miyu irino @ anime expo, 7.3.17
i started writing this earlier but fell asleep pretty much the second i got home and out of the car! i have to say that i am not very familiar with some of irino-san’s roles outside of todomatsu, sora from KH and haku from spirited away, so some of what i’ve written down has been supplemented by information other fans shared on twitter. if anything i’ve posted here is inaccurate or not a good translation reach out to me so i can correct it.
the panel started with one of the directors of social media services for funimation (i did not write down his name so i just refer to him as “the interviewer” here) briefly introducing miyu irino and discussing some of his more famous VA roles. miyu came out and said hello to everyone in english, which got a huge response from the crowd! he was very humble and said that his english wasn’t good enough to speak publicly. of course, he said that in english and i don’t think anyone in the room thought he had a poor grasp of the english language. he didn’t seem to struggle to find the words he was looking for. also maybe i’m projecting but i thought he sounded like he had a tiny bit of a british inflection to his voice when he spoke in english. for the remainder of the panel he mostly spoke japanese but he would jump back and forth between japanese and english occasionally. the translator that accompanied miyu onstage joked that there was no need for him to be at the panel and with that, we got started.
miyu began acting at the age of 4 in children’s theatre productions. he did not start as a seiyuu but spent some time acting in commercials and television before his breakout role as haku in spirited away in 2000, when he was a junior high school student. his career exploded after spirited away and he credits that movie and miyazaki with really helping his career getting started. miyu mentioned that when he recorded spirited away, the audio recording was done in a theatre with the director/production staff present in the same room as miyu instead of in a traditional recording booth with the production staff separated from miyu by a thick sheet of glass. he said that the recording process for this movie made him nervous because it was very much unlike a standard VA recording session. (at this point i noted that he was being excessively modest about how much english he spoke and that he sounded fluent to me!
at this point the interviewer switched over to talking about one of miyu’s most famous roles, sora in the kingdom hearts series. the crowd cheered wildly and miyu looked out and acknowledged a few KH cosplayers in the room, saying that they looked “lovely” which got the crowd super excited all over again. miyu was asked if he plays video games himself, and he said “of course!” when he was a elementary/middle school student, he would frequently play games for 8 to 12 hours at a time when he was on break from school. he said he enjoyed many different genres of video games and that mario and final fantasy/squenix games were among his favorites. miyu mentioned he had purchased the special edition ps4 with the kingdom hearts theme and was playing KH 2.8, and looked forward to “working hard and playing games” when he went back home to japan.
the interviewer then began talking about miyu’s character in mobile suit gundam, saji crossroad. (in my notes, this is where my handwriting starts to deteriorate as i struggle to keep up with the flow of conversation) his character had a lot of development happen over the 2 series of this anime and miyu said he tried not to read too far ahead of the lines he was currently recording so that his reaction to what his character was about to do or say would be genuine. as the show was airing, he said, the fans’ reaction at first seemed to be that of “do we really need this character in the show?” but a major event near the end of the first season changed his character development and the opinion of some of the fans as well. miyu found the role of saji to be challenging, but said that he was very excited to be part of the gundam franchise because it’s so huge and popular. he joked that he was said he/his character could not pilot a gundam but he was happy that he could be “part of a gundam" since his character’s vehicle attached directly to the gundam body.
discussion turned to haikyuu!! and miyu’s character, koshi sugawara, which got a huge response from the crowd. a few people in the audience held up their itabags for miyu to see. he wanted to know if we as non-japanese fans enjoyed the show and if we thought it was very different from what our junior high experience was like. the general reaction from the crowd was that it was very different from the atmosphere in an american junior high school. he was curious about how the show was received outside of japan but thought that the character he played was relatable because it was a role that could be identified with regardless of what you grew up with - he plays a character that’s vice captain of the basketball team who’s overshadowed by a younger, more talented player and has to struggle to compete with him (tell me if this is inaccurate, i really haven’t watched any of this show!). miyu said that the haikyuu!! manga is ongoing and to please continue supporting the manga if we wished to see more of it animated in the future.
conversation switched over to anohana and his character jintan, which was also very popular with the crowd. miyu saw this role as a great stepping stone for his career and considers it an anime that is enjoyable for people who are not necessarily anime fans. he said his character was a fragile person and that he viewed his character as a human role instead of just a typical anime character. from there he began talking about seraph of the end and yuichiro hyakuya. miyu said that he was surprised non-japanese fans enjoyed this show as much as they did, because it was not a very popular show amongst japanese anime fans. he said he tried to bring the fantasy aspect of his character to the forefront, since the story is from a fantasy manga that runs in shonen jump. the manga for this is still ongoing as well, so please continue to support it if you would like to see more of the anime in the future.
at this point miyu and the interviewer began talking about osomatsu-san and todomatsu, my absolute favorite of irino’s characters. i got the impression that not everyone in the room had seen osomatsu-san, but the people who had watched it were loud and very passionate! when the interviewer initially brought up osomatsu-san, many of those fans started cheering and screaming TOTTY! over and over. miyu was incredibly surprised that osomatsu-san was popular outside of japan at all, since the humor of the show is “incomprehensible” at times and a very japanese style of comedy with lots of gags and wordplay. he said that even in japan, some people don’t understand the humor of the show and he wondered how well it translated to a non-japanese audience. miyu asked that we tell him during the q&a session at the end of the panel what we found humorous about the show and what we as non-japanese speaking fans thought of the jokes that weren’t really translatable into english.
discussion switched to miyu’s roles in your name., garden of words, and a silent voice, which was about to have its US premiere later that day at anime expo. your name. had a very different production process than many of the other projects that miyu has been a part of, in that shinkai had finished the artwork for the movie and recorded temporary audio tracks of himself reading the lines of his characters before the actual voice actors were brought into the studio to record their lines. we were shown the trailer for garden of words, which was unsubtitled. i am still learning japanese but am not fluent enough to accurately describe what was going on in the trailer, but i look forward to learning more about it. we then saw a subtitled trailer for a silent voice. i started tearing up pretty much the second it started playing, which kind of surprised me. i am a fan of the manga and found it very touching and sad at times but i didn’t expect to have such a strong emotional reaction to seeing it animated. i am really looking forward to this movie and i hope that i’ll get a chance to see it in theatres sometime soon. miyu stated that the overarching theme of the movie, aside from the obvious theme of bullying among adolescents is human connection. he said that it a role that required very emotional acting from him, which was challenging. he is proud of his role in a silent voice and hopes that everyone will go see this movie and support it!
the final anime discussed was the upcoming code geass ova. i hate to say it but i was trying to write so fast here that i can’t read my own notes. i’ll upload pictures of what i was trying to write and maybe eventually i can decipher my handwriting.
miyu was asked what kind of characters he likes to play and said that his personal favorite role is sora from kingdom hearts. he has played sora for 15 years and wants to continue playing him in the future. he mentioned that in japan, aside from voice acting, he also participates in theatrical productions and releases cds. miyu asks that we come to japan and see him perform on stage and listen to his cds, and please continue to support him in the future.
at this point we were supposed to be able to ask miyu some questions, but there was only time for 3 people to ask questions (which i didn’t write down because i was trying to get in the question line) before the panel had to end. i was fortunate enough to get an autograph ticket for miyu so when i got my todomatsu book signed, i told him i loved osomatsu-san, i hoped he would return to anime expo next year and to please bring the voice actors for the remaining matsuno brothers with him.