A translation of the voice cast interview from the booklet included with the Digimon Frontier Blu-ray Box (released April 2, 2019), which featured a group interview with the voice cast: Junko Takeuchi (Takuya Kanbara), Hiroshi Kamiya (Kouji Minamoto), Sawa Ishige (Izumi Orimoto), Michael Shitanda (Junpei Shibayama), Kumiko Watanabe (Tomoki Himi), and Kenichi Suzumura (Kouichi Kimura).
Special Cast Interview! 2019
A direct interview with the cast, right after recording for the first-press limited bonus drama CD! We asked them about their memories of the past!
- Junko Takeuchi: Takuya Kanbara, Agnimon, Vritramon, Ardhamon, KaiserGreymon, Susanoomon
- Hiroshi Kamiya: Kouji Minamoto, Wolfmon, Garmmon, BeoWolfmon, MagnaGarurumon
- Sawa Ishige: Izumi Orimoto, Fairimon, Shutumon
- Michael Shitanda: Junpei Shibayama, Blitzmon, Bolgmon
- Kumiko Watanabe: Tomoki Himi, Chackmon, Blizzarmon
- Kenichi Suzumura: Kouichi Kimura, Duskmon, Velgrmon, Löwemon, KaiserLeomon
–The recording for the drama CD1 seems to be the first time the six of you have gathered together in a long while, so what was it like having a reunion like this?
Shitanda: We really are all here, every single one of us (laughs).
Ishige: I’m so happy that all of us are gathered here.
Suzumura: It gets you feeling a little shy. I don’t really know why, but somehow it feels a little embarrassing.
Watanabe: Today’s recording had an atmosphere just like the one we had back then. It was like it transcended time, like time hadn’t really passed at all since then.
Takeuchi: Sorry. Can I be honest about something? Beyond just the six of us getting together, I was happy to see Masami Kikuchi-san again (laughs). (*Neemon’s voice actor, Masami Kikuchi, also participated in the drama CD recording.)
Watanabe: He was sitting way at the end, and it was so dark that I didn’t even notice him. I knew everyone there, but I was thinking, “I wonder who that is…” (laughs).
Takeuchi: We were at a different studio from the one we used back then, and there was this uneasy feeling of “are we going to be meeting here?”, so everyone looked like a different person to me.
–This seems to be your first time doing recording for Digimon Frontier in a long while, so was there anything in particular you had to do in preparation for today?
Suzumura: I went back and rewatched a little of it.
Takeuchi: Like a real honors student!
Suzumura: No, I’m not an honors student, I did it because I’m the slacker. I had to make sure of how I actually played him back then. Rewatching it again, I had him speak in a really cute voice.
Takeuchi: Like the way-too-serious boy.
Suzumura: He was the way-too-serious boy. Also, I was thinking, “Hiroshi hasn’t changed at all.”
Kamiya: No, I’ve definitely changed.
Suzumura: Hearing my voice from back then, it felt like a shock, like, “how young…”
Kamiya: I didn’t get that impression.
Suzumura: I wonder about that. So that’s why I came today with a lot of anxiety.
Takeuchi: It’s fine, Takuya and his friends are all in high school now anyway.
Suzumura: Right! I was told “they’re in high school now, so it’s fine if it sounds like some years have passed,” but I was still nervous despite that.
–Please tell us how you felt about participating in the drama CD.
Shitanda: It was amazing how it had a sort of lacking-in-common-sense atmosphere that wasn’t in the original series.
Suzumura: We were all thinking it, but it was like, “is this going to be okay?”
Takeuchi: The first half had Takuya and Tomoki having a conversation, and it wasn’t a huge conversation with everyone, but the two of them were having a bit of idiotic banter, and I thought, “it was like this back then, too.”
Watanabe: There was a sense of respect, but it felt like they weren’t even on the same lines of thought.
