I would love people to cherish the emotions they felt watching this film.
The new anime film Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) was released in Japan on Friday, August 26. It is directed by Makoto Shinkai, who is well known for films like Kotonoha no Niwa (The Garden of Words). The story’s about Mitsuha, a high school girl who lives in a remote country town, and Taki, a boy who goes to a high school in Tokyo. There is no connection between them and they are strangers to each other. However, they realize that they have somehow switched places. They were never supposed to meet, but their destinies pull them together.
The interview is with Nobunaga Shimazaki who plays Tsukasa Fujii, Taki’s cool best friend. Let’s hear what he thinks of the films of Director Shinkai and how he prepared for his acting.
[Interview: Ayaka Kawamata]
— In the making of this film, you worked with people who are active in different fields…Ryunosuke Kamiki of Kimi no Na wa is one of them. Did you find anything different during dubbing from your regular voice acting?
Nobunaga Shimazaki (Shimazaki)
Basically, what I did there was the same as usual. The way I prepared and acted for this film was aiming to act as natural as possible by learning its world view and atmosphere…which I always do. So, I focused on the atmosphere and world that Kimi no Na wa was surrounded, then I kind of figured out where to stand in terms of a natural act. I may have been more careful than usual to stand on the same footing.
–What do you mean by ‘to stand on the same footing’?
When I take a look at the films of Director Makoto Shinkai, they seem to be down to earth…almost like what we call reality. This makes me think that his films are created as weaving anime expression into reality. If I stick to ‘my own acting’, what is normal for me but not for other fields, I wouldn’t be able to stand on the same footing as the main characters, Taki and Mitsuha. In a bad way, I would accidentally stand out as someone from a fantasy world, when I actually needed to be like Taki as his close friend.
–I am starting to follow you. To be in the world of Kimi no Na wa, you are working to eliminate ‘unnaturalness’ and perfect your role…
My role is Tsukasa Fujii, who is a friend of Taki and the closest to him in his Kimi no Na wa world. My goal is to establish and fit in a perfect equal balance between Taki and Tsukasa, so that the audience can watch them without feeling wrong and unnatural.
–You are more careful than usual to stick to reality…
That’s right…and there are various ways to express reality. Depending on a film, emphases on reality shift their way to deliver. This film tells the story with illustrations, so voices don’t need to emphasize its reality. On the other hand, if a film needs to be delivered totally depending on voice acts, then you need to lay an emphasis on that side to convey the true meaning.
–So, it is like putting an emphasis on Tsukasa’s existence as if he is right there…
Kamiki suggested me to dub scenes together, so I think I managed to act naturally by simply responding to Kamiki’s lines. Thanks for this opportunity acting together there with Kamiki, it was wonderful being able to be like Tsukasa thinking how he would actually respond to Taki. I didn’t even have to worry about the rest of performance, because of the illustrations that cover the details. So, it was like I was just having a conversation in person as Tsukasa with Taki…I guess.
–What was it like to act with Kamiki?
It was fun. Normally, as voice actors, we follow unwritten rules or sense particular tones and intonations for certain lines…and such tricks definitely help us to polish up our voice acting skills for better performances. However, in this film, Kamiki didn’t follow such tricks to perform, in a good way. He wonderfully acted as how he normally did, and so in return, I naturally responded to his act as well. Having said so, I worked hard not to wipe out my voice acting side but to keep a good balance, because I believed that my background as a voice actor brought me to that role. I think this film is not just animation, but it could be seen as a live-action film for its reality with naturalness, almost the same as our real world. The conversation with Kamiki was more than acting, which made me feel relaxed and gave me great satisfaction.
–You have mentioned that you think of Shinkai films as ‘’standing on the same footing’ and ‘reality almost the same as our reality’. Can you give me some examples in film images?
All actions of the characters, descriptions of their feelings, even wind and clouds…they all seem to be so much like what we have in our world. On top of that, they are expressed in the ways only animation can make it happen. That’s why it is so easy to relate to it as well as feel the existence within its warm gentle view of the world. I realized that people are moved because of such reality full of vibrant vitality.
–This ‘Kimi no Na wa’ is the first time for you to act in Shinkai films, isn’t it? What did you think of Director?
He is very kind. It may not be appropriate to say this to a mature grown man, but he is kind of cute. I see the same warmth both in his films and himself. I was nervous to meet someone big, who had created awesome films. However, he was actually so gentle and approachable, and I felt relaxed immediately. He is great, and I could tell how much love and passion go into film making from his attitude and character. Apparently, he had seen some of the films that I worked in and mentioned, ‘I love your voice’ to me. I don’t usually this kind of comments from a director, so I was happy, extremely grateful and panicked (lol). He is someone who can speak his mind without making people uncomfortable.
–Lastly, would you like to say something to our readers?
I would like to say, ‘just go watch the film!’ instead of pointing out ‘such and such are great about this film’. If you go see it, you’d definitely know why it moves people’s heart. I must also mention that this film can be interpreted in so many ways, so how you take the film is probably different from other people. I would love people to cherish their own emotions and interpretations that they felt after watching this film. Those feelings are all yours, not somebody else’s. So, please watch this without prejudice first. Then, I would be happier if you explore different ways to enjoy this film as well…you may find it interesting to hear how other people feel about it.
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