For the next seiyuu in this series, I am featuring Tanaka Minami, everyone’s favourite otaku gacha queen! This interview was done back in 2014, so it may be a little dated, but nevertheless I thought it was really interesting, capturing the energy levels of Minami well enough.
This is ‘Seiyuu Zukan” (Seiyuu pictorial book), where we interview highly anticipated seiyuus, how they got their opportunity to become a seiyuu, their first work, as well as their personal life and any other interesting things, together with a mini photoshoot.
For the 22nd edition, we welcome Tanaka Minami, the voice behind Katayama Minami (Wake Up, Girls!) and Hana N. Fountainstand (Hanayamata).
Q: You made your in Wake Up Girls! as Katayama Minami, can you tell us more about the character?
Tanaka: I would say Katayama Minami is very cheerful and bubbly, as well as being able to change the mood. When she puts her mind to something, she will do it seriously and think them through carefully.
Q: The catchphrase “Unmenya~” was also thought up by Minami-chan right?
Tanaka: That’s right! That phrase was originally from the script in the social game. When I saw that line at first, I was trying to figure what it actually stands for, then the staff told me that that phrase will be used quite frequently later on in the show. In the end, I had to say it many times during episode 3 (laughs).
Q: The distinctive tone that became a habit with that line is really cute! Were you able to say it so smoothly from the start?
Tanaka: I had to do many retakes for the first “Unmenya”. The sound director had to tell me, “Imagine Minami-chan having to repeatedly think before finally coming up with “Unmenya“. It was then I could finally deliver that line at the last moment. If it was Minami-chan, she would be doing a cat-like pose while saying the phrase.
I was told that that was the moment the catchphrase was born. It has become a really precious line for me.
Q: What was the challenging parts during dubbing?
Tanaka: At first, I couldn’t quite understand what the director or sound director want to relay. When I considered about the way to deliver the lines and said them, I was told that it’s a little different image from what they had in mind. However, as I continued this process, I could understand how to fix the way the lines are being delivered even if a big change was required.
Q: What’s your favourite scene?
Tanaka: It was the 7th episode, where all 7 of us reunited. I cried when i watched it the first time. When I saw Minami-chan putting in all her effort, I got reminded that Minami-chan is a really amazing girl. It was really an unforgettable scene.
Q: What’s your thoughts on when you got chosen for the role, debuting as a seiyuu in the show, and when the dubbing ended?
Tanaka: I had wanted to become a seiyuu since I was young, so I couldn’t believe it the moment I really became one. The first time hearing my voice in an anime really spurred me and made me think, “I will have to continue working hard from now”. In the 12 episodes that the members of WUG (in the show) grew, I felt that us seiyuus voicing them also grew together with them, giving us the feeling that we could voice them preciously.
Q: What was the moment that you felt you have grown up?
Tanaka: Being able to understand myself when I was voice acting, and being conscious of the transition from an anime viewer to being watched in an anime!
Q: From the moment you passed the auditions, till the dubbing – there was really plenty of lessons you had to take right?
Tanaka: We gathered in Tokyo for lessons, and went to a training camp 3 times during the summer holidays and Golden week. Stamina is really important to perform on stage, so we had to run in the morning, go for dance and singing practice. The lessons everyday was packed from morning to night for 10 days.
Q: Acting lessons too?
Tanaka: Yes. I hit a wall during the “outburst of emotions” lesson. I couldn’t portray “anger” in my acting. When I thought I acted those feelings out, I was told that it was still too gentle. Eventually I decided to forget about the script, but focused on getting angry, and at last I got the hang of it.
Q: Was there any other things that was tough to deal with?
Tanaka: I…don’t have physical strength. I couldn’t even do 1 sit up. Physical training was tough because of my lack of stamina too. Also, there was also dance training. When I tried to dance to the rhythm of the music, but because I’m so weak, I was like start-stop-start-stop – it was difficult to catch up to the rest at the start!
The intense choreography made everyone feel fatigued, and made me wonder if I could really sing and dance at the same time. But, I think after all these time together… we will surely be fine now! I think we will be able to do our best for the lives (concerts) and Anisama!
Q: By the way, what’s your favourite WUG song?
Tanaka: “Tachiagare!”*. No matter how many times i hear the song, every time the intro plays, i get goosebumps. I think it was also because that was the first song I learnt, and the choreography was really tough too. Now, I can finally say with pride that Tachiagare! has become the song I am best at (laughs)!
*Lit. stand up!
Q: For the WUG spinoff short anime (Wake Up, Girls ZOO!), what kind of Minami-chan will we be able to see?
Tanaka: It is based off the zoo theme, Minami-chan will be portrayed as a tiger, and she will be firing off rapid successions of “unmenya“, also the glutton in her will be in full display! Even after becoming a tiger, she is still the same Minami-chan that lusts after meat. Also, while she is ferocious, you can feel the energy and cuteness coming out from her.
Q: Let’s move on to Hanayamata‘s Hana N. Fountainstand. Can you tell us about the character?
Tanaka: Hana-chan came from America, loves yosakoi* and is a very lively and hyper girl. Her reason for liking yosakoi comes from her love for Japan, and she will end up drawing in people around her. In other words, she’s just a person who dashes forward full-spiritedly.
I was pretty much given freedom for the acting direction of Hana-chan, so I went with theimage of evil magistrate who goes like, “fufufufu“, also elements of a samurai and ninja, having fun at times (laughs).
