[Serialization] Monthly TV Guide 2021/3 Edition – Saito Soma no “Tsukurikata”. 01

(no scans because it’s still a recent release)

Released: 2021/1/22

Features:
Saito Soma
Nakao Ryusei

Mentioned:
Komada Wataru
Ueda Reina
Takahashi Rie

Saito Soma’s new serialization where he discusses “How It’s Made” with anime industry professionals. The first guest is Nakao Ryusei, who was Saito’s teacher at voice actor training school. Nakao was born in 1951 and debuted at the age of 5 on a radio drama. He discovered the industry in an era where “voice acting was an actor’s part-time job.” He became known for roles such as Baikinman in Anpanman and Frieza in Dragon Ball Z, and in 1985, he got involved in training the next generation at the previous iteration of 81 Produce’s training school. When Saito enrolled there, Nakao considered him “already skilled” from the very beginning. Here, they discuss what a training school teacher does and what the place means to voice actors.


Saito Soma and his respected former teacher discuss “Voice Actor Training School” (Part 1)

Saito: I went to training school more than ten years ago. There are a lot of things that I don’t remember very well, but I do still remember what happened there. For example, going to a summer festival with all of my classmates, like Komada (Wataru)-kun, Ueda (Reina)-san, and Takahashi Rie-chan. I think there were a lot of unique people in our year.

Nakao: It was a fun class with a lot of motivated people.

Saito: I feel like we also caused a lot of trouble *laughs*. I think there were a lot of really ambitious people. After class, we would always discuss what we learned that day in front of the train station.

Nakao: Wow!

Saito: I really enjoyed the debates we had. It was truly a time of adolescence, struggling and frustration included.

Nakao: 81 Produce’s training school curriculum used to be three years. You went there for one year, right? In the first semester you studied voice fundamentals and readings, the second semester was animation voicing, and the third semester was dubbing Western films. But now, animation voicing is done in the first semester.

Saito: Right off the bat?!

Nakao: Anime dialogue is caricaturized to begin with. Before you can study realistic dialogue and acting, you have to do caricaturized acting. There are also classes for fundamentals, speaking, and narration, but it’s still rather tough.

Saito: That’s demanding.

Nakao: The “Words” class that I teach is taught by two teachers in two time blocks. One teaches fundamentals while the other is for practical application like anime dubbing. We take turns teaching the blocks.

Saito: So, Ryusei-san taught me both fundamentals and practical application. We did the “Uirou-uri” (a type of kabuki prologue used for practicing articulation and enunciation) too, right? What I remember most from the lessons is “Wasshoi” which used the lyrics from Kitahara Hakushuu’s Omatsuri.

Nakao: We still do that now.

Saito: The line “Wasshoi, wasshoi. It’s a festival, it’s a festival!” would be repeated, and the following lines would be different things like “A hanagasa on our backs~” or “A portable shrine; it’s a portable shrine~”. We would all stand in a circle and recite the verses from memory. The person speaking goes in the middle of the circle, and when they’re done, they pick a random person to go next. So, you don’t know which part you’ll be reciting until the time comes…

Nakao: You pass the baton while keeping the rhythm.

Saito: We keep going until we make it to the end without making mistakes or breaking the rhythm. It was extremely nerve-racking voice training.

Nakao: The day’s lesson wouldn’t begin until they did it perfectly. It’s a type of theatre game (practice for developing acting ability). Even though you memorized the song, you might blank out when the time comes to say your part.

Saito: Exactly.

Nakao: It’s even more stressful for the last person. If they make a mistake, everyone has to start over from the beginning.

Saito: The pressure builds as the song progresses.

Nakao: It also acts as mental training. At an audition, “I really do have it memorized” doesn’t fly. You have to do it right then and there. We also teach the students to look at people’s eyes when choosing the next person, because you’ll be able to tell if they remember the next line or not.

Saito: You can sense if they’re sending the “I can do this one” signal.

Nakao: Then you can also tell if they’ve memorized the entire song or if they only know one part. However, that’s not always going to work either, so what do you do? We have them work on a solution together.

Saito: You have to think about multiple things at the same time. It’s like that when voice acting too.

Nakao: The workplace is no different.

Saito: If you told me to do “Wasshoi” right now, I think I’d say “Please give me a break.” *laughs*

Nakao: Then, the final part of training school is the presentation.

Saito: Each class presents a work that’ll be the culmination of what they learned that year.

Nakao: We want everyone to come together to create a single work. Even though they aren’t “eating out of the same pot,” we want them to have that foundation. It’s also on them to find a place to practice.

Saito: For our independent practice, everyone pooled money and looked for a place we could rent. Also, each class had their specialties—for example, if they had someone who was good at making arrangements, they would get a training place booked in a flash.

Nakao: The duties naturally get distributed.

Saito: The world of acting involves working together to create something, which comes with both enjoyment and difficulties. We learned about that at training school too.

Nakao: We teachers are like driving school teachers. We can drive with one hand spinning the steering wheel, but we have to teach the students fundamental driving techniques like holding onto the wheel firmly with both hands.

Saito: What I appreciated the most at training school was that on top of teaching us the basic mentalities and techniques, they also made us think for ourselves. Instead of saying, “Do it like this,” they asked questions like, “How did that feel?” or “How do you want to do this?” I’m the kind of person that likes to think. Conversely, that means I tend to be satisfied with small successes. Also, at first I had a strong desire to not make mistakes, but Ryusei-san told me, “This place exists for you to make mistakes.” He never once scolded us unfairly either.

Nakao: I did scold people.

Saito: Aren’t scolding and admonishing completely different? I consider what you did “admonishing.” When you admonished us, we really did deserve it.

Nakao: I never admonished you alone, right? But I did admonish the class as a whole.

Saito: There was a time when we got too used to your kindness.

Nakao: It wasn’t my kindness—since we always studied from the same materials, you got used to the course content. When people become competent to a degree, they let their guard down. That’s when I scolded them and said, “Don’t get used to it!”

Saito: Ryusei-san is usually really nice, but when he says, “Tighten up this part and try again with firm emotion,” it’s sharp and motivates you.

Nakao: Saying it sharply makes them perform sharply, right? And then I scold them again, saying “Why didn’t you do it before I had to tell you to?!” I just don’t like it when they can do it but they don’t. If they can’t do it, then that’s a different story. But being capable yet choosing not to do it is bad. I get a little angry when that happens.

Saito: The sound pressure went “bang!” that time. I thought, “So this is what it means to have a voice resonate through your body!” That was when I experienced a real professional’s vocal force directly instead of through a mic.

Nakao: I’m always practicing for that purpose *laughs*. If you wait until you’re told to do it, it’s too late. When you become a professional, you have to do it properly from the start.

Saito: When we first started training school, our mindset was “first, be taught.” From there, we switched gears to assembling our own performances and acclimating our bodies to those ideas. Come to think of it, I expected the “Uirou-uri” story to come up today, so I reviewed it and was astounded. I thought I’d analyzed the content and its meaning back then, but when I read it now, it’s like seeing it through a higher resolution lens. I thought I understood it back then, but my perspective was too narrow.

Nakao: “Uirou-uri” has a lot of components. Accents, nasal sounds, devoicing…

Saito: Back then, I was really focused on memorizing it properly. “Uirou-uri” is about using any means possible to sell the audience on an amazing medicine. When I reviewed it, I kept thinking about how I’d want to present it. But if I did it right now, I think it’d sound extremely shady. *laughs*

Nakao: That’s brilliant. *laughs*

Saito: Since being taught by you, I’ve come to like more things. Back then, I was in my third year of university. That year, I decided that I would dedicate my whole life to walking the path of voice acting.

Nakao: Really?

Saito: I didn’t think my personality was suited for being a voice actor because I didn’t think I could take a step forward with sensitiveness or explosiveness. That was all I thought about every day. One day, I was eating in the school cafeteria, and I suddenly thought, “Wait—if my personality isn’t suited for it, does that mean that if I keep doing voice acting work for my whole life, I’ll be able to change myself over the course of my lifetime?” I called my parents right then and there and told them, “I’m not going to go job hunting.”

Nakao: So that’s when you decided.

Saito: Both of my parents are enthusiastic teachers. They said, “It’s your own life. We’re happy that you discovered what you want to do.”

Nakao: That’s kind of them.

Saito: They also said, “But since it’s your life, be responsible for it yourself.”

Nakao: I’m definitely never meeting your parents! They’d probably say, “Was it you who tricked our son?!” *laughs*

Saito: No way *laughs*. I talk to my parents about what you taught me.

Nakao: They sound like good parents. When you were taking my classes, you were always worrying.

Saito: A lot.

Nakao: And now you’re shining. You were a bit dark when you were worrying.

Saito: *laughs* Yeah.

Nakao: At the time, I thought, “He’s the type to overthink, huh?” It was a worrying time period for you.

Saito: Back then, I was intentionally narrowing my field of vision. All I thought was, “I need to show good results here so that it’ll lead to the next step!” I think that that in itself was a necessary time for me.

Nakao: What we teach at training school isn’t that grandiose, right? The first thing we talk about is always your mentality and the “wait” attitude.

Saito: Right. At training school, rather than how to be an actor, I learned a lot more about the fundamental mentality that I should have as a person who’ll be entering society.

Nakao: Our job is to wait. We have to wait until work comes. How do you spend your time waiting? “Lessons are important, but how are you going to live your life until our next class?” Since the classes continue for a year, I want the students to wait effectively. After they become professionals, this will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Saito: Even now when I meet people from that class, we often talk about the “wait” attitude.

Nakao: Everyone’s working as hard as they can, right? Because they’re pros. But what do you do when you don’t have work? This becomes the most important thing. Waiting effectively, concentrating effectively, and putting forth your best effort. Also, don’t slack off during lessons!

Saito: I think that 2020 in particular was a time for the whole world, not just actors, to think about “waiting.”

Nakao: Everyone, yes.

Saito: I try to keep the wait attitude, but sometimes I give in and I’m just waiting, or I become too passive. We voice actors only exist because of creative works and characters, but that said, we should also be able to actively create and express something. I thought a lot about how it’s important to “wait actively.” I can’t practice in a really loud voice at home, after all. *laughs*

Nakao: I’ve been working for many years too, and this is the first time I’ve had so much time to myself. At times like this, your mentality is the most important thing. We’ve been living rather brazenly, but the young people who are starting out in their career have weaknesses in their mentality. How will they fortify those and wait until their next opportunity? It might be a good idea to think about that.

