Yamato 2202 Newspaper, February 24, 2017
Special Interview: Rie Tanaka
In Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love, attractive characters appear more than in the previous work, Yamato 2199. Among them is Akira Yamamoto, a pilot of the Moon base air corps, who is the epitome of brave women. She is played by the voice actor Rie Tanaka. We spoke to Ms. Tanaka about the charm and character of Akira.
Enigmatic, strong and wild
I perform the role of Akira Yamamoto enthusiastically, not knowing when I will die. (Laughs)
Playing it Cool
Interviewer: Please share your thoughts on when you were chosen for the role of Akira Yamamoto.
Tanaka: It’s a new series this time, but when 2199 began I did an audition and I got the part of Akira Yamamoto, who was a male character in the original Yamato. I examined what kind of feeling it would have by changing it from a man to a woman. When you’re in a voice recording, there are many things you don’t know about the form or the atmosphere. At first, Akira had long hair, but she cut her hair and got on board Yamato. Originally, she wasn’t a pilot at first, but she had the image of an unprecedented character who started from innocence. She had a cool, bold image, and I was glad to play a woman with a wild feeling.
Interviewer: Akira is cool, especially in the way she talks.
Tanaka: She’s from Mars, so her personality was constructed out of persecution. There’s also a strong feeling of being similar to Garmillas, so I dealt with such things as I worked on the role. There seems to be room for Garmillas in the new series.
Interviewer: What are you careful about when you’re performing?
Tanaka: She’s a woman with a passionate heart, but she’s cool around the edges. She becomes a senior over the course of the series and she has the image of someone aggressive who fought her way up from the bottom. She’s also very gentle at her roots, so with that as a foundation I’m careful with the basics of playing a woman who is cool. Beyond that, when she’s piloting a fighter, she’s crisply decisive. When she climbs out of it, her natural decisiveness is tempered with bouts of indecisiveness, and like when she digs into that parfait, she shows a really girly side, too. Melda is a woman pilot on the Garmillas side, and as she develops the girl talk is expanded.
Interviewer: It is the role of a fighter pilot, but there aren’t a lot of details about the plane.
Tanaka: There wasn’t a lot, but I took on a tank in a different work (Girls & Panzer, the role of Maho Nishizumi). There are other things, but I only looked at the aircraft I ride on. (Laughs) In the end I don’t understand it in detail. When I think about fighters, I remember foreign fighters because I don’t know much about what kind of fighters Japan had in wartime. I just imagine what kind of feelings a combatant flying a fighter would have. But I can’t get in one with a carefree feeling, because you can lose your life in outer space if you make one mistake, so I think of it as flying in extreme conditions. It’s not a normal emotional state.
Interviewer: Is it like any other role you’ve played before?
Tanaka: Before now, I’ve never performed the role of a female who fights bravely on a fighter plane, and I love it. I’m glad to be doing a brave, wild woman. And I don’t know when I will die. (Laughs) It might make a mistake, and I might be shot down by Garmillas or some other enemy. I don’t know when I’ll die, so I’m able to play a woman who is enigmatic, strong and wild, and I think that’s really cool. There are other, more feminine characters like Makoto Harada and Yuki Mori, who seems to be the beautiful ladylike heroine, but I think it’s more attractive to be boyish and cool.
Lift quote to the right of the photo reads: “Kodai, Akira’s “Love Triangle” Love interest, has Yuki, doesn’t he?!”
Similar to her Character
Interviewer: How is Akira Yamamoto like yourself?
Tanaka: We might be quite similar in character. There’s a wild place. I often think, “You must not be shy,” and there’s something to be said for that. (Laughs) It is said that “the image is different.” But when you associate with it over time, you begin to understand, “Ah, I’m like that character.” I think I have similarities to Akira.
Interviewer: Conversely, there are differences.
Tanaka: There’s a place where I’m not able to get along well with someone on an opposing side, and I think, “I have a little more work to do on that.” Like with Melda. Akira only sees her as Garmillas all the time. But to me, Melda is Melda. If only I could be gentler. Yes, she can be really sharp-tongued, but I think that’s just Akira being Akira. Let’s be grownups about this, I think, but that’s where she and I differ. If I can get along with Melda, I think a different kind of peace could be found.
