Interview with the other pair from our leading quartet, Iguchi Yuka’s dropout/freeter Miyake Hinata and Hayami Saori’s teen idol Shiraishi Yuzuki.
The excitement of seeing how this group of high school girls square off against Antarctica!
Q: The theme of this anime is ‘going to Antarctica’ – before you got involved with this series, what image did you have of Antarctica and how did those impressions change once you started working on the show?
Iguchi: To be honest, I didn’t even know how [Antarctica] was different from the Arctic. Not knowing anything, I thought ‘Wow, it’s nice that these girls have a dream of going to Antarctica, but it seems tough’. I was handed the [series] material during auditions but what I took away from it was more about the slapstick [comedy] and the growth of the girls rather than anything Antarctica.
Hayami: Polar bears are all I know.
Iguchi: Aren’t those in the North Pole?
Hayami: Oh right. That’s why they’re called Arctic bears [ホッキョクグマ, hokkyoku-guma, North Pole bear].
Iguchi: Also, the Arctic has more ice than the Antarctic, correct? Antarctica is a continent, but the Arctic is just ice.
Q: Well, they do call it the Antarctic Continent after all. Polar bears live in the North Pole (Arctic) and penguins in the South Pole (Antarctica).
Hayami: The only knowledge I have was gleaned from that Sakai Masato-starring drama The Chef of South Polar (2009) though (laughs). I guess my impression of it is that it’s extremely cold.
Q: If you were in high school, would you like to go to Antarctica?
Iguchi: Nah, I don’t think I could take it on (laughs). Other productions that tackled the same subject matter have always shown the more extreme side of things, so I’m excited to find out just how they’ll face up to the challenge.
Q: Seems that Kimari (Tamaki Mari, CV: Minase Inori) says ‘I want to go’ in a manner more casual than you’d expect.
Hayami: She doesn’t possess much knowledge [about Antarctica], so she feels like she can take on the challenge.
Iguchi: In the series, Shirase (Kobuchizawa Shirase, CV: Hanazawa Kana) knows how severe Antarctica is in detail and explains a bunch of things to them – you see Hinata and Kimari are listening, but it all goes in one ear and comes out the other…you can’t really say that they aren’t aware [about the toughness of the challenge] though (laughs)
Q: You do get the impression that [Antarctica] is harsh and scary though?
Iguchi: Shirase’s mother did go missing there, so even if these high school girls are trying to take it on with a light-hearted attitude, the truth is that it really is a heavy thing to undertake.
Hayami: There are a number of scenes that are quite serious after all.
Q: By the 2nd episode you can already see a lot of interesting exchanges going on.
Hayami: I do think the root of the story lies in comedy. Though the theme of the story itself is serious.
Iguchi: The girls live a carefree life, and you see them thinking about things as they go along.
Q: This is an original series – what were your impressions upon reading the scripts?
Iguchi: The characters are cute and the story progresses at a good tempo…
Hayami: The tempo is really good!
Iguchi: Also, the animation was complete by the time we recorded episode 1 so we were able to work on it in very favourable conditions. From the viewpoint of someone who knows nothing about Antarctica, when I see Shirase-chan talking about her Antarctican dream I tend to go a little ‘Er?’, but the visuals that are so vivid in their depictions help me to easily get to grips with [the story]. The changes in the characters’ expressions are very detailed as well. Thinking of how much passion the staff has put into this project made us [cast members] very enthusiastic right from the get-go and we too, gave it our all.
Hayami: They really put a lot of passion into this! I noticed hoe quite a lot of subtle, everyday life things were included. Plenty of locations that I could recognize as well. Also, you can see the personalities of each individual character through the state of their bedroom.
Iguchi: Kimari’s bedroom is so Kimari-like, isn’t it?
Hayami: That’s right. Other smaller details include Hinata’s famous quotes section etc. You see lots of stuff like that in the scripts and in the visuals.
Q: The dialogue’s always interesting as well.
