Category Archives: Golden Kamuy

#202 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.10: Ito Kentaro

10th interview and finally we get one with Shiraishi’s CV Itō Kentarō!

Q: We hear you’re a fervent reader of Weekly Young Jump, the magazine that Golden Kamuy runs in – what were your impressions of your series when you first read it?

A: My first impression was: ‘Wow, this is coming out with all guns blazing’ (laughs). Noda (Satoru)-sensei’s previous series Supinamarada! had already shown off his knack for vibrant facial expressions. That’s why I had pretty high hopes upon hearing that Noda-sensei would be writing a series with this kind of theme. This might sound a little condescending, but from a manga reader’s viewpoint, I do believe the that nothing matches the thrill that comes from turning the pages of a comics volume. As you turn the pages to read Golden Kamuy, you’ll find that each and every panel has the potential to either surpass or betray your expectations. The ideas and expressions contained within are just mind-blowing; it’s as if Noda-sensei is controlling the rhythm as you turn the pages – you can’t help but be exhilarated by the joy of reading the magazine.

Q: Since you’re a manga reader, did you ever harbour hopes of being part of the cast if the series were to receive an anime adaptation?

A: I certainly did. Seeing how it gained in popularity and recognition levels made me feel certain that it would get an anime adaptation at some point. I even put pressure upon myself to read the manga in depth so that I’d be prepared for the auditions no matter what role I was asked to try out for. Having said that, such thoughts would disappear from my mind whenever I read the manga with only a sense of pure enjoyment left behind.

Q: Were there any characters that you were particularly fond of?

A: To be honest, when Shiraishi first appeared, I vividly recall thinking ‘if I were to get a role in this series, it’d be something in the line of [Shiraishi]’ (laughs). It’s a bit presumptuous of me to say so myself, but I honestly thought that I’d be the happiest person alive if I was to voice Shiraishi. Perhaps if I was a bit younger I might’ve considered the role of Sugimoto as a possibility.

Q: Were you conscious of anything in particular during the auditions for Shiraishi?

A: I just wanted to perform my vision of the ideal Shiraishi. I went all-out with no room for regrets in my recorded audition tape and told myself – ‘if I fail, then it’s because [the image I have of Shiraishi] doesn’t match the anime’s vision of Shiraishi, and I will give up’. When you audition for a series where you have little knowledge of the source material, you do tend to wonder whether you’re on the right track. But for [Golden Kamuy] I was familiar with the manga and I had no such hesitations. There was however, a fear within me that I might be too fixated on the image I had [of Shiraishi]. Noda-sensei would certainly have his own vision for Shiraishi, and other readers would have their own interpretations as well. That would obviously apply to the anime staff as well, but I was sure that these individual views would all overlap at a common point, and I wanted to ensure that I didn’t lose sight of that.

Q: How did you approach the first day of the recording sessions?

A: I decided to reset whatever image [of the series] I’d had beforehand to zero. An anime production is a group effort after all. I also do theatre on the side – if you tried to act based solely upon your own opinion, you’ll end up sticking out like a sore thumb. To prevent that from happening I told myself, ‘Calm down, first of all’. And try to be flexible.

Q: What were your thoughts, once you’d had the chance to interact with your co-stars?

A: When I saw Chika-chan [Kobayashi Chikahiro] and (Shiraishi) Haruka-chan performing, it felt like the Sugimoto and Asirpa I’d pictured in my mind when reading the manga, were right there in front of me. It gave me confidence in my views [of the characters] and I felt comfortable being part of the group. Shiraishi’s role within the story is pretty well-defined, which in a sense makes him easier to get to grips with compared to the other male characters.

Q: This is your first time working with Kobayashi-san and Shiraishi-san, isn’t it?

A: On an anime, yes, but I had worked with Chika-chan on a foreign dub production just before Golden Kamuy started. Same for Haruka-chan; we’d previously worked together on a foreign drama dubbing and I had a chance to chat with her during a post-recording drinking party. So yes, we were all acquainted but not quite buddies so there was a desire within me to make sure we synced well both as acting partners and in terms of our characters. With that in mind, I was able to naturally build up a rapport with the two of them in the run up to Shiraishi joins Sugimoto’s group in the story.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: In terms of major aspects, I was told ‘you’re trying to sound too cool’ on the first day of recording (laughs). I suppose I didn’t want to come off sounding too affected initially. While trying to maintain a carefree attitude, thinking ‘the first impression is the most important and I’m gonna produce a performance that makes viewers get even more excited!’, I had to let a bit of sex appeal slip out.

Q: Shiraishi’s existence is for the sake of comic relief – what’s your view on that?

A: I think it’s important to balance the extreme sides of his personality. There are scenes where you see how the more foolish [Shiraishi] is, the cooler it makes Sugimoto seem and that does set the tone for the series. Though he is comic relief, I can honestly say that I don’t actively seek to make people laugh through my performance – it’s natural character traits such as Asirpa’s weird faces and Sugimoto’s girly nature that I find even funnier (laughs)

Q: Those parts really do steal the show (laughs)

A: That’s right. (I) may try my best to stand out as much as possible but in the end, Shiraishi exists as a part of Sugimoto’s group. There were plenty of laughs brought about by the interactions between the main trio and at the halfway point, I’d forgotten about Shiraishi’s role as comic relief. On the contrary, the more [Shiraishi] tried to stand out the more he was deemed to be ‘useless’ – I think that better reflects the status of their relationship, to be honest (laughs)

Q: What’s the mood in the recording studio like?

A: The pool of acting talent was pretty deep, a rare sight in the recording studios of recent years. It’s the gathering of members who have much experience in dubbing foreign works, which made it quite a lavish environment to work in when you consider the current state of Japanese animation works. Given my age [note: currently 45 years old], it was a rare chance for me to adopt the stance of a junior actor, or should I say…a place where I could behave childishly (laughs). I’m the kind of guy who likes to fool around with my seniors but I did have the impression that the personal relationships formed in the [Kamuy] studio somewhat resembled the ones developed between the characters in the series. As more and more veteran actors came in, the clearer my role within the story was, and from that point onward, recording progressed more smoothly.

Q: Were there any differences between recordings for the first and second seasons from an acting viewpoint?

A: Thanks to his colluding with Hijikata, Shiraishi starts to harbour a fear of Sugimoto and the drama that builds within his consciousness was something I tried to remain keenly aware of. Still, I wouldn’t say that my approach towards the role altered too significantly over the course of 24 episodes. I’ve played quite a lot of aggressive roles since I was young but ever since I turned 40 I’ve been trying to make a theme out of producing performances that are a bit more restrained, in a good way. And Shiraishi has proved to be the type of character that allows me to draw out a lot of different weapons from my arsenal.

Q: Do you have any favourite episodes?

A: I like all of them, so it’s hard to choose (laughs). If I had to pick one, then the racecourse scene in the 12th episode was a good opportunity for me to stretch my acting range? Shiraishi’s being toyed around with by Inkarmat, so it was an episode that gave me plenty of room to flex my acting muscles. No matter which other character Shiraishi’s involved with, the conclusion always seems to be that he’s useless, and I get a kick out of that. Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about something like that being a part of this cast but really, [Shiraishi] is such a meaty role (laughs)

Q: The DVD bundled with Vol 17 of the manga animates a popular story from the manga where Shiraishi falls in love.

A: It’s an essential episode from Shiraishi’s point of view. When I first heard that the anime would be covering the Abashiri Prison arc within 2 cours, I had prepared myself for the inevitability that this story would be left on the cutting room floor (laughs). So I’m happy for the story to be adapted in this format. The content is of course amazing, but the cast is even more so. With so many veterans already on board, I just couldn’t help but expect a legend class actress to fill the Sister’s role. And of course, it turned out to be Shimamoto Sumi-san. She’s perfect, what else can I say? I mentioned my wish to put in more restrained performances earlier on, but I’m also aiming to be able to switch between two extremes the way Furukawa Toshio-san does. I was very pleased that I was able to work with Furukawa-san, who voices Kumagishi Chōan, this time around. You’ll get to experience a story about the libido of the man they call the ‘Escape King’, so please look forward to it.

Q: Lastly, please leave your thoughts about having played Shiraishi.

A: This opportunity to play Shiraishi has afforded me many experiences and new encounters. I will utilize what I’ve learnt as fuel for my daily undertakings as an actor and persist in my belief that there will be Season 3 announcement in the future. I also hope that all of you will read Young Jump weekly like I do in preparation (laughs). And I look forward to seeing you all again as Shiraishi soon.

#201 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.9: Kobayashi Chikahiro x Shiraishi Haruka

We go back again to the main pairing of Sugimoto (Kobayashi) and Asirpa (Shiraishi) for this interview.

Q: We hear that you went straight into recording for Season 2 after Season 1 was done.

Shiraishi: That’s right. Recording sessions continued without any breaks in between.

Kobayashi: And that’s why we slipped into the process relatively seamlessly.

Shiraishi: The TV broadcast itself was over but we were aware that a second season was coming – that rejuvenated our feelings as we continued [recording].

Kobayashi: Plus, we knew we’d be kicking off with a bang; an episode that packed quite the punch. That made me realize I’d have to work equally as hard on this one.

Q: With this 2nd cour, did you feel like you were getting closer to your character?

Kobayashi: As I mentioned, we remained immersed in the characters as we continued in our roles – the amount of time we spent recording started getting shorter. There were a couple of episodes that required minimal direction [from the staff] as well, weren’t there?

Shiraishi: That’s right.

Kobayashi: The actors would occasionally be entrusted with the dialogue. It felt quite refreshing to perform under such circumstances. And there were a lot more instances where I felt we were able to interact more comfortably. This was partly thanks to our seniors, but another major factor was the fact that the cast’s teamwork as a whole has improved. In episode 23, I happened to notice Terasoma (Masaki)-san* nodding his head going ‘That’s right’ in response to one of my lines. When I saw that I started grinning – it was a nice feeling (laughs). It kind of feels like we’re putting on a stage performance when the cast members are in sync in such a manner.

*voice of Kiroranke

Shiraishi: In Asirpa’s case, a lot of her dialogue in the first season involved explaining things while Season 2 is more focused on showing her emotions. Taking that into consideration, I think the dialogue exchanges were more enjoyable this time around. Also, [the cast’s] performances increased in expressiveness whether it was for the emotional scenes or for the comedic ones; allowing us to get even more intimate with the characters, I felt like something was bursting open within me (laughs)

Kobayashi: Bursting open? (laughs) That’s the first I’ve heard of it.

Shiraishi: For example, in the second half of Season 1 I had to call Ushiyama ‘Dick-sensei’ and the others were like ‘Isn’t that hard to do?’. But when Asirpa says something like that she does it without feeling any shame at all. It does feel kind of surreal, which is why I said it’s like something is bursting open within me (laughs)

Kobayashi: You’re right, I didn’t feel the existence of any sense of shame throughout recording.

Shiraishi: That’s true. In fact, I was only thinking about how to express how funny and cute Asirpa was during those scenes. As it was a 2-cour series I was able to get a firm grasp of the role and the end came around in the blink of an eye.

Kobayashi: Yes it came really quickly.