Takeuchi: The conversation ended on a positive note, but it’s the kind that makes you go “are they gonna be okay?” when you see that. But Takuya and the others were those kinds of people, so that reaffirmed it for me.
Watanabe: Every single one of them is like that (laughs).
Suzumura: The Izumi and Junpei pair was amazing.
Takeuchi: No, Kouji and Kouichi were just right, too! (laughs)
Suzumura: My brother suddenly got all poetic (laughs). But everyone else went poetic, too.
Watanabe: Izumi says “don’t sing inside the train!”, but then she starts making a huge fuss herself. These guys really are scary (laughs).
Ishige: We confirmed yet again that these guys are scary (laughs).
Suzumura: Their sense of values has gone crumbling down since they went to the Digital World.
Takeuchi: It’s been five or six years since then, so it’s probably a little to be expected.
Suzumura: Yeah, you’re right (laughs).
Watanabe: The second half was particularly amazing, to the point you’re like “what are they gonna do…” Like Agnimon’s girly voice.
Takeuchi: I was thinking, I kinda don’t get what’s going on here (laughs).
Watanabe: Chackmon was going along with the joke and then harping on it. I had no idea what was going on, but somehow, it made you think, “is this how we came off to the staff members?”
Kamiya: I think I get it? (laughs)
Takeuchi: Ishige-san and Shitanda-san finally lost control of their conscience after barely keeping it together, right?
Ishige: Conscience (laughs).
Suzumura: I became a major violator of compliance laws2 (laughs).
Takeuchi: If I were to describe the second half in a single phrase, it’d be something like “a treasure box”.
Ishige: Unless you bought the Blu-ray Box, you won’t understand what went on in there at all.
Takeuchi: It’s a treasure box that causes tons of things to fall apart, but then again, you can’t open it unless you buy the Blu-ray Box anyway (laughs).
–This drama CD has all of the characters in high school. What impressions did you get of them?
Shitanda: I saw in the script that he still had a huge physique, and thought, he hasn’t really changed at all. And I’m sure he’s still wearing coveralls.
Ishige: Still!? Even though he’s in high school!? But that does sound about right. Personally, I was a little surprised that Izumi-chan became a reader model3.
Watanabe: I’m sure she must be very slim and beautiful.
Takeuchi: Tomoki-kun grew to be 180 centimeters tall.
Watanabe: He’s 180 centimeters tall now, so he’s probably not wearing that hat anymore.
Takeuchi: He did have a hat back then (laughs). All of them probably aren’t wearing things like hats or other accessories like that anymore. Incidentally, I wonder how Kouji and Kouichi might look different from each other now.
Suzumura: Yeah, we don’t know that.
Kamiya: Kouichi’s aiming to become a doctor, so he’s probably got a put-together appearance now.
Suzumura: Feels like he might be wearing glasses.
Kamiya: Kouji might look the same as before. With his hair tied back, and wearing a bandanna. So he can go off on a backpacking trip whenever he wants.
Takeuchi: No, no, no, he’s got to go to school (laughs).
Watanabe: Feels like he’ll start having dreadlocks.
Suzumura: Like a nightclub frequenter (laughs).
Kamiya: Kouji also brought up his mother, but he was always a mature kind of kid to begin with. Even though we’re suddenly seeing him as a high school student, to me, I didn’t feel anything particularly off about him.
Takeuchi: My image of Takuya is that I think he’d be wearing a blazer, not a gakuran4. I feel like he’d be wearing a business shirt over a yellow T-shirt, and then a loosely-tied red necktie.5
Suzumura: That’s a character design that’s basically just the same motif as what he had before! (laughs)
Takeuchi: He probably doesn’t wear the goggles anymore. It was a symbol of his boyhood, so he’s grown out of it, I’m sure.
Suzumura: Looking back on it, his hat was huge.
Watanabe: It was. He’s been wearing that hat since he was little, so that must be really bad for his scalp (laughs).
–Back then, what were your impressions when you first heard about the concept of “a human becoming a Digimon”?
