Second in the NHK RINNE AniToku interview series is Matsuoka Yoshitsugu’s long-suffering catservant Oboro, who’s forced to work under Murakawa Rie’s rich bitch Shinigami Ageha by contract. They apparently hate each other’s guts (Ageha even left Oboro under a rock for a year) but she just keeps him as her underling out of spite. See how hateful all the people in this show are?
The one phrase said to me when I was feeling under pressure – ‘I love you!’
Q: Describe your feelings when you found out that you’d be joining Kyokai no RINNE.
A: That meant I’d be appearing in one of Takahashi Rumiko-sensei’s works, someone whom I’ve known for a while, and that made me feel a bit of pressure. Working on a series by someone you know means that you can’t afford to be clumsy with your portrayal and there is that bit of fear over the possibility of being told that ‘your voice is different from the character’s image’ or being unable to draw out a performance that satisfies the director’s requests.
When I turned up at RINNE’s recordings however, the studio was filled with people whom I was familiar with and that cultivated an environment that allowed me to perform at ease. During my first recording session, (Kimura) Ryohei suddenly said to me ‘Yoshi, I love your Oboro’ – he mentioned a lot of stuff to me but I couldn’t fully grasp it all at the time and it was only later that I realized what he’d said, and that made me happy.
He’s the complete opposite of me! However…
Q: What kind of character is Oboro, who you voice?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is that Oboro is a tsundere.. that is how he treats Ageha; it’s like he’s an elementary school kid playing tricks on the girl he likes. On the other hand, I’m the sort of person who likes to live life without getting into all sorts of trouble so we’re not alike at all (laughs). I do actually find it incredibly easy to play characters that aren’t similar to me.
How to act when you have a tail
Q: You play a black cat this time – is there any difference in the way you approach voicing an animal versus voicing a human?
A: There definitely is a difference (laughs). I’ve voiced an armadillo before and I wasn’t allowed to use human speech then so all I did was go ‘kyuu kyuu’. So in a sense, this show was a lot easier to do. However, Oboro has a tail so I tried to take its movements into account. Tails are a very important part of cats so I was about 10% conscious of my butt while I was acting. These are fine nuances, and I try to be aware of that in my performances. I do prioritize [a character’s] ‘appearance’ as part of my acting. His personal background too. I expand [the role] based on those two aspects.
He’s a tsundere, therefore…
Q: Was there anything in particular that you focused on while voicing Oboro?
A: To not make his speech too filthy. If I were to play it straight, Oboro would likely turn out to be the sort of character that goes off on violent rants. If I overcooked [my acting], people might end up getting the wrong impression, thinking that I sound like I want to hurt Ageha for real. In Oboro’s case he really is just a tsundere. I’m careful in trying to bring out that nuance, that he doesn’t truly mean all that abuse that he’s spouting out.
I want to do it! So I will!
Q: Do you have any memorable stories from the recording studio?
A: [The sound director] said to me, ‘what should we do with the child version of Oboro?’. I was wondering if he meant that there was a chance of me not doing his child voice so I interrupted ‘No no I want to do it, let me do it!’. They did end up using my voice, which I’m grateful for (laughs)
I’d be happy even if I had no money
Q: Which of the other Shinigami-Black Cat combinations are you fond of?
A: I’d say Rinne and Rokumon, even though they’re so pitiful (laughs). When I look at the two of them I think about how one can be happy even without any money, and how they make a great pairing. I also wonder whether it would be better for Rokumon-chan to face reality a little bit more.
I’ll be a good girl (laughs)
Q: Apart from your own character, do you like any of the others?
A: I’d say Suzu. She’s basically the mischievous type of kid, but one who’ll grow up to be a fine woman (bursts out in laughter)
It’s important to discuss as we go along…
Q: What is important to you as a seiyuu?
A: To listen to the words of your [dialogue] partner carefully. I craft my own (acting plan), but even if I know the other person well I will make sure I listen to their dialogue during the tests and then formulate how I intend to respond – I think it’s really important to discuss the acting as we go along. If [we] lose our focus, the conversation would in turn end up going astray.
In my first starring role, I cried at the words of my senior!
Q: What was your turning point as a seiyuu?
A: This happened when I was voicing the lead role for the first time – during an after-party following recordings for the 5th episode or so of the show, a certain senior said to me ‘Your role – anyone could do that couldn’t they?’ and I burst into tears, saying ‘So who do you think should have filled the role!’ (embarrassed) I think I was a bit drunk at the time too.
When that happened, that senior replied ‘if you feel so strongly about what I said then next week, go on and show me a performance that only you can do’. A week passed. I put my all into the tests, expressing the character’s thoughts in my own voice. And my senior tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘See, you can do it if you try’.
From there, I went on to receive feedback about how my performances were good and decisive – I could incorporate my own ideas and give them a go during tests, as well as being able to discuss and build on ideas along with the director and staff members.
At one point, I had a chance to chat with the animation director and when I asked him ‘how do you feel when the emotions [in our voices] exceed the impression that the visuals are giving off?’ and he replied, ‘If that is kind of performance that you come up with after exploring various options, then I would go back and fix the visuals instead’. That made me determined to go ahead and act, with confidence in the [many] staff members.
I lower my voice at the convenience store (laughs)
Q: Over the course of your daily life, has there been anything that makes you think – Ah, this could be an occupational disease?
A: I don’t really see this as being an occupational disease or anything but when I go to buy stuff at convenience stores, my identity is exposed the minute I open my mouth. People go, ‘Aren’t you Matsuoka-san?’. It happens even when I’m answering my mobile phone on the street. That’s why I’ve been using a super low tone of voice whenever I go shopping lately (laughs). [In a low bass voice] ‘Nope I don’t need a bag’. Though they don’t know who I am just by seeing my face (laughs).
If there were no ad-libs…
Q: If you could pick any NHK programme you liked to appear on…?
A: Well! I wonder what… (thinks for a long time). Maybe Let’s Tensai TV-kun, many characters appears in that, don’t they? I’d like to provide a voice for one of those. But it might be a bit hard if I were asked to do ad-libs (laughs)
I wonder if cars will ever be able to fly
Q: If you could get in a time machine, would you prefer to go to the past or the future?
A: Definitely the future. What’s more, I want to go about a 1000 years in[to the future]. I want to see how much progress has been made. Maybe there’ll be flying cars? When you think about it, it’s amazing how much progress we’ve seen in the last 20 years; things like game consoles are just becoming ridiculous, it’s a 1000 years later (laughs)
Vocal cords on loan
Q: What, to you, is a ‘seiyuu’?
A: I often say that [seiyuu are people who] ‘lend their vocal cords to a character’; what I mean by that is that the character is free to utilize my voice to speak.
Playing various types of roles is like the sensations you get from diving; giving a sense of pleasure to people who are watching us, giving people dreams – that is what I think a seiyuu is. Obviously it’s not all fun and games. I don’t that think the idea of ‘breathing life into [a character]’ should be regarded lightly. Acting with body and soul is what a seiyuu is all about. Though at first, it was just a profession that I started out of admiration.
Please have a look at Matsuoka’s new image!
Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the readers.
A: I voice Oboro in Kyokai no RINNE; it is a type of role I’ve never done before so please look out for an all-new Matsuoka. My co-stars are all wonderful people, so thanks to all who have watched the show up ‘til now and please continue to support us!
Next in the series will be Ishigami Shizuka’s Shima Renge, which I will post after NHK gets part 2 up at the end of the month!