Interview with radio show writer Kosei-T: Tahara Hirotaka

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a seiyuu fan today is the vast number of web radio shows readily available for consumption. It’s surreal for me to look back and realize that internet radio really only gained popularity in the late ‘00s – when I myself first started seeking out radio shows around 2004-ish, I had to rely on Japanese fans broadcasting streams on PeerCast or download episodes off Winny later on.

Advances in technology have of course, led to such rapid growth in the aniradio scene which has in turn brought us to a situation where it’s stranger for an anime to not have an associated radio show than for it to have one. The sheer number of radio shows available also brings a different set of problems – market saturation, lack of original content, the struggle to bring in listener numbers & so on (more on that later).

I’m sure that most people pick shows to listen to based on the personalities involved, but at the same time we’re also aware that anime/seiyuu radio shows are not made successful by the seiyuu’s presenting abilities alone – most of the work goes on behind the scenes with the production team and the writers (構成作家, kōsei sakka, literally ‘composition writers’). They’re the people who come up with the corners, write the scripts, filter the mails, keep the shows flowing, do the post-editing.

Some of these guys are pretty ‘famous’ in their own right – people like Chanko, for example. Another well-known radio writer is Tahara Hirotaka aka Kōsei-T, a pioneer writer of the internet aniradio scene who’s worked on many popular anime and seiyuu radio shows over the years, most notably the legendary Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō. It’s quite easy to pick out Kōsei-T shows as his style is distinct, where he favours content and listener interaction over relying on seiyuu personalities to carry the show. A couple of his radio programmes have picked up gongs at the Aniradio Awards (see notes), so he’s definitely got pedigree.

Having been a member of animate Times (formerly animate.tv)’s first group of internet radio writers, the website, in an interview posted August 2016, looks back on Kōsei-T’s career so far as well as what he thinks is in store for aniradio in the future.

kosei_t
(Interviewer: Ishibashi Yū, Words: Hara Naoki)

Growing alongside the advancement of net radio

Q: Thanks for your time today. Actually, I was a Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō listener…

A: Really?

Q: It’s true (laughs). We’ll talk more about that later today. Our younger readers may not be aware of who Tahara-san is, so I’d like to ask you to introduce yourself as well as tell us how you got your start on radio.

A: Before I introduce myself, I’m thinking ‘Wow, there might be a generation of animate Times’ users who don’t know who I am’ (laughs). Ah, so it’s already been 5 years since Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō, no wonder nobody knows me any more…

So yeah, I am a being who has been forgotten during the process of animate.TV’s transition over to animate Times… Make sure you write that down!

Q: (laughs)

A: I pulled that joke out again. For the sake of the Zetsubō listeners!

Q: That’s how it is (laughs)

A: Anyway, with regards to my relationship with animate TV – I was one of the first writers to be brought in when (animate) decided ‘let’s put some internet radio shows on the website!’. I’d been writing novels and doing plays up until that point, when I was around 30 years old. The theatre company I’d been attached to at the time had people like Takeuchi Junko, my soon-to-be directing partner Satō Futoshi, and even [comedian] Tetsu from Tetsu and Tomo (laughs).

Those connections led to the beginning of the HUNTER x HUNTER R radio programme which featured Takeuchi Junko, who was making her seiyuu debut at the time. Futoshi was involved in the project as editing director and he said to me ‘I don’t have a writer for the radio drama part, would you like to do it?’. At first I was only in charge of the scripts for the in-show radio drama but one thing led to another and I ended up writing the scripts for the radio show as well. So yeah, I wasn’t somebody’s disciple nor had I studied specifically to become a radio script writer. I did study writing but not with the intention of becoming a radio writer – my settling in (to the job) was a product of happenstance.

I’d been in charge of several programmes on Radio Osaka for almost 5 years when animate.TV called me up and asked ‘Would you like to do net radio?’. Since then, I’ve only rarely worked on terrestrial radio shows and am mainly involved with various forms of net radio programmes. As time goes by Internet radio has expanded on a wide scale and I have shifted accordingly.

Q: So animate.TV was Tahara-san’s first experience of internet radio?

A: Back in those days the talk about whether we should make Internet radio free or charge a fee, or how we’d actually get people to listen to web radio shows. At the time there weren’t too many kids who had PCs and most of those who did were guys, with very few girls having one. Those were times when smartphones were yet to exist.

If I recall correctly, animate.TV and Onsen both started net radio services in the same year. Onsen started out as a ‘radio-only’ site but animate.TV is on the other hand, a promotional outlet for the animate group. Unlike Onsen or Hibiki which both specialize in making radio programmes, (animate.TV) had no dedicated radio team. That was the story at the beginning.

