Animate Times Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna interview series — Part 1: Junko Noda, Naozumi Takahashi, Kouichi Tohchika, Megumi Urawa

A translation of the first of Animate Times’s three-part interview series for Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna, from February 19, 2020, featuring Digimon Adventure 02 partner Digimon voice actors Junko Noda (V-mon), Naozumi Takahashi (Wormmon), Kouichi Tohchika (Hawkmon), and Megumi Urawa (Armadimon).

(Part 1: 02 Digimon cast voice actors | Part 2: 02 human cast voice actors | Part 3: Mayu Matsuoka)

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Digimon Adventure series, the movie Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna will be released across the nation on February 21!

2010 — more than ten years have passed since the events of Digimon Adventure, and the summer when Taichi and his friends went on an adventure. A sudden incident occurs, involving “Chosen Children” around the world with their partner Digimon. While taking on the case, Taichi learns that his partner Digimon will disappear; what choice does he make in response?

And in addition to the main characters of Digimon Adventure, the characters of 02 will also be appearing in this deeply moving memorial movie.

To celebrate the movie’s release, Animate Times has held a series of cast interviews. For this first part, we’ve interviewed the cast for the protagonists’ partner Digimon: Junko Noda (V-mon), Naozumi Takahashi (Wormmon), Kouichi Tohchika (Hawkmon), and Megumi Urawa (Aramdimon)!

The Digimon series never fades. We’re happy to have the 02 members come together again for this commemorative movie!

–Now that the Digimon Adventure series has reached its 20th anniversary, please tell us your impressions.

Junko Noda, voice of V-mon (hereinafter, Noda): Twenty years had passed since the series had aired, and there were all sorts of things going on with the so-called Adventure generation, and I was thinking, “are they going to leave 02 out?” So I was very, very happy that 02 was going to be involved with them for this 20th anniversary movie.

Megumi Urawa, voice of Armadimon (hereinafter, Urawa): I’d first heard of Digimon Adventure through the movie that was screened as one of the films at the 1999 Toei Anime Fair1, and I was deeply moved by it. So when it was later determined that I’d be in the series myself, I was really happy, and before recording for the TV series began I watched Digimon Adventure: Our War Game!, and thought, “aaah, I’m going to be in this!” and I was so, so, happy. I remember going into the studio full of that sort of feeling.

Kouichi Tohchika, voice of Hawkmon (hereinafter, Tohchika): It’s a series that never fades, that we hold so closely to our hearts that when we hear it’s the 20th anniversary, it feels so shocking, like, “already!?” When we as the 02 cast members get together, we can talk about stories from twenty years ago like it was only yesterday. Those things we all did together for a year were incredible. But for these past twenty years, the love from the fans and the passion from the staff have been everlasting, and I felt, once again, that I truly was grateful to be able to participate.

Naozumi Takahashi, voice of Wormmon (hereinafter, Takahashi): I actually auditioned to be in the first series, but I didn’t pass, so I was very happy when it was decided that I’d get to be in 02. I met everyone once a week at the recording site for a year, and during the after-party for the final recording I ended up getting drunk, and it was such a lonely feeling that I started crying. And time passed in a blur, and I was able to play Wormmon again, and I was overflowing with those feelings of “I missed you! It’s been so lonely!” On top of that, there were tons of fans excited about this 20th anniversary movie, and I was wondering if it’d be mostly male fans, but there were actually a lot of women saying “I was watching it back then!” Even at the pre-screening event, the ratio of males to females was about even, and there were people from a huge range of generations, and I realized, “there really were all sorts of people watching back then.”

The relationship between humans and Digimon is so thoroughly depicted that Digimon’s appeal comes from the ability for anyone to sympathize with it

–What’s the draw factor of a series like Digimon, which has been beloved for such a long time?

Tohchika: It goes for this movie, too, but it’s something that anyone can empathize with. The main theme behind it is that “oh, I’ve been through this myself!”, and so I feel it’s easy to resonate with it yourself and get engrossed in it. There are a lot of characters that allow you to superimpose yourself on them, like, “oh, I’m like Daisuke,” or “maybe I’m the sort who’s like Ken-chan.”

