Category Archives: Kobayashi Yu

Shingeki no Kyojin cast Q&A

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

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

Kaji Yuki [Eren Yeager]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ishikawa Yui [Mikasa Ackerman]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inoue Marina [Armin Arlert]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ono Daisuke [Erwin Smith]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kamiya Hiroshi [Levi Ackerman]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Park Romi [Hanji Zoe]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taniyama Kishow [Jean Kirstein]

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

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

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

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

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

6. Message – Look forward to it!

Shimono Hiro [Connie Springer]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kobayashi Yu [Sasha Blouse]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hosoya Yoshimasa [Reiner Braun]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hashizume Tomohisa [Bertolt Hoover]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikami Shiori [Krista Lenz]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fujita Saki [Ymir]

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

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

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

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

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

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


Throwback: Sound director Kameyama Toshiki on Kobayashi Yu [2009]

This is an interview back from 2009 and is part of Kobayashi’s ‘Yu’s Room’ column on the Famitsu online blog. She is featured alongside sound director Kameyama Toshiki – this was from the period when they were working on Maria Holic. Kameyama has consistently cast Kobayashi over the years, starting from Zetsubo-sensei & Prism Ark in 2007 all the way up to the recent 3gatsu no Lion (check out my spreadsheet for more). Other notable credits of his include the Nanoha series, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge and Red Garden. Kameyama also frequently works in partnership with Shaft’s Shinbo Akiyuki. Apart from sound directing, Kameyama also heads the seiyuu talent agency Aptepro.

Pt 1

Kobayashi Yu’s appeal lies in her sincere commitment to her characters

Kobayashi: For today’s edition of Yu’s Room, we welcome sound director Kameyama Toshiki-san. Kameyama-san, thank you very much for visiting Yu’s Room!

Kameyama: No thanks needed – it’s my pleasure (laughs).

Q: First of all, for the benefit of people who don’t know – tell us about the responsibilities of a sound director.

Kameyama: OK. A sound director is a role that is unique to anime; he or she is the staff member that assists the director in handling anything related to sound. The three aspects of animation that contain the element of sound are – ‘the recording of lines’, ‘the usage of sound effects’, and ‘the placement of music ie. BGMs & so on’. There are sound directors for dubbed productions as well, but all they have to do there is prepare the dialogue and mix it in with the SE and music from the original work. In anime, you have to start from scratch & create the ‘source material’. As an example, when we talk about ‘arranging the music’, what we do is write a proposal to the relevant person from the music company regarding the type of music that we might need, like ‘I want a song that sounds like this’. The artist involved or the kind of content that is produced is usually…out of my hands, but when I get the final product I will judge whether or not it sounds good, and use it in the anime.

Q: Are you in charge of the seiyuu castings etc?

Kameyama: When it comes to castings, the director will have his own opinions and the producers will have their own preferences. It is the sound director’s role to preside over the [entire] process, including auditions and so on. Regarding the choice of actors, it is a must for sound directors to keep many options on hand. For example, if I suggest ‘let’s go with this person!’, the director might, in some cases, reply ‘Isn’t there anyone else suitable?’. At that point I’d need to be able to propose a different actor for the role.

Q: So you’d have to have a wide range of options available. Since we’re on the topic, how about the role of Shido Mariya for the anime Maria Holic that the two of you are working on now – what was it like?

Kameyama: For Mariya, we’d readily decided from the start that ‘we’ll go with Kobayashi-san!’. Sometimes, we get producers who’ll say ‘we want to go with so-and-so actor as the focal point’, and for this series Kobayashi-san was that very axis that they were looking for. Personally, I’m already working with Kobayashi-san quite frequently of late, so I was thinking, ‘Yes!!’ when I heard that.

Kobayashi: I’m glad. That’s the first time I’ve heard anything about that.

Q: What, frankly, is the appeal of Kobayashi Yu-san?

Kobayashi: Y-you’re asking that all of a sudden? I’m nervous~

Kameyama: Her sincere commitment to her characters, above all. No matter what happens, she will keep thinking and thinking about her role. I once had her voice a girl who communicates with aliens, but she got way too immersed in the communicating part that we couldn’t drag her away from the microphone (laughs). You just kept shouting into the mic all the way through recording, didn’t you.


