A translation of this Anime! Anime! article from February 29, 2020, featuring an interview with voice actors Fukujuurou Katayama (Daisuke Motomiya), Ayaka Asai (Miyako Inoue), and Yoshitaka Yamaya (Iori Hida) 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). We interviewed Fukujuurou Katayama (Daisuke Motomiya), Ayaka Asai (Miyako Inoue), and Yoshitaka Yamaya (Iori Hida), who were selected to be the new “Chosen Children” cast representing Digimon Adventure 02.
The movie Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna was released in theaters across the country on February 21 (Friday). It also managed to attract quite a bit of attention thanks to the new appearances of the Chosen Children from Digimon Adventure 02.
The new cast for these “Chosen Children” would be Fukujuurou Katayama (Daisuke Motomiya), Ayaka Asai (Miyako Inoue), and Yoshitaka Yamaya (as Iori Hida).
For these voice actors, who grew up watching Digimon as children, it was not easy to take on the baton as new cast members. In praticular, Asai admitted,” at first I couldn’t even read Miyako’s lines all the way until the end.”
How did these three people overcome the hurdle of participating in a work with this kind of history? We talked with Katayama, Asai, and Yamaya about their adventure in which the reborn 02 team deepened their bonds.
[Interview: Roko Hashibi and Dai Esaki; Transcript: Roko Hashibi; Photography: Souta Ohara]
We kept worrying about the audition results
–All of you were picked to be the “Chosen Children” via audition. How did you feel before you were selected for the role?
Katayama: I heard about the results of the audition in around October of 2018, near the end of the year. I’d been fussing over whether I’d passed or failed for about two months before the results came in.
Yamaya: Digimon is a series that I have very special feelings about, so I inevitably ended up worrying about the results. Even thinking things like “if they end up picking someone besides me, who’s going to be getting it?”
Asai: I’m naturally worried about the results for anything I audition for, but Digimon was a series I’d been watching since I was a kid, so until the results came out it just wouldn’t leave my mind.
Then, from the end of 2018, when I was informed that I’d passed, we had a bit of a free period prior to the summer of 2019, when we did post-recording. In the meantime, we also did a reading, which also served as our face-to-face meeting. We recorded over two days, but it was still a very long time for me to have to face the fact I’d gotten the role.
–What was the atmosphere like during post-recording?
Katayama: It had been a bit of a while since the initial reading, so I was very nervous.
Due to some circumstances with my schedule, I wasn’t able to participate in the first day of the post-recording, so I had to record some scenes by myself on the second day. That said, I was able to do my performance while listening to all of the recordings from the day before, so everyone’s voices ended up giving me energy.
Asai: Because he was really worried about Katayama-san having to record by himself, Arthur (Lounsbery)-san (who plays Ken Ichijouji) came in person to the site early so he could lend him some energy (laughs).
Katayama: He was constantly keeping watch over me, so it made me feel a lot better (laughs). Arthur-kun wasn’t supposed to be recording until much later, but he said “I don’t have anything else to do today anyway” and came early. It felt like the sort of kindness you’d expect from Ken-chan.
Asai: Even at the recording site, Daisuke and Ken-chan were getting along so well. During the post-recording, the two of them were constantly flirting with each other.
Katayama: Flirting, you say (laughs).
An adventure to get a grasp on the character
–This movie features Daisuke and his friends, having grown up since the time of 02. What things did you keep in mind when acting?
Katayama: The first thing I always kept in mind was that I should not try to be an imitator.
You’ll understand if you go back and watch 02, but Daisuke’s original voice actress, Reiko Kiuchi-san, played him with a very deep voice. Her voice for him didn’t pitch upwards, but felt like it came from the back of the throat. I cherished the voice from those days, but also tried to grasp for what kind of voice I could give him from myself.
But the charming thing about Daisuke in this movie is that he’s energetic, and forceful, and, in a good way, an idiot. So I wanted to do it in such a way that as soon as you hear the first words out of his mouth, you think “02‘s back!”, and so I needed to give him the kind of energy that could change the mood entirely in an instant.
