Otakon 2012: Kakihara Tetsuya vs. ANN

Kakihara debuted as a voice actor in 2003 and won “Best Male Newcomer” at the First Seiyuu Awards ceremony in Japan. Since then, he has amassed a considerable number of leading roles in his career, voicing the likes of Fairy Tail’s Natsu Dragneel, Gurren Lagann’s Simon, Linebarrels of Iron’s Koichi Hayase, BlazBlue’s Jin Kisaragi & Hakumen, and Saint Seiya: the Lost Canvas’ Pegasus Tenma. As a supporting cast member, Kakihara has been featured heavily in Blue Exorcist (Amaimon), Digimon Xros Wars Season 2 (Ryouma Mogami), Minami-ke (Fujioka), Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (Shima), and Toriko (Tom).

Kakihara plays Angelo Sauper in an ongoing OAV, Mobile Suit Gundam UC, continuing since 2010. In 2012, he will be featured in Fairy Tail as Natsu, and Ozma as Sam Coyne.~Otakon guest info

The staff opened with a ‘no video recording, no photography, no ringtones/cellphone’ policy. That seems to be the policy for many of the Japanese guests.

The main presenter was Chris Macdonald from Anime News Network who addressed the questions to Kakihara-san. Since Kakihara-san was born in Germany, he obviously knew German and understood a good deal of English. The interpreter was Yoshida Toshifumi-san but he only had to interpret the answers. Only a few questions need to be interpreted which surprised the fans and really opened the floor up for more questions.

    Kakihara: Hello, nice you meet you. My name is Kakihara Tetsuya. I am a Japanese seiyuu. One of my main roles that I’m known for is playing Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. *audience cheers* Also…what else?
    Fan: Fairy Tail.
    Kakihara: Ah, Fairy Tail! *audience cheers* And Angelo Sauper from Gundam Unicorn. *more cheers* I actually do alot of roles, but I’m happy to see that it’s so popular in the United States.
    ANN: Welcome to the United States, Kakihara-san.
    Kakihara: Thank you very much.

    ANN: How do you feel being here in Otakon and seeing all the people dressed up?
    Kakihara: Well, it doesn’t look a whole lot different than Japan. *audience laughs* It isn’t my first time in the United States. I came when I was very little, but this is the first time I’ve been to the United States as an adult and as a guest. Boy, you guys look good in cosplay! *audience laughs* It really looks good on you, definitely.

    ANN: Let’s get to the voice acting and your background. You grew up in Germany.
    Kakihara: Yes. *saids it again in German*
    ANN: You moved to Japan to become a voice actor?
    Kakihara: *starts speaking in German*
    Interpreter: *looks at him before announcing* Speaking German. *audience laughs*
    Kakihara: So I grew up in Germany as you said until I was a teen. When I turned 18, my mother and father suggested that I should experience the culture and birthplace of my parents. So I decided to go to Japan. When I came here, I saw that there was a great deal of popularity in anime and manga, so I decided why I don’t I try to be a voice actor. That’s right…. *audience laughs*

    ANN: You got to watch anime and read manga since you were pretty young. Are there any titles that were important to you, had an influence on you or had a profound effect on you?
    Kakihara: Everything I’ve worked on so far has become a precious memory to me and part of my experience.

    Interpreter: Can I ask a question? When you grew up, did you watch anime and manga in German?
    Kakihara: I watched the opening songs of the shows in Japanese. I felt a closeness to it since I could hear it in the familiar language that I grew up on, plus I heard it in Japanese. *pause* What were we talking about? *audience laughs*

    ANN: I was wondering about the anime and manga you grew up with and their influence on you?
    Kakihara: When I was little I read Attack No. 1, Dragon Ball and lots of old anime. These were the kinds of shows that my mother grew up on that was being shown in my childhood in German. There was a soccer anime called Ganbare Kickers, Sailor Moon, Gundam. There was alot of Dragon Ball manga, but Saint Seiya was definitely one of the highest points in my memory. Everytime I visit Japan for summer vacation, I would buy entire series of manga and ship them back. I have the entire series of Saint Seiya. I was a big fan of Ikki, he is so cool! *audience laughs*

    ANN: You were a big fan of Saint Seiya and now you’re playing a part in Saint Seiya Omega. How is that like?
    Kakihara: Do you know Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas? *audience cheers* Thank you! In The Lost Canvas, I play the lead, Seiya Pegasus Tenma. It was something I grew up reading and played video games of. Now to find myself playing the lead was so exciting. Afterwards, in Saint Seiya Omega, I got to play Ryuho, the original dragon’s son in the series. That made me really happy. The Lost Canvas happens 140 years before the main series, so I play Seiya’s senpai as Pegasus. And in Omega, it is a generation after the main original series, so it even involves all three aspects, all three generations of the show in one way or another. It was very exciting to me. I was the only one who got to use Pegasus’ move and the dragon’s move. *audience applauds*

