Here’s a speed translation of a two-part interview by Web Newtype with the two main cast members of this season’s anime adaptation of Yokoyari Mengo’s Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Wish) manga.
Kuzu has been one of favourite manga series in recent years so I’ve been quite keen to see how others react to these ‘trashy’ characters and their ‘trashy’ actions. Would it scare people if I said I could identify with both Ecchan and Hanabi? If only I could articulate and sort out my own tangled thoughts and feelings the way these two teenagers can…
Anyhow, the response to episode 1 of the anime appears to have been quite positive, but surely it can only get worse…!
(Interview: Tsukagoshi Junichi)
Q: Tell us about the characters you voice.
Shimazaki: As you can tell from the way he looks, Mugi is a cool high-school student who’s popular with the girls. He seems to have had a rather complicated adolescence though. Something big happened in the past that shaped his personality into what it is today; it’s proved hard to grasp the essence or rather, the true intentions of a child like him even at the midway point of the series. I’m sure that early on, all of you will be thinking, ‘Just what is going through [Mugi]’s mind?’
Anzai: Hanabi is a very pure, straightforward, honest, single-minded person, though perhaps you could say that is who she was before. Now that all that is in the past, she has become twisted and distorted and she is straying from the path…She is insecure; when you look at her objectively, she is an impulsive child, the type you feel like protecting. When it comes to love however, she is a strong and unyielding girl. She treats different people in different ways; there are so many different sides to her yet they are all the same person, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that she is fickle or volatile. It’s a part of her that remains a mystery and it makes her a person who is hard to define.
Q: Her behaviour towards others – perhaps, there is a unique woman’s touch to it?
Anzai: I wonder. Her relationship with Mugi is a secret so I can understand that the way they communicate is exclusive to the two of them, but with her mom, Ecchan, Moka and her many other classmates – the ways she treats them, her disposition; they’re all different. At first I was just voicing the role without thinking about it, but at some point I realized that ‘this girl makes a lot of different faces!’… but you’re right, they may be a woman’s peculiarities. There may be people out there who do it calculatingly but for Hanabi, it seems more of an afterthought. But ah, puberty! That’s what you see these kids as going through, when they’re driven to act by emotion.
Q: What do you think about the relationship between Mugi and Hanabi?
Shimazaki: I still think it’s warped. There are circumstances where a detour might turn into a shortcut but in the end, you’re still making a detour.
Anzai: It makes me think that this world is extremely cramped. ‘They’re too blinded by love – why would they want to go to that extent!’. I’m not referring to the 2 of them specifically as a lot of the kids are like that; I really feel like slapping them awake and giving them a hug! Maybe (laughs). ‘That’s not how it is!! It’s okay as long as you’re happy!!’. Each and every one of them is so insecure, some of them actually dare to do such ‘things’, the love relationships of so many people are intertwined – it all leaves me feeling a bit dazed!
Shimazaki: The suffering, the struggling – that’s what youth is all about; though the hurt allows you to grow, I do think that it would do you good to broaden your outlook, to enjoy your one life.
Q: When you’re young, school is everything to you – is it something like that?
Anzai: I think that up until then, Hanabi never considered that love could exist in a place like school. But then ‘Onii-chan’ turned out to be her homeroom teacher, which meant Onii-chan was now present in every facet of her life and that spurred her on even further. Heightened feelings led to her blindness. And that’s why she went ‘there~’, I thought (laughs). Meeting Mugi, who is in a similar position; the intertwining of several coincidences gives rise to their [current] situation.
Q: In other words, it’s a so-called ‘replacement lover’ kind of relationship. The more of the anime you watch, the more it will hurt.
Anzai: It will make you disconsolate, and we want it to make you feel that way.
Shimazaki: It will pierce your heart.
Anzai: People who wouldn’t be affected by this kind of thing may not feel that way, but I would still like for them to give it some thought. These aren’t things that are out of the realm of possibility.
Shimazaki: Conversely, people who can watch all of this without being affected would be able to enjoy the show in their own way. The fabric of human relationships and how they’re interweaved; the fact that their words, deeds and actions are all fascinating. But for people who find that they do feel ‘stung’ [by the anime], just go ahead and get lost in those feelings.
Anzai: (In truth) I think there’d be no coming back from that.
Q: It’s a Thursday evening, and you’d still have to go to sleep while being enveloped in those feelings. That kind of entertainment could be interesting.
Anzai: Hmm. It’s something that won’t only end up leaving you feeling dazed.
Shimazaki: You’ll definitely find out what the answer is!
Q: Not only the anime, but the drama adaptation and the original manga will all conclude at the same time – it will be interesting to see how each of those media formats arrives at their respective end-points.
Shimazaki: I do feel that both the live-action version and the anime are very much tackling these difficult and themes head on; they’ll be enjoyable to watch and you’ll see the synergy between them. We hope to help make the Kuzu no Honkai work as exciting as possible.
