Monthly Archives: July 2016

Spreadsheets, or stuff I do when I’m bored

As you may or may not have noticed, I love data. I love plugging stuff into spreadsheets; I like looking at text and figures, analyzing things. I had that ‘married seiyuu’ list for years and I used to keep silly ones about seiyuu height and blood type…but what I’ve been doing the past X months has been looking at an individual seiyuu’s animation credits. Since I posted that stream of consciousness blah post a year ago, I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the casting process. This kind of stems from this one comment I heard from Amamiya Sora, about how her casting in Akame ga Kill! was ‘decided’ [決めていて was the exact word] well in advance of her role in Isshukan Friends, the latter of which aired the cour before the former.

‘Decided’. Who decides? What are the factors etc etc? For Amamiya/Akame, it is hardly a stretch to suggest that she was shoehorned into the anime’s lead role to tie it into the fact that Sony Music Entertainment (one of the members of the Akame ga Kill production committee) was preparing to launch Amamiya’s solo singing career via Skyreach, which served as the anime’s first opening theme. Did she have to audition for the role? Maybe only for show? Who knows. Nobody’s going to tell me or you, for sure.

Of course, I offer no answers. Instead, I offer you…spreadsheets. Which are a WIP, let me warn you, likely to contain typos and errors. I have been looking at a couple of seiyuu, some are personal favourite and some are just people I am interested in for various reasons. Mostly I look at the director and sound director and in some of the idols’ cases, the production companies involved. I was thinking about the studios but really, it’s only Shaft [Shinbo/Kameyama] and Bones [Wakabayashi/Mima] that are so easy to predict with their favoured sound directors/castings.

1. Sakamoto Maaya
I’m always amused when people dismiss Maaya as being ‘a singer, not a seiyuu’. She started off as a child actress and voice actress anyway, before Escaflowne & Kanno Yoko came along. She doesn’t do a crazy amount of anime but that’s because she already has so many things on her plate – her film/drama dubbing credits list is way more extensive, plus all those games, narration work, planetarium navigation, radio…and oh, her singing career. Casting-wise, Maaya’s a Bones/Wakabayashi favourite
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2. Tomatsu Haruka
3. Amamiya Sora
Comparing notes over Music Ray’n/Sony’s two golden egg- I mean, girls. So far, Amamiya’s voice acting career isn’t hitting the heights as quickly as Tomatsu’s did – at the 5-year mark Tomacchan was already doing things like Anohana and Pokemon while Amamiya is um…well, we shall see.
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4. Toyama Nao
5. Uchiyama Koki
6. Ozawa Ari
Three talented young actors who aren’t playing the idol game and get cast by whatever sound director, purely based on ability.
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7. Ishigami Shizuka
8. Kobayashi Yusuke
9. Taneda Risa
10. Onishi Saori
Comparing some of Aketagawa Jin’s favourites. When the guy likes you, he really likes you. The key is whether one can turn that initial visibility he gives you into something bigger – the seiyuu’s got to catch the eye/ear of other sound directors, cos Jin-kun doesn’t stick with his ‘favourites’ for very long and you can’t rely on him to keep giving you roles.

Initially, I was planning to look at Aketagawa’s castings over the years, just for the heck of it. Just to look at how his casting patterns have changed, which girls he’s favoured over the last 2 decades. I may yet come up with something but for now it’s on the back-burner cos the sheer amount of data involved is just…hah. Still got plenty of seiyuu I’ve been/am looking at; mostly older favourites though. People like Nakahara Mai, Sakurai Takahiro and Kawasumi Ayako.

So, can one even predict a cast for an upcoming anime? My answer would be ‘maybe’, but only if I know the following in advance 1) studio 2) director 3) sound director 4) production committee members. And I can tell you from experience that for roughly 65-75% of anime, you won’t know who the sound director is or the identity of the production committee members until that first episode airs. They know crazy people like me are watching, closely w

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#124 – Tezuka Ryoko

Name: Tezuka Ryoko (手塚 りょうこ)
DoB: 15 October
Agency: Freelance
Other name: Tateishi Megumi (立石 めぐみ)
SNS: Twitter, Blog

I know what you’re thinking. Tezuka who?