Noda: The Digital World isn’t something that we can get a sense of realism from, but I also think every child was able to imagine befriending them. Regardless of what generation you come from, you fall in love with them by connecting them to your own experiences, and I feel that even now, those kinds of universal themes, such as friendships and relationships with others, won’t fade so easily.

Urawa: Between humans and Digimon, between humans and other humans, between Digimon and other Digimon, each and every connection and relationship is thoroughly depicted. I feel that the secret behind the popularity of the original series is that it so thoroughly created a world over the course of a year, and you can connect to any of the characters and can easily empathize with them.

Takahashi: Even if it’s difficult for us to imagine what it’s like to have a partner Digimon, but we can empathize with the series because they’re like friends with whom you can talk to about anything.

Tohchika: When you’re a child, you end up getting more emotionally attached to toys and other dolls that you play with, even when they’re not actually alive. Sometimes you talk to them, and I feel like in that sense it’s similar to having a Digimon partner. For Daisuke and his friends, Digimon may not be tools for fighting, but instead truly involved with them as their partners.

Takahashi: And when you look at them, you end up feeling that you don’t ever want to forget the kind of pure heart you had when you were a child.

Noda: Becoming an adult isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though (laughs).

Takahashi: Especially when it comes to this movie, too.

The movie draws happiness and yet sadness from seeing Taichi and his friends as adults. Even the backdrop is linked to emotions!?

–Please tell us your impressions about the background setting, the story, and the art in the 20th anniversary movie Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna.

Noda: My immediate impression was “it’s beautiful.” And then Daisuke and his friends, who were so adorable as children, became adults, and although it’s refreshing to see them this way, their inner core is the same as they were when they were children and hasn’t changed. It feels fresh, but it’s also nostalgic.

Urawa: I felt that their depictions as adults were quite thorough. For instance, I saw them drinking beer, and it felt happy and yet also a little sad to think, “they really are adults now.”

Noda: Taichi lives alone now, and there was a little naughty something found in his room, and he panics (laughs). Also, it was a fresh feeling to see Digimon battles taking place in modern Tokyo. They even destroyed the Toei Animation building while they were at it (laughs).

Tohchika: The way they depict the scenery is the same as ever. You can still go on a pilgrimage2 to all of the relevant locations.

Urawa: You can go from Hikarigaoka to Odaiba, and then to Nakano.

Tohchika: Speaking of the backdrop, there are a lot of places where the backdrop is linked to the emotional resonance. For instance, when there’s crying, it’s also raining, and it feels very poetic, and even though there’s no dialogue, there’s a cinematic way in which emotions are brought out, and I thought it was wonderful.

Urawa: It’s good, no matter where you look on the screen.

Takahashi: My eyes were so busy trying to catch everything, I realized it’s something you’ll have to watch several times.

Tohchika: It’s heartrending precisely because it’s beautiful. Like the blue of the sky.

Urawa: Look at you, you’re such a poet!

Noda: Nice!

Tohchika: Thank you very much (laughs). It’s the sort of pain and nostalgia like when you watch the sun set, or when summer reaches its end. It’s the 20th anniversary, so it may be a bit too overwhelming in that sense, but we as the actors feel the same, and the audience, looking back at those days from back then, may feel sentimental just by watching it.

–The way you feel about it while you watch depends on what generation you’re from.

Noda: Director (Tomohisa) Taguchi told us that he also grew up watching the Digimon series, and you can feel that the movie is drenched in his love for Digimon.

Takahashi: There were so many places where I inadvertently went “ah!?” while I was watching. The moment I saw the scene where the drawer was opened and the goggles came out, it was such a mysterious feeling, like I’d been brought back to that time. Even looking at the holes in the harmonica made me cry.

(All laugh)

Urawa: The music is wonderful, too. The music made me cry.

How does Urawa-san feel about a new actor playing the older version of Iori, whom she had played in the past?

–Since the 02 characters and their Digimon partners are appearing in this movie, what are your thoughts on seeing charactres like Taichi, Daisuke, and Iori grown up?

Noda: I thought, Daisuke really hasn’t changed. Like, “yep, this is my partner after all” (laughs). There was no sense of discomfort at all, not with anyone. There was also something comforting about the fact that all of the 02 characters and their partner Digimon would stick together, even after they’d become adults.

