Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016 Round-up

What was supposed to have been a ‘year in review’ piece has turned into a ‘Whoops! Christmas cheer got the better of me (again)!’ list of lists. Happy new year and may all your resolutions be ever kept!

12 seiyuu performances I’ll remember
1. Otsuka Hochu as Sato (Ajin)
2. Ishida Akira as Yurakutei Yakumo VII (Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju)
3. Yamadera Koichi as Yurakutei Sukeroku II (Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju)
4. Ono Kensho as Tanaka (Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge)
5. Koyasu Takehito as Roswaal L Mathers (Re:Zero)
6. Tsuda Kenjiro as Fango (91days)
7. Hosoya Yoshimasa as Epizo Evans (Bubuki Buranki)
8. Yuki Aoi as Hinazuki Kayo (Boku dake ga Inai Machi)
9. Kamiki Ryunosuke as Tachibana Taki (Kimi no Na wa)
10. Kanemoto Hisako as Uasaha (Jakusansei Million Arthur)
11. Kimura Subaru as Tendo Satori (Haikyuu!! S3)
12. Ando Mabuki as Ujibe Nagisa (Keijo!!!!!!!!)

10 favourite seiyuu moments
1. Handa-kun’s eraser song: Hondo Kaede – I don’t want youuuuu to get dirtyyyyyy

2. Successfully rolling Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch off the tongue award to Mimori Suzuko

3. I am a voice inside a paper bag: Sakurai Takahiro

4. Step on them idol wota pigs! (says Uchida Maaya)

5. IT’S JJ STYLE (courtesy of Miyano Mamoru)

6. SEXUAL HARASSMENT!!! (by the seiyuu who is doing that to everyone else)

7. Crab song (from the anime nobody watched)

8. Nyan shogi (by the 3 cutest seiyuu cats)

9. Hippopotamus Song

10. The Tanaka shorts are the cutest things ever

8 seiyuu I had tremendous love for, for various reasons
1. Senbongi Sayaka – She’s improved so much since Kitakubu
2. Hondo Kaede – Real-life Yae, the type who unwittingly offends others
3. Lynn – I used to think she was just a boring, generic heroine voice but Keijo changed that
4. Onishi Saori – 2016 has been great for Saorin but 2017 will be even better.
5. KENN – I loved his Gieve, and I loved all his idol animu charas even more cos that meant he’d have plenty of idol songs to sing *swoon*
6. Taneda Risa – Get well soon! I never knew how much I’d miss your voice!!
7. Hosoya Yoshimasa – I can never not love a Hosoyan character (except maybe well…read somewhere below)
8. Okamoto Nobuhiko – Only he can make fatty Nikaido sound so sawayaka

6 rookie seiyuu on my watchlist
1. Kito Akari
2. Horie Shun
3. Toki Shunichi
4. Fujita Akane
5. Tomita Miyu
6. Takada Yuki

4 miscasts
1. Hanae Natsuki as Mythos in Active Raid – Mythos is supposed to be some mysterious genius with a cherry tomato fetish but Hanae couldn’t make it work for me; instead, I burst out in laughter at that bitch imouto tomato scene.

2. Hosoya Yoshimasa as Haruhiro in Grimgar – Cool refreshing Hosoyan voice is a totally bad fit for an emo teenager.

3. Hanae Natsuki as Kusakabe in HaruChika – I don’t mean to pick on Hanae specifically but…he just doesn’t sound right as Kusakabe, who’s meant to be some brilliant teacher that the kids worship – he comes off sounding more like a condescending asshat.

4. Aoi Shota as anyone in anything – The guy really can sing but man his acting! His 滑舌 skills are close to zero and he appears to be able to produce only one type of voice – dead. It’s like listening to a talking tsundere corpse…

2 favourite seiyuu radio shows
1. Sakura to shitai Onishi (Sakura Ayane, Onishi Saori) – I didn’t think listening to seiyuu talk about random anime-unrelated stuff could be interesting, but these two have a kind of ‘chemistry’ that just works. I love chalk and cheese personalities! (why does Onisshi keep getting put together with people who are so different from her….) Also, I thought Morse Shingou was the worst idea ever, before it turned into the best segment ever.

