Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna movie pamphlet interviews — Natsuki Hanae and Chika Sakamoto

Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna‘s theatrical screening had a corresponding informational pamphlet sold on-site, which contained informational and art assets and a large number of cast and staff interviews.

(Mayu Matsuoka | Natsuki Hanae and Chika Sakamoto | Other voice actor messages | Creator group talk | Scriptwriter Akatsuki Yamatoya | BGM composer Harumi Fuuki | Music artists Ayumi Miyazaki and AiM | Producer Yousuke Kinoshita)

This post is a translation of the included interview with voice actors Natsuki Hanae (Taichi Yagami) and Chika Sakamoto (Agumon).

Natsuki Hanae

Profile: From Across Entertainment. Born on June 26, from Kanagawa Prefecture. Greatly active in a wide range of genres, from TV anime to television program hosting, with roles including Tanjirou Kamado in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Ken Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul, and Jaco in Dragon Ball Super.

Chika Sakamoto

Profile: From Arts Vision. Born on August 17, from Tokyo. Performs a wide range of roles, from young boys to young girls to adults, with roles including D.J. in Fuller House, Mei Kusakabe in My Neighbor Totoro, and Minoru Enoki in Baby and Me.

“I felt their bond through their rambling conversations” –Natsuki Hanae

–Please tell us your impressions when you saw the footage.
Hanae: The footage brought back my feelings from the original Digimon Adventure movie, and I was watching it intently while ripped to tears. The story is like the culmination of how they’ve walked alongside the Digimon all this time, and even though there were sad things about it, there’s hope in how Taichi and the others’ future in how they’ll continue to grow and change, and it all turned out for the best.
Sakamoto: They did a thorough job depicting a world where the existence of Digimon has become natural, with all the daily aspects piled up into it. You can really feel how these everyday things will still be piling up ahead of them, and it really hits close to your heart.

–Since this is the closing chapter to the successive series of Digimon Adventure, 02, and tri., please tell us your feelings as you look back on them.
Hanae: While he’s facing this painful new anguish about having to separate from Agumon once he becomes an adult, I feel that Taichi, who’s made the decision to fight in order to save the world and the other Chosen Children, has grown up in a very human way. I was talking about this with Chika-san some time ago, but in this movie, they’ve done a thorough job with depicting daily life, and you can feel the bonds that they’ve cultivated with their Digimon up until now through their rambling converstaions, and even a single little word from Agumon leads to an atmosphere that makes you cry. I’ve been playing Taichi since his time in high school, as he finds his answers to his problems of “it’s not this, it’s not that,” and I feel like playing Taichi since tri. has overlaid parts of him on myself.
Sakamoto: I played Agumon remembering about those times when Taichi was little, and the Chosen Children were chatting with their Digimon partners. Digimon Adventure has been series with a lot of turning points, and every time I’ve been in it, we’d all record with the hunch that this would be our last opportunity, but I took on this movie in a way so that I wouldn’t feel that.

–What was the atmosphere like at the recording site?
Sakamoto: The other characters, besides Taichi, Agumon, Yamato, and Gabumon didn’t have that many lines, and since everyone didn’t get to say much, there was this atmosphere of “this is the last one, so let us talk more” (laughs).
Hanae: Sora really didn’t get to say much for this one. I feel like everyone was gloomy from wanting to say more.
Sakamoto: All of the actors had way too much leftover time (laughs).
Hanae: I wasn’t extremely worried about it, but since this was the closing chapter for the series, I felt even more deeply that I really had to play this right. Also, Director Taguchi is from the generation that was watching Digimon, so when we first greeted each other, we got to talk about the director’s own feelings for Digimon. Upon hearing about them, I felt that we could rely on him for this, more than I’d ever felt before.

