A translation of this Anime! Anime! article from February 22, 2020, featuring an interview with voice actors Natsuki Hanae (Taichi Yagami) and Chika Sakamoto (Agumon) about Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna.
(Director Tomohisa Taguchi interview | Natsuki Hanae and Chika Sakamoto interview | 02 human cast voice actor interview | 02 Digimon cast voice actor interview | Producer Yousuke Kinoshita and supervisor Hiromi Seki interview)
Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna was released on February 21 (Friday). With this movie being said to be “the last story of Taichi Yagami and Agumon”, how did these two take on the challenge of this movie? We asked Natsuki Hanae-san and Chika Sakamoto-san about their thoughts, and their love for the Digimon series.
The movie Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna was released in theaters across the country on February 21 (Friday). This movie depicts the “Chosen Children” and their partner Digimon having to make a choice that will determine whether they can continue facing forward towards the future.
Natsuki Hanae, the voice actor for Taichi Yagami, spoke about the appeal of this movie, saying, “it may be the final story, but you can take it in a positive way.” Chika Sakamoto, the voice actress for Agumon, was focused on the idea “I’m going to cherish the time I have together with Taichi” during post-recording.
With this movie being said to be “the last story of Taichi Yagami and Agumon”, how did these two take on the challenge of this movie? We asked the two of them about their thoughts, and their love for the Digimon series.
[Interview: Roko Hashibi and Dai Esaki; Transcript: Roko Hashibi; Photography: Souta Ohara]
I thought, “I’m going to cherish the time I have together with Taichi”
–When did you learn about this project being under production?
Hanae: When we were doing interviews prior to the screening for part 6 of Digimon Adventure tri., I remember hearing that “there’s going to be another Digimon project.”
Sakamoto: After part 6 of tri., we recorded another Agumon line, “we’ll meet again,” and so that was the first time I realized, “we’re going to be seeing everyone again soon” (laughs). I couldn’t have imagined it’d be the final story, though.
–This movie features Taichi, who’s now become a university student. Hanae-san, you also played Taichi as a high school student in Digimon Adventure tri. Did you have to change your approach to performance?
Hanae: I wasn’t that particularly focused on changing the way I performed. The director also told me, “you don’t have to force yourself to sound like an adult.”
I think Taichi’s growth into a university student came out pretty apparently through his words and expressions and the different environment he was in, and so I didn’t make any major changes to his voice.
–What were your impressions upon reading the script?
Sakamoto: As I was reading the script, I really did feel like we were heading towards the “end”, and I thought, “this really is the end for our part in Digimon”.
Hanae: There were times when I was reading the script and felt very sad, but I think the fact it’s the end is also something you can take in a positive way.
It’s certainly the final story, but the relationship of trust between Taichi and Agumon hasn’t changed at all. It’s not like everything has entirely come to an end.
Sakamoto: In my case, I didn’t want to be overwhemled by sad feelings, so during the post-recording, I kept the thought that “I’m going to cherish the time I have together with Taichi, as I always would.”
There are all sorts of things you can think about this, like that this adult version of Taichi is “cool”, or “in the end, Taichi is Taichi after all,” but the one thing I wanted to get across was that the way Agumon looks at Taichi when watching over him will never change.
–Was there any particular atmosphere unique to this “final story” at the post-recording site?
Hanae: I wouldn’t say it was as dark as night or anything (laughs), but it was definitely a sort of harmonious atmosphere.
Sakamoto: Most of them didn’t have nearly as many lines as we did, so I feel like there was some leeway there (laughs).
Also, we got to have a little reunion with the Digimon Adventure 02 cast for this movie, so we got to feel the joy of playing these characters from the full crowd.
Hanae: I could tell that the new cast for the 02 Chosen Children was also very nervous. I was constantly nervous the whole time I was working on tri., so I know exactly how they feel.
During the post-recording, I was secretly cheering them on, like, “you can do it!” (laughs)
–Sakamoto-san, you’ve been playing Agumon for around twenty years. Do you ever get to personally feel the impact of being such a regular member of the Digimon cast?
