For this time, we have Minase Inori! She started her career as a seiyuu at a very young age (14) and has grown to be a popular seiyuu. Most would remember her as Rem from Re:zero, or the feisty Hestia from Danmachi as well as many other lead roles.
Read more after the tab!
This is Seiyuu Zuukan (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 39th edition, we welcome Minase Inori, the voice behind Chino (Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?) and Noel (Sora no Method)
Q: I think that voicing Chino in Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? will become one of your representative works. Once again, please share with us your image of Chino!
Minase: Sure. From the key visuals, Chino appears to have a ‘cool’ image but when I auditioned for her role, this image didn’t cross my mind at all. At 13 years old, she’s the youngest member of the group but she’s very mature and responsible. She gives off the feeling of everyone’s elder sister, and has this conflicting cute versus emotionless image…which made me think of the best way to portray her.
Q: Did your understanding of Chino deepen after each dubbing session?
Minase: I would say so. At the start, she shuts herself off but gradually, she starts expressing herself more and I got to know her better. There are times when Chino-chan shows off a slight smile and that really hits you in the feels. Among all the girls in the rabbit house, she’s always calm and composed, but each time she becomes more capable of smiling genuinely from her heart… And each time she smiles, I feel like bawling my eyes out…(laughs). She’s a charming girl who makes you want to unlock her stubborn heart.
Q: The conversation exchanges with Cocoa (CV: Sakura Ayane) are also highlights in the show!
Minase: Cocoa works at the rabbit house that is run by Chino’s grandpa and is a huge presence to Chino. I often wonder what would have happened if they never met each other. Meeting Cocoa allowed Chino to express many different emotions, and that in turn allowed me to flesh out her character with a happy feeling. I think they are really indispensable to each other.
Q: What is your favourite episode out of all 12 episodes?
Minase: By the end of the story, Chino has pretty much opened her heart to Cocoa, which gave birth to some of these emotions she has never felt before. There is a scene where Chino had a talk with Chiya (CV: Sato Satomi), and she told her, “Somehow, my head feels a little fuzzy.” Though people usually have many different emotions within themselves, but for Chino, all these new emotions got unlocked every time she meets people. I really like the scenes when she faces these new emotions for the first time. It made me feel that she has really grown up (laughs). I also find the side of her who worries about what to do without showing these feelings out, cute. It’s a lot like us humans (laughs).
Q: Was it also lively at the dubbing sessions, just like the atmosphere in the rabbit house?
Minase: I went into the dubbing sessions with the mindset that because it’s the 5 of us who are gathered here, makes the sessions really fun. Even without building up enthusiasm to talk, topics just naturally come along when we are together. As the dubbing sessions were held from the morning, everyone comes into the studio still feeling sleepy, but it was as though everyone is meeting up at the rabbit house every week. It’s a really warm work environment. Also, I was already good friends with Sakura Ayane-chan, so this time our roles were really like actual sisters, it gave me the assurance, “Since it’s ayaneru, it’s okay!”
Also, Kiyokawa Motomu-san (Tippy) and Hayami Shō-san (Chino’s father) are very kind, and act just like everyone’s fathers on set. On the first day while trying to find a good timing to greet them, they already called out to us before I we knew it… They even chuckled while (the 5 of us) were indulging in silly conversations (laughs). “Ahh, they heard us!” (laughs) To which, they would often reply with, “Being young sure is nice ehh..” (laughs)
Kiyokawa-san’s ad lib every week was really amusing! For example, when there’s a line like, “OI!” on the script, and the footage starts to play, he will come up with an ad lib. There are many engagements between Chino and Tippy, but I needed to follow through with what he ad libbed, yet maintain that cool composure and not burst out into laughter! The whole time, I was thinking, “Ah~ You can even come up with such things~, it’s really wonderful~ (laughs).” and containing my laughter (laughs).
Looking back at the anime, I think I can understand the thinking behind the ad libs! My favourite is the scene where they are playing chess at the pool. When Tippy offers Chino some words of encouragement, only to be retorted with a “You’re noisy, gramps.” When the despondent figure of Tippy came up on the screen, he added a “Yes” to the scene (laughs). I was really pleased when I saw that on TV (laughs). Kiyokawa-san’s ad lib was so cute, and I think that he is the embodiment of ad lib itself!