Radio writers: Drawing the Map of a Radio Show

Q: As a radio writer, what kind of work do you specifically do?

A: The main job is to write the scripts for radio shows, but there are several patterns to it. For myself, I focus on making the (listener) mail the focal point of the show – I’ll read all the mail that is sent in and then decide, ‘I’ll have this mail read during this corner’ or ‘I’d like to have 5 messages read out but I’ll give it some leeway and choose about 15 for now’; I basically work on the distribution of the mails for the show.

I’ll look at how the mail fit in within specific corners and use that info to steer the direction of the radio show. That is how I work – there are other people who’ll just turn the mail over to the personalities and let them handle it but for programmes that I was in charge of ie. Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio [Shimoraji], Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō or J-Wave Osomatsu Station; we’d get as many as 500, 700 and a 1000 mails for each of those shows and there’d be no way for the personalities to read all those within a 30-minute pre-show meeting (laughs). That’s why I’ll go through them first and then narrow it to around 30 mails before taking them to the meetings.

Q: You have to think about the direction of the programme while trying to go through hundreds of mails.

A: I often say this, that my special skill is ‘mail handling’ (laughs). I call this process ‘Drawing a Talk Map’. I’ll work out the flow of the programme – ‘Start from here’, ‘make this the lively part of the show’, ‘lastly, calm things down & connect it to the following week’s show’. However, to take this map and actually fill in the scenery and buildings – that is the job of the personalities, I think. As I said earlier, there are countless ways of going about doing things. For each guy who entrusts the mail selection to the personalities, there’ll be someone else who plans a radio without relying on mails. I myself will make the mails the core of the show – I like creating a programme together with the listeners.

Q: Of all the shows you’ve done up ‘til now, which one did you feel got a lot of mails?

A: In terms of average numbers, definitely Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō. We did that for 4 years and by the end we’d totalled 175,000 mails. For J-Wave Osomatsu Station it was around 12,000 in total which works about to about a 1,000 for each broadcast episode. The worst avalanche was probably during Iwatobi Channel. When Miyano Mamoru’s guest appearance on the show was confirmed we suddenly got 700 mails within 2 days. My PC’s screen turned black, I was convinced it was going to crash (laughs).

Q: How do you handle such a large volume of mails?

A: There are various ways of dealing with it but I’m sorry I can’t go into too much detail – it’s confidential information (laughs).

Q: I see. As a radio writer, you sometimes stay in the radio booth [with the personalities]. What kind of things do you do inside?

A: While it’s not a necessity, it’s true that I do remain there most of the time. In my case it’s to serve as time keeper. I’ll bring an iPad in with me to use instead of cue cards, or use it to research material on the spot when picking up on [listener] impressions of the anime.

Q: Basically, you act as a behind-the-scenes facilitator.

A: Yeah you could say that. Also, I’m supposed to laugh (laughs). This so-called ‘radio writer’s laugh’ is supposed to liven up the programme but there are various patterns on how you can make it work. If you listen carefully I think you’ll notice that I try as much as possible not to laugh on programmes with only female personalities. It is in fact more exciting to include the laughter but I think there are listeners out there who might not be happy to hear a man’s laugh cutting through a female seiyuu-only space. On the other hand, if you insert your voice on a male-female personality combo show you create the impression that it’s not just the two of them alone, while if it’s all men it’ll be raucous laughter (laughs). There are all these variations on the inclusion of a radio writer’s laugh, so you can see quite a lot of thought has to be put into it.

A mail handling pro tells you ‘How to write a mail that will get read’

Q: We touched on the topic of mail a bit earlier but I’d like to ask you – what kind of mail easily gets read on a radio show?

A: I think the most important thing is to keep it short. A little tip I can provide is that you should first try reading out the mail that you wrote yourself. When you do that you’ll know just how long the mail is but it seems that unexpectedly, people don’t know how to do that. They’re probably in a daze when they’re writing the mail and get too passionate about it to the point that the mail keeps getting longer and longer.

Once in a while we get mails as long as 2 sheets of A4 paper and to be honest, it’d be tough to have that read out on a 30-minute long radio show (laughs). You’re not the only person listening to the programme plus we get tons of mail so if you want them to be read then you’d be better off taking my suggestions on board. In a nutshell, the shorter the better – by that I don’t mean just a single word, but something of a moderate length is essential. Experts at this will get their mail down to a concise, comprehensive 5-6 lines before sending it off. It’s not a script so even if you write extremely long sentences…I’m sorry, though we can read it we don’t have enough time for such things (laughs).

Q: The so-called ‘regulars’; why do they get their mails read out on air every time?