Shiraishi: I was thinking ‘I don’t want this to end!’.

Q: Thus, did you feel a tinge of sadness when starting to record for Season 2, knowing that the end was in sight?

Kobayashi: Not initially, but I did start to feel that way by the 19th or so episode. We’d be going for meals after recording, musing ‘ah, there’re only 5 episodes left…’ or ‘I wish there was a 3rd season’, things like that.

Shiraishi: I’d really like to do a 3rd season. The cast members all love the manga and I myself would like to continue playing this role for as long as Noda (Satoru)-sensei continues to draw the series.

Q: Looking back on Season 2 – there were changes in the composition of the factions [in the series] as well.

Kobayashi: We had Tanigaki and Ogata from the 7th Division joining up with the group. They used to be enemies but surprisingly, nobody seemed to bear any grudges against the others. As long as everyone shares the same objectives they can still act as a team and share meals together, even if they don’t really get along with each other. Those aspects felt realistic and were interesting to see.

Shiraishi: Asirpa tends to be quite mischievous when she’s with Sugimoto and Shiraishi, but she’s a little harder on Ogata. Like how she keeps reminding him to say ‘citatap’ when he’s pounding away (laughs)

Kobayashi: She’s a bit like a teacher (laughs)

Shiraishi: We didn’t see too much of such interactions during Season 1 so this 2nd season does offer new insights. The way she said those lines was a bit playful as well, and I enjoyed acting out those parts.

Q: How did you feel about recording this time around – was there a sense of freshness compared to [the previous season]?

Kobayashi: It felt refreshing to have Hosoya (Yoshimasa)-san and (Nakata) Jouji-san standing side-by-side at the mics. I didn’t interact much with Tanigaki and Hijikata previously.

Shiraishi: That’s right. I’m always left spellbound by the resonance of Nakata-san’s voice whenever he calls Asirpa by name (laughs)

Kobayashi: He’s got such a good voice, and it reverberates.

Shiraishi: Hosoya-san did say ‘I wanted to talk to Sugimoto more’, didn’t he?

Kobayashi: I know right? It seemed like they might have, but they didn’t actually talk to each other all that much. But starting Season 2 I’d started go for post-recording meals with Hosoya-san more often, where we’d discuss drama theory at length (laughs)

Shiraishi: Ah, those ‘cultural talk’ gatherings. To be honest, it’s too deep for me and at times I can’t even follow the conversation.

Kobayashi: I’m so sorry (laughs)

Shiraishi: But it’s a chance for me to listen to my seniors engaged in conversation so I’m happy to spend time doing that. I’m very grateful for the fact that I get to act alongside [the entire cast] in the studio; it’s a welcome experience despite the nerves that I do feel. And even after recording is done, I get to hear so many stories while we’re eating – that’s something unique to working on Golden Kamuy. Also, there were few women involved with the series so I was quite anxious about what I should do in the studio. Thanks to our eating sessions those worries faded away halfway through recording the show.

Kobayashi: Is that so? Us oldies are just doing our own thing, are you OK with that? (laughs)

Shiraishi: I do have a lot of fun. It’s kinda hard to start a discussion regarding the deeper aspects of acting when you’re a junior [like me]…

Kobayashi: That’s true.

Shiraishi: Plus I’m able to receive advice about script lines. I’m rarely afforded the opportunity to talk about the wider scope of acting – for example, ‘what kind of works should I study?’ etc. During the Golden Kamuy recording sessions I got to see quite a lot of acting-related talk going on over the course of normal conversations. And I took down notes of the names of the shows that had been mentioned (laughs)

Q: Please tell us about any Season 2 scenes that you found particularly memorable.

Shiraishi: There was a scene in episode 17 where Asirpa and Sugimoto were talking about dried persimmons; it was a high-point of the first half [of the season] so I was feeling a bit nervous about it.

Kobayashi: That’s the one and only scene in the series where Sugimoto lets his guard down in front of Asirpa. It was definitely a major highlight for me both plot-wise and performance-wise so I played that scene as if I was putting my acting career on my line.

Shiraishi: I almost cried watching Kobayashi-san’s performance.

Kobayashi: Really? It truly is difficult though, to emulate the state of mind of a soldier who’s been through the war. I like movies and often watch them – I’ve noticed that the actors in films made around the Showa 50s period (late 1970s) still give off the air of ‘war’. Having survived such situations invariably toughens one’s outlook. It seems inevitable, given how the times would have changed – that even if they tried to relax when they’re speaking, they’d still sound like a man who’s lived through the war; someone like Mifune Toshiro encapsulates that kind of aura.

It remains difficult for me but I put in a lot of effort so that I could get just a little bit closer to exuding a similar kind of aura. From an acting perspective, other highlights would include the sea otter scene, as well as the final Abashiri battle. Before recording I’d already identified those 3 scenes as being pivotal to the series.

Shiraishi: I’d like to say something about this (laughs)! I liked the sea otter episode…

Kobayashi: I know right?

Shiraishi: But! Running parallel to that was a scene where Asirpa and Inkarmat were having a serious talk. Thanks to the sea otter hotpot, nothing registered in my head….’I don’t want to lose out to the sea otter hotpot!’ was what was going through my mind as I was acting (laughs). I mentioned this in another interview as well, but I’d be glad if you could keep watching the Bluray and DVD ‘til you can properly gauge what Asirpa and Inkarmat are talking about.

Kobayashi: When you’re watching that part for the first time, sea otter hotpot is all you’ll end up paying attention to (laughs)

Shiraishi: That’s right. The scene itself may have taken place in a different location but we actors were sharing the same booth so it was a huge struggle to maintain a serious tone while desperately trying to hold back my laughter (laughs)

Kobayashi: I was thinking ‘Alright, the sea otter hotpot is over!’ and when I turned back I saw your solemn face staring back at us (laughs). It was hilarious.

Shiraishi: All I was thinking was ‘don’t get sucked in by the sea otter hotpot, don’t get sucked in by the sea otter hotpot…’. Asirpa would have no knowledge of the sea otter hotpot incident so I had to remove all traces of sea otters from my brain in order to become one in mind with Asirpa (laughs)

Kobayashi: Apart from that, the scene in episode 21 where Toni Anji first appears was remarkable. Toni Anji begins his attack when Sugimoto and co. are in the open-air baths so they ended up fighting in the buff. So there was this and the sea otters as well; you can see how the skin exposure element has increased dramatically in Season 2.

Shiraishi: And of course, I have to mention the turbulent developments in the series’ climax scenes. In episode 1 there is a part where Asirpa extends her hand to reach for Sugimoto; in the climax episode, we see their hands being separated. The acting during those moments was completely unforgettable.

Q: The decisive showdown in Abashiri Prison was pretty intense. What was it like in the studio?

Kobayashi: Rather surprisingly we were relaxed and having fun. There was so much packed into episode 24 with all sorts of happenings and recording was a lot more chaotic than usual. I think we didn’t even have time to collect our thoughts until the episode was over.

Shiraishi: That’s right.

Kobayashi: Also, (Otsuka) Hōchū-san was having a blast (laughs)

Shiraishi: When we’re recording the staff will give us instructions on what sort of expressions we should have for certain scenes. Otsuka-san would try to emulate those expressions through his acting and we were always looking forward to seeing what look he has on his face (laughs)

Kobayashi: It’s business as usual [for him], not only in that aspect but for the show as a whole and I mean it in a good way. The story itself is always exhilarating and we find ourselves getting caught up in the momentum as well.

Q: We have a situation where the individual forces are in constant disorder [when put together].

Kobayashi: That’s right. The potential presence of traitors amongst your allies, and the question of whether Nopperabō is truly Asirpa’s father – all these bits of foreshadowing were brought into the fold over time. I did feel like I was acting in a constant state of uneasiness.

Shiraishi: I agree with that. In episode 24, there’s a fairly emotional incident that causes Asirpa to break down in tears. Up ‘til now we’ve only seen the resilient exterior of Asirpa and it’s moments like these that make you realize she’s but a child. The inclusion of the dream sequence was significant too.

Kobayashi: Yeah. That wasn’t in the manga; it was an anime-original scene.

Shiraishi: That’s why I was worried about how to handle the scene. I’d been mostly relying on picking up expressions from how they’re depicted in the manga so I really struggled to find an answer as to how I should express myself when they put this original sequence in front of me. I acted out the part keeping in mind that it would serve as a bookend for the Golden Kamuy anime series; the last scene that would be delivered to the viewers.

Q: Describe your feelings now that the series has come to an end.

Kobayashi: When recording episode 1 I was thinking ‘what should I do’ and when episode 2 came around I was still thinking ‘what should I do’ – week after week, my head was constantly focused on the episode at hand. That cycle kept repeating and we’d reached episode 24 before I’d even realized it. I’m incredibly pleased to have gone on this journey as Sugimoto. I was able to go through a lot of different experiences and it has been the happiest 6 months of my life. Above all, I am so glad that Shiraishi-san is Asirpa. It’s probably a little impertinent coming from me, but the other cast members were outstanding and perfect for their characters too. I truly enjoyed being able to work with such people.

Shiraishi: I’m truly happy to have encountered the role of Asirpa and it’s also been a blessing for me to be able to work with all these great seniors. What an enjoyable 6 months it has been. Although I felt initial anxiety and [a similar] ‘what do I do?’ over the prospect of having to act as Asirpa using Ainu dialect, I was determined to perform to the best of my ability. Thanks to Nakagawa (Hiroshi)-sensei’s coaching I was able to familiarize myself with the Ainu language and Asirpa as a character. I am extremely happy and blessed to be able to say ‘I am Shiraishi Haruka, the voice of Asirpa’.

Kobayashi: We’re both the same with our ‘we feel blessed’ theme – sounds like a death-flag. But we won’t die! (laughs)

Q: Did you get emotional in the moments after the conclusion of recording?

Kobayashi: I’m feeling kinda emotional right now (laughs) When you look back on the process like this, something just wells up inside me.

Shiraishi: I know what you mean. I don’t want it to end.

Kobayashi: Please confirm a third season soon.

Shiraishi: Yes! I’m really curious to find out if Sugimoto and Asirpa will be reunited.

Q: Last of all, please leave a message for the fans who watched the series until the end.

Shiraishi: Thank you very much to everyone who watched this all the way to the end. As the show was airing, I was very happy to hear feedback from manga fans such as ‘I wanted to see that scene!’ or ‘That was really fun’. As a fan of the manga myself, there were many scenes I was glad to have been a part of. If you were to ask me to name the highlights of the show I would have trouble answering as there are just too many to choose. The series may be over now but you’ll be able to rewatch it over and over on the Blurays and DVDs. Especially the sea otter hotpot and the Asirpa-Inkarmat serious talk scenes that run concurrently – please watch them (laughs)

Kobayashi: Shiraishi-san’s already said everything I’d wanted to say so this is going to sound repetitive (laughs). During recording I was constantly thinking about whether we’d be able to meet the expectations of the fans. It’s probably true for the entire Golden Kamuy team, to be honest. I turned those hopes into strength and I was able to handle countless challenges filled with confidence as well as tackling working on the series with utmost sincerity. I hope viewers of the series will have enjoyed themselves as that would be a source of great satisfaction to us. Of course, I hope you enjoyed the sea otter hotpot scene as well, amongst others.

