Q: When did you learn about the seiyuu profession?
A: When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I loved Inuyasha and Detective Conan and I’d watch the anime every week. I loved both of the shows’ protagonists Inuyasha and Kudo Shinichi – when I considered the reason why I liked them, I came up with: ‘their voice’. When I looked it up I found out that both characters were voiced by Yamaguchi Kappei-san. I thought about how amazing an occupation it was, to be able to show a character’s charms merely through their voice, to be able to win the hearts of those watching. I’d originally been interested in performance and acting, but this was the first time it occurred to me that voice acting was such a fascinating profession.
Q: You were already a ‘Sunday’* kid at that time.
A: You’re right! That’s why I’m so glad to be able to appear in Keijo!!!!!!!!, which is serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. It’s like a dream come true for me to appear in a series published within its pages.
*Sunday = the Weekly Shonen Sunday manga anthology
Q: When did you start taking action towards becoming a seiyuu?
A: I discovered that Nichinare had a junior seiyuu class that junior high students could attend and I did want to go, but my parents were against it since we lived in Niigata. ‘It is impossible for a junior high school student to go to Tokyo’, they said. They told me to at least wait until I was in high school so for 3 years of junior high I kept myself going with the thought that once I got to high school, I’d be able to attend Nichinare. In my 3rd year of junior high I went for an admission interview and to my delight, I could join Nichinare.
Q: Your parents were understanding [of your wish].
A: They said to me, ‘If you really want to do it that much, then go ahead and join. But the kids around you are all going to cram school so you’ve got to make up for that by studying hard on your own’. So every week, I’d travel from Niigata to Tokyo by bullet train.
Q: Do you remember the first lesson you attended after joining?
A: I got lost on the way (laughs). At the time, I heard a voice calling out to me ‘Are you by any chance, going to Nichinare? – and it was Iida Yuko, who’s now in I’m Enterprise. It turned out that she was my classmate in the basics course as well!
I barely remember what happened after I got to the studio… that’s probably because I was nervous. The lecturers were very kind however, and that put me at ease. I do recall that although both Yuko and I were first-year high-schoolers, everyone else was older; it was interesting to have different types of people there.
Q: What kind of lessons did you attend in the basic course?
A: We started off with basic stretching and vocal exercises. We also did etude-like improvised acting in pairs, as well as lessons for singing, which we were told is ‘the same [as acting] in terms of the way you express yourself’. Though we sang as a group and not individually. I think it also helps with projecting your voice aloud. We also did plays and recitals. I learned the fundamentals of acting through various forms.
Q: Did you have any acting experience prior to entering Nichinare?
A: Only limited to being in the school play when I was in elementary school, so [Nichinare] was my first true opportunity to learn. There were people in my class who did have acting experience though, so I did have a ‘I won’t lose to you’! kind of attitude. Ah, the confidence that comes from being young (laughs). Anyhow, I did enjoy performing. It was embarrassing having to perform in front of everyone plus there were many others who were good at expressing themselves, so I tried to soak up from others what I lacked, things like the ability to express myself more, to be able to speak in a positive manner and to act with confidence.
Q: How would you spend your time in Niigata after your once-a-week lessons in Tokyo?
A: Recalling the story of Uiro Uri, I’d rehearse articulation and vocalization* in the bath tub every day. Also, whenever we were given the task of ‘memorizing a script before the following lesson’, I would actually act out the role in my own room, ahead of the performance during the next lesson. What one does at home within that 1 week is more crucial, so I would think about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to create – that, to me, was essential.
*katsuzetsu (滑舌) = articulation, hassei (発声) = vocalization
Q: It’s amazing that you would have an awareness of something like that as a first-year high-school student.
A: Everyone else would be performing what they had thought about and come up with, so I knew I had to do what I had to do. If you had nothing to show, the other would be thinking ‘this person, they slacked off the whole week’ (laughs).
Q: It’s precisely because the lessons are once-a-week rather than daily, that you are able to better understand the differences [in ability]. It’s tough, isn’t it?
A: What you can do within a 3-hour lesson is limited so it would be pointless if you did not utilize the remaining time you had to improve yourself.
Q: Following the 1-year basics course, what was the training route you went with?
A: I was in the regular course for 1 year, followed by 2 years in the training department, and then I graduated. When I’d moved up to the regular course I had already passed the admission test for Artsvision. It was an honour, but also added to the pressure and the feeling that I had to work even harder. Now that I look back on it, it seems I was arbitrarily thinking that I was shouldering a strange burden on my own (laughs).
Q: What did you learn during the regular course?
A: The lessons mainly consisted of stage plays; one of them was Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, where we had to come up with ideas for the sets, props and costumes ourselves. The language used was difficult, the number of lines many; it made it tough to memorize the dialogue. It was a challenge, but the sense of accomplishment we felt upon successfully performing the play – it was massive, and enjoyable.
Q: What happened after you joined your agency Artsvision?
A: I was still a high school student and living at home with my parents so I didn’t attend any auditions or receive any work yet. Meanwhile my juniors were already auditioning and winning roles, which made me feel both impatient and anxious. But I was confident that my agency would wait until I had graduated from high school and moved to Tokyo. That would be when my battle would start, so in the 2 years before I finished high school I would continue to attend Nichinare, picking up new things before I was able to start working.
Q: After joining the agency, your first job was not on an anime, but for a dubbed work.