A: Those guys? They simply sent in more than 10 mails each time. People who’re thinking ‘I want my mail to get read!’ would only send in 1 letter most of the time. But the regulars will definitely send in 10, and if they’re really enthusiastic, 50 or so mails. For me it’s an even playing field when it comes to choosing mails; I don’t take into account the sender name or the number of mails being sent so obviously, the probability of your mail being read is higher if you send a lot in. There are people whose mail doesn’t get read and they hear the [regulars’] mail being read out and think ‘It’s that guy again!’ but I actually feel more sorry for the regulars (laughs). I mean, they’ve sent in 50 mails but at most, only 1 will get read. The other 49 die just like that. I think it’s nice if you were aware of the hardships the ‘regulars’ face before you start getting jealous of them.

Still, that doesn’t mean I favour the ‘regulars’. If the same guy sends 10 mails out of the 50 total mails that come in for a show every week, it is natural that their probability of getting read increases. So in that sense, the trick to getting your mail read is simply to send mail in numbers.

Q: Indeed, the possibility of your mail getting read would be higher if you did that.

A: …if you were purely aiming to get your mail, there are more advanced techniques you could use. What I mentioned just now is about what the ‘regulars’ do. There are people of a higher level, those who change their radio names when they send their mails.

Q: As in [they change their names] for every mail they send?

A: Those who are serious about it will change their name for every single mail sent. That’s why sometimes, when I print out the mails in the studio I’ll notice, ‘Oh, they have the same address!’ (laughs). There obviously aren’t many people out there who’d change names for each of their 10-20 mails but there are quite a few who have 2-3 different names. If you’re serious and astute and you really want to get your mail read out no matter what, then change your name on all of your mails.

Q: There’s a possibility that [such a person] might end up ‘hijacking’ the radio show.

A: That would be the worst case scenario. You could send 100 mails with a 100 different names and end up having an entire show with only your mails being read. There might be no ‘regulars’ on that show, plus all your mails were interesting. That would actually be a satisfying thing for a radio show (laughs). But you know, those who’ve attained ‘regular’ status tend to treasure their own radio names and would hope that whichever personality out there remembers who they are, so it’s rare to have anyone going to that extent. But if you still want your mail to be read anyhow, please try doing [what I suggested]. Perhaps, [a show] might end up having 10 ‘regulars who are all the same person – you (laughs).

Q: As someone who’s on the production side of radio work, what do you think of such tactics?

A: Since I mostly deal with mail handling, I do think that I’d love to get a lot of interesting messages lined up! (laughs). However, with all these mails I’m sorting through I try to be considerate of the personalities and prevent them from reading mails from the same radio name so I do get a bit sad sometimes, thinking ‘Ah, this was such an interesting mail though…’ (laughs). If such tactics would raise the quality level of the show, I’d be happy to allow that kind of thing. There aren’t too many radio shows at that level after all.

Q: It is a very dense industry after all.

A: I work in the aniradio world so we haven’t reached this stage yet, but I imagine someone like Ijuin Hikaru-san would definitely get tens of thousands of mails for his radio show. Probably, I should say. I wonder how many mails the ‘regulars’ send in each time? (laughs). If I ever had a chance to meet [the staff], I’d love to ask them about that.

The Appeal of Aniradio: You’re guaranteed to find a show you love

Q: What do you think is the charm of aniradio, that drives so many people to be so passionate about sending mails in?

A: Nothing comes to mind immediately. There are so many different trends and patterns to aniradio so I supposed if you were to talk about its strengths, then perhaps ‘diversity’ would be one of them. I was just doing Nijiiro Radio Days recently with 4 guys; and I did Non Non Biyori Web Radio Non Non Dayori! na non with 2 girls previously – at that point [of having same gender hosts] you could already see a clear division in the demographics of the mail senders [women and men respectively]. For male-female personality shows like Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio and K of Radio, two shows which also happened to share the same ‘filthy’ kind of direction, the type of audience and the content of the talks you get would change; there are infinite variations on [personality] combinations and the influences picked up from the anime concerned, which I’d say is one of the attractions [of aniradio].

Q: Though there are few people who would listen to all radio shows being broadcast, there are many who have their own favourite programmes.

A: I can’t say that you’d definitely find X show interesting if you just happened to pick one out at random, but there are just so many shows out there that you most certainly will find at least one programme that you like. Obviously for every show you love you’ll find another show that you hate, but when you do find that one show you really dig you’ll fall in love with it and that’s something that would make us, the producers, really happy.