2. Shadowverse Channel (Yuki Kana, Sakura Kaoru, Ishigami Shizuka) – Like Blazblue Radio Mk II with the plus point for me being that I actually kind of play Shadowverse so I have fun watching the match-ups too. Please bring Ogura Yui on to a Nama and let her be corrupted!

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#135 – Lynn

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Animate Times’ Nichinare coverage continues and this time, we have someone from ARTSVISION – Lynn. This covers part one of the interview; part two will come around whenever it’s posted.

Q: Please introduce yourself.

A: My name is Lynn and I am from the Artsvision agency. I’m blood type A but often get asked ‘Are you sure you’re not type B or AB?’ instead, so others probably think that I’m a bit weird (laughs). Most people call me by my name but there is one person who calls me ‘Orin’. Obviously it’s not fixed (laughs). I’m on the lookout for a nice nickname.

Personality-wise, I’m a moody kind of person who likes to do things at her own pace. That can be both good and bad – I blow hot and cold easily so once I’m hooked on something I can get quite obsessive, but I’m also pretty fickle-minded about things.

Q: What are your hobbies and special skills?

A: Style is my hobby. I like fashion and make-up and regularly check out magazines covering them. I also like taking photos and people often praise them, saying ‘they don’t look like they’re taken with a smartphone!’. I was influenced by my mother who also loved photography so I’ve always liked taking photos as well as having my photo taken since I was young.

Q: Is there anything else you’re addicted to right now?

A: I love cats so much, I spend my nights watching cat videos and looking at cat photos on Twitter and Instagram. I’d love to keep one, but there’s a ban on pets where I’m living right now. That’s why I go visit pet shops and cat cafes to play around with, and be healed by them.

Q: You seem like a girl of the times. You’re even good at cooking.

A: To be honest, I haven’t cooked at all lately. After I moved to Tokyo and started living alone I’d look up recipes on the internet to make but it became too much of a bother. I do love eating delicious food though, and I believe the dishes made by restaurants taste way better (laughs).

Recently, I’ve begun setting aside ‘coffee time’ in the mornings. I like the aroma of coffee as it’s calming. I’ll get up slightly early and make drip coffee to get my fix.

Q: Moving on to talk about your current works. You play the protagonist Kaminashi Nozomi in the autumn anime Keijo!!!!!!!! – surprisingly, it’s your first time voicing a lead role in a TV anime.

A: That’s right. I have voiced heroine roles before but this is the first time where my name is listed at the top of the cast credits, so I did feel quite a lot of pressure. It’s a series that I’ve become deeply fond of.

Q: What are your impressions of Keijo!!!!!!!! ?

A: When I first learned about the setting I thought it would be a bit of a naughty kind of show but once I read the manga I found out that it was the complete opposite. It’s a very fun, hot-blooded sports series and I found myself immediately getting drawn into its worldview. When I went to the bookstore to buy the manga volumes I thought they’d be too heavy for me to carry so I only bought half, but I got more and more absorbed in the story as I read on and ended up going back to buy the rest the following day (laughs).

Q: The setup is a bit like a boat racing school where the girls grow by working together as well as through their rivalries – it really is a battling sports series at its core. Similar to horse racing, cycling and boating, keijo is staged in a public arena on top of the ‘Land’ – what makes it unique is the special moves of the players.

A: I think Sorayomi Daichi-sensei, the creator of such a unique world, is a genius. That is why I was certain that this would turn out to be a fun series. People who are not familiar with the manga might initially see the anime and be surprised by the outrageous skills on display but as the girls continue to power up, so do the gags – the skills that pop up will get you laughing. Isn’t it interesting, watching this world and these girls who are taking their sport so seriously?