Shiraishi: Oi I just asked people to pay attention to the other part as well! (laughs)

Kobayashi: I hope that these kinds of interactions that we’ve been sharing will be carved into your memory alongside the series itself (laughs). Thank you

#199 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.8: Takemoto Eiji x Konishi Katsuyuki

A bit belated, but here’s a translation of the interview with Takemoto Eiji & Konishi Katsuyuki, the voices behind fan favourites Sergeant Tsukishima Hajime and Second Liutenant Otonoshin Koito.

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

Takemoto: I like Hokkaido and travel there on average twice a year. So I was initially drawn in by how it prominently features places that I have fond memories of. At the same time, I only know of modern-day Hokkaido so there was also appeal in learning about the history and nature of these places, which I had not previously known.

Konishi: I’ve always loved the manga and was already reading it before I got to work on the anime. Guys do love these tales of adventure, don’t they? I tend to find myself watching programmes about hunting for mysterious buried treasure whenever they air on TV (laughs). Golden Kamuy is the kind of series that’s packed with such elements and I the characters are ever so charming. It’s not a question of good versus evil since each one of them is motivated by something different. Some possess beliefs; others act upon desire – they all have their own diverging objectives. On top of that, characters you once thought of as enemies suddenly turn into allies while people you thought were on the good guys’ side suddenly turn out to be traitors – it’s fun to never know what lies ahead. So I’m really happy to be cast as Second Lieutenant Koito.

Takemoto: I only learned of the series following my casting but I was quickly drawn into the story as I read it. Thanks to that I’ve dived into the e-books and continued using them as reference material during recordings.

Q: What were your first impressions of your respective characters?

Takemoto: For Tsukishima, I actually went back and reread the manga over and over in hopes of finding out the point at which Noda (Satoru)-sensei started to think about expanding the character.

He seemed like yet another mob character at first but unusually for a mob, he has fairly distinct facial features (laughs). I am quite curious to find out whether [Noda]-sensei decided to expand on the character halfway through or had created those distinctive designs with the intention of developing him as he is now, right from the start. I’d love to put the question to [Noda-sensei] if I had the chance.

Konishi: At first he looked like an ordinary squad member but he started standing out more and more over time, didn’t he? Lieutenant Tsurumi’s team is full of eccentric clods which makes Tsukishima seems like the inconspicuously plain one amongst them, but that’s probably what makes him stand out even more.

Takemoto: In Edogai’s episode there was this character called Maeyama alongside Tsukishima, wasn’t there? He seemed to stand out quite a bit as well so who knows, one wrong move and we might’ve ended up with Maeyama in Tsukishima’s current position (laughs). When you consider something like that, it makes you realize how Noda-sensei’s power of imagination and ability to expand on ideas seem inexhaustible. I’ve got to say I’m really impressed with how Tsukishima has developed into such a meaningful character with that face of his.

Konishi: My first impression of Koito was that he’s cool character with weird eyebrows (laughs). He’s cool and dependable and could’ve been the main character if this were some other series.

Takemoto: He’s got this kind of aura surrounding him.

Konishi: Yeap. But once you read on you’ll realize that he’s just a spoilt kid. He still has plenty of room to grow; many experiences he needs to go through to mature as a man. When you add that to the way he’s hopeless devoted to Lieutenant Tsurumi, I do think he’s the kind of character you could grow attached to.

Takemoto: Just when you think a new star of the series has come along! He suddenly turns out to be rather useless (laughs)

Q: Takemoto-san was part of the 1st series and Konishi-san joined in from Season 2 – how did the two of you approach the studio recording process?

Takemoto: I joined in midway through Season 1 but for the first 2-3 recordings all I said was ‘Yes’. My managed had informed me in advance, ‘The role’s a little special and you’ll mostly be saying ‘Yes’, but he’s a really important character’ – that really intrigued me so I read the manga and found out that it’s true; he barely says anything (laughs). However, as I progressed through the story I understood how important he is so I did worry about how I could adequately portray Tsukishima through that first ‘Yes’ of his’. I think that was the first time in my life I’d muttered the word ‘Yes’ so much (laughs). It was a mere ‘Yes’ anyhow. I wouldn’t find the ‘right’ answer no matter how much time I spent thinking about it. I’ve been working in this industry for 25 years and it made me reconsider how difficult it is [to express oneself] using such brief words.

Q: We see more of Tsukishima in Season 2 – how did you approach the role?

Takemoto: For the ‘Yes’, I tried to portray him as a serious character who didn’t stand out in any way. I made that the base [of his character] and that’s where I kept him, even as his amount of dialogue increased. He’s surrounded by insane people with Liutenant Tsurumi at the forefront, so Tsukishima’s presence mustn’t be distorted or the 7th Division would surely fall apart. Thus in Season 2 I tried to ensure that I played him as firmly, seriously and steadfastly as I could.

Q: What about Koito?

A: As this series is based on an original manga, fans would already have their own ideas of what Koito should sound like. I’ve heard that Koito’s a pretty popular character as well. I did feel some pressure regarding those points, as well as the fact that he speaks a dialect. In fact his initial appearance had him speaking almost entirely in [Satsuma] dialect, so I was naturally concerned about that.

Takemoto: It’s full-on Satsuma dialect after all.

Konishi: Plus, it was a normal conversation so I couldn’t switch to high gear and hope I’d fool anyone. I had to think about the nuances and I consulted with the Satsuma dialect instructor on how I should sound.

Q: How did you handle recording the machine-gun Satsuma dialect that we see written in the manga?

Konishi: He’s speaking in proper Satsuma dialect, at such a speed. He’s not just making random noises; he’s saying things that do actually mean something. Having said that, the words are coming out of his mouth at such a speed that nobody can make out what he’s saying. The staff members were mean and told me to say my lines as fast as I could (laughs). Obviously he talks quickly in the manga too but it really is just too quick.

Takemoto: The Satsuma dialect instructor was quite strict too.

Konishi: That’s right. I tried speaking the way Sensei taught me to but I just couldn’t get their seal of approval. ‘Your pronunciation was spot on but it still sounds a bit off, let’s give it another go’ (laughs). There are subtle nuances only native speakers would comprehend.

Takemoto: Sensei sure had quite a lot of fun driving Konishi-kun further and further into a corner (laughs)

Konishi: Despite the back-and-forth I’d still get given 100 points each time. I was probably perfect (laughs)

Takemoto: This series is all the more realistic thanks to that rapid-fire Satsuma dialect.

Konishi: Though he speaks so quickly that I might actually be cutting corners here and there.

Takemoto: Nah, (we) feel overwhelmed merely listening to you speaking.

Q: Did you receive specific instructions on how to express Koito as a character?

Konishi: There weren’t any detailed instructions so I had the freedom to play it however I wished. In fact, I think I felt more pressure from the points that I mentioned earlier (laughs)

Takemoto: Me too.

Konishi: But you did the first season too.

Takemoto: True, but I still keep getting reminded by Sound Director (Aketagawa) Jin-san to ‘keep it serious, like you normally do’. If I sound a little too friendly he’d say, ‘Takemoto-kun, remember to make Tsukishima serious’ (laughs). There’s a short line in episode 14 where he says ‘Crap…I forgot my wallet’. I tried not to make him sound strangely greedy.

Konishi: Tsukishima asides, the 7th division is a complete mess.

Takemoto: Performance-wise, even (Otsuka) Hōchū-san changes his acting up from the tests to the actual recording and it’s like being punched in the guts. But he never loses his focus so it’s hard to remain stoic when my turn comes up. Also, the part where Koito whispers in [Tsukishima’s] ear was tough to handle.

Konishi: I just followed the script.

Takemoto: Yeah you followed the script. And I thought, ‘Wow this guy’s just as annoying as you expected him to be!’ and I could personally understand how people find Koito exasperating.

Konishi: We recorded that scene separately but I did put my own special feelings into it. Takemoto-kun came after me so he’d wait for my line before he began speaking. And I thought, ‘Just what you’d expect from him’.

Takemoto: Since Konishi-kun had pushed Koito’s annoyingness to the limits during the tests, I was able to record the scene imagining what he sounded like. I think we were able to link up our performances pretty well thanks to that.

Q: Tsukishima’s dedication and the big changes in Koito’s behaviour whenever he’s upset are their respective trademarks, so let’s discuss that. Are there any particular points that you considered when playing the roles?

Takemoto: We’re all playing army veterans, aren’t we? Thus, I’m quite careful about the way I speak – in a formal manner when speaking to my superior and more frankly otherwise. Whenever I get the scripts I do think a lot about the relationships involved; whether they’re professional or personal. As an example, [Tsukishima] often has to officially report to his superior Lieutenant Tsurumi and that is unmistakably a military-style report so I try to adopt a speaking style that emphasizes his status as a battle-hardened sergeant.

Q: Contrast that to his interactions with Edogai and Koito – you see another side to him.

Takemoto: That’s right. I wanted to expand on that side of him a bit more so I tried out a couple of things. Like being friendly (and getting shot down for it) as I mentioned earlier; that was part of the process (laughs). On the one hand I’d like to get more out of Tsukishima as a character but on the other I have to keep in mind the position that he’s in – I’m always aware of how hard it is to balance all those aspects.

Konishi: As for Koito, the most important point is how fluently I can speak the Satsuma dialect. Unlike standard language, it is impossible for me to figure out the intervals between lines over the course of a conversation in Satsuma dialect merely by reading the words. All I can do is mark up the text to get a better handle on things, which is tough. Added to that is the fact that the Satsuma dialect written in the script can differ from the Satsuma dialect that the instructor speaks. When such a situation crops up, I start off by selecting 1 of the 3 speaking patterns to use. There would have to be adjustments made to the script depending on my choice, so it’s quite challenging.

Q: On top of that, you’d need to consider the relationship dynamics when you’re appearing alongside other characters.

Konishi: His Satsuma dialect basically only slips out when he’s lost his mind in the presence of Lieutenant Tsurumi so I don’t have such problems during conversations with Tsukishima. As Takemoto-kun mentioned, Koito and Tsukishima are both proper soldiers when the occasion calls for it. It’s just that he becomes useless in the presence of Lieutenant Tsurumi. In that sense, Tsukishima’s a very important person to Koito. That’s why he thinks so highly of him (laughs)

Takemoto: After all, the core component of Koito’s personality is his Satsuma dialect.

Konishi: When it comes to Lieutenant Tsurumi his emotions become hopelessly erratic and he just suddenly switches to crazy mode. The way he swings between both moods is another challenging aspect.

Takemoto: Tsukishima may be older but in terms of position, Koito is higher up. He’s forced to pass on messages to Tsukishima in spite of that and he does piss you off sometimes – I’ve got to give credit to Konishi-kun for making Koito so good.

Konishi: It’s because you’re my partner, Take-pon, that I can say things like that so easily.

Takemoto: The relationships we actors have is pretty similar (laughs). [Konishi] brings out Koito’s selfish side very well, and anyone who listens to his lines would say he’s cute.

Konishi: I hope that’s true. Anyhow, I’d love for my portrayal [of Koito] to be well-received.

