[Interview] Seiyuu Men vol.5 – Saito Soma – Hand Shakers

Released: 2016/12/16

Saito Soma (Takatsuki Tazuna in Hand Shakers)

Morohoshi Sumire (Akutagawa Koyori in Hand Shakers)
Sugita Tomokazu (Hibiki in Hand Shakers)
Ishikawa Kaito (Hayate in Hand Shakers)

A series that reaches the heart

Q: First, please tell us your impression of the work.

When I first took the audition, there wasn’t any character art or supporting material provided, and the script they had us read was relatively short. It was an unusual audition where they asked us to directly translate the image we got from reading the text to our acting. My approach was to do it the way I felt was interesting.

However, at the time of the audition, I didn’t know that the show was going to be about partners, or that the story would involve joining hands with Koyori to fight. And in actuality, it felt like many aspects of the work would change as the big picture became clearer and I discussed it with the other voice actors. So, when I was informed that I’d received the role after the audition, I was both happy and excited to see who the rest of the cast was.

Q: What kind of character do you think Tazuna is?

Tazuna likes tinkering with machines, and gets absorbed in it to the point where he forgets his surroundings. When I was in elementary school, I’d also get absorbed in arts and crafts, and break time would be over before I knew it… That happened a lot, so I hoped to be able to transfer that devotion to my role.

Q: What do you pay attention to when costarring with Morohoshi Sumire-san, who voices Tazuna’s partner Koyori?

I can’t say too much yet, but Koyori is a girl with a lot on her shoulders. She also doesn’t have the appearance of a normal girl her age, and she has a mysterious aura. On that note, Tazuna is a normal boy, in a good way *laughs*. For example, he has a pure side and gets nervous around girls.

When I’m recording with Morohoshi-san, she’s extremely skilled at building the atmosphere between the two characters. This time, there was a part where Tazuna and Koyori react to something at the same time, and I was amazed at how perfectly it went. I’m always noticing Morohoshi-san’s detailed skillfulness.

But, since my character Tazuna is the one leading Koyori along, I pay the most attention to how he perceives Koyori.

Q: What was challenging during the recording?

First, for the Episode 1 recording, the visuals were already complete, and I was stunned by the unique presentation. Especially for the long, uninterrupted cuts in the battle scene, we weren’t sure how much we should leave to the animation and where we should insert our own breaths… We discussed those kinds of things in fine detail with the staff.

This series also has unique elocution. I was constantly contemplating how to digest the essence of what the director put in the script and reflect it onto my role in a way that felt natural. Of course, Hand Shakers has its own style, so I wanted to preserve the expressions that would be hooks for the viewers, while using a natural enunciation for the parts I wanted to be heard smoothly. When lines have distinct elocution, slight changes in tone or pronunciation can change the nuance greatly, so that was a challenge.

Q: It sounds like it’d be difficult to get the balance right. What kinds of things did the sound director say?

For Episode 1’s recording, I received direction regarding the work and the character’s nature. That said, during the audition and the test run, I took a natural approach to Tazuna’s voice, and was told by the directors that they wanted to make this series a boy-meets-girl story. He certainly does have a cute appearance, so I switched to a more young-sounding voice. However, I wanted to portray him as a young man with a surprisingly strong conviction, rather than a cute and timid boy.

Q: What were the recording sessions like?

Tazuna isn’t the type of character that I can freely play around with, which isn’t a bad thing, but the other cast members ad-lib like crazy *laughs*. Sugita Tomokazu-san and Ishikawa Kaito-kun went particularly off the rails, and just listening to them almost made me laugh out loud. It felt like the actors were further developing the characters through ad libs, and it was truly interesting to think about how I would’ve transformed the characters if it were me in their place.

Q: In this series, each duo has their own characteristics. Were there any moments during the recording where you felt unique characteristics from the pairings?

The pair that Tazuna and Koyori fight first had me wondering, “What are these two normally like?” *laughs* Please look forward to seeing it when the show airs.

I also thought it was interesting how even though each pair’s members are involved with each other in both the real world and the fighting world, they don’t really declare themselves friends or lovers. That means that when they say they “like” each other, there’s different ways of interpreting that, and I think that makes it fun for the viewers to figure out.

Also, direction-wise, there’s a scene where a character is throwing a tantrum, then suddenly in the next cut they’re pulling a tarot card with a super serious face *laughs*. I think a lot of viewers enjoy that kind of scene, so it’ll be a success if they’re charmed by the show’s eccentricities.

Q: In that sense, it tests the voice cast’s capability.

Some of us are leveraging that distinctive direction in our acting, while others are blending their acting into the work. As a result, the recording sessions are a show of the actors’ natures. Each voice actor has their own approach to their role, and it’s been educational.

Q: The characters in the show are fighting to make their wish come true. Do you have a wish you want to be granted right now?

The Hand Shakers use their emotions to fight, but for us, I think what we need in order to keep fighting is good health *laughs*. In order to put on our best performance at recordings, it’s important to manage our health, and lately I’ve been doing various things to reexamine my physical condition. But at any rate, my body is stiff. So, if I had to make a wish… I’d want to be able to touch my toes.

Q: *laughs* Maintaining your health is difficult because you have to pay attention to all sorts of little things.

I find myself researching things like… how healthy intestines secrete more serotonin *laughs*. But what matters is putting it into practice daily, rather than theoretical knowledge. For now, I’m trying my best on my own instead of relying on God. *laughs*

Q: What do you place importance on when acting in this series?

It’s not easy, but I think it’d be “living honestly.” It’s something I value both as Tazuna and as Saito Soma. Also, my trust and gratitude towards my co-actors and the staff. Working together with the director and the rest of the staff to create the series, and fighting together with my co-actors on the recording battleground without showing off. When acting, there are times when things will get heated, but it’s always important to strike a balance between instinct and reason, because going 100% in either direction isn’t going to work.

Q: What would you like people to notice in the series?

The highlight would have to be the stunning visuals, not just in the battle scenes but also in the recreated Osaka scenery. It’s all gorgeous, and I think people watching the show for the first time will sense its allure from there. The unfolding story and the characters have strong personality as well. It might not appeal to everyone, though. That said, for those it does strike a chord with, I think it’ll reach their heart, so please see Tazuna and Koyori-chan’s story through to the end with your own eyes.