Monthly Archives: November 2015

#94 – Drift Girls Pt.2

Pt.2 features:

Tanaka Minami: Katano Airi
tanaka
Omigawa Chiaki: Suzuki Momoka
omigawa
M・A・O: Hirotsu Sayaka
mao
Kubo Yurika: Maetani Ria
kubo
Han Megumi: Sarah
han
Sawashiro Miyuki: Otogawa Yukino
sawashiro

source

Q: Drift Girls is a racing/dating sim. Do you drive? Do you have any favourite model of car?

Tanaka: I have a license but I’ve not driven at all yet. When I’m asked for ID I’ll pull it out to show my smug face but apart from that, I’ve not found a single use for it.. When I see light blue or brown colour classic cars around I’ll think “I want to drive that!”. Though people tell me “they consume too much fuel” (laughs).

Omigawa: I do drive! I did take proper lessons and have full intentions of being a careful driver but it seems people around me mostly react in the same way, saying things like “Are you sure you’re gonna be fine?”. I like and enjoy driving but I’m also told that “Liking something is different from being good at it”…(laughs). I drive a light commercial car but I admire higher-bodied cars. It’s great to have a wider field of view from up high.

M・A・O: I don’t have a license myself but I like cars that are spacious and have a small table or cup holders between the driver and passenger seat. And this is just a pipe dream, but I’d love to have a DeLorean. When I see cars with gull-wing doors, I start to wonder…whether they could park at parking bays. Still, at least once in my life, I’d love to sit in one, have the doors closed, have them opened again and get out! (laughs)

Kubo: I don’t have a license but I’ve always wanted to get it. I was thinking that this would be the year, but it’s already October (laughs). I love cars with big windows. Since you can easily see the scenery. A bus would be good too. When I’m on one, I keep thinking about how fun it’d be to drive one (laughs).

Han: I have a license but I rarely drive. I’d like to get used to driving by starting with wider roads. As for a car that I think is nice, I’d pick the Mini Cooper. It has a smaller body and looks easy to drive. I’d like to take a sky blue or cute red Mini Cooper for a drive.

Sawashiro: I got my license as soon I was old enough to qualify. At first I only drove when I was travelling but of late, I have been driving in Tokyo as well. It does feel nice driving around in Odaiba but the place I enjoy driving most is Hokkaido. Right now, thanks to a certain show* that began this October, I’ve been looking at Fiats on a weekly basis, so I absolutely want to ride in a Fiat at least once in my life!

*Lupin the 3rd

Q: In the game, you can drive to various dating spots. If you were to go on a drive date, where would you head to?

Tanaka: Airi likes French restaurants and I’d like to go on a date at a French restaurant with a sea view. Speeding along the coastline of Hakone would be nice too.

Omigawa: I’d like to go camping. I’ve gone camping with friends in Tanzawa before. We went in 2 cars and those who kept dogs as pets brought them along. We drove both to and from Tanzawa! Parks would be nice too. I keep 1 dog, 1 rabbit and 3 cats so I’d like to bring them along.

M・A・O: I’d like to go to a place that you could only access by car, with a great night view and illuminations. In my hometown in Osaka, there is a factory that has unique electricity-powered illuminations that I often gaze at from the highway. I’d also like to visit an aquarium. I don’t have many chances to go to such places (laughs).

Kubo: I’d like to go play golf or something that you definitely wouldn’t do alone. I do want to try it out, as it’s the one sport that you can play leisurely.. Also, this isn’t in the game but I’d love to go mountain climbing. I’d like to climb Mount Fuji at least once in my life. Tokyo is a concrete jungle, so I’d like to spend my days off surrounded by nature.

Han: I’d like to drive to somewhere a bit farther away like Kamakura or Enoshima, and go café-hopping. Photography is a hobby of mine so if I could find a person who loves driving, I would sit in the passenger seat and take pictures of my partner and the scenery – that would be lovely. It’d also be cool if I was driving alone and could take some photos while having a break.

Sawashiro: I’d go watch a sports event. I don’t normally pay attention to sports but I’d like to go watch a match together with a guy who knows about the sport in detail. I enjoy hearing the sport being explained so I’d like to watch the match and learn about it at the same time. Right now I’m working on narration for rugby specials so I’m seeing a lot of information about the players involved. With such background knowledge, it makes the sport fun to watch even if I don’t know the rules. I long to go on this kind of drive date.

