Da.Vinci News’ established column, Seiyuu Zukan (Voice Actors Pictorial Book) tells the story of the other side of characters. For the 228th edition, we have Nagaku Yuki, the voice of Yukana (Hajimete no Gal), Iya Meguri (Onsen Musume) and a member of a voice actor unit, Earphones. In her own words “I wouldn’t have been able to continue without any of them,” she spoke about having the support of people around her. Where does her future lead to? We also get to hear about how she spends her days off with Taketatsu Ayana-san, whom she is close to!
――You are dressed in a rather refreshing outfit today. How did you end up choosing this?
Nagaku: Actually, I’ve been a fan of Seiyuu Zukan’s photos for some time now. Among friends and acquaintances who got featured here, I was moved by the photos in this column as I felt that they brought out their appeal. I also wanted to have some nice photos taken, so I went to my favourite shop yesterday and had the staff choose an outfit for me. Since my hair is in the darker shade, so the light blue might be a good fit for me. Furthermore, it was the last piece in the shop! I thought that it was fated ♪
――Thank you for going out of your way for this column (laughs). You graduated from Aoni Cram School and joined Aoni Production. What made you want to become a voice actor in the first place?
Nagaku: When I was in high school, I thought of going through the usual- graduating, enrolling into a university, finding a job and then getting married, but then I wanted to do something different. At that time, I saw an anime and sobbed at the crying scene. It resonated with me and made me decide on a job of that nature. And so, after many twists and turns…
――What do you mean by “many twists and turns”?
Nagaku: I talked to my parents about my intention of becoming a voice actor but they were strongly opposed to it… So, I enrolled in my parents’ recommended university under the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. They would allow me to chase my dreams only after graduation, but that journey from enrollment to the national examinations would have taken 6 years. Life as a university student was fun, but it would have been 6 years of agonizing wait…
After getting past the summer holidays in my 1st year, I took on the auditions offered by Watanabe Entertainment School and got to the final stage. I couldn’t hold in those amazing emotions of acting in front of people and went to my parents once again, telling them I want to do this no matter what! This time round, after the school allowed me to take time off, I was given 2 years time to follow my passion.
――Indeed, there are so many things that can be done in that 2 years.
Nagaku: That’s right. I attended Toei Kyoto Studio Park’s training school for half a year and spent the rest of the time commuting to Aoni Cram School. After 2 years passed, my parents yielded and told me, “Whether you want to be a pharmacist or a voice actor, we don’t want you to pin your regret on us, so please decide on your own.” Thereafter, I made up my mind to join Aoni Production and to become a voice actor. It was a gamble (laughs). I could only move forward, and the pressure is on myself.
――So you discovered the joy of acting through auditions. Was that your first time acting?
Nagaku: My only other experience was only at the school’s cultural festival. However, it was a bit part. When I was a student, I tend to read the mood rather than get myself pumped up, it was something that everyone thought of getting it over and done with, so I took it that way too. I was bad at giving myself a push and was quite a shy person. Thinking about it now, I think I should have taken acting more seriously.
――You have appeared in a number of works since 2014, what do you consider to be your turning point?
Nagaku: It would be Sore ga Seiyuu! (2015) where I got cast as a main character for the first time. I made my singing debut with Earphones as well. Before that, I didn’t have experience dancing too. Starting out, I couldn’t even perform basic stuff like side stepping, and couldn’t move my arms and legs at the same time. Even then, the instructor was patient and took time to teach me, and that is probably why I don’t dislike singing and dancing now. I was really blessed by my surroundings.
――This year marks Earphones’ 4th anniversary. Even after the anime ended, the unit is continuing with its activities.
Nagaku: After the anime ended, the people from the label talked to each of us privately. I didn’t know the thoughts of the other 2, but I personally wanted to continue, and to expand my musical ability. So I was glad to find out that all 3 of us were on the same page after that. On the musical production side too, they give us new challenges each time. We, as Earphones are fully behind them and will try to fulfill their requests to the best of our abilities.
――Since there are several performances yearly, do you go for regular lessons?
Nagaku: I haven’t been going to lessons (laughs). Back when the anime was airing, we had in-store performances every Sunday. So, now we practice on our own before the actual practice sessions and rehearsals. Just revisiting the choreography before each concert takes everything out of me (laughs). For the other 2 members as well, it’s amazing how independent they are. Even though we have 1~2 performances yearly, we are able to go back to how we were almost immediately, and we always have the resolve to surpass our previous performances. I feel that we are truly a miraculous unit.
――In 2017’s Hajimete no Gal, you portrayed Yame Yukana in your first heroine role. What do you recall from this work?
Nagaku: I was nervous, but thankfully everyone was really dependable. We would get excited talking about the gyaru subculture. Back then, I was thinking of using a popular slang in the anime, so they ended up using “maji manji (that’s crazy)!” for the background chatter. I finally got to say it! (laughs) If we were to do that now, it has to be “tapiru”*. All these trendy words continue to change over time, so when we look back at the anime in 5 years time, “That’s crazy!” might be an obsolete term by then (laughs).
