Monthly Archives: May 2017

Throwback: Talking sound with Iwanami Yoshikazu

Iwanami Yoshikazu is another one of the top sound directors in the business right now, working on not just anime but also dubbed works/dramas and even occasionally directing and writing scripts himself. He’s known for his fondness for ad-libs and inventive BGM usage and having trained & worked as a sound engineer, Iwanami is more interested than most of his peers in the technical side of sound directing works, often talking about those aspects on his Twitter account. That technical proficiency enables him to get involved in interesting projects like overseeing the acoustic design of a theatre catering to the visually impaired. He’s also keen on injecting fresh ideas into sound in anime and is part of the recently released Blame! film’s sound team that is bringing Dolby Atmos to Japanese theatrical anime for the first time.

Iwanami’s range of anime work is diverse; from the Rakkyo & Fate series (from Zero onwards) to the Girls und Panzer, BASARA, Jewelpet, Marimite and Sword Art Online franchises. With his castings, he doesn’t seem to be particularly fussed or biased with no strong preferences on hiring any one seiyuu, but I do notice his tendency to work on Aniplex [Sony] shows which means he’ll get saddled with seiyuu that may not necessarily be of his own choice – just think of SAO, Punch Line & Bokumachi, amongst others.

This is an interview with Iwanami where he talks briefly about sound in anime, Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) and JoJo no Kimyō na Bōken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure). It’s always interesting to learn about how different sound directors operate and what areas they focus or don’t focus on – Kimura Eriko doesn’t like dealing with the music/soundtrack selection process, Mima Masafumi likes talking about seiyuu & voice acting, etc etc. And Iwanami is obviously, a technical guy who’s not really into discussing individual actors.

Q: Interviewer [Musubi]
A: Iwanami, unless stated otherwise

The sound director, who holds responsibility for sound in anime

Q: So, what kind of job is sound directing?

A: Unlike in live-action film production, anime production features a director responsible for everything related to sound – in other words, a sound director. Working in partnership with various other people, the sound director is ultimately, responsible for the ‘sound’ within the work. Narrowing it down specifically – during recording sessions, they work with seiyuu. For [post-processing] dubbing work there are 3 elements of sound (dialogue, sound effects, music) that have to be matched to the visuals, and we collaborate with the mixer(s) and the sound effects team to produce the sound for the work in question.

Q: When it comes to working with seiyuu, what elements are involved? For example, when it comes to directing seiyuu, what specific kind of work is involved?

A: Everybody who’s there has already studied to become a professional, so I feel that there is no directing needed on the basics. It is more about ‘picking up’ the image [of the characters] that the seiyuu have brought to the table. As the [animation] visuals may not have been completed yet by the time of recording, it is important to continue fine-tuning those performances in anticipation of the finished product.

Knights of Sidonia

Q: Iwanami-san, your latest work Knights of Sidonia is a powerful one in many ways, including the amount of effort put into the sound aspects.

A: It’s a title that will potentially be watched by 40 million people across 40 or more countries, so we worked on it with the intention of making all 12 episodes of motion-picture quality. The base was 2-stereo channels (for normal TV broadcast) and on top of that, we produced 5.1 surround sound with powerful, deep bass (for the Bluray version). The cinematography of the Knights of Sidonia’s visuals was done to allow 5.1 surround sound to shine. For example, a scene where ‘something flies to the forefront of the screen and then continues to fly behind’. Having 5.1 channels to work with makes things freer and more flexible, as well as being compatible with SF works.

Q: So the stereo audio made for TV broadcast is produced with 5.1 surround sound in mind.

A: People used to watch most of their TV on CRT TVs in the past but nowadays you’ve got many methods of viewing content, from flat-screen TVs to streaming distribution on PCs, smartphones.. and so on. Now that we’re moving into a ‘one-source, multi-use era’, it becomes necessary for sound too, to innovate. The main premise may be to produce uncompressed sound that is up to par for Blu-ray purposes, but it is also necessary to produce sound that is satisfactory to everyone and packs enough power when played on various devices or for TV audio. I believe it’s common for people to notice that the powerful sound you hear when you first watch a SF movie at the cinema, is lost when you watch it on TV – that’s because what you were watching is the ‘source’ of a movie. Making the human voice easily audible is the priority of sound produced for TV so even if you input the same source (audio signal), the strength and pitch of the sound will be compressed. The increase in viewing patterns has imposed upon us a mission to ‘make sound that is dynamic no matter the environment’.

Q: On top of that, you’ve had to ensure that Knights of Sidonia complies with global standards… that must’ve been tough.

A: From the outset, the requirement was that the sound must be of ‘film-quality’.

Q: Were the dubs based on the Japanese audio?

A: We dubbed it in three languages – English, Portugese and Spanish.

Q: How conscious are you of overseas viewers [when it comes to your works]?

A: Hmm, this is a different show, but Kill la Kill was distributed online globally at the same time as the broadcast in Osaka which meant overseas viewers got to watch the show before someone like me who’s in Tokyo…yeah, something like that happened. That makes you realize that what you’re doing is increasing its reach worldwide, so you do become a bit more conscious of it.

Q: Sound-wise, what are the highlights of Knights of Sidonia?