Shitanda: I was informed that this series would have a unique concept compared to the series that had been released up until then, and I remember worrying about whether the characters’ personalities would be changing between being a human and a Digimon, and what I should do.
Watanabe: Up until then, the Digimon partners had been the ones fighting, so this was the first time the humans themselves would be changing. This meant that we’d have to be able to do two different modes for one role.
Ishige: And then midway through, they’d evolve into even more and more things.
Watanabe: When I got to Blizzarmon, I was thinking, “I’m done for…” I had to change my voice in line with the evolutions, so this series took a huge toll on my throat (laughs).
Suzumura: I remember Takeuchi-san going “I can’t do any more evolutions.” This was around the time of Susanoomon.
Takeuchi: I can do all kinds of small characters anytime, but whenever they get big, my willpower just vanishes. I completely ran out, and the only thing I could say at that point was “you do it, Kamiya-kun.”
Kamiya: You did say that. I was young at the time, too, so I was able to play things with a lot of enthusiasm. Although if I think back on it now, I understand better that maybe I should have brought those feelings of fighting against a strong enemy more to the forefront. At the time,
I was just recklessly going into it and reading out the lines I was given, as long as I got approval from the episode directors…
Ishige: They changed every episode, too.
Kamiya: So the fact that Kakudou-san6 was a director for our recording today was a huge relief, and it helped me take on the challenge. He’s someone who knows Digimon better than I do, so if he said it was okay, I’d be able to think that it’s okay. I was thinking that, now that I’ve been acting through all of these years, the things I can do have changed.
Takeuchi: It’s just, when you’re taking over the same role from 16 years ago, do you still have the same stamina for it? (laughs) All right, are you going to be able to hold out?
Suzumura: Right! Back during Digimon Frontier, I actually strained my back and had to be hospitalized! And it wasn’t just any average day, it was the day Kouichi became Löwemon for the first time. It was the day we were recording for episode 33 (“The Newly-Born Warrior of Darkness! Löwemon & KaiserLeomon”). Up until that time he’d been an enemy, but from now on he was going to be a hero, so I put all of my fighting spirit into it. And during that very first “Spirit Evolution!”, I “evo’d”.
Ishige: You did a “Spirit Evolution” right in front of my own eyes (laughs).
Watanabe: I also had a bad back, so ever since then, whenever I thought I might strain it, I would think “oh no, an evolution!” And now, in my head, it’s like “a back strain = evolution” (laughs).
Suzumura: Even I think of it as an evolution (laughs). It happened during the test run before my take. I was sitting with my head between my knees, and everyone was worrying over me, but then they all burst into laughter.
Ishige: Kamiya-kun was going “you old man, you old man”.
Suzumura: At the time, Digimon recording was my only major job, so I put all of my energy into it. I say I had back strain, but to be more accurate about it, I actually pulled one of my back muscles.
Takeuchi: How’d you pull a muscle?
Suzumura: It was at a time I’d just started to get really busy with work, and I thought I should build up my foundations, so I was practicing with a voice trainer. I was so tired from the training that I couldn’t even control my back well. And then, “it’s finally time for my Spirit Evolution!”, so I put all of my fighting spirit into it, and then ended up pulling a muscle.
Takeuchi: Ah, I see. So it was a time when your situation was getting all packed. Sorry for laughing at you.
Suzumura: But thanks to that incident, I started to put proper thought into how not to run out my voice and how not to damage my body in voicing things.
–Is there a line or scene from back then that left a particular impression on you?
Takeuchi: For me, it’s episode 22 (“To My Own Home! Takuya’s Solitary Return”).
Kamiya: Ah! That’s the episode where Takuya returns to the real world by himself, right?
Takeuchi: Wow! You remember it well. That one left an impression on me, but I also have deep memories of episode 19, when they made hamburgers together. I wonder if the hamburgers they made in the end turned out well.
