “I’m not gonna lose next time!”, challenging her to a rematch (laughs).

Asanuma: Y’know, it’s a sin to play games with your seniors. They don’t know the meaning of ‘hospitality’ (laughs).

All: (laughter).

Ishigami: For me, the closest resemblance would be how my feelings are written all over my face. I’m bad at telling lies. That’s similar to Stella-chan, everything is just written on her face.

Toyama: Shizuka-san, aren’t you a tsundere?

Ishigami: Yeah, though if I had to pick I’d say I’m more on the tsun side. I’m not used to being spoiled by other people. I’m an only child, so I had to do everything by myself.

Ohsaka: On the other hand, I feel that if I get too close to Ishigami-san she might start to really hate me.

Ishigami: N-no way, i-it’s not like that! (laughs)

All: (laughter)

Toyama: I’m the complete opposite of my character. Higashiuchi Mariko-san (voice of Shinguji Kurono) said to me, “Toyama-san, you really leave your heart wide open don’t you”.

Asanuma: You’re making an absolute fool of the key to your heart’s door (laughs).

Ohsaka: Your security system is way too lax (laughs).

Toyama: Oh! (laughs). I’ve often been told that I look as if I’m easy to deceive. In the same way, I believe that it’s because Shizuku sees so many things going on that she finds it hard to trust people. This time, I found it hard to show how she opens up her heart to Arisu by just saying that one word “Yeah”. The key of my own heart is a fool (laughs), so when I open up my heart I just shouted “Yesss!” out loud. I was however, instructed by the director, “It’s their first meeting, please don’t open up your heart so easily”. That made me think “I’ve got to work harder at building this character”, and that’s how I ended up saying that one “Yeah”.

Asanuma: I think I’m similar (to Nagi) in that neither of us is treated like a man. I’m often told that “You seem to know no shame in being the one guy slipping into girlfriend get-togethers and girl talk sessions”.

All: (laughter)

Asanuma: Of course I feel uneasy! is what I think (laughs). It’s a bit of a disgrace for me as a guy. Some people even call me ‘Madam’…. Maybe those parts are similar. How we both love clothes and sweets as well. Come to think of it, the fan gifts I receive tend to be quite girly? It makes me wonder just what my image is like (laughs). Body soaps, treatments, masks, lotion, L’Occitane hand cream… my toilet is full of these products so it’s really quite feminine. So much so that they’d make people think “Ah, so he’s that kind of guy” (laughs). Maybe, that’s really what others think of me? Gee, that’s embarrassing.

All: (laughter)

Staff: After reading this interview, aren’t you going to receive even more of them?

Asanuma: Oh, darn it ☆ (laughs)

Q: There’s no rule against picking your own here, so which of the characters are you most interested in?

Ohsaka: I’d want Nagi as a friend. It’d be totally easy to. He’d start up the conversations, he’d hear me out and even when he’s not saying anything, he’ll look like he might say something.

Asanuma: He’d make a great housemate. He looks like he might be a good cook too.

Ohsaka: He’s a neat-freak so it seems like he’d be good at cleaning as well. Even if clothes were scattered all over the place he’d just go “Ah, it can’t be helped”.

All: Ahhh.

Toyama: I really like Ikki. It’s nice that he’s not just a loser. He’s definitely strong and I admire how behind it all, so much back-breaking work has been put in – he’s a character you want to cheer on. However, people don’t see the efforts he puts in in and he ends up being rather disliked; if they would take the time to get to know who he is inside like Stella does, he’d be much loved.

Ohsaka: There aren’t many guys out there who would run 20km every day, y’know.

Asanuma: I’m interested in Saikyo Nene (CV: Iguchi Yuka). The way she deftly dodges everything, her personality and her tone of voice, how she looks like she’s hiding something – there’s so much about her I’d love to probe. Nagi is somebody who’s already so tough to read, so to have somebody else who’s even more of an enigma really piques my interest.

Ishigami: The character played by Matsuoka Yoshitsugu-san, who’s already finished recording his parts – Kirihara Shizuya, I thought he was awesome (laughs). Rather than actually liking the character, I was interested in how (Matsuoka) could “take that role to new heights”.

Asanuma: It seems like you’re more interested in Matsuoka-kun rather than Kirihara (laughs).

All: (laughter)

Ohsaka: Watching his performance, I had to wonder to myself “Why on earth is Kirihara even popular with the girls?” (laughs).

Toyama: I never understood what likable traits he had at all (laughs). Matsuoka-san always changes up his acting during recording when compared to what he does during the tests, so I have to be on my toes all the time (laughs).

Q: His performance is definitely something we’ll have to keep a lookout for (laughs). Kurogane Ikki has given his all to get to the point where he’s known as the ‘Another One’ – have any of you ever put a lot of effort into anything?

Ishigami: Personally, I love games so when I have spare time I’ll be going all out playing them. Upcoming games I’m looking forward to include Persona 5, Summon Night 6 and Dark Soul 3. I like lengthy games.

Asanuma: For me it’s coffee. I drink so much of it that it’s fair to say that I’m addicted. I drink about 10 cups a day; it’s become something that I automatically turn to when I’m looking for something to calm myself down. While I do have my preferences, for example – I don’t drink instant or ice coffee, I’d like to become discerning enough towards aspects such as the beans being used. I’d like to get to a point where I could recommend coffees to people based on criteria such as levels of acidity or bitterness.

Ohsaka: For me it’s audio equipment. I buy my own microphones. I used to love getting together with a group of people to record our own drama and radio CDs. I would edit and add sound effects on my own as well. I own 2 mic stands and in time, I’d like to purchase amps and enough equipment to set up my own small studio – I hope I can do that for real.