    ANN: You moved to Japan in 2001 and you started voice acting at Amuseument media. Your first role was in 2003 I believe. I know that Saint Seiya is very important to you. Are there any other titles that have been memorable? Any other roles?
    Kakihara: Since Gurren Lagann was the very first series that I got to play the lead in, it’s very memorable to me. It was the first time I piloted a robot. I got to play the lead in Linebarrels of Iron. I’ve done many shows, but the one that sticks with me is Fairy Tail which I worked on for three years. Having worked on the show for so long, you make good friends that became a part of your family. And there is a movie that is coming out in August. Yay! *audience applauds*
    ANN: Everyone knows that you’re a very successful seiyuu. We also know that you’re a very successful singer. *fan cheers*
    Kakihara: Thank you!

    ANN: Kakihara-san is under the Kiramune label. Can you tell us is singing professionally is something you always wanted to do or was it something you developed after getting into voice acting?
    Kakihara: Being a seiyuu and being a performer is a little different. Seiyuu are just faceless people behind the pretty animation, doing the voices only and never showing their faces to the public. I wouldn’t call it an easy job, but it wasn’t something that I needed to worry about: my looks. Once I got into the industry, I was like, there are magazines that got seiyuus? TV appearances? And most of my co-workers have CD debuts left and right. I was quite surprised when I got into the industry on what it was like. Of course, when they suggested that I release a cd, I was like ‘I’m an actor. I would talk, but I couldn’t possibly do any singing.’ I reconsidered performing a song, in front of crowds or voicing over a promotion video or just relaying my experiences through son, might be related to my experience as an actor. I found something to delve into. I could be replaced. *audience laughs*

    ANN: We have a music clip that you may like to introduce it.
    Kakihara: Yeah! *audience cheers* Let me introduce it. It is the promotional video for ‘Chaos Breaker’. I don’t think it was ever shown in the United States. It is not the internet! Please listen!

The video that they show was very simple. I was surprised at how they shot it since it was just Kakihara-san backlit with CG effects around him. They just show about a minute of the video. Unfortunately, not one of his better videos despite having it being such a great song.

    Kakihara: I am embarrassed. *audience laughs* What am I doing, showing my video here. That isn’t right. I’m suppose to be here for Gundam Unicorn! *audience laughs* Promoting myself like this…. But if you happen to have any money, please buy my cd. Please!

    ANN: You’re assigned to a label called Kiramune which is a relatively new label produced by Bandai Visual and Lantis. Interesting thing about Kiramune is that all the singers are seiyuu. How did you end up becoming a Kiramune artist?
    Kakihara: It was two or three years ago? They first called me. They contacted me and said, ‘We represent a music label. Are you interested in doing some music?’ *audience laughs* Not like I hate music, since I thought that I had much more to do as an actor, doing anime or dubbing over foreign movies, video game work, narration, working as a radio personality…. Since I had so many varying fields of work I was participating in, adding music to it didn’t seem as risky of a career move. Even though I was filled with uncertainty about doing this, I had the support of many of my friends, saying that I could do this. So I said ‘why not’ and delve into the work. One of the things of becoming a performer was I got to perform live at Makuhari Messe, one of the big music venues in Japan. And being able to come to the United States like this, introduce my music and seeing people buy my cd. It really makes me feel that I made the right move. I like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who were involved in helping me in the music field. Thank you very much! *audience applauds*

    ANN: Seiyuu, radio personality, singer. When is your first movie or drama? *audience laughs*
    Kakihara: Oh, I think I’m going to need more time! *audience laughs* Do you know how long it takes to record an anime episode in Japan? *audience calls out answers* *repeats in English* One week? For one episode? Three months…three months?!? Two hours! Two days?!? *pause* Three, four hours for one episode. One episode per week, three, four hours per episode. If I was doing a doing a movie, it would take about a year to get it done. If it was a drama, it would take three or four days per week per episode. As a seiyuu, it means bringing a new episode of anime to the kids every week, week after week. I can’t leave the recording studio for that period of time. When you’re working as a seiyuu, it means being committed to that career. So movie or drama may not be possible right now.