Let me assure you that her ‘name’ is quite well-known…amongst bishojo game & nukige players. She is prolific, to say the least, appearing in over 30 games in 2015 alone. ‘Tezuka Ryoko’ as you would expect, is just a stage name – the person inside is one Tateishi Megumi, formerly of Aslead Company and now a freelancer. As she works ‘underground’, Tezuka’s official policy is to refuse publicity shots and photos.

This is the 2nd in an Otapol series of interviews with 18+ industry/bishojo game seiyuu. I am still working on the first one with Hayase Yayoi, will hopefully get that one out sometime.

Hopefully this will provide a little bit of insight to the so-called 裏 (dark/shadow) business that many seiyuu, including those working in mainstream anime and games, are involved with. Don’t feel ashamed about finding out that your favourites have worked on 1 or 2 of these games! In many ways, it’s good ‘experience’.

Q: You were working towards becoming a seiyuu but unexpectedly made the leap into the bishojo game industry. Let’s talk about why you wanted to become a seiyuu as well as the story behind your entry into this industry.

A: I’d always loved anime; when I was in high school I had a taste of performing and got hooked on the idea of ‘being someone else’. At that point I was contemplating joining a theatre group but I instead decided to walk down the path of a seiyuu, which isn’t bound by appearance or gender – thus, I enrolled in vocational school. I entered training school after that and while I was still a trainee, an agency senior said to me, ‘Tezuka-san, isn’t your voice kinda erotic?’ and that spurred me on to try out for bishojo game auditions. I don’t really know if there was any trigger in particular. When I was in vocational school people would keep telling me to ‘make it sound cuter’ or that ‘your voice has no sex appeal’ so for me to be voicing bishojo nowadays…I’m the one who’s most surprised by it all.

Q: You’ve now made many a bishojo game appearance, starting with the VisualArt’s brand Lapis lazuli’s 2009’s Areas~Sora ni Utsusu Kimi to no Sekai~ game where you voiced Kataoka Nobuko. We know that you’d had no connection to bishojo games while you were in vocational school, but instead, it was a certain fateful encounter while working at your part-time job that led you here.

A: Nowadays I truly do love bishojo games but I’d never touched one back when I was in vocational school. I kind of knew of their existence, but I’d say that I was somewhat bad at handling dirty jokes at the time. Honest, I’m not joking (laughs). When I moved to Tokyo, my first part-time job was as a staff member at an electrical goods festival. I wasn’t very knowledgeable about PC games so my job was to hand out bottles of water with a picture of a bishojo stuck on them (laughs). Now that I think about it, that incident was probably foreshadowing my future.

Q: With no prior knowledge, you jumped into this industry and you continue to play a big role in it – there must be a reason behind it. You never had any reservations about appearing in 18+ works in the first place, did you?

A: My viewpoint is that ‘I don’t know anything about it so I’ll just try it out first and see what happens’. I am an anxious person by nature, but I believe that I should go ahead and enjoy whatever it is I choose to do. Thus, I had no real issues with working on 18+ productions. Maybe it’s also because I somehow passed the audition despite not knowing what I was doing. The staff had to explain to me on the spot was a ‘chupa-sound’ [sound of simulating fellatio/blowjob] is, so I was kind of doing it while fumbling around in the dark. In my case, I had made my debut while still being a trainee, but I do believe that it is better to have a single experience in the recording studio than to have received dozens of lessons. For the chupa-sounds I’d wondered whether it would be a good idea to actually try using adult toys to produce realistic sounds…and my good friend Imaya Minami said ‘why not try it out’ and gifted some to me..and the two of us experimented with them (laughs). We came to the conclusion that instead of using such detailed techniques, we should instead prioritize our feelings and thoughts behind the situation and utilize breathing [control] etc. Recently, we’ve been competing with each other by just using our fingers!

Q: Having interviewed a number of seiyuu, I figure that you’ve all shared one thing in common: being active members of the industry, you will find something that interests you, and try your hand at that something new. Tezuka-san, you too have enjoyed venturing into an unknown world, enriching your experiences and knowledge. Nowadays you appear in a lot of games but there was a point in time when you saw a drastic decrease in the amount of work that came in. Tell us what was going through your mind during those times.