Iguchi: That bit in episode 1 about the ‘mwillion’ yen was hilarious (laughs)
Hayami: High school’s more like a series of small waves rather than one big one and I could feel how realistic the parts depicting high school life were.
Iguchi: While we’re on the subject of the visuals – the tears look impressive, beginning from episode 1. Those tears that spill over look so pretty; it’s because they’re born of pure emotion that they sparkle.
The cheerful and innocent Hinata + the charm of Yuzuki, whose childishness occasionally slips through her maturity
Q: Tell us what kind of characters the two of you play.
Iguchi: As you can see from her art, Hinata’s a cheerful, innocent and friendly girl who always seems to be smiling, yet she doesn’t attend high school. It hasn’t been elaborated upon as yet, but she’s not fond of group activities and had few good memories of her school days. However, she has not given up on pursuing tertiary education – she doesn’t actually dislike studying, so she’s working hard now to earn money as she works towards college entrance exams. She may seem rather naïve, but there are times when she has a pretty profound view of things.
Hayami: She’s the most mature one amongst them.
Q: She can be quite persuasive when it comes to her so-called ‘famous quotes’.
Iguchi: There’s 1 of those in each episode and it always goes, ‘So who said that?’. ‘Me~’.
Hayami: That’s really cute!
Q: You can tell she’s smart.
Iguchi: I guess you can tell that she’s always turning things over in her head if she’s able to produce such quotes. But she’s not [naturally] cheerful– rather, it’s a part of her that’s trying to be cheerful. I’m being careful to avoid making it seem as if she’s deliberately pushing herself to be cheerful.
Hayami: She’s cheerful at heart! She’s the kind of girl who [decides to] lives cheerfully despite having gone through a lot of things in life.
Q: You can see how delicate that balance is through a particular line in episode 2: ‘They exist from time to time. 16-year olds who do not go to high school’.
Iguchi: Thank you. I had to redo that line over and over again (laughs). At first, I was trying to make her seem like she’s pushing herself to be cheerful. But I was instructed to make it ‘a bit more relaxed’. No matter how I tried, the way I said it had a ‘But I’m okay’ kind of nuance to it. The line was supposed to allow her underlying feelings to be slightly exposed.
Q: She’s basically cheerful, but you want that line to make people think ‘I wonder if there’s something more to her?’.
Iguchi: Each of the characters has a hidden side to them that you can discern from the words they say. Those parts might bring a bit of excitement to the viewers. I think you could say the same of both Shirase and Yuzuki.
Hayami: For me, Hinata’s characterization is very clear all thanks to Yuka-san’s voice. It’s bright like the sun. I think the positive quality of her voice integrates into [the character of] Hinata amazingly well.
Q: What about Yuzuki-chan?
Hayami: Yuzuki pretends to be mature. The part of her that tries to act like an adult makes her seem all the more childish though, and to be honest, she is just an immature girl. It seems like she’s trying and trying to find the perfect balance.
Q: Yuzuki has a lot going on in her life as well, and you’ll get to see that in future episodes.
Hayami: Episode 3 tells her story pretty succinctly. It was quite hard to express the distance between her the other 3 girls at first. She tries to act all grown-up in front of the 3, but you can see her childishness through it all. I had to think about how to steadily unravel those feelings within that 1 episode so I did struggle a bit to my surprise. I wondered how I should handle those parts, and I was then told that ‘she’s a little bit mature’.
Q: In episode 2, you can feel that mix of maturity and immaturity through her one ‘Who is that?’ line.
Hayami: I was really conscious about bringing out her childishness in that scene.
Iguchi: This is the only place where you can get to hear that part of Hayamin’s voice!
Hayami: I haven’t done anything like that lately. I don’t actually do too many younger sister type of roles so when I found that I had been cast in the auditions, my manager and I discussed that as well – that I’d rarely taken on younger sister characters and that it was a fresh, trial-and-error kind of role for me.
Q: The problem of never having made any friends as she had been working ever since she was a child is childish in a way, but it seems tough to express that immaturity.
Iguchi: You can sense that she’s a kid who grew up being surrounded by adults.