Shitanda: The story was supposed to have continued after they pulled off ones that tasted good…
Takeuchi: The hamburgers that Takuya and Kouji made looked like they would taste absolutely awful, but the story proceeded anyway, so I remember wondering how that turned out (laughs). Please watch episode 19 (“Save the Burgermon! Tomoki’s Pure Heart”) through the Blu-ray and confirm it for yourself (laughs).
Kamiya: Mine is episode 10 (“The Beast Spirit is Uncontrollable!? Garmmon Evolves!”), the episode where Kouji uses his Beast Spirit to evolve for the first time. He’s the first of the protagonists to use Slide Evolution. Up until then, people had played those things before I did, so I could use their performances as references. I remember being very unsure on how to play things like the feeling of it being “uncontrollable”, or the nuance of pain that would fit a Beast Spirit, and I do have some regrets.
Takeuchi: Maybe you could fix it for the Blu-ray (laughs)?
Kamiya: Of course I can’t fix it (laughs). Also, I didn’t have a lot of money back then, but I still bought a lot of Digimon products. I saw via the card game that they had “Strabimon”, and was impressed at how much background information there was.
Watanabe: At the time, I got a “D-Scanner” and played with it. I was really happy to see Digimon appearing in it when I scanned things, and I would scan things while walking around with it (laughs).
Ishige: We did that, yeah.
Watanabe: I remember constantly doing that (laughs). We did things like play on the Game Boy together, and do evolutions.
Shitanda: For me, episode 24 (“A Confrontation with Volcamon! Junpei Battles with the Past”) had me speak as Junpei and Blitzmon, Bolgmon, Dark Blitzmon, and even Dark Bolgmon, all by myself, and the difficulty of that left an impression on me.
Takeuchi: That must have been hard.
Shitanda: It’s the episode where Junpei fights against his own past. It was like, I was standing there by myself in front of the microphone, and full of anxiety.
Suzumura: Because your real voice from the heart kept coming out.
Shitanda: Did it? (laughs)
Suzumura: When Ryuusei Nakao-san, who played Lucemon, came to the recording, the two of us were standing in front of the microphone, and the moment Michael returned, he went “oh no, it’s Frieza.”7
Suzumura: It was like, your real voice from the heart is leaking out, we can hear you (laughs).
Watanabe: But it was never the kind of thing you could get mad at.
Ishige: I have scenes or lines I could bring up, but I personally love the theme song and the ending. They’re songs that are the culmination of Digimon Frontier‘s innocent and adventure-like feeling. I hope you can hear them again through the Blu-ray.
–Were there any incidents during recording that left a particular impression on you?
Watanabe: I remember that the character names in the script kept constantly changing because of how they were scribbled down.
Shitanda: At the time, the scripts were handwritten, so you couldn’t see them well through the scribbles.
Suzumura: I remember Kazuko Sugiyama-san, who played Bokomon. On one week, the script would have it written as “Bokekon”, and after that “Bokon”, and finally “Bokochin”. That got us all riled up in a fuss.
Ishige: He really evolved a lot, didn’t he (laughs).
Takeuchi: I remember that well.
Suzumura: The funniest part was when Bokomon suddenly had a “-zura” tic. Like, “(whatever)-zura!” Up until then, he hadn’t had a single moment of going “-zura”, but Sugiyama-san stuck it in as if she’d always done it. We were all laughing for a while about it during the test, and we were wondering if it should be fixed, but she did it even in the actual take, and the staff even said “all right, that’s fine,” and so it went all the way to airing, just like that.
Ishige: I’m going to have to rewatch the whole thing and check where that happened (laughs).
Watanabe: There were so many of those written in there that it made you wonder if they’d even prepared this right beforehand. Kouichi and Kouji’s names are already easy enough to get wrong by themselves, but there was a time I looked at the script and saw “Kouzou” in there.8
Suzumura: That was actually Hiroshi playing a prank on me in the script. I was like, “who the hell is Kouzou?!”