You could say that maybe, that is ‘the #1 appeal of aniradio’. Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō and Non non Biyori Web Radio Non non dayori! na non were completely different in terms of content but I think the quality and level of enjoyment of both shows was comparable. So just listen as much as possible to the radio shows that you like. Even if it’s only for 1 episode, just give the radio shows a shot. You might just come across something that you could get addicted to. And when you find a show that appeals to you, please join in the fun! I promise you that it’ll be amazingly enjoyable.

Q: You mean that they should send in mail?

A: It’s not just about the mails these days. For example, Uesaka Sumire no Bunkabu [cultural club] wa Yoru Aruku is a guest-oriented programme which makes it hard for mails to be read so instead, we ask for illustrations and musical pieces via Twitter. We try out different things to make it feel like a Cultural Club circle – that’s another example of what I mean when I talked about the ‘diversity’ of radio content earlier. There are many ways as to how a person can engage with a radio show.

The real thrill of radio is in enjoying the participation

Q: There are probably people out there who are thinking of listening to radio shows because Tahara-san is involved.

A: My fans are, I should say, the postmeisters [note: ‘regulars’ who send in a lot of mail]. The shows I work on are the participatory type so people who know how enjoyable it is to take part in interesting programmes will give my shows at least one shot. If it doesn’t match their tastes then that’s that but if it does, they’ll come back for more.

Q: Are there many [listeners’] names that you’ve become familiar with over the lengthy period of time you’ve been working?

A: There is a Zetsubō listener who’s still around – Gunte no Ibo tai Rosia Onna [lit: Ivo of the Work Gloves vs Russian Woman] played a big part on Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio. Though things got a bit excessive for Panchiradio (laughs). It is the listeners’ decision whether or not to listen to a certain radio show so personally, I feel like I’d rather have postmeisters than listeners [as fans]. They help me out a lot.

Q: There certainly is a strong sense that most of the people who take part on radio shows feel connected either to the anime or the seiyuu involved.

A: Radio shows are all about the listeners responding to what the personalities say, and how the personalities build upon those responses – once you get sucked into that back-and-forth you can keep going on and on, like perpetual motion. It’s nice to be able to create shows that have such flavour.

To get trapped within genres – you won’t make a career out of it!

Q: Are there any shows you’ve worked on in the past that have left particularly lasting impressions?

A: I’d nominate my first ever show HUNTER x HUNTER R. Following that, there was Takada Hiroyuki Radio City Hall & then Radio Renkinjutsushi for animate.TV, which was 12 years ago.

After that there are shows like Kanda-san*Ai-pon no Negimaho Radio & Paniraji Dash!. I guess people often name Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō as my signature work, but it was only because of Paniraji Dash! that I was able to make a show [like Zetsubō]. Paniraji Dash! is the older sister!

Then I did shows like Radio de AimaSHOW! during the arcade game-era and then finally, we arrive at Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō. A lot of effort was put into making [Zetsubō] for sure, perhaps 4 times more energy than any other radio. I think it’s pretty much impossible for other shows to replicate that (laughs).

After that was over, we had Hen Lab [Strange Lab] which I liked doing. It was awesome. It was the filthiest of filthy radio shows (laughs). ‘These aren’t dirty jokes, they’re purely for education purposes!’ – we did the show saying terrible things like that. Seitokai Yakuindomo and Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio pale in comparison. I’d love to see those episodes being dug out and packaged up. Among all the shows I’ve done it’s probably the one that’s gotten the lowest ratings but for me, it’s a masterpiece.

Q: Looking back, you’ve worked on a lot of different programmes that aren’t limited to any one genre.

A: Getting trapped within genres would be a job killer for you (laughs). A radio writer would never ever say ‘I hate this [anime] work’. In my case, I approach every show with the mindset that, ‘No matter what [anime] work comes my way, I’ll make the radio programme as alluring as possible!’.

Q: The background sound effects and usage of animal cries during the talk sections on Tahara-san’s radio shows leave a big impression.

A: That stuff, that’s all Futoshi’s fault! I wanna shout this out loud guys, please don’t say ‘the editor is annoying’ (laughs). It wasn’t me! Audio editing is the director’s job, I’m just the script writer.

Q: I see (laughs). Is there anything you’re especially conscious about when making a radio show?

A: If there was something I’d say I feel strongly about is wanting ‘to do something different for each production’. I think it’s easy to see that when you look at Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō and Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio – they both revolve around dirty jokes, but the levels are different depending on the original work. I’ll draw a line between what is safe and what is dangerous based on the [anime] work. For Punch Line for example, mentioning underwear was ok but anything beyond that was out of the question, while for Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio we’d have different themes for each episode.

Q: You create your shows based on the flow of the original work.

