MANGA.TOKYO has conducted an interview with Chihiro Ikki, who portrays Denki Kaminarimon in the popular TV anime series Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. After consulting with you, the readers of MANGA.TOKYO, we asked her about her thoughts on voice acting as a career, on Denki Kaminarimon as a character, and on the things she likes!
Thank you very much for taking the time for our interview today! First of all, could you tell us what motivated you to become a voice actress?
Ikki: I have always liked manga and anime and often read and watched them from when I was a child. I was really into the manga Glass Mask when I was in my second year of junior high school. I was inspired by the main character Maya Kitajima and how dedicated she was to the theater, and I started to think that acting was really amazing! That’s how I became interested in acting. Later, I came to know about voice acting. I decided to seriously aim for the job because it allowed me to combine two things I like, acting and anime.
What sorts of anime and manga did you like when you were a child?
Ikki: My hometown is in Shizuoka prefecture which isn’t in the broadcasting area of TV Tokyo. Since it’s the TV network which airs most anime series, there was a limited number of anime to watch when I was a child. Sunday morning was the time slot for anime in my hometown, and I watched Ojamajo Doremi and Digimon Adventure every week. I also liked Sailor Moon. I probably watched more anime for girls than for boys. My younger sister preferred boy’s anime, so I watched them with her as well.
Do you have a voice actor you admire or who is a role model to you?
Ikki: Soon after I joined an agency, I had the chance to work with Masako Nozawa [most famous for playing Son Goku in the Dragon Ball franchise]. I still remember how I was stunned by her stance on work and her professionalism. She was way beyond my expectations and still is my inspiration. Although she is out of my league at this moment, I’d like to be a voice actress like her one day. It’s my big goal.
Did you get the chance to receive advice from her or just have a chat?
Ikki: The program on which I worked with her was about investigating the job of voice acting. I was on the same team as her and we performed the Japanese folktale ‘Urashima Taro’, together. She gave me advice, such as: ‘You should try playing it like this’ and ‘the setting is that.’ I was very nervous at the time, so she hugged me to calm me down.
That’s a lovely story. I have a question about voice acting here from one of our overseas readers, ‘How do Japanese voice actresses achieve so many different voice tones? Do you need to do any special exercises to achieve it or do you have a particular technique?’
Ikki: I think the only way to learn is to practice. I practice voicing high to low tones in order to understand what kinds of voices I have every single day. I constantly investigate people’s speech to learn how I should play the part. For instance, when I hear children talking in the park, I learn that young children speak with a nasal voice. I also read out long sentences to know how I can continue to speak with the same acting voice throughout.
It’s important to continue studying all the time. Do you have a voice tone that is easy to play for you?
Ikki: That’s exactly Denki’s voice for me! It’s easy for me to put on a boyish voice. Denki’s voice is almost my actual voice tone. If aspiring voice actors worry that they might only get a particular type of character because of their voice tones, don’t worry. How you voice the character is much more important than the pitch. It’s not only the tone that is taken into account during the casting. Rather, they think, ‘in what way does a male character speak?’ and ‘how can the actor speak like a female character?’
Next Page: Ikki’s thoughts on playing Denki Kaminarimon from Boruto: Naruto Next Generations