–Urawa-san played the roles of both Iori and Armadimon in 02, and is resuming Armadimon for this movie, but Iori’s casting has changed.

Urawa: In all honesty, I felt like a mother-in-law whose son had gotten married (laughs). I was in such a complicated state of mind that I couldn’t even get my feelings together by the time of the first reading session. But when we got to the post-recording, all of the detailed research that (Yoshitaka) Yamaya-kun, who plays Iori, had done came across well. Rather than trying to imitate me, he’d thought very carefully about why Iori would say those kinds of lines. So when I saw that, I was able to honestly feel, “ah, this is Iori.” I thought, “this is how Iori would be when he’s grown,” and was happy.

Tohchika: It had been twenty years since we’d recorded back then, and I was thinking about how I’d been acting at the time, but (Ayaka) Asai-chan, who plays Miyako, uses a newer, more modern-age style of acting, So I thought that my own acting style was a bit outdated. But when we were playing our roles, I thought, “it was like this back then, too,”3 and although I felt a bit of a gap in the pairing between myself and the new Miyako, I also felt that it synchronized perfectly with the relationship between Miyako and Hawkmon as depicted in the movie. It was the same feeling as when Agumon said “you’ve gotten bigger” to Taichi, and the new Miyako felt fresh.

Takahashi: I came to accept the idea that “this is how things have happened.” All sorts of things must have happened in the last twenty years, and so they’ve grown, and they’ve even gotten taller. It’s like the feeling of meeting a relative for the first time in a long while, and seeing that they’ve even grown a beard (laughs). Our first face-to-face meeting was the first day that I’d gotten a strong impression of accepting Ken-chan as an adult. After that, I had time to take it all in prior to the recording, and Arthur (Lounsbery)-kun, who plays Ken, and I were together at a different recording site, and I told him, “we’re together this time,” and he was so absorbed in “how am I going to do this?” (laughs). Wormmon really loves Ken-chan, and I wanted to make sure that those feelings would be the same even after he grows up.

Urawa: I heard something about it from the director. “While they were growing up into adults, they must have had a lot of repeated contact with each other by going back and forth through the Digital World, right?” But it’s not said clearly or outright, so I wondered if it might lead to parts where there’d be a bit of discomfort.

Noda: Daisuke and V-mon are probably the only ones who are different in that sense. I have a strong image of V-mon always being at Daisuke’s side while he’s studying ramen, and sticking by him even to the point of becoming a nuisance. Also, Daisuke was played by a woman back then, but this time, (Fukujuurou) Katayama-kun played him, and although you can feel his voice having changed, his way of saying things and his tone are vividly reminiscent of those days, and you do get the feeling that he’s grown. Katayama-kun played a very straightforward “Daisuke”, and it felt perfectly comfortable.

Takahashi: Daisuke’s probably the one with the least sense of discomfort.

Noda: As I was listening to what everyone was saying just now, I thought, they were thinking through this really well.

Noda-san wants to play the new character, Menoa!? The new Digimon, Eosmon, is an inorganic threat

–What are your impressions of the new characters, Menoa, Imura, and Eosmon?

Noda: I want to play a girl like Menoa!

(All laugh)

Noda: I mean, isn’t she the best? (laughs) She’s carrying the burden of her past, a fickle, sad, and difficult character.

Takahashi: Without a doubt, she’s a key character in this story.

Tohchika: I can’t say much in detail, but she goes through some issues that may be rather familiar to those who are raising pets. Also, I thought Imura-san had a really good voice for sure (laughs). Daisuke Ono-kun must have really wanted to play that kind of role.

Urawa: He’s the other “cool” character.

Tohchika: Since Eosmon is an artificially made Digimon, the fact that it doesn’t speak is terrifying.

Noda: It’s inorganic. There are people who speak of how the evolution of AI will lead to not only added convenience but also the danger of humanity’s elimination, and the feeling of not knowing what to do in the face of something without a heart is terrifying.

Tohchika: But that brings up a huge contrast between it and the Digimon partners, and it increases the feeling of ominousness.

Resonating with the scene where Taichi and Yamato give off the impression of having become adults

–Was there a scene from this movie that left a particular impression on you?

