One of my favourite shows of the season – I’m generally not that fond of 4-koma styled comedy anime but somehow, Tanaka-kun is hitting all the right spots for me. Absolutely loving the bromance between Tanaka and Ota, plus those Twitter short animations are really fun! If there was anything I wanted to complain about in the show, it’d be that there are too many girls ww
Bandai Visual interviewed the lead pairing of Ono Kensho & Hosoya Yoshimasa. Great performances from both of them too, especially Hosoyan who often has to express a huge range of emotions with just one word: “Tanaka…”
In a quandary over how best to express the ‘listlessness’ found in the anime’s title
Q: First of all, tell us about your respective characters’ charms.
Ono Kensho (Tanaka): I think Tanaka’s charm lies in how he makes sure not to waste too much energy or effort to do things.
Hosoya Yoshimasa (Ota): Ota basically plays the role of protector, but I think his charm lies in how he’s able to respect the individuality of the person he’s dealing with.
Q: Tell us how you’re similar, as well as different to your own characters.
Ono: For similarities – the fact that we can both fall fast asleep no matter where we are. I personally thought it was amazing how he’d just nod off even when he’s only in the background (laughs). He’ll doze off in the blink of an eye, suddenly shoot awake and then come back on-screen, as if nothing had ever happened (laughs). I might also resemble him in that we both put in effort so that we can have a bit more rest time; working hard so that we can slack off. As for how we’re different – I’m not that much of a nuisance to others. ‘Nuisance’ might not be the right word to use here but yeah, I wouldn’t get other people to do things just because I’m lazy to do it myself. Tanaka must have that special something to make Ota go to such lengths to look after him (laughs).
Hosoya: To be honest we don’t have much in common, probably only how we both like sweet things and that we share the same voice (laughs). [We] see a lot of letters from fans saying how “Ota is a motherly figure” – he tries not to impress his own opinions upon other people and goes out of his way to accommodate the other party’s personality; we might be slightly similar in that way. Still, I’m not fond of meddling in other people’s affairs so I guess we’re really not that similar.
Q: Was there anything that you were particularly conscious about when voicing your character?
Ono: I was in a quandary over how best to express the ‘listlessness’ in the anime’s title, right from the point when I received the call for auditions. At first, I vaguely imagined him doing things slowly, speaking at a very leisurely pace. However, I thought I’d wear myself out that way and it might even be painful for the viewers to watch. So I was conscious about trying to speak at a normal tempo but in a way that would make him sound listless. At the same time, Tanaka’s (acting) parts have a tendency to swing in severity so during tests I’d go ahead and improvise as I saw fit, before making the necessary adjustments for the actual recording.
Hosoya: Ota has Tanaka as a sparring partner so there isn’t really anything that I’m particularly conscious about when it comes to acting out the role. What I’ll normally do is take in all the other actors’ performances and to make sure my own acting goes with the flow. If you plan too much you might end up having weird expectations or overthinking things. Obviously I do take the time to understand the meaning of the dialogue but if one reflects on it too much it might result in you reading your script as if you’re reciting the definition of the words; for me, I try instead to keep things spontaneous and not think about it too much until I have to say my lines for real. Having said that, a lot of my lines [in Tanaka-kun] are quite long and it is a bit difficult as Ota is the passive type as opposed to being the sort of guy who would initiate the conversation. Thus, I try to focus on thinking about how Tanaka would say a given line, or how Miyano or Shiraishi would say it. I wouldn’t be as greedy as to think about how “I” would say the line. However, as recording progresses I have been considering that it might be interesting if I tried speaking in a more ‘elderly’ manner (laughs). Not like a grandfather or anything, but an Ota who speaks about things philosophically – that would be interesting.
During recordings, the tests are filled with aggressively attacking ad-libs
Q: Tell us about any characters apart from your own that you’re interested in.
Hosoya: I’ll say Ota’s sister Saya. She’s the one that stands out in this anime’s world. Why does Ota have such a cute, normal sister? She’s the opposite [of everyone else], that’s why I’m curious about her (laughs). She has this kind of refreshing feeling about her that makes you think, ‘did she come here from a different anime?’