Kameyama: I’m not being sarcastic or anything, Kobayashi-san just was that immersed in the role. It was pretty amazing. To the point where one of the veteran actors was getting concerned, saying ‘Is she really alright?’ (laughs)

Kobayashi: I’m sorry about always causing trouble….

Kameyama: Despite being so busy, she’ll always read her scripts. She’s so well prepared that I wonder how much prep time she puts in before recordings. I send out rehearsal videos to my actors prior to recording sessions and she’ll be studying them diligently. And she’ll make sure to ask questions like whether ‘it’s okay for the character to be having such a facial expression at this point’ and so on. In many cases, the rehearsal video actually turns out to be wrong.

Kobayashi: Thank you.

Kameyama: What I admire about Kobayashi-san is how she respects other people’s work. The anime that we see with our eyes is the product of an accumulated body of effort encompassing scenarios and storyboards and animation – she is well aware of tis. Thus, even if she sees the completed script and thinks, ‘there’s a slight misprint here…’, the great amount of respect for the people involved in the process allows her to try to make her own [informed] judgements. I think that kind of stance is superb. She may be young but I admire her for that.

Q: She’s very reliable.

Kameyama: Obviously she’s still young so if we’re talking about ability and so on, there is still plenty more to come from her. Nevertheless, she possesses something explosive. Rather than being the kind of person who picks up stones piece by piece, she does things in an explosive manner – that’s wonderful.

Q: Does she have something that other seiyuu don’t?

Kameyama: She has this ability to stand out; she’s got something in her that shines. I do think that she possesses a performer’s personality, but when we look at anime we see it as having a kind of ‘traditional art’ aspect to it, cultivated by decades of history. Japan’s animation culture has allowed both viewers and creators to get bogged downy by certain textbook clichés prevalent in entertainment, like ‘how a character would react in such a situation’ or ‘how this ad-lib should be inserted into this scene’. Most actors perform accordingly but there are certain actors who stand apart from the crowd, rising above the clichés. Kobayashi Yu is one of the latter.

Q: That’s amazing!

Kameyama: I’m not talking about good or bad skill levels, I’m referring instead to one’s ability to shine.

Q: Having said that, it does seem though, that Kobayashi Yu-san does not consciously think about wanting to stand out…

Kameyama: Obviously I don’t think that she does. Even if other people try to imitate her or do the same things she does, it won’t turn out the same at all. An actor is someone who acts from within. As a member of the production side, staff aren’t thinking things like ‘I want this kind of ad-lib for this particular animation cut’; instead, seiyuu are cast with hope that they’ll produce ‘something’ that exceeds expectations, isn’t it? When you have an original character that’s been so carefully moulded into shape, you’d hope for an acting performance that didn’t sound like some other existing character. Since we’ve made something original, we’d expect an original performance to go with it. And Kobayashi-san is someone who can respond spectacularly to those expectations.

Q: That’s the highest praise one can get.

Kameyama: On the other hand, Kobayashi-san puts in a considerable amount of effort…that just occurred to me.

Kobayashi: Yes. I am the kind of person who isn’t able to do things that other people can do in the same amount of time. That’s why I need a lot of work to be at the same level.

Q: A lot of work goes into creating your characters as well.

Kobayashi: If the character I’m voicing does some kind of sport, then I’ll start taking up that sport. When I voice a young boy I’ll go around playing with young children. For Maria Holic, I took to studying cross-dressing males. Basically I’ll just start by working on all the things I can think of.

Kameyama: That sounds like Robert de Niro’s method acting! I can’t say this generally as it’s also dependent on the compatibility between the actors, but if someone else was in charge of Mariya they may have been able to do the role without any reservations. What I can say now though, is that I’m glad that we went with Kobayashi-san.

Kobayashi: Thank you! I’m deeply moved.


The job of ‘gleaning’ the best of an actor’s performance

Q: For Maria Holic, how was the character of Mariya fashioned?

