For this time, we have Ueda Reina! While translating this, it was hard for me to believe that the Reina I read about in the interview, is the same as the confident and mature Reina who is hosting a radio show by herself, as well as with Takahashi Rie. I’m really glad to see that she has grown so much since her debut.
Read more after the tab!
This is ‘Seiyuu Zukan” (Seiyuu pictorial book), where we interview up-and-coming
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 38th edition, we welcome Ueda Reina, the voice behind Sekiya Naru (Hanayamata).
Q: How did you feel when you found out that you are going to voice Naru for Hanayamata?
Ueda: When it was decided at the audition, the thought that came to me was, “Ah, I get to be with Naru-chan for a longer time”. At the auditions, there were plenty of dialogue, guidance given to everyone from the staff, and the impression that I got to watch everything carefully. That’s why I was able to feel the presence of Naru ‘getting bigger’ inside of me. When I got picked, I was relieved and happy to have the chance to find out a new side of Naru. Also having thoughts like, “I’m the lead so I have to work hard…!”, gave me sense of responsibility. (laughs)
Q: What kind of appeal did Naru did you want to bring out in your acting?
Ueda: For the first half of the first episode, I wanted to express out a someone without any self confidence, can’t put her own opinions into words, and embarrassed to carry out plans. After meeting people with the same interests and gaining experience, gradually being able to voice her own opinions – the second half was about bringing out Naru’s inner strength which she had all along.
Q: What is this ‘strength’ that Naru already had within her?
Ueda: I think her strength is unlike Hana’s (CV: Tanaka Minami) going-all-out cheerfulness, but more like the night moon, ‘Gently supporting you from behind’ kind of strength. Naru is heavily influenced by Hana, so I wanted to also express this side of Naru who gradually becomes similar to Hana. For example, having the strength to say, “Everything’s fine!” in any scenario. Adding to that, I think it will be nice if naru’s ‘cool dude’-ish image can be expressed out. Especially from episode 10 to the ending of the show.
Q: That’s true, hearing her voice in episode 1 gives off the feeling of timidness and low self confidence to the point of trembling before people. Her pitch is higher than your usual voice.
Ueda: That’s right! I imagined myself in middle school, speaking out in high pitch because of anxiety issues. (laughs) As the recording progressed, the original character got purged out, …and became more of an old man. (laughs) I would often get told by the (production) staff, “Shall we try to get back the cuteness from the beginning? Alright, let’s get the cuteness back this week!” (laughs)
Q: What about the other characters? Did they also become ‘old men’? Or was it just you? (laughs)
Ueda: It was entirely just me. (laughs) I had so much fun that I think i got carried away. There was a joke scene where I had to say, “Wait! Stop!”, but it became less cute than intended (laughs)
Q: Were there moments you had to ad-lib?
Ueda: There were no lines for the eyecatch* originally, so everyone had to think of their own lines when it was decided to include them. Also, other than voicing Naru, I voiced some lines for a roadside cat! (laughs) I think the image appeared in the ending animation of episode 4…(laughs)
*Eyecatch is a Japanese-made word referring to a short clip beginning or ending a commercial.
Q: I definitely want to check back on that scene! Were there any other unexpected moments like this?
Ueda: There was a scene of a small kid making a big fuss in the background, and I thought it would be interesting if a dog suddenly showed up. Then of a sudden, Toyoguchi Megumi-san (Tokiwa Sari) who was beside me made a barking sound, and I responded with, “What’s wrong, are you hungry?” (laughs) That was how the conversation with the dog’s owner began. (laughs)
Q: Hearing these stories, the recording studio must have had a really harmonious atmosphere!
Ueda: That’s right. (laughs) There are others younger than me in the studio, so as the ‘leader’, I thought that I had to be an example to everyone, but after 2 or 3 episodes, I felt that everyone took in warmly no matter what I did. That’s when I thought that I don’t have to push myself too hard, and just be regular self moving forward. After having that mindset, I felt more at ease~
For the guests that I met for the first time, It’s a little difficult for them to join in the conversation, so we will try to make eye contact with them, and we were given room to try to create that atmosphere too.
Q: How about the relationship amongst Team Hanayamata?
Ueda: Our relationship is really similar to the relationship amongst the characters in the anime! Tami-san (CV: Ōtsubo Yuka) and Machi-san (CV: Numakura Manami) are always sitting next to each other, Ōtsubo-san always reply with a ,”That’s right” to Numakura-san’s words. Because of the atmosphere they were able to make, Hana-chan (CV: Tanaka Minami), Yaya-chan (CV: Okuno Kaya) and I could brighten up the mood with our energy.
Q: What kind of image do you have of Tanaka-san’s Hana-chan and Okuno-san’s Yaya?
Ueda: Hana-chan is very lively and bright, but that’s not all. One of her strengths that is visible is to worry and think in situations. Of course, Yaya-chan is hard working just like (Kaya-chan). I felt the support from (them) in order to make myself appear more stylish. I respect both Naru and Yaya-chan in the same way, and of course Kaya-chan. (blushes)
Q: Previously, Okuno-san told me that she was frustrated because Naru got taken away by Hana. (laughs)
Ueda: Fufu. (laughs) She says that at the studio too. I usually sit beside Kaya-chan in the studio, and opposite us would be Minami. When Minami and I had to go for some photo shoot, Kaya-chan complained, “My Naru is- ! (getting taken away)” (laughs) I just thought the situation was very cute. (laughs)
Q: ‘Charasong YOSAKOI SONG series’ is getting released soon, what song from the series do you feel represents the elements of Hanayamata the most?
