A translation of this Anime! Anime! article from March 1, 2020, featuring an interview with voice actors Junko Noda (V-mon), Naozumi Takahashi (Wormmon), Kouichi Tohchika (Hawkmon), and Megumi Urawa (Armadimon) from Digimon Adventure 02 and 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. The Digimon from Digimon Adventure 02 will also appear in this movie. Today, we’ve interviewed Junko Noda, Naozumi Takahashi, Kouichi Tohchika, and Megumi Urawa, the voice actors for the Digimon in 02.
The movie Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna was released in theaters across the country on February 21 (Friday). On top of the familiar Digimon from Digimon Adventure, such as Agumon, the movie also featured V-mon, Wormmon, Hawkmon, and Armadimon from Digimon Adventure 02, making many fans very happy.
The Digimon of 02 were played by the same voice actors who played them during the TV broadcast: Junko Noda (V-mon), Naozumi Takahashi (Wormmon), Kouichi Tohchika (Hawkmon), and Megumi Urawa (Armadimon).
How did the Digimon adjust to seeing the children grow up? We listened to them talk about the challenge of doing after-recording with a new partner, along with some behind-the-scenes stories behind 02‘s broadcast.
[Interview: Roko Hashibi and Dai Esaki; Transcript: Roko Hashibi; Photography: Souta Ohara]
[Relevant article] Round-table discussion with the 02 cast
The New 02 Cast for Digimon Kizuna Talks About the Adventure of Deepening “Bonds”: Fukujuurou Katayama × Ayaka Asai × Yoshitaka Yamaya
02‘s time has finally come!
–How did you feel when it was decided that you would appear in this movie?
Noda: I was really happy, I thought, “02‘s time has finally come!” 02 has a very deep relationship with the original Digimon Adventure (hereinafter “Adventure“), but I was always really annoyed that we didn’t get to be in the following series.
I appeared at “Digimon Adventure Fes 2015 Eve” with Takahashi-kun, but even though Digimon Adventure tri. kept going on after that, we didn’t get to be in it. It was a bit lonely (laughs).
Takahashi: I was like “Wormmon doesn’t get to be in it…” So when I heard I got to be Wormmon again for this movie, I was very happy.
Wormmon is a character so close to me that I could even say he’s a part of myself, and I still have a bunch of stuffed Wormmon toys in my room.
Tohchika: It’s been a very long time since 02 aired, so to be very frank about it, I was thinking “I’m glad they didn’t change the Digimon cast” (laughs). It’s not uncommon for the cast to be swapped out for remakes, so I’m very glad they let me keep the role.
But I think the director and the others were casting us based on their image of our Digimon voices from the time when the anime first aired on TV, so I had to do some work to remember how I played him back then.
It would be pretty bad if they got the Digimon cast together and then you get the feeling of “hmm, doesn’t that feel a bit off?”
–Did you rewatch 02 in order to remember how you did it?
Takahashi: I didn’t particularly have to.
Noda: Of course you didn’t (laughs). I’m one of the ones who did.
Tohchika: For me, the process of recording for 02 was like an adventure in itself, and I was trying out different things in acting itself at the time. So there are a lot of parts where I remember thinking “I was doing this at the time.”
–In 02, Urawa-san played not only Armadimon, but also his partner Iori. Did that give you an extra sense of attachment to the series?
Urawa: 02 is a work that is very, very important to me, to the point it’s like my treasure.
When I was asked to come out for 02 again, it was like bringing it out of the treasure box and getting my hands all over it. Of course, I don’t dislike the feeling, but it makes me a little nervous, like, “is it okay to do this?”
Noda: And also because Iori’s role was reassigned to Yamaya-kun, too (laughs).
Urawa: It was (laughs). So for this movie, I was told, right off the bat, “we’re changing the role of Iori, and we’re auditioning for a new actor for him.”
Hearing that was like hearing that my child had gotten married (laughs). It was a complicated feeling, like, “someone’s taken my precious Iori-kun away from me!”
Our partners are here, and they’ve grown
–Did your feelings change when you heard the performance of Iori’s new actor, Yoshitaka Yamaya?
Urawa: For this movie, we had a preliminary reading prior to the post-recording.
At the time, I was still thinking, “someone else is playing my Iori-kun…”, but Yamaya-kun had been thoroughly studying Iori all the way up until the time of production. Once we got to post-recording, all of his efforts immediately came through.
Instead of trying to imitate my acting, he’d worked hard to understand Iori at his core. That’s why I ended up conceding and thinking, “Iori grew up, and now he’s here.”
–Daisuke, Miyako, and Ken were also recasted. How did it feel to meet your new partners for the first time?