Kameyama: We just went straight into the tests. Pre-meetings to talk about the roles…nope, we didn’t do much of that.

Q: Does that mean you left the character creation up to the seiyuu?

Kameyama: I basically leave it up to the actors. That’s why I think it’s the worst if you feel a need to explain to actors stuff like ‘can you change the way you say the end of that sentence?’. Acting is something that follows the flow of an overall performance and there’s no way that actors can [be expected to] arbitrarily tack on some random inflection in their dialogue. Actors turn up at the studio to give a performance, not to recite just one silly word. That is why I would not say ‘you have to do it this way’ but rather, I’d give them advice such as ‘to do this, what do you think you should do?’. Obviously, if the series possesses any overarching message, then it is obligatory that that be conveyed. That’s because it is essential to see the general opinion, the overall view of the work involved. In that sense, Kobayashi-san is the type of person who understands what the intention [of the story is] straightaway. She has great intuition.

Kobayashi: That’s only because Kameyama-san leads me in the right direction. For my performances, I tend to overthink what may seem like trivial things, but someone like Kameyama-san allows me the freedom to express myself without restrictions. You could say that he envelops us within this ‘Kameyama World’ that he’s created.

Kameyama: I think that for actors; if you go ‘don’t do this’ or ‘you can’t do that’, they’ll end up withdrawing into themselves a bit. Instead, you need to be forward-looking with them, saying things like ‘it might work if you try doing that instead’ or ‘this way could be good as well’. I think that might be an important point.

Kobayashi: That’s exactly how I feel – it’s possible to try out different challenges precisely because Kameyama-san creates the platform for us to do so. Kameyama-san always manages to draw out something from me that makes me think, ‘that side of me existed?’. To produce a type of performance that I’d never thought I’d be able to is like experiencing a miracle for the first time in your life.

Kameyama: ‘Experiencing a miracle for the first time in your life?’ (laughs)

Kobayashi: I’m always learning a lot. I can’t put it into words adequately, but it’s like a piece of glittering treasure that money just can’t buy.

Kameyama: It’s true that any given anime’s recording session is a one-time, irreplaceable experience. You have to record a lot of lines enthusiastically, within a short time frame – that makes recording sessions seem like a ‘contest’. No matter how obsessed you feel about getting a particular line right, it doesn’t mean you should keep doing it over and over as it might result in an unnatural, or dead-sounding line – instead, it is better to get the gist of the dialogue and deliver it fresh, in as few takes as possible. That’s why it’s rare for me to get someone to suffer repeatedly until I give them the ‘okay’. In my case, it’s more likely that they’ll keep suffering and I’d still end up saying ‘that’s no good’. Honestly, I want to have the line wrapped up as quickly as possible, while it is still fresh (laughs). Even if you toil endlessly you’ll never be able to make the breakthrough so I’ll say to my cast, ‘Just go with the flow of the performance and act – I’ll quickly harvest whatever you put out!’. I’m not really fond of getting actors to re-record their lines after recording’s been completed. Obviously we’re all human so we do make mistakes so there are cases where we do keep actors back to correct minor mistakes and so on.

Kobayashi: He really does glean the best parts. Sometimes I get so immersed in my acting that I spiral out of control but somehow, Kameyama-san will extract the best of whatever I’ve done and correct its trajectory. And when I watch the show on air I just go ‘wow!’.

Kameyama: When I manage to capture a [good] line that’s spilled out of the actor’s mouth it makes me feel good! (laughs). Like ‘Hell yeah, I got it!” (laughs)

Kobayashi: But I do truly think that Kameyama-san is my saviour. There was an instance during Maria Holic recordings where I was unable to perform for Mariya the way I usually did. I tried desperately to lower my voice but it just wasn’t going well and I started panicking inside my head, thinking ‘What should I do!’. The more I thought I needed to calm down, the more I started panicking instead. At that point, Kameyama-san advised me, ‘don’t focus on whether your voice is high or low; instead, focus on bringing out your voice at a pitch you feel is comfortable’. That’s how I managed to regain my composure without trying to force my voice, and I could once again act with confidence.

Kameyama: As you can see, being a sound director doesn’t seem so difficult, doesn’t it?