A: Are you referring to the sound effects handled by Koyama-san* over there? (at this point, Iwanami-san turns to speak to Koyama-san)

Koyama: The SF genre is unique in that it possesses a lot of variety in sound when compared to other genres – it’s all an attack (heavy bass) game though.

*Koyama Yasumasa is a freelance sound effects producer. He worked on sound effects for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders and Knights of Sidonia

Q: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of SF?

Koyama: I’ve always liked SF action movies like Transformers and Star Trek so you could say I was influenced by those titles. Though Japanese technology is still nowhere near to catching up, I am aiming to produce sound of Hollywood-level quality.

A: Even though sound heard in Hollywood works seems powerful, they actually end up sounding the same. The reason is because there are hundreds of staff members working on sound alone. When it comes to sound, the more and more people you have working on something, the less chance for any individual’s touch to show. I think that is something which remains a feature of Japanese animation – you can hear the personality of Mr Sound Effects Man coming through. He’s doing work on his own that you’d have dozens of people in America working on; that’s why you can hear his authority stamped all over [the sound].

Q: I see. I’d like to hear more background stories about the sound effects work! For example, was there anything special you did to create the Gauna’s (mysterious life forms that the protagonists are battling against) cries?

Koyama: We played around with the cries of organic things, living things and so on. After Yamano Eiko (a trainee pilot on the same team as Tanikaze Nagate etc) was swallowed by the Gauna in episode 2, I used a couple of tricks from horror movies like mixing up girls’ voices and playing them in reverse. I pummelled the sound into shape (laughs)

Q: Knights of Sidonia is based on a manga serialized in the Afternoon magazine. Is there anything you’re particularly conscious about when working on something that has original source material?

A: I try not to read too much into the source material. The more you read, the more confused you become. When you know too much, you’ll falter on important points. For adaptations of existing material, there is this problem that arises – ‘do we simply ignore the parts of the source that we choose not to adapt?’. After all, it is irrelevant information to people who are accessing the title for the first time via the anime. For me, film is everything. It’s important to think of how we can get first-time viewers to enjoy themselves [when watching].

Q: Does that mean you will not read the chapters that weren’t chosen to be adapted?

A: I read them once, and then I intentionally try to forget them. It is imperative to create something that satisfies people who are seeing the title for the first time ever, so I choose not to know too much. The first audience is the most important.

Q: I see. So in considering facing first-time viewers, what would recording sessions be like?

A: As it’s the final piece of work to balance things out, it is better not to be biased. What one should do in order to be able to naturally guide the audience….is not to have prejudices or strange preconceptions; it’s important, & that is what we value in the creative process.

Director Mizushima Tsutomu x Sound Director Iwanami Yoshikazu

Q: Actually, I love the combination of Director Mizushima and Iwanami-san. I like being assured that we will get something that surpasses expectations; anime works that are unpretentious yet surprising, such as Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan and Joshiraku. Dokuro-chan’s endless wise guy jokes alongside Sakura-kun who is forever playing the straight man – the speed-talking and tempo made it a golden balance for gag moe anime!

A: Director Mizushima is the kind of director who prioritizes ‘tempo’. Since I myself am someone who also places high regard on the ‘tempo of sound’ during the animation process, it is enjoyable and rewarding [working with him]. We can produce sound that is accurate based on the visuals, precisely because he is knowledgeable about the production of sound.
Comprehending the composition of the visuals and the sound, and thinking about sound when creating visuals. A director who doesn’t just pursue cool-looking visuals, but one who also thinks and directs with sound in mind. I have no troubles at all when working with such a director.

About JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Q: This is a work that is famous for its many popular lines – how do you go about deciding on intonation and things like that?

A: Myself asides, the staff members who work on the show are all the same – for them, ‘JoJo represents youth’. Is it read stand ↑ or stand ↓ ?….it must surely be stand ↓! The arguments go something like that. Objectively speaking, it is always possible to get these maniacs who feel too passionate about something and go rushing headfirst [into decisions] when you’re working in a sound studio. I’m okay with where I’m standing (laughs).

How to build trust with seiyuu

Q: How do you build trust between yourself and seiyuu?

A: During recording sessions, whenever seiyuu think ‘I’ve slipped up here’, I will definitely ask for retakes. Mostly I’ll be watching from behind, but I can always tell just by looking at their back, the exact point at where they’ve ‘slipped up’. Of course I do judge based on the audio as well but as we build up our awareness of each other, we will come to a point where we can have this relationship of mutual trust and think, ‘it’ll be okay if I just leave it up to him or her’.

Q: ‘I’d like to meet this kind of seiyuu!’ Have you ever thought about such things?

A: I’ve worked with a lot of different people but I do particularly enjoy working with actors who can bring in various ideas regarding acting. People who’ll make you think, ‘Ah, that’s how it is!!’. For example, on something like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, you have to consider how to interpret dialogue that is already widely known by people. It’s fun to hear them and think, ‘Oh, so you could say it that way too’. It’s a joy to see this type of creative work involving people that can never be replaced by technology.

Q: Are roles determined by auditions?

A: Most of them are.

Q: What kind of atmosphere is there? Does it ever get like ‘At last, we’ve got ‘The One’ here’?

