Animate.tv is running a new interview series called ‘to the future!’ focusing on seiyuu who are now starting to make it big, and Ishigami Shizuka is one of the first to feature. Read about her beginnings and her hopes for the future!
High School: From Wanting to be a Mangaka to Aiming to be a Seiyuu
Q: I hear that in your school days, you once sent off your drawings to a certain publisher.
A: I’d loved drawing since I was a child and my dream was to become a mangaka when I grew up. Hence, when I was in high school I sent in some of my work for a comic anthology competition and won a prize.
For about 1 year following that I drew manga for a business magazine.
Q: Having already taken your first steps as a mangaka, why did you switch to wanting to become a seiyuu?
A: I wasn’t solely interested in manga to begin with – I had a similar amount of interest in doing voice work. Just when it was time for us to decide on our career paths, I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a seiyuu.
Naturally, my parents said things like “Wouldn’t it be fine if you just went to college first?” and “You’re already doing manga-related work, so why?” to me. Personally, it was after experiencing the manga-drawing profession that I once again thought about wanting to become a seiyuu.
The reason why I became interested in seiyuu was because I was a gamer (laughs). I thought to myself “I want to do voices for characters that appear in games!”. Games I played in my school days include the ‘Tales of’ series. While playing, I’d think “I want to shout out the spell names!”
Q: I see.
A: Thus, I took my first steps towards becoming a seiyuu and obviously, it was not an easy road to take.
It’s a world where one, as a seiyuu, is a “product”. Unscripted free talks, dance, song. With my poor communication skills, I struggled. Yet my parents never once grumbled that I should have gone to college or tried to make it as a mangaka; instead, they encouraged me to ‘aim to be a seiyuu’. Without uttering a word of complaint, they urged me not to give up.
I think that is why I worked hard, never giving up.
Q: I once read an interview where you remarked that, having joined an agency, you felt that you “had no choice but to ‘reinvent’ yourself”. Why did you think so?
A: In retrospect, the ‘me’ back then was overly optimistic. I believe I did not put in enough effort to improve myself as a voice actor. I mean, I honestly thought that once I had joined an agency, that work would just steadily fall into my lap (laughs).
The reality was this – once I was attached to an agency and started up my activities, I would’ve been greatly fortunate if I got 1 job every 2-3 months. It made me wonder “Honestly, what job am I supposed to be working at right now?”. Still, going through such an experience turned out to be a major turning point in my life.
“Jobs will not come to me unless I make the first move”. Coming to such a realization meant that I was able to switch gears!!
Memories of my first passed audition: “Kenzen Robo Daimidaler”
Q: In 2015, you voiced characters such as Mito Ikumi in Shokugeki no Soma, Kajo Ayame in Shimoneta to iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Sekai and Stella Vermillion in Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry. Are there any characters or shows you’ve worked on that have left particularly deep impressions on you?
A: All my roles have left deep impressions! But if I had to pick one, then I’d say Kiyuna Kiriko-chan from Kenzen Robo Daimidaler, the first ever role I was chosen for via audition.
It was actually through a tape audition, but when I heard that I’d passed I was surprised, thinking “Wow, auditions are things you can actually pass for real!”.
That was the moment where I first thought that “I’ve finally taken my first step as a seiyuu”.
Also, there was my parents. Up until the point where I got to voice Kiriko-chan, I hadn’t much good news to report to them. My mother had been saying, “Perhaps it’d be better for you to go to college and change to a more solid career path?”.
Having experienced various failures, there were times where I started to wonder if I too, was a ‘failure’. But when I told my parents “I passed the audition”, they shared in my happiness and said to me, “Well done for all the work you’ve put in”.
Both of my parents had inwardly, wholeheartedly supported my seiyuu activities so seeing how they were so happy when I passed the audition made me feel glad too.
Q: Did you watch any of your shows together with your parents?
A: Yes! It was Daimidaler! Though my father wasn’t really watching the show properly (laughs). My mother couldn’t recognize my voice at all either. But when they saw the credits rolling they were surprised and went “Wow, it’s true!”. No matter how late it was, they would try to catch the show live on air in the living room. It made me happy.
Q: What wonderful parents they are. As it was your first time being part of the main cast, did you face any struggles?
A: When I’m voicing mob characters I might have 1 or 2 words of dialogue in 1 episode but as a main cast member for Daimidaler, I had lots of opportunities to speak in both the A and B parts.
When I opened up the script I had received, there were pages consisting solely of Kiriko-chan lines; I knew I’d cause trouble for others if I were to stumble over or mess up my lines so I made sure I practised hard at home. Basically, I just practised diligently. I was the only total rookie in the studio so I was conscious of not causing trouble to others around me.
Q: When you say you practised a lot – is there anything that you worked on specifically?
A: Actually, Direcctor Yanagisawa Tetsuya and Sound Director Aketagawa Jin are both very kind people who would never get angry at anything.
The anime is gag-focused so even if we tripped up they’d just go “Okay! One more time!” – it was that kind of atmosphere in the studio. Since it my was my first ever major role I was a bit nervous but not to the point where I’d freeze up; overall, it was an easy environment to work in.
Being ‘captured’ in games feels like it would be fun
Q: In 2015, you not only worked on anime but also took on the challenge of character songs and radio. There is an increasing number of platforms for you to operate on now. I was surprised by how good your singing was as well.
A: No way, you’re making me blush! Anyway, I’ve always liked singing so I did hope that one day, I could sing a character song.
For example, Mito Ikumi from Shokugeki no Soma has a song called sweet’n’hot and I kept in mind that I should perform the song as if it was Ikumi-chan herself singing.
On the other hand, I had never thought about the possibility of doing radio work. I am always feeling nervous about it.
Q: It’s unusual to hear that (you feel nervous), given how you tend to blow up on the radio. Are there any challenges you’d like to take on in the future?
A: I’d like to take on anything and everything, but a personal wish of mine is to try out recitals. I love acting, so I’d like to do a recital or act in a play in front of a live audience. I don’t have quite so many opportunities to do things like that, so if the chance ever came along I’d want to try them out.
Also, I’d obviously love to work on games. Like on my favourites – RPGs. I have been involved with a couple of smartphone apps etc, but I’ve yet to work on a commercial title. Ah! I want to appear in a dating sim too! I’d like to have my heart captured (laughs).
Q: Lastly, what do you hope the Ishigami Shizuka of the future will be like?
A: In the future, I want to be a seiyuu who can play both male and female roles well.
Q: Thank you for your time today.