They gave me a lot more directions than I’d expected, like “you can be a bit more energetic here,” so I made him loud and passionate.
Asai: I also thought about how to do this in a way that wouldn’t just make me into some kind of impersonator. I have too many strong feelings about this series to begin with, and at first I couldn’t even read Miyako’s lines all the way until the end. I felt uncomfortable because I thought I hadn’t really become Miyako…
I’d watched the TV series as a child, but I felt that I should rewatch 02 as an adult, so I rewatched the 02 TV series and all of its relevant movies prior to the audition.
As I was doing so, I realized that people have certain parts of themselves that never change, no matter how much older they get. Even if someone’s voice changes, their essential aspects, such as their personality or speaking habits, wouldn’t change much. So as I was rewatching 02, I looked out for as many of Miyako’s individual quirks as I could.
I felt like I was able to say the lines in Miyako’s voice because I went through Miyako’s adventure with her.
Katayama: I think Daisuke and Miyako are the kind of characters where picking out their individual quirks is easy to do, but Iori is on another level of difficulty.
Yamaya: He’s the kind where he doesn’t have as many in-your-face aspects as others would. He doesn’t have any special verbal tics, or any brightness or cheerfulness that jumps out at you, or anything else like that.
Iori-kun is the type of child who is always somewhat detached and has been trained to always speak with polite language, but there are moments where he gets angry, his emotions get the better of him, and he slips into casual speech.1
But because this movie has him mostly in a calm state of mind, I felt it was difficult to show off the depths of his character.
The way he talks in such a detached manner makes him come off as a rather grim, but Iori-kun is not a grim person. I had to find a way to communicate to the audience that he’s just someone who happens to be very serious about things.
So I focused on trying to get rid of all of the gloom in my voice, and really tried to refine my and Iori-kun’s voice.
–During the post-recording, Megumi Urawa-san (who played Armadimon) was with you. Considering that she also played Iori in 02, how did you feel?
Yamaya: To be honest, it wasn’t comforting as much as it made me want to constantly apologize…We had a preliminary reading session prior to the post-recording, and that’s where I met Urawa-san for the first time.
But I couldn’t bring myself to ask her “what did you do to play Iori back then?”, I felt I shouldn’t. I was given the role of Iori, and I’m the one who has to take responsibility for it and work on it on my own terms. Maybe I felt it would have been less like hearing about how to do it correctly from her, and too much like stealing from my senior voice actor’s work.
I think it wasn’t until after the post-recording that I was able to face my acting and what I did and think “I did good.”
A drinking party that deepened the bonds of the 02 cast
–Did you interact with the Digimon cast in any way beyond the post-recording?
Katayama: After the preliminary reading, Urawa-san suggested a drinking party for the 02 cast, so we could get a proper feeling of atmosphere and emotional closeness, and talk about how we felt about the work.
If we hadn’t had that reading and drinking party, this project would have ended up as something completely different.
Well, actually, we probably should have been the ones to invite them and say “let’s go for drinks together,” but we couldn’t say it because what if everyone else has plans? (laughs)
Yamaya: After the reading, I was thinking “there’s got to be something going on after this,” and ended up walking home late (laughs).
Asai: I got a phone call right before I was about to get on the bus, and I immediately turned around and went back (laughs).
During the drinking party, Hawkmon’s actor, (Kouichi) Tohchika-san, said “you really were Miyako,” and I was really happy. I was recognized by my own partner Digimon, and I felt like I’d finally made it to the proper starting line.
Katayama: At the drinking party, Tohchika-san told us, “you are the Chosen Children.” And he said about my acting, “I could tell that you were very worried, but I think that ended up being a good thing,” and I was happy to hear that he thought my efforts were a good thing.
Incidentally, he said about Yamaya-kun, “as far as Iori’s concerned, Urawa-san herself is here with us, so that probably made it very hard for you” (laughs).