Interviewer: Your character has a stoic impression, but are you stoic as well?
Interviewer: I’ll do it for work, if the role requires that or an equivalent. But depending on the work I may play the role of a crazy woman sometimes, so I get into that role. Viewers and fans seem to wonder, “What kind of face is she playing this time?” I take the challenge when I get into the role, and I do it in my own stoic way. When I watch my seniors perform, I get to thinking that I’m still trying too hard.
Interviewer: What about outside of work?
Tanaka: In my private time, I really like games. I do well with Final Fantasy 14, but I’m quite stoic with online games. (Laughs) I’m silent and solemn. Play through on online games nowadays is hard, reflexes are paramount, and it’s normal for one mistake to lead to total annihilation, I think. (Laughs) As I get older, my reflexes when I move the controller are completely different from what they were in my 20s, and I find the movement in the fingers of a young person to be entirely different. It’s hard to remember everything (such as a system) and I’m desperate to keep up with it all. I go into a site to rehearse in advance and practice a strategy by myself. Sometimes it will come back to me, but when it gets serious I become a serious type. Once I make up my mind, I insist on doing my best until it’s accomplished.
Interviewer: This is based on the old work Farewell to Yamato in which the previous Yamamoto unfortunately dies. What do you want to happen this time? In 2199, it seemed like there was and there wasn’t something going on with her and Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori…
Tanaka: At first, I was thinking, “What’s up with Akira?” (Laughs) Yuki thought Kodai was conceited and I thought I was doing a dangerous thing, but love is difficult, isn’t it? (Laughs)
Interviewer: What about the way of love this time?
Tanaka: I personally think that hooking up with Shinohara would be the most stable. (Laughs) Of course, Kodai is cool too. But Yuki is there! That’s how it is.
Interviewer: It’s possible that you won’t die this time…
Tanaka: I don’t want to die. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Do you think you would ever want to go into space?
Tanaka: I like aliens very much. I’ll look at everything with an alien in it, even a B-movie. I’d like to find an unidentified creature. I wonder if I can live a romantic life in space. Sometimes when such news comes in I think, “Whoah,” and I want to go searching for it by all means.
Interviewer: There are many friends and foes among Yamato characters. Are there any you like other than Akira Yamamoto?
Tanaka: I adore the heroine, Yuki. I adore her as a woman, and she has a femininity that Akira lacks. There’s a femininity that defines her, and she’ll sometimes pull back in order to raise up men, but Akira would never, ever do that. Raising up people. She might show concern for them, but she wouldn’t do it like Yuki does. I think she’s an admirable female character that you respect.
Interviewer: How is the voice recording going?
Tanaka: The morning of January 12 was the first recording of the new year for everyone, and I was really nervous. We all started off with new feelings, so I was nervous. There were many seniors, like Masashi Ebara (Captain Yamanami), so while listening closely to the performances I was seriously studying my lines so I wouldn’t overlook anything in the script. I was really nervous.
Featuring a Sortie Scene
Interviewer: What are the highlights of Chapter 1?
Tanaka: Akira appears in Episode 2, and there are actually more scenes where she doesn’t actually appear, so I’d like you to pay attention to the scenes with fighter craft. Yamato is regarded with hostility as a traitor in this series, so I want to see how she’ll cope with that and protect it.
Interviewer: That was the feeling in the old work, too.
Tanaka: A Garmillas officer residing on Earth appears, named Keyman. I’m interested to see how that will tangle up. Akira is opposed to Garmillas people, so it will be interesting to see how her feelings for Garmillas develop in this work.
Interviewer: Finally, a word or two for the fans, please.
Tanaka: Because she appears with a feeling of cool, I’d like you to support Akira Yamamoto anew. Watching Yamato‘s activity is the first priority, but since I fly and fight in a fighter plane, I’d like you to see scenes of Akira Yamamoto, too.
Born January 3rd, from Sapporo City. Her main anime roles have been Lacus Clyne and Meer Campbell in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny, Merribit Stapleton from Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, and Suigintou in the Rozen Maiden series. See an incredibly long list of her other credits here