Noda: We got to meet the new cast that would be playing the children at the preliminary meeting.
After that, on the suggestion of Urawa-san, we had a drinking party with the 02 cast, and I think the feelings of awkwardness and anxiety vanished as we were talking over it. Of course, all of us in the cast are adults, so we talked while drinking alcohol (laughs).
Tohchika: I didn’t have any sense of discomfort from the very beginning, and I was more wondering how the new cast would get used to us as the 02 Digimon.
The new cast must have been the most nervous of all, so we thought we’d give them a little push, like “come over and dive into the world of 02!” (laughs) It was meant as that kind of drinking party.
Takahashi: We had a lot of fun getting all of the new members of the cast together and hanging out with them at the drinking party.
Thanks to that, I thought, “we’ll definitely make this work.”
–When you saw the illustrations and the performances of your partner, did they fit the image you had of them in mind?
Noda: Their voices had changed and they were older, but I was relieved to see that their core hadn’t changed.
I’m saying this with all the love a parent would have, but to me, Daisuke is, at his core, an idiot, and so I thought, “yeah, that hasn’t changed, even though he’s an adult now.” He’s working really hard now, so that means he’s running around in circles (laughs).
Takahashi: Ken-chan was the kind of child who was good at sports and studying, but once he became an adult, he managed to polish himself up even further.
When I first saw Arthur (Lounsbery)-kun, who plays Ken, I felt like I’d just seen my relative’s child for the first time in a really long while. I thought, “He’s gotten older. But he’s gotten very good-looking!…Very nice.” (laughs)
Tohchika: The new cast, including Asai-san, who plays Miyako, are all up-and-coming voice actors, and so they’re fairly new to this whole thing overall. Working with them felt very fresh, and even at the recording site there was a sense of reality to it, like, “ah, this is the new Miyako-san. You’ve really grown up so much.”
We’re still playing these roles from the perspective of Digimon, but our partners are now growing up and becoming adults. I think the fact there was this kind of generation gap between us voice actors turned out to actually be for the better.
Urawa: It wasn’t just for my partner but for all of the other partners as well, but they made me realize, “this is what it means to be picked by audition.”
Not everyone can get into their role from the beginning, but as they continue to research and practice and research and practice, you can see the character itself in them. The casting for this is so well-done, I seriously commend the staff who helped pick them out in the audition.
02 created in a way so nothing gets buried
–Please tell us some stories from the days of 02‘s broadcast. Are there still any particular moments you remember from post-recording?
Tohchika: Digimon in both Adventure and 02 have very strong characteristics. On the other hand, Hawkmon has a much less impactful character compared to the other Digimon, so…
Everyone else: What?!
Tohchika: I was just thinking, I have to make sure I don’t get buried in there. I was still trying to venture out in ways to make my acting presence more prominent, so I can still remember those days very well.
There were also times when I would consult with Miyako’s voice actress, Rio Natsuki-san, and ask “was my acting okay just now?”
Urawa: I think I was just doing whatever I wanted during the post-recording (laughs).
Tohchika: You were all very impactful, I’m telling you!
Noda: No, we weren’t (laughs).
Tohchika: The main cast and even the one-off characters were all very unique personalities in their own way, so I felt like this was the kind of series where you can’t just act as you normally would (laughs).
There are so many kinds of Digimon that you can’t make them too similar to other characters, and you can’t let them get buried in the crowd.
I feel like since those days of struggling, I’ve managed to grow a lot as a voice actor.
–Takahashi-san, do you have any particular memories from acting as Wormmon?
Takahashi: Whenever really bad things happened to Wormmon, I felt like it would cut me deep inside, too.
At the time, I’d been informed at the very beginning about where the story was going to go, so when the kids from my neighborhood started watching 02 and asked me, “Nao-nii, are you playing an evil Digimon?”, it got frustrating. I’m not allowed to say that he’s actually a good guy. The only thing I could say to them was “Yeah, I am. I know, it’s sad…”
–Noda-san’s character, V-mon, is the mascot for 02. Were you conscious about taking the baton from Adventure‘s Agumon?
Noda: We were working off the same universe as Adventure, so I just thought I should just play my role and keep up the pace. V-mon literally has a stone head, so I thought, “I’ll just keep running at the wall and go nuts!”
It wasn’t just to keep up with my senior voice actors, I wanted to be able to stand alongside them during the post-recording, even through just my feelings.
–Urawa-san’s character, Armadimon, has a specific characteristic in that he speaks in Nagoya dialect. Were you familiar with Nagoya dialect before then?