A: At (my agency at) the time, I didn’t have a manager put in charge of me. Hence, if I hadn’t passed the game audition I wouldn’t have gotten any work at all. If that was to be the case then I thought it would be better for me try my luck at various things, and that’s why I decided to leave the agency. I can’t say that I wasn’t feeling insecure about the situation but for the time being I would just freelance, see how it goes and if it wasn’t working out then I’d quit. Up ‘til then the Visual Art’s production was the only job on my CV and some people even thought I was an Osaka-based seiyuu*. It was then that [staff members from] a certain studio said to me, ‘Tezuka-san, I think there are many people who aren’t aware of the fact that your activities are based in Tokyo’ as well as ‘You’ve got to get your name out there!’. I’d mostly been voicing older female roles such as teachers and sisters, but I was advised, ‘if there are any roles you want to try out, just go ahead and take on the challenge’.

My voice samples at that point had shown that I specialized in mature characters but around 2012, I started including the more typical cute-type of voices. My activities started to progress when I voiced Horikawa Shiori from Yome juu! [maker: Nounai Shoujo], a cute pink-haired, silly younger sister kind of character. At first I thought to myself, ‘Eh? I have to voice a pink-haired girl? Could I even do that?’ (laughs)

I had never imagined myself capable of voicing the main heroine or cute girls. But I’m really grateful to that particular studio for allowing me to believe that even I could embark on such [new] adventures.

*Visual Art’s is based in Osaka and recording for a number of their games is carried out in Osaka, thus some seiyuu are based in the Kansai region specifically for this purpose

Q: Following that, you gradually started appearing in more and more works and in 2015, you ranked 2nd in terms of numbers of games worked on (note: based on an unofficial fan-counted ranking). What do you think is the reason behind your prolificness?

A: I believe the major factor would be the increasing number of 18+ games aimed at women that are being produced. I voice the lead female role [Naala] in Koezaru wa Akai Hana (maker: Operetta Due) and it was my first time voicing a heroine who isn’t set up as a route to be ‘conquered’ but instead, is the lead character that the user plays as. I received pretty detailed guidance during the recording of the role; things like ‘let’s not use that tone of voice ‘cos it sounds like you’re flirting with the character’ or ‘it’s better not to come on too strong or it’ll make the player think that you shouldn’t be saying such forceful things’. Up to that point I had only ever been thinking about my own performance; it was the first time I was strongly conscious of the user’s point of view. I had to be more involved, more particular about aspects like setting the mood as well as every single breath I’d take. It was around 2012 that I started to receive many job offers for productions other than bishojo games.

Q: You operate on a freelance basis. This means that even though you’re one of the top actors in the industry, you still have to handle everything from marketing to accounting on your own.

A: I’ve always handled everything from billing and schedule management by myself. It’s tough, but doing things this way means I can directly get feedback on whether I’m doing well or not and for that, I’m grateful. My stance is to try as much as possible to not refuse any job offers. As for marketing, I don’t do too much of that. It’s partly because I’m shy, but also because I believe that when I’m hired for a job and I produce good results, it will then lead to future opportunities. I make sure I cherish each and every one of the productions I work on.

Q: The bishojo game industry often chooses to hire freelance actors ahead of seiyuu who work on TV anime and so forth. Looking at the scale of the industry, the minimal amount of marketing done might not be totally unrelated to the fact that many of the seiyuu have to maket themselves. In Tezuka-san’s case, you appear to have managed to build up your career by being able to ‘visualize’. As one of the frontrunners in the industry, I’d like to seek your rational opinion about the trends and changes regarding acting performances in the bishojo game scene.

A: Ah, I’m not sure I’m qualified to talk about this….? Wouldn’t people get mad if I did? This is just my personal opinion, but I believe that the majority of actors nowadays veer towards natural-sounding performances. Previously, actors had to compensate for the lack of animation by using their voice to express not only emotions but movements as well; however, the games being produced today come with an abundance of [animated] facial expressions and movements. I feel that there is an increase in the number of works that place importance on the tempo of the in-game dialogue as well as ‘how appealing the heroines are’. Players basically want to see more flirting, more ‘cuteness is justice!’ – stuff like that. I do get that. In the current environment where the number of games such as smartphone apps etc, are ever-increasing, it is these elements that will help to pull in the younger users.