Toyama: I’m aiming to prolong my ‘hobbyless’ record but at some point, I’d like to take better care of my hair. At this point, it’s the longest it’s ever been in my entire life.
If we’re talking about things like improving your style, beautifying the skin or learning make-up to make yourself look cuter – you’ve got to take into account that what works for one person may not work for others, and that the results you get may not be proportional to the amount of effort you put in. On the other hand, I have noticed that if I put a bit of work in, my hair can look beautiful! Thus, I’ve been looking up and trying out treatments and so on, and I’ve managed to avoid split ends with my hair as long as it is now. That’s why I’ve been thinking, “Ah, so if I do make an effort, (my hair) will be obedient” (laughs). Hair really is a precious thing; I’ve also gotten more compliments from my make-up artists recently so I’m a bit more particular about it of late.

Asanuma: Your new nickname shall be ‘Vidal Sassoon’ (laughs).

Ohsaka: How about ‘Lux Super Rich’ instead? (laughs)

Toyama: Sounds like anything will do for my nickname! (laughs)

All: (laughter)

Q: Those are great-sounding nicknames (laughs). Last of all, please leave a message for everyone who is looking forward to the anime.

Ohsaka: There have been an increasing number of fantasy school tales of late, and I think most of you would have had the chance to watch many of these. This particular anime will move in a different direction from other stories. Of course, the other characters possess their own charms, but Ikki and Stella get close to each other very quickly and I think it’s rare to have a show that is so firm in its depiction of the relationship between the two leads. What’s more, the two of them will only continue to get cooler. I think many of the viewers will be guys but I hope more girls will watch the show as well, since you could enjoy seeing Ikki’s coolness and Nagi’s girlishness (laughs). This anime will show a lot of different sides, so do please look forward to it.

Ishigami: The story of this anime will advance with Ikki and Stella as the main focal points. An equal amount of effort has gone into depicting both their romantic relationship, and how they treat each other as competitive partners. I hope you will look forward to seeing the dual nature of their relationship. The animators have put a lot of passion into this project, so while homing in on the deeply charming characters such as Shizuku-chan and Arisu-san, I hope you will look forward to the show.

Toyama: Based on the impressions I have gained from recording thus far, this anime is filled with a lot of strong characters. I myself am looking forward to seeing what should turn out to be some really impressive battle scenes. In the midst of that will be some richly unique characters so please look forward to their appearances. As for Shizuku, there is one particularly surprising scene that will make you think “Wow, isn’t that a crazy entrance she’s made!?”. When I read the part in the light novel at home, all hell broke loose for me (laughs). It’s a shocking development and I hope I get to share it with all of you soon. Please look forward to it.

Asanuma: Right from the start, an intense character like Matsuoka-kun’s Kirihara will already make his entrance – I myself am looking forward to seeing that on air (laughs). How Ikki fights, how he wins, how he loses – it won’t just be a one-sided thing so there are plenty of highlights to look forward to. This will be an anime that anyone from honour students to dropouts can empathize with. I hope lots of different people out there will watch this.

#87 – Onishi Saori

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Part 2, a continuation of this interview.

Q: Please tell us why you wanted to become a seiyuu.

A: I love watching anime; watching one anime after another from evening to night time used to be my daily routine. When I was in fourth grade, I happened to see a TV programme featuring an actual seiyuu promoting the theatrical version of a certain anime. That was how I learned about the seiyuu profession – people who produce voices to match a character, and I thought to myself “I want to be one!”. But now that I think about it, when I was in kindergarten I wrote “San from Princess Mononoke” when I was asked on my birthday, to name my future dream. During those days I had always wanted to be this or that character so once I learned about the existence of seiyuu, I wanted to become one right away.

Q: At what age did you actually start taking action to become a seiyuu?

A: I’d wanted to become a seiyuu since I was in fourth grade but at the time, I was a member of the wind ensemble club. I was doing that until I graduated from junior high so it was a tough situation to be in. When I entered high school I didn’t apply to join any clubs so I decided to try taking lessons in seiyuu training school. I called up the school and obtained the entry forms myself, then attended an interview for admission to Nichinare.

Q: You mentioned that you applied right after you enrolled in high school – that means the cut-off date for most training schools would already be over.

A: That’s right! That’s one of the reasons I chose Nichinare – because it was one of the schools that had a July admission period, and that was when I started attending classes. “That’s why I made the cut!” is what I tell people. Still, the main reason I chose Nichinare was because a lot of prominent senior seiyuu graduated from the school. When I looked at the list of graduates, I recognized the names of a lot of people who had appeared in anime I had watched. With such an impressive track record, I felt that this was a school where I could confidently devote myself to my lessons.

Q: Which Nichinare course did you choose?

A: As I was still a full-time student, I chose to take the course with weekly lessons. Those classes started with the basics such as learning the fundamentals of stretches and vocalizations, so I wasn’t really scared of, nor did I feel the gap in ability between beginners and those with experience. What did surprise me was the high level of motivation that everyone around me had. I consider myself the shy type normally, so seeing the kind of fighting spirit and energy that my classmates had during the very first lesson made me think to myself “I can’t let myself get buried this way – I’m not going to lose to them!”. I found myself being pulled in by everyone’s power and it in turn, drove me on; I am grateful to have met such wonderful classmates.

Q: What were the lessons like?

A: Different classes were taught by different lecturers, so the content of the lessons would vary. I did the basics – thorough Nichinare-style stretching to increase the flexibility of my voice, practise my articulation after warming-up, tongue twisters, nasal consonants etc, and to sum that all up we’d do a stage play at the end of the year. I didn’t even get anywhere near a microphone during that period, and I think the only time I saw a script was for the play.

Q: Did you ever feel that weekly lessons were insufficient?

A: With weekly lessons, I would have to take what I learned every week and go home and drill myself in preparation for the following week. Since I was only learning the basics, things like stretching and tongue twisters could be done alone at home. I’d diligently practise by myself for a week, then show the results to my lecturers and ask for their advice – that kind of approach to lessons suited me.

Q: To not sweep the lessons to one side, to be able to practise voluntarily and absorb what you have learned – for a 10th grader, you already showed so much awareness.

