Anime Diet is again proud to present an exclusive interview, this time with the voice actress Yukana. She’s well known for her role as CC in Code Geass, Tessa Testarossa in Full Metal Panic, and characters in Chobits and numerous other shows. Throughout the interview, as well as in the fan panel (we missed the press conference), she was dressed in a long, dark velvet dress, and was simultaneously reserved and cheerful in answering questions. Her natural speaking voice may surprise you, unless, like me, you’re a Tessa Testarossa fan. Because that is who she sounds most like in real life! Kind of like how Hirano Aya sounds even more girlish than Haruhi Suzumiya in real life.
The interview was held on Saturday, November 10, 2007. This transcript is of a private interview, not a press conference, and perhaps ironically, that meant we spent a shorter amount of time with her than we did with the Claymore staff. But–we still got our delicious endorsement anyway! In Japanese, too.
(BTW, this is the only video you’ll be getting. We were requested to not display anything else in public. Sorry.)
Jeremy, myself, and Fred–who understands basic Japanese–were present. As in the Claymore staff interview, it was done through an interpreter, who translated in the third person, which is accurately transcribed here. The interview was edited for conciseness and clarity. And no, tj_han, there is no real juicy gossip for you. You’ll have to ask another reporter for that. :)
Coming soon: reports from the fan panels for both Yukana and Claymore staff, a video diary like the Anime Expo ones, and a final written report.
(Mike) I understand that around 2000 or 2001 that you came to the US to study English for 6 months. We’d like to know where you studied English.
That’s actually a mistake. (Laughter) It wasn’t to study English. It is true that she lived in Manhattan for a year, so she can understand very simple conversational English. She’s not sure if her speech is polite enough to be broadcast on TV, or in public!
(Mike) Do you have any favorite American books or movies?
Well, she’s taking action acting lessons. She’s taking lessons in both modern action sequences and old Japanese samurai action sequences, so watching American action movies is very educational for her.
(Mike) I see. So are you a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, our governor?
She says Matt Damon, for now. (Laughter) She says she’s developed an interest in movies because she’s getting a lot of jobs as a narrator of movie trailers. Like recently she did The Bourne Ultimatum.
(Mike) Here in America, there’s a cliche of a Trailer Guy Voice, where it always starts with: “In a world…” [Yukana doubles over in laughter.] Is there a similar kind of thing in Japanese trailers?
There are a couple of actors that are used very often, like if they want a guy with a solid voice, they pick this guy. It’s not like The Movie Guy; [but] she wants to be The Movie Woman!
(Mike) Do you still practice some English from time to time?
She wishes she could study it a little more in Japan. She was spending time studying it more seven years ago, but since her job is basically speaking Japanese, she’s been immersed in Japanese since she came back. So she’s forgetting most of what she learned. But she’s been in the States for a couple of days now, and for a few more days, and she’s thinking, “By the time I’m going to go home, I’m going to start seeing dreams in English again.” Right now, she’s thinking in Japanese, so she has that slight delay to figuring out what to say, but if she starts having dreams in English again, that means she’s thinking in English, So when that happens, the conversation becomes a bit more of a reflex.
(Mike) Was there a particular moment or series of moments in your life where you realized that you specifically wanted to become a voice actress as opposed to any other kind of actor or actress? Can you talk a little bit about that moment?
She’s doesn’t have boundaries for being a voice actor per se. She thinks everyone is an actor, it’s just that if you’re specializing in anime as opposed to live action, you’re an actor that uses mainly the voice. And so, if you have an actress that does a lot of [action] stunt scenes, that’s called an action actress, and if an actress does mainly movies she’s called a movie actress. In that sense, a voice actress is someone who does mainly anime. But [as] anime is imported out from Japan all over the world, the term voice actress stuck with it, in [so] other countries think that “voice actress” does only anime.
(Mike) What I’m interested in is, maybe not specifically a voice actress, but the moment that you knew you wanted you wanted to become someone in the entertainment world as opposed to being a banker, officer worker, or something like that?
When she was young, she was a fragile little girl [of whom] doctors said, “You’re only have this long to live.” And so, at that point, she started thinking, “What if I was born in a different family? What would I be if I was born in that family, or how would I live if I was born a boy?” She started thinking that way, and what happened was that thought evolved into: “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if I could live a life that I wasn’t born with? And hey, you know what? Actors can live out lives that they never lived.” And that was the moment where she wanted to become an actress.
Since she got in the industry and she was doing her best to work, and live other lives, and she was working so hard…as time went on, the doctors stopped saying “You only have this long to live.” She really feels it’s really a miracle that the will to do something can overcome even death. And when she’s acting, in the recording studio with the red recording light on, she can be a super ninja, or a hero that saves the world. She can be all sorts of things, and that’s still the wonder of it all.
(Mike) Wow, that’s very inspiring. We’re running short on time, so one more question…Are you more moe or are you more tsundere?
[Yukana hems thoughtfully] Tsundere? [Laughter all around]
(Mike) That makes me very happy!
She has a little more tsun in her. [Laughter] When she first heard the term tsundere, she thought, “what are they talking about the tundras for?” [Laughter]
(Jeremy) In listening to you, you have a very soft, pleasant voice. So I was wondering if very early on, someone recognized this and thought you might make a good seiyuu. Did anyone ever make this recommendation to you based on hearing your voice?
Not many people actually approached her before she got in the industry, like, “Oh, you should be a voice actress.” She’s been in the industry for about seventeen years, and around year five, while she was riding a taxi–the taxi drivers would say, “Oh, you know, you have a cute voice!” And about ten years into the industry: “You have a cute voice. Are you a voice actress?” [Laughter] All this time, she’s trying to speak like a normal person, but apparently everyone else around her starts thinking the same thing.
(Fred, who understands basic Japanese, laughs at the right cue in the conversation below, instead of us who have to wait for a translation.)
So you have this solicitor, and he’s ringing at the door, or you have a telemarketer calling, [and she says, in a high pitched voice]: “I’m sorry, Daddy’s not home.” They all believe it and just go away. (To Fred) See, you’re laughing at the right time!
(Jeremy) I was just curious if, while you were in school or growing up–what was your first performance?
She started playing the piano when she was about four, but from arond then, even before that, she would be singing [and thinking], “If I could sing this song in this way, it’d be sound happier, or depressing.” So she was testing the waters as to how to sing, in terms of directly performing, not necessarily in front of an audience. [So] she’d always be performing at that early an age. But she can’t think of her first public performance.
(Mike) I was wondering if I could ask you for just one small favor.
(Jeremy) We decided it’d be nice if you could say that ‘Anime Diet ooishi desu!’
Do you have a particular request how, or what character, she would say it as?
(Mike) I really wanted to hear you do Tessa, from Full Metal Panic.
(As Tessa Testarossa) Anime Diet wa ooishi desu!