Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san ended recently, and one of the highlights was the different ending theme songs which are covers of popular songs from some time ago. There is a special interview in the CD booklet where Takahashi Rie is asked some questions regarding the songs.
Firstly, Please tell us if there was anything you had to pay attention to while playing as Takagi-san.
Takahashi: I started by asking myself, “What are the things that Takagi-san wouldn’t do?” While i wanted to have a clear image of Takagi-san’s voice, I would also like to put myself in the shoes of the viewers. Wouldn’t everyone also have an image of Takagi-san back in their school days? So i pondered, “Wouldnt it be nice if i was made fun by such a person?”. That was how I got into the role of Takagi-san.
So basically, you are leaving some room for imagination.
Takahashi: That’s right. But, having said that, voicing a heroine with no clear direction, may also confuse the viewers, as well as lower the quality of the finished work. That is why i also try not to stray too far from the direction set by the animation.
Let’s talk about the album next. What did you think of the ED songs when you first saw them?
Takahashi: I was surprised! Some of the songs were from back when i was still in school, and they really made my heart pound. Also, I think that for everyone while watching the show, will reminisce about their time back in school with the ED songs playing in the background. It made me happy that the ED songs gave off these bittersweet feelings.
How about yourself? Which artiste(s) do you listen to when you were still in school?
Takahashi: Back in junior high, I loved FUNKY MONKEY BABYS so much that i would attend their live shows. I would also buy their CDs and merchandise, and even went to their Hachioji, where they started. At that time, I really enjoyed music in general, so i will go to the CD rental store to check out the Oricon chart rankings, rent everything home, and listen to them with my MD player.
Ah, you really wanted to know the trend back then huh?
Takahashi: That’s right. It was around middle school that I started liking songs and Karaoke. I really treasured the MD player i got from my dad and would always bring it along with me, listening to the songs wherever I went. The songs I knew were also the ones I had fun singing in Karaoke.
By the way at that time, what was that one memorable song?
Takahashi: I had a special ringtone whenever i received messages from my crush, and it was a song from when Nakama Yukie’s unit which was used for a CM (commercial).
Was it Koi no Download?
Takahashi: Yup! ….It was a very memorable song. (Laughs)
Ah, that was how it was (laughs). Next, I will ask you about the songs themselves. What are the thoughts you had while singing them as Takagi-san?
Takahashi: This time for the ED songs, to avoid any disconnect between Takagi-san and the songs, I would put up various images of Takagi-san’s expressions on the sheet music, singing out while looking at her different expressions. However, it was still difficult for me to properly bring out Takagi-san’s character.
Hmm, at which part did you feel that way?
Takahashi: For Kimagure Romantic, I tried singing with Takagi-san’s usual voice but i didn’t get a good feeling from it. I imagined Takagi-san having fun in Karaoke, yet i was asked over and over again to inject more fun into the song. So I had to try a different way to express Takagi-san’s voice, and add more bubbliness to the song.
In other words, the aim is to show Takagi-san enjoying herself, while retaining her essence.
Takahashi: That’s right. Whether it is (Takagi-san’s) charm or being a little startled by her whisper, if you are able to hear all these bottled-up emotions in the songs, and feel that Takagi-san singing the song, that will be the best!
So it is like, having all these thoughts, and to face 7 songs which are so different from each other?
Takahashi: Yes, for every song, I am grateful for being able to discover which vocal arrangements is better for the songs to properly bring out Takagi-san’s expressions. For Chiisana Koi no Uta, the acoustic range is lower than the original song and I thought it fitted Takagi-san well.
Ah, I think that was the only song with such a contrasting vocal range.
Takashashi: I would think so too. As I couldn’t use the same style of singing from when i used to sing it in Karaoke, The song was re-arranged to allow me to sing as Takagi-san. At that point of time, I was surprised that the range was so spread out. I thought I was finally able to see Takagi-san’s image with this song, and since I have sung the other ED songs prior to this, I thought i would have no problems doing this song.
Other than that, was there any songs that was felt particularly difficult?
Takahashi: I would say the rap portion for AM11:00. In the first place, the song is from the male perspective, so the lyrics would feel like that. But, there was one particularly difficult line —— “Very gentlemanly Yo! (lit. from maji shinshiteki ni)”. In my mind I was thinking, “Am i really going to sing that line??”. But it would have been weird to change the nuance of the lyrics, so I downplayed the “Yo” a little while singing that portion.
Ah, so how was the arrangement made for that portion which was not in line with Takagi-san’s feelings?
Takahashi: For that portion, i had to drop the image of singing casually in Karaoke. But when i add a a little emotion to it, I would end up going overboard with them,and the song loses the essence of being sung by Takagi-san. In this case, I had to compromise and strike the right balance. That is why i could not say for sure that the entire song represent Takagi-san’s emotions. On the other hand, you would have to figure out what exactly is Takagi-san’s real feelings which is really interesting. Certain lines also leave more impression than the rest, but there is how Karaoke is. Thinking about the song in that way is also enjoyable.
I see. By the way, was there any song you were pumped up for?
Takahashi: If there is one song I would like to mention, It would be “Ai Uta” from Episode 11. When i found out that it will be playing at the end of the episode, I was really getting pumped up for it. I really like that episode because of how the song starts playing at the point where the show zoomed in on the distance between Nishikata and Takagi-san’s relationship. I did numerous re-takes for the song to figure out if I should use a more gentle whispering style or focus more on the individual lyrics to properly present the song as a song that comes right next to you.
Lastly, do you have any messages for those who bought the CD?
Takahashi: Thank you very much! Even to the point of reading this interview! Whether it is one word, one line or even the entire sheet, if you can think that Takagi-san is singing the song to you, it will make me really happy. Please do listen to them many times, and feel the emotions of Takagi-san!
PS: There are some lines that sounded strange when I was translating, so I had to rephrase them. Please let me know if I should change any wording!
You can access the raw manuscript data here!