A: Is that so? It’s not like I was ever a member of the drama club, so perhaps it was just because I found the process a lot of fun. It was the first step towards becoming a seiyuu; thinking about how each of these steps would connect to another step that leads me to the path of being a seiyuu, I would use any spare time I had to practise what I had learnt.

Q: So you spent a year on the basics, then after passing the review you advanced to the preparatory course – was that the path you took?

A: Yes. After a year of doing the prep course you would usually advance to the training programme, but for me I did 2 years of prep. I cried when I failed to move up to the training programme after my first year of prep (laughs). When that happened I shifted classes, which meant my lecturers and the lesson content completely changed as well. I looked at it positively and did not let myself think that my efforts were completely wasted; instead I took the chance to work thoroughly on my weaknesses. In practice, when you start working in recording studios you’ll find that there are few opportunities to relearn the basics – having received acting direction from various parties, I feel that it was good that I spent those 2 years in prep class solidifying my foundations.

Q: What sort of lessons did you take in the prep course?

A: In my 1st year of prep we’d take a theatrical approach towards acting, using Shakespeare plays and so on. For my 2nd year my lecturer was someone who placed great importance on vocalization so even though we went through similar drama-based material, the approach was unlike the freestyle acting of my 1st year; instead, there was a great emphasis on making sure the vocalizations were spot on during the plays. I learned to be more conscious of things like bringing out volume in my voice and making sure my voice travels across the room.

Q: So, when you get into the training programme you’ll finally have lessons that are on the practical side?

A: Yes. You finally get to work with a microphone. The first thing that I was told, however was “Why can’t you judge the appropriate distance at which to stand from the mic?”. For example, there was a scene where 2 girls are having a conversation on a train – apparently, I spoke in too loud a voice (laughs). Still, I was glad to have taken gradual steps – first learning how to act with my body from my time in the basic and prep course, followed by learning how to judge mic distance during the training programme.

Q: Is there anything you learned from your lessons that left a deep impression and prove useful even today?

A: There were things taught during the basic course like vocal exercises that I used to practise every day to the point where I memorized them. Nowadays, I still use them to warm up my vocal cords before I go to work. Also, I was taught by my lecturer in my final year to “find my freedom”. During lessons I would observe other people and often immediately think to myself, “Is his/her acting the correct way?”. However, I got to know this lecturer who would urge us to believe that “each person has their own way of acting, and that is fine”, and he/she was instrumental in widening my perspectives. Having been taught by so many different lecturers, I will extract all the positive points and apply them in order to become a good actress; I will continue to take all that that I have learnt and put them into practice.

Q: The seiyuu of today not only have to learn to act in front of a mic but they have to sing, dance, talk on radio shows and at events – basically they’re required to be all-around entertainers. That’s tough.

A: Since vocalization and acting with my body form the base of my work, I am somehow able to get by (laughs). I’d never sung nor danced before this, so when I was suddenly informed that a certain job would require singing and dancing I just went “Eh!?”. But it was a lot of fun to learn them from scratch! I only took weekly classes but there was a class where you could learn dancing and singing 3 times a week, I was jealous (laughs).

Q: Having been through the system, what do you feel are the charms of Nichinare?

A: It’s not only because you can see how so many amazing seniors have passed through its doors, but there’s also the fact that you can choose the once-a-week or thrice-a-week course to suit your needs if you’re a student or a working adult.

Learning together with people of varying ages and circumstances as well as differing perspectives about acting proved a great motivator; it was also a valuable experience to see so many different acting styles and qualities. Going through the flow of enforcing the basics such as vocalization, then learning to act and express with one’s body and finally, performing in front of the microphone; I believe it was amazing that I was able to take those steps which in turn, have made it possible for me to act naturally.

Q: Do you have any future goals or dreams?

A: It has been four years since I got my first job and there have been many ups and downs, with days where I can think “I did well!” and others where I go “That was terrible”. Whatever I do, I just look at things in a positive manner and take in whatever is thrown at me, so that I can continue to grow. I don’t want to stop taking time out to reflect either. While it’s true that overthinking could have a negative effect on my performance, I do believe that worries are a necessity – without them, you would never bother to think about how you could improve yourself. So I mean this in a positive way: I’d like to be a seiyuu who continues to worry, and reflect.

Q: Please leave some advice and a message for those who are aiming to become seiyuu.

A: I would ask those of you who are aiming to become seiyuu to work hard, and never lose sight of how fun it can be. There will be times when you feel fearful but try to think of being able to enjoy acting in the end-product, and you will be able to give rise to a lively performance. Also, during lessons, don’t let your acting be influenced by other people whose approach differs from yours. Maintain your own style and methods; it is more important to reflect the character in question and of course, while you absorb the good points you should also pursue your own style. On a personal level, I am going to work hard to deliver new sides to Onishi Saori in the future, so I’d be grateful if you could continue to watch over me.

#86 – Lynn

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Name: Lynn
DoB: 1 June 19xx
Hometown: Born in Kanagawa, grew up in Niigata
Agency: Artsvision
SNS: Twitter

Lynn (real first name, surname unknown) is another ‘half’ making her way in the seiyuu industry, together with the likes of Kimura Subaru, Mark Ishii, Arthur Lounsbery and Sarah Emi Bridcutt.

She has been around for a couple of years, mostly dubbing foreign TV and playing mobs in a bunch of anime. She was Maya in Sabagebu, voices the heroine Aoi in currently-airing web anime Monster Strike which is based on the hit mobile game, and has also just been cast as lead girl Lizsharte in next year’s Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut.

This time, I’m translating two things – a short Q&A filled in by Lynn from when she appeared on Animemashite together with Bridcutt (check for the 20th and 27th October 2014 episodes and their accompanying videos), and her Map of the Future.

Apparently the first time Lynn and Sarah had met was during a party in 2013, and Lynn took the opportunity to jokingly apologize for her drunken behavior that night. The Animemashite feature was their second meeting and they seemed to get along very well, partly thanks to their shared ‘half’ status.

First up, Animemashite Q&A:

Q1. Why you became a seiyuu (anime, character, seiyuu influences)?