Ono: I’ll say Saionji-san, the WcDonald’s employee who’s in episode 9. Hopefully she’ll appear often in the future; I’d like to see how she reacts to and comments on the antics of Tanaka and Ota since she’s a member of the general public who’s not involved with Tanaka’s group of friends in any way.
Q: Were there any interesting episodes from recording sessions?
Ono: I wouldn’t call it an episode, but most of the dialogue in the show is like what you’d hear in natural conversations proceeding in a straightforward manner so it’s hard to create something like a climax point. What we do to compensate is to go all-out attacking with the ad-libs in tests during recordings.
Hosoya: When we’re doing ad-libs you can tell right away whether you’ve ‘won’ or ‘lost’. For example, you would definitely know it if you made a slip at some point (laughs). I recall in the 1st episode during the scene where Ota’s trying to help Tanaka get out of his gym clothes and he says ‘Good luck’ – that’s actually an ad-lib. It got a good reception from the staff and my colleagues, so I kept it in there…but from then on we ended up overusing the phrase ‘good luck’ [in the dialogue] (laughs)
Ono: One of the recent ad-libs that I think was a winner was in episode 9 where I was simulating the sound of Tanaka vigorously sucking on a straw.
Hosoya: Yeah that was a winner (laughs). The staff even said ‘please do that during the recording’…
Ono: The sound director Kameyama (Toshiki)-san gave me a compliment, saying “That was good, it was memorable’ which makes me think it was a winner. But if I watch the broadcast of episode 9 and find out that the scene has been cut, I’ll be really disappointed (laughs)
Hosoya: That’d make you think ‘Grown-ups are all liars!’ (laughs)
Ono: To be honest, I’d been secretly practising that scene since the day before recording. I put quite a bit of effort into it so I hope it makes it to broadcast (laughs)
Q: Did your interactions with director Kawatsura Shinya leave any deep impressions?
Hosoya: When we were celebrating the birthdays of the cast members born in February, Director Kawatsura was the one who brought the cake into the studio. I know this is my own one-sided impression, but the Director kind of exudes the same slacker atmosphere that Tanaka does (laughs). With him being like that, the studio has a similarly strange environment and everyone gets sucked up in it and they don’t move from the spot that they’re occupying. When the people who were in the toilet during the break finally returned to the room, we got around to the birthday celebration and the Director blew out the candles by himself. Amidst all that, the sound director Kameyama-san said ‘Okay, let’s start recording~’ and we had to get back to work without even having had a proper break – it was very surreal and amusing (laughs). Left an impression on me.
Ono: I can’t remember which one exactly, but I bumped into Director Kawatsura at a station and when I greeted him first he replied with a shocking scream, the loudest I’ve ever heard in my life. His expression and reaction at the time was so funny, I still remember it now (laughs).
This is my own impression, but Ota’s ‘role’ changes by the episode
Q: Which of the episodes that have been broadcast thus far left the biggest impression on you?
Hosoya: Episode 7. That’s the one where Tanaka’s sister Rino appears for the first time. This is my own impression, but Ota’s role changes depending on the episode and in the 7th, it felt like he was stuck in a romantic comedy. It’s just my personal feelings but in my head, it felt like [Ota and] Rino were a couple in a romantic comedy (laughs). At one point Ota says, “the coffee’s tasty!” to Rino, and I tried to act that scene out with the emotions of a hero in a romantic comedy.
Ono: I see, that’s deep (laughs)
Hosoya: I acted out that part with Ota as the hero in my mind, so it was particularly memorable for me.
Ono: Those scenes where Rino first appears left a big impression on me as well. I’m very grateful towards Yuki (Aoi)-san, the voice of Rino, for informing my performance but I found myself getting caught up in it and that threw me off my rhythm, making me forget what pace I was supposed to operate at. At that point, I realized for the first time how difficult it was to have two similar characters that speak in the same way appear together and it sent me into a slight panic mode (laughs). Anyway, I think this kind of anime is more strongly geared towards the thinking where ‘this line here was fantastic’ rather than remembering specific episodes. In episode 2, there’s a scene where Tanaka visits Izumo Taisha and Ota asks him “Do you know where this is?”. Tanaka says “Probably Tottori” and Ota replies “It’s Shimane” in return – that scene was truly fantastic. Also, I like the scene where Tanaka loses his cool in episode 1.
