Interview with Kawanishi Kengo (Kiriyama) and Okamoto Nobuhiko (Nikaido). two of the main male seiyuu from the currently airing anime adaptation of Umino Chika’s popular March Comes in Like a Lion (3gatsu no Lion) manga. Some had actually speculated (or hoped) that Okamoto might be cast as Rei-kun because of his outspoken love for the manga but alas, he’s fatty Nikaido instead!
As for the anime, I will say I was apprehensive about Shaft working on it but thankfully, no head-tilts or weird angles or all those other Shaftisms…as yet. Only one episode so far so we’ll see how it goes…
Completely contrasting characters; like the moon to the sun
Q: Tell us about the characters that you play.
Kawanishi: I play Kiriyama Rei, a person who’s not good at socializing with others and instead, uses shogi as a way to deepen his bonds with others. He’s a character that you’d describe as being hard-to-approach.
Okamoto: Nikaido’s a chubby guy, but he’s also rather charming. What’s bubbling under the surface, at his core, is hot-blooded passion. He’s also got the strength to pull [others] along, and the power to break down doors. If you were to compare [the characters] to the moon or the sun, then Nikaido is a guy who’s like the sun.
Rei and Nikaido, more alike than you would imagine
Q: How do the two of you feel about each other’s performances?
Okamoto: I love reading the manga so I’d always wondered who might play Rei-kun. I’m able to feel the dark nature of Kawanishi-kun’s voice so I think he’s perfect for the role (laughs).
Kawanishi: Dark nature (laughs). Perhaps that is so. I am not the type of person who can easily socialize with the other actors during recordings; I tend to spend a lot of time alone. When found out that Okamoto-kun would be playing Nikaido, I was actually quite surprised as my image of Okamoto-kun is quite different to the impression I have of Nikaido. But when we started working together in the studio it hit me immediately – ah! That’s totally Nikaido!
Q: Do you think you share any similarities with your character?
Kawanishi: We’re similar in the way we both lack social skills (bitter laugh)
Okamoto: The part where Nikaido-kun says ‘Let’s think of tactics that will leave a legacy for generations to come’ is exactly the same as when I was a child. I’ve been playing shogi since I was young and used to try out tactics that others wouldn’t – I wanted to be ‘one of a kind’. However, I’ve never thought about being a ‘one of a kind’ seiyuu since all the people currently at the forefront of the industry are the ones who are considered ‘one of a kind’. I do believe that if I aim high and work hard, I will naturally become someone who’s ‘one of a kind’.
The ambiance of March Comes in Like a Lion
Q: Recording has already begun by this point. Which of the story’s charms do you feel are apparent when you’re working in the studio?
Okamoto: I think the appeal of this series is increasing ever more with this animated adaptation. The silent sequences – you can enjoy them.
Kawanishi: Yeah yeah, that’s probably something unique to March Comes in Like a Lion; it’s more apparent in the silent scenes than in the acting parts. I hope that people will look forward to this series where you can ‘feel’ the mood of the storyline.
The darkness and the serenity; the brightness that does not cut through it
Q: What was the most important thing that you focused on while voicing your character?
Kawanishi: I want to see how much of Rei-kun’s inherent nature I can pull to the surface while making sure that his dark disposition remains. Through my acting, I want that cloudy feeling within [him] to get across to the people with who are watching the show.
Okamoto: The charms of both Rei-kun and the series itself is in their ‘tranquility’; and in amongst that I try to be careful with how I bring out Nikaido’s bright nature and energy, to ensure that I don’t upset the [series’] atmosphere.
Because we are all aiming for the same things
Q: Any memorable stories from the recording studio?
Kawanishi: The recordings ended real quickly.
Okamoto: Yeah that’s impressive, that is!
Kawanishi: I think it’s probably because the actors and the staff are all aiming for the same things; that’s why they go by so fast.
To protect? Or be protected?
Q: Which of the other characters apart from your own, are you most interested in?
Okamoto: Which of the girls do you like? Amongst the 3 sisters.
Kawanishi: Hmmmmmm (ponders)
Okamoto: We’re probably gonna have diverging opinions on this. But I’ve already made up my mind. It’s Akari-san for me. She makes delicious food, she saves money, she’s got maternal instincts.
Kawanishi: Akari-saaaan! I do get what you mean, but yeah, hmmmm (ponders some more). If I say Momo-chan it’ll be a bit… (laughs) so yeah maybe I’ll say Hina-chan. It’s like, I can’t leave her alone. I want to do all kinds of things for her – I’m the kind of person who wants to do something for someone.
Okamoto: If I was in my teens I’d say Hina-chan without hesitation but nowadays, I want to be protected (laughs).
People who are tired of human relations, please watch! It’s OK even if you don’t know shogi
Q: How about a bit of push towards people who are still in a dilemma over whether or not to watch March Comes in Like a Lion?
Okamoto: You don’t have to know shogi to enjoy it! People tend to shun shogi because it has a stiff image but I’d say that this series place more emphasis on human drama, so I hope that you can enjoy the drama side of the show.
Kawanishi: Personally, I hope that people who are tired of human relations in particular, will watch this series. Maybe there are some of you who think that you don’t have anyone on your side. I hope that by watching this anime, you too might come to the realization that there are people in your life who want to lend you a hand.
Part.2 will come whenever NHK posts it!