Sakamoto: It’s not like I was playing Agumon every single week for those twenty years, and actually, it wasn’t until I got to see the fans personally at Digimon events that the impact of it actually hit me.
When Digimon Adventure was originally airing, I didn’t have that many opportunities to have direct contact with fans, so when I started appearing in tri.-related events, I was shocked, I thought, “I didn’t realize there were this many Digimon fans all over the world!” I wish I’d known this earlier (laughs).
–On the other hand, Hanae-san, you’re from the “Digimon generation” that watched Digimon every week as it was airing. What kind of work is the Digimon series to you?
Hanae: It’s something that’s been loved for such a long time, and as a result it has the appeal of being able to reach across generations. I think that’s one of the really amazing things about Digimon.
Back then, I wasn’t the type who thought too hard about the story, but still, there was something in it that appealed to my heart as a child. I think it’s the kind of series that you can enjoy even when you rewatch it as an adult.
Also, now that I’m an adult, I’m so happy that I can finally buy all of the Digimon merchandise that I couldn’t when I was a kid.
Sakamoto: At times like these, you end up very happy that you’re an adult now. You can spend as much money as you want without any fear of your parents getting mad at you or going “okay, you need to stop” (laughs).
–Did your impression of Digimon change as you worked on this movie?
Hanae: Rather than changing any of my impressions, I think it’s actually a movie that’s full of what’s always made Digimon click. It’s a very Digimon-esque story, about overcoming problems through your bonds and approaching the truth.
There were also a lot of scenes that were made of the original Digimon Adventure movie in mind, and I felt that this is a movie truly made for the generation of people who were watching Digimon back then.
If something has changed, it’s that Taichi and his friends are now using more modern devices. They can chat with their friends using apps, and the designs of their Digivice have evolved further and become more smartphone-shaped.
Sakamoto: I actually felt that my own perception of Digimon changed a lot, even during production. In the past, they had to pretend to be stuffed animals before they went out, but in this movie, they don’t have to put on any kind of disguises at all.
Agumon can eat alongside Taichi and walk side by side with him, and he’s made himself at home within the town, and that makes me happy.
But Agumon’s a big eater, so if he goes to an all-you-can-eat joint with Taichi, they may get kicked out (laughs).
A movie that lets you enjoy both the aspects of the source and the changes
–The fact that the original version of “Butter-Fly” will be used for this movie was a hot topic. Does “Butter-Fly” have any deep meanings to the two of you?
Hanae: It’s the original TV series’s opening song, so it’s a song that leaves such an impression on you that you’re like “if we’re talking about Digimon, it’s gotta be this song.” Even people who don’t know anything about Digimon will know about Butter-Fly. It’s a good song that makes everyone want to sing along.
For me, the power of (Kouji) Wada-san’s singing vocals brings me courage.
Sakamoto: I was surprised to hear that so many people sing “Butter-Fly” often at karaoke. I like every version of Butter-Fly, but I do particularly like the original version. Wada-san’s vocals spread out in an incredible manner, and there’s a special feeling to it.
–In closing, please leave a message for the fans who are planning to watch the movie.
Hanae: I feel that this is a work that will strike right in the hearts of fans who have been watching Digimon for all this time. There are a lot of things you should look out for, like the bonds [kizuna] between the Digimon and their partners, and the feelings overflowing out of the new character, Menoa.
The way they use all of the songs in such a nostalgic fashion and the last evolution are very, very cool, so please look forward to it.
It’s also a movie that makes you realize all of the choices you have to make when you become an adult. The contrast between Taichi and Yamato at the end is splendid, and just remembering it will make you cry.
Sakamoto: When I saw the completed footage, I felt like I myself was reliving the time Taichi and Agumon and all of the others spent together, and I was so deeply shocked and burst into tears, “I didn’t think i would cry this hard!”
Of course, there are a lot of other amusing scenes, and ultimately it’s a movie that makes you think, “becoming an adult isn’t all that bad,” so please look forward to it. Being in this interview has also made me realize that I want to go back and watch it again.
Please go and watch the movie at the theater, where you can see what future Taichi and Agumon have chosen, and how it so deeply touched their actors.