Q: With the advent of smartphones and tablets, the bishojo-game playing environment too has had to evolve…it is no longer an era where people sit in front of the PC playing games all through the night. The industry has also begun to adjust its distribution methods to keep up with the times.

A: I think there’s also the fact that there is an influx of games that come as part of low-priced packages, which you can start playing right away. Additionally we’re seeing more games coming up that have one eye on international markets, such as Nekopara* – to me it is a dream to have people from all over the world playing the games that I appear in.

*a game released by NEKO WORKs, where Tezuka voices Coconut

Q: Nekopara is being distributed on Steam (the world’s largest game sales platform operated by America’s Valve Corporation), so the game’s distribution channels reach far and wide. Depending on how the industry’s approaches its user base, it seems likely that there is much room [for the bishojo game scene] to grow yet. At the same time, the increase in content creation has brought about an expansion of idol-type activities for the seiyuu involved which in turn has led to a surge in their popularity, resulting in increasing numbers of aspiring seiyuu who want to work on bishojo games – you could say that the industry has once again evolved from what it was a couple of years ago. What is your take on this new type of aspiring seiyuu?

A: Really, I don’t think I’m in a position to comment on that… However, when I visited my alma mater I did have a few girls coming up to me asking for advice, saying ‘I want to become a bishojo game seiyuu’. I was happy to hear that, but my reply to them was ‘the work that is requested of you may differ from the kind of work that you desire to do, so don’t deliberately narrow down your options’. I myself had never previously imagined that I would become a bishojo game seiyuu after all.

I got lucky and happened to pass an audition; from there, as I started getting more work I resolved that as long as I was needed, I’d always give my best. Even if I didn’t know for what or where my services would be required. I don’t think it’s a good idea to cut down your choices, to decide early on that you only want to work on bishojo games or TV anime etc. I hope that one would just put max effort into their performances without being too fixated on genres…ah, I’m saying all these arrogant things again when I didn’t even have any specific ambitions during my school days myself! I think kids these days are much more level-headed (laughs)

Q: Tezuka-san – as someone who continues to play an active role in the bishojo game world, please let us know what your future goals and aims are.

A: For bishojo games, I’d like to play the sort of outlandish, wacky roles that you would only ever see in a game. I love those kinds of characters! When I work on such hard-to-portray roles they tend to leave quite an impact and it can drag on for a couple of days. When I’m taking baths etc, I often have flashbacks of particular scenes and it leaves me dejected…but I do really love all that…wow, I sound like a pervert (laughs). I’d like to have an opportunity to sink my teeth into a role that would make me feel thrilled just by looking at the scripts.

Also, I’d like to get involved with all sorts of other content and not just limit myself to games. I think that it’d be interesting to see if [items] originating from within a certain game could possibility be reflected in other types of related content. And in turn, when you obtain [items] from that related content, you could transfer them back to the original game – wouldn’t that be great? My home remains in games, however. That is because it’s a marvelous avenue where I can act to my heart’s content, all on my own.

Q: Tezuka-san, whose working stance involves utilizing the expertise you’ve gained to step into uncharted waters and to acquire new experiences…without narrowing your options, you are determined to try your hand at everything – that is important not just for seiyuu, but for whatever job you choose to do. I hope the readers will heed Tezuka-san’s spirit of ‘looking for joy in every experience’ and take on new challenges themselves.

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Yes I know what you want to hear – chupa-sounds (ちゅぱ音) right??? Here’s a link to Tezuka doing フェラ…please don’t play it out loud on your speakers if you’re at work =_=

PS. don’t forget to support the Nekopara anime KS when it happens w

#123 – Amaama to Inazuma: Nakamura Yuichi, Hayami Saori, Endo Rina

amaamacast
An interview with the main cast from this season’s anime adaptation of Amaama to Inazuma, a heart-warming manga about a single father and his daughter who embark on cooking adventures with a lonely high-school girl.

Nakamura Yuichi: Inuzuka Kohei
Hayami Saori: Iida Kotori
Endo Rina: Inuzuka Tsumugi

Recordings were relaxed, natural

Q: Recording is progressing smoothly at the moment; what’s the atmosphere like in the studio?

Nakamura: During breaks there’ll be casual everyday conversations, a bit of chatting; but when recording starts, we’ll switch on and focus properly – I think our recordings are well-paced.