Q: Speaking about Gochiusa, the web radio, Gochuumon wa Rajio desu ka? (Is the order a radio?) you host with Sakura-san is a talk show that must not be missed out!
Minase: That radio is really just the usual conversations I have with ayaneru (laughs). The topics are mainly inside stories for the production (laughs). Even though there’s a script for the programme, somehow we always end up misplacing it. What did we talk about…getting back on the right track sure is tough (laughs). Ayaneru is the one person whom I always let my guard down against. Because of that, I always end up getting caught up in her pace (laughs). But because of my relationship with her, we can have such a natural conversation on the programme.
At the after party recently, I wanted her to notice that I’ve cut my hair, so I unabashedly arched my head towards her while appealing to her. When she said, “What? You got sunburn on your neck?”, I was so angry “This idiot!” (laughs).
Q: In the first place, how did you first meet Sakura-san?
Minase: We met on the set of Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai!. I was originally a fan of Sakura-san’s radio show. At that time (2012), I was pretty much a hipster*, so I attracted many stares from the other seiyuus when I went into the studio (laughs). Sakura-san was just sitting opposite me that time, and it turned out that we could go off at the same timing, so we walked together to the station. While walking, I told her I listen to her radio show, which she replied with a “Eh? That’s embarrassing!” And since our age gap is quite close, we ended up exchanging our contact information.
*The word used here is ミーハー, which is a slang to describe someone who follows the latest trends.
1 year after that, we worked together again in Love Lab. From there, we got much closer as friends.
Q: What was the radio show that you were listening to?
Minase: It was the predecessor to Choroi (Yahagi.Sakura no chotto ojikan yoroshii desu ka), called Radio Cross. Ayaneru left a good impression on me, and is exactly the same person as her radio personality (laughs). She puts on no airs, and is a really easy person to talk to. Maybe it’s because we share the same blood type (B), I feel like we always share the same wavelength.
Q: Okay, let us talk about the past a bit, what is the oldest role that you still have an impression of?
Minase: The oldest one that is burnt into my memory would be my debut work, Occult Academy. As I didn’t go to training or acting school, I read this book titled ‘Even you can participate in a drama CD’ which had a bundled CD titled ‘You will become a Seiyuu Master if you read this’ (laughs). When i went to dub, everyone is as per what the book described, so I thought I really entered this world (industry) at last~ and that made me nervous again (laughs).
As someone who was totally clueless on what was going on, everyone taught me about ‘Separate Recording*’, but the 14 year old me must have felt like dying at that time (laughs). The process wasn’t what I had visualized and my head went blank and I teared countless times. But I think because of an experience like this, I was able to learn to adapt to different situations. As there is not a single correct answer, it is important not to get misled by my own thoughts. My feelings at that time was that of regret and sadness, “Maybe I’m just not cut out for this…” In that moment, I pictured myself as the (tragic) heroine of a manga (laughs). On the way back, I called my mum and cried as I talked. Thinking back, I’m really grateful for such an experience.
*Audio and video are separately done, merged and edited at the end.
Q: Do you talk to your family often?
Minase: Yeah. Being the only child, my mum is my best friend. She always has a hand on my back, pushing me towards my dreams, I was also able to debut because of her. She always gives me helpful advice. For example, while I was practicing my singing in Karaoke before I took on the auditions, she asked me to bring my smile I had while I was singing, into my dialogues. I tend to be the type who looks down often (laughs), but she taught me for this job, you can’t just enjoy by your own, but you need to be able to face everyone with a smile. Being told that and thinking about the seiyuus i admired, I was able to admire them because of their smiles and energy, so I told myself that I have to carry on that same smile. Maybe that’s why recently I’ve become more outgoing (laughs).
Q: Let’s also hear about your personal life. Based on the information so far, it seems like your hobbies circle around “Home is Heaven.”
Minase: Even when I’m sitting down (at home), everything I need is just an arm’s length away (laughs). Though I’ve become more outgoing, this part of me hasn’t changed at all (laughs). Since it’s cooling this summer, once I sit down I can’t get up anymore, so I’m usually at home~ (laughs). Even when I’m at work, I don’t go out that often save for the occasional off-site events where I get blinded by the dazzling rays of the sun…(laughs). I try to avoid the sun at all cost, pulling down the blinds when I have to travel by plane or train and opting out of looking at the scenery outside (laughs). Even when I was young, I didn’t run around outside often… That said, I’d like to have an outdoor hobby…
Q: I didn’t know you have that feeling!?
