Animate Times Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna interview series — Part 2: Fukujuurou Katayama, Ayaka Asai, Yoshitaka Yamaya

A translation of the second of Animate Times’s three-part interview series for Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna, from February 20, 2020, featuring Digimon Adventure 02 human character voice actors Fukujuurou Katayama (Daisuke Motomiya), Ayaka Asai (Miyako Inoue), and Yoshitaka Yamaya (Iori Hida).

(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 second part, we’ve interviewed the cast for the grown-up main characters of 02: Fukujuurou Katayama (Daisuke Motomiya), Ayaka Asai (Miyako Inoue), and Yoshitaka Yamaya (Iori Hida)!

The three of them have been fans since Adventure! What are their favorite Digimon?

–Had you ever seen the Digimon series before?

Fukujuurou Katayama, voice of Daisuke Motomiya (hereinafter, Katayama): From the first series, Digimon Adventure.

Yoshitaka Yamaya, voice of Iori Hida (hereinafter, Yamaya): Me too!

Ayaka Asai, voice of Miyako Inoue (hereinafter, Asai): Me too! I watched it as it aired!

Katayama: I was really bad with mornings, but I did it (laughs).

Yamaya: I was playing youth baseball at the time, so I couldn’t watch it live, but I was watching the reruns in the evening.

–Then, please tell us what your favorite Digimon is.

Yamaya: It’s hard to pick only one. But when I think of Digimon, the first one that comes to mind is Andromon.

Asai: Very refined and cool! (laughs)

Yamaya: Also, Etemon. In the end, the Digimon that have been there from the beginning are the most memorable. Etemon is also a particularly impressionable sort of character.

Katayama: MetalEtemon is good, too. I played the Digimon Adventure WonderSwan games Anode Tamer and Cathode Tamer, and before that I was playing with the Carddass1 cards. Among the Carddass cards, Apocalymon and Millenniummon were considered super-rare, so I was very happy when I got them.

But my strongest Digimon memory is of Piemon, whom I’d recruit as an ally in the WonderSwan games every time, and was super strong in the anime series. In the games, you’d face him right before the final boss, and in the series, he was overwhelmingly strong, and also scary. In both cases he was a villain, but kids always love strong things, especially when they’re rare.

Asai: Is this the difference between boys and girls? I feel like I’m more attracted to cuteness than Digimon strength. I was watching it with my brother at the time, and I think he was more into stronger Digimon, but personally my favorite is Gomamon.

Yamaya: Really!?

Asai: He was cute, and his voice was cute, and he used oira2 to refer to himself, and he supported Jou with lots of energy, and there were a lot of aspects that stuck with me. I still love him even now.

The secret to Digimon’s popularity is that it’s always being updated and powered up

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

Asai: Twenty years is amazing. It’s basically become an adult in itself.3

Katayama: It still hasn’t really hit me yet, but when I think about it in terms of the fact I was watching it as a younger elementary school kid, it’s like, “oh, that’s right.”

Yamaya: You think, “has it really been that long?” The series has been going on for such a long time that I don’t even recognize some of the Digimon. Even though I’d watched it all the way up until Digimon Tamers

Asai: Oh, I was watching that too!

Yamaya: It’s such a popular and well-known franchise, and many new Digimon have appeared, and I think the love for it transcends generations.

Katayama: Of all the things I was watching when I was a kid, it’s one of the few that’s still going on to this day. And on top of that, it keeps powering up with every series. There’s works you could call masterpieces but stay right there, but this one’s constantly being updated, powered up, and now we even have the characters becoming adults.

Yamaya: When you say “Digimon”, the works that come to mind will probably differ from person to person.

Asai: My childhood memories are incredible, and there are scenes and lines that I’ll never forget. I watched it at a time when it became deeply engraved in me, and it may well stay in my heart forever.

Katayama: The art and the designs stick with kids really well, too. For instance, Kabuterimon. When I was playing the Digimon games, I was looking at a strategy guidebook, but even when I saw a strategy guidebook for a game on a console I didn’t have, I still wanted it. Like, with Scumon or Numemon. It’s nice how they have scary aspects to them, but also cute aspects.

–What about the Digimon series makes it so beloved?

Katayama: There are a lot of things that give it appeal, but when you talk about Digimon, you can’t leave out the music. No matter what series it is, the songs have overwhelming power. Just a small hint of listening to it suddenly brings back all the atmosphere and anticipation from those days. When you hear the screech-screech of the guitar before the Digimon evolve in Digimon Adventure, you don’t even think about it, you just go “there it is!”, and I think it’s one of its strong points to the extent you wouldn’t see in other franchises. Other than that, there’s also the cuteness of the talking characters.

