Saito Soma (Inui Kazuomi in Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare)
Intentionally performed ambiguously
Q: All four main characters of this work, including Kazuomi who you voice, are very kind and good-natured, which is why their unrequited feelings are so dramatic. What did you think when you read the original manga, Saito-san?
When I heard about the audition, it was right when I had to travel a long distance, so I figured I’d read Vol.1 on the way. I started reading, and I just couldn’t stop *laughs*. There are some manga that make me want to marathon them all in one go, and this was definitely one of them.
Q: The original manga is 12 volumes in total. How many days did it take you?
I marathoned it in about two days! But when I first read it, I got pretty jealous of Kazuomi. I thought he was really attractive at the start, and it was like I was perceiving the story from the perspective of Akari-chan, who’s captivated by him. I found my emotions being swayed by his words and actions the same way as her… *laughs*
Q: How did you grasp Kazuomi’s character?
I auditioned for both Kazuomi and Rio, but I was surprised when I was selected for Kazuomi. After that, I read the original work again, and saw that he valued the balance between him and the people around him, very much wanting harmony. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t, so people will have quite different views of him, making me think that he seems like a vague, elusive character.
There’s a scene where he says to Akari-chan, “Fall in love with me, then.” “See? You can’t fall in love with someone just like that.” It makes Akari-chan’s heart skip a beat, but for Kazuomi, he really meant what he said. He was simply saying, “Falling in love isn’t that easy, right?” Kazuomi’s words end up having different meanings depending on the views and state of mind of the receiver. So, I tried not to restrict the implication too much, so that the viewer wouldn’t see it as “He definitely thinks this way.” That way, the audience can experience it in different ways.
For example, one approach is to simplify it, making the emotions clear like “this part is spoken with anger,” “here he says he accepts it, but on the inside he really doesn’t.” But in Kazuomi’s case, I thought it was important to keep his statements ambiguous in a good way. He probably doesn’t have a clear-cut idea of what he feels either. So perhaps that aforementioned scene also made his heart beat faster, or perhaps he thought nothing of it. Starting partway through the recording, I deliberately tried to blend those feelings and thoughts together.
Q: So, since he was ambiguous, you intentionally kept it that way in your acting.
Yes, it’s a style of acting I’ve never done before. Kazuomi is a type of character I haven’t voiced much to begin with, so there were a lot of challenges in it for me. Thanks to this, I feel like I understand now that sometimes it can be fine to keep things ambiguous, and sometimes it’s okay to accept that.
It’s definitely important to convey things in a proper, easy-to-understand way, but sometimes there are lines that are complicated and difficult to convey. After all, sometimes I don’t even know what my own feelings are. I used to think that acting was about thoroughly analyzing that, but I was able to discover a different approach. This work taught me that there are probably many other feelings like this too.
Since they try so hard, it gets complicated
Q: It seems that Kazuomi gradually develops an interest in Akari as well. What do you think he found attractive in her?
Akari-chan is shown falling in love with Kazuomi, but Kazuomi’s side isn’t really shown directly. He also has less monologues than the other three characters. I think that ties into his elusiveness too… So, when I first read the script, I knew how he felt because I read the original manga, but many people would be finding out about FuriFura for the first time through this movie. I wondered how I could make it easy for those viewers to understand. But actually, there are scenes scattered around that make you think “Was he conscious of Akari-chan just now?” without using voiced lines. It really shows in his glances and slight changes in breathing. When I saw the completed version, I thought, “Kazuomi liked Akari-chan from the start, huh?”
Q: Indeed, when I watched it, his tone of voice would be blunt but his mouth would be slightly smiling. I felt that Kazuomi’s character was expressed through both the animated acting and the vocal acting.
Even in the real world, there are people that exude a certain warmth, because their words and tone are blunt, but you can tell that they’re speaking from their heart. I hope I was able to express that feeling well.
Q: Did Director Kuroyanagi Toshimasa or the sound director discuss anything with you at the recording?
At first, I imagined Kazuomi as having a low voice, but I was told not to make it that low. They said to go back to the cheerful childhood friend Kazuomi at the beginning of the story, and build up from there. But after that, there weren’t any other major trajectory changes, and my interpretations were respected. Beyond that, I got a feel for it as the four of us did our dialogues with each other.
Q: The four characters don’t just think of one way someone might feel, but even consider a second and third possibility. They reflect on their actions, and I was surprised at how mature they were. What did you think, Saito-san?
I think these four are at a very delicate age, where there are some things they already understand, but other things they don’t understand at all yet.
Yuna and Rio are the straightforward type, I’d say. Their narrow field of view might be childish, but the way they love someone deeply and honestly could be considered an adult’s sense.
On the flip side, Kazuomi and Akari are the considerate type, thinking about all sorts of things and wanting to make everyone happy somehow. This seems mature at first glance, but the way they aren’t honest with their own dreams and desires could be considered childish. They haven’t realized yet that their own feelings are making the situation more complicated. That’s what that age is like, and that’s what those relationships are like, and I think it’s wonderful.
This story goes back and forth between complication and simplicity. A lot of issues would’ve been resolved more quickly if someone hadn’t acted based on a wrong assumption, and there are a lot of instances of someone placing too much meaning on something that was just bad timing. There’s a lot of realism in that. Since they’re all trying their best in their own way, wanting to be kind to one another but also wanting to do what they want, living with those strong feelings, the story becomes complicated. Because they’re living earnestly, it can’t be a simple story. That’s what’s admirable about it, and it made me remember the same frustration I felt at that age.
I want you to watch it from each of their perspectives
Q: Hearing this has made me more excited for the premiere! Please go over the highlights of the film once more.
When I read the original manga, I felt that it was extremely proficient at depicting “things not going well.” As a reader, there were parts that were painful to watch, but it was great seeing their own conclusions come into view. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows—there’re a lot of feelings of selfishness and “Why won’t they understand how much I care about them?” that make you think “Yeah, these are feelings you go through in life.” It makes me remember that I was like that in the past too, and I probably still am like that now.
I feel that the title of this work summarizes everything. Getting depressed over a wrong assumption, cheering up from a single casual comment, suddenly being able to do something you couldn’t do before, or vice versa… I think our daily lives are made up of these little “back and forths.” There aren’t many works that resonate with as many people as this one has.
The animated version depicts this manga’s essence in a way that only anime can, so please look forward to the premiere. I want you to watch it from each of the four characters’ perspectives, so if you could watch it at least four times, that’d be great *laughs*. That’s how well this work teaches you that the world we see is very subjective, and happiness comes in different forms depending on the person. So, I hope that you’ll enjoy the film from each character’s perspective and that FuriFura’s world will have a large effect on you.
Q: Since everyone sees it from a different perspective, if you go with friends or a significant other, the conversation afterwards is bound to be enthusiastic.
Yes, please debate it out! “Was that scene right or wrong?” “Would you want that line said to you?” I think this film is great for spurring debate *laughs* so please go to see it with others, and enjoy the post-discussion and lingering thoughts as well.