Hayami: You’re quite right. That’s why I found it easier to play the role after she started getting along with the other girls.
Hinata and Yuzuki’s ___ cuteness!
Q: What are your thoughts after watching the first 2 episodes?
Iguchi: Each character has a strong personality. The interactions between Kimari and Shirase are the highlight of episode 1; when you’re wondering how the relationship between this counterbalanced duo will progress, Hinata makes her appearance in episode 2 and Yuzuki likewise in episode 3. The more you see, the deeper your impressions of the characters will be. Shirase’s increasingly pitiful [nature] makes her all the more adorable.
Hayami: I only said a single word across the 2 episodes and didn’t even appear in episode 1, so when I went to recordings for episode 2 I was actually able to take in things with a broad perspective. Yuzuki believed that the other 3 had been friends since a long time ago, so those 2 episodes allowed me to comprehend how she had misconstrued [their relationship]. We’re only 2 episodes in but bonds are being built, the tempo of their conversations is really great and they look like best buddies already. Obviously the deeper understanding [of each other] only comes after, so they’re probably just hitting it off well based on ‘feelings’. It’s something quite common for high-schoolers though, to become best friends when you’ve only just met – that was the kind of thing I was thinking as I was watching the first 2 episodes.
Iguchi: You have them suddenly jumping from Gunma to Shinjuku as well.
Hayami: This is especially true of Hinata-chan and Kimari-chan, but you do feel like high school students like them really could exist out there. You definitely feel that about Hinata-chan, she brings out a realistic high-school girl feel. She’s [outwardly] happy whenever she’s [feeling] happy but you can also tell she’s thinking about things deeply – ‘that’s just what a high school girl is like!, I thought. I think Hinata-chan’s the one I can identify the most with, surprisingly.
Q: She overhears the conversation between Kimari and Shirase at the convenience store and thinks that they get along well. On top of that, she remarks ‘Is she the troublesome type?’ to Shirase out of the blue, which jives with the ‘feelings’ that you mentioned earlier.
Hayami: It was a pleasure to watch the 3 girls being so comfortable with each other.
Q: Oh, and Hinata has strange T-shirts.
Iguchi: That’s right. Her T-shirts will change up over the episodes so please keep an eye out for them (laughs). I hope they get made into goods; I’d love to wear them if they did.
Q: In episode 2, Kimari shoots up from her seat during classes screaming ‘Wharrgh’ – that was very fun.
Iguchi: Ah~! It was cute! Also, the part in episode 1 where she says ‘Respect~!’ to Megu-chan (Takahashi Megumi, CV: Kanemoto Hisako) was also very cute!
Q: It’s incredible how nuanced those one-liners are.
Hayami: The choice of words is really cute! It’s down to Director [Ishizuka] and screenwriter Hanada (Jukki)-san’s word-sense.
Q: The Hinata when making all her famous quotes – it’s great as well.
Hayami: She says them with a smirk on her face! I really like Hinata-chan amongst all the characters, she’s cute!
Q: And the story develops really well.
Hayami: Shirase-chan and Kimari-chan both possess a cuteness that is easy to understand. Shirase-chan’s got a pitiful nature but she’s also strongly stubborn which I think is cute, while Kimari-chan’s speech and reactions are truly super adorable. I guess you could say that it’s like a different type of sunflowery feeling? Hinata has a larger-than-life attitude about her that’s really cute.
Iguchi: Glad to hear that~
Hayami: It’s also [Iguchi’s] voice that brings out that authenticity.
Q: If you were to call these 2 (____) cute, what would it be?
Iguchi: Sunflowery cute?
Hayami: That’s hard. ‘Sunflowery cute’ might suit Hinata but… Yuzuki has a little bit of meanness in her after all. How about ‘spitefully cute’? . Her choice of words can be a little harsh sometimes.
Iguchi: Yeah, I want her to say more of those to me (laughs). She does say things like ‘I could just die right now’, doesn’t she.
