This is Seiyuu Zuukan (Seiyuu pictorial book), where we interview up-and-coming seiyuus, their reason for aiming to be a Seiyuu, their first work, as well as their personal life and any other interesting things, together with a mini photoshoot.
For the 150th anniversary edition, we welcome Itō Ayasa, the voice behind Ichigaya Arisa (BanG Dream!), Alice Myojingawa (Futari wa Milky Holmes) and Tsukumo (Megami Meguri).
Q: How did the photo shoot go? The weather didn’t look so good outside.
Itō: Yesterday’s forecast showed that it will rain today, but somehow we managed to evade the rain at the moment of the photo shoot. Perhaps I’m the ‘Rain Dodger’ (laughs). There are already ‘Sunny Woman’ and ‘Rain Woman’ but I think ‘Rain Dodger’ is something new (laughs). There are times when it doesn’t rain when I go on stage (during events) too.
Q: Did you decide on today’s outfit by yourself?
Itō: That’s right. I like classic, or rather elegant clothes, for today I settled on something that is also girly. Recently, I’ve been interested in checker-ed patterns as well as fur earrings, so I coordinated all of those into my outfit today (laughs). Usually, I’d wear simple but pretty stuff from Fi.n.t and To b. By agnès b.
Q: I visited your Twitter and found the greeting ‘OhaAyasa’* to be rather refreshing! When did you start using this?
Itō: I got the idea from a fan who used it in a reply. I thought it was pretty good. Back in high school, I’ll tweet out ‘Good morning’ to get my energy up on those sleepy mornings. Since then, I adopted a policy of beginning my day with that greeting.
*A combination of her name (Ayasa) and the Japanese word for ‘Good morning’ (Ohayō).
Q: Every single day?
Itō: Without fail! There are times I would be late though~, so it became ‘KonAyasa’ (Good Ayasa noon) instead (laughs).
Q: Now we know that you wake up around the time you tweet that out (laughs). I noticed you appeared on Aimi-san’s (from the same agency) birthday photo. Do you all have gatherings like this often?
Itō: Everyone of us from Hibiki are all good friends, we go to watch the fireworks in the summer with the seniors, and always gather up whenever there’s an event. I think the good atmosphere in the office stemmed from the 4 seniors of Milky Holmes (Mimori Suzuko, Tokui Sora*, Sasaki Mikoi, Kitta Izumi). When I got the part of Alice Myojingawa and entered the company, I felt very welcomed…
*Tokui has since left Hibiki for Avex on 31st March.
Q: It has already been 3 years since you joined Milky Holmes Sisters with Aimi-san. Thinking back, what was your impression when the unit was formed?
Itō: The surprising thing is that it was the same Milky Holmes I’ve watched at the start! The conversations were interesting just like what I watched on TV. I always have trouble holding back my laughter.
Q: Your seiyuu breakthrough was through the scout auditions for Milky Holmes Sisters. Since you took the auditions twice, you must have been determined to get through.
Itō: Yes, I was. The first audition was for the role of ‘Elly’ and I was asked to act from the perspective of an examiner and it was fun… Probably, I like expressing myself. I managed to advance to the Kansai finals but I lost and returned back to my normal student life. Even then, I wanted to act again, and that’s when I found out about Alice’s auditions. I thought it was fate, and so I applied again.
Q: It truly is fate. After joining Milky Holmes, what has changed for you?
Itō: Milky Holmes has always been a place I longed for, it is both my start and the place that allowed me to grow.
Q: Which seiyuu did you study as a reference for singing and dancing?
Itō: Mimori Suzuko-san. She is a very hard worker, but I like the discipline that people don’t see.
Q: How did you ‘express yourself’ before your debut?
Itō: I was in the drama club and choir back in high school, and we sang JPOP as well as idol songs. For example, Hikari GENJI’s Paradise Ginga (Paradise Galaxy)… If I recalled correctly, we sang NMB48’s Oh My God! As well. Singing and dancing in the center of the group was really fun.
Q: BanG Dream! finally got a TV animation 2 years after you joined the series. Please share with us once more, what kind of a girl is Ichigaya Arisa?
