The main cast of Pop in Q, Asami Seto, Shiroi Izawa, Atsumi Tanezaki, Ari Ozawa and Tomoyo Kurozawa talk about their soon-to-be-released animated movie.
5 girls, each from different towns and schools, are approaching their middle school graduation.
Each with their own worries and complexes, they head towards their graduation ceremonies.
Suddenly, they find themselves -and their fates- connected.
Created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Toei animation, ‘Pop in Q’ is the
story of 5 young girls who must forge a bond after meeting in the depths of worry and
Miyahara Noaki, who worked on dance sequences for ‘Pretty Cure’, makes his vibrant directoral debut in a movie that is highly-anticipated to showcase the skills accumulated
through Toei’s 60-year history.
The characters were designed by Kohaku Kuroboshi, who previously worked on the TV animation ‘World Conquest Zvezda Plot’.
The 5 distinctive main characters are being portrayed by Asami Seto (as Isumi Kominato), Shiori Izawa (as Aoi Hioka), Atsumi Tanezaki (as Konatsu Tomodate), Ari Ozawa (as Asahi Omichi) and Tomoyo Kurosawa (as Saki Tsukui). Videos featuring the actresses’ comments have already been released through the Toei Animation’s YouTube channel.
Due to be released in January 2017, ‘Pop in Q’ is currently in production and the voice recordings have already been completed. The cast gave an interview soon after they finished recording.
Each one of your 5 characters are different in their own right. Could you tell us about the impression you got from each of your characters?
Asami Seto: Isumi is very bubbly and sociable, she’s the kind of girl who can instantly
start a conversation with anybody she meets. She can just be a little stubborn sometimes and that can cause a few clashes.
Shiori Izawa: Aoi is an aloof girl with an overly strong sense of justice. She can be too strict on herself sometimes, so she’s a little bit isolated.
Atsumi Tanezaki: My character, Konatsu, usually has a smile of her face and can lighten the mood in any room.
She’s good at piano, and she’s a girly-girl who has a habit of playing with her hair whenever she is nervous.
Ari Ozawa: Asahi is a girl who is constantly thinking about others and worries about showing her emotions on the surface. She tends fan the flames of her passions.
Tomoyo Kurosawa: Saki is good at dancing, but she bears a scar about it from her past. She’s become a bit of a coward when it comes to many things.
At AnimeJapan2016, you talked about how you the main cast and staff were able to do a reading together once back in March. How did the reading affect the recordings?
Seto: I’m so glad we were able to do a reading together. It’s an original work as well as a movie, so if we find ourselves at the recording studio like ‘On you marks!’, it takes a lot of time to really get into character.
Seto: As we were able to meet and understand ‘this is the character’s voice’, it meant that when I was reading the script during the recording, I could hear the other characters voices in my head and it became easier when practicing alone.
Kurosawa: I feel the same!
Seto: My character, Isumi, speaks in a Tosa dialect, so from the reading to the day of the recording, I had to get comfortable with the dialect.
Ozawa: As we did the reading, the director and I were able to agree on how the character was to be portrayed. That’s why the recording was able to feel more relaxed
Izawa: There really wasn’t any uneasiness at all.
Tanezaki: Before the actual recording, we were given a practice video, but thanks to the reading we did together, I was able to really understand the story and images. It was the first time for me to experience something like that.
Seto: As we headed towards the actual recording, it’s as was said before in that there really wasn’t any uneasiness.
Kurosawa: As we were able to meet the director and everyone as well receive a lot of references before the recording, I think I was able to create my portrayal based on the character’s background and personality.
Did you face any performance problems?
Tanezaki: I feel that us getting together was a big help in being able to portray the character well.
Kurosawa: Other than these 4, I was able to get a lot of influence by my seniors in the industry. I was also able to work out how to portray the character thanks to the reading we did.
Seto: It went smoothly, didn’t it?
Were there any parts of the recording that you felt were particularly difficult? Miss Seto, you had to prepare to record in the Tosa dialect [A dialect from Kochi Prefecture on the Shikoku Island of Japan].
Seto: I felt I was able to do it and I thought it was fun, rather than difficult.
Just exactly what kind of preparation did you have to do?
Seto: We had a dialect coach that was there many times during the readings and recordings. At first, I listened to a CD with lines being said in Tosa Dialect by a girl of similar age. Then, a dialect coach helped to correct that Tosa Dialect that I tried to copy from the CD. The corrected lines were again recorded onto a CD and I shared my ‘finished dialect’ with the staff. There is a younger student in Isumi’s club who also uses Tosa dialect, so myself and her actress were pretty worried, but when it came to the recording, the dialect coach was able to correct us as we went along and it was a real relief (laughs).
Are there any phrases in the Tosa dialect that have stayed in your memory?
Ozawa: I liked the phrase ‘tsukaeyu’ (using)
Seto: Yeah, there was the phrase ‘Teiki tsukaeyu’ (I’m using the train pass), and I tried my hardest to say it. After the recording everybody kept saying that it was cute (laughs)
Izawa: It’s super cute.
Each of the 5 characters suffers from their own worries and complexes, did you ever feel ‘I can really relate to this’?
Izawa: I think my personality is close to that of Aoi’s. We both have a strange sense of justice
and find it hard to just let our hair down. I was the class president during my school days and I thought I had to protect the school rules and such. I’m not great at studying, unlike Aoi, but I can’t play jokes and I remember feeling a little bit of jealousy or longing when I would see the other kids playing together and having a lot of fun.
Ozawa: I have a lot in common with my character, Asahi. I was in middle school when I started wanting to be more ‘girly’ and so I started buying skirts for the first time and tying up my hair. I started to care too much about what the people around me thought of me and I couldn’t be my real self, so I really understand her.
Tanezaki: I think I when I was doing this job I felt the same as Konatsu. I know that it’s fine to have fun on the job, but I kept pushing myself to do it properly.
Kurosawa: I feel closest to my character, Saki. If Asahi is always taking into account the feeling of others, then Saki is the opposite as she is the type who tends to put herself first. If I were asked if my acting or my friends were the most important, I would end up answering with ‘acting’. I think that’s similar to how Saki replaces her friends with club activities.
Seto: When I moved from elementary to middle school, I went from wearing my own clothes to wearing a uniform. I really didn’t want to wear a skirt and ‘being girly’ was really embarrassing for me and caused a lot of worry. However, as I’ve gotten older that embarrassment has disappeared. The ‘trifling worries’ that affect kids of that age really do apply to these five.
There was a lot of talk about the director on the web radio programme. What exactly was he like?
Izawa: Even when we were tired from long hours of recording, he would come in to the booth with a ‘that’s going great!’
Kurosawa: He’d make a lot of jokes and stuff with us and it was pretty comforting.
Tanezaki: Not only that, but he would take on board all of our suggestions for our performance.
Ozawa: He really is very good-natured
Seto: He was very kind to us at the studios, and he would direct us with a tone of voice that made us as performers feel comfortable. The director’s personality and atmosphere came out during the recording, and I really feel it in the movie as well.