I had the intention to act without being bound by animation.
The full-length animation film Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.) was released on August 26. The film draws a lot of attention not only for being the latest film of Makoto Shinkai, but also for its multi-talented cast. Ryunosuke Kamiki plays Taki Tachibana, a high school boy living in Tokyo. Ryunosuke is highly acclaimed for his performances in live-action films and his voice acting in animations. How did he act Taki in Kimi no Na wa? We’re going to reveal his feelings on this film as well as what was like inside the dubbing studio.
[Interview: Ayaka Kawamata]
‘Kimi no Na wa (Your Name)’
Released in Japan on Friday, August 26, 2016
■ Shinkai films are labeled as black and white in my mind, but this film is very colorful.
I hear that you are a big fan of Director Shinkai, and that you’ve visited some places that were used in his films. So, what is it like to be a part of the animation cast for your favorite director?
Ryunosuke Kamiki (Kamiki)
At first, it was surreal. I even thought, ‘Is this some kind of a prank?’… because there was no way that I could be working for Shinkai films. I love his films ever since I watched 5 Centimeters per Second when I was in high school. Even after watching The Garden of Words, I was looking forward to his next film as a fan (lol). Then, guess what!? I was invited to join the cast to be in his next film…I was shocked (lol). I couldn’t believe it, but it made me really happy. Working with my favorite director, acting in animations that I love…I think I managed to show how much I love this opportunity during voice dubbing.
I can feel your love through the film. So, how would you describe this experience working with Director Shinkai?
Having seen his films in the past, I was wondering what he, who is talented to create such beautiful animations, would be like. When I met him in person, I saw his gentle and polite manners. He is precise with nuances that he would like to express, and I now respect him more for his smart and clever personality.
Why do you think you got the role of Taki? Have you asked Director Shinkai about it?
No, I haven’t. I have no idea at all. I can’t actually act in monotone, so I would like to ask the Director about the details of ‘why me’.
I heard that Director Shinkai himself dubbed his own voice on the video storyboard to specify the timing of the action and music. So, when you watched the video storyboard, what sort of acting idea came into your head?
Basically, I was going to act as I was shown. Director Shinkai intentionally created silent moments between the speeches on the video storyboard. I was going to follow that, because the silent moments were there for me to act as Taki. Having said so, I had the intention to act with my voice without being bound by animation.
Do you mean that you were going to act the same as you did for live-action films?
I reminded myself how I would be talking after switching places with a girl if I was to act out in a live-action film. I didn’t totally copy what I saw on the video storyboard, but the way Director Shinkai spoke in there was the base of my acting with my own imagination.
Are there any scenes that you struggled with?
The scenes when Taki and Mitsuha switched places were hard. Mitsuha’s character in Taki’s body means that she talks in Taki’s voice. So, I often asked Director Shinkai for advice and made sure that I was on the right track. Shinkai Films until then seemed to be labeled as black and white in my mind, but this film is very colorful. I again sought advice from him to know how to clear and vivid I need to act there. I found voice acting for Kimi no Na wa especially challenging.
The performance when Taki and Mitsuha swapped places was truly amazing! Was it hard to find the right tone?
My voice acting as Mitsuha on the first day of dubbing was slightly different from the next day. So, I had to re-do the dubbing process for Day 1. Originally, the voice was a bit lower.
You mentioned, ‘This film is very colorful’ earlier. What does ‘colorful’ mean in this case?
I see something deep or black and white for 5 Centimeters per Second and that’s similar to Children Who Chase Lost Voices. On the other hand, unlike Shinkai films in the past, there are some funny parts in Kimi no Na wa, which also have the characters with a variety of facial expressions.
There are many happy energetic scenes from everyday life in the film, aren’t there?
Yes. The film makes us happy, gives us laughter and sometimes makes us sentimental. By feeling all these emotions, the film becomes vivid to us. On the other hand, Director Shinkai includes his own color into monologues, where I see it in a monotone. So, depending on the colors, I acted differently with the control and the pitch of my voice.