Yamaya: They’re so charming, and their individuality stands out.

Asai: It may have been a series made for children, but it depicts not only the fun of adventure, but also the pain and despair. It’s like learning about life through anime. Once you become an adult, you understand the meaning of those scenes you couldn’t understand back then, and as the years go by, you start to appreciate a different taste from it.

Yamaya: We were watching it as children, but I think there were adults who were watching, too. It’s amazing in that it’s a series that sticks with people of all ages.

Katayama: It’s also amazing that the same voice actor plays the Digimon even when they’ve reverted, to Child-level, to Adult-level. They evolve and they become all serious, and then they attack and they return to Child-level…

Asai: And then they become cute.

Katayama: And on top of that, even when their condition has changed, they keep talking. You feel how amazing the cast members are, and really come to respect them.

The pressure of appearing in a series that they’d loved so much!?

–What were your thoughts about appearing in the 20th anniversary movie, Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna, and portraying the main characters of 02 having become ten years older?

Asai: It’s a work that I’ve loved so much, and it’s a masterpiece that’s gone on for such a long time, and the reality of the fact I was actually going to do this didn’t actually hit me. Of course, I felt responsibility and pressure, but there’s still parts about it that feel like they haven’t set in.

Yamaya: It didn’t even feel like we’d said as much as we actually had.

Katayama: When it was decided that I’d take the role, I was full of surprise before I was able to feel happiness. And after that, I felt the weight of responsibility pressing down on me. It was the first time I’d be taking over an existing role.

–There are difficulties that come with playing an existing character.

Katayama: When we were called on to play characters from a series that we’d been watching, it was like “Huh!? I’m? Playing Daisuke?” I had a hard time going all the way to the post-recording in that state. How was it for you guys?

Yamaya: My feelings were more like a strong sense of anxiety and fear. At first, I was happy to be appearing in Digimon, but I was terrified when I thought about actually being alongside my senior voice actors.

–Please tell us your impressions about the background setting, the story, and the art in this movie.

Asai: I remembered what it was like watching Digimon as a kid, and it felt right at home, like, “right, that’s it!”, and it took me back to my childhood. But it really is a properly balanced movie, where you can feel the growth and the changes within the characters.

Yamaya: It felt nostalgic, but it was made in accordance with the current era, so it doesn’t feel old at all. It’s a wonderful movie that’s fresh, and yet brings back all of the memories I had from back when I was watching.

Katayama: When I first saw the poster art and the images, I just naturally accepted that this was the way they grew up, even as a fan myself. Like, “ah, they’d become this kind of adult!” For instance, even though you feel he’s gotten a little cooler, you still feel that this would be what Iori-kun would be like when he gets closer to becoming an adult.

Yamaya: He was so tiny back then, after all.

Katayama: It felt perfectly comfortable, and was able to accept it immediately, and because I was able to accept it, I was able to take on the role. Also, I was thinking this while I was watching the movie, but although there are some deep themes, I think kids can watch the Digimon move and evolve and fight and get excited, and if you’re someone like us who were watching it back then, or you’re someone who’s become a parent and brought your own kids with you, you can see the characters having all become adults, and you’ll be deeply moved remembering what it was like when you were watching.

And I think the themes of “becoming an adult” and “always being together” can be applied to oneself, and it makes you think about a lot of things, and I think it’s a movie that people of all ages can empathize with and enjoy.

–The scene with the Digimon fights take place in modern Tokyo really upped the tension.

Yamaya: That was amazing, too.

Asai: They destroyed the Toei building, too, I was shocked.

Katayama: It hit a bit too close to home, I started worrying “how much is it going to cost to repair that?” (laughs).

Asai: Your imagination starts wandering, like, “if Digimon were to actually start appearing, it’d be something like this, right?”

Katayama: But it really does feel like a proper modern Digimon work, and it really draws you into the world of the movie.

The scene where Miyako leads the charge and says certain lines is thrilling. Even through all the tension, the joy from the fan’s perspective

–There were people joining in the cast for the first time with this movie, and the cast of Adventure and 02 ended up mingling together, so what was the resulting atmosphere like?

Asai: I was already really nervous, but on top of that, the story gives Miyako the first line of dialogue among the 02 group, so my heart was pounding.

Katayama: Since we were being watched by the people who had already been in the series before.