A: I believe an aniradio is only made possible because of the anime title that came before it, so my goal is to make a radio version of the anime. For Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō we maintained the format of the Sayonara Zetsubō-sensei anime, while for J-Wave Osomatsu Station we kept the parody theme and left the crazy mails (I mean that in a good way) to the latter half of the show so that we could annoy people as much as possible (laughs). For Non non Dayori we had pretty intense personalities hosting the show so I tried to maintain the healing mood of the anime by inserting the characters’ lines between each of the corners. What these programmes shared in common was the fact that I was careful to create fun shows that everyone could enjoy without straying from the mood of the anime itself.

The radio shows feel complete precisely because they’re short-term

Q: As a radio writer, what makes you feel like you’re getting a good response?

A: Isn’t that obvious? When the numbers are good (laughs). You get lots of people listening in to the show, the radio CDs and DJCDs sell well. You might get new events as well. The show I worked on that sold the most was Iwatobi Channel’s radio CD. I guess the strong numbers were due to its link with a popular series. For J-Wave Osomatsu Station, the episode featuring Sakurai Takahiro as a guest racked up 700,000 views on Youtube.

It also feels good when you get to do stuff you wanted to do. For Tanaka-kun wa Radio mo Kedaruge, we managed to get all 10 main cast members, the original author, the opening & ending theme song performers, the director and the animation director to appear on the show – that was really fun. Since it’s an anime radio I do want to talk about the anime as much as possible. We got to hear some concise, behind-the-scenes stories from the staff as well which was pleasing.

Q: That’s amazing… most aniradio tend to have a limited number of episodes after all.

A: I think people don’t really take notice of this, but if an anime is 1-cour then the radio tends to follow. That means I lose my job once every 3 months (laughs). I’m constantly thinking about how to make interesting programmes within such a limited time frame.

It’s different in the case of Tōei Kōnin Suzumura Kenichi. Kamiya Hiroshi no Kamen Radiranger or Uesaka Sumire no Bunkabu wa Yoru Aruku which are both shows that can go on for as long as they stay interesting, but for shows where you’re limited to 8 or 12 episodes, it’s a necessity to keep thinking about the overall composition. We’d say things like, ‘I’d like a few more episodes…can we extend it by 2 or so?’ or ‘If we stretch it ‘til this point we’ll be able to get in more impressions on the anime!’ – we pushed really hard for Shimoneta to iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio…and the result is a half-assed 16-episode count (laughs).

Q: It’s a fan’s mentality to want a show that they enjoy to go on forever.

A: Those feelings are the same on the makers’ side. It’s natural to not want a programme that pulls in the listener numbers and gets great mails to end, isn’t it? But the personalities have their own schedules to adhere to so it’s impossible to forcibly bind them to [the radio].

On the contrary, knowing that a certain programme is short-term spurs me on to want to make a show with a high degree of completeness. I will find out in advance how long a show will run for and I’ll then think about how to project as much of the anime’s tone as possible. So when we do create shows like that, it makes me glad to hear people saying ‘we want this show to continue its run’ but still, it’s not possible. We don’t want to continue merely for the sake of keeping the show on air; it’s because we pack max anime content within that 1-cour time frame that we are able to make an interesting show with a high level of completeness.

Q: It may be one of aniradio’s charms, that their short length makes them more meaningful.

A: That may be a way of thinking specific to aniradio though (laughs). Radio is basically something that if, popularity is attained, can continue running forever. If you hold events and can sell CDs then you’d probably be able to make enough profit to keep the show afloat. There are times when I’m called up and told, ‘let’s make an interesting radio show while we try to figure out how long it’ll run for’. Or another time where I was told ‘we’ll be running this every other week for 1-cour with total 6 episodes’. And I wonder what I should do (laughs).

The differences between Internet radio and terrestrial radio

Q: Even if you’ve missed the broadcast of a programme that runs on terrestrial radio, you can be assured that the show’s episodes will continue their run at a similar pace. For aniradio, the impression you get is that it’s a standalone body of work.

A: Radio shows were originally a part of our daily lives. On the other hand, net radio is something you can listen to at any given time and recently, there are more and more people who’ll listen to the entire show in one shot. It’s up to the individual to decide how they want to listen [to the show], but I do think it’s a strange choice.

Q: What do you see in the future for aniradio, from the viewpoint of a radio show maker?

A: It’s hard to think about such things. Lately DJCDs have sold less and less, haven’t they? They don’t come with event tickets or anything so why bother, right? (laughs) Still, we’re all doing our best to try and get them to sell. Frontier Works, Movic, Onsen, HiBiKi too! We try including stickers, hold lotteries where you can win autographs. But they’re still hard to sell.

