Kyokai no RINNE is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me and I’m loving it now that we see a little bit less of deadbeat dad Sabato (Yamaguchi Kappei) and more of all the other side characters. I’ve never seen as dysfunctional and hateful, yet hilarious-as-hell supporting cast in a show aimed at kids – from Ishida Akira’s cat butler Kurosu who works for Sanpei Yuko’s bratty young apprentice Shinigami Shoma to Saito Soma’s righteous-yet-savage Shirushigami Kain and the sneaky scythe-fixing siblings Raito and Refuto voiced by Konishi Katsuyuki and Ito Shizuka.
But heading the colourful cast of characters is the one good man out of the 2 dozen assholes – professional hobo, part-time Shinigami Rokudo Rinne, voiced by Ishikawa Kaito. NHK, on which the anime airs, interviewed Ishikawa as part of its AniToku series of features. Each interview is split into 2 parts.
Feel-at-home atmosphere with a gliding start (laughs)
Q: Kyokai no RINNE Season 2 is finally starting – what’s recording been like after the break in between?
A: We do feel as if we’re at home, really. It’s been a while yet it doesn’t quite feel that way. Rather than getting all fired up for our return, it’s kind of like we’re slipping back into the studio and gliding along into recording (laughs). That’s honestly how I feel. And it’s so RINNE.
The _____ are gone!
Q: With there being such a cozy atmosphere in the studio, were there any memorable happenings or episodes?
A: This happened just recently after Season 2 started, but during recordings some staple items disappeared and the blame was laid at my feet.
Q: Staple items?
A: I’m referring to salted rice crackers; I brought them along to the studio during recordings for Season 1. I had thought people would be glad, but nobody seemed to want to eat them and I pretty much polished them off all by myself. That’s why I thought to myself that it was fine not to bring anything anymore. But a senior then accused me ‘Oi, why are the salt crackers gone!’ (laughs). I believe they deliberately said that out of kindness. That was memorable for me. ‘I wouldn’t eat them even if they were put in front of me, but to not have them around is a problem! Y’know?’ ..something along those lines (laughs). Good seniors do proper jokes like that – it’s great fun!
As the chair, I was being supported
Q: As the ‘chair’*, how does it feel to be the leader who’s the ‘face’ of the series?
A: I did feel [very enthusiastic] at first, but (as a Takahashi Rumiko work) this is a series with history and many prominent seniors have worked on [past] productions, so I hoped to do it all fired up and with energetic intensity. But you know, this isn’t really that kind of show is it? As I was working on it I started to feel that if I displayed too much intensity it would make the funny parts of the show unfunny… I thought that rather than getting overly eager, it would be better if I acted as composed as I could possibly be…that atmosphere was brought about by our seniors and I’m just riding on their coat-tails! I feel the many seniors in the studio are the ones who are upholding and supporting me.
*The ‘chair’ (座長, zacho) acts as the facilitator/leader of a troupe/cast where they are in charge of leading the interviews, public events, cast greetings etc. In most cases the seiyuu of the main character serves in this role.
The only cliché lies in the ‘voice!’ (laughs)
Q: This is a bit of a clichéd question, but what similarities do you and Rinne share?
A: (cuts in) NOTHING AT ALL! I mean, I talk non-stop and I don’t eat grass or anything, so I’m gonna give you a clichéd answer – we share the same voice (laughs).
‘It’s not Gabyon..’ (laughs) – Inherited Rumi-isms
Q: We overheard that you have inherited a certain something from Takahashi Rumiko series’ regular Yamaguchi Kappei…
A: That’s probably ‘Gapyon’, a word uttered when someone’s sent flying (laughs). It’s a Takahashi [Rumiko] trademark. What I’ve got to be careful with is the fact that it’s ‘Gapyon’ and not ‘Gabyon’. I accidentally said ‘Gabyon’ once and Kappei-san pointed it out – ‘It’s Gapyon’ (laughs). But I do struggle a little bit having to say that part of the script while still maintaining Rinne’s character.