    ANN: You’ve been talking about how much of a work it is being a singer, voice acting and radio personality. How much of a challenge it is to be a musician and a seiyuu? How do you maintain yourself? Of course, your most important asset is your voice.
    Kakihara: Ah…drink lots of alcohol. *audience laughs* To me, my friends are most important to me. I make sure I hang out with them every week. Drink. *audience laughs* My friends are from different career paths. Letting them hear all my woes and hearing their troubles is good medicine for me to relax. And sleep! And mask! I don’t pay too much attention to my voice, because if I do, I wory that I’ll make it worse.

    ANN: As a musical artist, how many live concerts have you done and any memorable experiences that you’ll never forget?
    Kakihara: I had a bunch of incidents during my live shows…that’s all there is! *audience laughs* Standing on the stage in Makuhari Messe is an event in itself. The first time I was onstage, performing in front of 6000 people. The intro runs in and I’m about to start singing…and I can’t remember the lyrics. *audience laughs* The feeling…. *makes an expression* *audience laughs* In the festival, Kiramune of March 2012, during the last encore [Continue], I was singing *singing* ‘Trip to Trip’ and than my voice cracked. Ack! *audience laughs* The audience laughed. My lives are full of things that just happened.

    ANN: What is next as a musical artist? New CD? Concerts?
    Kakihara: September 2nd, I’m going to do a concert called the Yokohama Blitz with Namikawa Daisuke. Do you know Namikawa Daisuke?
    Fans: Hai!
    Kakihara: He is fellow voice actor and I’ll do a joint live with him. We’re going to attempt it. On the 9th in Osaka, I’m going to do another joint live with him. I’m making lots of perparations for this show. If you happen to be in Japan during that time, please come by!

    ANN: Getting back to voice acting, we were just talking about how long it takes to make an episode. You are acting in several ongoing series: Saint Seiya Omega, Fairy Tail. They are important roles. So how do you keep them all straight?
    Kakihara: Ah…I don’t think about it. *audience laughs* They give me the script, I read the lines. I’m in the studio with the other actors at the same time, so I will hear the proceeding lines so I will respond in the character for the show. I don’t differentiate, separate in my mind ‘I will do that for this role. This for this role.’ I don’t do that at all. I don’t make an effort if my character I’m portraying is little to raise my voice, pitch my voice up or lower it for a bigger, older character. I just perform from the heart. Perform it in how I see the voice. It is nothing technical, I will get the lines/roles day by day and perform them in the way I feel that honestly portrays the character. Doing so is part of my happiness in life. I can’t think of a better job for myself. Desu…. *audience laughs*

    ANN: You said that were here for Gundam Unicorn, but you’re also in Gundam AGE. You have done several Saint Seiya series and you are doing two Gundam series. Do they they [Gundam series] hold a special place in your heart?
    Kakihara: For a series like Gundam, everyone knows about them right? There might be some people who never seen it in Japna, but everyone knows the name ‘Gundam’. Like you, I grew up in Germany, not in Japan. Even so, even I heard the title ‘Gundam’. It’s been decades since Gundam started. When did they start? *audience calls out the answers* 30 years? 33 years? 33 years! Several generations of Japanese and Americans know of this title. It is such a big series, and to be a part of it is such an amazing thing. On top of that, being involved in two shows, Unicorn AND AGE…it’s pretty amazing. Do you know the game Super Robot Taisen? *audience applauds* That sounds like the hardest job, Gurren Lagann, Linebarrel, Unicorn, I should throw AGE in there too…. All I am going to be going is yelling. *audience laughs* I thought I left all the important part of the shows in the actual animation. I really don’t want to do these roles again. *audience laughs* I haven’t done all the episodes of Unicorn yet. Even though I’m not finished with the series yet, I promise all of you that I will put everything I have into it. Please look forward to it!

    ANN: Later this weekend, you’re going to have a joint panel with Michael Sinterniklaas, an American Gundam Unicorn voice actor. You just met him actually. Are you looking forward to the panel?
    Kakihara: I’m really looking forward to it. He is a super nice guy. He is very frank. I heard he plays Leonardo in ‘Mutant Turtles’. *audience laughs* I’m actually in that show as well. I also play Leonardo! *audience applauds* ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is American animation, right? So in Japan, it’s bound to be dubbed. I auditioned in Japan, but I was casted by the directors and producers of the show. When Michael was cast as Angelo Sauper in Gundam Unicorn, it was decided in Japan even though it was recorded in the United States. It was a surprising coincidence. I’m really looking forward to the panel with him tomorrow. Please come! Please…just come! *audience laughs*

