Otakon 2014 – Hayami Saori Q&A panel

The staff got us pumped up by throwing out anime titles that Hayami-san were featured in starting with Oreimo, Sword Art Online and Ano Hana. As if we needed any more encouragement as the cheers were loud as Hayami-san stepped onstage in what I remember to be a light colored kimono.

The moderator asked Hayami-san for some “opening remarks”.

    Hayami: *pause* *in English* Hi! *audience laughs* My name is Saori Hayami. Nice to meet you! Thank you very much for inviting me. *audience applauds*

A highlight reel of clips of her roles were shown on the screen, a few favs were Yotsugi from Nisemonogatari (or was it Monogatari?,) Ayase from Oreimo and Tsuruko from Ano Hana. The scenes were met with laughter and applause from the fans. Ice breaker questions were asked by the moderator.

    Q: Do you have any interesting stories or memories when recording these titles?
    Hayami: Each show that I’ve been is different in tone. One where I can punch and kick out a guy. Or it might be someone whom I actually have feelings for and I can just tell him *yelling* “You’re such a hentai!” *audience laughs* Or conversely I can just be just a nice for a tear jerker show where I can just have feelings while performing. It’s these different roles that I enjoy recording at the studio.

The floor opened for questions with a Wako cosplayer holding the mic. Hayami-san was happily surprised as fans quickly lined up for questions. “Thank you very much!” She even had a few words of encouragement to the fans. *in English* “Don’t be shy!”

    Q: You played Aila, a very powerful pilot. If you could pilot any mobile suit, which would it be? *audience laughs*
    Hayami: As the pilot Aila, she doesn’t pilot the mobile suit out of her own will, but she is someone who was brainwashed or manipulated into piloting a mobile suit. In the latter half of the story, she finally pilots of her own accord and not as puppet. That’s when she shows her own abilities. However, I never piloted a mobile suit so I can’t really know. *audience laughs*

    Q: *in Japanese* I like Oreimo and Ayase. Can you please say line as Ayase-san for me?
    Hayami: *yelling* Oniisan, bukkorosu hentai! [Big brother, I will you, you hentai!] *audience applauds* Because of this role, I have been cast into similar roles more. *audience laughs*

    Q: Was there any anime you watched as a child that made you want to take up voice acting?
    Hayami: Actually, my very first role as a voice actor was not for anime but for a live action film. That’s because my grandmother was a film buff and she loved film and was a fan of Audrey Hephurn. Her favorite movies was like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and I learned that there was a firm of voice acting where you could dub foreign movies into Japanese. And that was how I wanted to be a voice actor.
    However, as a kid, I had plenty of anime that I loved which included Sailor Moon and Card Captors Sakura. *audience cheered* You know about them! I had shows that I loved, but I got started as a voice actor in a different way.

    Q: Out of the characters in the preview, which was your favorite and why?
    Hayami: That’s a question that I’m often asked in Japan as well and it’s a difficult question to answer. I can’t really pick a single particular character as my favorite. When I share about the different characters that I played, especially with audiences outside of Japan, it makes me feel wondrous being in the States and sharing my time with you.

    Q: You sang the opening to The World God Only Knows. What kind of preparation or trouble did you have in singing that song in English for 13 minutes? *audience laughs*
    Hayami: *in English* Yes! *in Japanese* Usually when I do a recording for an opening song, ending song or character song, it takes 3-5 hours of studio time. For the song for The World God Only Knows, it took about 5 hours. However, the main melody part *sings* “Whenever you cry” *audience cheers* and the harmony parts were recorded on separate days because the song was so long. The singing in English was tough, but I had an english coach. I did like singing English songs and I did have fun. *audience applauds*

    If the people in the back are getting tired of standing all the time, perhaps you can try squatting down. *audience laughs*

    Q: A couple of weeks ago on your radio show, someone requested you to do an impression of someone crying. Can you try to do an impression of someone expressing comptempt? In English?
    Hayami: Ah, you mean like an insult? *audience laughs* In the radio show that, there is a lesson in “nani nani” corner with the blank being different expressions like crying. *starts making crying sounds* *audience applauds* and happiness. *in English in an emotional voice* “Thank you…so…much!” and eating *makes eating sounds* “Ah!” *audience applauds* For an insult, a character like Ayase is very headstrong and she would say *yelling* “Baka!” or “Ecchi!” “Shine hentai!” [Die, you pervert!] Another character might actually speak softly and say something very polite like *softly* “I don’t know what you’re saying, but perhaps you should replace your head so you can come back and be more clear.” *audience laughs and applauds*

    Q: You said that it is hard to pick out your favorite role, but how does relating to a character help you voice them better? On the otherhand, how does not relating to a character personality make it more difficult?
    Hayami: I would say yes because it would be easier to get into the character. I don’t get many opportunities to voice characters that are so radically different from myself. For example, [character name unsure], throwing out that character surprises myself because it’s so different from how I normally sound. *audience applauds*

    Q: What sort of life experience do you draw from to elicit the emotions for your performances?
    Hayami: Almost every instance of my acting is drawn from real life experiences, although there are some rare instances that it would be hard for me to go through. For example, Wako having a happy school life is something that I draw from my happy times and that would be the same for sad acting.