A: You can get ‘Ah, he/she’s the one!’ or you could get ‘Ah, we can’t decide who to pick…’.

Q: Were there any auditions that were memorable for you?

A: In terms of recent ones, I’d say the role of Speedwagon in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. We had 2 rounds of auditions but still couldn’t decide so I consulted the director and I called in Ueda Yōji for an audition on his own. And the director finally thought ‘He’s our guy!’ and that made me glad as well. Having this kind of thing happen makes auditions worthwhile, I thought.

Q: You’ve directed live-action movies and worked as a sound director [on anime] – what is the difference in terms of the demands of sound between the too?

A: The presence of air in live-action shoots. Anime is a visual medium, so this is where you get to showcase your talent – by showing how you can achieve the aerial sensation and sense of depth of air through sound. For live-action you can get by with one type of sound but for anime you might need 3 types of sounds… When you’re hitting a wall, is it iron or metal or plastic? Is it pounding? Is it rapping? You have to consider things like that. In movies you see the visuals and you’ll understand, but for sound in anime you have to emphasize, exaggerate and complement.

Interview: 2014.3.13


Throwback: On Aketagawa Jin

While I wouldn’t say that Aketagawa Jin is my favourite sound director when it comes to castings (if push came to shove, I’d go for Kimura Eriko’s eclecticism) but he is definitely someone who’s close to my heart, purely for his ability to spot and cultivate raw young talent over the years – the likes of Tomatsu Haruka, Hikasa Yoko, Ishikawa Kaito, Kayano Ai, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and Taneda Risa have all passed through his hands.

For all the accusations he faces of favouritism and getting way too close to his chosen seiyuu talents, Aketagawa himself remains extremely low-profile, shunning interviews and choosing not to get on SNS. That means it’s harder to get a true picture of what the guy is really like. One thing’s for sure though – Aketagawa’s a people person and gets along extremely well with both staff and cast members, you can tell that from the way others speak of him.

Aketagawa is often described as a lively character, and that personality of his comes across in his directing choices – he tends to favour energetic, animated acting (生き生き is the phrase I have in mind) which is why he gets hired for OTT things like Kill Me Baby!, Shokugeki no Soma and Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan. Not to say he can’t handle the more subtle, low-key stuff though – his long list of credits includes series like Aoi Hana, Hourou Musuko and AnoHana after all.

He is definitely guilty of picking the same people over and over again within a certain period of time though; that you can almost spot the seiyuu cliques that form as a result of constantly working together on Aketagawa shows. Just think of that large but loose collective of seiyuu acquaintances that includes people like Minase Inori, Sakura Ayane, Uchida Maaya, Kakuma Ai, Onishi Saori, Murakawa Rie etc etc – they’re all AkeJin faves. I have nothing much against that though – Aketagawa has such a deep pool of seiyuu contacts and works on so many shows over a season/year that you don’t really notice similarities in his casting choices too much, as opposed to say…Bones or Shaft series.

Here are a few bits and bobs from over the years. First one is an interview with the Nagi no Asu kara director and producer, just the section where they mention Aketagawa in particular:

Nagi no Asu kara

Tsuji Mitsuhito (producer): There are lots more episodes that we couldn’t mention in regular interviews. For example, in the 2nd episode, when Gyomenso emerges from Manaka’s knee it’s supposed to say ‘See you later’ but during tests, Gyomenso’s seiyuu Tamura Mutsumi-san ad-libbed ‘I’ll be back!’ in a smug tone, which sent the studio into peals of laughter (laughs)

Shinohara Toshiya (director): During recordings for episode 16, Ishihara [Kaori]-san who voices Sayu-chan, got the words mixed up. She was supposed to say ‘Did you know? You can’t get married if you’re relatives to a third degree’, but ended up saying ‘You can’t get married if you have three heads’* instead – everyone burst out laughing.

*third degree – sanshintō (三親等), three heads – santōshin (三頭身)

Q: Speaking of voice recording – what kind of person is the sound director Aketagawa Jin?

Tsuji: Our relationship goes back to CANAAN, which means I’ve been working with Jin-san for about 6 years now. For Nagi no Asu kara, I’d say that the final episode was the most memorable. Yanagi Nagi’s ‘mnemonic’ was used as an insert song in the episode, but we had initially readied it for use in the 25th episode…well, actually it was back in the 18th episode or thereabouts (laughs). The decision was only made at the last minute but we actually had 2 versions prepared [for ep18] – a version with ‘mnemonic’ and one with the BGM. Ultimately, we went with the BGM version so Jin-san had kind of given up, thinking “so we aren’t going to use ‘mnemonic’ at all?”, but he managed to fit it in, and at a very good point at that, during the final episode.

Shinohara: I first met Jin-san on Hana Saku Iroha. Prior to that, whenever you mentioned ‘Aketagawa-san’ you would think of his father (Aketagawa Susumu) first – his image happens to be very strong, but [Jin] is a completely different type of character by comparison. His father is quiet and gentle with a spirit of a craftsman, while Jin-san is bright and lively and good at getting seiyuu on board [with his ideas]. What impresses me about his work is his outstanding sense when it comes to music selection. Throughout the series I only ever asked him for a total of 3 changes in the song he had initially selected for first tests. Every time we went through the tests I’d hum, thinking – that was good! Also, this may be completely unrelated but when I think of stories involving sound directors, I think of…dieting? (laughs) For some reason a [low] carb diet is getting popular amongst staff members; producers and managers included, but the one who followed it most seriously was Jin-san.