Itō: Arisa-chan has blonde pigtails, and from the outside she seems quiet and reserved, but she’s a tsundere* and possesses a sharp tongue (laughs). I think she’s pretty cute when Kasumi-chan (C.V: Aimi) clings onto her and tries to get her affection~
*Tsundere is a Japanese term for a character development process that describes a person who is initially cold (and sometimes even hostile) before gradually showing a warmer, friendlier side over time. The word is derived from the terms tsun tsun (ツンツン), meaning to turn away in disgust, and dere dere (デレデレ) meaning to become ‘lovey dovey’. (Wikipedia)
Q: Between tsun and dere, which trait do you enjoy acting out more?
Itō: Ahh~ I like them both… but I enjoy lines that allows me to raise my voice (laughs). My roles so far have been mostly timid characters, so it’s the first time for me to shout with a low voice. Everyone laughed when they heard me in the studio (laughs).
Q: You play the keyboard in Bandori. (Poppin’Party).
Itō: It was my first time learning a musical instrument, so I had to practice diligently in order not to let everyone down… Because the hands of the keyboardist cannot be seen by the fans, it is difficult to show everyone that I am playing it accurately. When I’m playing with only my right hand, I raise up my left to hype the fans up, and I practice the movements through trial and error.
Q: Have you gotten used to performing at lives?
Itō: About that, I picked up a word ‘Groove feeling’* recently! I would get that feeling whenever I had to match the other members during a song where we had to sing out a catch phrase together. There are many members who played music previously, so I got them to teach me some music related words whenever I can!
*Groove feeling refers to the expression of the level of excitement and exhalation in music.
Q: The terms used in music is pretty unique to itself right?
Itō: Yeah, there are other terms like ‘Melt’ for example… (Being in Bandori) has been beneficial for my studies. Through this project, I feel like I discovered a whole new world!
Q: Next, let’s talk about the 3DS game ‘Megami Meguri’ in which you play the the main character, Tsukumo.
Itō: For most of my lines, I didn’t have to say out proper sentences, because they are synthesized voices. Tsukumo is a goddess who came into this world not knowing anything. As the player, you teach Tsukumo words in order to allow her to become the top goddess. She will talk to you as you teach her more words. It’s a game where the conversations are enjoyable.
Q: A game that speaks to you!?
Itō: The Megami Speak Engine was jointly developed by Toshiba and Capcom. When I hear myself on the CM sometimes, it felt a little strange… but I’m happy nonetheless (laughs).
Q: Are you also playing the game?
Itō: Yep! I’d recommend everyone to give the game a try, since Tsukumo is very cute. Just a while ago, I was elated to finally obtain her rare Christmas costume (laughs).
Q: Last year, you also took on one of your desired challenges of standing on the stage.
Itō: I appeared on stage for 2 performances as a part of the Alice In Project stage play. It is a dark fantasy themed show and comprises of songs, dance and idol-styled performances. I really like the setting of the play so it was really a pleasure to be part of the cast. I think it’s nice seeing and matching with some of the different personalities of the characters. Furthermore, the style of acting changes when you appear on the stage.
Q: In what way does it differ?
Itō: For anime, the script is usually in front of you but for stage plays, you start learning about your character about 1 month earlier, and start pursuing the ideal portrayal of the role. I end up getting more immersed into the role and it was something I haven’t felt before. I think it was a turning point for me.
Q: Moving onto your private life, it seems you enjoy eating?
Itō: I love eating, to the point that it has become a hobby (laughs). It happened after moving to Tokyo in 2016, where I ate so many delicious food. Whenever I go to a new place for work, I’ll walk around to find good food to try out.
Q: What are your favourite foods?
Itō: Maybe it’s obsession, but once I get addicted to something, I’ll eat that only. When I got hooked on parfaits, I’ll look for one everyday, likewise for tendon (tempura rice bowl) (laughs). Recently, I like taro mochis. The center is filled with cheese and it’s super delicious~. But, I ended up eating too many and I got sick of them (laughs).
Q: Parfaits, tendon and taro mochis… aren’t they all high in calories (laughs)?