Q: How about you, Hosoya-san – were there any lines that left a deep impression on you?
Hosoya: There’s a scene in episode 1 where Tanaka and Kato are at the drinking fountain. Kato tries to say something while he’s drinking the water and Ota jokingly chides him “Drink or talk, pick one!”. Meanwhile, Tanaka is looking at them, letting the fountain shoot water at his cheek and Ota says to him “Tanaka, that’s not your mouth!” – that particular scene somehow managed to leave a big impression on me.
Q: Tell us more about the charms that are unique to the Tanaka-kun anime.
Ono: That would definitely be the ‘intermissions’. I myself am a comics reader and there’s no way you could insert intermissions in there. In that sense, ‘intermissions’ are a bit of magic made possible only through animation. Things like what kind of music would fit a particular scene – you might be able to sort of imagine it in your head but you can’t really feel it when you’re reading a comic. The intermissions in Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge are quite significant; seeing them makes you realize just how extra important they can be.
Hosoya: This is related to intermissions – the various sounds that flow from the screen are charming too. I think you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the opening scene in the first episode, where the intermission isn’t buried by the music. You can hear the birds twitter, the faint sound of the wind. You’re not seeing any character speaking on-screen, yet the atmosphere of the anime is wonderfully represented. Also, the grass in the field that Tanaka is lazing upon in the ending sequence is so realistic; I personally found it very interesting and addicting to watch (laughs).
I think I’ll aim for Paris instead of Hollywood in the future (laugh)
Q: Tanaka’s sister Rino first appears in episode 7 and Ota’s sister Saya in episode 9 – Ono-san, please leave a message for Rino and Hosoya-san, for Saya.
Ono: ‘As always, thank you’. I think my message will get across with that one phrase (laughs).
Hosoya: ‘When I heard Saya’s voice for the first time, I thought I had accidentally changed the channel’. I’ll go with that. Saya really is a nice girl and it was lovely seeing the two of them on the way home. They’re siblings but it felt like I had changed the channel and was watching a romantic comedy instead. I don’t really comprehend it myself, but I feel like Ota enters a sort of ‘romantic comedy’ mode whenever a younger sister type of character appears (laughs).
Q: Tanaka is aiming to lead a listless life. In your own daily lives, when are the times that you feel ‘listless’?
Ono: 2-4pm in the afternoon. After lunch, you’ll definitely start to feel a bit listless (laughs).
Hosoya: I’m the type of person who wouldn’t get listless unless I have other people doing stuff on my behalf. After my job is done I’ll go home and if I don’t have to get up early the following morning, I’ll have a drink after taking my bath – that is when I start to get listless (laughs). I’ll get drunk, pull out my guitar and start playing it..the sounds that emanate tend to be extremely listless too (laughs).
Q: Finally, please tell us about the show’s future highlights, and leave a message for the fans.
Ono: For other shows, we’d usually say something along the lines of ‘please watch the characters’ growth as we approach the climax of the storyline’ but for [Tanaka-kun], it’s tough to answer the question ‘what are the highlights?’. I am however, curious about how the anime will conclude. Having said that, it’ll probably just progress as normal and just come to an end..(laughs). Personally, I hope it finishes in a way that might lead to something else. For example, due to a certain incident, Tanaka ends up getting kidnapped (laughs).
Hosoya: Up to this point, [we’ve] been saying “we want to take this to Hollywood” at events and such, but in my opinion this anime is a grand production with high artistic quality and is more befitting of a French arthouse movie screening so in the future, we’d like to take it to Paris in France instead of Hollywood (laughs). To do so, I’d like to suggest this ending – without explanation, a second Tanaka appears onscreen and the two then proceed to engage in a nonsensical conversation. Ota emerges and upon seeing the two Tanakas, ends the show with just one word – ‘Tanaka…’. That would make it an artistic show and hey, wouldn’t you like to see the continuation? With that, I’d like to take this series to Paris so please support the anime in the future.