Cinemas, February 19, 2017
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Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Sayaka Kanda interview
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what I’ll be like.”
A new idea has been brought to Space Battleship Yamato, the legendary animation that represents the 20th century. Yamato 2202, the continuation of Yamato 2199, which became popular with new and old fans alike, finally begins with seven chapters! Chapter 1, Beginning, screens in 15 theaters nationwide for two weeks, based on the big hit summer movie from 1978, Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato, Soldiers of Love.
This new series depicts Yamato and her crew facing the challenge of a new battle. The legendary cosmic goddess Teresa holds the key to the drama. The outstanding Sayaka Kanda was selected for the role, who performed as Anna in the Japanese dubbed version of Frozen and who also appears in the feature film Sword Art Online – Ordinal Scale released on the 18th of this month. We heard the story directly from her!
Overwhelmed by the passionate Yamato Love of all the fans…
Interviewer: First, could you please tell me your impression of the Space Battleship Yamato series?
Kanda: It’s a historical work from before I was born, and “Yamato Love” runs deep in the fans, doesn’t it? When I got the role of Teresa, the reaction around the time of the announcement from a wide range of generations was incredible. Everyone was excited, saying, “You’re doing Teresa? That’s amazing!” I was overwhelmed by the power and passion of this work again.
Interviewer: After all this talk, you looked at the series in earnest for the first time, right?
Kanda: That’s right. I saw it, and as I expected it was a wonderful work. I was surprised by the ending of Farewell to Yamato. What a way to end it! The soundtrack was also a huge hit in those days. Until Frozen came along, I heard that it was the bestselling animation soundtrack album of all time. I wonder how long that record can go on unbroken…! As for the content and the music, it’s a truly innovative foundation. I also felt that it evolved animation that came after.
Interviewer: How about the role of Teresa?
Kanda: Teresa has few words in the beginning, but she’s hugely important and symbolizes the world of Yamato. She had only a few appearances in Farewell to Yamato, but she plays a very big role. She’s described as a “goddess,” so I have only a vague impression, but she continually offers a prayer to all of space, so she sort of feels like a mother. Her body was made of antimatter in Farewell, wasn’t it?
Interviewer: And on the other hand, in the TV series Yamato 2 she has a human episode, such as falling in love with Yamato crew member Daisuke Shima.
Kanda: That’s right. So there’s something really difficult to explain in words. Morever, how is her design depicted in 2202? In fact, I haven’t been told yet. (Laughs) I just finished the voice recording for Chapter 1, and I can’t talk about anything yet. I’m really looking forward to seeing what I’ll be like. I’m taking into consideration the ideal image that everyone wants for Teresa from past works, but on the other hand I want to balance that with what the newly-revived Teresa will be like in 2202. I’m thinking about that now.
Experiencing the first recording in the same space as the veterans
Interviewer: The recording for Chapter 1 would be more difficult as you’re creating a role, right?
Kanda: That’s right. Not much has come into play yet, so there were a lot of places I had to supplement with my imagination. I changed my feelings so I could be especially convincing the first time I spoke.
Interviewer: What advice did you get from the staff?
Kanda: The director said, “I want you to give it a divine feeling. Teresa’s mouth isn’t moving yet, so you don’t have to worry about the timing.” I developed an inflection at the time of the screen test, and they asked me to reduce that in the performance. Hearing the sound director say, “I always wanted to work with you, Ms. Kanda” when the recording was over made me incredibly happy, but I’d assumed that he’d seen Frozen and that I’d made my impression as Anna. Once I understood that he’d been thinking about me before that and wanted to work with me, I was incredibly happy.
Interviewer: Also, you said this was the first time you recorded together in the studio with other actors?
Kanda: Yes. Until now, when doing voice acting work, I’ve only recorded alone. Just separate recording. This was the first time I recorded together in the same space as veterans. In that sense, I finally felt the tension of what it’s like to be a rookie, and I feel like it was my “voice actor debut.”
Interviewer: Was that a different feeling?
Kanda: Completely different. But I didn’t think I could further step up without this experience, and it was a very good opportunity. Actually, there were a lot of people in the booth, and the more I thought “What if I bring it to a halt?” the more I withered, so I just tried to forget about that. (Laughs) Rather than saying I was calm, it was more I forced myself to relax and opened my mind up to it. In the end, I did the job while persuading myself that I was a member of this group. Teresa doesn’t have any dialogue with other people in Chapter 1, so I tried to keep the atmosphere of being somewhere in a different space. Since everyone from the previous work 2199 had reunited, we breathed together and the atmosphere was peaceful and harmonious. I felt that I wanted to participate in this family feeling as soon as possible.
Interviewer: What were your impressions as you watched the veterans perform?
Kanda: At the beginning of Chapter 1, Great Emperor Zordar says, “Love is necessary.” The moment when Hideaki Tezuka spoke in that voice, the atmosphere of the room changed completely. It was so great it gave me goosebumps. Besides that, as I stood listening in the same space to the scenes where Houko Kuwashima’s Yuki Mori would have a briskness to her voice even when she was calm inside, I thought how I’d like to deliver a voice like that as well.
As as Musical actress and a voice actor
Interviewer: Hearing the word “love” suddenly spoken in such a major way on the enemy side seems to be the big feature of this series, isn’t it?
Kanda: That’s right. I wonder where it’s going. (Laughs) It was the same with the previous work. Its depiction evolved to be appropriate for the present day, and I think it was something that was convincing to fans of the original series.
Interviewer: You really like anime, yourself. Even after your debut in the entertainment world, you didn’t abandon your dream of voice acting. You went to school and studied it. That’s how your dream came true.
Kanda: Everyone has a dream for the future. Children say, “I want to be a baker, I want to be a teacher.” In my case, it was to be a voice actor. Even when I made my entertainment debut at 14 years old, I continued to say I wanted to do voice work. I became fascinated by musicals, but I got involved in the process and it gradually became the main axis of my activity. Frozen gave me my big chance to return to the beginning dream of being a voice actor, while also being a musical movie. I don’t think I would have passed the audition if I hadn’t done musicals. Therefore, I don’t do just voice acting or just musicals. While doing various things, I came to cherish the work of voice actors. I still don’t think I have enough experience as a voice actor, so it’s very meaningful to work with everyone this time, and I really appreciate it.
Interviewer: Finally, please give your message to the fans.
Kanda: Even when you see the previous work 2199, each character inherits a role from the old series and takes on the mission of the new series. I think the key to the game is taking such intentions into consideration. Teresa won’t just face sideways, she’ll eventually turn to properly face the front. (Laughs) I’m looking forward to talking with all the other characters now. I hear that there are many people whose lives were changed by seeing Yamato, and on the other hand there are many who became new fans with 2199. The responsibility is really important when I think about it, so I intend to do my best. Thank you.
Interviewer: Tatsuo Tatsuya