Q: Are there any specific scenes that you feel are vital in showing off the appeal and presence of your characters?

Takemoto: It’s got to be the exchange between Tsukishima and Koito in front of Lieutenant Tsurumi. It’s a very interesting and important scene, and they proved to be a great pairing up ‘til the ending ‘How annoying’ part of the dialogue.

Konishi: They balance each other out well.

Takemoto: Yeah. A perfectly distorted balance (laughs)

Konishi: You kind of feel that Tsukishima forcibly summed it all up.

Takemoto: When I read that scene in the manga, I thought to myself ‘What kind of performance will Hōchū-san deliver? And how will Konishi-kun react to that? And how should I myself in turn, respond?’ – I was very much excited going into recording on the day of that scene. The result was that they both exceeded my expectations; it was incredibly entertaining.

Konishi: For Koito maybe it’s all about the posture he adopts when dealing with Lieutenant Tsurumi, or how he turns into a complete mess. That’s just how he is though, so I very much appreciated his character as I was playing the role. Speaking of which, there aren’t actually many scenes where Koito behaves properly, are there? (laughs)

Takemoto: He was great when he was fighting on the airship.

Konishi: That’s about it I guess? When he next showed up, you’d forgotten he was ever [cool] like that (laughs)

Q: What’s the mood in the recording studio like?

Konishi: Koito doesn’t appear in many episodes so honestly, I can’t say that I spent enough time in the studio to be able to savour the atmosphere. But the cast members did go for meals after recording so I could see how good the teamwork was. Plus, it was familiar faces all around in the studio anyway so it didn’t really occur to me that I was working on a new series. In that sense it was a pretty comfortable studio for me to work in.

Takemoto: The studio was a place where we didn’t have to work too hard at creating the ‘mood’ – it was just an environment where we could concentrate on our performances. We had Konishi-kun struggling with his Satsuma dialect and others having trouble with the Ainu language, but we’d all look upon them kindly (laughs). ‘Do your best! Everybody knows you’re capable of doing it!’

Konishi: And when I pull it off they’ll all go ‘Wooahh~’ (laughs). It’s a great help, mentally.

Q: Lastly, please leave a message for the fans.

Takemoto: For Sergeant Tsukishima, his buddy or should I say partner, Second Lieutenant Koito has finally appeared. I think you’ve been looking forward to seeing this combo so I think we’ll be shaking & stirring up the world of Golden Kamuy and making things even more fun so I ask for your continued support.

Konishi: Koito makes his appearance in Season 2 so my first thought is that I hope that he is well-received by the viewers. I’m also aiming to become one of the show’s supporting pillars so I’d like to be accepted as a member of the Golden Kamuy family, with your help. Thank you for the support.

#194 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.7: Uchida Yuma

More Golden Kamuy: this time we get a short interview with the voice behind the weirdo that kicked off Season 2 – Uchida Yūma, CV of young taxidermist Edogai Yasaku.

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: At first I thought that this was mainly a gourmet-based, ‘food porn anime’. People would just sit around eating delicious meals, saying ‘Hinna hinna’ (laughs). However, after reading the manga and seeing its depiction of the incredible thought processes behind these characters that were waging a war over tattooed human skins, I was very much impressed by the depth of its human drama. Despite this backdrop it’s not endlessly heavy; there are also lots of relaxing scenes where they’re eating food deliciously and the presence of these 2 elements allows you to enjoy the contrasting sides of human lives – it’s one of the series charms for sure.

Q: What was your first impression of Edogai as a character?

A: He was incredibly quirky (laughs). Before I learned about the character in detail, the image I had of him was somewhat coloured by my initial impression of the manga – I thought he was just a normal young man. But as I started reading the story, I realized that he was completely different from what I had imagined. The way he gets so absorbed in taxidermy makes him detached from reality, plus there are scenes where he suddenly bursts out in an explosion of emotions – that was what prompted me to think ‘this guy’s insanely dangerous’ (laughs). You thought he was just having a normal conversation with his mom and it turns out he’s talking to a stuffed doll. That’s just shocking. On the other hand, the reasons why he turned out this way are explained properly, so I wanted to embrace the things that are engraved in his heart throughout my performance.

Q: Was there anything that you were particularly conscious about when it came to voicing Edogai?

A: These may be superficial words, but I’d say that that most people’s eyes tend to turn towards his over-the-top character but they don’t often see what’s hidden inside – a hunger for human affection and people who will acknowledge him for who he is; which are very pure desires at heart. It does feel like he hasn’t ever gotten too deeply involved with other people in his life which is why, when he connects with someone, having that person recognizing him as being ‘wonderful’ allows him to finally feel like he has found a place where he belongs. At the same time, his juvenile communication skills tend to show in his straightforward displays of joy and when he throws tantrums. I was considering whether I could express the purity of the words of a person whose body is that of an adult’s, but has the heart of a child.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: I think that they basically respected my views [on the character] that I brought. I also recall that I was fairly careful about emphasizing his awkwardness at holding conversations and how that changed over the course of his interactions with Lieutenant Tsurumi.

Q: Edogai’s encounter with Lieutenant Tsurumi changed the course of his life; what are your thoughts on working alongside Otsuka (Hōchū)-san?

A: I mean, wow! Lieutenant Tsurumi’s practically got Edogai eating out of the palm of his hand or should I say, Edogai’s completely swallowed up by the commanding presence of Lieutenant Tsurumi but yet, he’s able to make him feel completely at ease. So I was thinking that I should just surrender myself to the flow and ride on the waves of each and every word that came of Lieutenant Tsurumi’s mouth.

Q: Do you think that you found a new side to your acting that you’d not previously been aware of?

A: I’ve never had the chance to play a character with such a wide range of emotions like Edogai before so I had fun with the part. I was glad that I was able to play such a role – the good-natured aspects of his character included.

Q: What’s the mood in the recording studio like?

A: I’s filled with experienced actors so it’s amazing to watch how everyone clicks into gear when it’s show-time. The mood is normally quite pleasant but once we actually started recording and everyone moves into position, you can feel how the studio turns into a well-oiled, compact machine at the snap of a finger. As the series itself contains fairly deep and heavy elements, the quick switch between moods in the studio is rather remarkable.

Q: Were there any memorable stories from your time in the studio?

A: I talked a lot with Takemoto (Eiji)-san, who voices Seargent Tsukishima. We had a lot of fun chatting about silly things like how we both liked spicy foods, stuff like that (laughs)

Q: Lastly, please leave your impressions and a message of appreciation to the fans.

A: Edogai-kun is a really expansive character – you think he’s just messing about at first but he turns out to be dead serious; I think that purity is what makes him endearing. He openly says the kind of things that normal adults wouldn’t dream of; the kind of emotional switch that Edogai-kun has inside him is what made the role so refreshing and fun to play. I’m sure viewers too will be surprised by the rapid developments; how he suddenly appears and then meets his maker by the following episode (laughs).

Q: This series does have a penchant for introducing dangerous characters, have them inflict painful scars over the course of a couple of episodes, and then dispose of them. Edogai’s one of them too, it seems.

A: That’s right. So in that sense, I’m really excited about seeing how my performance is perceived. I hope that everyone will remember the craziness of this guy who crowns the premiere of Season 2 and at the same time, continue enjoying the broadcast of this anime until the end.

#193 – Golden Kamuy S2: Kobayashi Chikahiro x Shiraishi Haruka

The Golden Kamuy features just keep on rollin’ in! This time, we return to an interview with our main pairing of Sugimoto (Kobayashi Chikahiro) & Asirpa (Shiraishi Haruka).

The soul of an actor who understands Asirpa’s feelings of eating raw brains!?

Q: The first season got a very good reception with positive comments from various parties – please remind us once again what this series is all about.

Kobayashi: When we were recording, we did so to work-in-progress visuals that had no sound effects, so our knowledge of the series only went as far as what we knew from our acting dialogue. Even in that state you could feel the world of the manga being expanded and discover how characters’ lines would sound, or how certain scenes could be interpreted.

It’s funny, it’s sordid and it’s energetic – I was surprised by just how much a show can change with the addition of acting performances and sound effects.

Shiraishi: I got the impression that a lot of women were watching the show as well. They’d say things like ‘Asirpa-chan is cute’, and of course there were guys who’d tell me that the show is interesting and so on. Based on the many comments I’ve received from people who watched the show, I’ve come to conclude that men and women view the series in different ways.

The girls place greater importance on the characters while guys spend more time chasing the story.

The show is a hodgepodge of serious and comical elements, and it was amazing how each and every line from the assembled cast carried so much weight and depth. Acting alongside these actors gave me the chance to hear the words that I read in the manga come to life.

Kobayashi-san mentioned this as well, but the addition of the voices enhanced the potency of the show, while the moving visuals allowed you to make observations like ‘ah, he’s making such a cowardly expression’ during the comedy parts – both the fun and the serious scenes proved to be even more appealing in the anime.

There are quite a lot of perverted characters in this series, as well as a lot of weirdos. They might seem scary at first but you’ll find that they possess surprising sides that will endear them to you as characters – it’s pretty amazing.

Kobayashi: Yeah there are perverts here, there and everywhere (laughs). Someone like Tsurumi’s depraved as well but for me, it’s from the moment Nihei Tetsuzō appeared that I felt was the start of an endless procession of weirdos.

A perfect example would be Henmi Kazuo, and he was followed by Ienaga Kano – it was incredible to see the appearance of these lunatics that topped the ones that came before them.

Q: You mentioned the star-studded cast list a moment ago – it’s remarkable how Nihei’s ‘Boner!’ became the talk of the town. It shows how powerful both the character and the actor inside him were.

Kobayashi: The goods produced were amusing as well. The stickers that came with the Blurays and DVDs had things like ‘Boner!’ etc written on them and I thought ‘what the heck am I gonna do with this?’ (laughs). I wonder where the female fans are going to stick them? (laughs)

Shiraishi: We’re all delighted with them (laughs)

Kobayashi: I honestly don’t think anyone’s ever come up with stuff like this.

Q: There were goods made that featured a selection of our heroine’s weird faces as well – you won’t see anything else like that.

(photo from Shiraishi Haruka’s twitter)

Shiraishi: That’s so true!

Kobayashi: And leading the way was that mug!

Shiraishi: Have we ever seen a heroine with so many weird faces!? (laughs)

Kobayashi: When I got home I made sure that I carefully put the mug away in a glass display case (laughs)

Shiraishi: I’ve got that at home too. It’s so precious that I can’t bring myself to use it. I don’t want to drink from this!

Kobayashi: It’s an heirloom.

Q: Do you have any favourite episodes?

Shiraishi: Personally, of all the pervs in the series Henmi-san was the one that made me go ‘Ah…this creep…’ the most (laughs). Seki Toshihiko-san’s performance and his sighs of ecstasy made me go ‘Oh my god what is this!! It’s so funny but so scary at the same time!!’ (laughs). Seki-san’s acting was so impressive that it made me fall in love with Henmi.

One of the bonuses given out was a Henmi sparkling sticker – I’d stuck it on my IC card at first but it got in the way and prevented the card from being charged so I had to remove the sticker in the end.