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#93 – Drift Girls Pt.1

Drift Girls is a mobile racing/dating sim that’s been out on iOS/Android for a month or two, and there’s a separate JP version that comes with JP voices instead of the English ones all of us are getting.

4Gamer/Hangame blog has been posting mini-interviews with the seiyuu and I’m translating two of the more interesting questions that they ask. The posts will be split up the way they’re published so that it reads and tags easier.

Kakuma Ai: Suzuta Hikaru
kakuma
Endo Yurika: Uemura Sayo
endo
Fuchigami Mai: Aotani Saki
fuchigami
Ueda Reina: Hoshika Aya
ueda
Tanezaki Atsumi: Sugiura Nana
tanezaki

Q: Drift Girls is a racing/dating sim. Do you drive? Do you have any favourite model of car?

Kakuma: I got my license when I was still living in my hometown in Fukuoka, and I’ve driven a bit there. I haven’t driven in Tokyo for about 2 years now. It’s nice and safe being a ‘paper driver’. Next up, gold! (laughs)

*paper drivers are those who don’t utilize their license. Gold license holders are those with a clean record. For more explanation on license types, read this page

Endo: I don’t have a license…I’m also dreadful at Mario Kart and just keep banging into things (laughs). I hate the smell of leather so if I have to sit in a car, I’d like it to be an eco-friendly vehicle with no leather components.

Fuchigami: I don’t have a license. I like the colour blue so I think I’d get excited if someone came to pick me up in a blue car. I’d like to have all sorts of fun during a drive; it’d be nice if the car isn’t too wide and not too narrow, but just right.

Ueda: I don’t have a license so I can’t drive. I’m hoping that I can get it in about 10 years’ time. I had an opportunity to collaborate with Fiat for a project in the past and was allowed to test out the car – it was really cute and I’m thinking it’d be nice to have this kind of car.

Tanezaki: I don’t have a license but I do like going for drives. It’s unfortunate that I only have opportunities to go for rides when I’m back in my hometown…It’s nice when you get to watch the scenery when you’re in the passenger seat. I like cute, smaller pastel-coloured cars. I’d pick cars that are cute in shape and colour.

Q: In the game, you can drive to various dating spots. If you were to go on a drive date, where would you head to?

Kakuma: I’d like to go to a luxury resort! It’d be nice to rent a car and drive around Okinawa too. Also, I’d like to visit an aquarium. I hear they have been doing projection mapping lately. When I’m in Tokyo I’m mostly taking the trains so I do get excited when I get to ride cars during events. Night drives are nice too. I’d like to go to Odaiba.

Endo: I’d like to go café-hopping. I love tea so I’d sit in a café and have a cup of tea, then go to a karaoke after that. Also, I’d like to go to a casino. I want to be Kaiji for a day.

Fuchigami: I really like birds so I visit places where I can interact with them; I also like looking for rare birds on my travel stops so going to see birds at the zoo seems fun. Amongst the species of birds, I really like the colourful, cheerful voiced birds like parrots and parakeets. I’m generally fond of living creatures so an aquarium would be nice too. After visiting the zoo or aquarium, I’d like to go to a stylish bar at night.

Ueda: A park sounds good. I say park, but what I’d really like to do is wander around in a forest. But I’m easily scared so I’d have to go in the daytime. I’m also fond of shrines or temples that are illuminated with lights; I like the atmosphere in sacred places.

Tanezaki: The zoo would be great! I love everything animal-related but for some reason, I get really excited when I see elephants or monkeys. Still, I do love going for car rides so just driving along the ocean would be fine.

#92 – Takahashi Chiaki

92_chiaking
Name: Takahashi Chiaki (たかはし 智秋)
DoB: 8 May 1977
Hometown: Yokohama, Kanagawa
Agency: Freelance
SNS: Twitter, Blog, Website

This is my first time attempting to translate Seiyuu Road, a feature that takes the form of a monologue instead of the typical Q & A, and is billed as ‘advice from super veteran seiyuu to you, the wannabe seiyuu’.