Q: When I was taking photos earlier, I noticed that Nakamura-san communicated smoothly with Endo-san and thought to myself, ‘what a good relationship the two of you share’.

Nakamura: That’s because I’m actually 10 years old on the inside (laughs). I don’t think along the lines of ‘she’s this age so I should act this way’, I just go ahead and interact with her normally.

Q: When you say that you don’t change your approach when it comes to Endo-san, does that mean you communicate with her the same way you would with the other actors?

Nakamura: Hmm. We differ in terms of age so I do ask things like ‘what are kids into recently?’ but apart from that, we just talk like normal.

Q: How about you, Hayami-san – how are Amaama to Inazuma recordings for you?

Hayami: I do agree with Nakamura-san in saying that it’s a very natural place. The content of the show mainly depicts heart-warming daily life and it kind of carries over to the mood in the studio. Obviously there is a certain degree of nerves involved when we’re standing in front of the microphones but it’s otherwise relaxed, sort of like you’re at home. When I’m chatting with Rina-chan we do of course talk about our roles but also about everyday topics – it’s like how you’d chat with your own family members.

Q: During the photoshoot everyone too, was chatting happily with Endo-san about what she ate today. Endo-san, you’re working with older people for this show – do you get nervous?

Endo: I was pretty nervous for episode 1 but everyone was so kind that I forgot about my nerves and had fun instead.

Q: What are your impressions of Nakamura-san and Hayami-san?

Endo: Nakamura-san’s normal voice is quite different from the one he uses in character. I thought he was a person who could do so many great, different types of roles. As for Hayami-san, I saw her going into the lake on TV-

Hayami: (laughs)

Endo: Going into the lake, singing.

Nakamura: Ah, that’s her PV.

Q: The behind-the-scenes making of the PV for Hayami-san’s song Yasashii Kibou aired on TV, right?

Endo: She went into the cold waters.

Nakamura: She worked hard (laughs)

Hayami: I did work hard! (laughs)

Endo: I thought it was amazing.

Hayami: You’re making me blush (embarrassed laughter)

The difficulties unique to anime work

Q: Endo-san, you’ve worked on anime like Barakamon in the past – is voice acting difficult when compared to other types of acting?

Endo: It was quite difficult, and I tried hard, to make things like eating sound realistic.

Nakamura: There are definitely expressions that you would only hear in anime. As it’s in animated form, no matter how realistic it looks it’s still not the real thing, so we try as much as possible to insert pauses when breathing.

Hayami: We do incorporate breathing into our ad-libs too.

Q: I certainly do notice that in anime, characters do take breaths even when there are no lines of dialogue.

Nakamura: I’d think to myself, ‘if this were real there’s no way you’d eat with a big CHOMP! sound, would you?’, no matter how realistic you made it sound.

Hayami: The meaning would no longer get across.

Q: You want to make it realistic but conversely, that realism may not be discernible because it’s in animated form.

Nakamura: One might say that they want to make something ‘realistic’, but I do think that anime as a medium, possesses its own sense of realism. Also, Endo-san, with the life she’s living, may not yet possess the stock [of emotions] necessary for that kind of thing.

Hayami: “With the life she’s living” (laughs)

Endo: (laughs)

Nakamura: She doesn’t have that stock yet at just 10 years, so she often gets asked to ‘make it sound like this’ or ‘say it like that’, doesn’t she?

Endo: Yes.

Appetizing visuals that stimulate the appetite of the actors

Q: Food is an important element of Amaama to Inazuma. Have you devised any methods on how to bring out the feeling of ‘deliciousness’?

Nakamura: Hmm, how should I put it? I do try to make use of my real-life experiences, but what you’ve mentioned is another one of the difficulties unique to anime. This is because it’s slightly different from stage plays or film or drama shoots where you show your face. We’re in a line of work where no matter how desperately you try to create your emotions in front of the mic, it is only your voice that will be conveyed. Even if you tried to apply method acting as [some do] for live-action movies, you might not necessarily be able to reproduce it under such circumstances.

Q: As you said earlier, there are differences between the realism you see in anime and in live-action works.

Nakamura: While making a few assumptions about the situation that you’re acting out, I think one way you can bring out the feeling of ‘deliciousness’ is by considering how exactly you can express the phrase, “Ah, this is really delicious isn’t it?” to the other party.