Kobayashi: Obviously you can’t scan it with that in the way (laughs)

Shiraishi: It was a shame ‘cos I’d stuck it somewhere designed to make it stand out as much as possible. I’m also fond of the part where Ienaga talks about how you should, if you’re feeling unwell in a certain part of your body, consume the same body part as a cure.

Kobayashi: One body part for another, as they’d say. Oh, would you like to try it? Which body part do you need to cure?

Shiraishi: No no no! (laughs) Ienaga’s just so beautiful and has such a refined voice so I was thinking about whether I could gain such a pretty voice or face myself… (laughs)

Kobayashi: Oh, so you’re gonna start off by eating the face? (laughs)

Shiraishi: I’m kinda scared of eating that, but I might be slightly interested (laughs). But no! It’s still too scary~! (laughs)

Q: Asirpa is pretty amazing, brains being one of her favourite foods.

Kobayashi: Isn’t that a first for any female character in the world?

Shiraishi: The other day I ate pig brains for the first time ever. It was really good!

Kobayashi: What did they taste like?

Shiraishi: It kind of looked like baked shirako, and there wasn’t anything particularly strange about it – just a bit sticky, very rich and delicious.

Q: I could probably enjoy eating it if I was served the dish without being informed what it is, but if you told me it was brains I would just say ‘no’…

Kobayashi: You’d probably ask what it is.

Shiraishi: It does look kind of shocking, those wrinkles in the brain. But now I can understand Asirpa’s feelings about recommending the dish to other people.

Kobayashi: So it does taste good. That part in the manga was pretty intense, when she’s digging the brains out of the deer’s skull and eating it.

Shiraishi: It certainly a big visual impact. There were quite a lot of scenes throughout the series that left me wondering ‘can we even broadcast this?’, but when you see it on air for real, it seems quite normal.

Kobayashi: Yeah, they did air that scene.

Q: But that just shows what it means to be alive. The meat and the fish that we normally consume come in product packaging so eating it in its raw form reminds us how we are taking away a life – to live, we have no choice but to hunt and eat our prey.

Shiraishi: That’s exactly right!

Kobayashi: This is the kind of life that hunting tribes of the past would have lived.

‘Dick-sensei was great!’ – a masterful performance that garnered acclaim

Shiraishi: Each and every pervert in the show has a cute side to them, which is why all the Golden Kamuy pervs are so lovable.

Kobayashi: Each character has their own saving grace.

Q: It’s testament to the brilliance of the veteran cast members that they can produce performances that have such impact while still leaving behind something that can capture your heart.

Shiraishi: Tsurumi’s ‘Oh my, it’s a kitty!!’ line for example – Otsuka Hōchū-san had so much fun acting that part out (laughs)

Kobayashi: It’s a Hōchū-san that you don’t get to see too often when he’s working on film dubs (laughs). I’ve never seen him like that before.

Q: Sugimoto, possessing the nickname ‘The Immortal Sugimoto’, is portrayed as someone who never holds back against his enemies, but he’s also a man full of emotion. As a soldier standing on the edge of death, his body is riddled with scars yet he’s also shown to be a guy who loves cute things – those contrasting sides make him a charming character.

Kobayashi: I didn’t really feel it until the anime started airing, and everyone described Sugimoto as ‘cute’.

Shiraishi: He’s cute!

Kobayashi: Really!? From a guy’s point of view, he just seems strong and cool and reliable – that’s all I see him as. Women say someone like Ogata is ‘cute’ too and I gotta admit that I’m thinking ‘Which part of him!?’ (laughs)

They’re watching it from an angle that’s completely different from my own, which I suppose relates back to what was mentioned earlier – that men and women view the series differently.

Shiraishi: All of the men that appear in Golden Kamuy are strong. But when we see glimpses of their adorable sides we just think that it’s ‘gap moe’.

Kobayashi: Oh, so that’s what it is!

Shiraishi: Well, the common assumption is that Sugimoto is strong isn’t it? But he’s not only strong, he’s also kind – so when we see Sugimoto looking at flowers and going ‘cute!’, then we see him as being cute too.

Kobayashi: It’s good that he doesn’t go ‘Eww, gross~!’ though.

Shiraishi: All of the characters are cute. Sugimoto sometimes goes ‘It’ll be alrightey’*, and I’ve noticed that Kobayashi-san has adopted a similar way of speaking lately. Like ‘’*Oh realleh’?* (laughs)

*she says なんとかなのぉ (Nantoka no-o) where Sugimoto adds a small ぉ at the end of his sentence.
**similarly, this is そうなのぉ?(Sou na no-o)

Kobayashi: Now that you mention it, perhaps I have been doing that! I was rewatching 203 Kochi the other day where its leading man Aoi Teruhiko-san took part in a battle that was so terrible that he’d lost his mind by the first half of the film. And at that moment, Sada Masashi’s song kicks in.

Tanigaki, Tsurumi and Ogata are similar characters, people who’ve lived through situations that have numbed their feelings towards life-and-death. The battlefield is their home and even Sugimoto too, will not hesitate to kill whenever he senses imminent danger. It’s a preconditioned reflex, and all the characters in Golden Kamuy possess that same trait.

The Sugimoto that thinks of animals as being cute is probably the person he has always been from the start; it’s inevitable that the war changed him and this leads to the contradictions in his appearance but I do feel like he originally was a kind young man who loved flowers.

Q: Let’s talk about Asirpa-san now – she’s another character with ‘gaps’ between her personality traits.

Shiraishi: That’s right (laughs)

Q: That applies to the acting as well – seems a pretty tall task to play the role when she has lines like ‘Osoma is tasty’ and ‘Dick-sensei.

Shiraishi: But those words, be it ‘Osoma is tasty’ or ‘Dick-sensei’ or ‘That’s shit!!’, didn’t feel embarrassing for me to say as I think of Asirpa-san as a child.

It’s only after recording is done and dusted when my seniors turn to me and say, ‘that line was kinda…’

Kobayashi: Like, ‘that Dick-sensei was great!’ (laughs)

Shiraishi: When I hear that being said to me I can only go ‘Ack!’ (laughs). The embarrassment came late. But I had awesome fun while I was performing, shouting those words at the top of my lungs.

Kobayashi: It was a great ‘Dick-sensei’, filled with your entire soul.

Q: On top of that, the conflict that you showed when Asirpa was trying out miso, thinking ‘Osoma = shit’ – that was splendid!

Shiraishi: For that part, I was instructed to keep the exact ‘Happu, happu’ line from the manga* – in most cases, you would make ‘Haa…, haa…’ kind of breathing sounds, but I was asked to exaggerate those bits and keep the ‘Happu’ intact; and the line ended up sounding like SFX.

Like the comical scene it’s meant to be, I played it with the goal of making sure everyone enjoys watching it. Same goes for the ‘Hinnnnn!!’ part** that follows. If I allowed the end of the line to drop off it would result in a more natural sounding ‘Hinn…!!’ but I was conscious about enunciating the word with clarity so that it would stand out.

That’s why I’m really happy when people tell me ‘I love that scene’.

*from chapter 20
**from chapter 25, the infamous ‘Hinnnn!! Don’t Die Sugimoto!’ scene. ‘Hin’ is an onomatopoeia indicating crying sounds

Q: The double entendre of the ‘Osoma is tasty’ line was funny as well.

Shiraishi: That was probably Asirpa-san’s first funny scene.

Kobayashi: Is that so? I’d always thought she was a funny person though…

Shiraishi: Her lines were mostly exposition up to that point, so I thought that scene opened up the comedic possibilities for her.

Kobayashi: So that was the moment she awakened!

Q: Like the moment in The Miracle Worker where Helen Keller learns of what ‘water’ means.

Kobayashi: Which in this case, means that ‘Osoma’s tasty’ is the equivalent of ‘water’!

Q: And at that age, she’s already a pro at hunting and surviving in the wild – that’s another hugely charming aspect about her.

Shiraishi: She’s able to expand on and make use of the knowledge and skills that have been passed on to her by her father. It’s almost unheard of for a child of that age to be able to take what they’ve learned and actually apply it.

Rather than staying at home and sewing, Asirpa-san would prefer to go out into the mountains – the combination of talent and her natural disposition allows her to make use of her knowledge to live life to its fullest. Seeing how she imparts that knowledge to Sugimoto and the rest makes me respect her. I think she’s cool.

Q: Another element is the Ainu language – how did you find it?

Shiraishi: The Ainu language as difficult, but it’s not that bad for me compared to Fuchi who’s always speaking in Ainu. Ichijō (Miyuki)-san must’ve struggled.

For Asirpa we mostly hear Ainu interspersed into her Japanese speech so I try to make sure that there aren’t any weird intervals when she’s switching between the two. The Ainu language has a few syllable sounds that are silent and are not pronounced. I’m always practising at home so that I can prevent myself from sounding like I’m stumbling over my words.

Kobayashi: You’d always be practising that whenever I observed you from the side. You’re like an Ainu person for real.

Shiraishi: No way! (laughs) It really did make my heart beat faster though. Especially during the first episode when I was just explaining one thing after the other, with difficult words and intonation randomly slipped in throughout – I had to be careful not to be distracted and let my Japanese get sloppy as well.

Q: Was there a specialist Ainu instructor present in the studio?

Kobayashi: Yes. Nakagawa Hiroshi-sensei, who supervises the Ainu language used in the manga, was present, as was an Ainu native who provided guidance for the songs.

We also went and ate Ainu cuisine ourselves; definitely a case of learning [about the culture] while on the job.

Shiraishi: We ate Ainu dishes like ohaw (soup) and ruipe (frozen raw meat & fish)

An even bigger pervert kicks off the show!?

Q: Starting with ‘Hinna hinna’, there are many Ainu words that we have learnt. There’s so much information packed into the show – what were the learning points for you?

Shiraishi: This series, which has given me the opportunity to play Asirpa, reminded me of the simple things in life, like showing gratitude after hunting your prey. This is how we know we’re alive.

Kobayashi: My appreciation for food culture has greatly increased. The bear sacrificial ceremony for example shows how we’re closely connected to Mother Nature. I definitely felt that way as well.

Q: Season 2 is kicking off soon. It hasn’t been too long of a downtime between seasons – how did the 2 of you feel about the wait?

Shiraishi: There wasn’t a gap in terms of recording – we went straight into the 2nd season after the first had ended. So for the cast members, it didn’t really impress upon us, the feeling the show had concluded – I’m sure that will come to us in the future.

The series was rebroadcast, plus there are ongoing Blu-ray & DVD releases so I never really felt like Golden Kamuy had ended after Season 1. So it’s more like a period where I was waiting for the excitement to start up again.

Q: Season 1 ended with Inkarmat’s identity still a mystery, while Hijikata and Tsurumi’s future movements remained unknown as well. What characters have piqued your interest, moving into Season 2?

Kobayashi: It’s gotta be Edogai Yasaku, the first guy we see in Season 2. We had all kinds of perverts in the first season but now we’ve got this guy, who tops them all for perversion, kicking the season off. Edogai-kun is the perfect pervert to crown the season premiere!