Oftentimes, interviews only offer a brief snapshot into a seiyuu’s mindset but Seiyuu Road gives the reader an opportunity to learn about the seiyuu’s background and hence, helps you to better appreciate their success. Be warned though, that with seiyuu telling their personal stories, there can be a lot more bitterness, darkness, and at times, ranting, than you expect. It is interesting though, that you can sort of gauge a seiyuu’s personality through their words. Some are hilarious, like Chiaking. Others are more pensive, others intense. It will be tl;dr to get through the whole thing, but hopefully you’ll learn something from it…

Pt.1 I respect people who are operating on a different plane, I want to interact with others while showing consideration

I selected a short-term, intensive training school course after winning an audition

When I was in elementary school, I wrote “I want to be a seiyuu in the future” in our graduation yearbook. Having said that, it’s not like I really wanted to be a seiyuu, I just wrote it partly out of spite. At the time I was fat and had a weird voice and was badly bullied. Asked to write an essay with the title “My Future Dream”, I reasoned, “I am fat and my voice is weird so people will make fun of whatever I write. If I write ‘sumo wrestler’ or ‘seiyuu’, maybe they won’t laugh at me. But girls can’t be sumo wrestlers, so I guess I’ll write seiyuu?”. Seiyuu at that time were seen as people who had chosen the job because ‘they had weird voices’ rather than because it was a fashionable industry like how it’s perceived now.

From an early age, despite being fat, I felt passionately that “I want to make a living in entertainment. I want to be a model” and so on. I really craved the limelight. Still, I never talked about it as I was sure I would be laughed at, so I attended auditions in secret. As expected I was told that I possessed a “unique voice” which made me recall what I had written in my elementary school graduation yearbook, and I then started to receive training in voice acting school. I wanted to stand out so much in auditions that I created a weird character for myself where I’d “walk with a strut then deliberately fall over”. I wanted the audition committee to remember me as “the girl who falls over”. I think I was just a bit of attention whore. Now that I’m an adult, I do think I was bullied not because I was fat or because I had a weird voice – it was because I was an attention seeker.

My parents opposed my showbiz ambitions. But my father told me “I’ll allow you to pursue it if you prove that you can make it in through tough competition”, so I entered some large-scale auditions with many applicants and ended up passing about 5 in total. I confidently brought the acceptance letters to show my parents. My father used to do the martial arts and is the type of guy who would never go back on his word, so he said “Okay. I’ll give you 1 million yen so in return, get out of this house!!”. That is how I left home and started making my way into showbiz.

Amongst all the acceptance letters I had received, I chose to go with a well-established voice actor training school. The course was for just 1 year but with classes 6 times a week so I felt I would be able to fully concentrate on it. The material was fairly substantial as well and it felt like I was learning skills geared for mainstream talent rather than attending a mere voice training school. It was perfect timing for me – once I graduated from high school I went into voice training.

Leaving home, I attended the training school while co-habiting with my boyfriend at the time. He was a wonderful person who had fully supported me after I left home. I even thought about getting married to him but once I had graduated from training school, he dumped me… My love affair ended right around the time I passed agency auditions. Thinking that “my life as a voice actor starts now”; at the age of 19-20 I swallowed my pride, begged for forgiveness and returned to the family home.

After joining my agency I auditioned for a number of works but failed them, one after another. I love R&B, hip-hop and reggae and favoured wearing sexy import dresses but it seems that those elements did not give off a good impression. At the time, seiyuu mostly wore frilly clothing. “This is a job that involves voice work, why should clothes even matter?” – I tried to argue my case but because of my young age, nobody would listen to me. Sometime later when I was auditioning for a role in a game, we were required to perform character songs and I was the only person amongst the potential cast dressed like Beyonce (laughs). It was not only my attire that was a problem but my performance in front of a mic was so terrible that you’d want to cover your ears – it was obvious that I would fail the audition.

My rookie era where I was unable to communicate well with the people around me

The reason I originally wanted to be a seiyuu was because ‘I have a weird voice” and not because I had any particular love for anime or games. In training school, and after I joined my agency, I began to meet more and more “people who loved anime and games” – something I had no experience of up ‘til that point, and it felt like an unknown world was opening up to me. The agency was my first experience of society at large and it all felt like a social study to me. I think I learnt things like “hierarchical societies” at this point as well.

When I started out, I was quite bad at communicating with the people around me. Though I do still suffer from such problems these days (laughs).

For example, everyone has different methods of working towards securing work for themselves. One factor that’s surprisingly important is how well one communicates with production staff and managers. The me of that time however, dismissed such notions. “You’re getting work via false flattery! What an ass-kisser! It’s unfair!” – I’d say rude things to veteran seniors and offended a lot of people along the way.