Asai: I was going to be the first one, saying a line as Miyako, in front of all of the other cast members. When we’d greeted our seniors before, they’d said things like, “oh, you’re Miyako!” They must have been thinking “how is she going to approach playing her?”, and I knew there was a lot of attention on me, but I put my energy into it like I was the commanding officer of a squad, and I was able to play her with the help of Hawkmon’s actor, (Kouichi) Tohchika-san.

Yamaya: Miyako-san is the type who’s good at setting the mood.

–Was there an odd feeling that came with playing the role of characters you’d watched when it first aired?

Katayama: There was. Also, And on top of that, (Megumi) Urawa-san, who played Iori at the time, was also there [Urawa-san was responsible for both Iori and Armadimon in 02. In this movie, she voices only Armadimon].

Asai: This kind of feeling is like, the kind you only get once in your life, right?

Yamaya: It really is. I’ll probably never experience something like this again. But even now, I still can’t believe it. I had a sense of tension and responsibility, and I did my best to record, but on the other hand, there were also parts where it ended up falling into that of a fan’s perspective. I kept getting lost in the lines (Chika) Sakamoto-san was saying. My excitement levels kept going up, but I had to keep reminding myself “I’m doing this for work,” and tried to stay calm (laughs).

Katayama: The original cast of Adventure and 02 really helped us a lot. The Adventure cast welcomed us with a really warm atmosphere, and the cast coming from 02 helped guide us naturally. So even though I was nervous, I had fun with it and managed to finish recording.

–Did you get any advice from your seniors?

Asai: We had a preliminary reading as the 02 group prior to the recording, and we held a drinking party after that, where we talked with our senior cast members. It was like a kickoff party of sorts, and we put all of our hearts and feelings together as one so that we could put in our best efforts and make something the audience will enjoy, and I was able to truly feel I’d become one of them.

Yamaya: Ultimately, I think we as the younger cast were meant to create the atmosphere at the recording site and in the movie, but (Junko) Noda-san, who played the leading Digimon of 02 (V-mon), led the charge in our seniors making it for us. They’re seniors with careers to the extent that we wouldn’t get to see them much in other works, so we were nervous about becoming their new partners, and they’d figured out that we were nervous about co-starring among such incredible seniors, and talked to us about all sorts of things and listened to what we had to say. And I think that, thanks to our seniors going out of their way to get closer to us, we were able to learn everything we didn’t understand from them, and were able to press forward and continue to get along.

Asai: It was also interesting how the conversation topic would be different for each combination of character and Digimon partner.

Menoa, a mysterious character who shows all sorts of expressions. The new Digimon, Eosmon, is “terrifyingly strong”.

–One of the more notable points about this movie is its new characters. What are your impressions of Menoa and the new Digimon, Eosmon?

Katayama: Menoa’s a really beautiful lady!

Asai: Is that what you have to say? Well, that’s a very Daisuke-like answer (laughs). You can see her legs from behind in her introduction scene, and they’re quite beautiful, too.

Yamaya: It’s hard to understand her, and because of that she’s very mysterious, but as the story progresses, you become aware of the backbone behind her and the reason why she does what she does, and it becomes painful. She’s the sort of genius that allowed her to go into university due to her high level of ability, and there’s a complicated feeling that comes from thinking about whether this is the answer that comes from a person who’d been given recognition since the days of her childhood.

Katayama: She has really pretty eyes. The kind you can’t say Me-no-a to.4

Asai: Are you seriously making a pun right now?

Katayama: Sorry (laughs).

Yamaya: That said, her eyes also express her emotions and feelings, so please do also pay attention to that.

Asai: After reading a certain interview article where Mayu Matsuoka-san, who played Menoa, said that she’d also been a fan of the Digimon series, I watched the preview and felt that her feelings for this movie had come across in her acting. She did a wonderful job in which you can feel her love for it blending into the movie. Her English nuances felt like a native’s, and it was very cool.

Katayama: She’s cool and dignified, but she’s also a character with a lot of appeal for her childish and weak aspects, where she sometimes comes off as ominous, and shows off all sorts of delicate expressions. Also, Eosmon is terrifying.

Asai: It’s so strong that it’ll send you into despair multiple times.

Yamaya: It’s so strong even despite being only one Digimon, and then…I bet the director and the staff also had a hard time with it. Please go watch the movie and see what kind of abilities it has.

What scenes left a particular impression on all of you?