Adults, what are they!? (laughs)
Q: We have a question here from Kyokai no RINNE director Sugawara. ‘What kind of adult do you want to grow up to be?’
A: Wow that’s so hard to answer~ so hard~, first of all, what is an adult anyway (laughs) Yeap (ponders) Isn’t it tough to define just what an ‘adult’ is?
Q: Yes it’s quite tough. So do you think of yourself as an adult?
A: Right now I’m a child, just a child (laughs). But I’m also an actor so I think it’s fine for me to not have to grow up. There are emotions that are unique to children; for the resentment and fiery feelings they have, they also show unbridled joy in return. It’s something that’s really important for an actor so although I want to become an adult, I also don’t want to grow up – those are my true feelings (laughs).
‘Creating an outline through logic’…but that’s my own impudent acting theory
Q: What did you do in terms of role creation?
A: It seems I used a lot more logic than expected. Since I said this particular line here and considering how to connect [things] emotionally, this line should come next – that is how I construct my acting, by thinking ‘I have to say this phrase here and this is what comes next so now, what do I want to do with that?’. Having said all that, I can’t be too rigid either.
Talking about stuff like ‘acting theory’ kind of makes me sound impudent but when I say that I’m creating an [acting] outline through logic, it’s only the emotional side that I’m referring to – when it comes to things like methods of expression and nuances, I try my best to absorb and digest what I hear when I’m in the studio before coming up with [my] lines. Rather than being unyielding in my delivery, you could say that I’m unyielding in developing a framework [for my acting].
‘An anime-specific performance…’ an even more in-depth view on acting theory
Q: What is important to you when creating a role?
A: To comprehend what the character is saying, as well as having to contemplate just what is required for an anime-specific performance.
Q: An anime-specific performance?
A: For anime characters, you have to treat them as real people in order to bring them to life. Regardless, it still isn’t reality so performance-wise I purposely eliminate elements like speaking in a way that normal people wouldn’t, or emotions that wouldn’t get to through to normal people. It has an effect on bringing about laughter and moving [others]. Obviously the manner of performance differs depending on the production in question, so I strive to be able to respond to whatever is being asked of me.
I’d be happy if the gentleness is apparent
Q: Was there anything in particular that you focused on while voicing Rokudo Rinne?
A: I…try to put some tenderness into [Rinne]. There aren’t any unkind people in this series but I hope that amongst all these characters, I am able to show that Rinne is a gentle person at heart through my acting – I’d be glad if that part is apparent.
A work that I consider an integral part of me…
Q: Let’s talk about something different. What NHK anime sticks in your mind?
A: Around the time when I made my debut, I appeared as a mob character in the Phi Brain series and I had only one word of dialogue: ‘Oops’, but I remember it as clear as day. My character had been beaten by the protagonist voiced by Asanuma Shintaro-san, and he actually remembered who I was – we met again while working on another show in which I voiced a major character. He went ‘Ah!’, and had a chat with me, so I think in a sense [Phi Brain] was a show that helped me to form bonds. So when I think of NHK anime, this is the one show that’s an integral part of me.
That’s the question that troubles me the most! (laughs)
Q: If you could appear in any NHK programme, what would it be?
A: That question troubles me the most. It’s hard to answer (ponders). After all, I’m not yet on a level where I can even appear on something like Historical Unknowns: Historia. Ah, maybe I can appear on that calligraphy show (NHK High School Course – Calligraphy I) that Hikasa Yoko-san is in! My calligraphy would improve, plus the show seems fun. I simply want to get better at calligraphy.
An answer to end all uncertainties…
Q: What, to you, is a ‘seiyuu’?
A: This is my own subjective view, right?… (ponders) Ah! I would say that a person who is an actor, is a seiyuu. If it was only words that were involved, then we should have been able to get robots to perform our jobs by now (laughs). I think that I want to be an actor.
Coming up next in Part 2 of the RINNE series is Matsuoka Yoshitsugu!