In any society, the connections between people are important. Even if a certain person really is a flatterer, he or she is just working to the best of their ability. Being able to accept that as fact is in itself a form of courtesy. I think it was jealousy on my part – I was jealous of people who could communicate well. Even when I tried my best to imitate them it would all backfire on me and instead, I’d get told off. “You’re taking me for a fool, aren’t you (fumes)”. That is why I decided that I had no choice but to accept that my ‘making life tough for myself’ personality is what it is. In recent years, I have come to comprehend that part of meyself and I think I am gradually starting to gauge the pace at which I function. Respect people who operate on a different plane and be considerate when interacting with others – these are things I try to keep in mind on a daily basis.

Pt.2 I am who I am today because of those days

The birth of the sexy voice actress. That R-rated PV too!?

I am described as ‘the overly sexy seiyuu’ and that is a very unusual position to be in. There are of course,other sexy seiyuu. It’s just that I am ‘overly sexy’ (laughs). “How much sexier can she possibly get”? My motto is ‘to go where nobody has gone before’. I’m just going to travel further and further off the beaten path!

It has been 7 years since I started doing sexy gravure work at the age of 30. I have always loved sexy clothing and import dresses that the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna and Shakira favour and I often upload photos of myself wearing such clothes on my blog. Eventually, someone working in the industry called me up and asked “Would you like to do gravure?”

Seiyuu started to venture into activities and fields outside of voice work around that period and it kick-started a 2nd seiyuu boom for the group of seiyuu in the generation following our seniors who are now aged in their late 40s to early 50s. I was singled out amongst the various seiyuu who were prominent in the media as ‘that kind of weird person, the one who’s got great impact’ (laughs). “She’s gravure-oriented” was how I was described and starting with Weekly Playboy, I begun being approached by various magazines. That was followed up with an offer to shoot a photobook and before I knew what was happening, I had earned the title of “overly sexy seiyuu” (laughs).

I’d previously released solo CDs but when the official PV for Kon’ya wa Chupariko was uploaded on Youtube, it gained an R rating within 3 hours (laughs). I wanted to pull off a reggae dancer kind of feel so I was dancing while wearing a T-back, maybe that was the reason why the video was classified as ‘racy’? Well, it was another achievement for me. I mean, you don’t normally see PVs for seiyuu songs being designated as R-rated (laughs). In some ways, it became a legend (laughs).

‘Sexy Spice’ brings good luck!

When I was a member of the seiyuu unit Aice5, I rapped and sang and wore skirts that were shorter than those of the other girls…I was a nonconformist. I had participated in various other units apart from that but none of them showcased the ‘Sexy Spice’ in me.
Yet, beginning with the Aice5 members, all my colleagues in the units I participated in put up with my selfish ways, watched over me warmly and supported me. Maybe it was easier for us to get along because our personalities didn’t clash, but I do feel that I was blessed to have such wonderful companions. I’m very grateful.

With help from these friends, I developed this specific boisterous ‘Sexy Spice’ act. “Takahashi Chiaki may be sexy but she is also fun”. Recently, I have also received invitations for and been cast in events and programmes featuring popular male seiyuu. Of course, while dressed in my usual sexy outfits (laughs).

As I have a number of female fans, I often wonder whether they would denounce a woman like me who is very open when it comes to sex appeal but to my surprise, they have accepted it well. In fact, I have started receiving lots of fan letters from women. Currently, I am working with young female rookie seiyuu on various shows, and I also receive letters from male fans of those young female seiyuu saying “Thanks for helping to nurture xxx-san”.
Actually…I have heard that there is a rumour going around that “You will become successful if you work on a regular radio programme with Takahashi Chiaki!” (laughs). I’m delighted to know that my ‘Sexy Spice’ could be bringing good fortune to others.
There are great benefits to be gained when you worship my chest. I am sure of it ♥

A beauty regimen is all about finding the routine that suits you!

I’m often asked “Do you have any beauty regimens to recommend?” and the answer is…that there are so many. What is most important is to find out whether it “suits you”. It doesn’t matter how good people say a specific beauty regimen is if you don’t follow it for a prolonged period of time. In my case, I only started putting more effort into beauty maintenance when I turned 30 and had decided to do gravure.
Up ‘til then I had been trying out diet plans that were detrimental to the body ie. “not eating at all”. However, once I learned that beauty and health go hand-in-hand, I was able to come up with suitable meal plans, food content and mealtimes.