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

Katayama: While I was playing Daisuke, one thing I was particularly worried about was that first scene at the ramen shop. For me, it had my first lines, and it was a scene where all of the 02 cast members gathered, and I was told at the preliminary reading that it had to be a scene that makes you think “oh, this is 02!” Please go and watch my passion for the scene, and my own personal approach to the role of Daisuke. It’s also a turning point that comes out of a dark atmosphere, and so we were working hard at what kind of impact we could achieve. We were a bit lost, and we were struggling, but I think in the end we managed to finally get it in proper form.

Asai: Although the Digimon are the same as ever, I hope you can feel what’s changed about how Daisuke and his friends, who are humans and have gotten older, each pass time in their own ways, go through their own experiences, grow up, and get into conflict. It was already shown in the PV, but there was a particularly impressive scene where Agumon looks at Taichi from behind and says, “you’ve gotten bigger,” and that’s the end of it. They’re the kinds of words that even the viewer will be thinking at that exact time, so…I knew it’d be like this even back when we were recording, but the tears couldn’t stop. It was the breaking point where the tears were bursting.

Yamaya: The battle in Tokyo is just one out of many, and then Taichi and Yamato and the others meet up, and they talk about going to get breakfast, but Taichi has to go to school and Yamato leaves because he has to run an errand, and there’s something symbolic in how Agumon and the others get left behind. But they’re such cute Digimon, and you think, “how could you just leave them like that?” (laughs). But from their perspective, Digimon have become such a normal thing, and now that they’ve spent ten years together, it’s not all that special to eat with them anymore, and they’ve got to get on with growing up. It’s a scene that makes you feel the passage of time, and it really leaves an impression.

Katayama: Can I add another one? It was also in a PV, but there’s the scene where the 02 group finally met up with Miyako, and you can really get a feel for the atmosphere of the four of them joining up together.

Asai: You can see how close they are to each other.

Yamaya: And the way they divide up their roles is exactly the same as the way they did when they were kids. The difference in their heights is also amazing (laughs).

Katayama: I hope 02 fans will pay attention to that scene, too.5

No matter how many times you watch it, it’s not enough! Please focus on watching to the very end, while reflecting on the title and dialogue

–Please leave a message for everyone who is looking forward to the release.

Yamaya: It’s a movie that doesn’t disappoint you at all, whether you’re a cast member or a Digimon fan. Even seeing it once isn’t enough, so how many times would it take? Maybe five? (laughs) I don’t think there are many movies out there that make me want to see it again and again like this, and even though it’s not even two hours of running time, it’s so packed with things that it certainly doesn’t feel that way, and the love that everyone involved in this movie has for Digimon is stuffed into it. It’s a movie that unfolds with a lot of cuts and fast developments, and there’s an incredible sense of speed, so please do focus on the screen. And don’t let your guard down just because you’re at the credits. During the credits, Asai-chan was like, “that scene had that, didn’t it?”

Asai: It was really surprising, like, “I didn’t even notice!”

Katayama: There were a lot of moments like that. Even though I was actually in the movie.

Yamaya: So please do keep your focus on it, even to the very, very end.

Katayama: The art was also gorgeous, and the depiction of cyberspace surprised me the most. The numbers become bubbles, and in the area where the finale is set, there’s a fairytale-like spectacle spreading all around. I think this is the kind of atmosphere that they could evoke because of how much imaging technology has evolved. This story has some very universal themes in it, so even those who have never seen Digimon before can empathize with it, and those who have can empathize with it even more.

Asai: Also, there’s the meaning of the title, LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna. The official website and the flyers have phrases like “The last story of Taichi, Agumon, and their friends. An exciting finale.” and all, and although those are some very perfectly fitting words for this, I think this is also a beginning for them, too.

Katayama: There’s a lot of things packed into the poster. The slogan, “we’re always together,” is also a hint!

Asai: If you’ve never seen Digimon in your life before, we definitely want you to see it. If you’ve never seen it before, you can get into Digimon with this movie!

Katayama: We, as “Digimon children”, are very confident in recommending it!

  1. Carddass” refers to Bandai’s card vending machines, which were responsible for distributing the Hyper Colosseum Digimon trading cards at the time. []
  2. Oira, Gomamon’s first-person pronoun in Adventure, is a more “laid-back” (country bumpkin-esque) variant of the masculine-assertive ore. []
  3. The age of majority in Japan at the time of this interview was 20 years old, hence why Asai refers to the series having effectively become an adult for its 20th anniversary. []
  4. Katayama’s pun regarding Menoa is that it’s only natural for someone named “Menoa” to have pretty eyes (“me” = eyes). []
  5. The original article actually linked to this video, which is blocked in certain countries outside Japan. The video I used as a substitute has the same contents (and is also officially posted). []

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