He’s a man who would doubtless be described as a pervert no matter who you ask – but he, like the others who came before him, is a wonderful character that will be much loved. He gets pretty intimate with Tsurumi-san so look forward to those interactions! Lots of crazy scenes await!

Shiraishi: Cikapasi’s cute too.

Q: That would be the kid who’s fixated on boobs. Edogai is quite the bizarre character himself, but he does seem awfully cute in the world of Golden Kamuy.

Shiraishi: Yeah I wonder why. Ah, these exquisitely cute, interesting characters drawn by Noda Satoru-sensei. That’s why people get addicted to Golden Kamuy! I’m sure we’re all mesmerized, thinking ‘Why are these dangerous guys all so cute!?’ (laughs)

Q: Having said that, I’m concerned whether Edogai’s ‘works’ are allowed to be shown onscreen.

Kobayashi: Hmm. I think Season 2 starts off crazily. We could end up with all sorts of bits being pixelated when it goes on air; that would be pretty bad (laughs)

Q: What did you think of Uchida Yūma (Edogai)’s performance?

Shiraishi: It was hard for me to stifle my laughter. And that ‘Innn!’* of his.

Kobayashi: When he hurls those rocks he screams ‘Innn!’

Shiraishi: He was asked to say that word as it is too.

Kobayashi: Uchida-san was like ‘Really?!’ at first but he made it sound as human as possible and produced an ‘Innn!’ that seemed like he was having lots of fun (laughs)

*From episode 2 of Season 2, & chapter 79 where Edogai’s hurling bits of coal at his pursuers – Innnn is an onomatopoeia to signify using physical strength/making effort

Q: From an actor’s viewpoint, does this series have a lot of dialogue that is very challenging?

Kobayashi: I do think it is. I think this series was definitely something something different for a lot of the others as well. That was true for Otsuka Akio-san (Nihei Tetsuzō) and Seki Toshihiko-san (Henmi Kazuo) as well. They’d say ‘Wow, I had fun!’ as they left the studio.

Shiraishi: You can see how much fun people had from the comical scenes they did, and the same goes for the touching scenes. For the parts in the manga that brought tears to my eyes, I do hope that I can produce a performance that makes the anime just as emotional, and that makes me extra nervous on the days when we have to record those scenes.

Q: We also look forward to Asirpa-san’s interactions with Dick-sensei.

Shiraishi: Asirpa-san loves him too (laughs). The memories that were evoked when they ate curry together somehow led to her gaining admiration for him (laughs)

Kobayashi: I don’t understand their relationship at all (laughs). I’m sitting next to them but I’m still clueless, I haven’t an idea what they’re talking about (laughs)

Q: We’ll be moving into the crux  of the story soon – what are your thoughts?

Kobayashi: The first season saw a lot of characters appearing, where we spent time getting introduced to all these people and learning about their motives. In the second season, we’ll see rapid developments in the story-line.

In terms of highlights, you’ll start to see the character relationships get messed up – you’ll think ‘these 2 guys used to be enemies, why are they getting along now!?’, and [the group] gets increasingly disparate. That mish-mash feeling builds up quickly throughout Season 2, with the story getting more and more interesting as well.

Q: When enemies become allies they tend to appear weaker, but we’ve got people like Ogata etc who are very reliable.

Kobayashi: You gotta wonder, just how tough is that guy?

Q: The ability to divide or work with anyone for the sake of a common goal – it makes you feel that everyone is a professional.

Kobayashi: Each one of them has their own solid motives and they never lose sight of their goal, so if something were to get in their way, be it friend or foe, they would not hesitate to shove them aside. And that’s what’s amazing. Everyone in the series has a smart head on their shoulders. That applies to Asirpa-san and the other kids as well – they all see what’s going on.

Shiraishi: Asirpa-san too, makes her own reasoned judgements, is capable of baffling Hijikata, has the ability to negotiate – she’s amazing.

Q: That’s why everyone looks up to Asirpa-san.

Shiraishi: Oh yeah! They don’t treat her like a child. They have full trust in her, that’s why they call her Asirpa-“san”*.

Kobayashi: Yeap, we all call her that.

*the ‘san’ honorific is usually used between equals/people of a similar age, with ‘chan’ the more common honorific used for a young girl of Asirpa’s age

Q: Lastly, let’s have some words in support of Season 2.

Kobayashi: Every episode of this season will be packed with a greater number of intense scenes than you saw in Season 1 and the 30 minutes will be over before you realize it. Please look forward to enjoying that intensity!

Shiraishi: The relationship between Sugimoto and Asirpa deepens even further this season – I’m cherishing the role as I’m performing those parts, so I’d be grateful if you could keep an eye out for them.

There are of course, many emotional scenes, as well as plenty of perverts to look forward to – even the line-up of guest cast members is amazing. Let’s enjoy this journey together ‘til the end!

#189 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.6: Otsuka Akio

We’re fast approaching the second season of Golden Kamuy in the autumn but before that, here’s an interview with Otsuka Akio who played the legendary bear-killer Nihei Tetsuzō in the first cour.

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: I was originally a fan of the manga and had bought all the volumes to read. It was due to a fan’s recommendation that I picked up the series; once I started to read it, I could see that it was indeed interesting. Despite being an ensemble piece, each character is incredibly distinct and that’s something I find attractive. I’d always thought that I’d like to be involved in some way if it were to be adapted into an anime.

Q: So your wish to appear in the anime has indeed come true.

A: Yeah. However, by the time I heard the news about the series getting an anime the auditions were already over (laughs). As the disappointment was starting to set in, I received word of an offer for the role of Nihei.

Q: As you are a fan of the manga, are there any of the characters that you’re fond of?

A: I like all of the characters and would’ve liked to play any one of them. The one that I believed would be most complex is Liutenant Tsurumi, but (Otsuka) Hōchū-san’s performance was very satisfying to listen to. I thought it’d be tough to know where to draw the line between sane and insane; tough to handle the way he interacts with other people. The series has plenty of cool characters like Hijikata and Ushiyama and so on, which makes it exciting to read. Nevertheless, I was glad to have been asked to play the role of Nihei.

Q: What are your impressions of Nihei as a character?

A: He’s an amazing guy who has no interest in the Ainu gold. All he wants to do is live in the mountains, and die in the mountains. It was for that reason alone that he got tattooed in Abashiri Prison and made his escape. In other words, the world that Nihei inhabits is equal to the entire world, at least to him. That is why I believed that he shouldn’t be integrated into the storyline. He has his own world, and it’s only by chance that he gets caught up in the crossfire of the battle for the gold. I would similarly have to create my own ‘world’ for my performance in this role so that I wouldn’t feel like I was losing the battle against the character itself. In that sense, doing this felt rewarding to me. All I had to work with was 2 episodes but I was passionate about creating a Nihei Tetsuzō who would be as formidable as the rest of the series.

Q: Before you go into the recording studio, do you normally formulate an acting plan?

A: My influences come from the manga since I’m a reader so I wouldn’t usually take such a thorough approach. In a way, it’s good that I’m a fan of the manga (laughs). Even as a follower of the original work I didn’t feel any pressure at all; I just had a lot of fun with what I was doing.

Q: He’s a pretty cutting character, and you can also see how vividly human he is.

A: I think the Meiji setting may be a factor behind that. Unlike the current SNS era where any statement you make might get flamed immediately, there were no concrete rules back then and it felt like you were just doing your best to stay alive. You see loads of these guys in the story who don’t give a damn about the ‘common sense’ that modern people are so obsesssed with and I do think this relates to why the characters have so much presence. Someone like Shiraishi may seem like a bit of a joke character who’s always being bullied, but if he was to exist in the real world he’d be a very dynamic guy (laughs)

Q: Was there anything memorable about your time in the studio?

A: Nihei’s interactions were mostly with Tanigaki, with his role being to develop Tanigaki’s growth as part of the story. Nihei himself is already a mature character and his position is that of an outsider looking in. Hence, even if Tanigaki tries his best to act mature Nihei would still be moving him around in the palm of his hand. Hosoya (Yoshimasa)-kun who plays Tanigaki too, attacked his role in a direct manner without any unnecessary embellishments, which made it very easy for me to do my part.

Q: Were there any lines that you feel were important in making Nihei’s charisma and presence felt?

A: I think it was more of a case where I was trying not to use dialogue as a way to define his personality. Nihei doesn’t seem like the kind of character who’s good at [expressing himself]. I imagine that he’s more likely to just spit out an entire chunk of speech on the spot. He’s unexpectedly chatty though, and some anime viewers would probably think that he’s already expressive enough as he is (laughs).

Q: What about from the viewpoint of a manga fan? Are there any lines that you like?

A: Maybe ‘I’ve only got one shot which is why I can use it with utmost confidence’*. That is the phrase that best represents Nihei’s life philosophy. I was actually felt quite strongly about this one phrase during recordings and specifically asked the director if I could change it from the script that had omitted that part and only kept the first line ‘If you don’t end it in one shot, you’ll die’ from the manga. To Nihei, the problem was not whether he would be killed by his prey – to him, it was more important to hit his target with confidence.

Also, the ‘women really are terrifying’ line** was memorable to me. He’s this egotistical outlaw and yet he’s afraid of a female – that was interesting to see. Certainly, from a wife’s point of view, battles between men are irrelevant – of that I am convinced (laughs). It’s a line that seems natural coming from Nihei when you consider his sense of humour and I think that side of him just helps to add to his appeal.

*from chapter 22
**from chapter 29

Q: Speaking of Nihei’s lines, the way he uses the word ‘boner’ leaves quite the impression.

A: He doesn’t use it in reference to his his sexual desire but rather, to express his burning desire to survive. Though if he were to use that in a modern day conversation, people would think of him as a weirdo right away (laughs). I guess that he turned out this way thanks to his usage of odd vocabulary and phrases like ‘my heart is dancing’.

Q: What’s the mood in the recording studio like?

A: It was enjoyable. It’s fun to be around guys who are young enough to be my sons, but it’s also interesting to work with veterans from my age group as well. It’s hard to endure for such a long time in this industry so it’s only veterans who hold a special something who will survive. When you’re young you’re always conscious about not going too far beyond what is requested of you but when you reach the veteran status, it becomes like a game for us to see just how prominent we can be (laughs). It’s especially true for a series like this – if an actor were to find himself drowned out by the character’s charisma he would end up sounding boring, so it’s better to be assertive and distinguish yourself from the character. Getting together a group of people who are able to pull that off creates a kind of synergy and elevates the drama several notches higher. I do see quite a few younger actors with such awareness coming up recently and that makes the industry all the more interesting.

Q: How do you view Nihei’s role within the anime?

A: Obviously I’m happy to have been able to voice Nihei but well, he dies pretty quickly (laughs). If I’m allowed to be selfish, I would’ve wished for 15 more minutes of airtime for him. I would’ve liked to see a few more scenes that used silence [as a tool]; perhaps long shots that gradually panned over to Nihei could’ve helped create greater tension during the battles in the wild. Having said that, this is only a 30-minute anime so such aspects might be detrimental to the tempo, not to mention the fact that there are certain scenes that must be fit into the given time frame. I’m also glad that Nihei was included in the opening sequence despite featuring in just a few episodes.

Q: Lastly, please leave a message as you reflect upon your appearance in the series.

