The cast of THE [email protected] came to AFASG in Decemeber 2014 and performed at ourI Love Anisong concert! Here at AFAChan, we caught with Asami Imai, Yumi Hara, Manami Numakura, Azusa Tadakoro and Ayaka Ohashi for an interview just before their performance, here’s what they have to say about Singapore and AFA!
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Q: 3 of the senior members have performed on stage already and all of you will be performing later tonight, please share with us how you feel about participating in this year’s AFA Singapore.
Manami Numakura: Anime and pop culture is really popular in Japan and we have participated in many activities in Japan, Singapore has a very heated crowd just like Japan and for us standing on the stage, they put in a lot of energy. It made me think wow, there are producers all over the world!
I am Manami Numakura, voicing Hibiki Ganaha.
Azusa Tadokoro: I am Tadokoro Azusa and I voice Mogami Shizuka in Million Live.
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I haven’t stood on the stage as part of [email protected] yet, but this is my second time being able to participate at AFA. I feel that Japan and Singapore fans are really similar in how passionate they are about anime. When I spoke to the fans who tried their best to learn and speak Japanese with me, it made me really happy.
Asami Imai: I am Asami Imai and I voice Chihaya Kisaragi.
This is the 2nd time for me travelling overseas for [email protected] Every time I go overseas, it feels that the number of people overseas who are fans of [email protected] seems to increase! While I saw there were fans who were really getting into cheering, there were also some people who just happen to chance by our stage but they slowly warmed up and started cheering along and that made me really happy.
With so many members, it’s really hard for the whole [email protected] group to perform overseas, but I really hope that it can happen one day and we have a stage not just here in Singapore but all over the world.
Ayaka Ohashi: I am Ayaka Ohashi and I voice Uzuki Shimamura in Cinderella Girls.
This is my second time at AFA but my first time coming here as Cinderella Girls. I had a sign event yesterday and there were fans who came from overseas to just see our live. As someone who also loves anime, I feel really happy that overseas fans love Japanese productions the same way the Japanese fans do.
Yumi Hara: I am Yumi Hara and I voice Takane Shijou.
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This time is my first time in Singapore and I find it amazing at the number of producers and especially how some came from other far away countries like America just to see us. It really gives you the feel that it (AFA) is such a big event. There were even banners with the [email protected] characters and that really made me feel welcomed here so I would want to extend my appreciation to them.
Q: What does it mean to you to become an idol and to stand on the stage?
(The seiyuu joke about Yumi Hara wanting to go first and volunteering her.)
Yumi Hara: When I first became a seiyuu, seiyuu idols were still quite rare. I thought that being a seiyuu only required acting as the character. But when I became one, I found out that it was very different. I got to have many new experiences such as acting and wearing pretty costumes. I feel it is a wonderful feeling and has been very valuable to me.
Ayaka Ohashi: Hmm…. For me at the start, I never actually thought that I would be an idol and perform on a stage. Whenever I stand on the [email protected] stage, alongside Uzuki Shimamura-chan, I spend a lot of time wondering how to become more like Uzuki-chan.
I am very grateful for the energetic support of the producers and thankful for this opportunity to stand on the stage.
Q: To the senior members, as part of the original line-up of [email protected], how does it feel like to be a mentor to Cinderella Girls and Million Live?
Asami Imai: Even Manami-san and Yumi-san joined [email protected] after I did, so I guess I am the only original member here. I think is a great opportunity for the younger generation to perform on the same stage and working together. It is really fun and gets you fired up. But it is also challenging as I have to make sure I don’t get outdone by my juniors. I’m really thankful that everyone works together to create an even better stage.
Q: What does the word idol mean to you?
(Asami Imai immediately points to Ayaka Ohashi.)
Ayaka Ohashi: I think an Idol is someone that gives everyone energy and makes them really happy!
Q: In your opinion, what does [email protected] mean to you?
Imai Asami: For me… it’s… life. [email protected] is life. A life you cannot escape from.
Q How would you relate yourself to the characters you voice?
Imai Asami: So Numakura-san will answer this! (laughter)
Manami Numakura: Hibiki and I are quite different in terms of personality. I was told that I’m very mature as a person but Hibiki is a bright and cheerful girl. When I started to voice Hibiki, I was told that Hibiki likes to knit so I thought I could use that as a common ground, as I also like to knit.
I gradually found out that while we seem very different on the outside, we share so many things on the inside. By making more connections to Hibiki, now I feel that although I’m not identical to Hibiki, she is like a sister and family to me and someone I can get along well with.
Q: (To Hara Yumi) You seem like a very pleasant person, so what are the challenges you face voicing the stoic Takane?
Hara Yumi: The difficult part would be that she seems like a really perfect person, she’s pretty and good at both dance and singing and has no weakness. But for me I am completely different from her so I have to try my best to catch up with her and do my best to improve myself!
Q: (To Imai Asami) It has been 9 years since [email protected] started, do you have any unforgettable experiences from it?
Imai Asami: There has been lot of memories. At the beginning, we were unsure whether [email protected] would be popular so it was first put on trial as an arcade game. I privately went to the game center when it was first released, and I saw the people playing the game, which made me think “Wow, those are real Producers in the flesh!”
Also, around 1 to 2 years before the game was released, during the recordings when I was singing and talking. I did my best, and the process also left a deep impression on me.
Q: (To Ayaka Ohashi) Did you expect Cinderella Girls to be so popular? Especially with the response for the 2nd live 2 weeks ago and Cinderella Girls 3rd year anniversary?
Ayaka Ohashi: Cinderella Girls was known as something made by Namco. It is thanks to the hard work of the game producers, and not just me, who made Cinderella Girls into what it is now. With all the new producers supporting the game it really helped out!
We also had the opportunity to perform at the 8th Anniversary Live with Million Live and 765 Pro and it was a chance for all 3 branches of [email protected] to perform together. With the anime about to be aired, so I’m very grateful.
Ahh… Sorry for saying so much…
With the anime about to be aired, so I’m very grateful. With so many people supporting Cinderella Girls, it makes me really happy and….
Imai Asami: As you can see how she feels~ (More laughter from all.)
Ayaka Ohashi: Please excuse me for that.
Q: Do you have a message for your international fans?
Ayaka Ohashi: From here on I’m going to do my best along with Uzuki so please support us and hope that people all around the world will know more about [email protected]!
Asami Imai: I went to the Cinderella Girls Live myself the other day. I saw so many international Producers among the crowd and most of the time they have to go to Japan to attend the lives and support us. But since there are so many overseas fans, maybe next time we should go visit other countries so that I can thank them personally.
Azusa Tadokoro: Million Live has just started so not many people in Singapore know about it, but in Japan it is getting popular and we are doing our best all the time. The senpais from 765 Pro are still far out of our reach but we are trying our best, bit by bit, to catch up with them. I’m working hard every day to be more like Imai-san. I hope that all the members of Million Live, not just me, will be able to take part in AFA. Please continue to support us.
Manami Numakura: This is my first time overseas and I made a passport just for this. I made a lot of good memories here and ate a lot of delicious food! We will be here for 2 more nights and I know there will be even more wonderful experiences. I know there are fans who could not make it this time but I hope in the future that I can come here again to meet them. Please support us and thank you so much!