(Continued in Part 2 in Monthly TV Guide 2021/4)


Bonus

“Hello, Saito Soma here! I have an interview published in Monthly TV Guide New Year XXL Edition, releasing today on December 16! There, it was announced that in the March edition releasing January 24, 2021*, I’m going to be starting a serialization in Monthly TV Guide~! I’m going to be having discussions with various professionals from the anime industry. More information will be announced later, so look forward to it!”
(*He says 1/24 in the video, but the actual release date was 1/22.)
“Hello, Saito Soma here! My serialization will be starting in Monthly TV Guide March Edition which releases on January 22. I’ll be having discussions with various professionals. For the first installment, I was given the opportunity to talk with my respected former teacher from my training school days, Nakao Ryusei-san! I really respect Ryusei-san as both an actor and a person, so I’m truly thankful for this! Please check it out!”

[Interview] Ani-PASS #10 – Saito Soma – in bloom

Released: 2020/12/9

Soma was on the back cover and had a stunning 21-page feature. There is also a laminated artist card inside, as well a postcard that came with purchases from Animate.

※Since this is still a recent release, I will not be providing scans. The magazine is in stock on Amazon Japan.


I decided to stop following physical restrictions and personal rules

Q: Two years from quantum stranger, your long-awaited second full album in bloom is finally being released. Last year in December, you released the mini-album my blue vacation. Every December, Santa Soma delivers a present in the form of an album. *laughs*

Ahaha, you’re right *laughs*. My releases often end up being in June and December. After my blue vacation, I was vaguely planning a full album next, but while I was preparing a single for my third anniversary in June, the world fell into a pandemic, making it so that I couldn’t release a physical CD. In the end, I was able to release the tracks “Petrichor,” “Summerholic!”, and “Palette” (which are also on in bloom) as a series of digital singles starting in June. And then my album would be released in December. The releases have gone mostly as planned, which is a relief.

Q: It’s true that this year has been irregular in every way for the entertainment industry.

It really has been. But for me, there was a positive outcome in that I realized the advantage of digital singles. Normally, my albums always end up being released in December. That makes it really hard to include new songs that are based in the middle of summer. But through digital singles, I was able to link the songs to the seasons and release “Summerholic!” in summer. It’s really good that I was able to do that, since the digital single series was themed around seasons. For us creators, it’s more constructive to think about what we can do based on the current circumstances. Especially in this troubling time, I was able to proactively work on my music.

Q: You were proactive during the stay-home period too, right?

Yes. I bought a new computer for making music, as well as various tools.

Q: You composed and wrote lyrics for all of the songs on in bloom. Come to think of it, during the release interview for my blue vacation, you said that your demos evolved from singing to your own accompaniment to programmed tracks with an iPad and GarageBand.

Yes. And now they’ve evolved even further, to a computer and “Logic Pro”! *laughs*

Q: Finally, the addition of a true DAW (digital audio workstation)!

Indeed. Now I can express my ideas more clearly at the demo stage…and way more of my songs get scrapped now *strained laugh*. I have the production team listen to my idea sketches more often now, which means that there are more fragments that get rejected. But in that sense, it means that we’re working more like a band this time.

Q: Is there anything else that changed about your creation process?

One thing would be that I decided to stop following physical restrictions and personal rules. Before when writing lyrics, I had a personal restriction on myself to not use vocabulary that I already used in another song. But I decided to remove that restriction and not be afraid to use what I felt was most appropriate for each situation. But on the other hand, this resulted in “a restriction of not setting restrictions,” or “a rule to not follow rules,” which made things much more difficult up until halfway through production, especially when it came to writing lyrics. *strained laugh*

I was glad that I was able to write a standard guitar band song

Q: Which was the most difficult?

“Schrödinger Girl,” perhaps. I’m releasing eight new songs this time, and in April, I posted a video of a work-in-progress on Twitter and said, “I’m working on this new song right now!” Since the chord progression was based on Swedish pop, I gave it the tentative title of “Hokuou” (Scandinavia)… but I really could not come up with any lyrics for it *strained laugh* so I put it off for quite a while. The melody ended up having the dry feel of a band in winter, so I think it matches the season. This song was actually a candidate for the lead song until “carpool” was made.

Q: Really?

This time, I mulled over what to use as the lead song up until the very end. At first it was between “Schrödinger Girl” and a song that wasn’t included on this album, but neither of them felt quite right. I wanted the lead song to be a bit dark, something like Spitz or ART-SCHOOL, with a composition you’d see from a traditional Japanese band. I spent about a week thinking of new songs every night, when the melody of “carpool’s” chorus popped into my head. It’s an orthodox chord progression that I like. I quickly sent it over to the producer Kuroda-san and the arranger Saku-san. Saku-san replied with, “I can feel that this is going to be a masterpiece,” and we went through with it… The next day, I finished the song in a flash, lyrics included. It’s a really good song, if I do say so myself *laughs*. A lot of the songs that Saito Soma writes are niche. I intentionally hadn’t written songs that immediately grow on you like this one does, so I was glad that I was able to write a standard guitar band song.

Q: As with your other songs, “carpool” really feels like it tells a story.

I’m always happy that my listeners each visualize their own scenery, but personally, the keyword “carpool” makes me think of adolescence. Like The Notebook by Ágota Kristóf.

To the boy, his “bad friend” was like another version of himself. But that bad friend died in the sea, and after that, the boy felt like he was living out of sheer habit. Then, after growing up into a young man, he drove to the sea where his bad friend passed away. The driver’s seat used to be “your exclusive seat,” but now it’s “my exclusive seat.” And it ends with “I’ll catch up soon, so wait for me there.”

Q: The line that goes “You’re calling out to me from between the waves” is both nostalgic and profound.

Indeed *strained laugh*. That said, this is ultimately only my interpretation, so please don’t restrict yourself to it when you listen to the song.

Q: The song really is like a short film. Do you have a favourite line?

“I never wanted to know what lies beyond the sea’s horizon.” I think I wrote a really good lyric there. Kuroda-san was with us when the song was being mixed down, and when I tried to talk to him, he was so moved by that phrase that he shed tears. *laughs*

Q: It must’ve resonated with him. The MV takes place on a coast too.

Yes. It was filmed at the coast near Helena International Hotel in Fukushima Prefecture, where King Gnu-san’s “Hakujitsu” was filmed. I wanted to have a cut where I walked along the shore, just like in the lyrics, but it was right after a typhoon, so the sea was too stormy. It resulted in good footage though, so that was nice *laughs*. I feel bad singing my own praises, but it’s the first time in a while that I wrote a song that I’m completely satisfied with.

Q: In terms of being like a film, “Kitchen” feels more like a cut from everyday life than a story.

I struggled the least with that song’s lyrics *laughs*. Also, it wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for the stay-home period. I’ve cooked for myself before, but I took this opportunity to get back into it and I bought a lot of appliances. I like casually drinking alcohol in my kitchen while making snacks to go along with it. One of the themes of this album is “delusions,” and this song is a fleshed out “kitchen drinker” delusion from my own experience.

Q: The chic bossa nova arrangement feels fresh too.

The song itself is from the hobby band I was in when I was a student, although the lyrics were written anew. The guitar chords are also my unique chords—they’re strange ones that take a long time to explain how to play. Also worthy of mention is that the rhythm section is made up of kitchen utensil sounds. I created sounds during the stay-home period and Saku-san sampled sounds from things like ladles. The snipping sound is from scissors, and there’s also the sound of a coffee grinder. It’s a playful toy pop song, and when you listen closely to the lyrics, it makes you think there must be something wrong with the protagonist’s head, which is fun too. *laughs*

Q: The unique vocal work that feels like it’s wafting in the air is lovely too. It’s perfect for the bossa nova atmosphere.

I often used to ask the engineers and technicians I met through work, “How does live singing differ from recorded singing?” I was told that I tend to be too loud in front of the mic. I was also taught that singing more softly would make the low harmonics resound more richly. So, I tried to sing softly for “Kitchen.” All of the vocals are double-tracked and I sung in an extremely relaxed way to get that floaty feeling.

Q: You didn’t establish rules for singing style either.

Right. So it was done quickly, probably in about five takes. We recorded “Canary” on the same day, but that one only took around two takes.

Q: That’s fast! “Canary” has a simple accompaniment centered around the acoustic guitar, and the swaying vocals are quite impressive.

I wanted to make the song feel ambiguous, and the lyrics have that kind of setting too. Up until now, I’ve enjoyed singing over and over again to achieve higher accuracy, but for this song, if my pitch wavered, I left it like that. I wanted it to be a bit distorted. Personally, I wanted to do whispery vocals like Elliott Smith.

The chord progression goes Em7, D, C. Everyone likes this kind of progression, right? I love it! It’s a simple composition.

Uchida Kirin-san, who also played the cello for “Rutsubo,” provided a beautiful, emotional solo. It stood out a lot against the stillness in the rest of the song.

Q: The lyrics are also a bit distorted. It feels like you’re drifting through an imaginary dream world.

A lot of the songs on in bloom blur the boundary between dream and reality, or delusion and reality.

Q: As with “carpool,” “Canary” also ends with unsettling words: “poison” and “I lose my senses.”

Indeed *strained laugh*. Actually, there’s a song that didn’t make it onto this album called “Rakuen” (Paradise), which I wanted to use as the last track. “Rakuen” is also about limbo—a place where people go when they leave this world that isn’t heaven. The song says that it’s the final paradise; the garden of beginning and end. I’m sorry for talking about a song you can’t listen to yet, but I think that that “interspace” feeling is present in all of the songs.

Q: The threshold between life and death, fantasy and reality… in bloom’s songs do have those themes. When I listened to this album, I thought, “Saito Soma’s gone all out!” *laughs* How does Saito Soma arrive at these songs?

Hmm… I think it has to be because I’m twisted in some way *laughs*. I find myself drawn to things with a sense of loneliness, though this doesn’t apply to everything, of course. So even though my stance of “not including personal messages in my music” hasn’t changed, I think the number of introspective songs has increased.

Q: You’ve always liked shoegazing music, which is characterized as introspective and floating, right? Since your heart and mind are free from restrictions now, it feels like you’ve dug deep into your true nature.

I really wanted to make “Isana” a shoegazing song. “Isana” is an ancient word for “whale,” and I included a guitar choke in the intro of the demo that sounded just like a foghorn or a whale’s cry. That’s where the whale motif came from, and I decided to sing about a Spaceship Earth-esque world view. So, I think the scope of the song is wider than my previous albums. It’s also spiritual.

Q: Whales are mystical creatures, right?

Indeed. I don’t know why, but they seem very sci-fi. And to me, they feel nostalgic. My mother is from a place that’s famous for whales, so I was very familiar with the word “isana.” And when my grandfather was driving, he’d talk about what happens to whales that stray into the harbour. Whales bring back fond memories for me. The “you” I sing about in this song could be a whale, or it could be something more cosmic… The song is also about the people in each of the in bloom songs. I think this song can be experienced in many ways.

