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AX 11: Miyuki Sawashiro interview, talks shop

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Anime Expo 2011 brought to the States the voice behind many of our favorite characters: Miyuki Sawashiro. Well, Shinku from Rozen Maiden, Mint from Galaxy Angel, Puchiko from Di Gi Charat, Tsugumi from Kannagi, and Claire from Red Garden are just the handful, the tip of the iceberg of the large body of her works. Oh, she's also Ben's favorite headless rider, Celty from DRRR. That's not even to mention Sawashiro being front and center in Atlus's titular Catherine, and the other video game works she's done (Clover from Blazblue, Cammy in SF4, Elizabeth in Persona 3, among others). All that at only 26 years old!

Jtor's intrepid interpreter at AX was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with Miyuki "Miyukichi" Sawashiro and ask a few questions. Click on for a very thoughtful talk from one of the most promising young seiyuu from Japan!

 

Japanator: You have voiced so many characters over the years. Which ones leave the strongest impression?

Sawashiro: I've had the opportunity to work on many different titles and they've all been important to me, so it's hard to choose one role that stands out over the others. However, voicing a sadistic character like Maria from Arakawa Under the Bridge was a first for me, which made her and her intense personality very memorable. 

Japanator: You seem very confident with your English. Did you have some experience with it outside of school?

Sawashiro: I did a homestay program in Pennsylvania for a short time in high school, and studied English literature in college, which both taught me the English I know now. Of course, I really only know a little bit of English, and I'm always hoping to get better. 

Japanator: How was acting for Catherine? What sort of a character did you envision Catherine to be?

Sawashiro: On the surface, she's a young, very devilish woman, the type who's very alluring to men. It was a role that required me to draw on elements that I hadn't had to draw upon in previous roles, which made me very nervous. Also, the recording studio was full of other veteran voice actors, which made pulling my weight during recording sessions fulfilling, but again made me nervous. 

Japanator: How was it winning the overseas award for the 2010 Seiyuu awards? 

Sawashiro: Hm, well... Finding out that overseas fans were supporting me to that extent went beyond making me happy or surprised, and I don't want this to sound negative, but it was actually hard for me to fully understand what had happened. It really was something that I had never imagined. I'm very happy that I now have an opportunity to thank all of the fans who voted for me since I'm here at an overseas event like Anime Expo. 

Japanator: Since your debut, you have done and accomplished so much as a voice actress. Is there some goal you want to accomplish in your career?

Sawashiro: When I first started my career, it was like I couldn't really have my own self stand out. You could say that I was concerned with acting out characters who were completely different existences from myself. But in these last 5 years, I've put an emphasis on working in some way to leave a part of myself in my characters, challenging myself to work from a different "vector." From here on in my career, I'd like to combine both of these directions and act out roles in a fresh, exciting, and brand new way.

Japanator: How about stage, TV or film acting? Can you tell us more about your stage acting work?

Sawashiro: Actually, I haven't really considered goals for those at all... But, in these last few years, I've started to do stage acting in order to give more range and depth to my voice acting, and used the experience and techniques I've learned through it when in front of the microphone. For that reason, I'd like to continue my stage acting work alongside my voice acting work.

Japanator: What do you enjoy most being a voice actress?

Sawashiro: I've always enjoyed being able to perform many different roles, because that gives me the opportunity to live out the lives of many different kinds of characters in a small way, not just my own life. However, what I enjoy even more than that is the opportunity I have to work with all sorts of different real people, such as actors, voice actors, directors, and staff. Being able to meet all these people has given me much more to draw from. It's not just the characters I've voiced, but also many of the individuals I've met through my work are very unique, and recently, I've often thought about how fortunate and happy I am to able to work with them.

Japanator: Are there any staff or directors that were particularly memorable to you?

Sawashiro: While working on Arakawa Under the Bridge, I was able to meet the author of the manga, Hikaru Nakamura, as well as the director, Akiyuki Shinbo, who's extremely unique. Also, the entire cast is just full of lots of different, interesting personalities. When anime is made in Japan, we record one episode a week, and I'd always be looking forward to our recording day every week. I was really sad when the series was over. The manga series is still going, so maybe we could do a third season...?

Japanator: Do you play any video games for fun? What are some of your favorites? Or how about anime and manga? What is something you are watching or reading right now?

Sawashiro: As far as games, it's not that I don't like them as much as that I'm so bad at them that I can't play them! I give this example all the time, but when I play Mario, I can't get past the first pit since I keep falling in, so I barely play any games. As far as movies, I enjoy watching them, but during my off time, I like to have some time to get away from anime and manga in order to experience more things with all of my senses, so that I can then use those experiences to feed back into my voice acting performances. I like to do all sorts of activities in order to build a stock of things I've experienced with all of my senses, so I intentionally separate myself from anime and manga during my off time.

Japanator: Is there a funny story you can share with us about any of the show you've worked on?

Sawashiro: I've heard in the past that when they do dubbing in America, they record their voices one person at a time in the booth. In Japan, we gather basically all at once in the booth, but that means that there aren't enough microphones for everyone to have their own, only about three or four to share with twenty-something people. That means that doing what we call "mic work" is almost like a sport, where you have to check with the people before and after you in order to figure out which microphone to use, so we're all calculating in our heads where to go and which mic to use at a certain time. I think that this is a very unique part of Japanese voice recording. Also, in the past, a foreign voice actor who had come to watch us record said that Japanese voice actors are like ninja in the way that they move silently around the mics. Just standing up normally from even a cushioned seat makes noise, and that noise would reach the mic, so everyone has to stand and sit very quietly, which apparently reminded that actor of ninjas.

Japanator: Do you like voicing boys?

Sawashiro: Since I was in school, I've always admired the communities that boys create among each other. Looking at these groups from a girl's point of view, it looked like they were always laughing and having fun, and as someone of the opposite sex, while I didn't necessarily have a romantic attraction to that, I admired how they were having fun in their own, different way. Once I started voice acting and performing male roles, I was able to experience that in some small way, which has been very exciting for me. Also, more than anything, I love robots, and male characters have more chances to ride robots and save the Earth, which, as a woman, are my favorite things to do when performing male roles. 

Japanator: Do you have any questions for your overseas fans? Do you have anything to tell your overseas fans? Please let us know.

Sawashiro: I've always wanted to know what overseas fans' favorite anime or games are, even ones that I'm not involved in. Earlier, Catherine was brought up, which surprised me. I'm curious, are a lot of fans playing games like Catherine overseas? Also, I won the overseas fan award at the Seiyuu Awards this year, and would like to say thank you to all of the fans who voted for me, and I'm very glad to be able to come to America to say thank you to the fans in person. Finally, I'd like to say to fans that are interested in anime, please think about coming to Japan and visiting places like Akihabara, or some of the many big anime-related events that happen in the country. It would make me happier than anything if any of the fans I've come to meet here ever have the chance to meet me in Japan, and so I'd like to tell my overseas fans, "See you next time in Japan!" 

 

[Many thanks to Ko for the interview. Top image from manya.]


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Jeff Chuang
Jeff ChuangAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Yet to be the oldest kid on the block, this East Coast implant writes cryptic things about JP folklore, the industry or dirty moe. Attend cons and lives the "I can buy Aniplex releases" life. ... more + disclosures


 



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