Q: Many unique characters appear in Kuzu no Honkai besides Mugi and Hanabi, so let’s hear some comments on them from the 2 of you. Let’s start with Ebato Sanae.
Anzai: Ah, the show hasn’t been broadcast yet…. Ecchan (Ebato Sanae) is Hanabi’s one and only friend. You’ll be able to tell this from the first 1-2 episodes, but I [as Hanabi] reserve my happiest words for Ecchan. I feel like I behave more girlishly when I’m talking to Ecchan, more so than when I’m around Mugi or Onii-chan. Also, the [Ebato] family cat is cute so please look forward to that!
Q: Moving on to Moka.
Shimazaki: Kuzu no Honkai itself I think, is a work that is fairly close to reality, but amidst it all we have Moka-chan, a girl whose first impression that she’s a princess from some anime. Even then, Moka-chan’s heart moves in many ways so there’s a lot to look forward to from her, in that sense.
Anzai: I love Moka the most! You could say she’s the only one who has principles!
Q: Next up, we have Narumi.
Anzai: Onii-chan played the most important role in the creation of the person called Hanabi. His presence has been essential in making her into the human that she is. At one point, the line ‘You add colour [to my world]’ appears in the series, and I thought that was perfect. Hanabi, an only child, was brought up by her single mother and she’d wanted to live without causing her mother any troubles. Right then, [Narumi came into her life and] he was like a god descended from the heavens! (laughs). ‘Til then, her world had seemed grey but Onii-chan’s presence and warmth had a huge impact on her.
Q: How about Akane-san?
Shimazaki: There is almost nothing I can say about Akane at this point (laughs). Please look forward to finding out for yourself.
Anzai: She’s a natural beauty. The type that guys fall in love with easily.
Q: By the way, can either of you identify with the various love stories going on in the story?
Anzai: (instantly) Not at all.
Shimazaki: Actually, it’s not a case of whether you can identify with a certain person in the show; it’s more the fact that these kinds of feelings are things that any of us might have experienced at some point. They’re biased, exaggerated, piercing; if you take a moment to analyse your feelings, maybe you would think ‘Oh, I have had those sort of thoughts before!’.
Anzai: Yes, I do think so too! For me, before I read this work I thought that I would definitely never become ‘scum’ myself; I was very prejudiced. I’d been brought up on purehearted manga so I’d never read such a work myself. Once I did, I learnt that anybody could turn into ‘scum’.
Q: How are recording sessions coming along?
Shimazaki: There’s plenty of fighting spirit in there. You can really feel how much love the staff has for this work when they’re making it. What left a deep impression on me was during the episode 1 recordings when we were told, ‘ Shocking scenes and sexual elements will be portrayed in a powerful manner. We are not doing this just for ‘show’, we are doing it in order to arrive at the final ‘answer’ – so do feel assured’. I did not start off feeling anxious but those words raised my motivation levels and strongly encouraged me to make this a great show.
Anzai: On a personal level I am just doing all I can to keep up so I can’t see what’s going on around me. But somehow, everyone seems to understand that and they’re all really kind to me… Especially Toyosaki-san, who sits next to me. My previous roles usually had rival characters and in recordings we’d have a sort of ‘friendly rival’ kind of communication going on, like ‘What’re you looking at!’, but for Toyosaki-san, we get along incredibly well (laughs). ‘This is so heavy! I feel depressed!’ When I say things like that, she’ll reply, ‘Oh, when you’re feeling like that you should watch this or that variety show’.
Anzai: ‘Watch it and you’ll cheer up!’ Stuff like that. It’s personally my first time voicing a character with whom I share so little in common with! People would like to see me do this! Drawing upon those statements, I was certainly able to feel [her] desire to work together in unity – that filled me with gratitude, as well as the desire to face the challenge straight on. It is my first love story so I want to put my all out there. The ones who’ll back me up, make good use of me, are the cast and staff so no matter what it is, I’ll just tackle it head on and I’ll somehow manage, I think (laughs)
Q: Lastly, tell us about the highlights of the show.
Anzai: The contrast between the comical elements and the more graphic depictions in the show is both incredible and sensational, more so than I ever thought it would be. The movement, the breathing, even the mere sound of rustling clothes – they’re just thrilling! This is a production where the intention is to give meaning to everything, so I hope that you will be able to accept the initial circumstances as they are.
Shimazaki: You can hear the sound director’s resolve through a single rustle of a single piece of clothing; see the animators’ drive behind each and every line drawn. Each and every breath has our mark upon it as well. It’s a work of detailed precision made with enthusiasm and affection, so I would be grateful if you do not miss the opportunity to enjoy this show.
note: I left ‘Onii-chan’ as ‘Onii-chan’, because. It just doesn’t sound right to have Hanabi refer to him as Narumi…