Yamaya: He wasn’t the only one who asked me “how did you feel having to play Iori in front of Urawa-san?” (laughs). But those kinds of jokes were how our Digimon senior voice actors were supporting us in their own ways.
Junko Noda-san (who plays V-mon) is the kind of person who can get up and close about your feelings and really comes down and cares for us.
Urawa-san is the kind of person who shows her feelings without words, so she doesn’t always say things directly, but if something happens, she does speak up.
Tohchika-san is the kind of person who gives very precise advice. At the launch session, he told us about what kind of body posture I should use when doing the post-recording.
Naozumi Takahashi-san (who plays Wormmon)…is like some kind of god or something (laughs).
Asai: Like a god (laughs). Always watching over us with a smile.
Katayama: I think the sort of harmonious atmosphere we formed between us in our 02 group was naturally formed by the drinking party and the post-recording. There are still a lot of times when I keep slipping up, and I’m always being propped up by everyone’s support (laughs).
Asai: Katayama-san and Noda-san get along really well with each other, and it seems like they went out to eat together even after post-recording ended.
Katayama: We go out for ramen together, like Daisuke and V-mon!
Actually, it was a personal goal of mine when working on this, but I really wanted Daisuke and V-mon to come off as close friends.
Of course, any Digimon and partner combo should come off as a natural and obvious best possible pairing. But when I was scrutinizing it closely, I felt that Daisuke and V-mon should especially come off as looking like they get along the best.
So that’s why it was so important for us to maintain a sense of emotional closeness between ourselves as members of the cast. I think we both were thinking the same thing, and so the two of us kept going out to restaurants and tea shops more and more.
Enjoying what didn’t change, and what did change
–In closing, please leave a message to fans who are looking forward to the movie.
Katayama: This is something I put all of my effort into, so I hope you go to see it again and again. There are all of these little details placed carefully around everywhere, and you should keep an eye out even for the scenes that don’t have any dialogue. The more you watch it, the more you might discover something new!
Asai: I think this is something that can hit the right spots, even for those who have been watching Digimon since childhood. I’m sure you can find something that lingers within your heart in this movie, the same way Digimon movies did for me when I was a kid.
I hope you will come to the theater, bring back the heart you had as a child, and enjoy this story full of things that must change, things that you don’t want to change, and things that must not change.
Yamaya: There were scenes that felt sad when I read them off a script that had nothing but sentences on it, but my view of them changed when I saw them in completed form.
Even if things have changed, I think these characters’ feelings and how they choose to continue walking forward should be conveyed to you.
There are many aspects that will make Digimon fans happy, such as tributes to the past series. Once I’d finished watching, I felt satisfied, like I’d had a full meal.
Of course, this is still a movie you can enjoy as a self-contained story even if you’ve never seen anything of Digimon before, so if you have the time and money, please come see it again and again.
I want to go see it in the theater too, together, with the rest of our 02 group.
Asai: If you go watch it, we might be in the back, behind everyone else!…Huh? This sounds a bit like a horror movie now (laughs).
After the interview, we asked the three of them, “have you ever felt like Digimon really exist?” and the three of them instantly responded, “of course!”
“When I was a kid, I was always wondering why I’d never find my own Digivice on the desk,” said Asai. Katayama described it as his childhood dream. “I was an only child, so I was always thinking, I wish I had some kind of partner like a Digimon!”
Yamaya, agreeing, held up his life-sized Armadimon plush and hugged it with a glimmer in his eyes.
The grown-up 02 characters, created together with their friends. Please watch their new adventure at the theater.
- Yamaya refers to the fact that Iori is one of only two characters within Adventure and Adventure 02 to speak perpetually in polite form (~masu, desu, etc.) even in casual situations. It’s implied to be a result of his heavily formal upbringing under his grandfather, and he has a tendency to start slipping into standard casual form (tameguchi) whenever he gets emotionally compromised or angry.