[Interview] Animage 2021/1 Edition – IDOLiSH7 Second BEAT!

(character visuals only so no scans)

Released: 2020/12/10

Saito Soma (Kujo Tenn in IDOLiSH7)

※There were also interviews with Masuda Toshiki, Ono Kensho, and various anime staff, but only Soma’s interview is translated here.

The awkward Tenn’s strictness comes from kindness

Q: The broadcast has reached Episode 12. Were there any scenes that left an impression on you so far?

The conversation in Riku’s room in Episode 5 was extremely memorable. Tenn visits the IDOLiSH7 dorm and confronts Riku with his professionalism and determination as an idol. While they’re talking, funny things are happening elsewhere in the dorm, so it made for a packed episode.

Q: He starts off with a gentle tone of voice, but partway through he switches to quite harsh phrasing, right?

I think that Tenn said those things out of kindness, but since he’s a clumsy man, that was the only way he could express his feelings toward Riku.

Q: Riku lashed back at what Tenn said and Tenn seemed flustered. The changes in their facial expressions and tones of voice were a highlight of this scene.

I felt that Tenn showed that expression not because of Riku’s backlash, but because he was shocked that his feelings didn’t get across. In the mobile game’s second arc, Tenn is depicted as a high wall that Riku is faced with. In the anime’s second season which is based on that arc, Tenn’s strictness is emphasized more prominently. At first my plan was to say his lines a bit more softly, but at the recording, the staff told me, “Because he’s stoic towards Riku and because he’s worried about Riku, please be harsh.” I think that that strictness was also plainly visible in Episode 3 when Tenn sings “Dancing∞BEAT!!”

Q: The scene where Riku was in poor shape and Tenn took his place at the rehearsal, right?

Tenn’s professionalism shines in this scene. He can sing the song even without practicing, and he memorized the choreography. That perfection of his was a shock for Riku. I felt that it was a very fitting scene for Tenn, showing that he doesn’t cut corners even during rehearsal.

Q: I was surprised that the scene with Tenn singing “Dancing∞BEAT!!” came with vocals. His singing voice sounded completely different from when he sings with TRIGGER. Were you given any detailed direction for it?

Not particularly. I just felt that Tenn would be conscious of playing Riku’s part, and I kept that in mind during the recording.

Q: In Season 2, there were a lot of scenes where IDOLiSH7 gets discouraged by external opinions. How did you feel about that?

Mitsuki’s chain of events left a strong impression on me from the original game too. I think that every voice actor will have experienced that at least once. Personally I don’t project myself onto the characters I play, but something about those events resonated with me. One of the great things about Ainana is that it’s not always sparkly and happy—the other aspects are depicted very thoroughly too. Since it shows both the fun times and the painful times without over-embellishing, the story feels deeper.

Q: In Episode 9, when the special units are practicing for the concert, Tenn creates an opportunity for Iori and Riku to have a proper talk. He has a lot of lines that make them realize things, like “It’s because you compare yourself to others that you fall into the pit.”

I feel that this scene is more about Tenn’s professionalism and stoicism guiding the two forward, rather than him giving them advice. Instead of drawing closer to their feelings, he’s telling them that they need to be more determined. Tenn is stoic towards himself and others at all times, and he asks himself what it means to stand on stage as a professional. So, he also questions Riku and Iori on what their stances are as professional idols. I felt that Tenn has a very clear position in Season 2.

Q: It’s amazing that Tenn can continue to be stoic at all times.

Indeed, the word “amazing” sums it up. He made his resolve at an early stage in life, and he’s been walking that path ever since. When I’m voicing Tenn, it makes me want to be a person like that too. Although it’s difficult to be that stoic in real life.

Q: Do you empathize with Tenn in any way?

I think that every voice actor has their own way of approaching their characters. In my case, I don’t overlap myself with Tenn. As a person, I respect Tenn very much, and of course, there are times when I objectively think, “That’s so painful.” I can also sense his fragility, but—impudent as it may be—I can’t see myself in him.

Q: What do you think “idols” are?