–Were there any incidents regarding the director that left an impression on you?
Hanae: Director Taguchi had a clear vision for what he wanted from the movie, so he would say things like “this scene is like this, so please put a little more pressure on your performance here,” and gave me very precise instructions. The post-recording became really easy to do.
Sakamoto: Like Hanae-san just said, whenever Director Taguchi makes any corrections, he gives very precise instructions, and the script directions (*sentences that explain character movements and emotions) are thorough, too. Naturally, the art still wasn’t finished by the time of recording1, so there were parts that we wouldn’t understand. But when we looked at the script, there’d be things like “Taichi starts charging with a loud voice” or “Taichi is desperate with nothing else he can do” written in there, and you could feel the director’s feelings for it overflowing, like, wow, he really wants to convey this to us! Also, I thought it was cute how the script directions would say “really”2 in it (laughs).

–Since the staff members are from the Digimon generation, were there any particular scenes where you could feel their attention to detail or their love for the work?
Hanae: There’s that part where the atmosphere gets close to that of Digimon Adventure: Our War Game!, and even the art style is drawn similarly, and you really feel nostalgic. Also, there’s scenes and lines that will make people who have been watching all of the Digimon series up until now chuckle. Like when he uses Hikari’s whistle.
Sakamoto: Yeah! That whistle really gets you in the heart!
Hanae: Important points like those really left an impression on me, and even from the perspective of a single fan, I really felt that this was an incredible movie.
Sakamoto: As for me, when I saw Taichi pull open the drawer in his room, and the Digivice and goggles were in there, I thought, “Hahahahaaaah!”, and I really felt the staff’s love for the series. When you see those two items, it just brings back all of those feelings from when they went on an adventure in the Digital World, doesn’t it? Seeing those two things side by side just made me think, “Yeah, that’s it.”

“Agumon is someone very precious to me, like my other self.” –Chika Sakamoto

–Please tell us what you like about each other as partners, Hanae-san for Agumon, and Sakamoto-san for Taichi.
Hanae: I really love how he’s got those pure-hearted and cute sides to him. Even when he doesn’t seem to have a lot of self-awareness, his straightforward feelings are what give Taichi determination. Personally, I really like that line from Agumon and Gabumon, “watching you guys grow up into adults makes me feel so happy.”3 Agumon has a lot of optimistic aspects to him, but it’s a line that he can only say because he’s Taichi’s partner who’s spent all that time with him and watched over him, and you feel how wonderful it is that Taichi’s come to rely on him almost like he’s a parent.
Sakamoto: Taichi has times when he has to fight up against his difficulties and worry over them, but he doesn’t blame others for them, and instead gets himself together and takes responsibility for responding to them, and I really like that about him.

–Please tell us about any new aspects to your character, and what aspects of your character haven’t changed.
Hanae: Well, let’s see. One new aspect of Taichi is that he works at a pachinko4 parlor now (laughs).
Sakamoto: That was a little surprising.
Hanae: It was surprising, but later, when I saw him drinking alcohol with Yamato, I thought, “he’s really an adult now.”
Sakamoto: They went to a horumon restaurant5.
Hanae: They did, didn’t they? (laughs) But even though they’ve become adults, their feelings towards the Digimon and the Digital World haven’t changed, and you can really feel that. Even when they become victims themselves, they have passionate feelings about saving this world, and it’s the same as the ones they had when they were children.
Sakamoto: Agumon’s simple-minded aspects are firm and unwavering. He actually felt more mature than I’d expected. I really felt how he didn’t mind the little things, and the wide range with which he received everything.

–What are your own characters to you?
Hanae: When I watched Taichi in grade school, he was cool, and he pulled everyone around him along, and on top of that he had strength of heart, and he was someone I looked up to. In tri., he grew through his worries and pain, and I felt that within myself as I was playing. I played him over three years, and now I’ve played him in this movie, and my image of Taichi has bundled together into one, and along with becoming like the Taichi of back then, I feel like I myself have gotten closer to Taichi.
Sakamoto: Twenty years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be involved with this series for so long, and back then I thought of him as “a cute monster” and “Taichi’s partner”. Whenever I would play an Agumon in a different series, I would think, “since I’m the one who’s playing him, that means…” only to be told that the nature of the “Digital Monster” franchise is that “there are as many different Agumon as there are lions.” But my feelings of “I really do want to be the one to play Agumon!” got stronger and stronger. Getting to play him in tri. and this movie really surprised me, and made me very happy. Agumon is someone very precious to me, like my other self.