Tsuji: That’s true, he’s gotten quite slim. Gorgeous bento boxes are available at the studio but the menu items have somehow started getting healthier with an increase in single servings (laughs). I’m not sure if it’s due to that, but I’ve managed to lose 3kg.


And secondly, a short interview with Aketagawa Jin himself from when he was working on Potemayo [2007].

Q: What does the job of a sound director entail?

A: Simply put, it is a role that involves overseeing everything sound-related. Dialogue, sound effects and music – the job is to direct…no, arrange all of that. For the dialogue, I act as an intermediary between the actors and the director. For music, the intermediary between the composer and director. And for sound effects, between the soundmen and the director. I guess that’s pretty much it?

Q: How did this job sound directing Potemayo come about?

A: J.C.Staff Producer Matsukura-san just said to me ‘This anime is based on a manga so I’ll leave it up to you~!’ (laughs). Later on I received the manga in the mail and he went ‘It’s over to you now!’. That was all (loud laugh).

Q: Did Producer Matsukura not explain the work to you?

A: Not at all (laughs). The manga volumes were just casually delivered to my company office and I’d just read them and start to think about a lot of different things. I did of course meet up with Matsukura-san sometime later on to discuss the direction of the anime and what we had in mind for casting.

Q: What were your impressions of the series after reading it?

A: For Potemayo and Guchuko, I first considered the direction I should take when it came to their voices. I immediately thought of Potemayo as being cute. In Guchuko’s case it could’ve gone either way and I had to think about which to go with. I decided to base it upon what I’d hear at the auditions. Considering the cuteness we were aiming for with Potemayo, we could’ve gotten someone who delivered clear and easily-understood reactions, or we might also choose to go with someone like Hanazawa [Kana]-san who has a childish, tottering style – either direction was a possibility. Once again I decided to put it through the audition process, and that was how we ended up in favour of the Hanazawa-san direction as you hear it now.

Q: Going through the auditions, was there an overall direction that you were looking at with regards to the cast as a whole?

A: The series has a lot of characters so first and foremost, we had to ensure that there weren’t any overlapping characteristics. For Potemayo and Guchuko, the reactions seen in their acting were going to make or break the show so I requested that J.C. Staff produce some illustration material for the purpose of the auditions. They were just line drawings with a limited amount of movement, and I had the actors match their voices to that. In a sense, I think it was easier to grasp the image of the series through those visuals rather than just by reading the scripts as per the norm.

Q: What were the important points working as a sound director during the Potemayo voice recording sessions?

A: Director Ikehata [Takashi]’s laughter ‘hurdles’ are set slightly higher than most and he can be severe about it at times, so it’s my job to get across to the actors that they should put in performances that get as close to Director Ikehata’s sense of humour as possible. I think it was a pretty good atmosphere [in the studio].

Q: How about the sound effects and the music?

A: Well in the end, this series is all about the characters reacting and being in motion. Particularly Potemayo and Guchuko, who both move in a way that makes you want to add animated sound effects to accompany the visuals. There is quite a bit of ‘reaction-type’ of dialogue which can be treated as sound effects by themselves, and that might mean that they ended up clashing with actual inserted sound effects. And then you’d have Potemayo, who despite being in the background when other characters are interacting with each other, would continuously make ‘Honoho’ kind of sounds. Should I mute the sound effects to produce a clean sound, or should I nuke the reactions of the characters other than Potemayo and Guchuko to make it sound cleaner? If you’re not careful with things like that you might mess it all up. Having to balance these issues made this series a tough one to work on.
For the music too – the anime is filled with dialogue that is already interesting on its own so rather than spoiling them with inappropriate music floating in, it would be better to just leave the scenes as they are. On the other hand, there might be cases when it’s more interesting to have music over the scenes so I have done it on occasion.

Q: So tell us what the appeal of the completed version of the Potemayo anime is.

A: Frankly speaking, I’d be happy as long as I find it interesting myself! …is my take on it (laughs). Right now there aren’t any set patterns or anything like that so I suppose in a sense, that the show’s appeal might lie in how it finds different ways to be interesting depending on the scene at hand? Having said that, I still wouldn’t describe this as a one-liner kind of gag show. I was quite conscious of that fact while we were working on the show but well…there are scenes that do call for one-liners in the end (laughs). Whatever works at a given time and place, I suppose, as long as it’s interesting.

Q: Please leave a message for the fans who are looking forward to the anime’s broadcast.

A: Fans of the manga will be able to enjoy this anime, as will those who have not read the original work – do look forward to it!

Q: Thank you very much.
While we’re at it, let’s have a quick look at the Potemayo cast and see how often Aketagawa has worked with the individuals over the years.