Q: How about you Hayami-san, how do you feel about the fact that food is such an important theme [in the show]?

Hayami: I genuinely love eating so when I was reading the scripts for the hamburg steak episode it made me yearn for hamburg steaks and one day, I went to eat that before recordings; same goes for the gratin episode – it compelled me to make a gratin for myself the following night in order to satisfy my cravings. But I’m not sure if satiating my desires brings anything useful to my performances (laughs)

Q: I think we definitely get Hayami-san’s feeling of ‘I want to eat delicious things!’ (laughs). Endo-san, most of your scenes consists of eating – do you feel like you want to eat the dishes that appear in the show?

Endo: I do.

Q: Did you actually eat them like Hayami-san did?

Endo: The other day, I made a sweet potato cream crepe and we ate it.

Hayami: Yes, you did make that.

Nakamura: We were filming for the Amaama to Inazuma promotional programme and Rina-chan wanted to make something that actually appears in the show.

Hayami: And she made us crepes.

Endo: Samgyeopsal curry crepes as well.

Hayami: Yeah yeah. She made us stuff we’d never heard of before (laughs)

Q: She came up with such innovative dishes to make, didn’t she (laughs). Endo-san, do you help out with the cooking at home?

Endo: I’ll occasionally help out; recently, I made egg rolls with miso soup and rice.

Nakamura: You can do anything. You’ll be fine. You lack nothing.

Hayami: That’s a complete breakfast. I want to eat the food that Rina-chan makes!

Q: Of the dishes that appear in the Amaama and Inazuma manga, is there anything else that Endo-san would like to make on your own?

Endo: There are lots. I’d like to eat gohei mochi [grilled rice cake skewers] and so on.

Hayami: We don’t have many chances to eat those.

Endo: Also, pangayu [bread simmered in milk] etc.

Nakamura/Hayami: Ah~~ (in agreement)

Endo: I want to try them all.

Hayami: I know! Manga often depicts foods that you wouldn’t make yourself. That includes sweet potato cream crepes, but once you see how it’s been illustrated so deliciously you feel like taking on the challenge of making it.

Tsumugi-chan’s childlike anger is an ideal!?

Q: The original comics include recipes within. Nakamura-san, what was your first impression of Amaama to Inazuma?

Nakamura: Personally, I first thought of it as a drama centering on the relationship between Tsumugi and her father, but I see how Tsumugi-chan can really draw out emotions from her daddy and is so considerate of him and I do think to myself that this is fiction after all.

Q: It’s hard to find such an obedient child like Tsumugi-chan in real life.

Nakamura: It’s a story of ideals, seen from an adult’s point of view. That’s why I think adults will feel a certain sense of comfort when they watch this show.

Q: The nendo episode (where Tsumugi gets into a fight with a boy at kindergarten over clay) showed Tsumugi-chan getting angry in a childlike manner.

Nakamura: Yeah that’s true. But I never got angry in such a straightforward manner when I was a kid (laughs)

Q: Did you get angry in a more twisted kind of way? (laughs)

Hayami: Is Tsumugi-chan your ideal type of child, Nakamura-san?

Nakamura: Her way of getting angry is ideal (laughs). Kids in reality are harder to handle. They’d scream “Aaahhhhh!”. If anything, I think Mikio [the mischievous boy who fights with Tsumugi] is closer to reality.

Hayami: Yeah there are kids like Mikio-kun.

Q: From Hayami-san’s point of view, what kind of child is Tsumugi-chan? An ideal child?

Hayami: I’d never thought about my ideal kind of child so I was just thinking about ‘what is an ideal child?’ as I was listening to Nakamura-kun speak…and I do think that Tsumugi-chan is ‘the kind of child…

Nakamura: ..that you want to have.

Hayami: that would be close [to being ideal]”. However, as I play Kotori I tend to see things from her point of view, so the Inuzuka family has its own kind of relationship(s) just as the Iida family does, so I look at Tsumugi-chan as the cute child living next door, or the child of my relatives. The ideal child would be one whom you’ve given birth to yourself. Even if he or she turns out to be a mischievous kid such as Mikio-kun, you would still somehow, see them as being cute.