Hayami: The way she says harsh words but with polite language shows her conflicting nature. But Hinata-chan does have that sunflower feeling. Like she’s screaming ‘I’m gonna get in the sun & bloom for sure!’ – that’s so Hinata-like. She knows she will wilt in the dark so she does her best to get out into the sun – you get that feeling about her.
Iguchi: If Hinata’s like the sun, then there are parts of Yuzuki that are like the moon – it’s hard to describe her with just one word though. (____) cute? Let’s ask the Director instead (laughs)
Q: You also notice the little details the production team have put in, like the surprisingly sizable balance left on Hinata’s card compared to Kimari’s almost-zero balance that you can see from when they’re taking the train – I thought that brought out the personalities [of the characters] well, as well as showing their spending power.
Hayami: You see their human nature coming to the fore. Hinata-chan is well-grounded, as you’d expect.
Iguchi: True. Kimari seems like the sort of person who’d scream ‘Oh dang, I gotta top up my card!’ every 1 out of 3 times [she takes the train].
Hayami: She’d only top up a 1000 yen at a time (laughs)
Iguchi: But it’s true, the show really does go into all those little details without needing to rely too much on the acting performances. The character visuals etc will tell the story, and the Sound Director does say stuff like ‘try not to shout out during that scene’ to us.
Q: They have expressions on their faces, thus you can better match your voices to the visuals. I think it’s a show you could enjoy watching over and over again.
Hayami: You’ll discover small little details with every rewatch.
Plenty of significant points, not just in the anime but also in the next episode previews, the ending theme and so on!
Q: The next episode previews are a highlight as well.
Iguchi: The previews are pretty impactful – they’re great! Hayamin’s was fun. I’ve no clue what dialect that was in though.
Hayami: I recorded that having only said a single word in episode 2, not having had a chance to get hold of my character at all.
Iguchi: And in that ep 1 preview, some completely different character appeared (laughs)
Hayami: I became some mysterious character (laughs). It was a surreal feeling.
Iguchi: I was desperately trying to hold in my laughter.
Hayami: I too was wondering ‘Who the heck is that?’ as I was reciting my line.
Iguchi: Hayamin’s lack of hesitation when she stood in front of the mic is evident in Yuzuki. It’s like Yuzuki’s up on stage, having put on an assured performance.
Hayami: Yuzuki’s really good at switching between personas – the script is fun as well.
Q: The four of you perform the ending theme.
Hayami: The song’s really nice!
Iguchi: It’s wonderful, and the song is filled with youthfulness and sparkles.
Q: What we can look forward to in the future?
Hayami: For Yuzuki, you’ll be seeing more and more of her from episode 3 onwards as the distance between her and the other girls lessens. I hope you will able to feel Yuzuki’s happiness and the closing of that distance between her heart and everyone else’s. As for the storyline, watch out for how exactly they will make it to Antarctica.
What kind of story could be born from the convergence of high school girls and Antarctica – 2 points that you’d not normally see coming together? I think it’s a pretty unprecedented work so I do hope that you will enjoy it.
Iguchi: With the announcement of such a fantastic cast, I’m sure Hayamin fans will be watching episode 1 thinking ‘Hmm?’ and then ‘Eh?’ after episode 2 (laughs), but please look forward to episode 3 onwards where the 4 of them are all in the mix together. But it’s not just the 4 of them; there are various other characters – especially Kimari’s best friend Megucchan!
Hayami: Megucchan! Plenty of stuff goes on, and there’s even a Megucchan episode!
Q: Watching episodes 1-2 – it seems tough to be Megucchan. You get a knot in your chest.
Iguchi: To see her beloved Kimari-chan who’s always been by her side, find a new dream – that’s a kind of dilemma unique to high school girls. Those aspects are handled well too. It’s not just about heading to Antarctica; we see the girls moving step by step towards their dreams, see their hearts growing through [resolving] their misunderstandings – I hope you see all of this without missing a single episode. Megucchan’s episode is the best! I got goosebumps during the recordings.
[Interview & words: Tsukagoshi Junichi]