Kitamura Eri (Moriyama Sunao) – AkeJin hired KitaEri a couple of times in the late 00s but rarely since, and not in the last 4 years since Neptunia [which was just rehiring the game cast]
Hanazawa Kana (Potemayo) – HanaKana remains an AkeJin fave but she’s a busy lady so he obviously can’t always get hold of her. Prince of Stride Alternative & Junketsu no Maria are some of their recent works together.
Tsuji Ayumi (Guchuko) – I think Tsuji has been hired maybe only once or twice by Aketagawa [Tonagura! being the other one off the top of my head]. She’s not worked that much anyway.
Kawasumi Ayako (Natsu Mikan) – A long-standing favourite of Aketagawa’s, stretching back to Geneshaft in 2001 and more recently in Danmachi Sword Oratoria & Shokugeki no Soma.
Kaida Yuko (Takamimori Kyo) – Kaida’s forte is dubs & not really anime, but AkeJin has hired her on & off over the years in things like Railgun, Moretsu Pirates & Queens Blade.
Kugimiya Rie (Kasugano Nene, Seki Tomari) – Another way too busy lady. They’re working on Twin Angel Break this season though.
Tokita Hikaru (Kirihara Mudo) – I don’t think she’s been in any anime in the last 5 or so years…
Kondo Takayuki (Hatsushiba Kaoru) – He was in Shokugeki no Soma & the High School DxD series, but haven’t seen too much of him around lately.
Hamada Kenji (Moriyama Kodai) – A veteran who pops up in minor roles in quite a few Aketagawa shows. Last year, he was in Active Raid, Norn9 & Bubuki Buranki.
Okamoto Nobuhiko (Natsu Yasumi) – A firm fave with AkeJin over the last decade, he gave him his first lead role in Sola [2007] & continues to cast him here and there. Recently heard in Danmachi Sword Oratoria, Starmyu & MonHun Ride On.
Inoue Kikuko (Moriyama Miku) – She’s everyone’s favourite, isn’t she? Currently in Uchoten Kazoku S2.
Toyosaki Aki (Shiina Shizuka) – Another firm fave over the years. Recently cast in AkeJin shows like Flip Flappers, Kuzu no Honkai and Re:CREATORS.
Yahagi Sayuri (Hanabusa Eiko) – Part of the To LOVEru franchise so she’ll always be working with AkeJin in some form.
Fujimura Ayumi (Hachiya Yoshimi) – I remember her being in some of Aketagawa’s shows in the 00s like Kyoran Kazoku Nikki, Hatsukoi Limited. & Aoi Hana but nothing much of late. Guess Norn9 doesn’t count since it was a carry-over from the game.
Yasumoto Hiroki (various) – While not a first-choice leading man with Aketagawa, Yasumoto does get hired for sub & minor roles – he’s Mimasaka in Shokugeki no Soma & Kishward in Arslan Senki & was in Active Raid, Aldnoah Zero & Hataraku Mao-sama! – to name a few.

Shingeki no Kyojin cast Q&A

An interview with the main cast of the Attack on Titan series, following the completion of recording for the 3DS game Shingeki no Kyojin: Shichi kara no Dasshutsu, released on 11 May by Koei. It is the first adventure game for the series with an original story – Seko Koji is supervising the story with visuals by Wit Studio and partial voice-acting by the anime cast.

6 Questions
1. Thoughts on completing recording
2. Recommended points, impressive scenes or things to look out for from what you recorded
3. Surprisingly different sides of the characters that you saw, or lines that left an impression
4. People or things you’d consider your ‘partner’, any stories that made you feel ‘connected’ to other people
5. 2017 is looking to be exciting with the release of this game & season 2 of the anime. What do you want to achieve or accomplish this year?
6. A message for the fans

Kaji Yuki [Eren Yeager]

1. Thoughts – As it’s an adventure game this time out, I wondered ‘Oh, I might not have to fight so much this time!’ and as I looked over the script I thought to myself ‘Hmm! I might not even have to shout that much any more!’ …but now that recording’s over, my throat is shot… ah, I’d forgotten that this guy [Eren] is a weirdo with a loud voice… (laughs)

2. Recommended scenes – In any case it’s a spinoff story this time, so the presence of a protagonist who’s a member of the 104th Training Corps is memorable. This time you’ll get to see a lot more of expressions Eren normally doesn’t show his colleagues as he’s basically operating with just another person [the protagonist] alongside him. Getting to play an Eren like that somehow gets me buzzing as well (laughs)

3. Different sides – You’ll get to see stills of members of Levi’s squad doing low-level work side by side…that sub-episode about them cleaning up was very impressive (laughs). As always, the Captain is beautifully obsessed with cleanliness.

4. Partners & stories – The bond between the Shingeki no Kyojin members really is quite strong. Not just the cast but also among the staff as well, the director and sound director included – we have built a solid relationship. That is why the studio was like a battlefield.

5. Aims for 2017 – Body building! I want to climb Mount Fuji!

6. Message – It’s an ‘escape adventure’ this time, so I think you’ll be able to feel a different type of excitement compared to previous Shingeki games. Be the protagonist & team-mate of Eren & the 104th Training Corps, join forces with a variety of different characters and escape from your predicament! Look forward to it!

