I had the awesome chance to meet and interview Miyamuro Yuko, the voice actress of iconic Anime character Asuka Langley (Neon Genesis Evangelion) when I attended SMASH in Sydney last July.
Miyamuro-san was the first guest I interviewed, her cuteness and friendly disposure was so assuring. She was such a sweet heart and answered pretty much everything we asked! Check out the audio interview in the video below! There is also a transcript version of the interview further down.
Because her translator cum Western Manager were our hotelmate/friend we even had the chance to meet her up close in our hotel room the next few days >w<!! *Shows offs* .
Enjoy the interview!
K: You are very famous for being Asuka. And Asuka and Evangelion is huge in Japan and in the Anime Community. How does it feel like to be voice of such an iconic Anime character?
Y: Actually in the beginning I didn’t realize that it was so famous in the world. I knew Evangelion was very big in Japan but to think that there was so many fans in overseas and that there was the English version as well, the English seiyuus . I didn’t even know that it exists.
But of course I know it now XD!
So the first time I actually found out about all the international popularity, I was really surprise. The story of Evangelion is set in the future of Japan and so there were a lot of references to the culture of the middle school and the society of Japan. So I thought that perhaps people in west might not understand a lot of that aspect.
Not just the western audience but all the Asian and all the people around the world are becoming fans and with Asuka in particular, they love her character and understand her feeling. So i feel that it’s a very warm feeling and it’s amazing that it almost feels like everyone is becoming one
K: through anime!
Y: yes, through the anime
K: So my next question is, because of the fact that Asuka and Evangelion is so big how does it feels like? Is there any pressure to break out of the role of Asuka when she voices other characters?
T: it’s actually not difficult to actually change between doing Asuka’s character and another character. Because even from the beginning, I was doing dual jobs at the same time, so to switch from Asuka to a different character for a job is not too difficult.
K: Can I get her to say “Shinji Baka” in Asuka’s voice and a non-Asuka voice?
Y: *does different examples*
T: So she did different examples, the first was of Asuka doing Asuka’s line and the second was of her detective Conan character “Kazuha” and the third character was Niea from NieA 7. And that was the different way they did the same sort of feeling of the line but obviously each different character.
So Asuka’s a very tsundere character it’s quite strong but a moe character wouldn’t use those exact same words…so the words does change.
K: There is a lot of upcoming Eva movies and I understand it’s a remake of the original so how do you feel about the new movie versus the original?
Y: So with the new Evangelion, there has been the first two movie and the 2nd half of the movie is quite different from the original TV series. So when it comes to the new film, I wonder how different it is going to be compared to the original TV series.
K: So does she think the original is better or the new one is more exciting?
Y: I can’t exactly say it because the new ones haven’t quite finished yet but what I would like to think is that this version would have a happier ending. To explain a bit, is in the old film, Shinji and Asuka were a bit sad and a bit unfortunate with their ending. And so I’ve always wanted a happy ending and it seems like they might have a chance for a happy ending in the new film.
K: So the new film, they changed Asuka’s name from Soryuu to Shikinami. Is there a reason?
Y: It seems like there IS a reason or the name change. But I can’t exactly say… I have heard from the director a possible reason but whether it’s a lie or he changes his mind or it’s just a trick. I don’t know it either. But… there is a purpose behind that.
K: So it’s like possibly it will be explained in the further episodes?
T: possibly! But, again… doesn’t know whether anything will be real but it might come out.
K: So how is it like to work with Hideaki Anno ?
Y: When we did the original series, working with Hideaki Anno was very difficult. It was a very hard time for me to do the job. But with the new movies , it’s been quite a while since I’ve worked with him and it has become a lot more enjoyable. It’s still difficult, to work with him and do the Evangelion series cause it’s a difficult show but it’s somewhat more enjoyable and fun doing the new show with him.
K: I might have to ask a little bit about what she meant by difficult because, I mean, I can’t voice act. So… is she able to explain to us in a more technical way like … what do you mean by “it’s difficult” to act a certain character?
T: So… not so much that the voice acting was hard for me as a voice actor. But when working with director Hideaki Anno in the original series, it was very hard to understand what he wanted the voice actors to portray in the character in their acting. We would do a scene more than 20 times and it was very unusual for me because in other jobs, we would only do a few times, a few no goods and we would get it right. For Evangelion, it was 20 take plus “this isn’t good, do it again. This isn’t good, do it again.” It would be over and over again so it got to the point where we were like “What else am I meant to do? How can I make this work for what he wants?”.
The way he explained emotions or what he wanted didn’t quite go through to the actors perhaps. That’s why we have to do the retakes so many times.
However, in these new films, we still do 20 takes but the difference this time is that director Hideaki Anno has become a lot more able to express what he wants out of the voice actors. Yes there’s the 20 times. But instead of saying “no that’s not good”
K: He’s exploring the…
T: Yeah he said “Look pls, do it freely, try the scene” and then he would said “Oh you know, not quite right can you try it again? But up to you to try to do it a bit freely “. So it’s giving it a little bit more back to the voice actors who know the characters more so now. So she finds that working this time, it’s a lot less stressful and a lot clearer for them as a voice actor to work with the director as opposed to try to decipher what the director wanted.
K: I’m not sure if this is an okay question for me to ask but I’m just curious to know, because she did so many retakes, how is a Voice actress’s talent fee charged? Is it by per line on screen or is it a contract basis for a character?
Y: Just one price for one movie so even if you take more time, doesn’t matter; you’ve got your one price.
K: Oh so it’s like a fixed price?
T: Fixed price correct!
T: But it’s different like depending on each different Seiyuu
Y: Everyone’s the same plan but it’s just their price is different depending on each person whether it’s high or low.
K: I understand she cannot tell us a lot about the movie but can she say something to excite the fans for the upcoming movie?
Y: I can’t exactly say anything about the movie even though I’m Asuka and I know what’s coming up but..Recently a new trailer came out and it was shown in Shinjuku at a big cinema where they’re going to be showing the movie premiere. When you are a voice actor, you don’t always get to see the final animation work like it’s all the rough cels that come through. But I watched the trailer on youtube and it was like “oh man! That’s really cool”. I’m really looking forward to watching the movie and I hope the fans would watch those trailers as well.
K: Alright this is going to be my last question, thank you for your patience with me and all my questions. But this has totally nothing to do with Evangelion but I understand she hasn’t done any singing or stuffs like that. So I really want to know, what is her view of the new generation of Seiyuu who are now required to sing and dance and look good. They are currently being packaged into Idols. How does she feel about it?
Y: I personally like the new idols, the girls who look very cute and can dance. I like the cute girls. But I think that when you are a voice actress or voice actor it’s not just about the looks, it’s about being the voice of the character. So even if you can’t sing or you can’t dance or you don’t look like a cute little girl it shouldn’t be the reason to not be a voice actor. But well you know, I personally like them.