Obviously I do visit beauty salons and have frequently received placenta, vitamin B6 and amino acid (tryptophan) injections. I also work out and train my inner muscles etc, even vocalization is useful exercise. Anyway, what’s important is to “find out whether (a regimen) yields good results for you”. One man’s meat is another man’s poison so there’re an infinite variety of things you could try. It goes without saying that you’ll be spending quite a bit on this so you should identify and ensure that the treatments are value for money.
I have tried out various things and arrived at my current care routine. As I get older, my body will change. When that happens, I will search once more for a beauty regimen that suits my body. It’s a long road ahead!

From my childhood, I had a complex about my weight and was bullied about it but I have finally gotten over it now that I’m older. “When I grow up I’ll work hard to earn money so that I can buy the care products I need to become beautiful” – that was my true dream. My wish has been fulfilled and I’m even a gravure model. The other reason I was made fun of was my “strange voice”, and I’ve also managed to utilize that through my voice acting profession.
I really am lucky. In turn, lucky ‘ol me is going to sprinkle good fortune on as many of you as possible!

LADY LUCK!!♥

Pt.3 Never give up and if you work hard, all your dreams will come true

Draw luck nearer to you. Every minute and every second is a thing of the past!

I have been freelancing for a number of years now and the one thing I want to say is that I’m extremely lucky. Going through the pain of being bullied as a child and even running out of credit as an adult, a perverse person like me has still been supported by my parents, my friends, colleagues and work associates. I truly do appreciate it. I am not just a lucky person.
This feeling of luckiness at being able to be actively working freelance – I do not know if people understand, but it makes me one of a minority. From my point of view, it is even tougher to be part of a business organization, bound by its rules and living life by compromising. In truth, it is the path that an upright person should take. Sociability through corporate life, a cooperative nature; how you adapt to your surroundings and the pace depends on your level of education. Thus, if one is not as lucky as I am, I would suggest that you do your absolute best to comply faithfully with the rules of this society.

Having said that, it was just a case of incompatibility between myself and my agency; it wasn’t like I decided that I wanted to go freelance. Personally, I believe that ‘every minute and every second is in the past’. Nobody knows what is going to happen. Every minute, every second is a chance for a new me to be reborn. Hence, I might even join an agency 1 second from now and after 1 minute, I might start something entirely new. The future is always unknown.

This is why I go through each day in excitement, because you never know what’s going to happen. The character 運 consists of the radical 軍 from 軍人 (soldier), combined with 辶, which means ‘go’.

“The path tread by he who fights”.

If that is what ‘being lucky’ means, then someone like me who chooses to live a life that does not conform to public opinion, without relying on organizational forces or major authority; can truly say that “luck” is with me because I bear all responsibilities on my own. It may sound cool but if you over-exaggeratedly insist that you cannot accept the benefits that come with organizational power and authority, then you are like a ‘lone wolf’. What you get in return is freedom and to no longer be tied down. There are pros and cons to both sides. Yet, there are so few who choose to be independent from the system that you can’t really generalize them as ‘rogues’. Well, this is my own unique story. Each person stands on his own stage. Will you be able to grab onto that “luck” when you’re fighting on your own stage, without getting trapped by the past? No matter what profession you choose, I believe that a positive attitude can be an important motivator in life.

To those aiming to become seiyuu in the future…

These days, the seiyuu profession covers a wide range of activities. Anime, games, dubbing foreign works, radio…the number of broadcasting stations have increased as well with BS (broadcasting satellite) and CS (commercial satellite). There is plenty of content available through the radio as well as Nico Nico live broadcasts and net-distributed shows. There are more chances for seiyuu to show their faces on programmes as well. It has become difficult to determine just what makes one a ‘seiyuu’ based purely on the work you do. There is a genre such as “seiyuu artist” nowadays after all. I myself have become synonymous with the term ‘gravure seiyuu’ (laughs).

Thus, you must first of all think carefully about what genre of seiyuu you would like to be. If you wish to become an anime seiyuu, , it is essential for you to constantly attend auditions for new shows as most productions these days are 12-13 episodes each. You may also have to take on additional, unexpected work. You might end up doing things that are completely unrelated to anime, such as fashion shows or receive an offer to appear on a cooking programme. It’d be easy to turn it down, but if you were to take on the challenge you might put in a performance that could get you mistaken for a professional model, or your cooking might be so amazing that it makes the show a roaring success…

Wouldn’t that be great? Of course, you shouldn’t get your priorities all wrong and end up neglecting seiyuu work. Please produce wonderful performances in front of the mic. What do you have to do in order to create a good performance? You can learn from the many words of wisdom given by our revered seniors through this Seiyuu Road series. By all means, do go back and read the previous articles. They’re packed with words that will penetrate your heart!