A: Under normal circumstances my performance would draw upon the story but that was not applicable to Nihei at all. It was truly fun to play such a hugely charismatic character that was not involved in the overarching plot. His existence was separate from the main storyline and I do admit that it did make me think ‘maybe it’ll be fine for me to do this my own way’ (laughs). I really enjoyed acting in this role, and I’m thankful that the role entertained me as well. I do sincrely hope that the anime could write in additional Nihei Tetsuzō stories as well (laughs). The second season of the anime will be starting in October and the staff and cast will be intensifying the dynamic charms of the manga, which I hope will fire up the young men of today once again.

#179 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.5: Hosoya Yoshimasa

The series continues with Hosoya Yoshimasa, voice of nice guy Matagi Tanigaki Genjirō. Love his delightful relationship with Huci & Osoma in the show!

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: It was very interesting. I think the premise itself is amazing: the map of the location of the gold has been tattooed across the bodies of a group of prisoners and to decipher the code, you’d have to carve the skin off each of them. It also tells the tales of soldiers who went through the Russo-Japanese War; the way historical facts are mixed in with the story is mesmerizing. The protagonist Sugimoto is a very human kind of guy. The series doesn’t only choose to take a positive approach, it also includes elements of savagery and craftiness – it’s the kind of story that guys would love.

Q: It’s fascinating to see how these different elements come together.

A: It’s not just serious developments all the time – there are plenty of gags thrown in as well. Furthermore, those gags aren’t flattering at all for women since they actually end up looking rather masculine. What’s great about author Noda (Satoru)-sensei is that he simply draws whatever he wants to. The characters’ faces are made to look deformed during the gag scenes – he could probably draw them prettier if he wished to, but that grotesqueness (excuse me for saying that) is what makes it so fun and amazing.

Q: What impressions did you have of Tanigaki as a character?

A: He reminded me of the actor Takakura Ken. Sugimoto has a little bit of crazy in him; an aura that shows through the stillness of his motions and speech, while Tanigaki is the opposite. He may have experience of killing people in the war, but he’s a very pure and clumsy guy at heart. That’s what made me think of Takakura Ken. I’m hoping that I can [make Tanigaki] live up to the image of Takakura Ken that I have in my head.

Q: Can you describe your feelings when you found out about being cast as Tanigaki?

A: I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be better if he wasn’t voiced by me?’. After all, Tanigaki’s not the talkative type. I feel that, when such people express themselves, there is a need for their words to possess the kind of power to persuade others, and I also think that they should sound deeper, lower, and rougher. My voice isn’t anything like that though, so I hoped to bring it closer to the character as I imagined him to be.

Q: Is there anything that you’re particularly conscious about when playing the role of Tanigaki?

A: From time to time and wherever possible, I try to channel Takakura Ken (laughs). Though it’s probably at a level where viewers wouldn’t actually be able to recognize it as so (laughs)

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: In terms of the character’s image, what I had imagined was practically the same as the vision that the Director and Jin-san had. However, for the scene in episode 3 where Tanigaki discovers Asirpa up in the tree, there was a particular line of dialogue that serves as the crucial point – in order to maximize its impact, the preceding line needed to be ‘spoken gently’. The difference in impact between those 2 lines was much more apparent in the final take than what I had originally come up with, so I was very grateful [to the Director and Jin-san] for the improvements that were suggested.

Q: Do you think that your performance has changed, progressing further into the story?

A: Tanigaki is one of the soldiers of the 7th Division, a position that puts him under a lot of stress. Being a soldier, his commander’s word is law. As he spends time living with the Ainu people away from the 7th Division, you can feel his demeanour softening. Actually, the tempo of the dialogue on the guide videos that we received prior to recording was markedly different; I could tell that his lines had been modified to sound gentler. I do believe that he wouldn’t be able to get along so well with the Ainu people he cares so much about if he had approached them with the mindset of a Japanese soldier. Rather than changing as a person, I think it’s more a case of different aspects [of his character] emerging, depending on the situation he’s in.

Q: Along the way, he encounters Nihei Tetsuzō.

A: The scenes between [Tanigaki] and Nihei, played by Ōtsuka Akio, had great impact from start to finish. It was a priceless experience for me, spending time with him. I haven’t had many opportunities to work alongside Ōtsuka-san prior to his, so I was keenly observing the way he spoke and carried himself while we were in the waiting area. I recall that during breaks, Ōtsuka-san would insist that he wanted to do the voice for Nihei’s hunting dog Ryu (laughs). ‘cos he knew that Ryu would stay alive even after Nihei’s death (laughs). Seems that Ōtsuka-san really likes this series.

Q: Do you have any memorable stories to share from the recording sessions?

A: During the recording sessions, we have sections where we record background noises, things like the sound of people talking in a crowd etc. As a rule, we have to adopt voices that sound different from our own characters. For whatever reason, Tsuda (Kenjirō), Kobayashi (Chikahiro) and myself, oh and probably Sugita (Tomokazu) too, decided that we’d talk as if we had severe underbites (laughs). That was funny.

Q: Going through recording, are there any lines from the series that you feel are important in making the character’s charisma and presence felt?

A: Personally, the line that I thought most captures Tanigaki as a person was one from episode 9 – ‘So there are people who intend to betray Lieutenant Tsurumi? Who?’ [said to Corporal Tamai]. No reason behind that choice, I just really like that line.

Q: We look forward to seeing how Tanigaki develops moving forward. Finally, please leave a message for the fans.

A: It’s a series that has assembled a wonderful cast and is a very professional place to work – the more you chip away at the characters, the bigger their presence becomes. The actors and staff members will similarly work towards bringing this series to a higher level, so it would bring me much joy if you were to look forward to the developments as you watch the show.

#178 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.4: Tsuda Kenjiro

Part 4 of the series features Tsuda Kenjirō, voice of the sinister Private Ogata Hyakunosuke.

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: I could feel robustness and energy; with the kind of depth in its characters and story that you won’t find in other works. It doesn’t feel like modern times, which actually makes things more interesting. Anyhow, the expressions are powerful and the amount of passion is amazing.

I do think that one of the things that makes this series so potent is its setting in the hinterlands of Hokkaido during olden times instead of in contemporary Japan.

Q: Were there any particular elements that you think carried a lot of impact?

A: Probably the complexity of the characters. Especially Tsurumi-san, he’s amazing (laughs). Even the hero Sugimoto’s body is full of scars. Those physical aspects do contribute towards the depth of the characters.

Also, the very premise of the story – slicing off human skin in a bid to strike gold, packs a strong punch. The human beings are a wild bunch; mercilessly butchering animals and carving the skin off a man’s back in the same way.

There probably isn’t much difference between carving up a bear’s or a human’s skin when one is merely trying to survive in the lands of Hokkaido. It’s harsh, but also extremely hilarious. Discarding the unnecessary facets of humanity is another factor that makes this series so appealing.

Q: Can you describe your feelings when you found out about your casting?

A: The story and the character that I was to play seemed fascinating, so I was delighted to be able to take part in this series. I got excited, thinking ‘wow what should I do, this looks really fun!’

Q: What impressions did you have of Ogata as a character?

A: A calm or should I say, a very cool impression. Basically he doesn’t show his feelings. I do believe that there are plenty of emotions stirring within him, but he never allows them to rise to the surface. He might be in a conversation but you’d never feel like he’s particularly engaged in it. You could say that in a way, he speaks at a ‘temperature’ that is colder than that of normal human conversation?

Q: He appears to be talking, but you’re never sure just how much emotion he’s channelling into his words.

A: That’s right. There’s a scene in episode 9 where he’s talking to Tanigaki, and it is really tough to gauge what’s going on in his mind (laughs). Indeed, even Tanigaki himself was unable to get a measure of what position Ogata was coming from.

As the conversation progresses you can, to a certain extent, start to grasp the position [he’s coming from] but it was hard to differentiate between truth and the lies at the beginning. I think that mysteriousness is what makes Ogata’s presence so magnetic.

His personality and calm demeanour are consistent with the prerequisites for a typical sniper, which I thought was an interesting point. He does have the tendency to playing dumb sometimes though – all these things serve to make him a very interesting guy.

Q: Ogata makes his reappearance in episode 9 – what do you make of him at this point?

A: His reappearance is so very Ogata-like. Returning to the home of Fuci, who has been caring for him, Tanigaki sees Ogata there. But he has no idea what the purpose of his appearance is. A short while after Ogata departs without incident, Tanigaki realizes it’s a ruse and he’s actually sniping at him from outside (laughs). The way the situation was structured was really interesting, I thought.

Q: When you read the manga, did you think Ogata would turn out to be a character that would make his presence felt so strongly?

A: Not at all. His first appearance had him getting bitten by a dog after all (laughs). He falls off the cliff after briefly tangling with Sugimoto, and disappears for a lengthy period after. Episode 9 revived his character after a long absence; I bet anime viewers would be surprised to see him as well.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: My impression was that they pretty much just left it up to me. Basically, I used ‘indifference’ as the base for my performance. However, when I was reading the manga I did see that his expression would change from panel to panel – he even made a happy face, albeit fleetingly, at one point.

For such cases I will consult with Director Nanba and ensure that I maintain nuances that are consistent with he manga. During recordings for episode 2, I was requested to tone down my expressiveness and to make it sound a certain way.

Ogata is a character who’s all about balance and definitely not the type to rush in headlong, so there are areas where I have to handle him a bit more carefully.

Having said that, that doesn’t mean that he’s on edge all the time though. He is human after all, so it’s interesting to see where the emotion comes in. It’s about adding the right amount of emotion on to the base.

Q: Do you formulate an acting plan ahead of recording?

A: Only to the extent of ‘I guess I should do it this way’?. In the end, I think the kind of performance I produce depends on the overall balance [of the cast] so that’s determined by the Director who has a bird’s-eye view of the whole process.

Even if you pinpoint the way I express indifference in a certain scene as being ‘good’, it may be the case that [the Director] wants it to be a bit more vibrant after assessing the overall flow [of the scene]. So in a way, I try to leave a bit of margin when it comes to my acting.

Q: A great number of cast members have been assembled for this series – tell us what the atmosphere in the recording studio is like.

A: The story is pretty savage but the studio itself is warm and bright. I think the atmosphere’s great. Our seniors seem to be having fun, and I do feel the enthusiasm and unaffectedness of the leading actors Kobayashi (Chikahiro)-san and Shiraishi (Haruka)-san spreading around the studio.

Q: Are there any scenes or lines that you feel were significant in capturing the essence of Ogata?

A: He hasn’t appeared in a lot of episodes so far, but in episode 9 there is a scene where he says ‘It’s time to go Tanigaki-hunting’ – that text was highlighted in bold in the manga. It showed Ogata’s awareness, that the ‘hunt’ meant taking down Tanigaki. I kept his coldness and brutality in mind as I acted out that scene.

Ogata has a lot more lines in episode 9 than in previous episodes. He barely said a word when he first appeared, so [episode 9] felt like an introductory story for me (laughs)

Q: We look forward to seeing how Ogata stirs up the plotline in future episodes. Finally, please leave a message for the fans.