Q: What do you think of your character Iida Kotori?

Hayami: The Iida mother-and-daughter relationship is very similar to my own relationship with my mother.

Nakamura: Your mom, she’s kinda wild.

Hayami: My mother is a little funky (laughs)

Q: Hayami-san, you’ve mentioned your mother on radio shows before and I’m sure your fans will feel a sense of closeness to her. Endo-san, do you feel that you’re similar to Tsumugi-chan in any way?

Endo: I think the fact that we’re both gluttons, and that we both love delicious things.

Q: So you’re both gluttons (laughs). Lastly, please leave a message for those who are looking forward to the anime.

Nakamura: This is an aggressive kind of programme that promotes so-called late-night ‘food terrorism’* but you won’t be seeing a full course meal in this show. Instead, you’ll only see things like the claypot rice in the first episode so do please go out and try these dishes. Also, when manga make the transition to anime the content tends to become condensed but for Amaama and Inazuma each chapter takes up an entire episode and dishes that take up 2 panels in the manga are properly animated – I think we’ll deliver a work that is very satisfying. Please look forward to seeing how this food-centric drama develops.

*food terrorism (飯テロ) is the act of uploading photos of delicious food online to make other people jealous. In other words, ‘food porn’.

Hayami: Delicious food appears in each and every episode; as the dishes evolve, so do the human relationships and that’s a nice contrast. It’s a show that will remind you of your childhood as well as one that we’ll remember as we grow old and become grandfathers and grandmothers. I would be grateful if people from all generations would watch this show. Thank you.

Endo: I hope people will watch how the three [main characters] cook together. Also, Tsumugi-chan often sings and all those songs are my own ad-libs. Please look out for them.

Q: When we look at the script we can see several places where Tsumugi-chan has to ad-lib…

Endo: For the ad-libs, my mom and I would sit down during practice and think about things, come up with various ideas and choose the best from among them.

Q: Tsumugi-chan and Kohei’s interactions have ad-libs in them too.

Nakamura: In episode 1, just a bit.

Q: Did Endo-san’s ad-libbed dialogue go smoothly as well?

Nakamura: Of course, we dance to the same beat after all (laughs)

Hayami/Endo: (laughs)

#122 – Tanaka Mayumi

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Name: Tanaka Mayumi (田中 真弓)
DoB: 15 January 1955
Hometown: Tokyo
Agency: Aoni Production

An interview with the legendary Tanaka Mayumi, which also serves as PR for Tokyo Dance & Actors School.
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Tanaka Mayumi talks about the difference between the performance of an actor and a seiyuu

“I dislike seiyuu’s acting performances”

This was something a certain animation director said to Ms. Tanaka Mayumi when she was young. It is certainly true that plenty of anime that use actors instead of seiyuu.

What exactly are the differences between the performance of an actor and the performance of a seiyuu?

We posed this question to Ms Tanaka Mayumi who as an actress, continues to stand on stage and as a seiyuu, is active as the voice of Luffy in ONE PIECE and Kuririn in Dragon Ball, and her answer was that seiyuu and actors are essentially one and the same.

If that is so, then why are actors hired instead? What is the meaning behind it?
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There is no such profession as ‘seiyuu’

Q: Thank you for taking time out to do this interview today. What do you think was the intent behind the words ‘I dislike seiyuu’s acting’?

A: I think it was to drive the following point home – ‘don’t you dare produce a stereotypical, interpretive performance that is rigid and has no personality or character’.

Q: Does that mean that seiyuu only give stereotypical, interpretive performances?

A: That is particularly true of the younger seiyuu; [the industry] has become good at that. It’s quite remarkable in its own way but these people will be easily replaced once other ‘better’ people appear on the scene. I personally believe that the seiyuu profession has to realize that it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.

Q: “It doesn’t necessarily have to be so”. By that, you mean…

A: Voice acting is regarded as part of an actor’s work. There are many who treat the profession of actor as being totally separate from that of the seiyuu profession but in truth, seiyuu are actors – it just happens that that the ‘voice’ is the only part that [they] take away.
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If you look at the graph, seiyuu is wholly a subset of ‘actor’, while narrators and announcers overlap at certain parts. The parts that don’t overlap require a certain level of precision within specific areas. For example, for an actor who does narration, differences in intonation are acceptable. You are expressing human [emotions] so it would be strange for a person to sound too ‘immaculate’. It is the same with songs. When an actor sings, they may be slightly off pitch and key but the most important thing for them is to convey their feelings.