Here is another one from earlier. You mentioned, “I had the intention to act without being bound by animation.” What do you mean by this, compared to the voice speed and rhythm in live-action films?
I believe that animation and live-action films are clearly different. As for live-action films, your body is on camera, which makes it possible for you to express by being there. However, in the case of animation making, you can’t move around freely, because you want to avoid unnecessary noise. You need to express exactly what is already there with your voice, which includes moments of silence and facial expressions. On the contrary, in both Kimi no Na wa and 5 Centimeters per Second, you frequently see the motions and expressions just like those in live-action films. So, I consider this film as live-action-style animation. It almost intentionally tries not to convey the meaning.
Did you say “intentionally tries not to convey the meaning”?
That’s right. This film stands out for having non-conveyable speeches, and that makes the film impressive. I mean they are like soliloquies or monologues. They don’t just come out from characters when they are forced to do so. For example, when Mitsuha ends up in Taki’s body looking at Taki’s cell phone, she says, “Is this one-way love?” This is purely a monolog that she is talking to herself but nobody else. So, I often thought of what she would sound like if that was a live-action film.
■ I love animations, so I am happy being in such an anime paradise.
What do you think of voice acting?
I always learn something new. I do some narrative work on live-action films. I know that I’m nowhere near as good as voice actors/actresses, but I’ve been working on further voice expressions. Even just to say a word like ‘Thank you’ or ‘Sorry’, I hope to describe the deeper feelings hidden behind the word. I’m grateful that I’m learning so much every time.
In a way, you’re working in a different field of acting, right?
I just do my very best to break down such barriers. Having said so, I love animations anyway, so I’m happy being in such an animation paradise. I am grateful for that.
I heard that you did the dubbing with Nobunaga Shimazaki and Kaito Ishikawa as well. Is there anything memorable from that experience?
They were awesome. Their amazing voices almost melt my ears (lol). Both of them are capable of acting in the same voice tones as many times as they need to. When they get a request, “Can you do it this way?”, they can respond to that precisely. Their performance is always accurate, and that makes them true professionals.
Did you talk to them?
I was so nervous at first, but Nobunaga kindly came to talk to me. I found out that Kaito, also an anime fan, was the same age as me. Knowing that we both watched the similar animations in the past helped us feel closer to each other. I am very thankful to both of them. They made me relaxed through the conversations, and that made a big difference in the dubbing involving all three of us.
How would you describe your voice?
I would say it’s unique. Someone once pointed out that my voice is a bit different. I have been in a crowd to film the background chatter in a classroom, but my voice was easily spotted (lol). I was actually concerned about my voice mismatching with the monotone, which is often seen in Shinkai films…so, I worked really hard on monologs to keep it in a monotone.
You create some images of the voices and sounds. It sounds like ‘speeds and colors’ are the keys to you.
You may be right. I certainly used ‘colors’ this time.
What color is Mitsuha?
Orange or yellow. When she is switched, it’s blue. It’s black, white or grey during monologs.
How about Nobunaga as Tsukasa Fujii and Kaito as Shinta Takagi?
They both have hot voices…really. Tsukasa performed by Nobunaga seems to be in beautiful clear emerald green, indicating ‘someone who is capable of everything’. Shinta by Kaito is in a browny color…as if he has this solid and stable sense of security.
What about your own voice?
I wonder…maybe green? (lol)
Lastly, please explain some of the highlights of this film for our readers.
I would like to mention how cool Mitsuha turns when Taki is inside…especially in the scene where she says, “That’s about me, right!?” and she kicks a desk away! I can’t forget to mention another scene either, where Okudera Senpai and Taki are talking on a pedestrian bridge. They somehow slightly misunderstand each other, and that little confused atmosphere is realistic. It’s also worth checking out how Masami Nagasawa plays Okudera Senpai that Taki admires. Hope you all enjoy ‘Kimi no Na wa’!
Thank you very much for your time today.
Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.)
Released nationwide on Friday, August 26, 2016