*Yosakoi is an unique style of dance that originated in Japan and that is performed at festivals and events all over the country.
Q: Was it difficult to keep up a hyper image during dubbing?
Tanaka: Oh, It was alright! I had a switch within that tells me when to instantly turn on/off. Besides, I’m usually hyper so it’s just me being myself (laughs).
Q: Let’s also hear about yourself! Tell us your top 3 favourite food.
Tanaka: First – chocolate! (instant reply) For rice, I’d say omurice*. I like light and fluffy egg dishes. Oh and waffles are my weakness! I’ll have waffles whenever I go to a cafe. Top that off with chocolate and blueberries, lots of berries and it’ll be perfect! Actually my top 3 could be just desserts, I really love sweet stuff.. But desserts are for a separate stomach, so after eating omurice, I’ll still be able to eat waffles!
*Omelette fried rice
Q: How about cake buffet?
Tanaka: I’m free now (laughs)! I’ll take one of each for starters, go for second helpings for the delicious ones. And finally top them off with chocolate fondue! – that’ll be how it goes (laughs).
Q: How do you spend your off-days?
Tanaka: Hang out with friends. Usually that means going to the Karaoke singing boisterously and loudly. Karaoke is very much my personal hobby as well, so I’d go alone sometimes too. I also like going to eat out with them, chilling at family restaurants and chatting till late (laughs). At home, I’m usually at my PC watching recorded anime. Lastly, having a blast at theme parks are really the best!
Q: Even the roller coaster?
Tanaka: I love that! Take me up! Higher! That’s about the feelings I get from riding them (laughs).
Q: What’s the best attraction you’ve been to?
Tanaka: It has to be Disney. Since it’s a land of dreams, won’t everyone want to ride the attractions?
Q: By the way, what’s the best one that will leave you screaming?
Tanaka: Fuji Q’s Tekkochu Bancho has this mid-air swing, the climb up is really great, and because you can’t feel your feet, that feeling is just like flying in the sky. The view of Mt. Fuji is really pretty from there,so I’d shout, “SO BEAUTIFUL~!” at the top of my lungs(laughs). My friends sitting beside are definitely the type who are bad at shouting out loud, so when they shout, “Please stop this!”, I’ll try to calm them down by shouting, “You’ll be fine!” (laughs). Oh if there’s a very frightened kid beside me, it’ll be all the more fun (laughs)!
Q: Eh? Don’t tell me you are an extreme sadist?
Tanaka: hahaha! I wonder (laughs)? I don’t really quite understand, but it’s pretty fun (laughs).
Q: You’re good with haunted houses too?
Tanaka: Yes! Actually just a while ago, when we were recording for the DVD, we (WUG members) went to challenge Fuji Q’s “Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear”. (Okuno) Kaya is pretty bad with them, Mayushii is also pretty bad. Actually most of WUG’s members are bad with scary stuff so (Takagi) Miyu and myself led the group. I held the torch light, while Miyu filmed us, so while walking through the labyrinth, everyone was squealing and screaming (laughs). Looking at them get frightened only made Miyu and me laugh throughout the whole ordeal (laughs). It was really fun~.
Q: What else is included in the DVD?
Tanaka: We cooked together for the first time at a BBQ. I was in charge of making the curry, so I cut the veggies and boiled them. While it’s not difficult making curry outside, we had to properly set up the fire. As for the taste, though the curry was thin at the start, the taste was strong and soupy type,but somehow along the way, the curry became super delicious (laughs). It was as if Yamanashi’s magic was cast on it, letting us enjoy such a good meal!
Q: Do you have any recent bloopers to talk about?
Tanaka: When i was changing trains, I was cutting it close for time, so I dashed across the platform and boarded the train there. But that was not the train that stops at every stop…it was in fact the limited express train. But luckily I wasn’t late! Just that it wasn’t the trip I had on my mind (laughs). Also, when it was late and I just want to get home faster, so I’ll just board the train. When I came to realise, I actually boarded on the wrong direction (laughs). It happens quite frequently for me!
Speaking about stupid mistakes, when I went to see Asanuma Shintaro’s stage play who voices Matsuda in WUG, as it was really wonderful, I wrote a letter and passed to him. But the next day, Asanuma-san told me that there was nothing inside the envelope (laughs). I couldn’t remember where i placed the letter. It ended up being a story told at many places, and it was really embarrassing (laughs). But, since it was able to make me laugh, it’s good!
Q: What kind of seiyuu do you want to become from now on?
Tanaka: I would like to voice many different characters! For now, my characters are the buoyant type,so I would like to try out quiet and reserved, cool etc. type of characters, or a boy and even a sister role. At the same time, I really like singing a lot, so I hope to be able to get tons of people to watch me perform on stage.
Q: And lastly, a message to the readers.
Tanaka: I’m still very much a newcomer, but I am pushing towards my goal as a seiyuu, so please continue to support me! Thank you!
And here’s a special video commentary by Tanaka Minami for “Seiyuu Zukan”, subbed by me.
Thank you for reading!
Please look forward to the next issue of Seiyuu Zukan!
Interview: Azabu Tanu
Photography: Yamamoto Tetsuya
Casting cooperation: Yoshimura Naoki
This interview was first published on 29 August 2014 in ddnavi.com. All images and videos you see here belong to their respective owners.