Q: The way the special moves are drawn and portrayed makes it look like a Showa-era sports show.

A: I feel a bit nostalgic when people say how ‘they used to make anime like this back then’. Director Takahashi (Hideya) had that image in mind when making the show as well, which you can see through how the lines are drawn thicker during race scenes, like you would see in shonen comics – that makes it even more striking.

Q: What kind of character is Kaminashi Nozomi, whom you voice?

A: An innocent girl who radiates joy, she’s very friendly and personable. She has this ability to draw people closer to her. Despite being a girl she’s actually quite the typical shonen lead character and I’m voicing her with the hope that she will be liked by other girls as well. I wanted to make her the kind of person who’s got the power to make other girls look at her and think ‘She’s cool’ or ‘I want to follow her’. Basically, she’s always smiling and tends to make the odd dad joke but she’s got that passion at her core that I hope to bring across.

Q: Nozomi’s Kansai dialect has its own flavour.

A: The Kansai dialect is very tough. I get M.A.O-chan, who voices Miyata Sayaka, to teach me, plus I watch talk programmes featuring comedians – I was studying even as I went into recordings. By speaking the Kansai dialect, I found that I could slip into the role of the cheerful Nozomi naturally, once I flipped a switch.

We tend to imagine Kansai residents as being over-exaggerating, effervescent personalities so I tried to maintain similar tension levels and mood. There may be many aspects that differ from the real thing but I hope you will look upon [my performance] with an open mind (laughs).

Q: We see that killer move ‘Vacuum Butt Cannon’ being deployed as early as the 2nd episode.

A: It’s a move that was born by chance during training, but that’s just what makes Nozomi so amazing. I thought it was cool too, to see her having to wear the UTM (Ujibe’s Training Mailsuit) while undergoing training to master the Vacuum Butt Cannon.

There is a scene where Ujibe-sensei tells [Nozomi] she’ll be expelled if she dares to use the Vacuum Butt Cannon due to its lethal nature, but Nozomi is determined to learn the skill no matter what and ends up in a dogeza – that was the scene that I had to do the most retakes for. I allowed myself to get too heated up and came off sounding strangely forceful. It should be different from the kind of pressure that is felt when one becomes angry. What I found difficult was that the ‘I want to be the Prize Queen, I want to be the strongest!’ scene comes to the fore right then, but I hope that you can see Nozomi’s straightforward, pure personality from it.

Q: What’s the atmosphere in the recording studio like?

A: It’s a studio filled with ladies; during breaks we’ll be looking through the manga and debating stuff like ‘this body line is hawt’ or ‘the shape of her boobs is beautiful’ – we sound like old geezers (laughs). However I’m often seeking M.A.O-chan’s advice on Kansai accents at break-time so it’s been said that I’m hard to approach. Even Onishi Saori-chan (voice of Toyoguchi Non) said ‘the two of you were forever practising so I thought it’d be rude to interrupt’. That was how desperate I was [at improving my Kansai accent].

Q: The girls of Room 309 – Nozomi, Miyata, Aoba and Toyoguchi sing the ending theme Fantas/HIP Girlfriends!.

A: I was the last to record for the song so when I heard it with the other 3 girls’ parts included, I could tell that it would turn out to be a very bright, youthful idol type of song. Nozomi’s passion and powerful singing voice added a nice balance to the mix, I thought.

The lyrics are linked to the story as well. ‘I’ll give my all taking you on in a Race but when I’m off the Land I’m your friend. Let’s do our best together’ – it’s that kind of song that’s filled with warm friendship. It’s a song about having someone else’s back, a song of support; a fun song that looks forward positively and brightly. Plus the title ‘Fantas/HIP’ is so typical of this series (laughs).

Q: There are individual character versions for each of the 4 girls as well.

A: There are solo versions of the song as well as each girl’s character song. Nozomi’s Wish! is a cool, rock-oriented song – its lyrics are filled with her strong emotions and message of ‘I want to win’ and ‘I want to go higher’ and I had fun singing it.