In my personal view, they exist in a different world. They sparkle with all their might, and they work extremely hard to accomplish that. I think this goes for all idols in the real world too, not just the ones in Ainana. They’re like seekers. They’re brilliant, and I honestly think they’re amazing.

Q: And what do you think of the fans’ voices?

I’m not an idol so I don’t know for sure, but when I’m performing on stage, I feel that the view from on stage and the feelings that reach me from the audience are things that can only be experienced there. It’s a two-way interaction: the people on stage perform, the audience watches them and sends them their voices and feelings, and the performers take those in and return them in the form of a stronger performance. There’s a circular pattern there.

The direct, passionate Gaku and the balancer Ryunosuke

Q: After it’s announced that Re:vale will be covering a Zero song, society is sent into a roar by a mysterious scrawled message thought to be from Zero: “Get Back My Song.” Re:vale, IDOLiSH7, and TRIGGER are all hounded by the mass media for their opinions on singing Zero’s song. In Episode 12, TRIGGER answers them with an acapella performance of “Last Dimension.” It was really cool.

When I watched the footage, I thought it was a wonderful scene. “Last Dimension” is a song we already recorded before, but since it was a new arrangement, we got to sing it again, and I was extremely thankful for that experience. It also matched the visuals very well. I thought it was beautiful. Gaku said something good in the scene right before the song, right? It’s one thing if the person themselves is saying it, but it’s different if other people are saying it. I completely agree, and since it was Gaku saying it, it was extremely convincing. I think that Gaku is always saying passionate, good things.

Q: Gaku comes in with smart lines at critical moments. And in Episode 10 when Momo is anxious, Gaku tells Yuki to say to him, “You’re my only eternal partner.” It’s embarrassing, but it’s what Momo wants to hear.

Indeed. Gaku is a very direct person, so he doesn’t put on airs or tell lies. Because of that, his words carry strong emotion and they resound with the person hearing them.

Q: What about Ryunosuke?

I felt this during Episode 12 too, but even though the TRIGGER members are different types of people, you have Tenn and Gaku asserting themselves and Ryunosuke acting as the balancer connecting them. It’s because he’s there that they can be TRIGGER. In Episode 5 he was drunkenly rambling in Okinawa dialect the whole time and I didn’t know exactly what he was saying, but I could tell that he was having fun. I think that’s a great thing about him too.

Q: Episode 13 and onwards seem like they’ll be about Re:vale confronting their problem. What’s your impression of Re:vale?

Re:vale’s story is a major axis of Season 2. From a regular viewer’s perspective, I can sympathize with Momo’s sorrow. After the two spent so many years together, there are things that can’t be easily changed. IDOLiSH7’s method is to be reckless and work together to overcome their failures, but it may be difficult for Re:vale to choose that approach. I think that some of their pain stems from the fact that they have to be mature adults.

Q: What should we look out for in regards to TRIGGER?

The story up until now strongly emphasized Tenn’s strictness and stoicism. At the same time, we saw that he might not be good at showing his honest feelings. But in future developments, we get a glimpse of his natural self that he normally doesn’t show when he’s performing. I hope that when you see it, the gap from his current standoffish attitude will make you think, “This is what he was really thinking?” I want you to see how TRIGGER can talk about a lot of things after their unity as a team solidified in Season 1.

Q: Lastly, a message for the readers.

Thank you for watching Ainana up until now. Due to various circumstances, the recordings this season weren’t very straightforward, but I’m glad that we got to deliver the anime to you. Also, the director and all of the staff pour their hearts into creating every episode, and I’m truly grateful to be able to be part of the series as a voice actor. The idols go through a lot of problems in the story, but I hope you’ll see with your own eyes where they end up. We’re almost at the final episode, but after coming so far, I want to see what happens next too, and the production staff may feel the same way. This series gives me the passion to want to keep doing it. But despite my impatience, first I’d like you to enjoy Season 2 until the end.

Q: How would you spend Christmas with Tenn and the others?

I want to drink with Ryunosuke and Yamato. I think it’d be fun. Drinking with Sogo-san would require courage *laughs*, but I want to drink with the adults and hear their candid thoughts and feelings. If I was giving Tenn a present, it’d be something like cute earmuffs. I think he already has scarves and coats, so I want to give him something that he wouldn’t specifically buy himself. Also, a vacation. I don’t know if Tenn would approve of receiving a vacation, but I honestly want to know how he switches between his days off and his stage time. I also want to give him items that would help him rest and relax.