Ueda: The opening song (Hana wa Odore ya Iroha ni Ho*) and character song brought out the instability of the early stages of Naru out, whereas for the other track on the OP single ‘Dream JUMP!’, I changed my singing style to give Naru a ‘Cool dude’ vibe. Because of that, I have a deeper impression of ‘Dream JUMP!’ I wanted to bring out her inner self, but as the voice changed, I also wondered, “Is this really Naru?” Personally, I like Machi-san’s character song~
It’s a refreshing song like the feeling that you get when you just woke up!
Q: Other than Hanayamata, are there any other shows that you were in and want to recommend to the fans?
Ueda: I would say ‘Harmonie’ and ‘Tesagure! Bukatsumono’. Juri-chan* (Harmonie) is similar to my usual self, for Tesagure! Bukatsumono, you can experience the chaos from the Sonota** sisters. (laughs)
*She voiced Makina Juri in Harmonie.
**She voiced Sonota Mobuko in Tesagure! Bukatsumono
Q: In ‘Tesagure! Bukatsumono’, you had to play 18 roles.
Ueda: (laughs). For people who know me, I get nervous easily. I’m usually very quiet, so when I have to appear in front of an audience, I have to amp up my energy levels 100 times to get rid of the nervousness. (laughs) As I get more pumped up, I also start becoming more careless with my words. In any case, I have to give my best. (laughs) It’s similar to ‘Tesagure!’ where many sides of me got shown. (laughs)
Q: What makes you nervous when you have to perform in public?
Ueda: I do not feel as nervous when facing the mic, as compared to speaking in front of people when i have to engage in casual conversation. When I think of how to get my own thoughts across, I end up getting worried over the choice of words. (laughs) I think that part of me is similar to Naru in a sense.
Q: By the way, what do you do to unwind usually?
Ueda: My way to relax is to meet people. Because of my social anxiety and nervousness, I can’t carry a decent conversation with people, but that’s why I need to meet more people. Because it’s not good when you think of only yourself when you are alone. I think it is very wasteful since there are many things I have not experienced yet. So meeting all sorts of people is a way to gain different kinds of knowledge and emotions, which is refreshing and enjoyable. Other than having conversations, I like strolling idly around too.
Q: Ah, so walking is one of your hobbies too.
Ueda: Yep! Ah, Though I was told its okay to not talk too much about this…While walking..I’m constantly keeping a lookout for living things. It could be ants, dung beetles, or horned beetles in the summer. “Why are they at those places?” (laughs) That doesn’t mean I’m good with bugs though. (laughs) So, sometimes I take a walk together with ants. (laughs) Hearing such things from me, it’s a little sad and lonely right…(laughs)
Q: Not at all, in fact, it’s unexpectedly interesting. (laughs) Let’s talk about your recent slip-ups!
Ueda: Slip-ups….. Probably around 3 blunders every day. (laughs) Maybe this is a little different from a blunder, a while ago, I actually slept-walk. I wasn’t drunk though. The path home is full of slopes, so while thinking, “I don’t wanna walk anymore, no more slopes, I wanna get back home now”, my mind went blank. And when I came back to, I’ve already went past 2 slopes and could see my house in front. (laughs) I was probably dreaming at that time. It’s really scary right, me that is. (laughs)
Q: (laughs). What about your future goals as a seiyuu?
Ueda: I want to broaden my reach as a seiyuu! While watching my seniors, they must have gone through all sorts of experiences in order to increase the depth of their acting for the characters. Even between each seconds of the lines, you can sense an intriguing depth. I also want to go through these different types of experiences in order for for the feelings of the characters I voiced to reach everyone, I want to become a seiyuu capable of doing that.
Q: Speaking about seiyuus with depth, who are some of these people around you?
Ueda: Sakuma Rei-san, Toyoguchi Megumi-san from the same agency and also Kikuko Inoue-san. Not just their acting, but the sense of security they bring to the room just by sitting there, they are usually calm and quiet, but when they stand before the mic, they exude a larger than life presence. They are very considerate to the surroundings and make you feel comfortable, and are very tolerant with us. They are my role models.
Q: Lastly, a message to the fans who are reading this, please.
Ueda: “I want to change myself” – that is one reason why I aimed to become a seiyuu. As a seiyuu, you get to meet all sorts of characters and work, so I thought it’s a way for me to gain different kinds of insights. For now, I want to use this opportunity to reach out and learn things which I am weak at, search for my ideal self, deliver good performances, and grow together with my work.
As I’m shy, this is about the best I can do for now, but I feel that I can compose myself better and show off more of myself, bring out the enjoyment of the work (production), as well as the qualities of the characters! I will accept everyone’s energy, and change myself slowly one step at a time, so please continue to support me! Thank you!
And here’s a special video commentary by Ueda Reina for Seiyuu Zukan, subbed by me.
Please look forward to the next edition of Seiyuu Zukan!
Interview: Azabu Tanu
Photography: Yamamoto Tetsuya
Casting cooperation: Yoshimura Naoki
This interview was first published on 14 November 2014 in ddnavi.com. All images and videos you see here belong to their respective owners.