Urawa: This has nothing to do with the main story, but the fact that there was canned beer in the refrigerator at Taichi’s house, followed by the scene of him drinking and enjoying beer at a yakiniku restaurant, left a huge impression on me. I think they really did want to emphasize the fact that he’d become an adult, but it left an incredible impression on me, like, “this is really something happening several years after the Digimon Adventure that we were in.”

Noda: Back then, Taichi and Yamato would be talking at school or at home, but now they’re at a yakiniku restaurant.

Takahashi: What left an impression on me was that they weren’t always saying everything that they were thinking. Back in the old days, they’d say everything to each other and openly fight with each other, but now they seem to be swallowing their thoughts more often. I felt this a lot, especially in the early parts of the story. And once they’d fought a Digimon that’d appeared in Tokyo, even when they were asked, “should we get breakfast?”, the answer would be refusals like “I have to go to school,” or “sorry, I’m a little occupied.”4

Urawa: Even though they were always together when they were younger.

Takahashi: That’s why I was really touched when I saw Taichi take out the goggles from the desk drawer.

Tohchika: When they’d resolved the Digimon incident in Tokyo and parted ways, and when they had to leave Agumon and Gabumon behind, I thought, Taichi and Yamato must be really lonely. There’s a line that even says that this was his first time seeing Taichi’s room.

Urawa: You realize he hasn’t gotten to call on him that much.

Tohchika: You think that they’ve really become adults, and that the existence of Digimon has become the norm, but that makes you feel lonely as you think of it. Later, you learn that there’ll be a day when you have to part with your partner Digimon, and you realize it’s not something you can take for granted, and you understand the meaning of that, but…

Ad-libbing whenever there’s a chance during recording!? The newly participating cast superimposed over their past selves from the 02 era

–Please tell us about the atmosphere and any particular events that left an impression on you during recording.

Takahashi: This was our first time recording with the actors for the adult Adventure kids, so during our test recording for the scene where Wormmon yells “wait!” after Yamato, (Yoshimasa) Hosoya-kun, who plays Yamato, looked me in the eye and went “that was amazing.” I replied “thank you very much” while being all flustered.

(All laugh)

Noda: We of the 02 cast were trying to stick in extra lines whenever possible, we were really bent on doing ad-lib. Especially me, personally (laughs).

Urawa: The Adventure cast had already gotten their chance during tri. (the OVAs), but for us it was our first time in a long while, and we were too happy. We kept doing it even up until the final meeting.

Takahashi: Tohchika-kun was saying, “we should just try whatever we want during the recording test, right?” (laughs).

Urawa: If they didn’t want us to do it, they’d tell us during the test, after all.

Tohchika: Even back then, we were recording for 02, a series that was a follow-up to Adventure, and we were wondering about what we had to do to keep consistency with its universe, but our seniors from Adventure reassured us that 02 was 02, and we should do whatever we want. But now, the new cast for the adult versions of these characters were probably thinking about how to be in line with the characters from back then. And once they’d seen us having played the characters like we’d always done, they had a strong sense of wanting to match up with us, and I think they felt they couldn’t afford to attempt ad-libbing. We heard them asking the director things like, “Is it okay for Miyako to say it like this?” (laughs). So we told them, “do as you like.” It brought back memories of the time back when we were doing 02.

Noda: It was very similar to the atmosphere from back when the Adventure people were telling us “this is 02!” (laughs).

Urawa: Since there was Adventure cast there, too, we didn’t even know where we should sit.

Tohchika: It was really scary to go into the recording site. I’m sure they felt the same, too. But personally, I might have ended up becoming a bit like a fan. There were all sorts of people putting out their voices, and it was like, “ah, Tentomon was like this!” and I got all excited. “The Adventure Digimon haven’t changed at all, not a single one!” (laughs).

We want you to pay close attention to the actions and sentiments of Taichi, his friends, and Menoa. Warmth and fluffiness with the 02 cast’s scenes

–Please tell us about the highlights of this movie, and if there are any particular parts that you would like people to pay close attention to.

Urawa: Why did Menoa resort to doing that kind of thing? What would the other characters do if they were in her position? I hope you can watch it while thinking about that.

