Anime Boston 2015: Exclusive Interview with Uchiyama Kouki

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Anime Boston is a special event that I will always hold close to my heart. Much of the its sentimental value lies with a long list of firsts. It’s the first entertainment/hobby convention I’ve ever attended. It’s the first time I met anime fans outside the college bubble. It’s the first time I became a sucker to merchandising. So when the local anime gods known as “Convention Staff” granted me press access, I ecstatically added one more item to the list: interview a voice actor.

The interview itself started ridiculously awkward. Fifteen minutes before the interview, slightly earlier than prescribed by the staff, I anxiously waited in the designated room. Clutching my press pass in one hand and laptop in the other, I sat in silence with only a dozen empty chairs as company. A moment later, two random people entered and took seat at the front. Then more silence. It took me ten minutes (yes, I counted) to learn that I was chilling with Uchiyama Kouki the whole time. After offering a butchery of the Japanese language through a self-introduction (I studied Japanese for a year in college, so I wasn’t that bad. Pro-tip: Confidence masks most errors made by non-native speakers), we began what would eventually become one of the coolest events of my life.

Note: Unfortunately, part of the agreement that I made to have this exclusive interview was that I would not publish the audio of what would transpire. Do I care? Nope.

AB: First of all, allow me to thank you right now for having this interview with me. I’m really excited for this opportunity.

UK: No problem.

AB: Just so our readers know, can you please tell us a little about yourself.

UK: Well, I was born in Saitama, Japan. I’m 24, and I’ve been acting for a few years now.

AB: So, what led you into voice acting?

UK: I originally started as a child actor. At a young age, my parents set me up with the agency, and I’m with them today. When I was in high school, I received a few roles from my agency in voice acting. And so, you see me as one today.

AB: You received a lot of lead roles these past couple years. Can you describe the competitive nature of the voice acting industry?

UK: I believe that animation studios always have a vision for a character before any audition. While you may notice some people casted in many shows, it’s mostly because they fit their vision. So I would say that there isn’t much competition between actors today, but more that you are working for the audition hosts. Getting the part doesn’t mean you’re the best actor, but more that you are the best candidate for the job.

AB: You’ve been in many popular shows like Ping Pong, Shiki, and Zetsuen no Tempest. Which shows did you enjoying working for the most?

UK: Actually, I’m surprised that you knew about all three shows. Ping Pong was an great to work on. Working with Yuasa Masaaki was a wonderful experience, and he is a really great director. So of course, working for such a fantastic work really makes it a wonderful experience. In general, the best shows to work on are the ones that are really creative and interesting. A fun show makes for a fun job.

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UK: So how did you know about Ping Pong?

AB: Funimation had streamed the show in the United States last year. Actually, Ping Pong is really popular show in the West. My organization actually voted it one of the best shows of the year.

[Note: While my podcast team completely snubbed it from our Anime of 2014 Bracketcast, The Nihon Review properly gave it the praise it deserves. Sometimes, I hate my podcast crew.]

UK: Wow. I had no idea there was such a following.

AB: Well when you have a compelling story with Yuasa Masaaki‘s style and great acting, you’re bound to generate a few fans.

UK: Thank you.

AB: Ping Pong the Animation recently won the “Animation of the Year” award at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival. How does it feel to be a major player in the show’s success?

UK: I’m very grateful for the opportunity. As I said, Ping Pong was a wonderful show and Yuasa did a great job with it. The amount of hard work and passion he puts into directing in very admirable. As long as we make an interesting show that the audience enjoys, I will always be happy.

AB: Besides dramas, you’ve also been a part of many action and comedic anime. If given free rein, which genres would you like more involvement with?

UK: I’m not picky when it comes to acting. I can handle differnt types of shows, whether it’s a funny or serious. As long as I’m working on an interesting show, then I will enjoy the role. I just want to make something that people will love.

AB: The second season of Nisekoi debuts next week. Do you have any thing you’d like to say to the fanbase?

UK: Well for those unfamiliar with the series, Nisekoi follows the main character Raku Ichijou and his high school romances. The new season will continue to follow the story of Raku, Chitoge, Onodera, and everyone else. You’ll be seeing more of their fun stories and their relationship blossoming. In addition, you’ll also see some new characters and get some interesting twists.

UK: Actually, I’m not sure if you know but LiSA sings one of the theme songs. I don’t remember which one.

AB: The opening.

UK: Wow, you know more than me.

AB: It’s my job.

AB: So besides yourself, who is your favorite character?

UK: Let’s see. I think I would have to say Onodera.

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AB: Wait. You mean Haru, right?

[Note: I’d like to point out I instinctively responded in Japanese. I’m so proud of me]

UK: No, Kosaki. She is very kind and sweet. Onodera and Raku would make a cute couple, and their interactions throughout the series have been adorable. I root for her too, since she is the underdog and not the main heroine.

UK: So, who is your favorite?

AB: I honestly prefer Haru instead.

UK: I thought you would say Chitoge.

AB: If I put those three in order, I would go: Haru, then Chitoge, then Kosaki. I’ve read some of the manga, and I just like their story arcs more. They change over time, but Kosaki doens’t.

UK: Wow. Interesting reason.

[Note: At this point, I was told to start wrapping up. A shame since I still had more questions]

AB: So continuing with Nisekoi, the director Shinbou Akiyuki is very popular yet mysterious man amongst us Western fans. You mind describing what kind of person he is?

UK: Mysterious is probably the best word to describe him. He is a good director, but I don’t actually interact with him much. Whereas other directors talked to me personally, Shinbou would pass orders to a middleman when working with voice actors or other staff. And I’d see him a lot. It’s unusual.

AB: Final question — How is Boston?

UK: I haven’t seen much since we flew in late last night. But I did have really big lobster. I swear it was more than a pound. And it was delicious.

[Note: Even his manager was bragging about the lobster. Hurray, New England?]

AB: Thank you for taking the time for this interview.

UK: No problem. It was fun.

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2 Responses to “Anime Boston 2015: Exclusive Interview with Uchiyama Kouki”

  1. Boom goes the dynamite.

    Nice Interview

  2. […] With Mr. Uchiyama. Behind the Nihon had a chance for a rare one-on-one interview with Kouki Uchiyama, a voice actor whose credits include Guilty Crown, Amagi Brilliant Park, and […]

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