Q: Since the album title is written in hiragana in “Isana’s” lyrics, it did feel like it was depicting a vaster world. And sound-wise, the arrangement was done by The Florist, a well-known artist in the Japanese shoegazing world.

Yes, it was Kuroda-san who introduced me to The Florist-san. My song “Kesshou Sekai” also had strong shoegazing elements, but it was still closer to guitar rock. For “Isana,” rather than going for a thundering sound, the arrangement used a thick reverb to create a wall of sound. There are also elaborate details in the sound. They also slowed the BPM quite a bit from the demo I first created, and said, “We might as well take it past 8 minutes!” *laughs* It’s long as far as pop music goes, but well, the Beatles’s “Hey Jude” is over 7 minutes too *laughs*. I hope that those who don’t usually listen to shoegazing music will find it a pleasant song and see what I was aiming for.

Rain fell upon the world that once ended, leading to the sprouting of new life in “in bloom”

Q: in bloom has a lot of reverb-heavy songs in general, right?

Yes. Saku-san said so too: “There’s reverb on basically everything this time!” *laughs* There’s also frequent use of chorus for spatial effect. “Schrödinger Girl” has chorus all the way through.

Q: It gives off an organic feel, though.

I think it’s because instead of trying to match the BPM exactly, I aimed to give it “fluctuation.” It also used a lot of live, unedited instruments. The only tracks that were fully digital were “Vampire Weekend” and “BOOKMARK.” Oh, but we had live guitar for both of those as well.

Q: “Vampire Weekend” is a light funk song. It gives off an urban scent.

I boldly used an existing band’s name for the title *laughs*. This song implements a strange structure in a different way from “Kitchen.” I made the demo on my iPad with GarageBand, trying the feature that lets you create a song by looping a resource. It’s a Western-style idea of repeating the same chords while changing the melody and creating a groove.

Q: Where did the vampire motif come from?

I was reading a book and it said something along the lines of “living like a vampire.” Vampires’ true nature may deviate from the norm, but instead of denying that they’re deviants, they pose as humans while possessing their own traits. It’s a form of life hack. I was inspired by that and made the protagonist a “vampire” who has an abnormal mentality of not being satisfied with their normal self. In accordance to that, the song’s structure is abnormal too *laughs*. I asked ESME MORI-san, who I worked with in Hypnosis Mic, to handle the arrangement. The guitar is by Morishii-san from Awesome City Club, which ESME MORI-san also provides music for.

Q: The vocals are sexy, too.

I made the lyrics more mature to match the arrangement. My favourite word in them is “damashiai saretai.” It takes “damashiai” (which means to deceive each other) and replaces the “ai” (each other) with “ai” (love). These five syllables “da-ma-shi-a-i” are layered with a whispering voice, and I hope you enjoy the “o-mo-te-na-shi” feeling it gives off *laughs*. I think it’s a danceable song, so the beat feels really nice when you turn up the volume.

(TL note: “o-mo-te-na-shi” refers to a presentation given by Takigawa Christel to the IOC when Japan was bidding for the Olympics. She used “omotenashi” (hospitality) as a key word and stressed each syllable individually, which left a big impression on Japanese people—who proceeded to do the same thing on social media with other five-syllable words.)

Q: The other digital track is “BOOKMARK.” What can you tell us about “J-san” who performed the rapping?

J-san is my friend. He’s not a professional musician, but he’s always been good at rapping and he writes music too. He wanted to try writing a song based on a guitar loop, so we made the track together. I already had the basis for the song itself from back when I wrote “Petrichor,” and when I passed it to J-san to do the arrangement, it came back to me with programming and rapping included *laughs*. It sounded really cool, so I asked the record label to include it on this album.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of pages flipping in a book, which relates to the “BOOKMARK” title.

Q: So that’s why there’s the sound of turning pages. It’s a stylish presentation. Are the lyrics about a protagonist who’s drinking alcohol?

Yes. It’s rare for me to be so direct, right? *laughs* This song is about a student who stayed up until 4 a.m. and is reminiscing about his youth. It’s about a once-real dream that is now a memory of the past.

Q: This song brings back authors’ names with the line “Kafka, Pelevin, Dick, Vonnegut.” The choices seem a bit student-like too. *laughs*

(Victor) Pelevin is the only one of these that’s still alive, though *laughs*. (Philip K.) Dick and (Kurt) Vonnegut were named because I remembered when J-san asked me for sci-fi novel recommendations, I said he should start with Dick and Vonnegut. That was what led to us becoming good friends.

These lyrics feel like a pair of drunk students having a pointless, immature debate. Like, “Was Dazai writing his stories seriously or abstractly?” *laughs* J-san and I wrote the lyrics together, and I think mine were a bit more nonsensical. I figured that since it’s students singing, I should tone down the rap part because they’d be too embarrassed to go all-out. It’s an early-morning song about someone around 20 years old, who says “I’ve woken up from my dream!” but is actually thinking that he really doesn’t want to wake up. *laughs*

Q: Perhaps that’s why he wants to put a bookmark there—he never wants to forget that memory. Finally, the last track of in bloom is the new song “Saigo no Hanabi” (Last Fireworks).

This is sort of a song about birth. I was allowed to do whatever I wanted for in bloom, and that had its advantages, but I didn’t really think any of the songs were catchy and easy to familiarize with on the first listen. This kind of contradicts what I was talking about earlier, but I wrote a j-pop style song with “happy end” imagery.

…That said, it takes some sharp turns, so you’ll be thinking it’s pop music when suddenly it shifts to rock. That non-straightforwardness is fitting for the end of this album, and I think I was able to write an interesting song.

Q: The lyrics are about fireworks even though it’s winter.

Yes. It seems impossible at first, but there actually are sparklers designed for use in winter. That’s really lyrical in itself. The person in this song is mostly likely setting off winter fireworks by themselves. So, they’re probably pretty eccentric. *strained laugh*

Q: A lot of the in bloom protagonists are people you can’t lower your guard around. *strained laugh*

The line “If a meteorite were to come down today” is conspiratorial…or rather, it’s an absurd thought, right? But that doesn’t mean there’s a zero percent chance of it actually happening. The line “The last fireworks fall in the winter sky” is made up of everyday words, and yet it feels out of place. The things that this person is saying and thinking could all be delusions, but there’s also the possibility that today really is the end of the world. Nothing is happening on a global level, but his personal world could be ending—it’s the scope of his thoughts. But since the ending goes, “Look, they’re lighting up again,” I hope that’ll ease your concerns *laughs*. It’s rare for me to include a message—and this isn’t really to the point of being a “message”—but I hope my feelings of, “Thank you for letting me release this album; I promise there’s more to come” will get across.

Q: Saito Soma’s world of music is unending.

Yes *laughs*. The title in bloom also has a strong nuance of “this is a good period of time” rather than flowers blooming. Up until my blue vacation, the world view was faded and decadent. In “Epilogue,” rain fell, and the rain continued at the start of this year’s “Petrichor.” Rain fell upon the world that once ended, leading to the sprouting of new life in “in bloom”. I hope you thoroughly enjoy this album.


Keyword Q&A

Q1. carpool – Where would you go on a drive? Tell us your recommended drive destination.

I’d like to see the autumn foliage, if there’s a place where you can still do that in December. If not, then… I never thought this at all before, but recently I’ve been wanting to visit the remote islands of Okinawa. I want to drive in a quiet, deserted place with sprawling fields… but I don’t have a driver’s license, so if a big-wig listens to “carpool” or reads this article and starts a TV or YouTube program where I get my license, you might see “Saito Soma is taking action!” *laughs*

(TL note: This is a reference to a phrase “(name) is taking action” which was popularized online by an entertainer.)

Q2. Schrödinger Girl – Schrödinger is associated with cats. Which animal would you compare yourself to?

There are a lot of animal horoscopes on the internet, right? When I did one, it said I was a black panther. Is it a dog or a cat? It’s called both, but I think it’s more often designated as a cat. Personally, I’d like to be a jellyfish, just floating around. That’s how I feel sometimes.

Q3. Kitchen – What’s your favourite part of cooking?

Huh?! It’s…obviously the eating part, right?! *laughs* If I have to pick a part of the actual cooking process, I think it’d be seasoning. When I get the seasoning just right, I think, “Yes!”

Also, while it’s not strictly part of cooking, I used to hate washing the dishes—but since I cooked more often during the stay-home period, I started to enjoy optimizing cooking and washing at the same time, thinking of it as a game. I like it the most when the food’s ready and everything’s clean at the same time.

Q4. Canary “This poison is a bit lukewarm” – Do you eat piping hot things as they are, or do you let them cool first?

I really have a cat’s tongue. I guess that’s why I’m a black panther? *laughs* The skin on my fingers seems to be thin too, so I’m sensitive to hot things. I love piping hot foods like ramen, though… Maybe I’m the type that doesn’t mind getting burnt. I want to eat delicious things in their best state.

Q5. Vampire Weekend – What kind of fantastical person would you want to become?

I would like to try being a vampire, but if I was going to become something… It’s not really a fantastical person, but something like a silicon-based lifeform? Or a data lifeform that can’t be confined to 3-D. Something that only exists on the net. I’m a sci-fi fan, after all.

Q6. BOOKMARK – What are your favourite types of alcohol or cocktails, and how do you like to drink them?

I often drink highballs at home. During the stay-home period, I bought a carbonated water maker because I wanted to make delicious highballs…but when it runs out of gas, you have to send it to the manufacturer for an exchange, and it’s annoying so I haven’t done it. Now I’m buying carbonated water from the store like a normal person *laughs*. If I’m not home, I like bottled beer in the winter. I like drinking it at diners and hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants. If they have Sapporo’s “Red Star” beer (Sapporo Lager Beer), that’s the best. It’s good to choose the right alcohol to go with your food.

Q7. Isana “Like a long film” – What’s your favourite feature-length film?

Stanley Kubrick’s works, perhaps. A cliche pick would be 2001: A Space Odyssey. The one I want to watch right now is Eyes Wide Shut. The film itself is great, and there are also a lot of fascinating stories revolving around it. I haven’t been able to watch many films lately, so I’d like to properly settle down and focus on watching some.

Q8. Saigo no Hanabi – Did you see fireworks this summer?

Fireworks, huh… I haven’t seen them or set any off in a while. When I’m out, I might hear the sound of fireworks coming from somewhere and catch a small glimpse of them, but that’s about it. So, I really want to try out the winter sparklers. Summer fireworks have their charm too, but I want to use the sparklers in the winter, when it seems like they can go out at any moment, while saying, “It sure is cold!” Since the winter air is crisp and clear, I’m sure they’ll be beautiful. I’d also like to use fireworks in a place covered in snow, although it might not be possible in Tokyo. I wonder if we can film a “Saigo no Hanabi” MV up north. *laughs*

Q9. in bloom – What’s your favourite flower?