Kamiya: If you read the actual contents of the script properly, you could easily figure out who had what line, but if you were just trying to check over only your own lines without actually reading the script contents, it’d get really hard. So when Kenichi-kun joined us as a main member of the cast, we’d constantly end up wondering “am I reading the script right?” So if you had Kouichi’s name written carelessly, it’d come out as a scribble saying Kouji or Kouzou, and Kenichi-kun wouldn’t be saying his lines at all during the rehearsal (laughs). And when you told him “it’s your line,” he’d be like “huh?” or “who the hell is this, is someone playing a prank on me?” (laughs)
Ishige: You got baptized (laughs).
Takeuchi: It’s like, why is this slowing us down so much (laughs).
Kamiya: At the time, we were beginners, so there was an atmosphere of nervousness in the studio.
Watanabe: Didn’t we all go out to eat together?
Takeuchi: Personally, I didn’t feel any nervousness at all.
Kamiya: There was, there was! So when Kenichi-kun joined us midway, the atmosphere got even more incredibly full of nervousness. He was always going, in a small voice, “you’ve played a prank on my script.” Nowadays he’d be more likely to yell “who the hell is this?!”
Suzumura: It was handwritten, so you could play pranks like that.
Takeuchi: Do those kinds of terrifying things happen even now?
Suzumura: You can’t put anything past Hiroshi.
Kamiya: Nowadays it’s printed, so I can’t do that. He’d know immediately.
Suzumura: He used to play pranks on me and play around with me a lot.
Watanabe: That was a lot of fun. Or I’d say, it really calmed the heart…I don’t think anyone’s really changed between back then and now, but I do think that what’s changed the most is the feeling of tension in this roundtable. We’re all in high spirits, and the tension is low (laughs).
Shitanda: It’s because we’ve all grown up (laughs).
–Do you remember anything from the first recording?
Takeuchi: I don’t remember a thing (laughs).
Watanabe: For me, I remember the number of people I was acting alongside.
Shitanda: It was my first time working alongside a group of women.
Ishige: It was full of people I was meeting for the first time, so I was nervous, and I was feeling around for everything. So that’s probably why I can’t remember anything well either (laughs).
Shitanda: It started from things like where in the studio I should be sitting.
Watanabe: Or who gets the first mic.
Shitanda: I had to think about all sorts of things. It was a series with a lot of guest performers, too.
Watanabe: That might have been why I was so nervous.
Takeuchi: Wasn’t the air conditioner broken at first?
Kamiya: Wow, you actually remember that.
Takeuchi: There was an electric fan going. We did two tests and a recording after that, but then suddenly it turned out the take hadn’t been recorded. So we had to do the take over again.
Shitanda: Ah, yeah, that did happen.
Takeuchi: My throat was still recovering from a cold, and I still hadn’t gotten a grasp on what kind of person Takuya was, so I just went ahead and put everything I had into it. I remember reaching the limits of all of my energy in having to do that four times. Episode 1 (“The Legendary Warrior! Agnimon of Flame”) has Takuya talk for almost all of it.
Ishige: He had a lot of monologues.
Shitanda: Did everyone else also record for the character songs prior to episode 1?
Ishige: Huh!? I didn’t.
Takeuchi: I didn’t.
Watanabe: I recorded prior to the episode.
Shitanda: Prior to episode 1, they called me in for the character song. I had to sing before I’d even personally gotten a firm image of Junpei’s character.
Watanabe: I didn’t understand my character either…All I had was a loose explanation of the background, “he’s this kind of kid.” It was my first time having that kind of experience. On top of that, it was a really good song, and I thought that I really needed to properly match Tomoki’s image, so I was nervous.
Suzumura: I was the only one who did it entirely at a different time.
Kamiya: Since you joined us midway.
Suzumura: I auditioned while the series was already on the air. I was suddenly told “you’ll have an audition next week,” and even though I already knew about Digimon, I hadn’t seen much of Digimon Frontier, so I just thought, “sure, whatever!” and took on the challenge (laughs).