Q: Can you analyse the reasons behind the low sales?

A: Well the MP3 age is over, isn’t it? Nowadays I think the most important thing is for to be listenable on a smartphone. When I first started out it was all terrestrial radio so you couldn’t listen to shows when you were out of the house. That’s why we’d package up the episodes and put them on a CD, selling them by saying ‘you can listen to the shows in one compilation, even those episodes you missed’. Onsen is pretty amazing. Having all 12 episodes compiled into 1 MP3 file was considered a major innovation back then. But now we’re in the smartphone era so there are more and more people who don’t have PCs in their home. And that makes it harder to sell CDs.

Q: So it’s tough to sell goods unless they’re in a format that fits in with the times.

A: It all comes down to the medium in the end, right? When we talk about why internet radio became fashionable, it was because owning PCs had became commonplace amongst the general population. Data is getting ever cheaper now too. When it comes to net radio, we know that these are times where people use earphones to plug into their smartphones, so I do believe that it’s necessary for us to come up with a system that caters to such listeners if we want to remain profitable. After all, there are tons of radio shows out there that can’t get hold of any advertising revenue (laughs). A lot of people who think, ‘Aren’t aniradio produced out of the anime’s advertisement expenses budget?’. True, there are shows that are made that way but there are many more shows that get told, ‘Please make money by selling CDs’. It’s tough for aniradio to survive as aniradio purely based on its own efforts.

Future challenges: Think of content that moves along with the times

Q: What direction do you see internet radio moving towards in the future?

A: I’ve done this in the past – I loved the sense of unity that came from the radiko & Twitter collaboration*. The appeal of radio lies in the fact that listeners are able to come together and listen to the show at the same time, even though they’re in different places. Though that’s not quite the case for on-demand internet radio… A similar kind of experience would be the Nico Nico Douga comments system. So in that sense, it was fun to be able to have a system close [to Nico Nico] thanks to the synchronization of radiko + Twitter.

Going forward, there is a need for producers to think about how to make net radio suited to smartphone users. It’s tough if you can’t show profit so it’ll be even more important to draw fans to events. Our future challenges are how to make money through radio shows, how to ensure that programmes run for longer periods of time, and whether we can create the [abovementioned] mechanisms.

Although we are in the smartphone age right now, I am sure that another age will come along soon enough. Culture advances alongside technology, the way motion pictures boomed from the development of film and how newspapers and novels could be read thanks to the advancement of printing technology. I am constantly thinking about how internet radio should also evolve to keep up with the times.

*where comments could be made by tweeting with hashtag #radiko

Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō was the springtime of our youth

Q: What memories do you have of the time you’ve spent making radio shows?

A: I try to make all my shows with love and respect. It is good to have respect for the anime, the games and the light novels when you approach [the radio show]. I am happiest when I am able to tie the works and my radio shows together.

It’s too easy for me to bring up Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō when we’re talking about something like this, but personality Shintani Ryōko is a big fan of the author Kumeta-sensei and we also had [Kumeta] Sensei’s favourite assistant MAEDAX*-san around as well. On the animation production side we also had staff Kumeta-sensei was very fond of such as Tatsuwa [Naoyuki], Yamamura [Hiroki] and Miyamoto [Yukihiro]* around; I felt there was an unrivalled sense of unity there. The feedback we got was amazing; jokes we did on the show would get coverage on the following week’s Weekly Shonen Magazine and after appearing in the magazine they would get picked up in the anime as well – that kind of relay was fun. Theoretically we should’ve had to run it past the editorial department or the producers first, so it’s amazing that we managed to do all that of our own accord (laughs). Seeing our own jokes making it into the anime 2 weeks after they were first uttered on the radio had me howling with laughter.

It’s strange for me to think about it this way, but those days were the springtime of the youth of us old geezers. Tatsuwa Naoyuki has left Shaft & Maedax is no longer at Kumeta Production; pretty much it’s just me and Yamamura Hiroki left now…. Those amazing times that we had, along with the sadness knowing that it’s something that can’t be brought back; they’re things that went beyond all the numbers or things like that. We didn’t have to be told to collaborate, it wasn’t anything to do with the mixed-media properties – we really did everything of our own accord. Going back to those days is impossible, so we won’t ever do Sayonara Zetsubō Hōso again. Just ‘cos Kamiya-san’s around, Shintani-san’s around, or because Futoshi & I are still here – the show’s not just about us. It was only made possible by the presence of both the show’s staff and the listeners of those times – hence, I do not wish to revive the show so cheaply.