A: Because I watched Inuyasha and Detective Conan.

I realized that the heroes of both shows were voiced by the same person* – I looked it up and from there, I learned about the seiyuu profession and started gaining an interest in it.

*note: Yamaguchi Kappei

Q2. Recommended movies, books, manga

A: Anything with Jim Carrey in it.

I love films that leave you in a happy mood after you’ve finished watching them. His movies may feel foolish and silly, but at their heart they bring a strong message springing courage and self-belief.

Q3. What you are addicted to now (hobbies etc)

A: Photography, gel nails

I may say photography but I don’t own a camera; instead, I love processing photos and making collages.
As for nail (art), I just have fun thinking about what designs I should try out next.

Q4: The first thing you do when you wake up.

A: Wash my face to loosen up my muscles.

I feel like the muscles in my face have tightened (during my sleep) so once I’m awake, I wash my face and follow it up with exercises and a lymphatic massage.

Q5. What you must do before you go to sleep.

A: Check my schedule for the following day and set my alarm accordingly.

I struggle in the mornings and always worry about whether I’ll be late so I set two alarms – a clock and my mobile phone.

Q6. A person or seiyuu you admire most

A: Someone who has inner maturity.

I think women who are dignified, have a firm sense of who they are and are also attentive to those around them are wonderful.

Q7. The good things about being a seiyuu.

A: Work is always fun.

To work at something I love, with people cheering me on; being able to live my dreams – there could be no greater joy or blessing in life.

Q8. An anime character you fell in love with.

A: Inuyasha

I was drawn to how he’s normally a bit aloof, but in truth is someone with a kind heart, is always considerate and protective..plus, he looks strong.

Q9. What kind of seiyuu would you like to be in the future.

A: Someone who can be anyone, yet is unlike anyone else

I’d like to be the kind of seiyuu whose acting is versatile beyond imagination; I want to be an actor who can bring out individuality and personality in my performances.

Q10. Place of birth, dialects (languages).

A: Born in Kanagawa, grew up in Niigata

Each region of Niigata prefecture speaks slightly different variations so I can’t tell you which specific dialect, but what I speak sounds like a corrupted version.

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Next up, Lynn’s Map of the Future.

Lynn’s PAST

Preschool – Admired showbiz
At this age I was interested in the entertainment industry. My mom used to be in a band and yearned to make her showbiz début, so I was told. When I was in elementary school I did actually audition for a talent agency. If I hadn’t become a seiyuu I might have tried to become a singer or a tarento.

Elementary school – Learned about seiyuu
I loved Detective Conan and Inuyasha and watched both shows regularly; when I learned that the seiyuu behind the main characters – Kudo Shinichi in Conan, and Inuyasha, was the same person, I began to have an interest in seiyuu as a profession.

Junior high days – A barrier to training school
I read an anime magazine and learnt about the existence of The Japan Narration Acting Institute (Nichinare). At the time I lived in the rural areas of Niigata and quite enamoured by Tokyo itself; when I asked my parents to allow me to attend the school I was told “What on earth are you thinking of!?” (wry smile). After some time their stance shifted, “Get into high school first, and if you still have the desire to become a seiyuu then that’ll be fine” was what they said to me.

1st year of high school – Started attending training school
My wish was granted and I started attending training school. As I lived in Niigata, I would take a day trip to Tokyo by bullet train every Sunday. That meant I had little free time to hang out with my friends from my hometown but in return, I’d go visit leisure spots in Tokyo after my lessons.

2nd year of high school – Learned the value of teamwork through extracurricular activities
I was handed the role of manager of the basketball team, which proved to be a good fit with my lessons. While lessons are something you do as an individual, basketball requires cooperative teamwork. It was a wholly different type of experience for me.

3rd year of high school – Reaffirmed my desire for a job that allowed freedom of expression
During a cultural festival we did a play where I filled the role of the heroine, for which I was required to sing in the final scene. I had great fun acting in the play and felt a great thrill when I was singing in front of a crowd. That reinforced my desires – “I want to make a living out of doing something like this”.

Training school days – Experience of dubbing work
After I graduated from high school I moved to Tokyo. The first job I received after joining my agency was dubbing work. When I was in high school I was still considered as a “temporary” employee, so I was very happy to receive a formal work offer.

2014 – First anime regular show Sabagebu!
It actually took quite a while for the results of the audition to come out. That’s why I was convinced and had accepted that “I’ve failed for sure”, so when I got the role I think my agency staff and manager were even happier than I was.

Lynn’s FUTURE

25 years old – Play the lead role (heroine)!
I was hesitant about putting ‘heroine’ since I’m interested in voicing male characters as well. It’s not unusual to have female seiyuu voicing shonen manga heroes so I’d like to get to try that out at some point!

27 years old – Solo artist début!
I love the singer Ayaka; I think it’d be great if I could get to sing songs that convey a message through lyrics. I want to sing cool songs but since I’m fairly short, I would have to do some ‘adjustments’ to my shoes before I could appear at concerts or music programmes (laughs).

30 years old – Release a photo essay book
I have a great admiration for ‘camerawomen’. Right now I’m only limited to photography via smartphones (bitter laugh). I used to write poetry in my school days so I’d love to put them together with photographs. Now that I remember it, I used to write stories around the time when cell phone novels were all the rage. Though I never published them in any form (laughs).

35 years old – Land a big role dubbing the roles of a Hollywood heavyweight!
You know how people say “Ah, she’s the one who voices xxx!”. I’d like be in such a position too. Anime and dubbing for foreign works, I’d love to do both!

40 years old – Become a seiyuu who is recognized by the general public!
Though I can’t yet imagine what form of recognition I’d like to receive, I hope to be the kind of seiyuu where even people who don’t have much interest in anime or games would hear my name and think “Ah, I know her”.

60 years old – Continuing to work, leading an elegant life with my cats
I’d like to be leading a leisurely life at this point, only having to occasionally put in some work. I have this sort of image in my mind where I’d be receiving offers as such, “Hey, this Hollywood actress is gonna be in this movie soon – will you dub for her?”.