Q: Why have seiyuu performances become so typical?

A: In animation, recording takes 3-4 hours – in other words, there are time constraints. For stage work you can practise diligently for a month or so, while seiyuu work involves receiving a script and finishing it off in 3-4 hours and as a result, the demand is that they produce an easily understandable performance rather than one where they can get their teeth into the role.

In reality however, there is nothing that is ‘easily understandable’. For example, drunkenness – there are people who become calm when they’re drunk but there are also others who become incoherent. In animation when the situation calls for drunkenness you’ll be asked for a performance that expresses it clearly and that’s something you’ll have to provide an answer to. If you were to stop on the spot you might be told that you’re giving a typical performance, that people like that don’t exist. Thus, what [I] desire as a seiyuu is to have as much time as stage actors have to really dig into a role.

The reason actors, not seiyuu are hired?

Q: In order to survive as a seiyuu, it is imperative that you do things such as delving into a role.

A: I’d like to believe that. That is what makes a person, who thinks and acts, facing the role thinking about he/she would do if this/that were to happen, different from the person who produces a typical performance. That is how to survive as a seiyuu. To receive job offers even when you’re advanced in age means that there definitely has to be light there.

Q: Perhaps this is a horrible way of putting it, but one can’t survive with flimsy acting skills.

A: In my case, my stage schedules mean that I often take time away from [anime] recording. People who only do voice acting don’t really do that though. It’s just an excuse that people use to make it seem like they’ve become indispensable actors. However there may be some parts of the industry that demand such mediocre acting skills. Once [the industry] gets swallowed up by that, there’ll be nothing we can do.

That’s where actors come in, don’t they? The reason us seiyuu’s habits are disliked is because of our stereotypical acting. [We] have a tendency to veer towards such acting, with fluttering voices. [We] don’t try to sound like living human beings and instead, aim to put on an easily understood, interpretive performance.

However as seiyuu, we still have to be able to do that. For work purposes. Sometimes I stop and think – wouldn’t it better to hire a young, cheap seiyuu? There are times where I have to go beyond that, but I have to put my body and soul into my acting or else I’ll keep thinking about it. I tell myself that I don’t have to think about it.

Q: What do you do to maintain your awareness of this?

A: There are quite a few people who’ll make you realize that it’s what you’ve got to do, that it’s absolutely necessary. For example, Kusao Takeshi (Slam Dunk’s Sakuragi Hanamichi etc). Watching him makes me think that I’ve got to put my body and soul into it or it won’t work. That’s what I teach the youngsters during my lectures.

Q: When you say ‘lectures’, are you referring to your role as special instructor at the Tokyo Dance & Actors School?

A: That’s right. It’s what I teach during the first lecture. There was a young student the other day who, when I asked what they wanted to be in the future, answered, “I want to be a Gundam seiyuu”. I had to explain to him that that meant becoming an actor.

If you’re OK with only being used when you’re young and cheap then that’s fine. Hence, I don’t really comprehend what a so-called ‘seiyuu idol’ is; but to me idol=young. If it’s for building memories, then fine. If it’s not so, it’ll be pointless if, when you’re an idol, you can’t even imagine what you’ll be like when you’re 50-60 years old. If you want to be a seiyuu, if you wish to demonstrate a certain something – imagination is required. I try to instil this properly [in my students].

Also, you can move sideways at the Tokyo Dance & Actors School. You might sign up for the voice acting course but discover that what you really want to do is sing or narrate, so you can then take action and slide sideways [into a different course].

I believe human beings who are full of inquisitiveness are the ones who win in life. If you obsess over one thing, you’ll never pique the interest of others. But people who are curious will always show an interest in other things/people. An overly serious person lives in a narrow world.

Voice work may not be the only avenue worthy for you to express yourself. There are various curriculum available and perhaps, a lot more for you to discover. That is why I want my students to place importance on the act of being curious.

Q: Thank you for today. We see that there is no difference between seiyuu and actors, only that there is a tendency for seiyuu’s performances to become typical and interpretive.