*MAEDAX refers to Maeda Kōsaku who worked as Kumeta’s assistant at the time. He appeared as a caricature in the Zetsubō manga from time to time. Tatsuwa, Yamamura & Miyamoto were all animators who worked on the Zetsubō anime.

Petitioning Animate Times!

Q: Lastly, if there’s anything you want to say to animate Times, please do so!

A: Oh yeah! animate Times! (laughs) Recently, a producer acquaintance of mine said, ‘You’ve only been doing stuff for Onsen lately, haven’t you~’ and he told me to cut down the number of aniradio I do for them (laughs). I’ve been doing the Konobijutsubu Radio ni wa Mondai ga aru~ ~Atelier Konobi!~ show recently and some Twitter users have been pointing out that they don’t know what site it runs on. Of course they don’t. That’s cos animate Times doesn’t have a link to the Radio page! Why do you hide it as a sub-link under the ‘Others’ header (laughs)

Q: I’m sorry…

A: Since the animate.TV days, it’s been said that the [site’s] listener demographic is strongly female-biased and the site’s Twitter account has quite the number of followers as well. So I’m thinking that you guys could make better use of that! (laughs) Regarding radio guest announcements and so on, it’d be great if you could do those in more detail – it does make a huge difference. Also, the shows being coded in flash is a problem, isn’t it? (laughs). I’d like to listen to them on my smartphone but there’s still no [mobile] app available yet.

I do understand that the site’s priority is to push its own articles. But let’s put in more effort for the radio shows! You could hold public radio recordings in Animate stores. It’s a strong advantage [for Animate] to have its own stores. Let’s have more of these events, and let’s do a lot more aniradio. Since you’ve changed from animate.TV to animate Times, I’ll take the opportunity to request for more work. You don’t have to go through Frontier Works or Movic – just give me work directly.

Q: ….We’ll do our best!

A: Let’s continue to make great radio shows!

Following this interview, a member of the Animate Times engineering team fixed the front page so that Radio gets its own header now. Score for Kōsei-T!

Notes on radio shows:

  • HUNTER x HUNTER R (2004-05, Radio Osaka, Bunka Hōsō) was the radio show for the original HUNTER x HUNTER anime, hosted by seiyuu Takeuchi Junko and Mitsuhashi Kanako.
  • Sayonara Zetsubō Hōsō (2007-2011, animate.tv, 203 eps,10 DJCDs + 1 special) was the radio show for the Sayonara Zetsubō-sensei anime, hosted by Kamiya Hiroshi and Shintani Ryōko.
  • Takada Hiroyuki Radio City Hall (2003-07, Radio Osaka) was a radio show hosted by seiyuu Kaida Yuki & Takahashi Hiroki. The show’s title was a portmanteau of their names. A 3-minute mobile version of the radio aired on V-Station from 2004-09.
  • Iwatobi Channel (2013, Onsen, 16 eps) was the radio show for the anime Free!, hosted by Shimazaki Nobunaga and Suzuki Tatsuhisa. It had two subsequent seasons with 5 & 13 episodes respectively, featuring Shimazaki as solo host. The third radio season Iwatobi Channel ES won Best Funny Radio at the 1st Aniradio Awards.
  • Nijiro Radio Days (2016, Onsen, 6 eps, 1 DJCD) was the radio for the Nijiro Days anime, hosted by Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and Eguchi Takuya , with guest appearances from Shimazaki Nobunaga and Uchiyama Kōki.
  • Non non Biyori Web Radio Non non dayori! na non (2013-2014, Onsen, 21 eps, 3 DJCDs) was hosted by Murakawa Rie and Sakura Ayane. A sequel show ran from 2015 to 2016 for 29 episodes and won Best Comfort Radio (newcomer) at the 2nd Aniradio Awards.
  • Shimoneta to iu Gainen ga Sonzai shinai Taikutsu na Radio (2015, animate.tv, 16 eps, 2 DJCDs) was hosted by Kobayashi Yūsuke and Ishigami Shizuka. It won Best Sexy Radio (newcomer) at the 2nd Aniradio Awards.
  • K of Radio was the successor to the original KR [K Radio, 2012, 12 eps], hosted by Tsuda Kenjirō and Komatsu Mikako. It ran for 4 separate seasons over 2012-2016 for a total of 46 episodes, all via animate.tv.
  • J-Wave Osomatsu Station (2015-16, animate.tv, Youtube, 13 eps) had revolving hosts featuring members of the Osomatsu-san anime cast. The show won Best Funny Radio at the 2nd Aniradio Awards.
  • Panchiradio or Punch Radio (2015, Onsen, 14 eps) was the radio for the Punch Line anime, hosted by Inoue Marina and Yoshida Yuri.
  • Radio Renkinjutsushi [Radio Alchemist] (2004, animate.tv, 32 eps) was the radio for the Fullmetal Alchemist anime, hosted by Paku Romi.
  • Kanda-san*Ai-pon no Negimaho Radio (2005-09, animate.tv) was the radio for the Negima! series, hosted by Kanda Akemi & Nonaka Ai. It ran for a total of 96 episodes over 6 seasons.
  • Paniraji Dash! (2005-06, animate.tv, 33 eps) was the radio for the Pani Poni Dash! anime, hosted by Saito Chiwa.
  • Radio de AimaSHOW! (2006-07, animate.tv, 79 eps) was a radio for THE IDOLM@STER arcade game, hosted by Nakamura Eriko, Imai Asami, Ochiai Yurika and Nigo Mayako.
  • Hen Lab (2011, animate.tv, 26 eps, 1 DJCD) was a radio for the Henzemi anime, hosted by Shiraishi Minoru, Mori Norihisa and Matsuyama Takashi.
  • Tanaka-kun wa Radio mo Kedaruge (2016, HiBiKi, 15 eps), the radio for Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge, hosted by Takamori Natsumi and Suwa Ayaka.
  • Uesaka Sumire no Bunkabu wa Yoru Aruku (2016-, Radio Osaka) is an ongoing radio show hosted by Uesaka Sumire.
  • Tōei Kōnin Suzumura Kenichi. Kamiya Hiroshi no Kamen Radiranger (2012-, Bunka Hōsō) is an ongoing Tōei-approved radio show hosted by Suzumura Kenichi & Kamiya Hiroshi, assisted by the Kamen Rider girls.
  • Konobijutsubu Radio ni wa Mondai ga aru~ ~Atelier Konobi!~ (2016, Animate Times, 8 eps) was the radio show for the Konobi anime hosted by Kobayashi Yūsuke & Ozawa Ari.