–Do you have any feelings in regards to having been in the series for a year, and the changes in your character?
Takeuchi: Junpei stopped giving out chocolate at some point.
Shitanda: There was a time in the middle where his personality turned into something much brighter. He was always putting everything he had into it, and so whenever he was fighting, he couldn’t see much of what was around him. But then he took another step forward, and became someone who could observe and look overhead at his surroundings. That kind of thing happened “somewhere at some point”. It’s probably from the feeling he got that Takuya’s way of pushing straight on forward isn’t enough by itself, and I think he became someone more befitting of the eldest. So from there, he didn’t need the chocolate anymore.
Takeuchi: Yeah, he didn’t. In the beginning, he was always saying “I’ll give you chocolate” in order to get others’ attention.
Suzumura: It was his way of snagging friends.
Watanabe: It really was sad.
Ishige: They were kids who each had their own things that they were enduring, and their own troubles. Izumi had the issue of “what does it mean to have a real friend?” Playing her as she overcame that was encouraging to even me.
Kamiya: Even just being one of the protagonists going to the Digital World and going on an adventure was something that naturally made each and every week fun.
Suzumura: It was really exciting.
Kamiya: It’s the kind of series where you think, if I were a kid, I’d want to go to this world, I’d definitely be longing for it, and being involved in it was a truly happy time for me.
Suzumura: Digimon Frontier is a series that’s made with Sentai9 as a motif, which means that everyone transforms together, and becomes the heroes that children look up to. That might be why I had such a strong impression of “playing a hero” through it.
–Thank you very much!
- Naruto: Naruto Uzumaki
- Inazuma Eleven: Mamoru Endou
- Yes! PreCure 5: Rin Natsuki/Cure Rouge
- Natsume’s Book of Friends series: Takashi Natsume
- Attack on Titan series: Levi
- Inazuma Eleven: The Balance of Ares/The Seal of Orion: Ryouhei Haizaki
- Magical DoReMi: Pop Harukaze
- Pani Poni Dash!: Yuuna and Yuuma Kashiwagi
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Haruna Saotome
- Ping-Pong Club: Mitchell Gorou Tanabe
- Crush Gear Turbo: Jirou Oriza
- Dragon Drive: Daisuke Hagiwara
- Sgt. Frog: Sergeant Keroro
- My Home: Mother
- DokiDoki! PreCure: Regina
- Gintama: Okita Sougo
- Osomatsu-san: Iyami
- Kamen Rider Den-O: Ryuutaros
- The drama CD referred to here is “The Train Known as Hope” (translation by onkei here), which was included with the first print of the Blu-ray box.
- The second half of the drama CD in question involved Löwemon making references to Suzumura’s other roles in Osomatsu-san and Kamen Rider Den-O.
- Reader model = An amateur model contracted to represent an “average person”, who usually does it as a side job in conjunction with school or other work.
- Gakuran = A type of boys’ uniform in Japanese schools. It has a very “strict and formal” image, which is probably why Takeuchi doesn’t see Takuya in one.
- The blazer and necktie is another kind of common Japanese school uniform.
- “Kakudou-san” = Hiroyuki Kakudou, series director for Adventure and Adventure 02 and episode director for Tamers, Frontier, and Xros Wars. He served as the sound director for the relevant drama CD.
- Frieza = A character from Dragon Ball, also played by Ryuusei Nakao.
- Kouichi and Kouji’s names are written “輝一” and “輝二”, with the “ichi” (一) and “ji” (二) being “one” and “two” respectively. “Kouzou” in this case is “輝三”, with the “zou” (三) being “three”.
- Sentai = Referring to the popular tokusatsu series Super Sentai, a Toei-produced yearly superhero series of transforming hero teams that has been ongoing since 1975. The franchise was localized in the West as Power Rangers.