Anime Central 2017: Tohru Furuya Q&A
One of the guests at Anime Central 2017 was Tohru Furuya, a Japanese voice actor behind several Anime characters from my childhood: Seiya, Amuro, Yamcha and Tuxedo Mask.
At Anime Central, members of the press are invited to attend intimate Q&A sessions with the guests. Of course, I could not pass up the opportunity to learn a bit more about Tohru and his experiences as a voice actor. Below is a transcript of the Q&A session. The questions were asked by the various members of the press. Tohru’s statements were translated by the translator present at the press session.
Tohru’s Opening statement:
This is my first time here at Anime Central and as well as Chicago, and so I was very much looking forward to coming here. Yesterday I went to the Millennium Park and I also wanted to go on the river cruise, but it was raining, so I decided I will go tomorrow after closing ceremonies. So today I went to the Shedd Aquarium to see the 4D experience. The Sea Monster was great. I had hot dog and pizza, but the portions were so big. It was difficult to finish it all. *Tohru in English: “I am small”*
That is it for me.
Q: What kind of pizza was it? (My rough translation as this was asked in Japanese)
A: It was deep dish pizza. It was delicious.
A: It wasn’t at a particular restaurant, but at the lounge here.
Q: Can you tell me how the music has changed in Japan over the years?
A: In the old days, Anime music was music that was specifically written just for the animated shows. But eventually it came to be that the shows would ride on the popularity of major artists and their existing songs would be used for anime shows. But when it comes to major, popular shows such as Dragon Ball Z, One piece and Saint Seiya, they have the budget, so they still write their own music for the shows.
Q: Going along the similar lines, how do you feel you have evolved as a voice actor since you began, for where you are now?
A: Since I started 50 years ago, that was such a long time, that the biggest change would be the evolution in recording technology. When I started we had no videos. We just had a big screen that we would project film onto like a movie theater and then we would record. Since sound editing technology was still not as mature as today, if there was somebody who stubbed their line, we had to retake the entire scene all over from the beginning. Today in the studio, we have a standard four microphones and each has an individual display in front of it; and even if somebody flubs their line, we can just do a retake on that specific line and that edit it in. So recording has become significantly much more easy. So in the old days, since we had a projector screen, the entire screen needed to be darkened and our script needed to be spot lit, so this was in the dark and it was very hard to see the faces of the other cast members. But today, since work with video displays, the studio is well lit and we have an easier time reading from the script. Although that makes it a little bit more embarrassing to perform a love scene.
Q: What’s your favorite character you have played and why?
A: Up till recently Kyosuke Kasuga from Kimagure Orange Road was my most favorite character and that was because when I was playing Kyosuke, I could go back to my teenage years. Today though, my favorite character is Tohru Amuro in Boy Detective Conan, Case Closed, and that’s because the show is very popular with the girls.
Q: I was just curious, what got you into voice acting and acting in general?
A: I started when I was 5 years old. This comes from a mother who loves show business herself. She saw me listening to the radio and dancing to the music on the radio. She thought I must be a good fit to go into show business. So she enrolled me into one of the children’s’ troupes. In my first role as a voice actor came when I was 12 years old. This was for a Toei feature called Kaizoku Oji, Pirate Prince. I was the main character kid and I go this through an audition.
Q: What is recording anime like in Japan? I know here, it’s basically redubbing. So it’s basically an actor just by themselves. Are you with other people? Do you perform with others?
A: As I hinted before, the studio has four microphones. It means that the entire cast members gather into the booth and record together. When we do a 30 min show, its split into two parts, the first part and second part. So the 15 minute parts are recorded in these chunks. When us voice actors put in the sound, there is no audio yet in the anime at this point. The voice actors put in the voice first and then the music and sound effects are put in after that. Today there are so many anime titles, shows being made at the same time that it’s almost never that we have finished animation that we can perform against. A lot of times we might be lucky to be performing against line drawings. Other times we would be performing to timed word balloons that just say dialogue. So there really is no sense of performance from the visual cues…that is not coming from any animation. So we voice actors really need to talk with the director and understand the scene and perform according to our understanding.
Q: What would you say is your single biggest challenge when voicing new characters?
A: When I get to look into performing a new character this is almost [always] through an audition process. This starts by gathering information about the character that you are auditioning for. A lot of times that might be through looking on the internet or animation magazines are pretty quick to publish information about upcoming shows; so I would read through that. So I would go through and make my interpretation about the character I would be auditioning for. And if it’s based on previous material, I would make sure to read the book or manga. Once I pass the audition, before going into the studio for the first time, I would go through the script and read through it and go through various character simulations at home, as though it was the actual take… trace through the characters motions and such, and simulate. After that, I would go to the studio for recoding and I would perform according the way I imagined my character would be and work it out with the director and come up with a shared idea of what the character should be.
Q: Because it’s all voice emotion that you are conveying, what is the hardest character you had to convey?
A: The most difficult character I’d say would be the character that I thought would not match my voice and this would be Dr. Kosaku Tokita in the movie Paprika. This is character who is a 200 Kilogram, shall we say 400lb, man. So I didn’t think this was a fit for me. I turned down the role at first. The director came back to me and said, “play the character as though tis a pure-hearted teenager.” I thought this would be exactly the same as performing Amuro Rey from Gundam, so I took on the role.
|Posted 30 May, 2017 - 14:18 by SentaiSeiya||
Comments1 comment posted
I'm still miffed that I had to pick between meeting Tohru Furuya and watching MIQ perform a few years ago at AWA. Thanks for the interview though! It's quite enjoyable and insightful.