10 Questions for Lynn

Q1: What are your hobbies?

A: Photography. Recently, I uploaded some photos I took on Twitter and some of my followers complimented me! I was really happy about that.

Q2: Favourite foods?

A: Ramen. There are plenty of shops serving delicious ramen in Niigata, I ate a lot of it when I was still living there. Actually, I do still eat a lot of ramen nowadays – I better keep a watch on my weight (laughs).

Q3: Foods you hate?

A: Leeks. I’m fine if you put foods with deep flavours into things like sukiyaki, but I dislike dishes that leave athe aftertaste of leeks on my tongue… There are ramen that have leeks as an ingredient, and I try my absolute best to eat those (laughs).

Q4: Anime you liked?

A: Code Geass. It was really popular when I was in high school; after my training lessons I would go to Nakano and buy the figures.

Q5: We hear you were the student council president in junior high…

A: I handed the trophy over to the winning team on sports day! I also delivered the student representative speech during our graduation ceremony.

Q6: Any seiyuu you aim to be like?

A: There isn’t any one seiyuu in particular I wish to be like. There are wonderful seiyuu present no matter what recording I’m involved with, so I hope I can pick up positive points from them, bit by bit.

Q7: Any current obsessions?

A: Nails, visiting pet shops and Twitter. I’m grateful for all the replies I receive on Twitter and always wonder “what should I tweet next?”

Q8: If you were playing a survival game would you be at the frontlines? Or providing backup?

A: Maya’s gun is the long-range type (note: it’s an assault rifle) so I too, would like to conserve my energy… (laughs).

Q9: What was your best subject in school?

A: I think my highest scores were for contemporary literature. My favourite subject, however, was art. I did win prizes in regional competitions before, I think I got a little bit cocky during that period of time (laughs).

Q10: What about your least favourite subject?

A: Anything to do with maths or science. I worry about how I’d be done for if I have to participate in corners during any events that deal with such knowledge (bitter laugh).

From Lynn
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I am grateful to have been allowed to gain a lot of valuable experience from things like attending events and recording songs.

This is my first step towards as a seiyuu working in anime, so in the future I’d love to show my versatility by taking on a variety of roles that are not just limited to humans.

Everyone, please continue to cheer me on!

2016 Seiyuu Awards

It’s that time of year again. Looks like they’ve either forgotten about, or done away with the English site/overseas award this time around…or maybe it’s too early, I don’t know.

My votes

Best Actor: Koyama Rikiya

Klaus and Tora?

Best Actress: Saito Chiwa

I just want to give Chiwa-chan an award for churning out awesome performances while heavily pregnant AND not stopping work at all after giving birth. Just think about it, she oozed all that sexy Yona tsundere while she was on the verge of popping a baby.

Best Supporting Actor: Maeno Tomoaki

Best Supporting Actress: Kobayashi Yuu

First names that came to mind, no real reason behind the votes. I just enjoyed the overall body of work from both of these guys this year. Kobayu really shone in a bunch of supporting roles, even when I only glanced through things like Monmusu and ClassCris.

Best Newcomer Actor: Kobayashi Yusuke

Best Newcomer Actress: Ishigami Shizuka

You probably already know how much I love both of these guys. Whisper it, but I ship them together too…

Ahem. There were 3 awards dished out in the newcomer category last year which was quite funny, they’re unashamedly making up the rules as they go along!

I voted for Ozawa Ari last time out but Suzaki Aya was the one who got the gong instead. Surely Ozawa-chan will be up this time around. Unless someone high up at I’m Ent decides they’d rather have someone older like Onishi Saori or Sakura Ayane pick it up, which would quite frankly, be bizarre. Ayaneru might have a better shot at supporting awards…

For other agency peeps, there’s Takahashi Rie from 81p or Kurosawa Tomoyo from Mausu as possibilities…and yeah, there are all those Live/P idols whose names and faces I don’t recognize, plus MuRay might want in on the action even if those other two aren’t yet prominent enough to warrant acting prizes…not that that ever matters, I guess?

For the guys, Uchida Yuma (I’m Ent) and Umehara Yuichiro (Arts) are obvious candidates.

Singer: Sakamoto Maaya

Good Lord I have no idea, this category is always like the Sahara for me.

Personality: Sugita Tomokazu

Good Lord I have no idea, this category is always like the Sahara for me.
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PS. I’m sure they’d like to give Minase Inori something somewhere, but I’m not sure where.

PSS. I want to give Hayami Saori something too, but I don’t know what. The ‘Ganbatta ne!’ award?

You can vote at the usual place.

#85 – Hondo Kaede

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Name: Hondo Kaede (本渡 楓)
DoB: 6 March 1996
Hometown: Nagoya, Aichi
Agency: I’m Enterprise

Hondo is so fresh and new that I’m Enterprise hasn’t got a profile page for her yet. She’s got two major roles this season – Kukuru in Fushigi na Somera-chan and Kokoro in kids’ show Cocotama, so best to keep a lookout for her.

Kaede started attending NichiNare’s Nagoya branch in her 2nd year of high school and only just joined I’m in April this year – she’s being fast-tracked through the system real quickly so she must have that something special about her.

Da Vinci has already interviewed her.

Q: How was the photoshoot?

A: I’ve never really liked having my photos taken and I’ve only recently gotten used to looking straight into the camera, so I did feel a bit nervous. The cameraman helped to make things lively this time around and I enjoyed myself.

Q: Did you wear your own clothes for the shoot today?

A: My normal style is loose clothing like parkas and shorts but I brought something a bit prettier today. It’s still the tail-end of summer right now so I chose lighter clothing but it’s unexpectedly cold today, isn’t it?

Q: Where do you normally buy your clothes?

A: I just moved here from Aichi so honestly, I haven’t had the chance to buy anything in Tokyo yet…my outfit today, I brought it along with me from Aichi (laughs).

Q: You made your début just this year.