[Interview] Animage 2020/7 Edition – IDOLiSH7 Second Beat!

(No scans provided because it was character visuals only. Cute original art though)

Released: 2020/6/10

Saito Soma (Kujou Tenn in IDOLiSH7)

※There were also interviews with Ono Kensho and Hoshi Soichiro, but they won’t be included in this post.

Q: In the four episodes that have aired, what impression did you have of Tenn?

The mobile game’s story has already progressed quite far, and there, he seems to have opened up to Riku and the TRIGGER members. But in the anime’s second season, he’s still quite harsh. Rather than thinking he’s grown, I felt that he really does evolve from here on out. In the anime, he’s much stricter with Riku than I thought. Even in the episodes that’ve aired so far, you can see his professional attitude. In my mind, Tenn had already become completely soft on Riku, so at the studio, I discussed with everyone as we recorded the lines. That said, he’s not just strict—he cares about Riku. When you think about it that way, it’s really cute how he can’t even express his kindness well.

Q: What was your impression of IDOLiSH7’s Riku and Re:vale’s Momo?

Riku: Basically, he’s cute! Although I always say that *laughs*. At the start of Season 2, I felt that his earnest feelings towards singing were depicted even more strongly. It’s a similar feeling to his usual adorable smiling and his fixation with standing on stage. I also understand how he gets captivated by the people around him like Tenn. I feel it on a grand scale, like it excels at precisely calculating these emotions. When I see Riku depressed, I want to be there for him, and when he’s happy, I feel happy too. He has a charm that draws the viewers in without them knowing.

Momo: All of the Ainana characters have their own charms, but I personally like Nagi and Momo. I was really happy to see Momo animated in the anime. He was cool when he first appeared and acted dark, and his good-natured big brother aura afterwards was great too. Story-wise, I’m sure many people are already aware, but I’m cautiously looking forward to seeing how the next plot developments are depicted. Momo’s usually the cheerful mood-maker, but in reality, he’s a balancer that thinks deeply about the others. He’s a really kind person, and I think his love runs deep.

Q: Please give us a message for the readers.

Thank you for supporting IDOLiSH7! I have faith that we’ll overcome this situation ((referencing COVID-19)) and bring you the greatest story. Until then, I won’t let my passion for Ainana burn out—I intend on making it even stronger! Please continue to support IDOLiSH7. Ainana is the best!

Recommended Episode: There are so many that it’s hard to choose! But Vibrato’s “Boys Caught Up” was paced like I was watching a movie, and it was an episode I’d like to watch while relaxing on the sofa with an alcoholic drink. It has comedy as well as Nagi being cool, and it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

[Interview] PASH! 2020/5 Edition – IDOLiSH7 Second BEAT! – TRIGGER Special Interview

Released: 2020/4/10

Saito Soma (Kujou Tenn in IDOLiSH7)

※This was presented as three separate interviews with each of the TRIGGER members. Only Soma’s interview is translated here, as well as Soma mentions from the other interviews.

Hatano Wataru (Yaotome Gaku in IDOLiSH7)
Sato Takuya (Tsunashi Ryuunosuke in IDOLiSH7)
Masuda Toshiki (Izumi Iori in IDOLiSH7)

Tenn strives for perfection

Q: How did you feel when Season 2 was announced?

Soma: Rather than being excited like “Phew, it’s happening!”, it was more of a natural acceptance, like “The time has finally come.” In the mobile game’s story, the second arc and beyond has the idols’ relationships and surrounding circumstances becoming more complex. I was personally hoping to see it in anime form, so I was very happy about the Season 2 announcement as both an actor and a fan.

Q: Did you talk about the announcement with the other cast members?

