‘Voice actors’. They do something that anime fans all over the world aspire to. They may seem like a far existence from us lowly plebs, and may sometimes seem that they are a figment of our imagination… No way! They also have their own otaku-like side, just like we do! They are just hiding it!
In order to learn more about the real personality behind these fighters on the anime front lines, we started this mini-series asking them about what kind of otaku they are. If you want us to continue the series and hear more about the geekiness of voice actors, then don’t forget to share these articles with your friends!
(Of course, we ask questions from the MANGA.TOKYO readers, so you can look forward to that, too!)
Our first entry in the series is an interview with Sarara Yashima, whose anime roles include Natsuki Hoshina in Idol Incidents and Shiori Adachi in the currently-airing Doreiku the Animation. We sat down and talked about some of the fattiest ramen in Tokyo and what it’s like to be a voice actor!
First of all, could you introduce yourself to the readers of MANGA.TOKYO?
Hi everyone. I’m Sarara Yashima and I’m a voice actor. The reason I aspired to be a voice actor was… Well, I have always loved the theater and often visited playhouses to watch productions of plays and musicals. I still do in my spare time. I was a member of a school musical club for 6 years when I was in middle and high school. I started my career path as a singer when I was in university by singing songs for games. In those days, I got the opportunity to sing an anime song and came to know about voice acting. Before that, my interests lay in theater, which is rather vast and vague, but I’ve been focusing on using my voice to act since then.
Could you tell us more about your otaku story? What kind of otaku are you?
Well, I’m quite enthusiastic about everything, so I tend to become quite serious about anything I get into and become an otaku about it. [laugh] Recently, I’m really into ramen. I’ve visited many ramen restaurants and am now addicted to ‘Ramen Jiro’. [NB: Ramen Jiro is a ramen chain famous for its huge portions and rich soy sauce broth.]
It has many branches which serve slightly different dishes, and there are many other ramen shops where the chefs started out as apprentices at Ramen Jiro. I live for finding these restaurants and eating ramen. [laugh]
That’s what you live for!! You’re really into ramen, I can feel the otaku-ness! Tell me the reason why you chose Ramen Jiro among such a variety of ramen styles that are out there.
I generally like ramen and eat it a lot. I think I love Jiro because I love junk food. When I first ate Jiro’s ramen, I thought it was the ultimate junk food. I was like, ‘This ramen might not be good for me but it’s too delicious to stop! What the hell is this ramen!’ I was determined to go all the way with Ramen Jiro at that time.
In order to master Ramen Jiro, how do you search for their restaurants?
Voice actors need to visit various studios for recordings. I always research what kind of ramen restaurants are near the studio I’m visiting. I also research ramen restaurants wherever I visit for work. Obviously, the keyword for me when I’m searching is Ramen Jiro. [laugh]
You mean on the days you are recording, you tend to eat ramen?
I’d love to if I could. I don’t eat ramen before recording, because it usually has a quite strong smell, especially Jiro’s. I don’t want to be a nuisance to other voice actors as we have to speak close to each other in a confined studio. I wait until the recording is over.
What made you realize that you are a Ramen Jiro otaku?
I think it would sound arrogant to call myself a Ramen Jiro otaku, because Ramen Jiro has so many fans and experts. [laugh] I make sure to research if there are any Ramen Jiro branches wherever I go. I think that proves my love for Ramen Jiro.
As a Ramen Jiro otaku, how would you recommend Ramen Jiro to our readers abroad?
When you order extra fat for your bowl, usual ramen restaurants add liquid pork fat, but at Ramen Jiro they give you chunks of pork back fat and they put the chunks in your bowl. If you order more fat, they give you chunks of fat on a plate. Transfer your noodles from your bowl to the plate with pork fat, mix well and slurp! That’s my favorite way of eating Jiro’s ramen. Try it!
Now I’d like to ask you questions from our readers. The first question is: if you could live your life over again would you choose voice acting as your job, and if so, why?
I’d definitely want to become a voice actor again! I have made various choices in my life so far. I have always chosen what I really wanted to do each time, and the result is what I’ve become: a voice actor. Because I was always honest with myself when I had to choose, I know I’d choose voice acting as my job if I could redo my life.
The next question is: what sort of mistakes do voice actors make frequently?
For TV anime, cast members usually record together in a studio, so I often do recordings with voice actors who have had a longer career than me. When I make small mistakes in such situations, like losing tempo or stumbling over my words, I suddenly become nervous. When I realize my nerves, I become more and more nervous and end up making big mistakes. It’s difficult to calm myself down while recording.
Our following question is: do you have a favorite among the characters or anime series you have done so far?
I like every character I have played. I have a special feeling for each character and series respectively, so I can’t choose. I love every one of them. I feel like they’re my children.
I see. The next question is: how are voice actors cast?
Generally, you get your role via audition. There are some rules for auditions, such as that you can only audition for 3 roles if there are 10 roles available. Even if you aren’t successful at an audition, you might be contacted later for an opportunity to attend another audition for a role which is perhaps more suitable for you.
What kind of characters do you want to play from now on?
I’ve been playing ordinary girls who are younger than me. I’d love to play mature, cool, and sexy women in the near future. I’m happy to portray Shiori Adachi in the currently-airing Doreiku The Animation, as her role is exactly what I want to play at this moment.
This anime might become a turning point for you. You might get more mature women roles after this. The next question is: what are your own rules for recordings?
I put my everything into not being a nuisance towards anybody in the recording studio. Voice recordings take place in a special situation. Voice actors with different careers gather in a small studio. There aren’t enough microphones for each of us, so we have to share them. I’m very careful not to make a mistake or cause trouble. I pay close attention to the smooth progress of recordings, for instance inspecting situations to decide where I can take a seat.
The next question is: what is the most difficult thing in voice acting?
Voice actors must act with only their voices. We can’t use facial expressions or body actions to render the characters and their feelings. It sounds obvious, but I think it’s the most difficult thing for voice acting. I like watching foreign TV dramas and I often mimic their dubbing to widen my acting capacity.
Thank you very much. Could you give a message to the readers of MANGA.TOKYO and anime fans abroad?
When I had opportunities to go abroad for my work and took part in events there, I met many anime fans who had learned Japanese while watching anime. When talking to these fans face-to-face, I felt that I must devote myself as a voice actor in order to create good anime works for them. I continue to do my best to meet your expectations. Please keep watching Japanese anime!