Apart from that, it’s good to consider potential 2nd and 3rd professions if you do not make your #1 choice of becoming a seiyuu. For example, #1 would be a seiyuu and #2 a pilot. They’re both extremely hard to succeed in but just do your best at them. So if you started working as a pilot and managed to pass an anime audition, you could be a splendid “pilot seiyuu”. Then, lots of wonderful job opportunities will open up. You might think that I’m being ridiculous but I believe that as long as there remains no one profession that is exceptionally stable in this day and age, you will not be able to make a living unless you work hard at a combination of things.

While continuing seiyuu activities, try on different masks and you will gain attention for your skills. Then, you will be able to handle a diverse array of seiyuu-related work, which opens up many possibilities. You only live once. Let’s go all out and hit as hard as possible!!
Good Luck♥

———————–

Yeah I think Chiaking only makes sense when she’s talking about herself (what a narcissist!). Towards the end, when she’s supposedly dishing out advice to seiyuu wannabes, it becomes a torrent of verbal diarrhoea and her words go to pot – totally no idea what she’s on about in the last couple of paragraphs. It’s like she started the interview with a can of beer in her hand and ended it drunk on a dozen pints of JD on the rocks. But it’s all still hella fun!

#91 – Izawa Mikako

91_izawa
Name: Izawa Mikako (井澤 美香子)
Nickname: Mike (read Mee-kay)
DoB: 6 September 1994
Agency: Sony Music Artists
SNS: Twitter, Blog

While Mike’s voice is not quite in my wheelhouse, she is quite endearing when you hear her on the radio…well, in a blonde kind of way. She’s currently voicing the virginal lead Tokonome Mamori in boobs anime VALKYRIE DRIVE –MERMAID and was in Re-Kan! and Wakaba Girl. Part of SMA alongside the likes of Inase Minori, you can expect to see a lot more of her in the future.

This interview was published in May, before Wakaba*Girl went on air.

Q: How was today’s photoshoot?

A: The weather was fine and I think the photos will come out light & breezy like the wind. It was my first time taking part in this kind of shoot; I didn’t know what I should do so I brought an apple along with me.

Q: An apple?

A: It seems like something I can easily hold while I’m moving. I often bring similar small props along to recording. I’ve brought a tambourine to a radio show before as well. Maybe it’s because I used to perform etudes (improvisation plays) using props back in the days when I was performing on stage.

Q: Your clothes have a very summery feel to them.

A: Thank you! I really like this outfit. I love it so much that I have it in different colours, though it is my first time wearing it in light-blue. I love one pieces and I have a lot of them. However, I am attending many events this year so I would like to try out different clothing styles.

Q: The TV anime VALKYRIE DRIVE –MERMAID- is becoming a hot topic. What kind of girl is Tokonome Mamori?

A: For the auditions, her character setting was “easy-going, a very ordinary girl”, so I tried to voice her with a ‘fluffy’ kind of image in mind. However, my impression of her changed once I received the actual script for the anime. While she does have a fluffy side to her, she’s also a girl filled with resolve.

Q: When Shikishima Mirei, voiced by Iguchi Yuka-san, lays her lips upon Mamori’s, she transforms into a sword…

A: That’s right. Mamori’s just a normal girl but one day, all of a sudden, she finds herself turning into a weapon. Various events throw up confusion as well as conflict, but please watch out for how these two face these situations!
Also, Mamori-chan is a bit of a klutz at times and I think that’s cute (laughs).

Q: Visually, she’s cute too – from head to toe.

A: But she’s got a tiny frame! It seems she has a complex about her height and says things like “I’m not small!”. That too, is cute (laughs).

Q: Speaking of preferences, there is something about this show we’ve got to mention…

A: …yes, there are a lot of them (laughs). I’m trying to tread a safe path here (laughs).

Q: Okay (laughs). We hear that the girls are drawn really sexily, based on Director-cum-Character Designer Kaneko Hiraku-san’s preferences. Particularly the chest area.

A: My partner Mirei-chan is, shall I say, rather glamorous, but there are other characters that far surpass your imagination…. The character designs are filled with plenty of Director Kaneko’s love, they’ll go far above and beyond what you expect. You can definitely feel the depth of the Director’s love. As to what kind of love it is…I won’t say (laughs).

Q: You have appeared at an event together with Director Kaneko. Did the two of you ever talk about the show’s direction?