*タピル / tapiru is one of Japan’s buzzwords for 2019. It comes from “tapioca (pearls/balls)” which are often added in bubble/milk tea. Young people, especially school girls, use this term to express “Let’s go grab a milk tea”.
――You may not have dived into this culture if not for this work heh (laughs). Also, your character, Iya Megumi, came in first in the general election for Onsen Musume!
Nagaku: Meguri-chan is everything that I’m not. For example, I’m the indoor-type who doesn’t get out of bed on my days off, but Meguri-chan is a like a treasure hunter who goes around visiting onsens.
When I heard that the 1st placed girl gets a solo song, I really wanted to sing Meguri-chan’s solo song, so I replied to everyone who voted for her. I think it was around 300 people. I just wanted to show my appreciation to those who used up their daily time to vote, so I ended up replying to them. I broke down in tears when I saw the results.
――Moving forward, what do you hope to do for Onsen Musume?
Nagaku: If I’m allowed to wish for more, I would like to get affiliated with a unit… Even though I’m grateful to get selected for Matsuyama’s election, I want to be more involved in Onsen Musume. Acting as Megumi-chan brightens up my day, that’s the kind of girl she is. I think there’s a lot of hidden potential within her, like where she stands in a group or what kind of performances she can bring out in a group. Moreover, units are connected by bonds. Personally, I love doing things in a group as well.
――Alright, let’s move on to your private life. Which voice actors are you close to?
Nagaku: Taketatsu Ayana-san~ To begin with, I’m a passionate otaku* for her. Other than being a fan of her work since early on, I also like Petit Milady which she is a part of. To put it simply, I just love her a lot. After co-acting in Hajimete no Gal and hosting a radio show together, I thought that “There’s only 1 path to go from there!” (laughs) I thought she might dislike me if I went ahead with my fervent adoration, but I was glad that she reciprocated my feelings. Since then, we meet up around 2 times every month, go for buffet or VR experiences. Oh, and bowling too.
*The term used by her is ガチオタ / gachiota which is an abbreviated form of gachi (serious) otaku (geek), it stems from fans who are totally into the idol(s) they support.
――That feels like the heart fluttering emotion that you get from going on a date, am I right? (laughs)
Nagaku: I guess, I probably act like her boyfriend. I would say things like “You’re going to catch a cold” or “Watch out, it’s dangerous” (laughs). She also came over to my place. On that occasion, she brought a mixture of fruits, and said “Let’s peel the peaches together”. They were really good, and I still kept the box from then. I can’t bear myself to throw it away (laughs).
――That’s really cute of both of you to peel the peaches together (laughs). What about other people?
Nagaku: Of course, I meet up with Earphones too. I also get along well with Izawa Mikako-chan too. I don’t need to tip toes around her when we are talking, she is the active type and is usually the one who asks me out. We go out for board games. Since I’m the passive type, I’m really glad to have someone like her.
――Going back to your work, are there any particular types of characters you wish to portray?
Nagaku: I want to expose myself to all sorts of genres and characters, broaden my acting capacity. Over the past year, I got to experience not just voice acting, but also live reading, stage plays and also film acting. Moving my body and allowing that to be input into myself, it also opened new horizons for my voice acting. I don’t want this to be the line that limits me, but I want to keep moving forward positively.
――So you are focusing on expanding your horizons right now.
Nagaku: That’s right. Since I had my hands full with what’s in front of me previously. Moving forward, I hope to acquire a variety of knowledge and experience, and increase the range of expressions I can apply to characters.
――I’m looking forward to your continued success on that front! Lastly, can you give a message to everyone who is reading this?
Nagaku: In today’s session, when I think back about the time when I aimed to become a voice actor, I feel that the voice actor, Nagaku Yuki, is only here because of everyone around me. Whether it was my parents, my seniors, friends or all the people related to my work, I wouldn’t have been able to continue without any of them. However, I don’t think that it’s right to remain indebted to everyone, so I want to take the role that is given to me, and put out a performance and acting that exceeds everyone’s imagination. I hope that everyone can continue to support my activities for a long time ahead*. I will do my best to meet your support!
*Her actual phrase used here is “これからも末長く応援していただければうれしいです”. She likes to make puns and intentionally used 末長く / sue nagaku (long, lasting) as a tie-back to her name.
――Thank you, Nagaku-san!
Please look forward to the next edition of Seiyuu Zukan!
Interview, text: Yoshida Yuuki
Photography: Yamamoto Tetsuya
Production/casting assistance: Yoshimura Naoki (Object)
This interview was first published on 27 October 2019 in ddnavi.com. All images and videos you see here belong to their respective owners.