Seiyuu Zukan+ (Voice Actor Pictorial Book+) is an extended series for seiyuu who are being featured for the 2nd time! While revisiting the previous session, we talk to them about their new goals as well as getting to know their true self.
For the 1st edition, let us welcome Sawashiro Chiharu-san, who was previously featured in the #4 edition of Seiyuu Zukan back in May 2014. He is currently in A3! as Setssu Banri, MARGINAL#4 as Takimaru Alto as well as TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION as Nanase Nozomu.
――The number of anime you got to appear in went up in a flash ever since the start of 2017. Do you feel the effort you have put in has finally paid off?
Sawashiro: I felt that too. But, this isn’t the time for me to rest on my laurels. There is still plenty out there for me to do in terms of my job.
――Since the amount of work has increased, has it become more straining on you to pour the same amount of effort into each of them?
Sawashiro: I’m the type who spends a considerable amount of time for preparation work. Thanks to that, I have gotten more roles and although I believe I still can manage it, I could be making myself more busy too. Before recording, I would read the script over and over again. Because if there are kanji characters I don’t understand, and it ends up affection of comprehension of the story, it is unforgivable for a professional in this industry. I would practice until I reached a mutual agreement within myself, and I often find myself toiling till late the night before the recording while sorting out the parts I couldn’t understand.
――You have done all the preparation work you could have thought of. How about the challenges facing you as a voice actor?
Sawashiro: I feel i’m still lacking the technique to portray my ideal acting. The image that I have cannot match with what I put out for example. I’m constantly grappling for the way to get out the acting I have envisioned. Because the work is being executed as a whole, it may be just me trying to fulfill my self-satisfaction in chasing my ideals, but I believe if I can achieve that, I can deliver a better acting to everyone.
――Next, about your latest work, it really has gone beyond your usual range. Your character, Shima Naoki (Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS) is totally different from your personal image. Was it difficult for you to voice him?
Sawashiro: Shima-kun is a youth who appears to be precocious for his age (laughs). Since I usually voice good looking characters in other series, this is a first for me. Even though it was a struggle, this role opened up a new door for me, and broadened my horizons.
――In Love Kome -We Love RICE-, you play Sasanishiki, who is best described as a cool character. It is a comedy full of parodies, and the recording sessions are full of ad libs from the veteran voice actors.
Sawashiro: After watching Sugita Tomokazu-san and Tsuda Kenjiro-san’s acting, I believe that if I can get my technique right, I will be able to break out of my shell. It’s fine for me to come this far! It’s not something superficial, it’s about getting the best out of my voice and bringing it to the character.
――It was a work that could only be created by that team, the improvisation and acting.
Sawashiro: I got a head start in acting through my days in theater, and it was really fun getting the baton and passing the baton along with everyone and acting out on the spot.
――In MARGINAL#4, you play Takimaru Alto. For the game to receive an anime adaptation, you must be happy.
Sawashiro: I was overjoyed! It was one of my first roles when I debuted, the first time I sang a character song. In a sense, you could say it helped nurture me. It was great singing and acting in the drama CD and it helped me deepen my understanding in the role.
――Since he is someone who doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeves, did your acting change when you got to know him better?
Sawashiro: His cool image came across strongly at first, but after getting to know what he is on the inside, I started to insert more emotions into his words, but also kept the way he talks in a subdued voice.
――The anime adaptation of TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION, which started airing in October, saw you reprise your role of Nanase Nozomu from the series.
Sawashiro: That’s right! It was the first time I got to appear in a drama CD. Along with MARGINAL#4, there’s a special place in my heart for them. Since it was my first time doing any acting outside of theater plays, I got sent back from the studio with homework just for me. At that time, it was November, and since the next recording was 1 month later, I stepped over the New Year just like this… (laughs)
――Since there was a long period before the next session, it must have been an excruciating wait for you.
Sawashiro: It was (laughs). It wasn’t like in theater or training where the seniors would teach me various stuff, I had to build the character myself. Although it was the New Year’s holidays, I wasn’t in the mood for hatsumode, and ended up constantly looking at the script. However, I appreciate the production for the 1 month I received. Because of that, I feel like I was able to broaden my own views.
――There will be 4 units appearing in the anime, and each of the units’ theme songs will be on sale for 4 consecutive weeks. Nanase Nozomu belongs to the unit, SOARA who sings the song “ALIEL”. What kind of song is that?
Sawashiro: SOARA is made up of high school students in a band chasing their dreams, so “ARIEL” is essentially a mirror of themselves, so the song has an exhilarating feel to it. It’s a song that gives a push to everyone who is about to take the first step onto chasing their dreams. I hope that people who are unsure about themselves… listen to this song.
――When you are singing, was it difficult to stay in character while keeping track of the lyrics?
Sawashiro: Actually for this song, I had to take note of the nuances between the voice and emotions. When there is a change in emotions, I would indicate that in my voice too.
――I see. Your character in A3!, Settsu Banri, is a very popular character! There’s a certain peculiarity about his acting and singing, can you tell us how that came about?
Sawashiro: It was the result of careful and lengthy recording sessions. The end result is different from what I had imagined, a voice I thought is “super cool!”. This role taught me not to firm up any character on my own.
――There’s a saying that you will become addicted to it if it becomes a habit. As for Settsu Banri’s solo song, “SUPER ULTRA EASY MODE”, was the song born from the character development?