A: He has often spoken of how he “wants to portray the bond between Mirei and Mamori”. He may have said “this is a sexy anime” at events and on Twitter, but it’s not that kind of story to me (laughs).

Q: I see! So the show will focus on the bond between Mirei and Mamori.

A: I have seen some of the storyboards and I was really moved. It’s passionate, as well as touching. The characters’ feelings are depicted very well and you can empathize with any of them. It might be a bit difficult, but I hope that this show will be seen by not just men, but women too.

Q: What is the atmosphere like during recording?

A: Personally, I am really happy to be working alongside Iguchi (Yuka)-san, someone who I’d been listening to on her Cho-Raji! radio show since my junior high days. I even sent in mails to her programme. When I first met her, I got goosebumps and I’m still finding it hard to believe. She taught me a lot of things as recording went along.

Q: Is it tough handling all those audacious scenes with an all-female cast…?

A: I attended an all-girls high school so the atmosphere was quite similar. It’s a bit like a situation where, if a male teacher showed up, he’d scold us by saying “Don’t talk about such things!” (laughs). There was this kind of openness to proceedings.

Q: From July, you will appear as Tokita Moeko in Wakaba*Girl. There are 4 main girls – what’s Moeko’s position amongst them?

A: Since everyone around her is airy, Moeko-chan has no choice but to play the straight man (laughs). Wakaba-chan (CV: Ozawa Ari) is a little…offbeat, or maybe I should say a quirky, kind of girl, and there’s Mao-chan (CV: M.A.O) who operates at her own pace and is a little weird, plus Nao-chan (CV: Murakawa Rie) is a fujoshi. To be honest, Moeko-chan is actually quite airy herself (laughs).

Q: The role of Moeko was one that was determined by audition, wasn’t it?

A: Moeko-chan is the very girlish type that’s good at baking sweets and I really wanted to play her ever since I auditioned for the show. When I got the role I was thinking “No way!”. To tell the truth, I got her name wrong during auditions and called her “Moe” instead. I tried to cover up my mistake right away but I felt depressed all the way home after… That is why I was so happy when I got the role! It’s a work by Kiniro Mosaic creator Hara Yui-sensei, and the anime has interesting gags and a great tempo so please look forward to it.

Q: On the other hand, the broadcast of Re-Kan!, where you played Hanako, has just ended

A: I really enjoyed going to recordings for Re-Kan! and it does feel a little sad that it’s over now. The cast members were close in age and we got along famously well, plus we had a Sound Director (Kawazoe Kengo’s) whose style was passionate and he’d guide us patiently until we could produce the kind of acting that he wanted us to. I learned a lot just by listening to him. It was an anime where everyone was united towards the goal of making a good show, and I’m glad to have been involved in it.

Q: You recorded a character song as well.

A: It was my first ever character song and I was quite nervous about it; the lyrics were heart-rending and befitting of Hanako-chan. Trying to get in Hanako-chan’s character as much as possible, I ‘acted’ rather than ‘sang’ the song – it was a lot of fun!

Q: You started doing voice and radio work when you were in high school.

A: I wanted to become a seiyuu but I was not attached to any agency but I had no idea where to begin, so I ended up submitting an application for public casting for Bunka Housou’s Honki! Anilove radio programme. After all, I did start off loving radio shows. For the programme I’d grill rice cakes wearing my school uniform etc. – they just let me do whatever I liked (laughs).

Q: When did you start becoming interested in the seiyuu profession?

A: I began getting addicted to anime back when I was a junior high school student. The show that started it all for me was S.A~Special Agent.

Q: Moving on to your private life – is there anything you’re obsessed with?

A: I took up bouldering and recently, I’ve rapidly awakened to the joys of cooking! I make a bento to take to recordings – I enjoy planning meals that’ll taste good and retain their texture even when cold. Hamburg steaks with tofu filling for example, remain tender even after they’ve gone cold. For my 20th birthday, I told my family “I’m going to be the chef for today” and whipped up a super luxurious meal. Hamburg steaks in tomato stew and salmon with French bread and wine. I also like making sweets to give to my manager and friends as gifts.

Q: Anything else you’re obsessed with?

A: I’m want to try my best to polish my driving skills. I haven’t driven since I got my license a year ago, I think I’ve better buck up (laughs).

Q: If you were to go for a drive what would be your destination?

A: I want to go to Iwate! I originally started to practice driving as I wanted to explore hikyo stations. With a sketchbook in hand, I’d travel leisurely and carefree. I was a member of the art club back in junior high, I love drawing.