A: Though I’d always liked and often watched films and foreign dramas, I had actually wanted to become a seiyuu specifically to work in anime so I was a bit like, ‘I wonder why?’. Regardless, dubbed shows gave me many opportunities to work with experienced veterans and allowed me to learn a lot of things about acting, so I think it was good that I got my start on dubbing productions.
My first role was as a teenager who is entering a fashion show and she had a line ‘I’m so nervous that my heart feels like it’s about to drop’ and all I had to do was to project my feelings at that very moment (laughs). The director was strict but he said to me, ‘Just raise your voice a bit more, project what you’re feeling right now and it’ll be alright, so please relax’. My seniors were very kind, saying to me ‘this is your first recording isn’t it?’ and ‘it’ll be alright’ – I was happy to see how caring they were.
Q: What was your first regular job?
A: It was for the foreign drama Glee. I only joined in Season 4 but I’d watched Seasons 1 to 3, so when I received the audition offer I was keen to do it. I wasn’t aware of it at the time but apparently I went to the auditions dressed similarly to Mary, the character I was trying out for. My hair was long then so it seems that I resembled the actress (Kristen Schaal) as well, which surprised the director. ‘This girl is really pushing for this’ (laughs). Seems it turned out to be the decisive factor as well.
Q: Looking at your CV, it’s surprising to see the amount of dubbing productions you’ve been involved in. What was your debut anime work though?
A: Naruto Shippuden. I was surprised to be working on a big title right off the bat. I just didn’t seem to have much luck with auditions and was on the verge of giving up, thinking ‘Maybe I’m just not suited towards anime work’ but from there, I started to receive more anime-related work.
Q: What was your first regular anime role?
A: Kyodo Maya in Sabagebu!. When I passed the audition, one of my agency staff said to me ‘You did it! At last, Lynn-chan’ (laughs). It was my first time taking part in unit activities as well, and it was really helpful to be surrounded by others who had such experience; I learned a lot. Apart from recordings, there was singing and dancing, events etc – they were all things I’d never done before so I did freeze up a bit at first. Being able to start off by doing all these things has made me who I am now.
Q: Tell us something you learnt from Nichinare lessons that left a big impression on you?
A: I’d say the stage plays. I did spend a lot of time on them, and the sense of accomplishment involved makes them memorable. The difficulty of classic language, the dialects and so on – it was a good experience to be able to come into contact with works I would not have done on my own.
As for what I was really bad at, it was the lessons that involved standing alone awkwardly in front of the class and trying to make everyone laugh within 1-2 minutes. We were allowed to dress up or use props, basically we could do anything we liked; but what I hated most was embarrassing myself in public (laughs). It was a tough task for me, but those lessons helped me mature, or should I say, brought me out of my shell.
Q: What did you learn during your lessons that you still find useful even now?
A: When you’re interacting with a partner during stage performances, you find that what happens in reality can be different from what you envisioned; you could spend a week from Nichinare lessons coming up with something but when you’re facing the other person for real, it turns out to be unlike what you’d planned. ‘If (s)he says this in a such a way, then I will respond in this way’ – there may be spontaneous, different ways of expressing yourself, and I learned new things through that. We may have been classmates but we were from a wide range of ages and occupations but we’d adjust to compensate for such differences in order to make a better work.
Nowadays when I take part in anime recording sessions, if my [dialogue] partner acts their part out in a way that differs from what I imagined, I might respond by altering my performance plan altogether. It’s tough as it requires you to think on your feet, but when you manage to get in tune with [your partner] it’ll have you going ‘Wow, this is fun!’. As this is something I learned from my time in Nichinare, I hope to cherish it moving forward.
Q: Based what you learnt and felt at Nichinare, what do you think are the school’s good points?
A: There are a variety of classes available that can cater [to many people], such as the once-a-week class for high school students as in my case. It’s a gathering of people of different ages from different environments and with different ways of thinking, which provides motivation, and there is much to gain outside of the lessons as well.
The lecturers could be directors or they could also be actors – you get taught lessons from various perspectives. Those with an acting background would emphasize the basics and expressiveness in performance in their teachings, while those with a directing background are more focused on seeing things from the viewpoint of the audience; the content of the lessons keeps changing. In any given year, I never had the same lessons twice and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about Nichinare, being able to take different types of lessons.
There are also some people taking lessons who have already started doing voice work so there is a bit of pressure there, with heightened feelings.
Q: What do you think are the joys and charms of seiyuu work?
A: Being able to play different characters. Voice acting has infinite possibilities; it is a job that really allows for dreams.
I am inspired by meeting different people every day and I feel it is a profession where you can always keep improving.
Q: Do you have any future goals?
A: I would like to be a seiyuu who creates characters and works that remain in people’s hearts, things that will be loved. I will move forward positively with joy, not forgetting where I came from or the nerves I felt. I’ll continue to learn as much as I can while making sure that I convey who I am [through my acting] – I hope I can become an actor unlike anyone else.
Q: Please give some advice and messages to people who are aiming to become seiyuu.
A: There are probably many of you who want to become seiyuu but dare not make a move. The feeling of ‘wanting to try it out’ is what is most important, so I hope that you will take that first step. If you enjoy acting as much as much as I do, I am sure that it will lead you to your dream.
There are also many people around you who can help you. I had my parents who supported me and I working my hardest now to repay that [faith], so I hope that you will not be afraid and cherish the dreams you hold. Nichinare is a place that can be an opportunity for you; it is also a place where you can gain many things.
I am still studying acting every day. Let’s all work hard together to be wonderful seiyuu!