Itō: I like sweet and rich stuff (laughs). I put on a lot of weight when I was indulging in parfaits and tendon, and everyone teased me for being chubby (laughs). After all, I’m keeping my image as the youngest in the office! I’ll be the young sister no matter how much time has passed.
Q: On the other hand, are you putting in an effort to maintain your weight?
Itō: I don’t! I think the fans also acknowledge this, and I feel like I’m getting spoilt by their affection (laughs). However, I practise some self-restraint before lives or photo shoots to maintain my weight.
Q: One of your hobbies is watching Takarazuka Revue.
Itō: I don’t think I’ll be able to talk if Takarazuka Revue didn’t exist (laughs). Their existence means everything to me! When I was in the 3rd year of middle school, My grandmother took me to see a play titled ‘Alger’s Man/Dance Romanesque’, and just that one time was enough to get me hooked on. On the way home, I kept humming the theme song and telling her, “I wanna get into Takarazuka!” (laughs) I like flamboyant stuff. From then on, I went to their shows on my own.
Q: How often would you go to their shows?
Itō: It was as often as every weekend. There were times I went after school too. That was how my savings hit rock bottom, and around that time I was glad I took on the auditions (for Takarazuka).
Q: Your hobbies are certainly hurting your savings (laughs). What do you like about Takarazuka?
Itō: That particular performance got me going crazy over Asumi Rio-san who acted as a male! But for the 6 months that followed, Sakihi Miyu-san’s performances as the female roles caught my attention and I’ve been supporting her ever since. So, it came as a shock when she announced her resignation from the troupe… At that time, there was an interval between the recordings for Bandori, so I had to desperately stop my tears from flowing before going for the photo shoot. If you see a photo of me looking lifeless, it is probably taken right after the announcement (laughs).
Q: Going on a food hunt, watching theatre shows…somehow this gives the image that you would spend your off-days outside.
Itō: I think so too. Also, I enjoy reading manga so I often hole myself up in a manga cafe to read them. I’ll spend hours inside there, and end up reading around 2 volumes.
Q: What are some of the recent interesting mangas that you have read?
Itō: Shinohara Chie-san’s manga really resonates with me. She has authored stories such as an adventure in Ancient Rome as well as romance stories. I think shōjo manga is still the best. I also like gothic fantasy genre, such as Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) which offers a diverse view of the world. Also, I like the mahō shōjo (Magical Girl) genre, for example, Sugar Sugar Rune. Just looking at their cute costumes is satisfying already~
Q: Idols in Takarazaka and shōjo manga…That’s quite a flamboyant taste you have.
Itō: I want to dive right into the midst of that! Part of why I want to become a seiyuu is that I chanced upon some promotional manga* and read the story of how seiyuus are enjoying their work. That made me think of wanting to enter their world (laughs).
*Actual word used here was レポ漫画 (Report Manga), which is a manga format that describes the experience of real life events.
Q: What roles do you want to challenge in the future?
Itō: I want to try voicing a mascot character. I’m picturing myself supporting the protagonist while using a weird voice and adding cute words to the end of sentences…(laughs). Other than that, I also want to take on the challenge of voicing a small kid. It would be nice if I can make the characters come to life with my voice.
Q: You took up many fresh challenges in 2016. What kind of seiyuu do you want to become from now on?
Itō: For now, I want to focus on honing my acting skills! I want to become a seiyuu who pursues many different challenges, learning many different crafts from experiences, and learning from the beginning to the end of something. Also, I love singing so I hope to have more chances to sing in the future, and I’ll continue to work hard on playing my instruments! I’ll like to face as many different challenges as possible.
Q: Lastly, a message for the fans please!
Itō: I’m really happy to get featured in Seiyuu Zukan which I admired so much! There are many people out there whom I’m saying “Hello” to for the first time, it will really make my day if you can drop by my twitter and exchange OhaAyasa with me. I’m counting on your support!
Please look forward to the next edition of Seiyuu Zukan!
This interview was first published on 23 January 2017 in ddnavi.com. All images and videos you see here belong to their respective owners.