    ANN: Upcoming roles…anything you can talk about?
    Kakihara: There is several but…there are scary people looking at me. *points to the right side of the audience* I don’t think I can say anything. Sorry. *audience laughs* If you want this head to stay on top of this body, I shouldn’t say anything. *audience laughs*

    ANN: What kind of roles do you like to portray? Is there anything you haven’t done that you would like?
    Kakihara: Characters I have portrayed up to now has usually been the hotblooded type. And sort of the weak, timid type of character that I don’t play very much. The kind of guy that just saids ‘You idiot!’ ‘Who dod you think you are?’ It doesn’t have to be a geeky character, but sort of the cool. My character can be yelling for an hour, but he’ll have one line ‘You idiot’. *audience laughs* I’m really envious of the seiyuu who get to do that. I want to be that guy for a change. *audience awws* Whatever role I am given, casted in, I consider that a fated meeting. I’ll put everything that I have into that role. I don’t want want that role to just be fun for that moment, I want to take part in that character’s development. Raise it, make it part of myself. When it finally reaches overseas here, I want that to be represented in the run of the series. For a series like Fairy Tail which I’ve been working on for three years…three years. Seeing that character develope and seeing myself develope along with the character…it’s an amazing thing. These meetings that I have with these characters, I treasure every single one of them. No matter which roles I’m given, I’m going to treausre them and give them my best performance. So I’m lucky.

The opened the mic up for audience questions with a rule: no personal questions. Of course, Kakihara-san had something to say about that….

    Kakihara: Personal questions? What do you mean they can’t ask personal questions? *audience laughs* I wonder what personal questions they’ll ask! *audiene laughs* *notes the ‘scary people’ at the side* Okay…I didn’t say any of that!

    Q: *in Japanese* In Fairy Tail, Natsu is a very popular character. But aside from him, is there a character that you really like?
    Kakihara: Just for you guys…I actually didn’t want that role. *audience laughs* I was reading the manga, as I was reading it, I started putting voices to each of the characters. But I couldn’t put a voice for Natsu no matter how hard I tried. I wanted to be Grey! So I went to the audition and they said ‘We would like you to audition for Natsu.’ I said *grumpily* ‘Fine.’ *audience laughs* You have to! *saids the line* They said ‘Thank you very much.’ I said, ‘Can I play Grey?’ *audience laughs* ‘Hold on a second.’ *makes motions of talking to the ‘other producer’* ‘No, it’s alright.’ *audience laughs* Thats the way that went. Now that I look back on it, I was meant to play Natsu. I love that character now. I have no other characters that I love more than Natsu! *audience laughs* He is a fantastic character!

    Q: *voice request for an absent friend* Can you say in Natsu’s voice, ‘Lucy, you fire me up.’ *audience laughs*
    Kakihara: Ah, sou…. But you’re wearing a Gurren Lagann t-shirt! Are you sure you want Natsu?
    Fan: I love Natsu but Gurren Lagann is my forever love.
    Kakihara: I see. How do you want me to say it in Japanese? *audience offers suggestions*
    Fan: Can you say it in a sexy voice? *audience laughs*
    Kakihara: Are you ready? I’m going to start! *in Japanese, very loudly* ‘Lucy, moeru detta!’ *audience applauds* ‘Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann!’ *audience applauds and cheers* I haven’t done that line in a long time. Five years?

    Q: From Princess Princess *audience laughs* Do you sing in the opening theme?
    Kakihara: It’s not me! You know alot, Princess Princess. Bring it on!

    Q: Is it true that you did a cover of the Cutey Honey opening song? *audience laughs* Can you sing something for us?
    Kakihara: *sings ‘Cutey Honey’* Oi! *audience applauds*

That song is particularly ironic since Mikoto, his character in Princess Princess, was unable to sing that song for the choir festival. Actually, he was unable to sing at all. ^_^

    Q: You did a drama CD and the Animix version of Viewfinder how do you prepare for t
    hose roles? Anything interesting during the recordings?

    Kakihara: BL?
    Fan: Hai, BL desu.
    Kakikara: BL, I don’t know what that is. *audience laughs* I don’t even know what those two letters stand for. I did hear that was a really good title. So BL-whatever it is-is really popular in the United States? *audience laughs* Ah…I’ll do my best!

    Q: In Simon’s voice, can you do the line ‘Who the hell do you think we are?’
    Kakihara: Please wait. *thinks* *firmly* *started from the line before* *pauses* ‘Ore wo dare dato omotte yagaru!’

The applause was deafening as we sent Kakihara-san off.