Kobayashi: There’s not true at all! You have no idea just how much your words saved me. You’ve been my saviour with the things you’ve been saying to me, the way you’ve helped put me at ease. I’d never be able to say ‘I am panicking right now!’ so to have Kameyama-san come in and say what you said, helped to knock me back into shape. So I do know what you mean when you say things like ‘You should have acted it out in this way!’ Kameyama-san is a truly great help to me.

Kameyama: Thanks.

Kobayashi: Indeed, it is due to Kameyama-san’s courteousness that the Maria Holic recording studio is such a warm place to work. My co-stars too, were seniors I had previously worked with, so we were able to share relaxed conversations during break times. Maria Holic is a story set in a girls’ school and the atmosphere in the recording studio itself felt like a girls’ school as well. We had a lot of fun chatting while eating snacks (laughs).


Yu-san, who has grasped the sadistic charms of Mariya

Q: Yu-san, to you, what kind of character was Mariya?

Kobayashi: I thought he was a very nice person when I first saw him. His attractive looks makes him the target of admiration for many (and though it is embarrassing to put it in words), he has a sadistic personality. Not just sadistic, but super sadistic. The way he behaves towards Kanako is especially bitter; I find the way that his personality swings between two extremes to be charming and strikes a chord in my heart.

Kameyama: He may be deeply sadistic, but he looks at things objectively and has a broad perspective.

Kobayashi: He’s wonderful! That’s why I was a little apprehensive about playing the role, worried over whether I could ‘push myself that far’. With the support of Kameyama-san as well as my co-stars, I was able to pull through. I’m confident that I am the one who loves Mariya-san the mos…ah! But Mariya-san surely has a lot of fans, so I will strive to love Mariya-san as much as the fans do.

Kameyama: (laughs) Kobayashi-san is a lady, but I think the way she plays Mariya, a ‘male’, is awesome.

Kobayashi: Not at all, no way.

Kameyama: Endo Minari, the manga author, even commented that ‘(after Kobayashi-san voiced Mariya) as a boy, he has become even more popular’. Mariya’s lines feature a mixture of masculine, feminine and neutral terms and it’s tough to play the character. Kobayashi-san however, handled the role in a sharp manner, without hesitation. That was truly remarkable. Did you by any chance, colour-code your scripts?

Kobayashi: Yes I did! You know me very well. I marked the ‘feminine lines’ in pink, the ‘masculine’ ones in yellow and so on. I’m honoured that Kameyama-san noticed something like that.

Kameyama: You sure put in a lot of effort.

Kobayashi: Not at all. In fact, I think I’m rather clumsy so there are times when I lose myself in the middle of a performance. I wanted to 100% concentrate on my acting, making sure I enjoyed it as well as giving my best, so I colour-coded the script in order to improve my focus.

Kameyama: Gradations as well?

Kobayashi: I did! Sometimes there were crazy colour mixes of green and pink (laughs). Other people would comment, ‘Yu-chan, your script is amazing!’. Sometimes the gradations were mixed up to the point where I didn’t even understand them myself (laughs). Still, I wouldn’t be able to put myself at ease unless I did that.

Kameyama: (laughs)

Kobayashi: I also read my scripts even when I was in the bath so they’ve ended up rough & wrinkled. When I turn the pages during recording I make a lot of ridiculous rustling noises and that’s really troubling for everyone else….

Kameyama: That shows how enthusiastically you practise.

Kobayashi: Regardless, I am clumsy, so I can’t get too relaxed. Mariya has sadistic lines like ‘Oi, scum!’ or ‘You little bug!’ and I’ll stick them up on a board and try reciting them when I’m at home…as I want to make it sound as natural as possible. I do murmur my lines in the train sometimes and I’ve been caught doing that by friends sometimes! They’ll say to me, ‘I saw you in the train the other day, mumbling and grinning to yourself’.

Kameyama: If you take just one wrong step you’d be seen as a dangerous person (laughs). You expend so much energy practicing; do you actually have time to sleep? I’ve always wanted to ask you that….

