This is Seiyuu Zukan (Voice Actor Pictorial Book), where we interview up-and-coming voice actors, why they joined the industry, their first work, as well as their personal life and any other interesting things, together with a mini photo shoot.
For the 211th edition, we have Akao Hikaru, the voice behind Moeta Kaoruko (Comic Girls) and Hoshizaki Akari (Ongeki)
――How was the photo shoot?
Akao: The make-up artist told me that twin tails would fit me, and applied some sparkles to below my eyes, it was really fun. There aren’t many opportunities for outdoor photo shoots, so it was an enjoyable time filled with laughter while walking around with everyone.
――Your role of Moeta Kaoruko from 2018’s Comic Girls is still fresh on our minds.
Akao: Although there are many characters with the clumsy trait out there, Kaoruko is a hopeless girl. But, I love how she fights for her dream while shedding tears, I feel that she is someone whom you will cheer for.
――Do you think any of her characteristics overlap with yours?
Akao: She is the junior in the anime and the seniors are also voiced by my real-life seniors, so I can empathize with her. Also, the rest of the cast tells me “You are basically Kaosu”. I don’t realise that myself, but things like falling over when having a stay over……
――What’s this about a stay over ?
Akao: It was together with Hondo Kaede-san, Oonishi Saori-san and Takahashi Rie-san at Rie-san’s house. We did that after the advance screening of the first episode and talked about doing it again. Sometimes it will just be 3 people, but it always felt like everyone was there. During the final episode, even the original creator, Hanzawa Kaori-sensei (Original Creator for Comic Girls) stayed over. Even though it started with 2 of us sleeping on the bed and mattress respectively, while messing around, we ended up switching positions around (laughs).
――You went on to act in Back Street Girls – Gokudols, which your character was quite the intense idol from the underworld.
Akao: With the sudden shift in character, maybe the viewers got shocked by that (laughs). Since the manga was one that made you laugh out loud, I went in with the determination to not lose out to that. At the dubbing, the characters of the guests were dense and it was difficult to contain my laughter during the testing.
――Gag-themed works are your cup of tea?
Akao: I love works that make me laugh! There were plenty of gags in Comic Girls, the sound director (Aketagawa Jin) also handled Back Street Girls so I thought I could act without holding anything back. In Comic Girls, it was a work that came with instructions like “ad lib whenever you can! Put out a great show!” so it was a work that I had strong feelings for.
――In Onsen Musume, you voice Sakunami Nichika.
Akao: It felt fresh for me since I haven’t got to act out a vibrant character like her. Since the roles I have undertook are more or less on the cute side, I’m grateful for this role. That said, I’m not an alcoholic like her (laughs).
――Why did you aspire to become a voice actor?
Akao: When I joined the broadcasting club in high school, I chanced upon a pamphlet promoting a voice acting training school, and got interested in it. In the annual broadcasting national competitions, all the schools were so strong so I thought that it could help reinforce my strengths, I also like anime and look up to voice actors, so they all ended up being the reasons for my choice. I started commuting to Nichinare (Japan Narration Acting Institute) from the 2nd year of high school.
――Since you were part of the broadcasting club, does that mean that you have liked talking from the start?
Akao: I’ve always liked having my voice being heard by people. When I first heard my own voice, I thought it was quite weird though. Remembering my teacher’s words from when I was in 6th grade, “People in the broadcasting club must be responsible”, and when I heard that the broadcasting club was a strong one, I joined in the hopes of becoming someone who can be depended on.
――Were you longing to be relied on?
Akao: I guess so. From the time in grade school, I always looked up to dependable people with leadership qualities, and I also got to undertake the responsibilities of being the chairperson for my club.
――What were your responsibilities in the broadcasting club?
Akao: I was in the radio programme section which is like a production team where we create stories and invite the theatre club in as cast for the programmes. Once, iPS (Induced pluripotent) stem cells came up as a topic, so we created a story about the children of the high school and their mums. In the announcement section, their responsibility is to extract the scenes from the book, and since the assessment changes depending on which one gets selected, we have to come a common consensus with them.
――Did you like creating stories?
Akao: It was fun. Putting aside the quality of the finished product (laughs). In the process, because we couldn’t just convey what we wanted through just the radio alone or content, we had to make sure to incorporate the emotions of the actors, and also things like conveying the words into the story naturally without actually saying them, for example.