    Q: I love love love your voice. Of all the characters songs you sang, openings and endings, which is your favorite. Are there any songs that you listen to again and again even after the anime is done, just for fun?
    Hayami: I do listen to theme songs all the time, including the song that Ayase sings, “Omou Koto” [“Things that I Think”] because it was on infinite repeat at the hotel just a couple of hours ago. *hums and sings a few lines* *audience applauds*

    Q: *shyly* You’re my favorite voice actor. I actually changed my original plan to come to the US earlier from China. We know that one of your hobbies is to watch movies and you have recommended a movie on your radio show. What your favorite movie? Animated movie?
    Hayami: When it comes to movies, I have alot of favorite movies including “Fune o Amu” or “The Great Passage”. I love the movie because it has such great placement of words all over the film. When I was in highschool, we did a musical production called, of a movie called “Tenshi ni Love Song” or “Sister Act 2”. Since we did a musical production of it, it is something I remember fondly. As for animated film, I see alot of cosplayers here, you’re fond of characters that you cosplay. I saw Naruto, Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon. When I started voice acting, I got a role in a Naruto film. Not because I saw it, but because I had a role in it, I would say that the Naruto film is one of my favorite animated films.

    Q: *in Japanese* In Oreimo, Kyosuke was voiced by Nakamura Yuichi and Ayase had a love/hate relationship with him. Now in Mahoka, we have this lovable Miyuki doting on Tatsuya [also voiced by Nakamura-san]. Was there anything interesting working with Nakamura-san the whole time. Was there any interesting stories? Did you play Love Plus?
    Hayami: For Tatsuya and Kyosuke, it was very karmic since they were both older brother types, yet they were very different. One of them, my character is very affectionate, “My dear brother.” The other, my character saids, *yells* “Shine hentai!” The gap between the two character types are so wide that it is amazing. But the fact is that I do meet Nakamura-san in person and he is the same regardless of what he is playing. I can’t tell what he is thinking even though I really, really want to figure it out what is going on in his head. As for Love Plus, another seiyuu in Mahoka, Sugita Tomokazu plays it. *fans squeed* I’m surprised that there is a reaction at just his name! I have to ask Nakamura-san if he recently played Love Plus.

    Q: In Sword Art Online, you play the character Sachi. She is my favorite character and made me tear up during that particular scene. Can you hum the tune she sings, ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer?’
    Hayami: *sings in Japanese* *fans cheer and applauds* Thank you, that was just a bit of the song.

    Q: *in Japanese* Since you do role of Chiriko in Ano Hana, do you visit Chichibu City [Saitama prefecture,] where the anime was set in? What did you think of the city?
    Hayami: Yes! It was because of the role of Chiriko that I got more opportunities to Chibibu. We go to the secret base and whenever the summer rolls in, we go there to recollect. We sometimes have cast reunions, though at times it’s just 3 girls, but we do reunions and it has been epic.

    Q: Did you watch Love Live? *audience laughs*
    Hayami: *excited* The other day, my classmate in college said that “My brother wants to go to a Love Live concert, can you give me a ticket?”
    Fan: Can you go ‘Nico Nico Nii’?
    Hayami: Since I never watched Love Live, please just accept my smile.

    Q: *in Japanese* Who is the favorite voice actor to work with?
    Hayami: *struggles* That is a very difficult question since I can’t just single out one. All the voice actors that are similar in age, we do get along very closely, I can mention them. My role model is the great Japanese voice actors, like Ikeda Masako. I had the chance to be cast in the same show as her just once. Even though my role was small, just starting out. There were no seats and we were all standing, but she came to each of us cast members and greeted us. I really respected that as a role model.

    Q: *in Japanese* Are you a fujoshi?
    Hayami: *laughs* We don’t really talk about BL much as voice actors so I’m not really familiar with that.

    Q: What is your favorite food?
    Hayami: Japanese food. My mother often cooks boiled gyoza. [Translator adds: Shui gao in Cantonese.]

    Q: What was your highschool life like?
    Hayami: Besides being in a musical production, I was also put on the choir competition committee, committee for sports. I was involved with alot of festivities.

    Q: There are some moments with your role as Yukino where you are conversational but sound very stoic and very flat. What do you have to do get to out some kind of emotion for your role?
    Hayami: Did you watch Gundam Build Fighters? *gauge audience* I see you watch shows that were not shown in the clips. Yukino is usually described as a flat character, not one to emote but just have nuances in her characters.

Since the host said there was only time for 2 more questions, the fans called for speed round.)

Q: Out of all the gods, that your character interacts in Kamigami no Asobi, which one would you pick?
Hayami: Ah…thank you! *thinks* Abi [ed note: could be Anubis]

Q: *in Japanese* How is seiyuu life? Is it difficult?
Hayami: I’m sorry if it comes out terse but there is really nothing to be afraid of about it being tough, but we have to serious about our profession. There is no stop in recording which is tough about our production.

Q: Which of the characters in Tari Tari do you relate most with?
Hayami: Sawa.

Q: Which of the male characters in your shows would you choose?
Hayami: *thinks* I’m not sure. *pause* But Katsuragi would be the lowest since he plays too many video games and wouldn’t be good at conversating. *audience laughs*