Sawashiro: That was after I sang a duet with Takeuchi Shunsuke-kun, hearing his nice voice and great singing, made me want to not just sing the song as a character song, but to also put my enthusiasm into it.
――You have had your fair share of acting a variety of roles now, do you have any character types you think that you are good at?
Sawashiro: I feel that it’s easy to be myself and act out characters like Settsu Banri. I’ve been told that I “talk in a languid manner” in usual conversations, whether that’s good or bad (laughs), I feel that the role is an extension of myself.
――Moving on, this is your 2nd time getting featured in Seiyuu Zukan! In conjunction with the theme, I would like to ask you about your private life. I believe that many things have changed since 3 and a half years ago.
Sawashiro: Let’s see… Outside of work, I was working part-time as a staff for Seiyuu Zukan back then. I didn’t have many jobs. When we went outside for on location shoots, I would be sitting at the back and I was told that I could do anything. So I borrowed a guitar from magic tone studio (the studio in charge of music for the interviews), practiced songs that I would perform for Chiha Live* and worked on creating songs.
*Chiha Live (チハ生) is a pet project by Sawashiro Chiharu who intended it as a challenge to face music head on. The band (Street Story) consists of Sawashiro Chiharu, fin (SEPTALUCK), Sunrise Taiyo (Memetaa) and Takada Metal (MAYKIDZ / ELLEGARDEN).
――There was a time like that heh. Looking at the photos now, your fashion sense has changed considerably.
Sawashiro: At that time, I was wearing skinny pants. But recently, I haven’t been wearing them. For the latest trend, I guess baggy pants are more of the rage recently. Actually back then, I really wanted to wear a T-shirt with jeans, a cap backwards and also bring along a skateboard for the photo shoot (laughs). But in the end, I chose to wear something along the lines of this profession.
――You give off the musician vibe now.
Sawashiro: Outside of recording, I’m usually dressed in worn out jeans and T-shirts. It might be because I mix around with my band mates from Chiha Live and also influence from my hip-hop friends from my hometown.
――I’m curious about this, but perhaps you are growing out the fingernails on your right hand?
Sawashiro: Yes! Actually, in this 3 years (since the last interview), I have become good friends with Ōishi Masayoshi-san. Isn’t he great with the guitar? So I sought him out for advice on playing the guitar, and he shared with me his tip on using fingernails rather than guitar picks to strum the guitar. However, it’s quite difficult to keep up with this, since I got to take care not to break them. Ōishi-san also shared with me the tip of doing a glass nail manicure to protect them.
――So you have been applying manicure by yourself every evening (laughs).
Sawashiro: Yeah (laughs). I do it about once a week.
――With time, come changes. Even the way you play your guitar changed. In the previous interview, you mentioned about “Having a clumsy side”. How has that changed for you lately?
Sawashiro: Recently, I forgot my phone at the office and went back to retrieve it. However, I went to a shop on the way back and felt like my phone was missing! I shared my home number with the shop (In case they found it) and searched for it everywhere and later, I found the phone in my bag (laughs). It didn’t end here. On that same day after returning home, I got on my friend’s car and realised I left my phone at home this time (laughs).
――That is without a doubt, an average day for a clumsy person (laughs).
Sawashiro: It was just for that day. That doesn’t happen usually (laughs).
――For the music lover in you, what songs did you get hooked up on recently?
Sawashiro: Ogura Yui-san’s “Enjoy!“. My friends were telling me about how the dance for this song was amazing, so I looked it up and I found the song to be awesome.
――We talked about Chiha Live earlier which started as a program on Niconico. Even though it has been running for some time now, the fact that an event has been held recently, proves its popularity.
Sawashiro: In the beginning, I met SEPTALUCK’s Fin-san, we instantly hit it off and thought of doing something together. After that, the program was born. That’s when the rest of the members started to come in, till ELLEGARDEN’s Takada Metal-san completed the group. The 4 of us gather together for the show around once every month.
――And now your band’s songs got to be broadcast on the show, and you guys even held an event at Tower Records!
Sawashiro: Since we haven’t put out a CD, we had to make a poster just for the event (laughs). Recently, we also designed our own badges and merchandise to sell. Because we work on it ourselves, we have the freedom to do whatever we want, and it makes us happy if even one of our merchandise receives good feedback. Our aims for the future are to release an original CD and also to perform a concert on a big stage.
――Chiha Live is indeed moving in a positive direction. What are the things that made you feel “I’m glad I did this” since becoming a voice actor?
Sawashiro: Back when I was dabbing in theater shows, the kid of the person in charge of stage lighting would come and hang out, but that kid is now in high school, and has become my fan! It made me happy that he got to know of me under those circumstances, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to be associated with, something like acting in an anime that I have grown up watching, like Yu-Gi-Oh!. I feel that voice acting is a profession that provides dreams to children. When a kid in the neighbourhood tells me “I’ve watched that!”, it makes me happy that I chose this path of becoming a voice actor.
――Lastly, a message to all of your fans please.
Sawashiro: Previously, I talked about “Working hard to deliver smiles to everyone’s faces”. Today, everyone’s smiles have become my energy instead. I’m really grateful for that. I hope everyone will continue to support me. Thank you!
――Thank you! Please look forward to the next edition of Seiyuu Zukan+!
This interview was first published on 5 January 2018 at ddnavi.com. All images and videos you see here belong to their respective owners.