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-
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)
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?
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)