Q: You are also hosting the Nekketsu! Kaiketsu! Keijo Radio!* show.

A: I am co-hosting it with Onishi Saori-chan and as the show’s name and the corners ‘The End of the DistrASS’ and the ‘We Solve Your Big Ass Problems!’ suggest, this is a radio show that is pushing butts all the way (laughs). In the past I couldn’t even say the words ‘boobs’ or ‘ass’ out loud…they’re not things that girls would often talk about (laughs)….but thanks to this series, my resistance towards [those words] totally melted away and I’m saying them repeatedly on the show. A new door has opened for me (laughs).

In the anime, various special moves are revealed so we’ve got a corner for everyone to come up with original techniques – please enjoy listening to the radio show alongside the anime!

*note: literally translates to Hot Blooded! Decisive! Keijo Radio but the kanji used for ‘ketsu’ is 尻 (butt) instead of 血 (blood) & 決 (decision)

Q: Please tell us the highlights and charm points of the Keijo!!!!!!!! anime.

A: I hope that you will enjoy watching how these girls are giving their best, seriously taking on what seems to be a silly little [sport]. The highlight would definitely the special moves – more heated battles will be unfolding in upcoming episodes.

It’s an anime that I think anyone can enjoy and it might be fun to watch it together with people on Twitter and so on. It’s like watching a sports event, so I hope that you will support the girls as they fight hard. Also, all you good kids – please do not imitate those special moves because they’re dangerous. You probably can’t pull them off anyway but who knows, if you do hard-ass training like Nozomi & co’s figure-eight butt exercises, you just might be able to do it (laughs).

#134 – Monster Strike: Sakamoto Maaya

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Translation of an interview with Sakamoto Maaya on her role in the Monster Strike movie, which opened at #1 in Japan this week in terms of tickets sold thanks to all the game tie-ins that pulled in the young school crowd.

The anime is based on one of Japan’s most popular mobage, with the series airing 51 episodes on Youtube this year. Maaya was one of the big names hired for the movie version alongside Mizuki Nana and Yamadera Koichi. She voices the child version of protagonist Homura Ren, whose teenage incarnation is voiced by Kobayashi Yusuke. The web anime was quite well made (as far as kids’ shows go) and Crunchyroll has just picked it up, so why not check it out?

Q: You voice the 10-year old Ren – did you use Kobayashi Yusuke’s performance as 14-year old Ren as a reference point?

A: Yes I did. I believed I had to get to know the character of Ren that Kobayashi-kun had spent this past year developing. When I actually watched it on Youtube however, I found that the mood and tone [of the series] are quite different from that of the movie version. So it might have seemed useful but I’m not that sure any more (laughs). I worked with Kobayashi-kun on another show* and was always in awe of his natural acting ability so I felt glad and strangely secure in having an opportunity to voice the childhood version of one of Kobayashi-kun’s roles. The Ren I voice is a Ren who has lost his memories. Kobayashi-kun said to me, ‘I am learning of these stories for the first time as Ren himself does not recall them happening. Even if you end up deviating slightly [from my version], let it be as it is. Have the freedom to act out the role as you see fit’.

*note: that would be Arslan Senki, where Kobayashi voices King Arslan and Sakamoto voices Falangies

Q: What is your overall impression of the Monster Strike anime?

A: Before seeing it, I thought it would be a battle series. There are action scenes, obviously, but the movie shows how the hearts of our heroes grow. It’s a coming-of-age story that depicts how these boys grow into adults, not unlike the film Stand by Me. You will see over the course of a mere few hours, how these children come closer to adulthood – that is just how much the movie focuses on the human drama aspects. It goes without saying that the action scenes are one of the main highlights. What leaves an even deeper impression in my opinion, is the dialogue, as well as the conflict.

Q: Being in elementary school, Ren is just a child yet he has so much weighing upon his shoulders.

