Q: As a voice actor, you’ve lent your voice to many different roles, but I get the impression that your roles often have another side to them.
Soma: Facing setbacks or being toyed with by fate, then falling to the dark side or exiting the stage partway through… I voice a lot of characters like that. For example, Asano Keisaku from revisions.
Q: Why do you think that is?
Soma: It could be that the nature of my voice and my acting style make people think, “I want to corrupt this guy!” *laughs* I’d be really happy if people thought that way.
Q: It seems like you’ve been voicing more unconventional roles in 2019.
Soma: Indeed, like Doppio in JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze. As an anime watcher, I always liked those kinds of non-straightforward characters, so I’m happy to be able to voice them.
Q: Doppio is one side of a dual personality, and he does unusual things like vocalizing the ringtone for a fake phone call.
Soma: My fellow voice actor friends told me “You really let loose, huh?”, and at a JoJo event, Nakamura Yuichi-san said “Isn’t Soma-kun going to get a lot of ringtone work offers?!” *laughs*
Q: Meanwhile, Kabukichou Sherlock’s Kyougoku Fuyuto is a virgin detective dreaming of making it big.
Soma: Kyougoku-san looks cold and calculating on the outside, but when you look at what’s inside, it’s like “Oh, it’s this kind of person…”
Q: He’s actually a comedic relief that turns hyper when he gets switched on.
Soma: Apparently, Kishimoto Taku-san (Series Composition) spiced him up for me because “Saito-kun is bound to make him funny, so let’s make him a total nutcase!”
Q: The unconventional Doppio and the comical Kyougoku. The range of your roles is widening.
Soma: I wanted to hammer out my distinctive qualities while I’m still in my twenties. It feels like I’m gradually uncovering more of my arsenal as a voice actor.
Q: You’re also involved with the Hypnosis Mic franchise, where the voice actors play characters that participate in rap battles.
Soma: I always figured there’d be a voice actor rap project someday, but I didn’t expect it to become this popular!
Q: This unprecedented “The music is the original work” project began in 2017 and rapidly grew in popularity. In 2019, it won the singing award in the 13th Voice Actor Awards.
Soma: I’ve always enjoyed hip hop and rap music as a listener myself, but it was limited to things like “I like this kind of flow.” In Hypmic, I heard different styles of rap through the various characters, and it opened up my options when it comes to fitting words together.
Q: Aside from your voice acting work, you’re also active as an artist who composes music and writes lyrics. Are you influenced by Hypmic?
Soma: It gave me more ideas for interesting vocabulary and rhythms. It’s a useful reference when I’m writing songs, and it truly is fun.
Q: Your latest mini-album “my blue vacation” will be released on December 18th.
Soma: This time, I did all of the composition and lyrics myself. It also has songs that leveraged the extra options I gained through Hypmic.
Q: You also had your first solo concert on February 24th. Did that influence your new release?
Soma: At the concert, I got to experience creating music together with the live band members. Now when I’m composing music, there’s more I can leave to their expertise. In the end, it’s best to trust the experts. The mini-album has amazing musical performances, so please keep an ear out for those.
Q: I’m sure you must’ve received a lot of feedback through Hypmic and the concert.
Soma: It’s been around two years since my artist debut. If everything up until now was “Season 1,” then this upcoming mini-album is a “Season 1.5” that comes before Season 2. I’m taking my time heading into the second chapter. It’s a collection of songs that are different in musical tone from anything I’ve done before, so in the worst case scenario, it could’ve been more difficult to put together than a full album.
Q: In a past interview for this magazine, you said: “I once bought 18 books at once, and got laughed at by the clerk.” As an avid bookworm, this year you recommended books as part of Kawade Bunko’s “Best of Best” campaign, and it was a major success.
Soma: I’m very thankful. My original dream was to become either an author or a musician. But in high school, there was a period of time when I was a shut-in, and it was anime and movies that saved me. That’s why I set my sights on becoming a voice actor. I leaped into the work with conviction and continued on steadily, and now I’ve been given the chance to do book- and music-related work. It feels like I’ve been rewarded for my efforts.
Q: The range of your work is expanding.
Soma: But, my main focus will always be voice acting, now and in the future. I’m very grateful to be given various other chances by having that as my central axis.
Q: What are you the most thankful for in 2019?
Soma: This year, I was able to encounter an extremely wide variety of roles and series. These encounters aren’t something I can accumulate by myself. It’s thanks to everyone who feels something through my work and supports me, and all of the staff who decide “Let’s give this role to Saito Soma.”
Q: What would you like to strive for as a voice actor?
Soma: I’m a pretty presumptuous person. I tend to quickly come to the conclusion that my current work is proficient. By putting it into words like this, I’m warning myself, because I want to be humble while bringing out everything I have as a voice actor.
Soma’s New Year Holiday…
“I want to relax during New Year’s. It’d be nice to leisurely reread books I’ve read before. What I want to reread right now is Mono no Aware, a story by Chinese-American sci-fi writer Ken Liu. I haven’t read any sci-fi lately, so I really want to get into it. The protagonist of this story is Japanese, and it contains a poem by Matsuo Basho. I want to write my own prose while rereading it.”
Bonus: Shot from magazine raffle page
Bonus: Shop-specific bromides
Bonus: Another Cut
Bonus: Another Cut
(This part of the photo shoot was themed around making breakfast on the morning of New Year’s. During the shoot, Soma taught the editing staff how to make sunny side up eggs without burning them.)
Bonus: Another Cut
Bonus: Off-shot from Soma’s stylist, Honda Yuuki