――Did it ever cross your mind to enter the production side of the anime industry instead?
Akao: I never really thought about that. Even though I love crafting stories, I think I would enjoy acting as a career over that. If I ever get the chance to take part in the story building process as a voice actor, I think I would definitely enjoy it, but for now, I want to concentrate on voice acting.
――You went on to attend high school and college while commuting to Nichinare, at the same time, joined an agency too. Did you have a vision on what kind of voice actor you wanted to be?
Akao: I might have plenty of them when I joined. It was the boom for a voice actor who can sing and dance, so I thought it would be nice if I could obtain various skill sets.
――How did your hobbies of playing the piano, violin and singing come about?
Akao: I started playing the piano at a young age. I switched over to the electone halfway through and it became my primary instrument for music composition, but that doesn’t mean that I’m good in it. After entering university, I took in vocal music training and played the violin in the orchestra club. Since becoming a voice actor and taking on auditions, I haven’t been able to practice though.
――You mentioned about starting vocal music training in university. Was that because your desire to become a voice actor?
Akao: I guess so. Even though I was a science student in high school, I found it to be difficult upon entering university, and everyone else around me aimed to become either a physician, nurse or lab worker, and even now there are still some of them still studying. Even though I had interest in that area, while consulting with my teacher back then, I thought maybe I wasn’t able to become a voice actor. After spending time pondering and getting lost, I decided on becoming a voice actor, and since that moment, I have remained focused in advancing in that direction.
――Next, I’ll like to ask you about your personal life, are there any voice actors you meet up with regularly?
Akao: Through my involvement in the radio show Green Harvest, I got to know Senbongi Sayaka and Watada Misaki, and we still talk on the phone regularly. I crossed paths with Haruno Anzu and Kubota Risa through dance lessons for Ongeki, and we go out for meals once fortnightly. Recently, I also went to stage plays with Takahashi Rie-san. I find that if we hit if off on studio sets, we will meet up often after that.
――What food can you not resist?
Akao: Fish products and boiled eggs. For fish, it always taste better when you eat out, so I like to go to a nice stall to have them. Although it isn’t very frequent, I buy horse mackerel back to cook. I’m not good at cooking so I have to rely on YouTube (laughs). Like the amount of seasoning to mix in.
――How did you spend your recent off days?
Akao: Watch the TV and laze around. I had to practice playing the piano for the recent event so there wasn’t much time for me to idle around though (laughs).
――What are your favourite TV shows?
Akao: I like variety shows, and make it a point to watch Ame Talk and Gaki Tsukai (Downtown’s We Aren’t Errand Boys!) . I’m also watching AIBOU (Partners) , a long running drama. I’m also on YouTube. My favourite stuff are from Mizutamari Bond and Hanao channel, and I’d watch those videos that interest me. I also like watching stuff that tries to replicate skills from anime and laugh when they fail and say “This is just impossible!” (laughs).
――What music do you listen to?
Akao: For me, I’ll leave my favourite songs on repeat. I get told often by people that I don’t get tired of listening to the same songs over and over again. I like all types of music, including classical music and energetic songs like anison and songs by voice actors. My favourite artiste is Kawashima Ai-chan while my favourite voice actor song is Mirai Parasol by Tamura Yukari-san.
――What are the wishes you want to try to fulfil in the future?
Akao: A while ago, I was able to play the piano in an event*. To be able to do something that is separate from my usual job and add to the anime, It was really wonderful. I’m glad to have become the person within the character. I get to sing, do photo shoots, have fun in events and also enjoy the interaction with fans. I’d like to do more of those on a larger scale, and to be able to provide lots of fun and enjoyment to everyone.
*Comic Girls event, where she played the theme songs on piano while singing it with the rest of the cast.
――Lastly, a message to your fans!
Akao: Thank you for reading to this point. Even though I’m still inexperienced now, I’ll be showering the works I’ll be meeting from now on with lots of love, and will aim to deliver them to everyone as something I treasure from my heart. Let’s work together in the future too!
Please look forward to the next edition of Seiyuu Zukan!
This interview was first published on 14 February 2019 in ddnavi.com. All images and videos you see here belong to their respective owners.