A: That’s right. In Ren’s case there is the fact that his dad had gone missing when he was very young; as he’s the only boy in the family with only his mother and sister left, he thinks he has to grow up as quickly as possible. I do think that it’d be fine for him to stay a child for a little while longer though.

Q: Was there anything that you were particularly careful about, or any specific instructions that you received from the director with regards to voicing Ren in the Monster Strike movie?

A: I’m only coming in to the series at the halfway point so I was a bit nervous about it, but I didn’t receive as many detailed instructions as I thought I would. After the first test I was told ‘that’ll do [for Ren]’ and was given the go ahead. I did receive a couple of specific pointers mid-scenes, things like ‘this line here should be acted out like this’.

Q: Are there are scenes or lines that you find particularly memorable?

A: There is one specific scene where Ren is speaking to Oragon in a kind of monologue. It’s a part where he mentions his missing dad. When I read the words I thought they had a melancholy echo to them, but the Director said, ‘They read forlorn but let it sound bright. Don’t allow it to seem like he’s gloomy and in despair, do it with a bit of a laugh and with cheer’ – and I understood. It is typical of Ren to always want to show that he’s strong, so by laughing it off in such a manner, those who are beside him can start to comprehend the true sorrow that he feels. That was a part that I did not understand through reading the scripts, but the Director’s explanation made it clear.

Q: Ren is a positive and cheerful person, but he does have his dark sides. He’s not a hero who is easy to understand but instead, he’s a character who is still growing.

A: That’s right. It may surprise people who have been watching the Youtube anime, but (the movie version of) Ren is quite a selfish person. He tends to spit out whatever is on his mind to those around him. On the other hand, people might identify with that aspect, thinking ‘Ah, so he was like this in the past’. It’s because of all these things that we see Ren as he is today. I think that knowing the backbone of his story makes it easier for people who empathize with Ren-kun to remember [the story].

Q: It is rare for you to voice this type of character – what are your feelings regarding voicing a young boy?

A: I don’t actually play male characters that often to be honest, but when I have, they tend to be slightly older. Although we say [Ren is] young, he’s just 10 years old and I felt a slight sense of unfamiliarity within myself when it came to children of this age. It was a bit of a challenge for me personally, to take on the task of voicing a type of role that I had never previously done before. Still, [Ren is] a boy and he hasn’t gone through adolescence yet so his voice is not that of a man’s. Rather than focusing on bringing out the sound of a boy’s voice, I tried to give a voice to the blazing thoughts in his mind. Ren is like a child, constantly on the move. Running, throwing the ball while talking, he never stands still. I made it my goal to focus on bringing out aspects that are not necessarily related to one’s vocal colour; for example, ways of speaking that are unique to a child who’s in motion.

Q: How do you feel you responded to the challenges?

A: I think it’s a fairly experimental kind of role for me (laughs). I learned a lot from it and I’m really grateful to have received such a role. I’ve done a lot of different kinds of characters over a fairly long period of time and each and every character has been important in its own way, with much to be learnt every time. I felt very nervous stepping into the recording studio, but it was a valuable opportunity for me to take on the challenge of this role holding on to such feelings. I do not know who chose me for this role but I would love to know why they did. I’m really thankful though (laughs). Personally, I would like to know if anyone will notice the (point) where [I] transition into the 14-year old Ren that Kobayashi-kun voices.

Q: Lastly, do let everyone who is looking forward to the movie know what to look out for, as well as any other messages you may have.

A: My work on the Monster Strike anime served as my entry point to the Monster Strike world so I am truly just a beginner. You may think that you would surely have to have played the Monstrike game to watch Monster Strike THE MOVIE To the Beginning, but that is not true. It is a movie that you can enjoy as an entry point. After you first watch this movie you’ll want to know more about Ren-kun so do please go and watch the anime on Youtube and then, you can move on to the game. It doesn’t matter if you are a newcomer or if you have been supporting the game and watching the Youtube anime – I hope you enjoy the movie together with me.
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PS Watch the Ren trailer to hear what Maaya sounds like in the movie!