Soma: I have a lot of chances to see them at various recordings, so we definitely brought it up. We mostly talked about our favourite scenes and the scenes we were looking forward to. In IDOLiSH7, the characters face many setbacks and obstructions… Honestly, the story is heart-wrenching to read at times, but watching them overcome their trials and grow stronger makes me feel like I’m being given a push on the back. Although it’s not quite the same as them, we’re performers too, so we get excited talking about the scenes that struck home.

Q: What did you think of the completed Episode 1?

Soma: I first watched it at the “IDOLiSH7 Fan Meeting vol.5 Welcome! Ai na Night!!” event. The story was great, but I also noticed that there was a lot of thought put into the details. There was a lot of meaningful direction, not just in the characters’ expressions and lines of sight, but also in the sound effects and blocking. The information was also dense, and Episode 1 felt like it was an hour long. Anyway, there was also foreshadowing scattered throughout, so whether you’ve read the game story or not, don’t blink or you’ll miss something.

Also, I have a personal theory that there must be someone in the staff who wants to make Iori cuter *laughs*. He was cute enough to make me think that. He looks cool at first glance, but he pouts when he’s angry and smiles when he’s happy. It’s a normal thing as far as humans go, but when you’re only looking at them as idols, you tend to forget the finer behaviour that adds depth to the work. But of course, everyone else is cute too!

Q: Was there any memorable direction during the recording?

Soma: At the end of Season 1, Tenn acknowledges his younger brother Riku as an idol, so during the test run for Season 2, I approached it with Tenn’s love towards his brother rather than the strictness of a professional. However, I was told to be strict. In the game, Tenn’s attitude towards Riku has changed a lot, so it was hard to rewind those feelings. But rather than tracing my past performance, I strived to express him in a way that could only be done in anime.

Another memorable instruction was in a later episode, when Tenn gets into an argument with Iori. Even though Masuda-san spoke in a relatively mild, comedic tone, I was asked to make Tenn’s tongue-clicking “dead serious.”

Also, there’s a scene where Tenn sighs after a conversation with Riku. For that, I was told “Please express Tenn’s conflicted feelings after saying harsh words while actually being concerned about Riku, with only a sigh.” It was difficult to get the balance right, but I like that delicate, clumsy side of him.

Q: I see. So, Tenn’s way of breathing is a must-check in Season 2. What else should we keep an eye out for?

Soma: Tenn is TRIGGER’s center, and such a perfect idol that people call him a modern-day angel. He spares no effort in giving the audience the greatest time of their lives. His high degree of professionalism results in him being harsh on both himself and others. In Season 2, I get the feeling that they’re intentionally emphasizing that stoic-ness of his. While watching, if you try to imagine why he’s saying harsh words and taking a cold attitude, and what feelings are hidden behind them, you might be able to sense what’s going on inside him. I believe that the person known as Kujou Tenn has a lot of charm packed in there. Please pay attention to his complicated relationship with Riku, who’s his twin brother as well as a rival competing with him to reach greater heights.

Q: What is Kujou Tenn to you?

Soma: In short, he’s someone I respect a lot. When Tenn says something harsh, there’s always a reason behind it. He says it because it’s necessary to say it. Tenn acts as a helpful warning to me, making me question whether I’m worthy of being the one responsible for his weighty words.

It shows in his attitude towards Riku too—since Tenn is stoic, he has an extreme side to him as well. While he appears perfect, there are times when I think he’s actually someone who’s striving towards perfection. That side of him is really precious, and I’m sure he’s going to keep improving in the future, so I want to improve alongside him too.

Q: You’ve participated in several IDOLiSH7 events so far. Which ones were the most memorable for you?

Soma: It’d have to be the concerts. For the 2nd Live “REUNION,” we went through a lot of ideas trying to figure out how we could make it even better than the 1st Live “Road to Infinity.” The direction intent behind the set list was clear, and I remember discussing and rehearsing with Hatano-san and Sato-san countless times. After the concert was over, I felt a sense of accomplishment, as well as the desire to put on an even more expressive performance as Kujou Tenn next time.

Q: Lastly, please give a message for the readers who are looking forward to IDOLiSH7 Second BEAT!