Noda: Each and every person has their own choice to be making. As they grow older, the time they can spend with their Digimon partners will slowly decrease. How do they use up their remaining time? Or, will they be like Sora and choose not to fight with the others? There’s no answer to which is right or wrong, and the message scattered through this is that the fact each person can do it differently is what’s good about it. Please pay attention to the delicate feelings and the emotional changes within each character and their Digimon.

Tohchika: I would like you to see how everyone’s grown so well. There are some parts of them that haven’t changed, but I think the real highlight is that they’ve really become adults. It’s lonely, but it also makes you happy. You end up seeing it from the perspective of their own Digimon partners.

Takahashi: For 02 fans, it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to meet like this, but I’m happy that we could be together the same as always, and it’s nostalgic to have the noisy chit-chat of the 02 cast back. There are parts that threw me deep into thought as I was watching, but I do hope that the scenes with the 02 characters can be a bit of a relief and break. After the recording ended, once I’d seen the movie, I ended up petting my cat more than I’d usually done, and I thought, again, “let’s treasure the time we have together.” And to those who were watching the series as a child, I think you can see the characters in the same way you did before, thinking that it’s simply that time has passed for them, and it really is a wonderful movie.

Digimon is the “starting point”, and “memory”. Go to the theater and experience a work that’ll resonate with anyone’s heart!

–What is the Digimon series to you?

Takahashi: I still have Wormmon stuffed plushes in my room, and I feel like we’ve been together all this time. On top of that, it was my first time as a main cast member doing recordings every week, so you could say it was my “starting point”. I’m very happy to be able to do work for this kind of series again after twenty years.

Noda: It was my first time having a major role, as the “protagonist Digimon”, and there were a lot of scenes where I had to shout out lines alongside Wormmon. We were all together for a year, so, in short, we were a “family”. Our seniors helped us a lot, and we really did feel a strong sense of us being a family.

Tohchika: There have been a lot of Digimon series, but I only ever got to be in 02. So when 02 ended, my role in Digimon was over for the time being, and it ended up becoming a “memory”. So for this, I felt like I was being immersed in those memories.

Urawa: You’re talking like an old man (laughs).

Tohchika: It’s like when you look at a photo and end up entering its world. Rather than something happening around me in the present, it felt like I was being sent back into the world of that time, and I felt at ease.

Urawa: I was playing both Iori and Armadimon at the same time, so although it was a year for everyone else, for me it felt like two years. Once it all ended, the feeling of loss was so deep that I wondered, “will there ever be a character I’ll come to empathize this much with ever again?”, and I really had a hard time switching off of it. And after that, its effect faded and it became a memory. And so for me it became a “special treasure”, and, to be honest, the idea of bringing it out again and making something new out of it was scary for me, but I hope 02‘s fans will be happy when they see this movie, and I hope that even those who haven’t seen 02 before will go back and watch it.

–Finally, Noda-san, please give us a message in closing for everyone.

Noda: I think both those who have loved the Digimon series all this time, and those who have never seen it before, must have lived all sorts of different lives up to this point. This movie is full of resounding emotions and scenes that’ll touch everyone’s hearts, so please come see it at the theater!

Translator's notes
  1. The 1999 Toei Anime Fair movie that Urawa refers to is naturally the first Digimon Adventure movie that screened on March 6, 1999, alongside Doctor Slump: Arale’s Surprise Burn and the Yu-Gi-Oh! movie. []
  2. A “pilgrimage” (聖地巡礼, seichi junrei) is a catch-all referring to visiting a real-life location on the grounds of being a fan of something that location was in (e.g. going to Hikarigaoka specifically because it was in Digimon). []
  3. Tohchika’s mention of the generational gap between himself and Asai and how it was “like this back then” is in reference to the fact that, at the time of the original Digimon Adventure 02, Miyako’s voice actress, Rio Natsuki, was his senior voice actress. In addition, the casting for Adventure and Adventure 02 had a mixture of respected veteran and relatively newer voice actors, the latter of which Natsuki and Tohchika fell under. The recasting of Miyako with her LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna voice actress, Ayaka Asai, led to an inversion of the gap (albeit a much bigger one) between the two partners’ voice actors’ junior-senior relationship, as she was a relatively newer actress who had started voice acting activity in 2012. []
  4. There is (what seems to be) a typo here, in that said answer was split into two “answers” on the original interview text. I’ve gone ahead and assumed they were one answer. []

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