Ishikawa Yui [Mikasa Ackerman]

1. Thoughts – With the game this time being a completely original story and added to the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve recorded anything Shingeki-related, I felt a bit nervous as I was rehearsing at home over whether I could voice Mikasa properly. But when I turned up at the studio on the day of recording and was shown the packaging and in-game illustrations, the images came rushing back – although it’s a spinoff, I was able to perform as the usual Mikasa! After all, Eren is always life to Mikasa…!

2. Recommended scenes – Amongst the various Shingeki-related collaborations we’ve seen so far, there haven’t been too many where we get to guide the users, converse with so many characters or even have proper one-on-one talks with the users. Especially for Mikasa who isn’t the type of character who freely opens her heart; to see her development as the trust builds up between [the user & Mikasa as] partners was unusual to see. Thus I think you’ll get to see sides of her that you don’t normally do. I’d like you to pay attention to that!

3. Different sides – Rather than leaving an impression, this is more something that I’m personally interested in…in the game, the user will select a character and within their storyline, attempt to escape. The script I received contains only the scenes that Mikasa appears in so I’m really curious about what the other characters are like! For example, we have Connie who’s an idiot but always manages to calms things down and it makes me wonder if he can actually cooperate well with the [user’s] protagonist to escape safely… and so on. I’m definitely curious about the characters that rarely act solo!

4. Partners – My script[s]. They’re an actor’s “partner”!

5. Aims for 2017 – To ride a horse. And to get a general medical check-up.

6. Message – Having ‘you’ as a partner, you’ll get to see different sides of various characters that have never been seen before! It’s a game that can be enjoyed by anyone, whether you’re a guy or a girl. By all means, make Mikasa your partner and play around with the world of Shingeki no Kyojin!

Inoue Marina [Armin Arlert]

1. Thoughts – I am happy that I managed to confidently act out the story of Armin and the player(s). Shingeki no Kyojin recordings are always battles, but it was an absolute bloodbath this time around (laughs). Armin’s storyline has a lot of exposition and observations so I feel like I needed a lot more concentration than I normally would.

2. Recommended scenes – Armin is a character who has shown a tremendous range of growth throughout the series so I am always careful to consider what stage he is currently at when voicing the role; this time, I imagined him at a point after Eren has fixed the hole. I think the story will give a glimpse into the direction in which Armin grows going forward. There are times when it may get painful thinking about Armin but the ending was one that made you think that it might be the catalyst for his future.

3. Different sides – I never thought we would get such fanservice-y scenes for each character. However, I was disappointed to discover that the Captain [Levi] who is normally so fond of his tea would be on ‘that’ side instead of ‘our’ side. Is it because he is an adult?

4. Partners & stories – I (arbitrarily) think that the Shingeki members are bound together by bonds similar to those formed by comrades who have survived life-or-death battles together. I believe this confidence will remain unchanging in the future.

5. Aims for 2017 – From spring 2017, the long-awaited second season of Shingeki no Kyojin begins. My biggest aim is to be able to go all out in voicing Armin. Also, I need to go for a medical check-up.

6. Message – The Shingeki no Kyojin franchise has seen many action games up until now but this time, it’s a simulation game so I too am really looking forward to enjoying the storylines of each character. I hope that all of you would play through each path as well. With Season 2 of the anime, we look forward to your support going forward!

Ono Daisuke [Erwin Smith]

1. Thoughts – I said my lines while imagining the tension and heat levels that were present during the anime recording sessions. I’m dreadfully exhausted.

2. Recommended scenes – As a leader, I did put quite a lot of spirit into my instructions and words of command.

3. Different sides – I think the vast amount of information found within is precisely what makes the game such a pleasure. The more you play the game and appreciate those little details, the more new charms you will find in Shingeki.

4. Partners & stories – I just took part in the Shingeki-collaboration real escape game the other day. I could feel the bond between the cast then.

5. Aims for 2017 – Of course I want to have a ‘big hit’. To be able to contribute to that, all I can do is to give my best as an actor.

6. Message – Advance, into a new world of Shingeki no Kyojin!

Kamiya Hiroshi [Levi Ackerman]

1. Thoughts – I was wondering how it would turn out since I have a lot more dialogue here than in the anime, so I am relieved to complete recording without any problems!

2. Recommended scenes – There are familiar scenes and there are scenes that are closer to being gag-like but no matter what, Levi remains as serious as ever so please pay attention to them!

3. Different sides – In the scenes where conversation is being held with the original characters, the content of the dialogue changes a bit depending on the strength of the ‘bond’. However, Levi has such a difficult personality to comprehend that it’s hard to tell the difference!

4. Partners & stories – I do feel the bond between the cast when we’re all in the studio, working towards the same direction to improve the quality of the work! That is the kind of title Shingeki no Kyojin is!

5. Aims for 2017 – For 2017, I’ll be more careful with my health and give my best, more than ever!

6. Message – Please continue to support Shingeki no Kyojin from now on!

Park Romi [Hanji Zoe]

1. Thoughts – The volume of content is…amazing. Let me say that one more time. The volume of content is…amazing.

2. Recommended scenes – What I want you to pay attention to… On the contrary, how would you players like to pay attention to Hanji? That’s what I want you to pay attention to (laughs)

3. Different sides – Hanji appears to only be looking at the Titans but it was truly interesting to see how her comrades are reflected in her eyes.

