Kikuko Inoue is a famous seiyuu associated with many popular anime. Her past performances include Belldandy of Aa Megami-Sama, Kasume Tendou in Ranma 1/2, Rune Venus in El-Hazard, Kazami Mizuho in Onegai Teacher, Lust in Fullmetal Alchemist, Miria in Claymore, Grace O’Connor in Macross Frontier, Akane in Higurashi, and Cecile in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. She answered questions at Otakon.
Inoue was also accompanied by Hidenori Matsubara, the character designer of Ah! My Goddess, the show Inoue is best known for.
How long have you been doing this?
Kikuko Inoue: Twenty-one years. [applause]
And how are you officially seventeen?
Kikuko Inoue: Uh . . . let’s say it’s a temporal anomaly.
You leapt through time?
Kikuko Inoue: That’s wonderful! [laughs] I’ll have to ask Kadokawa if we can use that. [crowd roars, applauds]
When you do characters outside your norm, what is it like?
Kikuko Inoue: I like to think using different skills is like having a dresser with different drawers . . . there are some you open all the time, and some you almost never use. The ones I don’t use are maybe not very good. [laughs] But I think everyone is like that; we all have some drawers that maybe shouldn’t be opened! [laughter]
Hidenori Matsubara: I don’t. [laughter]
Kikuko Inoue: Liar! Wait, do you have any good drawers? [laughter]
Hidenori Matsubara: Of course! I have nothing but good drawers. I have no weaknesses. [laughter]
What was your favorite costume?
Kikuko Inoue: Robelia [of Sakura Taisen].
Hidenori Matsubara: I saw her with pants on and couldn’t help but think, “Wow, that’s weird!”
Kikuko Inoue: Some costumes provoke the reaction, “That’s so cute!” and some make people go “What happened to you?” [laughter] It’s hard to look cool.
What’s the hardest part of voice acting?
Kikuko Inoue: It’s got to be taking care of my throat and my voice. Colds are the worst, so I took to wearing a mask whenever people around me had a cough.
[At this point both Hidenori Matsubara and the translator fake coughs.] [laughter]
Hidenori Matsubara: Actually, you said this earlier, but do you audition? Do you really?
Kikuko Inoue: I really do! Really . . . half the time.
Hidenori Matsubara: How about working with me after Evangelion is done?
Kikuko Inoue: Sure!
Hidenori Matsubara: Actually I thought the Evangelion movies would take 1.5 years. But just the first one alone took two years! I’m afraid you may have to wait. [laughter] But really, there’s more Ah My Goddess, isn’t there?
How do you like Baltimore?
Kikuko Inoue: I was a fish in a former life, so I love the Inner Harbor!
Kikuko Inoue: A sunfish. A big, yellow flatfish. I remember being a fish.
Who’s your favorite character in Ah My Goddess, aside from Belldandy?
Kikuko Inoue: Uh . . . I love everyone! That’s what Belldandy would say! Haha. Well, let’s see. Keiichi. Actually, I’m interested in what the creator would say to this. Please answer this as well, honestly.
Hidenori Matsubara: Hmmm.
Kikuko Inoue: Not Belldandy?!
Hidenori Matsubara: . . . Keiichi. I’ll also say Keiichi. He’s really easy to draw! [laughter] Much easier than Belldandy! [laughter]
Are there things you don’t eat because of your voice?
Kikuko Inoue: Well, there are voice actors who really watch what they eat, but I don’t. [laughter] I do drink a lot of kuromame [black bean broth].
Why aren’t you in Evangelion?
Kikuko Inoue: Yeah, why not? [looks at Hidenori Matsubara]
Hidenori Matsubara: Everyone has a bad personality. I don’t think any role suits you . . . except maybe Pen-Pen. You could be Pen-Pen! Actually I was offered a small role, but I was quite busy at the time.
If you could pick any role to be in Evangelion . . .
Hidenori Matsubara: Yeah, who would you be? Yui? I wonder.
Kikuko Inoue: Ah, I’m trying to think of a light-hearted response. Let’s say, Shinji! Haha, just kidding. I’m really great friends with the voice actresses for EVA; please don’t distort this on the Internet! It’s a joke, a joke. I don’t want to take any of their jobs!
Do you like Ramune?
Kikuko Inoue: Yes!
Kikuko Inoue: Flavor? We don’t get multiple flavors. What flavors do you guys get? This is the first I’ve heard of different flavors!
Has the industry changed? Is it easy for a 17-year-old girl to enter it?
Kikuko Inoue: I auditioned at an agency and became a talent. After that, they sent me out.
Hidenori Matsubara: In the beginning, voice actresses only had to do voice acting, but then it started to involve real acting and singing. Now it’s like being an idol – a whole set of talents are needed. There was an increase in cute characters and then a decrease – I wonder what happened to the voice actresses.
Kikuko Inoue: Maybe everyone’s doing part-time work on the side. On that note, I feel like I should mention this. Studios send their new girls to greet me and they say, “I’m seventeen.” I say, “Oh really? Me too!”
When you do game characters do you go back and play so you can see your character in context?
Kikuko Inoue: I usually get a free copy, but . . . sometimes I’m not good at the game. I get my sister to play and I watch her! [laughs]
There are a few other voice actresses approved by you as “seventeen.” What’s the selection process?
Kikuko Inoue: You have to be very experienced to be seventeen! There’s no test, but we want to keep it exclusive.
Hidenori Matsubara: . . .
Kikuko Inoue: But it’s not like we are liars! We just want there to be more laughter in the world! Sadly, though, some people just don’t get it.
Is it true that voice actresses act out the voices when reading manga?
Kikuko Inoue: Absolutely true! [laughter] I just have to do it! [laughter]
Do you work alone or with others?
Kikuko Inoue: Nobody plays drums alone, right?
Hidenori Matsubara: I work alone at night. I work with staff during the day, but at night I’m totally by myself.
Kikuko Inoue: How lonely!
Hidenori Matsubara: It lets me concentrate.
What anime do you like?
Kikuko Inoue: Keroro Gunso! [laughter] I just love the opening! [laughter]
Hidenori Matsubara: Uh, I don’t actually watch anything because I have no time. I can’t possibly commit the time to follow a show on a weekly basis. I did like the art in Birdy the Mighty.
Last question: What kind of guy is your type?
Kikuko Inoue: I don’t think it’s really a question of type. I like guys with open hearts, who can be kind and encouraging even if I’m having a tough time or being silly.
As for what kinds of dates I like . . . something like getting cake, or karaoke!