Urawa: I’m not from Nagoya myself, but I had experience playing characters who speak in Nagoya dialect, and I myself actually ended up giving some advice about Armadimon’s lines. Even in this movie, his “~dagya!”1 is a highlight (laughs).
I’m glad to have been in Digimon
–It’s been around 20 years since you were in 02. Have there ever been times when you felt something like “I’m glad to have been in Digimon”?
Takahashi: I’m very happy about the fact that people I normally wouldn’t have an easy time talking to might start talking about Digimon, and we can get closer thanks to that. Recently, I had the opportunity to be told at various recording sites things like “oh, I watched 02 as it aired.”
Even though they’re from a completely different generation, I can just drop a bit of the evolution lines in front of them and they’ll be so happy they start screaming (laughs).
And at the same time, I also realized how much time had passed, given that the children from back then have now grown up.
Noda: I’m glad to be involved in a work that lets children and adults have conversations that cross generations. My nephew is from the generation that was watching 02, so when I told him “I’m going to be in a Digimon movie,” he gave me this huge grin.
And normally, I can’t do anything like loud yelling at home because I’m going to disturb the neighbors, but whenever I record at the site for Digimon, it’s very refreshing because I can yell the attack names as much as I want (laughs).
–Those attack names really make you want to yell those out.
Noda: I really want to yell them out! I got to yell as much as I liked for this movie.
Tohchika: Yelling out attack names is really fun for me, too. Since Digimon are always evolving, it’s also fun to be able to make all sorts of voices.
Even when I’m appearing in other works, I often scribble “like Shurimon” or “like Poromon” in the script (laughs).
I played all sorts of voices in Digimon, so my repertoire increased a lot. I went through a whole series of adventures while being in 02 for a year, and now it’s become a very important asset in my career.
Urawa: Being in 02 for a year was like a dream, and so I’ve always thought “I’m glad to have been in Digimon.”
It was a very intense year, where I played a ton of roles through all of the evolutions and I had to talk to myself, and I had to sing songs in-character. Once we started to approach the final episode, it was like waking up from that dream, and the thought of it made me so lonely that there were some days I thought I might cry.
Seeing the adventures of our adult partners with our own eyes
–In closing, please leave a message for the fans who are looking forward to this movie.
Tohchika: First of all, I’d like to say, “the 02 members have returned!”
The movie’s message is in the space that makes up the difference between past and present, so please look out for what’s familiar to you, and what’s changed — both of them.
I hope everyone will be able to see how each character has evolved.
Takahashi: There are times when you’ll worry about how you can live as an adult, but if you don’t think too hard and watch this 90-minute movie, you’ll understand the feeling of “treasuring the now, where you can live with your partner”.
I have a cat, so after I finished watching the movie, I went to go pet my partner, which is to say, my cat.
They also put a lot of detail into the visuals, and there are a lot of scenes where they beautifully depicted scenes of memories and reality. There’s a lot to unpack from it, so please go see it multiple times.
Noda: For those who have been watching the Digimon series up until now, there are scenes that will make you feel very nostalgic. You can compare all of the changes that happened to everything on the whole, or get the feeling out of it that it’s saying, “maybe becoming an adult isn’t all that bad,” but it’s also a work where you can take a lot of things from it.
During the course of your life, you might be tempted to think “the old days were better,” but it’s also important to accept changes when they happen. I’d be very happy if you could watch it with warm feelings as you get older.
Of course, this is also a movie that those who are watching Digimon for the first time can also enjoy.
If you enjoy the chit-chat that happens among the 02 cast, and have fun with the casual parts, too, then, as a cast member, that would also make me very happy.
Urawa: I actually wrote a message beforehand, so can I read it out here?
Noda: Wow, you brought a letter!
Urawa: “To all of the fans. How have you been spending the last twenty years? I don’t think becoming an adult would ever be nothing but fun and happy things. The children of Digimon Adventure seem to have come a little closer to becoming adults. They’ve worried about things, they’ve struggled, and sometimes they’ve cried, but through all of it they went forward one step at a time. And so, along with their partner Digimon who are always watching over them, they’ll keep going towards their future, and so I hope all of you will also go to see their adventure.”
Everyone who was present at the interview was touched by Urawa-san’s message, which she read out in a gentle voice. It has been around twenty years since 02 first aired, but the cast’s words and facial expressions showed very clearly that their love for the series has never changed.
Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna has finally been released. Please enjoy the reunion with the 02 Digimon, and their partners, who have now grown up.
- “~dagya” (alternatively, sometimes ~da ga ya) refers to the particle stuck onto Armadimon’s speech as part of his Nagoya dialect. It’s not actually correct usage, but a “TV dialect” version.