Delicate flowers like violets are nice, but if I had to say, rather than lovely flowers, I prefer peculiar decorative plants like staghorn ferns, or bizarre ones like cacti and carnivorous plants. I often used to use cacti as a motif in lyrics, and the word comes up in “Reminiscence” too. Isn’t that unusual appearance great? *laughs* I like looking at plants, so I might use in bloom as an opportunity to bring some into the house.


Behind the Scenes: Soma-san appeared in two styles for us, one with a long coat and one with a white jacket. The first part of the photo shoot had him holding flowers in a garden, while the second part was in a room with beautiful lighting. There were so many wonderful shots that we struggled until the last minute trying to decide which ones to use and where to put them. By the way, the flowers in the birdcage are themed around “Canary.”


Bonus: Animate-exclusive postcard

Bonus: Off-shots from Soma’s stylist, Honda Yuuki


Extra

[Interview] Weekly TV Guide 2020/11/27 Edition – Koisuru Voice! #74

Released: 2020/11/18

Features:
Saito Soma (William James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)

Mentioned:
Ishigami Shizuka (William James Moriarty (Child) in Yuukoku no Moriarty)

※The questions were omitted from the published interview, so this will read more like an essay (but it was still an interview).


The character I voice, William James Moriarty, deplores 19th-century England’s corrupt class system and is trying to create his ideal country. He’s modeled after Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes series, and he’s depicted in an attractive way that skillfully and respectfully incorporates elements of the original. He’s not purely a clean-handed person; he also takes in dirty aspects. Nevertheless, he lives for the sake of his goal. I thought that was really cool, and at the same time, since he’s so mysterious, I wanted to learn more about him.

As an aside, when I was reading the original manga, I was quite shocked [by his lines] from the very beginning… Even now that I’m voicing him in the anime, I’m still constantly thinking, “Is he putting up a front, or is this how he truly feels? Is there a hidden intent behind this line, or not?” when I’m reading the script. At the recordings, I don’t really get any explanation about the intent behind William’s lines, so I have to sense the nuance myself. The number of everyday conversation scenes is increasing, showing us glimpses of William’s various faces, and I expect to get a stronger grasp of his character and how it differs in the anime compared to the manga.

William’s goal is to bring about revolution through crime, destroying the class-based society to create his ideal country. I think it’s his level perspective that makes him charismatic to both the aristocrats and the lower class. His liberal thoughts are very modernistic. The story is set at the end of 19th-century England, where the class system wasn’t so much a “system” but a “matter of course.” I think that recognizing it as a “system” and wanting to break it puts William far ahead of his time. His perspective is also incredibly fresh for that era—he doesn’t turn to crime out of self-interest, but he isn’t a saint either. I think it’s because he’s so different that he has the power to charm people.

Controlling the city through crime is a bold strategy, but the underlying ideology doesn’t feel that extraordinary when you look at it from our modern perspective. If he’d been born at a better time, I’m sure he would’ve chosen a path where he could bring more happiness to people without staining his hands. Thinking about it that way, it feels like this dark hero was created from a clash between a good citizen and the era he was born in.

As for what William and I have in common, I think people would say that we’re similar *laughs*. But I think in reality, we’re quite different? William has more of a “complex” charm. In the non-crime parts of the series, he shows surprisingly abnormal sensibilities, which is another thing I like about him. Even though we aren’t similar, since I’m voicing him, I feel a sort of admiration for him. I really think, “This person is cool!”

Episodes 2 and 3 showed how William was different from the others even as a child. His child form was voiced by Ishigami Shizuka-san, whose performance was wonderfully persuasive. At the end of episode 3, there was a scene that was extremely shocking even in the original manga. I thought it might be difficult to depict it in anime form, but it turned out to be just as shocking and meaningful as it was in the manga. I was enthralled.

The anime is still going on. As a fan of the original manga, I’m looking forward to seeing who will voice Bonde. I also hope that the end-of-volume manga scenes depicting their everyday lives will be animated one day! They really bring out Louis’s charm. Seeing those scenes will increase your appreciation for the scenes in the main story where he’s drinking tea. I’d love to see them in video form, perhaps as picture dramas.

Q: What do you think is important for making your ideal into a reality?

Daily effort and forming connections. If you can’t normally do something, you’re not going to be able to do it on the spur of the moment. When a chance comes to make your dream a reality, whether you can grab it or not depends on whether you’ve developed the ability to by putting in steady effort. It’s also important to be able to sense what will bring about that chance… Signals exist in various places, but you need to point your antenna in the right direction to catch them. As for connections, treasuring your connections means treasuring other people. I think it’s important to understand that you can’t be complete by yourself.


Bonus: Promotional image from Weekly TV Guide

[Interview] TV Guide (Web) – Koisuru Voice! – Saito Soma in Yuukoku no Moriarty

Published: 2020/11/18
Original URL: https://www.tvguide.or.jp/column/column-497769/

Features:
Saito Soma (William James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)

Mentioned:
Sato Takuya (Albert James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)
Kobayashi Chiaki (Louis James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)
Uemura Yuto (Fred Porlock in Yuukoku no Moriarty)
Terasoma Masaki (Argleton in Yuukoku no Moriarty)
Furukawa Makoto (Sherlock Holmes in Yuukoku no Moriarty)


—I heard that you were a fan of the original manga to begin with.

One of my hobbies is going to the bookstore and buying books based on their covers. When I saw volume 1 of the manga with William on the cover, I bought it, thinking “This looks interesting.” I also love the crime suspense genre, so when I read it, I thought “This is interesting!”

—The role of William was auditioned for, right?

When it comes to auditions, there are times when you just can’t win. Personally, I try not to expect too much. The more you want to play a role, the more frustrating it is when you lose… although it does make you stronger for the next one. For this series, since I liked the manga, it made me want to voice William even more. I actually overheard the screening process, and as the candidates got whittled down, I heard that I was still in the running and got excited *laughs*. In the end I was fortunate enough to get the role, and I was truly happy about it.

—What is your impression of the Sherlock Holmes series that Professor Moriarty comes from?

I definitely can’t say I like it the way that Sherlockians (passionate Sherlock Holmes fans) do, but I’ve read some books from the series. As for Professor Moriarty, I’m a big fan of Ohtsuki Kenji, who’s the vocalist of the band Kinniku Shoujo-tai. One of their songs, “Peten,” has a lyric that goes “Atop Reichenbach Falls” (the location where Holmes and Moriarty faced off), and that influences my impression of Professor Moriarty. Trying to control a city with one’s individual strength makes for a very intriguing perspective as a reader. Yuukoku no Moriarty’s William is a fresh take that shows respect for the Sherlock Holmes series. He’s really cool and a good match for the present era.

—William’s brothers are voiced by talented actors too—Albert James Moriarty, the older brother, is voiced by Sato Takuya-san, and Louis James Moriarty, the younger brother, is voiced by Kobayashi Chiaki-san. What did you think when you heard who you’d be starring with?

When I’m reading manga, sometimes I think, “This character seems like they’d probably be voiced by this person,” and sometimes I don’t. In the case of Yuukoku no Moriarty, I enjoyed reading the series without thinking too much about potential casts. When the cast was revealed, I thought, “They’re all first-rate…!”

Also, everyone gets their information so quickly. When I met Yuto-kun at another studio, he said “I look forward to working with you!” but I didn’t know yet that he was going to voice Fred Porlock *laughs*. I respect these cast members as both actors and people, so I’m really looking forward to what we’ll create in the upcoming dialogues.

—How is the recording atmosphere?

I’ve known Sato-san, who voices Albert, for a very long time. As for Chiaki-kun who voices Louis, recently we’ve been working together quite often. How do I put this… it really feels like having an older and younger brother. Both of them are very kind and calm, so our breaks have a relaxed atmosphere. At the episode 1 recording, I got a full grasp of how Albert and Louis were going to be, which was impressive. It started off with a scene of the three brothers talking, and it felt completely natural. I had a feeling that we were going to make a great trio, and that made me really happy.

Also, the guests are too amazing! In episode 1, Terasoma-san voiced the antagonist. I was floored by how he expressed so much with every breath in his ad libs. Battling incredible senpais with my reliable brothers was unbelievably fun.

—Furukawa Makoto-san voices Sherlock Holmes, who engages in battles of wits with William.

I’ve worked with Furukawa-san in a variety of places, but I think this is the first time our characters are facing off in this way. Furukawa-san is extremely skilled too, so I’m looking forward to it!

—Were there any directions regarding your acting?

There’s a line that goes, “I, crime consultant William James Moriarty, accept your request.” It was part of the audition too, and he’ll be saying it throughout the series. I thought it could go two ways: emphasizing it as a catchphrase, or keeping it in William’s gentlemanly tone. First I tried emphasizing it, but the sound director, Hata Shouji-san, said “It’s an important line, but sound-wise you don’t have to make it stand out too much.” I think we’ll continue to make these detailed balance adjustments as the recordings proceed. But besides that, I don’t really get told “Do it like this.” Instead, I analyze William’s thoughts myself and discuss them. I think I’ll be able to create something good that way.

—Lastly, what are you looking forward to in this series?

I don’t know which stories from the manga are going to be adapted yet, but I’m particularly interested in the ones where everyone executes a plan together. I’m also interested in finding out who voices Bonde! Each story feels as grand and fast-paced as a movie, and they’re all worthwhile watches, so please look forward to them!

[Interview] Weekly Shonen Jump 2020 #50 – Yuukoku no Moriarty Special Cross-Talk – Saito Soma x Sato Takuya

Released: 2020/11/16

Features:
Saito Soma (William James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)
Sato Takuya (Albert James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)

Mentioned:
Suzuki Tatsuhisa (Blitz Enders in Yuukoku no Moriarty)


—Your impressions of the manga?

Soma: I bought Volume 1 because I was attracted to the illustration of William on the cover. I think it’s wonderful how it adds bold interpretations to the Sherlock Holmes series, turning it into a crime suspense story that appeals to a modern audience as well.

Takuya: I first picked it up because of the audition, but I was so interested in the rest of the story that I bought all of the available volumes at once. I’m drawn to the way the characters are presented and how they’re compelled to turn to murder.

—How do you interpret William and Albert’s relationship?

Takuya: Albert resents his noble bloodline, but is bound to it against his will. To him, William is truly a divine messenger. I think that meeting William is what gave him his way of life. But I don’t think that the two of them want to know what the other is truly thinking deep down inside.

Soma: True! Albert is also the first person William’s met of that type, and I think he’s the best possible business partner for him. They do have brotherly love too, of course, but joining forces was a means to faster accomplish their goal of reforming the British Empire. Just like William, Albert seems to keep some of his power in reserve, which I think makes him more trustworthy.