4. Partners – My beloved daughters (pet dogs) Saran and Mian are awaiting my return so no matter what, I will overcome that battle field!

5. Aims for 2017 – I just want to travel around the power spots and store up energy!

6. Message – Thanks for your continued support. We’re gonna scale up the Shingeki no Kyojin world more and more! Don’t dare take your eyes off Hanji’s “research”!

Taniyama Kishow [Jean Kirstein]

1. Thoughts – I’m stepping into the Titan world after a long absence. It was pretty damn intense.

2. Recommended scenes – I put quite a bit of effort into the scene where Mikasa strangles and nearly drops [Jean] (laughs).

3. Different sides – I think Jean does show growth throughout the story. That makes me glad.

4. Partners & stories – Whenever I feel like things are going really badly, there’ll always be someone who comes along to lend me a hand. That’s what life is like for me at the moment.

5. Aims for 2017 – Move house, a new smartphone, travel overseas.

6. Message – Look forward to it!

Shimono Hiro [Connie Springer]

1. Thoughts – Up until now there have been various projects involving the Shingeki no Kyojin license but few opportunities for Connie to talk as much as he does in this particular work – it felt really fresh and I enjoyed it.

2. Recommended scenes – Basically there are many new discoveries. Memories of family – there are many things that are depicted well. You’ll see many scenes like that so please be sure to pay attention.

3. Different sides – This time you get to see a lot of scenes involving daily life that we’ve not really seen before so it was truly refreshing to see various aspects of the characters, Connie included. It made me feel a little bit joyful.

4. Stories – Recently, a person* in charge of the music of a certain anime work that I auditioned for (& won a role in) turned out to be the composer working on my solo artist activities. I didn’t know that beforehand but when I found out later, I felt like it was a fateful bond between us.

[*note: that person would be Takahashi Ryo, who composed Shimono’s first single Running High and also wrote the music for the ACCA anime as well as being part of ONE III NOTES]

5. Aims for 2017 – Obviously I want to work my hardest for Shingeki no Kyojin this year but since it appears that I will have increasing opportunities to do live concerts when compared to last year, I’m hoping that I’ll pull them off well too. Gonna give my best both for my acting and my singing!!

6. Message – Shingeki no Kyojin will have an exciting 2017 with various projects including the anime. I’d be glad if you could please give Shingeki no Kyojin: Shichi kara no Dasshutsu a play so that you’ll learn more about the various characters and grow to love them even more! Thank you!!

Kobayashi Yu [Sasha Blouse]

1. Thoughts – I am very pleased to have the opportunity to voice Sasha once again. This time, the game has an original story so we have a Sasha that we’ve never seen before and that also allowed me to experience a similar [new] impression. I was really pleased to get to meet that side of my beloved Sasha for the first time ever. At the same time, I took great pleasure in seeing parts of Sasha’s identity blow up so nicely. One thing that can’t be left out when talking about Sasha is “food”. She’s hard at it this time too, and you can see that [obsession] delivered in a couple of variations here. She’s someone whose comically charming side shines through but at the same time she can also be diligent and serious, which makes her a picture-perfect character. I’ll always brace myself when I’m voicing a multi-faceted, charming character like Sasha, handling her carefully to the best of my ability. Thankfully, Sasha plays an active role this time so I am deeply grateful not just as the actor behind the character but also as one of Sasha’s fans. Thank you!

2. Recommended scenes – There are many, but amongst them is a a scene containing a lecture about hunting that I found very impressive. Through that scene I got to see a shining Sasha, demonstrating her cherished way of life as a native of a hunting village. When teaching [others] how to use a bow, Sasha uses a uniquely genius method of teaching. It’s lovely to feel how ‘Sasha-like’ her masterfully wild intuitions are. Seeing the others’ reactions to those lectures gives you a glimpse into the ‘richness’ of each of their characters and it makes me smile.

3.Different sides – The butler & maid café was shocking to me. I’m glad to see that everyone had such such a great time, particularly as they are constantly living in danger. Each character has a distinct personality; it’s a lot of fun and one of the things to look out for. This time around we get to see Sasha experiencing a ‘suspension bridge effect’ like the maidens I admire plus she gets to wear maid clothes as well, showing various expressions for the first time ever. I was deeply impressed by these new charms that Sasha shows and it fills me with excitement.

4. Partners & stories – The time spent together with all of the staff and cast who I am under the care of is important & represents irreplaceable moments for me; I can feel the bond between us.

5. Aims for 2017 – I apologize for having the same goal every year, but I will continue to devote my strength and all I have to every single day in 2017.

6. Message – Thank you to everyone who is looking forward to the game’s release. This is an original story where you, the player, becomes the hero and advances together with the characters as your partner – what a most exciting and tasteful work it is. There is also human drama and moving scenes to be found amidst the fear and urgency of the mighty Titans. While going back-to-back with the crises of life, there remain heartwarming episodes that will make you smile here and there, so you can enjoy the game from that angle as well. I would be happy if you could immerse yourself in the world found within this game. Thank you.