———————————————————————————————————–
Another interview with Kōsei-T was posted by animate Times at the start of the month, this time he’s accompanied by Frontier Works producer Terada Junichi in Part 1 of a new interview series titled ‘How to make a radio show’. I’ll probably translate it as well, but no promises on the timelines. Thanks for reading! Oh, and follow Kōsei-T’s twitter account!

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8 thoughts on “Interview with radio show writer Kosei-T: Tahara Hirotaka

  1. netheoc

    As always, thank you for the translation and the fascinating read. Who decides the length and staff/cast of the associated aniradio? Does the time-block pay for seiyuu as hosts/guests of aniradio change compared to anime recordings or live events without negotiation (such as an automatic pay change due to the difficulty of the work)?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      thanks for reading!

      1/ there are a lot of variables involved. mostly, it depends on the companies sitting on the anime production committees that are involved with the media creation/distribution side ie Starchild/King, Lantis, Animate (Frontier Works & Movic mentioned in the article are both Animate subsidiaries). Length would also depend on the cast’s schedule – in the 2nd interview, Kosei-T mentioned scheduling for the Minami-ke radio (with 3 casts) being incredibly tough.

      2/don’t think the pay is variable based on difficulty tbh. the producers will have discussed & negotiated the fees & scope of the radio work with the agency beforehand & if they don’t like it, they’ll probably just get some other seiyuu to do the radio.

      Reply
      1. netheoc

        Do we have any insight into how fondly (or not) production committees in general regard aniradios as a profitable venture or as a way to increase exposure of certain artists or seiyuu?

        Reply
        1. admin Post author

          hmmm, not much detail available now. but Kosei-T’s new interview series is split into 6 parts (2 are already out) so perhaps they will shed some light onto related matters – we shall see [and I will report back if they do!]

          Reply
  2. omo

    Awesome highlight thanks a lot for this…

    Personally not a huge fan of kosei-t’s works but he’s definitely done many influential things!

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      yeah i think kosei-t’s shows are more about him than the seiyuu personalities. so prob shouldn’t listen to his stuff just because of the seiyuu. chanko’s good at that i suppose, making shows that appeals to the 声豚s.

      and hey, my reason for liking kosei-t is silly too – my first ever mail read out on a radio was on a kosei-t co-produced show (minamike radio) 😛

      Reply
      1. omo

        My issue actually is that after a while they’re all kind of the same-y LOL. But you’re right about 声豚s too, it’s just way more rewarding to be one in 2017 than it has been, say, 2007.

        Reply
        1. admin Post author

          haha it’s fine if you’re a fan of his stuff i guess. it’s like me expecting shimoneta every time i tune into a zucchi radio show & being disappointed if it isn’t filthy enough www

          Reply

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