Minase: Of course! Having an outdoor hobby is really cool, isn’t it?
Q: And what if you were to start one…?
MInase: Recently, I’ve developed an interest in cycling. There are many girls around me who cycle to the recording studio, Also, I’d like to take up a car’s license! I’m actually good at Mario Kart (game), so I think i definitely have the talent for driving. That said, it’s still only a game, so even if I do get a license, I don’t think I will be able to stop myself from crashing (laughs). However, I look forward to being able to drive!
Q: If you were to drive, would that be a solo drive?
Minase: Ah~ For now, I’d say solo… I also want a pet dog beside me while I drive. Just like in a MV (music video), I’d put sunglasses on him (laughs).
Q: Even a dog can’t be spared from the sun right (laughs)? Alright then, how about you share with us 3 things that you like?
Minase: Number 3 would be marinated chicken skin skewers. Recently, I’ve begun to eat more meat. I went to this shabu shabu place, Onyasai and tried some skin skewers. It was so delicious! Recently, when I go to convenience stalls, I’d first check if they have any chicken skin skewers, after which I’d buy some with a bottle of water. After all, I need to eat something to have energy running in my blood (laughs).
Q: What about number 2?
Minase: I love Mickey Mouse, he’s everything my ideal partner should be! Recently during breaks, I will try to spread the goodness of Mickey by showing the cast some photos of him, “This photo of Mickey, isn’t he just so handsome?” It seemed to have worked, since I get told “Inori-chan, it’s your fault that I find Mickey cool.” (laughs) I can’t describe his charm in one word, but to put it simply, he’s straightforward and gentlemanly! He has a lady-first approach and is nonchalant with his gestures. Though he hugs you when you greet him, but when you talk to him, he places one hand on his waist nonchalantly and looks attentively at you! It’s just like he’s saying “I’m all ears!” That single hand behind his back! Kya-! In summer, his exposure is even more, he works hard on his gestures, such as using water to wipe off his wet face…
Q: You really are watching him closely…
Minase: No,no! Everyone will be telling you the same things that I told you. There are some things that you just can’t resist.
Q: If Mickey releases a photo book, you will end up snatching them up…
Minase: I will definitely buy them! I have the photo book that was taken by Shinoyama-san!
Q: Eh? He already has one?
Minase: Yes! The photos were taken by Shinoyama Kishin-san. I have a browsing copy, copies for safekeeping for a total of 6 copies. There are many hardcore fans of Mickey, and there are social circles for fans who are Mickey or Minnie otakus (laughs). If you visit the (Disney) park and find a girl carrying a SLR around, that would definitely be the same type of person as me! The ones who shrieked and scream during the parade (laughs). It seems that everyone enjoy going to the attractions, so please make sure to find out more about the beauty of the show. Somehow I sound like a management staff from Disney (laughs).
Q: And now, for that shiny number one spot..
Minase: Yes. Number one would be my favourite Mizuki Nana-san! This is a wall that even Mickey can’t get over. When I put her photo as my Twitter header, sometimes I would get asked “Why is it Mizuki Nana-san?” (laughs) I was just waiting for a suitable timing to say it out. I am a member of her official fan club, go to her lives regularly, and she is my reason for living!
Q: You have already met her on-set right?
Minase: Yes! It was for Symphogear. While doing the dubbing, I kept her live pamphlet in my bag as a lucky charm! I will sneak a peek at it during dubbing, and during breaks, “Ah~ It’s the real person~!” (laughs) Despite my small frame, I could really feel her existence empowering me when I stood in front of the mic… When it was time to do the greetings, I was very nervous and stealthily blended in with everyone (laughs). Fufufu.
Q: What do you like about Mizuki Nana-san?
Minase: I don’t think there will be any other people in the world who would give such a smile and energy to a person like me! As a seiyuu, she uses her voice and challenged many different roles. There was a time I even said, “I want to become like Nana-san!” Thinking back, it really is ridiculous. After entering this industry, I understood that I’m just an average person and cannot become like her. My wish is to continue going to her lives, buying her CDs, getting high with other fans during her lives, and support her as one of the many fans. There is nothing more satisfying than that!