A: Thank you for watching the TV anime Golden Kamuy. I finally get to make my reappearance as Ogata, and he’s brushing his hair upwards so coolly in the key images (laughs)

To meet your expectations in the future, I will take an unconventional approach with Ogata that ‘betrays’, and I mean that in a good way. I hope that you will continue to enjoy this fascinating, magnificent and obscene story.

#177 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.3: Nakata Jōji

Third interview in the series features Nakata Jōji, the voice of Hijikata Toshizō. Incidentally, Nakata previously played the same historical figure in 2003’s Peacemaker Kurogane anime.

Q: Tell us your impressions upon reading the original manga.

A: The first thing that comes to mind when you mention Hijikata might be the ‘guys all love to hunt, right?’ feeling that he gives off. This is a very exciting series that reminds me of the hot-blooded nature that man possesses. Apart from the interesting way in which human desires and instinct are fearlessly pushed to the fore, the show has visuals that pack plenty of punch as well as a charismatic cast of characters. On top of that we get to learn in detail about Meiji-era Hokkaido and Ainu culture, including methods of communication with the Ainu people – it’s sure to satisfy one’s intellectual curiosity.

Such wide-ranging themes leads me to believe that Noda (Satoru)-sensei must have done very thorough research for his series. After you finish the first volume you’ll want to go on to Volume 2 and on and on – basically you’d want to keep turning the pages and never stop.

Q: Please tell us your first impressions of Hijikata as a character.

A: Every character in this series has a strong personality; intriguing characters that stir up my desire as an actor, making me imagine that I’d want to play a certain role in a certain way. And in the midst of them all we have Hijikata. My initial reaction was one of surprise, like ‘Eh, Hijikata – why is he in this era!?’. What left the next biggest impression was how the visuals showed these old fogeys teeming with energy and filled with unwithering ambition.

Borrowing one of Hijikata’s lines where ‘if you see an old man still alive in this day and age, then you should believe that he will be a survivor’ – he’s the figure who perfectly embodies that. As a performer, my heart was entranced by the pride and tenacity of the survivors of the turbulent Bakumatsu period. When I found out that I’d gotten the role I was so happy that I instinctively shouted ‘Yay!’ out loud.

Q: Is there anything that you’re particularly conscious about when playing the role of Hijikata?

A: Hijikata Toshizō is a well-known historical figure who has appeared as a character in many different works thus far; I’ve actually played Hijikata in another series. The Hijikata of Golden Kamuy differs from the real-life person – you could say that he’s portrayed as the incarnation of the obsession of a Bakumatsu survivor, or he could be seen as revenge personified; a man who is trying to fulfil a purpose that he had previously failed to accomplish.

Nobody’s played a Hijikata at this age, so it was a very intriguing role to me in that sense. I am constantly thinking about how to best embody Hijikata’s aesthetics and way of life that make him a man who, holding his own beliefs, pushes forward regardless of right or wrong.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: During initial tests I played the role with the image I had [of Hijikata] in mind, but the Director instructed me not to make him sound too old; that he should sound more ‘current’ in spite of his looks. [Hijikata’s] long-time acquaintance Nagakura (Shinpachi) also mentions ‘you don’t look that age – you seem much younger’ to him, so I think those instructions were consistent with the exchanges between Nagakura and Hijikata and also when you compare them with each other.

Q: What’s the atmosphere like in the recording studio?

A: When I turned up at the recording studio, I could see that it was a bold casting with people selected based on whether they fit the role as opposed to name value and popularity. Both protagonist Sugimoto and Asirpa require a wide range of acting stretching from serious to comical and I think Kobayashi (Chikahiro) and Shiraishi (Haruka) both responded [to the challenge] splendidly. The remaining cast assembles an array of veteran actors as well. Though it may have been a bit painful for Shiraishi-san to not have any of her contemporaries around to talk to (laughs)

It’s really enjoyable to listen to everyone’s lines during the recordings. I myself read the manga ahead of time so I’d be thinking, ‘Oh, so Tsurumi sounds like that huh’, or ‘Ah, so that’s how Tanigaki is’ – it felt like [their] voices were coming in and erasing the images I had of the characters beforehand. This is what fans of the original works [on which anime are based upon] feel, and it thrilled me. There were quite a few members of the cast who had been fans of the series for a long time and had wanted to play certain roles. When such like-minded people are brought together to work on a show, it convinces you that the series, when completed, will turn out to be something pretty special.

Q: Does working alongside such a prestigious cast inspire Nakata-san to inject extra emotion into your performance?

A: Of course it does. There is a little bit of pressure since Nagakura is played by revered veteran Sugō (Takayuki)-san but once we get into the actual acting process we’ll work together, adjusting and fine-tuning the balance between us. There are many parts where I am helped along through acting alongside the other cast members.

Q: Are there any lines from the beginning of the series that you feel are important in making the character’s charisma and presence felt?

A: Being deliberate regarding such aspects might actually result in rather crude acting so I try not to be so conscious about it. There are lines that will come before and after your own, so conspicuous words would surely stand out. Having said that, even as I read the manga I came across quite a few striking pieces of dialogue that I’m sure fans will be looking forward to hearing from Hijikata.

But if I mention them here, viewers will probably be subconsciously waiting to hear them as they watch the show so I’ll just leave the specifics up to your imagination (laughs). I want to meet the expectations [that fans have] in a proper way, so do please recite along to your favourite lines as you come across them in the episodes.

Q: The anime has just started airing. To wrap things up, please leave a message for the fans.

A: Golden Kamuy is a full-blooded work that I’d love everyone in the present day to watch, and to empathize with the men who lived during such stifling times, showing how ‘there is such a way of life’. At the same time, the series skilfully weaves together elements that we rarely come across, such as tales of the Ainu’s lives and hunting culture, with thrills and action and the lovely moments of everyday life.

The leading combination of Sugimoto and Asirpa are as close as a pair of siblings, and they offer a different flavour from the typical hero-heroine romance story through their many [facial] expressions. The journey towards striking gold has only just begun and many fascinating older characters will appear as we move forward, so I hope that you will enjoy watching.

#175 – Golden Kamuy Cast Interview Part.2: Otsuka Hochu

Second in the series is Ōtsuka Hōchū, the distinct voice behind Liutenant ‘I’ve had half my brains blown out!’ Tsurumi. Ōtsuka’s been very prominent in recent years, playing memorable antagonists such as Ajin’s Satō and the Kizumonogatari series’ Guillotine Cutter. Tsurumi seems like the kind of role tailor-made for him, as he mentions in the interview.

Q: What are your impressions of this series?

A: I was trying to get a feel for the story and characters through reading the scripts and I found it really interesting. Receiving this casting for Lieutenant Tsurumi subsequently allowed me to recall a memory from my elementary school days, where I had borrowed a novel called Whistle in My Heart* (コタンの口笛, Kotan no Kuchibue) from the library.

It was such a long time ago that I don’t remember the exact details but I do recall that the story depicted the persecution faced by Ainu and how they tried to compromise, and that it was extremely interesting and exhilarating to read. It was my first experience of Ainu culture so thanks to that, I had a little bit of knowledge about the Ainu. Being given the opportunity to be involved with this work revived the excitement that I felt within me 50 years ago. I do feel a sense of affinity with this work and at the same time, I realize that I’ve been given such a good role.

*2 novels by Ishimori Nobuo released in 1957, which were turned into a feature film by Naruse Mikio in 1959.

Q: Please tell us your impressions of Tsurumi as a character.

A: He’s the sort of character that I’m very well-versed in playing – a guy filled with madness and ambition but also one who cares for his comrades. Anyway, he’s an endlessly interesting character. I mean, he’s got juices seeping out of his skull (laughs). That rendition alone tells you a lot about the type of personality he has, plus it also gives me plenty of ideas from an acting perspective. That means that I thankfully have no qualms over how to play the character and in fact, am having a ball with it.

Q: Is there anything that you’re particularly conscious about when playing the role of Tsurumi?

A: It’d be boring if I pushed his maniacal nature up front and centre right from the start so I tried making him as quiet as possible in the beginning. Tsurumi’s an intelligent person and it seems that he does have a rather colourful history. He can start off in a passive state but end up behaving rather chillingly, so I hope that I can liven up proceedings in a way that will reveal his true nature.

Q: So Otsuka-san, you too are looking forward to finding out how Tsurumi changes in the future.

A: Yes I am. I mean, he’s gonna run into trouble by the end of it all, isn’t he? (laughs) So I’d like to start off with my lever at 1/10th of the maximum output value and then raise my level gradually. At the same time, he’s the kind of guy whose actions conceal a meticulously assembled plan so I’m trying to bring that across in my acting to make sure that [what you see now] ties in well with future developments.

Q: Did you receive any specific directions from Director Nanba (Hitoshi) or Sound Director Aketagawa (Jin)?

A: Nothing special. If anything, the only advice I received was to inject more energy into the parts in his monologue where his emotions are gradually soaring.

Q: What’s the atmosphere like in the recording studio?

A: Basically relaxing. I’ve been going around to a couple of different studios to record for anime recently, and it seems that I’m always the oldest one there (laughs). This series though, features lots of colleagues my age and actors I’ve worked alongside on foreign film dubbing, so I feel like I’m finally back on home ground.

We share lots of chit-chat and gossip away; it’s pretty fun. Even when it comes to acting – when you’ve been working with someone for decades, you can generally predict what the other person is going to do. It’s like, ‘you’re gonna do this, so I’ll respond like this’ – it’s a bit like telepathy, in a way.

Q: Are there any lines from the beginning of the series that you feel are important in making the character’s charisma and presence felt?

A: I do think that the biggest hint that you’ll get is from that part where he’s talking about the juices flowing from his skull. I’m playing [Tsurumi] while thinking to myself, ‘Ah, this kind of guy is just awesome’. Through this line of work [I’ve learned that] a random line might turn out to be pivotal in grasping the essence of a certain figure. So be careful not to miss those moments when they come along – when you spot a line with such potential, make sure that you sink your teeth into it.

Q: You’ve played a lot of crazy villains in the past – is Tsurumi any different in any way?

A: Oh he’s different~. Since I often play villains I do worry about what I should do if he was similar to any of them, but that wasn’t the case at all. Even amongst the many characters with complex inner workings that I’ve done so far, [Tsurumi’s] a new type of person for me. I don’t see many opportunities to play a human from the Meiji era so it’s extremely fascinating for me. When I’m voicing my lines I try to maintain the mindset of someone who was living through that period of time.

Q: The anime has just started airing. To wrap things up, please leave a message for the fans.

A: Golden Kamuy is a type of series that you will experience for the first time, and that is true even for an industry veteran like me. It will be the catalyst for you to learn about the origins of modern Japan as well as the culture of the Ainu people – I think it will give people fresh perspectives on many things. Real historical figures appear in the show as well, so if you do happen to develop an interest regarding that aspect, you might wish to deepen your knowledge of the matter by reading the books.

Not only is this is a work that is packed with elements that will stimulate your intellectual curiosity, there is also a genuine sense of fun surrounding the story itself. I’m sure that there’ll be an army of developments awaiting in the near future so do please watch this series to its conclusion without taking your eyes off the screen for even a second.