A: Yes, I joined NichiNare in my 2nd year of high school and having turned 19 this year, I joined I’m Enterprise in April.

Q: Have you gotten used to Tokyo yet?

A: I’ve been very much surprised by the trains. And it’s not just because of the sheer number of them. Usually, when the train doors close I feel relieved, like “This is my position, phew~”. But in Tokyo, even when the doors are shut people can still barge in and that makes me feel a little unsettled. There are others too, who get into the train with their backs facing the door saying “if I don’t do it like this I won’t be able to fit in” and it makes me think “wow, so there such tricks you can use~”.

Q: Why did you want to become a seiyuu?

A: I’ve always loved performing in front of a crowd; I was a member of the drama club in high school. Once, there was this really cool role of a nurse that I wanted to play but because of my lack of height and my youthful looks I was told “Kaede-chan, you’re better off playing this junior high school student”. That made me think, “In that case, I’ll act with my voice instead” and that was the first step.

Q: You may have just made your début, but you’ve been involved with the recording of a variety of shows already.

A: Yes, I worked on Aoharu x Kikanjuu and Denpa Kyoushi.

Q: Are there any seiyuu you get along well with?

A: Han Megumi-san. We’re working on Himitsu no Cocotama together, and she always gives me a lot of tips during recording. We’ve gone out for meals together as well. I also get along well with Ozawa Ari-san and Naganawa Maria-san. I’m able to see them in the recording studio quite often, and I now call them Ari-chan and Maria-chan.

Q: You voice the main character in two of the new autumn shows. First of all, there is Fushigi na Somera-chan in which Naganawa-san also appears. What kind of anime is it?

A: Somera-chan is a late-night, 5-minute anime that is all about the lightning-fast gags. You never know what’s going to happen next and that’s what makes it so unique.

Q: It’s a Choboraunyopomi-sensei work, which gives it a similar feel to Ai Mai Mii.

A: That’s exactly so. You’ve just got to be ready for whatever is thrown at you or you’ll never be able to keep up (laughs). I voice Kukuru-chan, the younger sister of the lead character Somera. They live together; thanks to her bum of an older sister, Kukuru has to work hard at her part-time job so that she can lead a decent life – she’s the only person in the anime who has common sense.

Q: How about your other show Kamisama Minarai Himitsu no Cocotama?

A: Broadcast in the evening and aimed at young girls, it’s the complete opposite of Somera-chan (laughs). I play the heroine Yotsuba Kokoro-chan, who’s an quiet, kind 6th grader. She’s someone who cherishes everything she has and if she treats, for example, her piano with great care, the god of the Piano will come popping out. Himitsu no Cocotama is a story about Kokoro-chan and these gods, named Cocotama. The comedic elements may be strong but it is also a warm, heartful story that anyone would enjoy watching.

Q: What’s the atmosphere during recording like?

A: Like the anime, it is very warm. It is my first ever lead role, but some of the seiyuu behind the Cocotama such as Han Megumi-san, Toyosaki Aki-san and Kakazu Yumi-san are veterans who kindly protect and cover for me.

Q: Do you think that you’re similar to either Kukuru-chan or Kokoro-chan in any way?

A: Both of them are mature girls but if I was to pick the one I most resembled…probably Kokoro-chan. Kukuru-chan is the kind of person who can still throw in thumping comebacks even when she gets caught up in the chaos but I think I share Kokoro-chan’s gentle demeanour.

Q: Perhaps, voicing gentle characters might be your speciality?

A: It’s certainly easier to voice characters that are close to my own personality. However, if we’re talking about specialities in terms of performance then I’d say I’m good at playing babies – the way they whine or a newborn’s cries; I’ve been practising these a lot. I’d like to show off those skills in an anime someday.

Q: I see. A newborn’s cries…that isn’t something that happens in anime all that often though…

A: That’s why nobody practises, if such an opportunity ever arises then..please!

Q: Apart from that – as someone who went through the Nagoya education system, you’re also involved in project758, voicing the mascot character Takakura Hijiri.

A: I auditioned for the role while I was still attending NichiNare. The character is a motif of the Atsuta Baseball ground but…I’ve never actually been there. I’m so sorry! I’ve been to Nagoya Dome before though.

Q: Do you like sports?

A: In terms of actually playing sports, I did swimming for a long time and I also like endurance running. Nowadays I still run, from my house to the train station (laughs). For watching, I’m fine with anything but in particular, I love figure skating – it’s relaxing and exciting at the same time. Aichi University is traditionally strong in figure skating so a lot of figure skaters do actually come from the area, I want to see them do well.

Q: Name 3 of your favourite things, regardless of type or genre.

A: Spicy foods, my dog, and the 3rd…acting.

Q: What kind of spicy foods?

A: I like pepper-based spicy foods, foods that are so spicy they make you feel numb to the spiciness (laughs). Tabasco is my favourite; at my peak I would have dumped two bottles of Tabasco into my spaghetti without realizing it. Nowadays, I try to be a bit more conservative and limit myself to half a bottle…

Q: What’s the spiciest thing you’ve ever eaten?

A: The last time I felt that something I ate was spicy was probably back in junior high. There’s a famous Chinese restaurant in Nagoya called Misen and the first time I tried their Taiwan ramen – that was tough for me to take. I think that might’ve been when my taste buds got destroyed (laughs).

Q: Let’s talk about your dog.

A: She’s called Lily, and she lives back in my parents’ place. She’s a small Kaninchen Dachshund and every time I go back home we’re running to each other with open arms – we get along so well that we sleep together. Over here in Tokyo it seems that caring for pets is tougher, so I can’t keep a dog..

Q: Let’s talk about acting.

A: I just love acting. I can break free of my mundane daily life! It’s not like I can jump into the kind of crazy world Kukuru-chan is in nor can I become an alien, so to be able to do all that by acting…it’s just a whole lot of fun.

Q: Before you wanted to become a seiyuu, what inspired you to get into acting?

