Casting Stories – Active Raid

While translating the previous article on Kimura I was reminded of another interview on Akiba Souken that came out around the same time featuring Active Raid chief director Taniguchi Goro, where there was a segment where he talks about the reasoning behind the selection of each main cast member. Seems Taniguchi, along with sound director Aketagawa Jin, already had a good idea of who they wished to see in each role as opposed to openly casting their nets far and wide to find new talent.

It was an interesting read as we don’t get to hear too much about this nowadays, especially with commercial interests holding a certain influence over the casting process. I note that Active Raid itself wasn’t immune from that, with ending theme performer Aisaka Yuuka, who is on the roster of production committee member Flying Dog, snagging a supporting role.

Anyway, excerpt from this interview which mentions the castings. Active Raid was animated by Production IMS with CG by Orange.

Taniguchi Goro – Who is the seiyuu that he “absolutely wanted to work with once more”?

Q: How do you view the CG animation work by Orange?

A: It’s wonderful. I’d actually been prepared to get stuck in and provide detailed instructions if needed but it turns out that (Orange) grasped the requirements quite clearly during our preliminary meetings. There is a scene in episode 1 where both Sena and Kuroki pull out their police badges, but the way they each do it is different. To be honest, we made a mistake where the cut was already completed before we had a chance to issue instructions about what to do, but in the end they had gotten it perfectly right. Sena would do things in one way and Kuroki in another – Orange made the call themselves and finished it off with the acting included.

Q: The personalities of the characters have been carefully thought out before the acting is incorporated.

A: Yes. It was only possible because they had those ideas in them in the first place. It wasn’t a question of things like whether the CG or the hand-drawned art should go on top but rather; ‘what are we trying to do by making use of these techniques?’ – this series was made with these fundamentals clearly planned out. For this series in particular, when the (will)Wear is put on it effectively becomes like a tokusatsu with actors in costumes. In other words, it is necessary to make the parts where they wear the suits and where they don’t wear the suits, markedly different in terms of visuals. Those parts were done really well so you could say that Orange is a brilliant ‘costume actor’. The same things could be said of the actors, where I initially explained to them – when the characters wear the (will)Wear you won’t be able to see the expressions on their faces so it’s down to their voices to express everything.

Q: Since you’ve mentioned the cast, let’s talk about what expectations you had of each of the cast members.

A: First of all, don’t get me wrong – I myself don’t have absolute authority when it comes to casting decisions; they are only made after (various) opinions are brought to the table. Let’s go through them in order. Kuroki is basically a boorish guy but recklessness isn’t all that there is to him – at heart, he’s smart and also kind. Shimazaki Nobunaga was the best fit for the kind of voice we were looking for. Shimazaki worked on Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu. with Production IMS and Arakawa [Naruhisa, series writer]. His performance was well-received there. When I thought about who would match his partner Sena well, Sakurai (Takahiro) came to mind. I like his voice (laughs). The two of them have different [types of] careers so I did wonder whether they could share the stage but I thought I’d just try it out. I named a couple of candidates for Kyokai but the sound director Aketagawa Jin suggested Toriumi Kosuke as he’s well-balanced and close in age to the character. For Funasaka we narrowed it down to 3 candidates and we decided to ask Okawa Toru san as he’d bring a nice balance to the team.

Q: How about the female characters?

A: (Kazari) Asami is voiced by Ozawa [Ari] – she voiced the role of a cat called Neko on my previous show Junketsu no Maria. Her lines mostly consisted of the word ‘miaow’ but she tried to do a lot of different things with that and it left a good impression on me. That desperation to give her best was a trait that I thought made Ozawa Ari suitable for this role. It is my first time working with (Hoshimiya) Haruka’s seiyuu Ishigami Shizuka but I already knew of her consistency plus Aketagawa understands her strengths very well, so we asked her (to do the role). For (Amano) Madoka we wanted to make sure that she maintained the balance of team without noticeably standing out from nor being buried by the other cast members, so we chose Onishi Saori for that. And lastly, the one role that troubled us most was (Yamabuki) Rin. The other female cast members are still very young career-wise so I had considered choosing someone similar to match them, but if I had done that then the audience would probably view Rin’s character as standing side-by-side with the others. So I decided to go for someone who was relatively more senior career-wise, yet could bring out a similar [youthful] voice. Rin isn’t typical captain material; people aren’t that scared of her and she’s both reliable and unreliable at the same time. I needed a voice that could capture all of that, and Kurata Masayo was who came to my mind.

Q: How about the other cast members outside of Section 8?

A: At the start of the story we see political secretary Inagi (Kotaro), who is aligned with the protagonists of the story. If the heroes did not have an ally with the right connections in the political world, their movements would be restricted, which is why I created such a character. To fill the role I wanted someone whose voice you would remember by hearing just once – and that was Midorikawa Hikaru. There was also one person who I wanted to work with again no matter what: Mythos’ seiyuu Hanae Natsuki. I worked with him on Junketsu no Maria and I think he has a very interesting voice, the type that I like very much. I just wanted to cast him however possible.

————————————————————————————–

So there you have it, Taniguchi’s reasons for casting so-and-so. Sakurai and Hanae lover, yo. Also, it was nice to see that the staff and cast got along well enough to hold several drinking parties (photo above from the official Twitter). It was at one of these parties that Shimazaki kept telling Taniguchi that Ishigami’s voice is ‘very erotic’..which later led to Taniguchi asking Ishigami to inject more ero into her lines even when the scene didn’t call for it.

I myself was surprised to see Kurata Masayo getting cast amongst all the youngsters before I realized that it was via a personal connection with Taniguchi Goro – she worked with him on shows like s-CRY-ed, Gun x Sword and Code Geass. Incidentally, Kurata also mentioned to Shimazaki during a drinking party that the ‘young girls of today are all so amusing’, no doubt after hearing an Onishi Saori-led discussion in the studio about “what underwear do you think Funasaka wears”?

Active Raid’s 2nd cour airs in summer. Look forward to it!

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