—What do you think about the third brother, Louis?

Soma: Louis is cute!

Takuya: He’s cute, and I think he must have a hard time. *laughs*

Soma: William reveres him, and I think he wants to protect Louis’s innocence. Those unexpected times when he shows his attachment are touching too.

—What scenes in the anime left an impression on you, up to Episode 6?

Takuya: Count Enders is a refreshing piece of trash. *laughs*

Soma: He sure was mass-producing quotable quotes! Tatsuhisa-san gave it his all, and his acting was amazing.

Takuya: It makes you wonder, how did he interpret the script in that way?!

Soma: The character was already eccentric in the manga, but he left a deeper impression in the anime.

Takuya: His efforts are amazing in Episode 7 too, so please pay attention to them there.

[Interview] Weekly TV Guide 2020/11/20 Edition – Koisuru Voice! #73

Released: 2020/11/11

Features:
Saito Soma (William James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)

※The questions were omitted from the published interview, so this will read more like an essay (but it was still an interview).


Yuukoku no Moriarty is a series I enjoyed as a reader of the original manga. My first encounter with it was at the bookstore. I saw the cover with William James Moriarty on it and thought, “This has an aura.” It’s a crime suspense story that takes place in 19th century London, and what’s more, William is based off of Professor Moriarty, the antagonist from the Sherlock Holmes series. I love this genre, and it’s appealing how William is broadminded—he isn’t fully good or evil.

The battles of wits further unfold when Sherlock enters the scene, and other talented characters appear at the right place at the right time, acting in accordance with William’s plan, with multiple operations taking place simultaneously. These get wrapped up cleanly at the end, making each episode feel as grand and fast-paced as a movie.

William’s role was decided by audition. I personally like this type of character so I really wanted to try voicing one, but it’s extremely rare for me to pass the audition for them, so I try not to expect too much. Because of that, when I was told that I passed, I was really happy.

William works in the shadows as a crime consultant with the goal of destroying the class system. In the early recordings, especially the anime-original first episode, I thought it would be better to depict him in a mysterious way, such that his full intent wouldn’t be clear to the viewers right away—his attitude could be interpreted as either amused or strict. I wanted people to think, “This is going to be an interesting story.” William’s full intent hasn’t been shown yet in the scenes recorded so far, so I’m going to think about him more and deepen my internal image of him.

Since William is a crime consultant, he gives advice to his clients. Personally, I’d say that I’m also more of an advice giver than a taker. I rarely ask people for advice. When I’m stuck on something, I can’t relax unless I solve the problem myself. I think there are two types of consulting: one where you want specific advice, and one where you just want the other person to listen. When someone consults with you and you interpret it as the wrong type, they might get upset… It’s important to consider their feelings carefully. So, when I’m giving someone advice, I make sure not to do it based on my circumstances alone. This is because of the responsibility that comes with saying something regarding the person’s life and feelings. In that sense, I fully understand that William advises his clients knowing what they’re thinking and what they want to do. That’s why I think he’s an elite consultant.

If I had William or Sherlock’s powers of perception, I’d also want to try being a consultant, albeit not restricted to the topic of crime. Discerning a feeling such as “I want to get rid of the fear I’m feeling right now” from a person’s gaze, breathing, and tone of voice, and accurately verbalizing it for them to help them understand their emotions… Right now, even if I could see that kind of feeling, it would ultimately only be a hunch. I wouldn’t be able to confirm whether it was true, and asking the person out of nowhere would be acting beyond my position. If I had William and Sherlock’s perceptive and communicative aptitude, I wouldn’t have to worry about misunderstandings. I could tell the person with confidence that “It’ll be all right.” I wish I could counsel people in a way that gives them a positive attitude. Even though I normally don’t share my worries with anyone, I’d like to receive that kind of counselling! If I’m given a precise answer and I think, “Oh, that’s right!”, I’d probably feel much better.

Q: Who do you find charismatic?

Generally, I don’t find myself wildly admiring anyone. Even when it comes to my favourite literature, I’m the type of person who sees the authors and their works as separate things… But if I had to give one name, it’d be Nakajima Ramo-san. I really love the worlds that he crafts, so in that sense, I might consider him a charismatic person. For lack of better words, I like how his works contain humour and pathos, and I’m fascinated by his way of life.


Bonus: Promotional image from Weekly TV Guide

[Interview] Seiyuu Grandprix 2020/12 Edition – The scenery changes – Saito Soma’s expanding world

Released: 2020/11/10

※Soma was on the front page cover and had a 12-page feature. There were also two shop-specific bromides.

※Scans not provided because the magazine can easily be bought digitally from sites like Bookwalker.


Throwback 2020

The situation made me realize that I’d become a captive to our ways

—This will be the second time in 2020 that you’re gracing the cover of Seiyuu Grandprix.

Thank you very much. It feels like it’s been quite a while since last time, but when I heard it was February, I thought, “It was still within this year!” *laughs* Still, it’s already been half a year…? It’s not just my situation, but the whole world’s that’s changed. To get straight to the point, even now, it still feels like the things I used to think were normal were actually things I was taking for granted. Before, it was normal to have thirty cast members sharing four mics at a sports anime recording, but now it’s too difficult. The recording environment has completely changed.

—Technique-wise, has recording become more difficult now that you can’t record in large groups?

In American cartoons, it’s standard practice for everyone to record separately, one by one. When you think about it that way, our environment up until now might’ve been a blessing. By the way, when foreigners see us switching in and out in front of the mics while voice acting, apparently many of them get surprised and go, “Ohh! They’re ninjas!” *laughs*

—That means that Japan’s voice acting technique is a culture we should be proud of! *laughs*

Now, we can’t really do recordings like that either. I’ve done recordings by myself in the past before, of course, but personally, I love the acting that comes from live dialogues. This situation made me realize that I’d become addicted to it.

—In scenes with a lot of room for movement, those dialogues can result in something more exciting than you imagined.

Exactly. I was forced to realize just how much I’d been receiving from others’ acting. By the way, in the past, I was bad at listening to other people’s lines. Rather, when you’re just starting out, it’s common to get too caught up in the idea of “I have to say my own lines right.”

—In your case, when did that weakness turn into an “addiction”?

To put it simply, when I properly received someone’s acting and returned with mine, I could sense that I’d succeeded in establishing a conversation, and that felt really good. I don’t think I would’ve noticed it if I’d always been recording alone, so I’m grateful for that. But right now, it’s hard to get the chance to notice that and change my responses accordingly. There’s nothing that can be done about that… but I think that by realizing this and reflecting on myself, I was able to make good use of this stay-home period.

—In these turbulent times, have you been talking to others about the current state of entertainment?

Yes! My personal impression is that there are a lot of people in this industry who are thinking seriously about what we can do and how we should continue going forward. If there are things we can’t do no matter what, then it’s important to proactively consider what we can do—we often talk about that.

—Many voice actors have taken this opportunity to entertain the fans with personal online streams and videos. Are you considering trying something like that?

My primary focus has always been on characters and works. I entered this industry because I wanted to add colour to them with my voice, and I don’t think that central feeling will ever change in my life. That said, today’s world is such that if you stick too closely to that principle, you won’t be able to expand your range of expressions. Ideally you want to be flexible, so I do want to take on expressing myself in various forms. Fortunately, I have my music career as an outlet for that. I think I’m very blessed to have been able to release three digital singles over the course of three months. Also, the stay-home period gave me a lot of time for input. I’m glad that I was able to prepare for my future output as well.

—You’re appearing in many anime this season, including ones that had their broadcast dates pushed back.

The recordings were all at varying times, and I can really feel that I’ve been given the opportunity to play a wide variety of roles. In EX-ARM which airs next year, I play an ordinary high school student who risks his life to save the world, while in Yuukoku no Moriarty, I play a young man who chooses the path of evil for the sake of changing the world… Since I’m playing a lot of unconventional characters, I’m spending more time thinking “What would this character do?” than I used to.

—In a previous interview, you said that you wanted to be associated with unconventional roles. Have you gotten closer to that ideal?

I hope so, but it’s rather difficult… *laughs* There are also more series that I’ve been involved with for a long time, like IDOLiSH7 which can be considered a stable franchise now. There are also works like Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- Rhyme Anima where, rather than explaining it, I’d rather you watch it first and get a feel for it yourself. In every work, the staff are trying to deliver the best entertainment they can in these circumstances, so I hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Soma Saito ✕ glamb

I aimed for simple clothes that I wanted to wear

—In October, you announced your collaboration with glamb, consisting of pullover knits, berets, and socks.

I like fashion, but I never would’ve expected that I could be involved with clothes in this way, so I was grateful and surprised at the same time. We had several meetings, and the end result was clothes you could wear in everyday life rather than ones that strongly looked like merchandise. A better way to explain it would be clothes that I wanted to wear. *laughs*

—Yes, when I looked at the lineup, I felt that they seemed like clothes you yourself would like. *laughs*

Right?! *laughs* When I first received the collaboration offer, they asked me to choose a brand too… so I requested glamb, a brand that I wear often for work and in my personal life, and they accepted right away.

—They’re warm items that suit the release date.

I considered a cardigan too, but ended up going with the pullover knit first. Then, they suggested an incredible number of materials and designs. They adjusted every little detail for me, such as whether or not the sleeves should be ribbed.

—The logo placement also felt like it was carefully selected.

If it weren’t for the logo, I think it’d be a simpler piece that you could wear more easily, but I had a selfish desire for something a bit unconventional *laughs*. I got to wear it myself too, and the size, material, and logo were all exquisite. I’m definitely going to wear it all the time!

—The socks make for vivid accent colours.

Socks represent an exquisite area—there are times when they aren’t visible, but then they peek out when you sit down. I think it’s nice to have a sense of playfulness for those times.

Also, the berets come in two colours: black which goes with everything, and a stylish beige.

—Berets always seem to match you perfectly.

Before I started this job, I’d never worn a beret before! The first person who put a beret on me was my stylist, Honda-san. Thank you, Honda-san! *laughs*

—Wow… I see!

I like simple clothes where the material feels good on my skin. Shape-wise, I think I’ve been wearing a lot of loose clothes lately. I generally like autumn/winter fashion, like shirts, knits, and cardigans. For photo shoots, I get to wear a lot of clothes that I normally wouldn’t choose, and that’s fun.

—What do you pay attention to when choosing clothes?

Whether clothes suit someone or not is important, but in the end, I think what matters most is what I want to wear. Basically, whether I’m committed to liking how I look when I’m wearing them. In the past, I had an extremely narrow scope for that, and I thought I could only pull off one specific look. I didn’t even think that hats or glasses suited me. But, that scope expanded bit by bit as I encountered new things.