A: When I was on a field trip during my elementary school days, there was a middle-aged lady passing by who randomly said to me “You’d look better with make-up on” (laughs). At the time I didn’t know what her words meant and when I looked it up later I thought to myself “maybe she meant I could be an actress”. And I gradually started to want to become one.

Q: That lady probably never imagined that you would take her at her word and actually become a seiyuu (laughs). Last of all, please tell us what kind of seiyuu you would like to be in the future.

A: I want to be able to play a wide range of characters…but most of all, I want to voice a baby! Right now I’m learning a lot by studying the acting of Koorogi Satomi-san and someday, I hope I can hear this being said “When it comes to babies, it’s got to be Hondo Kaede”.

#84 – Sore ga Seiyuu!

84_sorega
I actually started working on this article before the Sore ga Seiyuu! anime aired but I set it aside halfway through when I got bored with the show. I’m not sure it was a great idea to spend half the time showcasing a lily-livered noob seiyuu moping around in her room, talking to a stuffed toy. I ended up just wanting to strangle Futaba because of her naiveté, the way I want to strangle the brainless newbie employees working under me (whoops!). So yeah, it lacked the kind of character-building and emotional impact that made a show like SHIROBAKO so amazing.

It wasn’t all bad – for seiyuu fans, it was cool to spot cameos from Aoni Pro alumni and the in-jokes + rotating ending song requests were entertaining as heck…but in the end, it was just cotton candy fun. Sweet at first, but leaves you feeling empty by the end.

Enough with the negativity! You can read translations of the 4-koma webcomics together with author Asano Masumi’s comments at Marumi Channel.

The interview has two sets of answers – one featuring the three main characters Futaba, Ichigo and Rin, and the other featuring the newbie seiyuu who voice them – Takahashi Rie, Nagaku Yuki (Gakkyu) and Kouno Marika (Marinka).

#1: Since becoming a seiyuu, what is the one thing that has made you the happiest?

Characters

Futaba – The h-happiest thing!? I wonder what it is…erm I’ll say, the fact that I appeared as a regular cast member of Buddha Fighter Bodhisattvon! A-also, that I got to host a Web radio show with Ichigo and Rin-chan!

Ichigo – For me, it’s got to be how the number of Princess Ichigo fans have been steadily increasing – it’s berry su~per♪fun☆ I’m enjoying both voice work as well as a range of activities such as the Web radio and working as a member of Earphones.

Rin – That I was able to meet Futaba-san and Ichigo-san. Obviously, I am glad to have met and been able to work with various seniors, but the fact that the 3 of us were asked to do this interview together makes me very happy.

Cast

Takahashi – It has to be when I found out that I would be appearing in Sore ga Seiyuu!, and the moment I told my family about it. My mom cried with tears of joy and gave me a hug, saying “Congratulations!”

Nagaku: It’s a delightful thing when your family shares in your joys, isn’t it? When my admission to my current agency was confirmed, it meant that I would have to leave home and my mom was a little sad but she said to me “It’s gonna be tough from now on, but I’ll send you rice and vegetables”. Just recalling these memories makes me tearful (sniff).

Kouno: Even my little sister, who normally has no interest in watching anime, has been secretly scheduling recordings of the TV programmes that I appear in.

Takahashi: Your little sister is really cool. Ah, everyone has such wonderful stories to tell! (lol)

#2: On the other hand, what has been the most difficult thing you’ve faced as a seiyuu?

Characters

Futaba: Uh..there have been so many. I wonder what I should choose. Maybe the fact that I seem to be unable to string together voice acting jobs. I’ve got to work hard so that I can play a bigger variety of roles.

Ichigo: There is no such thing as hardship for Princess Ichigo! Of course, I will work hard to polish myself everyday so that fans can say to me “You were great!” no matter what I do! Berry☆

Futaba: Ah, it seems tough for Ichigo to keep in character…

Ichigo: I’m not making up this character!! Princess Ichigo is forever everyone’s Princess Ichigo☆

Futaba: How about Rin-chan?

Rin: Ah, I do enjoy working very much, but I do think that I still have to work harder at balancing both work and school life!

Futaba & Ichigo: That’s right. Rin-chan may be a seiyuu, but she’s still in junior high.

Cast

Takahashi: (with a serious face) Not getting any work.

Kouno & Nagaku: (both nod furiously)

Takahashi: There was a period where I was always worried over this, and I didn’t even know if I should have consulted anyone else on my problems – it was tough. Also, Futaba mentions this in the anime as well, but I do find it painful when I fail auditions for characters that I really want to play.

Kouno: When you’ve failed auditions for a certain anime, you get so frustrated that you don’t even want to watch it. Even if you somehow force yourself to, you will come to a bitter realization that “these are the parts that I was hopeless at”!

Nagaku: It’s important to be able to switch gears. But the truth is that you tend to get trapped by your thoughts…”Ah, I really wanted to play that role…” and you become distressed, wondering what you could possibly do.

#3: As rookie seiyuu, it’s important to greet seniors when you arrive in the studio – amongst the 3 of you, who is the most well-mannered?

Characters

Futaba: It’s not just about manners but…even though Rin-chan is still just a junior high school student, her interactions (with other people) are mature.

Ichigo: Ah, I agree! It’s amazing how she can calmly interact with everyone else, even when she’s surrounded by adults in the studio…

Rin: I-it’s not like that. I think Ichigo-san and Futaba-san are the same as well. Doing voice work, greetings are the absolute basics! When it comes to manners, I think all of us have got them down perfectly well.

Futaba: You’re right. But I do think that in Ichigo’s case, her character stands out rather than her manners. After all, it did take me by surprise when you first greeted me (laugh).

Rin: When I first exchanged greetings with Ichigo-san I too, thought that this person is incredible~ (laugh).

Ichigo: That’s why I say I’m not in character! Princess Ichigo is always sparklingly cute. And Futaba, you may be polite but you always seem like a headless chicken running around (laugh).

Futaba: That’s true. After all, I did greet the same person twice before…I’ve really got to get it together.