Soma: First off, thank you for supporting us thus far. TRIGGER and IDOLiSH7 have a perfect rival relationship, teaching and learning from each other at the same time, and now Re:vale is joining in as the reliable big brothers. I think you’ll find the anime even deeper if you pay attention to not just the characters’ words, but also their expressions, tones of voice, and the camerawork. I’ll also be looking forward to the broadcast every week, so let’s enjoy it together until the end. Please continue to support IDOLiSH7.

Q: Out of all the TRIGGER songs that have been released so far, which one stands out to you the most?

Soma: When we were recording “Leopard Eyes,” we were instructed to prioritize sexiness, so we did. When I heard the finished version afterwards, I felt as though I’d gained a better understanding of Kujou Tenn. When I’m singing as Tenn, I change my singing style and enunciation depending on the song, but even now, I still use “Leopard Eyes” as my baseline.


  • Satotaku: “Due to scheduling, it was difficult to record at the same time as Hatano-kun and Saito-kun. But even under those circumstances, I’d think ‘Those two would definitely voice it this way,’ and I’m sure they were doing the same. The trust and respect for each other that we’ve built up over the years resembles TRIGGER. On the other hand, when I do get to see them, I’m happy from the bottom of my heart. The moment I open the studio door and see their faces, I go into TRIGGER mode.”

[Interview] CUT 2020/4 Edition – IDOLiSH7 Cast Interview/Survey

Released: 2020/3/19

※Only parts related to Soma will be translated in this post.

Cast Survey:

Q1: Out of all the songs in IDOLiSH7, which one shook your heart the most, and why?

Soma: There’s so many emotional songs that I can’t pick just one… but the one that came to mind just now was “In the meantime.” When I first heard the demo, I instinctively liked it already, but when I saw its incredible synergy with TRIGGER’s situation in the story, I felt moved again. I’ve also experienced a period of time when things weren’t going well, and I felt like I was being swallowed up and didn’t know where to turn to. This song links to that feeling very strongly, and whenever I listen to it, I feel a small yet sure determination.

Q2: What was your personal highlight of your IDOLiSH7-related activities, and why?

Soma: This one’s hard to choose too, but it’d have to be the two concerts. I thought long and hard about how I should approach the songs and stand on the stage, as a TRIGGER member and the voice of Kujou Tenn. The 2019 concert in particular was harder and there was more pressure because it was the second one. But because of that, there was an incredible feeling of accomplishment when we all successfully sprinted towards the finale together as a team. Once again, I felt determined to become an actor worthy of being responsible for Kujou Tenn’s voice. It was a spectacular concert.

Q3: What would you like to do with Tenn, and why?

Soma: Hmm… I want to go shopping and let him dress me up in various clothes *laughs*. I’m also interested in what kinds of books and movies he likes. He seems like he’d enjoy things with fantasy elements, but who knows? I’d also like to eat delicious food and drink apple juice with him, just relaxing. I want to eat with all of TRIGGER actually, the six of us in total. *laughs*

Q4: Describe the relationship between TRIGGER’s members in one phrase, and explain why.

Soma: The strongest group of friends, who all have each other’s backs. They started off without fully opening up to each other, but after overcoming all sorts of trials, I think they’ve truly become the strongest trio. The balance between them is exquisite, and if any one of them were missing, it wouldn’t be TRIGGER anymore. It’s because they butted heads so much and overcame tough times that they know they can rely on each other. That’s what I think of TRIGGER.

Q5: What’s something new you’d like to challenge as TRIGGER or the IDOLiSH7 franchise as a whole?

Soma: Our newest song “Treasure!” reinforced my belief that TRIGGER’s recent songs have been traversing new possibilities in addition to the “trigger” aesthetic. TRIGGER is continuing to evolve, so I’d like to challenge even more new styles of music. Perhaps even a really mellow ballad. But first, we need everyone’s help in order to keep producing new content, so please continue to support IDOLiSH7!


  • Masuda Toshiki: (talking about how Iori’s character changed in the anime) The game’s story is composed of still sprites, so there are fewer facial expressions and Iori has a serious face most of the time. But in the anime, all of the detailed expressions are shown, so Iori felt gentler than I expected… Honestly, it surprised me at first *laughs*. Even Saito Soma-san said to me, “Iori’s become really cute, huh?”