—Did your view change because of doing photo shoots for work?

It did. Up until high school, I hated having my photo taken, but after having it become part of my job, I started thinking, “What feelings can I express when I’m wearing these clothes?” It was really fun, and it felt like it was the clothes that were providing me with that enjoyment.

So, I love encountering styling that I’d never imagined before. While I do value my own preferences, I also want to value things that aren’t to my taste. After all, if it leads to me liking it, there’s nothing more wonderful than that. This applies to acting too—I have more fun when others present me with things I hadn’t expected.

—I think that having those “realizations” enriches your life.

Sometimes the realizations come when I’m not in the right frame of mind, but I do prepare for them… Basically, I keep an open mind and put up an antenna for them. I think there are a lot of things I’ve realized this way.

This year in particular, I realized that many of the things I thought were normal were actually very special, and I should be grateful for them. For example, being able to talk to someone in person and laugh loudly with them was special. By the way, my latest revelation was that yakiniku and sushi are better eaten in restaurants *laughs*. Being able to wander into a store and eat all sorts of things is a special thing I should be grateful for. I want to be thankful for all of these “normal” things and treasure them going forward.

about Soma’s fashion

An interview with Saito Soma’s stylist, Honda Yuuki, who has gained the trust of Saito-san’s fans as well. From the way they enjoy choosing clothes together, we can guess that they have the same values. What’s his secret to maximizing Saito-san’s charm?

—How did you meet Saito Soma-san?

When I was working as a stylist’s assistant, my mentor worked with a number of voice actors, and Saito-san was one of them. I remember that when we first met, I really clicked with his opinions on clothes. Perhaps he remembered too, because when I went independent, my first job was from Saito-san, who requested me as his personal stylist.

—What do you focus on for Saito-san’s styling?

Our taste in clothes is extremely similar and our physiques are also quite close, so it’s easy to imagine outfits on him, which makes styling very easy as well. Plus, Saito-san has an androgynous aura, so he looks good in a wide variety of clothes. As a result, I end up bringing tons of clothes because I want him to try them all on. If it’s for a magazine shoot, then I prepare styles that feel more like “outfits,” but if it’s for an event, he likely has to use his voice a lot, so I focus on functionality—a loose neckline—and add in abstract elements of the role he’s playing… For his artist career, I go for a more sophisticated look. But, it feels like he picks the clothes I want him to wear, so as long as he doesn’t dismiss me, I’d like to continue having fun choosing clothes for him. *laughs*

—What were the styling considerations made this time?

Since he was going to be wearing the collaboration items, I prepared clean styles that would match them. For the one with the jacket, since it’s a magazine shoot, I included a lot of playful, fun clothes.

By the way, it wasn’t used this time, but I also brought something from a brand that Saito-san and I had clicked with before. It was back during my assistant days, and we both agreed that we liked that style. Saito-san remembered too, and he said “This brings back memories, right?” *laughs*

What are “kuumaA” and “glamb”?

kuumaA is a brand collaboration project where an artist (expresser) thinks of what they want and find interesting, and a brand supports them to turn those thoughts into special items. This time, Saito Soma requested to collaborate with glamb, a fashion brand whose concept is “grunge for luxury.” Their style is elegant rock and they’re known for their borderless ideas that aren’t restricted by conventional fashion.

“in bloom” series

Saito Soma composed and wrote lyrics for every song, shaping various worlds!

—Your second album, in bloom, will finally be released on December 23.

So far, in quantum stranger and my blue vacation, I’ve been releasing songs themed around “the end of the world.” This time, I wanted to depict the story of what comes afterwards. Prior to the album, in bloom was announced as a series of digital singles, consisting of the three songs “Petrichor,” “Summerholic!”, and “Palette.” The full album will be a collection of songs related to them that expand on the world views. Rather than having a single concept for the album, it’s more like the songs exist within the same overarching theme, but each represents its own unique story and lifestyle.

The main difference from my previous full album is that this time, all of the composition and lyrics were done by me. But rather than making it about me, I think the idea of “having one person present a different world view in every song” is an interesting experiment. Among these songs are lyrics with motifs that I wouldn’t have tried to use in songs before.

—Motifs you haven’t used before?

Earlier, we talked about “realizations.” There were many realizations I had that were only possible because of the coronavirus situation. For example, the song “Kitchen” came from that.

—It’s a bossa nova style song.

But, the chorus is like guitar rock with a sense of speed. I’ve actually had the prototype for this song ever since the time when I was in a band for fun, but it’s so distinctive that it was hard to find a place to use it… Also, normally lyrics come to mind together with the melody, but this song was the only one where that didn’t happen. However, due to COVID, I started cooking for myself again after a while of not being able to, and I thought “kitchen” might make an interesting theme. But the finished lyrics feel the craziest out of these songs. *laughs*

—It’s brimming with paranoia. *laughs*

“Petrichor” and “Summerholic!” were also subjective songs, but it’s even more prominent in “Kitchen.” It’s like the protagonist is cheerful about eating something, but when you look at him from an onlooker’s perspective, his behaviour is abnormal. What I can say is that you’d better not seriously try to follow the recipe in these lyrics. *laughs*

—The abstract lyrics feel very much your style.

Yes. If I restrict lyrics to a single meaning, I don’t feel much meaning from them anymore. Feel free to read too much into this song and think, “The kitchen is a metaphor for an alchemist’s workshop…” *laughs*

—What’s your impression of the leading track, “carpool”?

It was rather difficult to decide what to do with the leading track. The three songs from the “in bloom” series depicted the changing of seasons up until fall, and this album was going to be released in winter, so I wanted to use a darker song with a good melody… but I couldn’t come up with anything. When it was almost time for the MV filming and I was like “Oh no!”, that’s when “carpool” popped out. It’s an orthodox chord progression that I like, sprinkled with my vocals, and the arranger Saku-san and the others liked it too. Writing the lyrics was a struggle at first, but once the song was finalized, it went incredibly quickly. It’s possible that I was too hung up on the idea of “writing songs that are different from what I’ve done before” and that made me too fixated on logic. In the end, the lyrics and the melody are pop with a hint of darkness… It has an aspect that I haven’t had before, so I personally like it too.

—It’s interesting how composing songs based on intuition leads to discovering new ground.

It’s incredibly difficult to decide whether to compose based on logic or feeling… This time, I decided to write songs freely without any restrictions on myself, but I realized that that thought was already restricted by logic. By the way, “carpool” doesn’t have anywhere to breathe at all, so it’s ridiculously hard to sing. *laughs*

I’m interested in how they’ll turn out when I sing them live

—What about “Schrödinger Girl”?

Since I started doing more work at home, I bought a new DAW software. I used that to make a demo of a song called “Hokuou (Kari)” (Scandinavia (Temp)), which I posted on Twitter. The temporary name was that because the melody resembled Scandinavian rock bands. Every now and then, the fans would ask “What happened to that song?”, and at last, that song has become “Schrödinger Girl” *laughs*.

Even though it makes heavy use of bubbly, swaying effects, it became one of my fastest songs. But to tell the truth, it was also the hardest one on this album to come up with lyrics for… The recording was delayed, and I’d write lyrics while commuting. Looking back now, it’s become a fond memory *laughs*. The final result tells a clear story, which is rare for me. So, please listen to it and make your own speculations.

“Canary” is a simple composition without many syllables.

I wanted to do a dark, whispery song like Elliott Smith (an American singer-songwriter). However, even though I like that kind of music, I had to consider whether or not there would be meaning in the voice actor Saito Soma singing it. But ever since around the time of my blue vacation, my desire to sing introspective songs had been growing. This time, I included one with the reasoning that it would expand my range. I hope the lyrics also make it feel like the singer’s consciousness is clouded in fog.

By the way, this song was only recorded in about two takes, and there wasn’t really any pitch correction or whatnot, so I think it really feels like it’s sung live.

—”Vampire Weekend” is another conspicuous song.

I haven’t been following set formats with my songs, but I think this one is by far the strangest structure *laughs*. It began when I found a sound loop in the DAW I started using and I wanted to see if I could make a song out of it. I played the looping sound through my tablet and sung along into a mic, in a haphazard digital-yet-analog way of making a demo. *laughs*

So, the original song sounded like a 70s “looping” song, but when I asked ESME MORI-san (who I worked with in Hypnosis Mic) to do the arrangement, he immediately turned it into the stylish song that we have now.

The lyrics give off a very different impression depending on how you interpret the meaning of the word “vampire”—I think they can also feel perversely humorous.

—At the time of this interview, some of the songs are still in production.

Yes. Please look forward to them… One of them is also an epic that’s over eight minutes long.

—Eight minutes?!

I was originally assuming it’d be around six minutes when I sent in the demo, but the arranger slowed down the tempo, so I figured I might as well make it longer *laughs*. I’ve always loved shoegazing (a type of rock music), and this song has that kind of feel. I hope you enjoy the wonderful flood of tones.

—There really is a lot of variation on this one disc! I’m sure many fans are hoping you’ll be able to sing these songs live one day.

Many of the songs have challenging aspects, like “Kitchen” which includes the sounds of kitchen utensils and “carpool” which will be difficult to sing live in one take [because of the lack of breaks]. So, I’m really curious about how they’ll turn out if I sing them at a concert. Considering my musical style, it’s also possible to use special production techniques on stage, so I’ll save the fun of figuring out the specifics for when the time comes!

This album really does have a wide variety of songs, so I hope you’ll listen to it over and over, savouring the sounds as pure “music.”

Behind the scenes of Saito Soma’s fashion

Saito Soma-san makes his second front cover appearance after the first one in the February 2020 edition! For this photo shoot, he wore the items he produced himself. The day of the shoot was the first time he put on the completed samples. They were designed for everyday use in the first place, but he seemed to very fond of the colouring and size, and said “I really am going to end up wearing these all the time” with a smile.

Also, since the interview was going to focus on Saito-san’s fashion style, we also interviewed his stylist, Honda-san. The outfit on the front cover was his freestyle styling. He always brings many different outfits with him. When he and Saito-san were choosing clothes, you could tell how close they were—they looked like they were going clothes shopping, saying things like “This one looks good too” and “I want to buy this one.” It was a harmonious start to the photo shoot.

We also interviewed him about his second album “in bloom” which comes out on December 23. It’s a must-read for fans who are impatiently waiting for the release!


Shop-specific bromides:

Off-shot from Honda Yuuki:

Extra:

The blue jacket Soma wears in one of the outfits is glamb’s GB0320 / JKT17 in Navy (¥38,500): https://www.glamb-lodge.com/c/jacket/0320jkt17

[Interview] Jump SQ. 2020/12 Edition – Yuukoku no Moriarty Special Cross-Talk – Saito Soma x Sato Takuya

Released: 2020/11/4

Features:
Saito Soma (William James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)
Sato Takuya (Albert James Moriarty in Yuukoku no Moriarty)

※Can be bought digitally on sites such as Bookwalker (I have included the first scan because it’s in the free preview). There is one more black-and-white photo of Soma on page 60.