Kobayashi: I sleep maybe 3-4 hours? Though there are days when I don’t even get that many…but when I think about recording my lines, I realize how much I love doing this [job] and without noticing, time has slipped away. I only spend a little amount of time voicing Mariya during recordings, so I just really wanted to do as much as I possibly could. That’s why I was really sad when Maria Holic recordings ended. There was so much more I wanted to experience together with my co-stars so in a way, I was filled with regret.

Kameyama: Regarding Maria Holic, it has come to an end for now but I do think that ‘surely, we will do this again sometime’.

Kobayashi: I don’t think it’s ended yet either. Perhaps it’s just my own selfish delusion, but if there is a next series I would love to be a part of it!


Trust in your own ways and do your best!

Q: Kameyama-san, what do you expect from Kobayashi-san going forward?

Kameyama: Hmm, that’s hard for me to comment on. It’s likely that Kobayashi-san will really go out and do whatever I suggest, so I’ve got to be careful with what I say here (laughs)

Kobayashi: That’s okay! Please go ahead!!

Kameyama: Let me see…I want you to continue moving forward with the zeal that you have now, I suppose. And it might be interesting for you to eventually voice the role of a princess.

Kobayashi: Ah! I’m happy to hear you say that! I do very much want to play a princess, but I haven’t had the opportunity to do so thus far. But I’ll continue to believe and ‘never give up even if everybody else does!’. I’m really glad to hear Kameyama-san say that though, so much so that I could cry.

Kameyama: There are people out there who are keeping a close eye on you, and you’ll never know where a chance might come from. I just want you to trust in your own ways and do your best.

Kobayashi: I’ve never really mentioned this to anyone but with the hopes of playing the role of an elegant lady someday, I continue to secretly practise alone. To have Kameyama-san encouraging me this way strengthens my feelings of wanting to do my absolute best! I will work hard to play not just male characters, but girls as well!

Q: You’re really greedy when it comes to acting!

Kobayashi: Yes! I must be really greedy to even think of taking on the role of a princess (laughs). But when it comes to ‘acting’, I will never give up.

Kameyama: On the other hand, what kind of short-term goals do you have?

Kobayashi: There any many things that I’m not able to do as yet, so I’d like to tick them off my list one by one. Obviously, playing a princess tops the list so if I can go through the rest of it one by one that will bring me closer to my dream. I’m in the midst of tackling all that right now, but there is much I still have to overcome and that troubles me (laughs). I am still lacking in a lot of areas. Sometimes, I’ll be walking around, thinking about the issues I have to face and mumbling to myself, ‘This is what I lack’.

Kameyama: I look forward to Kobayashi-san’s continued success.

Kobayashi: Thank you! I’m grateful to you for stopping by Yu’s Room today.

I’ve always been fascinated by Kobayashi Yu, in many ways. She’s a great performer, both on stage and in the studio, but I never genuinely thought she would endure so long in the industry – 15 years so far, in fact.

Kobayashi started getting popular in the mid-2000s when she was in shows like Negima, School Rumble and Higurashi no Naku koro ni – she used to be a fashion model before that. She had the looks and the height, but her weirdness always made me doubt that she could actually make it far in the business – like, how the hell does this crazy woman get along with her colleagues and staff members? Nobody ever seems to have gotten a handle on her real personality, who she is and what makes her tick – it’s still truly amusing to see how her co-workers react to her. As Goto Yuko once said, ‘(working with her) is like having a punch flying at you in the dark – you never know where it’s coming from’. She also compared her to a pitcher who can throw every single pitch under the sun.

Kobayashi’s work in recent years has been particularly stellar – in series such as Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Shingeki no Kyojin and Kekkai Sensen. Having tracked her career from an early stage, I’m inclined to think that Kobayashi gets hired so often by a wide spectrum of directors and sound directors based on her talent and work ethic – and those strengths can make up for her erratic behaviour and her terrible drawing skills. Directors like that kind of dependability in their actors – someone who puts in the leg work (reads, understands & rehearses their scripts), has the correct attitude (turns up on time for recordings) and is flexible (knows how to respond to director requests for changes etc). Doesn’t matter [too much] if you’re crazy!