Rin: The 3 of us are still rookies and there are lots of things yet unfamiliar to us so individually, we have to take great care not to bring trouble to the people we are working together with – in that case, it’s not a question of which out of the 3 of us is the most well-mannered.

Futaba & Ichigo: Ooh~! You gotta give to Rin-chan, she summarized it perfectly! (laugh)

Cast

Nagaku: (interrupts) That would be me.

Takahashi: No no no (lol).

Kouno: I’d say Gakkyu is passionate, rather than polite. It doesn’t matter who she meets, she’ll immediately greet them and say “I watched XXX!” – that makes you think to yourself “Ah, she is part of Aoni Production after all” (lol). Also, Takahashi-san gets a lot of attention since she is the lead. When students visited the studio to observe recordings, she would call out to them.

Takahashi: Ahaha (lol). I’m being stared at….

Nagaku: Marinka is very good at remembering staff members’ previous works and it makes me think “She’s amazing”.

Takahashi: I do think though, that manners are a must in this industry. Nozawa Masako-san, who appeared as a guest in episode 1, is a really polite person – when somebody who’s far superior to us is such, we too must strive to follow.

#4: Seiyuu too, behave differently in public than in private. Who amongst the three of you switches the on-off button between her public and private personas the most ‘violently’?

Characters

Futaba: On-off? Err…I wonder who…? In terms of ‘strong’ characters, I’d say Ichigo…

Rin: That’s true. Ichigo-san’s character is strong but I don’t think she has any on/off switch (lol)

Ichigo: How dare you 2 say that it’s a ‘character’~! I am forever and always, the Princess of Planet Ichigo☆Princess Ichigo is neither On nor Off♪

Futaba: I always think how amazing Ichigo is when she’s in that mode…if we’re talking in terms of a ‘gap’ between traits in one’s personality then maybe Rin-chan.

Rin: Eh, me?

Ichigo: Yeah. During recordings she’s so full of resolve when voicing cool roles, but when you actually talk to her you realize that she’s really just a junior high school student…and we have Futaba here, who’s always running around like a headless chicken (lol).

Futaba: Urk, Poison Ichigo is in the house!

Cast

Kouno: The moment I read this question, I thought to myself “I think it’s me?”. When I’m out of the studio I hardly say a word.

Takahashi: Eh, really? I too, thought “It’s me”. I also barely say a word on my days off.

Nagaku: Really? In the studio, you’re always taking the initiative to talk to our seniors.

Kouno: Oh yeah. I thought your communication skills were great, watching you do that.

Takahashi: Oh I see…Umm, it was a lie! #1 would be Marinka!

Kouno: It feels weird to have it decided like that! (lol) Well, what’s certain is that Gakkyun is the one who’s the same no matter what.

Nagaku: Yeap, I knew it wasn’t me (lol).

#5: Who’s the weirdest amongst the 3 of you?

Characters

Ichigo: Futaba’s not weird but rather, she’s just airheaded☆

Rin: Yeah, she is… (lol)

Futaba: R-really…

Ichigo: After all, during a recent recording for the radio show she absent-mindedly read out the listener’s real name instead of his pen-name. Luckily it was during a recording and not while we were live on air…

Rin: (laughs) I got a shock from that too. If we’re talking about weird it’s got to be Ichigo, right? We mentioned this just now, but her ‘character’ is just so strong. Personally, I think both of you guys have unique personalities.

Ichigo: Rin-chan is considered ‘normal’ but she does have her own worries about that (lol). Isn’t that what is unique about Rin-chan’s though?

Futaba: That’s true. Rather than trying to decide who’s the weirdest, we all have our own unique points which we’d like you to know about in more detail.

Cast

Takahashi: Isn’t it Gakkyun?

Kouno: That.. might be true (lol). My first impression of her was that she was like a reliable older sister but once she opened her mouth her true self was exposed.

Nagaku: I never actually thought about it myself but others have been telling me about it lately. Like how I can freeze the air during the course of what is supposed to be a normal conversation.

Takahashi: You often misread things as well. Like how you misread ‘2nd single’ as ‘Nicond Sengle’. The Book of Gakkyu Quotations is getting thicker and thicker (lol).

Kouno: But that’s just her uniqueness. I feel that having that kind of weapon in her arsenal allows her shine more as an actor.

Nagaku: Ooh, you said a really good thing there! (lol) I’ll do my best to bring that across in my acting!

#6: Lastly, please leave a message for the anime viewers.

Characters

Futaba: Ah, a message for the anime viewers. Err…I am happy that you can watch us rookie seiyuu as you learn more about the seiyuu world. Right now, you would be seeing all our failures; the mistakes we make and the unsuccessful auditions but that’s not all there is to it. You’ll get to see how we grow every day, being taught a lot of things by seniors and through the new experiences on our web radio show. I am sure that we will very active in the future so please stay with us ‘til the end!

Ichigo: You can’t afford to miss Princess Ichigo’s cu~te♥ness and her activities☆The three of us will be working hard, tackling any difficulties so that we can be successful seiyuu, so please cheer us on! Berry☆

Rin: I will do my best, not losing out to Futaba-san and Ichigo-san, to make this anime enjoyable to the end. I would be glad if you could watch it without fail each week.

Cast

Takahashi: This is a very aggressive show that although cutely illustrated, will be a thorough and realistic depiction (of the seiyuu industry)! The staff and gave their absolute all in making this, so I hope that people will be able to understand our feelings through watching the anime.

Nagaku: When there was word that this story would be made into an anime, we were wondering if it would be 5-minute shorts but instead, it was to be made into a full 30-minute story about the workings of the industry. I will give my best so that when you watch the show, you can get to know more and more about not only the anime, but about Earphones as well!

Kouno: This is truly a show that depicts the way of life of a seiyuu – not just the glittering times but also the tough spells, which is something that might not have been possible in short-form anime so please don’t turn your attention away from the screen.

Takahashi: Yeah. The 3 of us will be giving our all in our performance so please do cheer us on!

Note: The anime may have ended, but a radio show is starting!