—Have you two read the Sherlock Holmes series before?

Soma: It’s a common topic in anime, so I read the books whenever I have the chance to appear in a series that references them. They’re extremely high quality entertainment, easy to read, and it’s refreshing to watch Holmes easily solve cases with his brilliant mind.

Takuya: I read it in elementary school in the form of children’s literature at the library. Holmes is an eccentric with much better perception than the average person, so I’ve wondered, “If I were his friend, would I be able to conduct myself as well as Watson?” It’s as if the charming characters are living in another world, and I wonder if that’s why anime, dramas, and movies continue to be made from the series, generation after generation. The original illustration of Professor Moriarty also appears in this anime’s first episode…but it had quite the impact. *laughs*

Soma: He wasn’t actually young. *laughs*

—Did you know about the Yuukoku no Moriarty manga, then?

Soma: I like going to the bookstore and buying books based on their covers, so I bought Volume 1 because I was attracted to the cover illustration of William pointing a gun at his head. It’s interesting how it adds bold interpretations to Sherlock Holmes‘ framework, turning it into a stylish crime suspense story that appeals to a modern audience as well. When I heard about the audition, I thought, “I knew it was going to get an anime adaptation!”

Takuya: As for me, I first read Volume 1 because of the audition, and I was so interested in the rest of the story that I bought all of the volumes that’d been released at the time (around ten) *laughs*. I like the showiness when new characters like Moran are introduced to Moriarty’s circle. Also, it’s definitely not a story about a “hero of justice”—it’s about using evil to control evil. That’s one of the reasons why I really wanted to be part of it.

—What’s your favourite story from the manga?

Soma: I love all of them, but one of my favourites is the one where the young man from the printing business sneaks into William’s university to take the exam (“The Adventure of the One Student”). Mathematicians often say that “a beautiful formula resembles poetry.” I felt something similar from this story, and it gave us a better look at William’s nature. I also love the relationship between Irene and Sherlock, and I’m curious about how Hudson-san really feels about Sherlock *laughs*. William’s group does their work calmly, while Sherlock’s side is always noisy. It’s a nice contrast, like stillness and motion.

Takuya: The story about the Burtons, which was adapted in Episode 4 of the anime, left a deep impression on me. Rushing to your lord with your child who has a high fever, only to be turned away, is too cruel… It makes me wonder how it would feel to live in a world like that.

Soma: That story was heartbreaking. When we’re recording for the anime, we’re told that we’re allowed to ignore the “boards” (indicators showing how long the lines should take), and the two voice actors who portrayed the Burtons performed wonderfully, pouring their souls into it.

—Who are your favourite characters?

Soma: Mine is Von Herder, aka “Q”! I think he’s the only character who can truly be considered comedic relief. I also like that slight pitifulness!

Takuya: I totally understand! *laughs* I like Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft. When I was reading the manga, he was first introduced as just “Mr. Holmes,” so I thought, “Huh…? It’s the same person?!”

Soma: “Did he change his hairstyle?”

Takuya: Yeah, it deceived me into thinking that Sherlock also had a hidden side. I like how they have completely different auras despite being brothers. As the voice of Albert, the politics between him and Mycroft are appealing to me as well.

Soma: They have mature conversations.

Takuya: Right. I like how he isn’t straightforward, how both of them want to follow through with the plan, and how they stick to their beliefs.

—Please tell us about William and Albert’s charms and personalities.

Soma: William is sharp-minded and there’s an aspect of him that even his brothers Louis and Albert can’t understand. That character profile makes him an appealing protagonist, and I’m curious about his future.

Takuya: William has an alluring charm that draws people to him. Whether that’s a beneficial medicine or a strong poison depends on which side you’re on, though… But I think that for Albert, meeting William was something like a divine revelation. The reassurance of having him as an ally, how convincing it is that he really could change the world, and the confidence behind his words… These are his charms, but they also tend to be frightening.

Soma: Albert has the broadmindedness you’d expect from the eldest brother. I’d say that generally, William formulates the plans and Albert handles the fine-tuning and necessary follow-ups. If you ask me which one of the brothers I’d marry, I’d definitely choose Albert.

Takuya: …Kyaa! *laughs*

Soma: *laughs* Just think about it! First of all, William would make an attractive boyfriend, but when it comes to marriage… *laughs* I like him, but he’s pretty much an oddball, right? And when he works his brain too much, he falls asleep. Louis is cute, so he’s the type I’d want to dote on. On that note, I want to be doted on by Albert. But on the other hand, sometimes I have no idea what he’s really thinking. When he’s talking to Mycroft, I find myself wanting to explore how many layers he has inside him. Albert also has that “reassuring yet mysterious” charm.

Takuya: As the eldest son of the Moriarty family, he surely would’ve received gifted education. It makes you speculate as to why he came to hate aristocrats to the point where he wanted to change the world. If it’s his form of kindness after once experiencing despair, then I think he’s a highly sinful person.

Soma: Albert is peculiar too, in a way. I think he’s the best business partner that William could’ve hoped for.

—The anime has currently aired up to Episode 4. What were your notable scenes?

Soma: Episode 1 ends with William’s signature phrase, “the perfect crime.” Internally I was thinking, “This is a tough line to pull off!”, so that was a memorable scene for me *laughs*. I also thought it was interesting that the anime began with an original story to broaden the scope. Please pay attention to when William compliments Louis’s omelette in Episode 1!

Takuya: Right after the recording for Episode 1, I suddenly had to audition for the role of “Child Albert.”

Soma: Ahahaha! *laughs* Yeah.

Takuya: William and Louis are younger, so their child forms were played by female voice actresses, but apparently they wanted to see if I could do a suitable voice for Albert first. Thanks to that, in Episode 2 and 3, I got to play a pubescent child for the first time in quite a long while, which was a challenge.

Soma: Everyone except for Sato-san was grinning. *laughs*

Takuya: I was like, “Oh no, Soma-kun… They said I’m going to do it…!”

Soma: *high-pitched voice* We wanted to do it too, you know?! I wanted to at least try…!

Takuya: *laughs*

—Lastly, please tell us what to look forward to in the rest of the series.

Takuya: The story’s pace quickly accelerates when Sherlock Holmes, the Moriarty side’s balance breaker, takes the stage. I hope you’ll enjoy the anime’s unique charms!

Soma: William’s team is working to reform the British Empire through theatrical crimes. The series’ appeal builds with each passing episode, so please stick with it until the end. There are still a lot of characters for whom the cast is unknown to us, so I’m looking forward to finding out who they are—and I hope you will too.


Q: What did you focus on while voice acting?

Soma: Since I’m turning 30 next year, I want to broaden the range of the characters I voice and try different things with my new roles, using the experience I’ve accumulated as a foundation. Among those, William seemed like he’d have a lower voice than my natural voice, but rather than overly constructing the voice, I wanted to try using my acting instinct for this character. I was happy that that got me the role.

Takuya: When I was voicing Albert’s child form, I had to study the physical development of a pubescent boy who was raised as a noble, whether his voice would have changed yet, and so on. I also had to consider why he formed a brotherly pact with William and Louis, and how it would have affected him to witness Louis sear his own face in the burning building. I feel that these will be very helpful when voicing Albert.

[Interview] CUT 2020/10 Edition – Saito Soma – “in bloom” Series

Released: 2020/9/18


“My songs merely depict a certain ‘state.’ I like expressing feelings, scenes—things that don’t have names—in other forms.”

—What was the concept of the new music you wanted to produce in “Chapter 2”?

Since I consider voice acting the central axis of my work, my music up until now has been pop style, focusing on entertainment value. There were quite a lot of choices I passed over because they wouldn’t suit the image of “the voice actor Saito Soma’s” music. But after releasing an album, performing live, and reading the listeners’ feedback, I grew confident that people would still listen to my music even if I went a more hardcore route based on what I wanted. If people were willing to accept that, then I could release songs from the “unchosen” genres and lyric themes. That feeling is what led to the designation of a new chapter, Chapter 2. My songs up until now have had a consistent apocalyptic, decadent motif, and I think it’d be nice to sing about what people’s lives are like after the end of the world. Many of my previous songs had majestic arrangements, but I think there’ll be more songs that are on the introspective side from now on.

—In the past, you wrote music and lyrics in an elaborate manner, right?

Yes. I intentionally packed multiple song ideas into a single track, because it seemed like it’d be a better deal for the listener that way *laughs*. Writing songs like that was fun in its own way, but if it’s like that every time, it gets tiring for the listener, right? It’s like how eating a full course for every meal doesn’t necessarily taste good. So for these three songs, instead of that extravagant, jam-packed approach, I stuck with one idea for each song. For example, “Petrichor” builds up a groove with the repetition of that striking saxophone riff. I narrowed down my ideas a bit and tried to make it into something you won’t get tired of even if you listen to it on repeat. I think it became a simple (in a good way), relaxed song.

—The vocabulary in the lyrics also felt much more everyday than your previous songs.

I liked writing lyrics with symbolic phrases and words, but saying complicated things in a complicated way is actually a rather simple task. So this time, I chose not to rely on the words’ own impressions—which actually increased the abstractness of the lyrics. Something I really focused on with “Petrichor” was writing lyrics in the “new music” style (pop genre that trended in the 70s and 80s in Japan). You can understand them to an extent from looking at the written words, but the atmosphere changes completely depending on what angle you look at them from. I think they’re considerably more technical than the lyrics I wrote in the past. Since I’m still not singing about my own messages or assertions, I want the listeners to be able to enjoy my music in various different ways. They can still have fun speculating about the meaning…but I hope they’ll sense that the flavouring has changed a bit.

—Even though you aren’t using obscure vocabulary, your fixation with words hasn’t changed.

Right. Since the theme is “the changing of seasons,” I’m singing about something ambiguous and uncertain, so I’m trying not to use firm words. I also used to use a lot of katakana words, but this time I toned them down. In the case of “Petrichor,” I specifically chose words that felt round like raindrops.

—The upbeatness of “Summerholic!” felt very new. Did this song also come about because of the “seasons” theme?

This song was created to coincide with the release timing. The MV is rather cheery too, in a way that seems like something’s wrong with my head *laughs*. During the spring I was spending more time at home, so I decided to make a ton of demos. As I was playing my guitar, I came up with the first riff in “Summerholic!” and thought, “This is a really happy riff. Oh, this must be a summer song.” The same thing happened with “Palette”—I thought the first riff was autumn-like. It was like, once the theme was set, the missing pieces were filled in. I think the lyrics also came along cleanly because of the central “season” theme.