Q: Alright, as a fan of Mizuki-san…(laughs), what are your favourite series and songs?
Minase: It has to be Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha where I found out about her. After that, I watched Shugo Chara!. Mizuki Nana-san was the seiyuu who left the deepest impression on me during the period when I came to know of seiyuus.
As for the songs, I love all of them… My favourite would be the songs from Nanoha, Innocent Starter and ETERNAL BLAZE. My image of ETERNAL BLAZE would be blazing red flames while Innocent Starter would be blue flames. Innocent Starter is a ballad but I can feel a strong fighting spirit through Nana-san’s voice. Though the 2 songs are very different, they are made to be listened together. For both of the songs’ lyrics, they contain the word “Inori” (prayer) which is a surprise to me! “Ah! I’m so happy…!” (laughs) As a fan, little things like this bring joy to me!
Q: I can certainly feel your overpowering love for her…! Next, let’s hear about your work. Since Sora no Method had started since last month, tell us more about Noel.
Minase: She is innocent and pure, and her appearance is that of a small girl. She doesn’t put up a facade and is a very truthful girl, so she gives you the feeling of wanting to protect her.
The anime itself is full of mysteries. From the screening of the PV (Preview video), it isn’t just a simple and cute slice of life anime, but holds many different thoughts and is a drama entangled with agony. In the midst of it all, Noel is the only one who has an unusual background. She is the only one with blue hair, the clothes she wear, all contribute to that mysterious feeling. That is why I’m also looking forward to what happens in Noel’s story. If I can just say one thing, the story begins after she meets a girl called Nonoka. Perhaps, she holds the key to the entire story.
In a sense, it is similar to the story for Gochiusa when Chino’s life changes after she meets Cocoa. I have often been tasked to play roles where my character appears cool on the outside, and slowly discovers other emotions through the encounters with other people. I think Noel is probably someone whose charm will increase as the story goes on.
Q: You will be playing a new character, Reema, in the OVA for Suisei no Gargantia. Any thoughts on that?
Minase: Reema seems to be a blonde girl who likes many people…(laughs) Since it was a completed series, I was worried about the reception that Reema would receive as the fans would have certain favourite characters on the anime already. “Will her involvement be good? Bad? Will she stand out too much?” Questions like this make me feel uneasy. I feel nervous whenever I get involved in a production where it’s already being well received by everyone. It shows in my acting too, where I get lost at times.
Especially since she is very different from the characters I had voiced thus far. She’s a lively character, but not just lively, her character changes like the colour of her eyes, and there’s this professional side to her as well. I can’t say for sure where Reema will end up in the world of Gargantia, but with her injection into the story, there will be a new breath of life into the anime.
Q: Lastly, a word for all the readers please!
Minase: Thank you for supporting me! I’ve always been bad at standing in front of people, but that is contradicted by my love for acting. For a long time, I’ve been unable to draw out the courage when I’m standing in front, but there are probably people who feel the same way as I do. I’ve received many encouraging messages like “I wanna become a seiyuu!”, “I will aim for that path of an actor” on my blog and twitter. Though I’m unable to offer any good advice or support everyone from behind, I will say this – Let your passion for anime and games be the driving force for your goals. I was the same as everyone too. Looking at my seniors, liking anime, and wanting to enter the anime world with the aim of becoming a seiyuu.
Also, to fans who have been supporting me for a long time, you may have already noticed the shift in my expressions to a more outgoing one recently (laughs). I don’t know where the scripts for the past events are, and it may still be in a chaos, but I’ve learnt to become a host for events (laughs).
Just like that, the wall between me and standing in front of people got demolished, and it’s thanks to the fans giving me words of encouragement, loving the production that the staff and cast put out. Being able to be stand in front of everyone makes me really happy. Being on the stage, we are separated by different directions, but our love for games and anime, as well as Mizuki Nana-san is the same (laughs)! I hope that if I go to watch her lives with everyone else, I will get warmly received by everyone (laughs).
It is difficult for me to express it out…since I’m a pure otaku just like everyone else (laughs). I hope to be able share the same line of sight with everyone even for work. Also, by reading my twitter and blog, it becomes part of my strength! I hope to be able to meet many more of you in the future. I will be counting on everyone!
And here’s a special video commentary by Minase Inori 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 18 November 2014 in ddnavi.com. All images and videos you see here belong to their respective owners.