Q: By the way, how did your nickname Mike come about?

A: I joined the drama club when I was in elementary school and in a play my character Ayako-chan’s nickname was “Mike-chan”. The character itself had a complex about it, and I remember her “I hate the name Mike-chan. I want a cuter nickname” line of dialogue particularly well (laughs). I personally liked the nickname though, and people have been calling me that since I was 12!

Q: Mike-chan sounds like something you’d call a cat. You also upload a lot of cat photos on Twitter. Do you love cats?

A: Yes I do! Even my signature has a cat in it. We keep a fluffy tabby cat as a pet in the family home. It loves getting into the futon – it looks so cute when it’s warm~ (laughs). It’s just so cute, when it wakes up in the morning it just looks so reluctant to do so and goes right back to sleep (laughs). I have tote bags with cat patterns on them and I also save and often look up cat pictures.

Q: You’ve imitated cats on Twitter as well (laughs)

A: I have a few different versions of imitations (laugh). Like when a cat has its eyes wide open and I’m staring right back at it. When my family members see me doing that they’ll ask “What on earth are you doing?” (laughs).

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

A: Shinoda Minami-chan, who I worked with together on Anirabu. We’re the same age and we confide in each other. Also, we have this rule where we must “report to the other if there is good news!”. We’re like high-schoolers who are great friends; though we do go through tough times, we are both growing together, gradually getting more roles in anime.

Someone like Inami Anju-chan too. We’re in the same agency SMA and we get along well! We went along for yakiniku in a group recently and got high on grilled squid. We were all “It’s butterflied! It’s butterflied!” (laughs).

Q: What goals do you have as a seiyuu in the future?

A: This year’s goal was to feature on (Da Vinci’s) Seiyuu Interview so it already came true…
I’d like to set a goal for the second half of the year. I’ve gotten a lot more anime work recently, but I’m still not able to achieve the kind of acting I wish to, so I’d like to level-up on my expression and comprehension skills in order to deliver good work to as many people as possible.

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

A: Thank you for reading this article! I’ve only just made my voice acting début so in order for people to get to know me a little bit better, I want to try out various different voices as well as continuing to be myself on radio shows. If you ever see me somewhere out there, I’d be glad if you could cheer me on!

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Ah, VALKYRIE DRIVE –MERMAID-. What can I say? It’s so trashy but it so appeals to the horny yuri fangirl in me; as stupidly tropey as the characters are, I just can’t help but squee over…uh…Rain! Yeah, Rain is really cool. Onishi Saori is cool…Onishi Sexy…ah, who am I kidding #freethenipple

Incidentally, Izawa originally wanted to voice Mei Fong (CV: Kubo Yurika) because she sees similarities between the character’s personality and her own. She auditioned for Mei Fong but was also asked to try out for Mamori, and she got that role instead – producer Takagi Kenichiro says it was a unanimous decision in choosing Mike as Mamori.

If you can spare the time, do give the VALKYRIE DRIVE radio show a listen – it’s hosted by Mike and Yukachi (+ Kubo Yurika aka Shikaco starting next week). There is a very obvious generation gap between the main two and Yukachi is definitely not afraid to have a dig at Mike, her star-crossed fangirl. Lots of otaku talk too, as well as the recurring question of ‘has Izawa Mikako told her mother that she’s in VALKYRIE DRIVE yet’ (as of now, she still hasn’t).

#90 – In Memory: Matsuki Miyu

Yesterday, the world found out about Matsuki Miyu’s passing on 27 October. She was just 38.

I am lousy with words so nothing I write could adequately express the sadness I feel or how much she will be missed.

Instead, here are a few words from Miyu herself – self-written lyrics for Oyasumi nasai, a song composed by marble’s Kikuchi Tatsuya for Miyumiyu’s White Sincerely album.

にぎやかな時間が やがて終わり
めぐる喜びと悲しみ乗せて
きれい・きれいな世界だけがまわりだす

ゆっくりと おやすみなさい
続く オルゴールの響く音
繰り返す 優しい歌に
お願い もう誰も泣かないでいて
空の向こう 届く光
見えるかな?

The merry times are finally over
Riding the revolving joy and sadness
Only this beautiful, beautiful world keeps on turning

Good night, sleep well
The echoing sounds of the music box go on
A gentle song that plays over and over again
Please, may you cry no more
The light that reaches beyond the sky
Can you see it?

Rest in Peace, Matsuki Mieko, 1977-2015.