—Did you suggest your own ideas for the arrangements too?

I definitely don’t do any actual arrangement, but for example, for “Petrichor” I said, “Please use this riff, and add noise guitar at the halfway mark.” But I can’t play the detailed phrases by myself *laughs* so I leave those to the musicians. It’s fun to have things added to my songs that are outside of the scope of my imagination.

—When you’re composing a song, where do you start? The melody, lyrics, the underlying setting, or something else?

I think the melody comes ahead of the lyrics more often, but ideally I’d be able to do both at the same time. They’d match up better that way, and I think it’d result in broader appeal to listeners. When you take the time to put thought into writing lyrics, it takes a bit longer for them to reach the listeners’ subconscious. In my songs, when the melody is going up on the scale, I’ll intentionally create a discrepancy by putting words that go “down” in how they sound, which is a sort of technique. But in reality, I think it’s nice to be able to come up with both melody and lyrics at the same time.

For this series, it’s as I said earlier—the riffs came first. “Palette” came about when I was stuck on “Petrichor.” I had a general idea of what “Petrichor” was going to look like, so I decided to take a break and play some really loud, distorted sounds on my guitar. As I blasted my guitar through my headphones, I came up with the first phrase in a “I like this kind of thing!” way. I recorded a prototype up to the first chorus, using some random language that wasn’t even English. I think a lot of the nuances from that random language remain in the lyrics now.

—Are you insistent on changing the lyrics to Japanese while keeping the nuance?

Yes, when I first began writing songs, I’d use arbitrary English for the lyrics, but that always made the melody turn into something Western-style, so I started resolving myself to Japanese. Lately I’ve been thinking that English might be fine too, but I feel like I’ve gone back to Japanese anyway *laughs*. Since “Summerholic!” has a Western feel to it, the prototype had an English line that went ♪I have to say you good-bye~♪ which fit really well. I struggled a lot because there wasn’t any Japanese that could surpass it. It would’ve been fine to leave it in English, but when I’m writing lyrics, I don’t really like to combine Japanese and English. I want to challenge Japanese pop music…out of respect for Kusano Masamune-san. *laughs*

—I see! That makes sense.

I also care a lot about the appearance of the kanji themselves. In the case of “rain” (雨), I like how “ame” sounds, and I like the kanji itself too. So looking at the lyrics card is fun, and reading the lyrics is fun—I hope it became a song that’s enjoyable in a variety of ways. This series is being released digitally, but I do want my next release to be on a physical CD.

—I hear that you don’t just do the composition and lyrics; you also think about the work as a whole. Do you feel like you’re acting the part of the protagonist?

Yes, I do. Rather than creating songs as a representation of myself, it’s more like writing a novel or a film. But that doesn’t mean my songs are purely stories either. They merely depict a certain “state”—in the case of “Petrichor,” I turned “the state of a person in the rain, walking with a strangely happy swing in his step” into a song. So when I think of a theme, it feels like, “Even though it’s really sunny, I want to write about a rainy afternoon garden.” In the case of “Palette,” I wanted to write a song using the element of “walking along a path with lots of fallen leaves and suddenly feeling lonely”… But like I say every time, the lyrics I write aren’t about myself, so it’s not that I’m lonely or anything. I generally don’t refer to what the character is thinking, instead portraying them from an objective view, like a camera. Things like happiness and sadness are for the listener to feel. It might be that I like expressing feelings, scenes—things that don’t have names—in other forms. So even when I listen to “Petrichor,” sometimes I think it’s really fun, but sometimes I think it’s scary. That’s how I’m distanced from the song. There are also times when I read everyone’s interpretations and think, “Oh! That could be true.”

“The way I write songs changed after I became a voice actor. I think these two jobs interact well with each other.”

—It’s been about two years since you began being a composer and lyricist with “Date.” Has your approach changed?

It’s not so much that it’s changed in these last two years, but more that the way I write songs changed after I became a voice actor. I don’t think I would’ve been able to write the lyrics for “Date” if it weren’t for the experience I received through character song work. The way I compose songs is also heavily influenced by my voice acting work, and I think these two jobs interact well with each other.

—You said that with Chapter 2, you want to release the genres and settings that weren’t chosen before. What do you think your future direction will look like, specifically?

The songs that I wrote as a hobby when I was a teenager were mostly dark. I often wrote songs that faced inward, rather than outward. Some of my released songs like “C” and “Rutsubo” also have a dark, dangerous flavour, but those are still quite mild in comparison. From here on, I want to go in deeper and make something darker and more introspective. My musical roots lie with the Japanese bands around the 2000s, with their introspective and literary lyrics—like ART-SCHOOL and GRAPEVINE. Those songs really saved me, and I resonated with them. I want to keep those roots while making music that’s more incomprehensible, like using an irregular metre, or never repeating any phrases and getting to an F-melody *laughs*. I want to expand my definition of “pop music.”

—So you want to reopen the metaphorical drawer of music that you wrote before becoming a voice actor.

Indeed. I want to try making something based on my roots, or rather, based on what I like, and if everyone thinks “This doesn’t feel right,” then so be it *laughs*. I’m still going to be optimistic about trying it once. I think the advantage of being a voice actor artist is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to a single style of music. Regardless of whether my next song is Showa-era pop or EDM, it’ll still be accepted as Saito Soma’s creation. I want to make use of that advantage. Of course, it’s not out of complacency, but rather that I want to see how far I can go.

—I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of music you’ll create now that you’ve unleashed yourself.

Hahaha. Something I’m working on right now is fairly post-punk, and the new lyrics I’m writing for it are pretty crazy *laughs*. I hope I’ll be able to release something with a bit of a “not right in the head” feeling that I haven’t done before.

[Interview] TVstation 2020 no.12 – Voice! Voice! Songs!! vol 274 – Shimazaki Nobunaga & Saito Soma

Released: 2020/5/27

Features:
Shimazaki Nobunaga (Yamamoto Rio in Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare)
Saito Soma (Inui Kazuomi in Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare)


Q: Please tell us what made your chest tighten when you read the original manga.

Soma: I liked Rio and Yuna-chan’s direct, honest feelings. Also, I’m rooting for (Rio’s friend) Agatsuma-kun! He’s a good kid.

Nobunaga: Not only did the series make my chest tighten, it was very relatable. Not just the romance, but it made me think things like, “People do do these things in high school” and “People like this do exist.” I could relate to each and every thing, so it really moved my heart.

Soma: When I saw the scene where they were preparing for the school festival, it made me wish I’d enjoyed my teenage years to the fullest too *laughs*. It’s a type of yearning, right? Being able to experience youth again through this work was thrilling in a big way.

Q: Please tell us which character you related to the most.

Nobunaga: Everyone had something I could understand. For example, Rio interacts normally when he’s not interested, but once he’s in love, he suddenly starts blushing. I relate to his faithful representation of a high school boy that tries to look good in front of others. As for Kazuomi, I relate to how he’s passionate about the things he likes—like how he becomes talkative when they’re talking about movies. The girls also had aspects that I could relate to.

Soma: Out of the main four, it’d be Akari-chan for me. Due to her circumstances, she’s forced to be mature, and she keeps herself balanced for the sake of maintaining good relationships with the others. I related to that, although my situation wasn’t as difficult as hers… I also related to her initial stance of guessing what others are feeling before acting, and then the process of facing her own emotions.

Q: Between Akari and Yuna, which is your type?

Nobunaga: Yuna-chan is the one who looks dazzling to me. Akari-chan looks around her and makes adult decisions, but I think Yuna-chan does things that you can’t do when you become an adult. She’s honest and true to her feelings. I think her inexperience and innocence are radiant. The one I relate to more is Akari-chan, though. What about you, Soma-kun?

Soma: I completely agree *laughs*. Yuna-chan is someone you appreciate more the older you get. But if I were a high school student, I don’t think I would’ve been attracted to her.

Nobunaga: Akari-chan is the more mature type, right?

Soma: *nods* I think I admired that. But at our age, Yuna-chan’s directness strikes our hearts. I end up thinking, “Stay honest as you grow up,” like I’m her parent or older brother *laughs*. But if we’re strictly talking about my type, it’d be Akari-chan.

Q: What did you think when you found out you’d be costarring together?

Nobunaga: At first, we only heard that we’d be costarring, and I thought, “Soma-kun’s probably Rio.”

Soma: I also went, “I see, so Kazuomi is Nobunaga-san.” *laughs*

Nobunaga: We thought the same thing *laughs*. But then I was Rio and Soma-kun was Kazuomi.

Soma: It was shocking. When I read the original manga, I couldn’t grasp Kazuomi, but I thought Nobunaga-san would be able to do it *laughs*. That was my first impression, but the movie script included the manga’s essence while adding its own interpretation, so I did feel in sync with Kazuomi while we were recording.

Nobunaga: I’ve been voicing characters in a similar position to Rio, and I relate to him more too, so he clicked with me and it was easy to act as him. It was refreshing, though.

Soma: It was. I don’t voice Kazuomi’s type much, and when I’m with Nobunaga-san, I often voice peculiar characters *laughs*. So it felt novel to me, and I felt secure seeing Nobunaga-san’s wonderful acting during the key parts.

Nobunaga: I think it’s something you always had; you just didn’t show it outwardly. I hope everyone will see this new door you’ve opened.

Q: Did you receive any new inspiration from this film?

Soma: I enjoyed the dialogue between the two towards the end of the film. Since Rio was performed with pure, honest acting and emotion, it was easier to express Kazuomi’s emotions too.

Nobunaga: Rio changes his attitude towards Kazuomi depending on whether he’s desperate or relaxed, so it was interesting seeing Kazuomi’s reactions to that.

Soma: Because the characters have drastic mood swings *laughs*. There were parts of the script that made me wonder if their emotions were jumping around, but in reality, things normally don’t happen in the proper order for people. Real people suddenly get annoyed or sad in the moment, so the story developments actually felt very realistic.

Nobunaga: I think dramas go through the steps to make things easy for people to understand, but this film has realism in the emotional ups and downs and the flow of the story.

Q: There’s also a live action film in the works, but tell us what the advantages of the anime adaptation are.

Soma: The way it directly expresses the atmosphere of the original manga. It shows the unheard sounds and the unseen colours in high quality. I think it’s appealing to see a manga you like in animated form.

Nobunaga: Personally, I think that since the anime is drawn by animators, it’s not “real,” but that means they’re working extra hard to give it realism. I’m sure the live action is also pursuing realism, but in anime, everything is fiction, and I think it’s amazing how they make every effort to create something real within that. I hope you enjoy the reality within the fiction.

Soma: Please watch both adaptations, and if you haven’t read the original manga, please read that too.