–There are a lot of highlights in this movie, such as the growth of Taichi’s heart, and Agumon’s lines, and the new evolutionary forms, but how do you feel about them?
Hanae: Even if it means sacrificing their time together, I truly felt their feelings of how they wanted to save everyone. Menoa’s actions were wrong, but I felt that they also wanted to save Menoa herself, too. Taichi and Yamato’s strong feelings led to their final evolution precisely because of how it meant they wouldn’t have any time left.
Sakamoto: When I was reading Agumon’s lines in the climax, I just blurted out “I was waiting for this!” It was like my Agumon switch had flipped. It was like, were all of these scenes of him being a food-hungry glutton there to make him look so cool here? (laughs) It’s the scene with the most passionate energy, so I pushed down the casual conversations before and after this one as much as possible, like collecting magma.

–What was it like playing your characters during the climax?
Hanae: It’s a casual conversation, but that part with them going “it’s hot” and “well, it’s summer” had the kind of atmosphere that was making it almost unbearable. They were lines about nothing in particular, but they were treasuring each and every conversation, and the feeling in the air was incredible. They were acting like there was nothing weird going on, even though Agumon might disappear soon, and it’s the kind of conversation that makes you feel like these days could just go on forever…And then he just suddenly vanishes in a blip, and it really ended up unbearable, and struck the heart so much.
Sakamoto: He just disappeared right when they were on the verge of a conversation, and it really hurt.

–Looking back at the 02 epilogue that takes place afterwards, what do you think of it?
Sakamoto: Personally, the fact that Daisuke became a ramen shop owner left an impression on me (laughs). That kept sticking in my mind, even moreso than my own partner. When the 02 epilogue was first broadcast, I was shocked that they actually had a long timeskip over the years like that.
Hanae: I didn’t think of it too much at the time, but when I rewatched it as an adult, I had a lot of deep emotions about it, like, “so this ended up associated with this?” and “this kind of future exists”. I feel that heading towards that kind of future means that they were connected to it through overcoming even more things.

–Please tell us if there are any particular points you would like people to look out for when rewatching the movie.
Hanae: Those who have been watching Digimon for a long time will find little things that’ll make you happy scattered all over the place. The Digimon who appears at the beginning is Parrotmon, like the one that appeared in the first Digimon movie, and I think you can really feel that “this movie really was made by staff from the Digimon generation”. I think there’ll be parts you’ll miss the first time, so if you watch the movie, and then watch the older works, and then watch the movie again, and then do it again, you might discover a lot of things.
Sakamoto: The older 02 members are a surprise to see, and I was also really happy to see the world settling into the form where Digimon are a natural part of the world, so I very much hope that everyone will enjoy the smaller daily life scenes.

Translator's notes
  1. The art not being finished by the time of post-recording is standard practice for Japanese animation, for which voice actors will often have to act to unfinished storyboards. []
  2. Sakamoto refers to some of Director Taguchi’s comments in the script directions ending in “なのだ” (~na no da), a very doubly-emphatic way to end a sentence, implying that he was very passionate about what he’d wanted to say in it. []
  3. I normally pull from official translations when feasible for quotations, mainly for the sake of recognizability, but for various reasons I’m using quotations from onkei’s translation of the Dash X Bunko version of the novel. []
  4. Pachinko = A popular form of gambling in Japan (very similar to slots). []
  5. Horumon = A subset of yakiniku (Japan-imported Korean barbecue) that specializes in beef or pork offal. []

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