Hosoya Yoshimasa [Reiner Braun]

1. Thoughts – As it’s an original story, I had to spend quite a bit of time taking stock of the situation at hand. I’m happy to have finished recording without incident.

2. Recommended scenes – Maybe the cats… The scene where the cat comes out… objectively speaking, it might be the kind of scene that provokes laughter.

3. Different sides – I still think the cat left the biggest impression. Since it’s an original story, I think it’s fun to see these ‘alternate’ tales, completely separate from the main plot.

4. Stories – When I met up with a friend from my elementary school days for the first time in about a year, he said ‘Long time no see’ to me and we both felt uncomfortable hearing those words. I thought, ‘Ah, so we’re both living our lives feeling the same sort of emotions’.

5. Aims for 2017 – Season 2 will be starting soon. I hope that I can take what I learn from encountering people through my work, to do more as a person. After all, you only live once. I want to enrich myself.

6. Message – It’s a clichéd one but… ‘Dedicate your hearts!’

Hashizume Tomohisa [Bertolt Hoover]

1. Thoughts – It’s been a while since I’ve gone all out in voicing Bertolt. It’s an adventure game so the scenarios are quite detailed so now I get to understand and connect his feelings with the events of seasons 1 & 2 of the anime! And while thinking of that, I realize that season 2 is finally starting soon.

2. Recommended scenes – He always goes together with Reiner so it’s unusual to see him depicted in such a way this time around. From the beginning to the end of the scenario, I would like you to feel the changes and subtlety of his feelings towards the protagonist.

3. Different sides – The title is ‘Escape from Certain Death’ so obviously the content of the main storyline is quite serious but you’ll also get to enjoy sub-stories that are unique to the game; they’ll make you go ‘Eh!? This character or that character does something like that!?’

4. Partners & stories – I’d say buddy but he’s more like a big senior to me; after mentioning that ‘this is the first time I’m taking part in such an event’ during the Shingeki Festival, Kamiya [Hiroshi]-san was a great help to me on stage and came to my rescue when I got stuck during the talk parts. When I felt uneasy about [us] having to take turns to speak individually, I turned to see Kamiya-san’s face on my left and felt relieved.

5. Aims for 2017 – Bodybuilding on a casual level. I did a bit in summer and managed to put on quite a bit [of muscle] but by winter they had evolved into something that wasn’t muscle, so I’d like to take on the challenge again. I’ll try to build more muscle by taking part in active things like bouldering, cycling and so on.

6. Message – Finally, Season 2 is here! It makes me happy just to think that I’ll be able to get into the studio and voice him alongside the rest of the cast. I’ve had the chance to be involved with the franchise in various ways following Season 1 and it’s made me even more excited. The wait has been long enough so please hold on a bit more and look forward to it!

Mikami Shiori [Krista Lenz]

1. Thoughts – As it is an original story there were many new discoveries to be made and I was able to record with a fresh feeling. There were scenes I had never seen before so I had a lot of fun acting.

2. Recommended scenes – The scene where [Krista and] Ymir talk about their respective childhoods got me. I’d be glad if you make sure not to miss how important Ymir’s presence is to Krista, and how Krista continues to grow throughout everything that happens.

3. Different sides – I like the scenes where Connie and Sasha are helping everyone with their studies. It warms me up inside, thinking & wishing that such peaceful times would last forever.

4. Partners & stories – The other guys who always listen to my stories are both my buddies and my comrades. Fujita Saki-san, who voices Ymir, has been very supportive all this while so it is now my turn to become stronger so I can support [her] in return…!

5. Aims for 2017 – Since I’ve always held a driving license, I hope I can get used to driving around in the city center to a point where I can tell people that my hobby is going for drives.

6. Message – There are plenty of charming stories packed in here. I’d be happy if you could choose Ymir and Krista to be your partners so that you can enjoy their story. Thank you!

Fujita Saki [Ymir]

1. Thoughts – Whenever you enter the world of Titans, you need to have a certain amount of preparation for it and what you’ll get out of it is similar to the sense of accomplishment and elation from running a full marathon – it was the same feeling this time. As players you will enter such a world and try to survive together [with us] so being Ymir, I’m able to show a lot of different expressions as well.

2. Recommended scenes – I do want [you] to successfully escape! I work together with Krista so there may be dialogue that the player feels sounds a bit harsh but I hope that you’ll be able to grasp the clumsy tenderness behind her words!

3. Different sides – The butler & maid café. Make sure you check it out. What outfit will Ymir be wearing? Look forward to it!

4. Partners & stories – There are so many that it’s hard for me to single any one out. In Shingeki no Kyojin recordings the staff and cast go all out in making the show together and you can really feel that bond there. Each and every person perseveres and holds on, taking on the challenge of the job with their absolute might; everyone helping to create the story’s worldview. With such an atmosphere you don’t even need to say a word to be able to feel [the strength of] that bond on your skin.

5. Aims for 2017 – I want to get into the habit of exercising, even if only a little bit. (laughs) Go me.

6. Message – Jump into the world of Shingeki no Kyojin through this game that is scheduled to be released on May 11th. If you could also watch the TV anime broadcast at the same time, you’ll be able to feel like you have signed up for the Survey Corps yourself! Please continue to support the increasingly exciting Shingeki no Kyojin!