The Anime #9: Radio Drama Report

Full Contact Coverage: All Night Nippon Special

Did You Hear It? Raw Yamato Voice Drama in the Middle of the Night!

All Night Nippon’s 4-hour live radio drama broadcasts are already well-known to anime fans. Be Forever Yamato, the seventh such drama, was broadcast on Jun 7. If the program is a masterpiece, then its performers are magnificent as well.

They centered around the main personality, Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki: Director Leiji Matsumoto, Composer Hiroshi Miyagawa, singers Isao Sasaki and Akira Fuse. As for the voice actors, it was full of anime stars who took on familiar roles: Kei Tomiyama (Kodai), Yoko Asagami (Yuki), Taichiro Hirokawa (Mamoru Kodai), Nachi Nozawa (Alphon), Akira Kamiya (Kato), Yutaka Mizushima, Keiko Han (Sasha), Toru Furuya (Tokugawa), Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Osamu Kobayashi, and Masato Ibu (EDF Commander).

This special radio drama is also very popular among avid fans who want to know the story ahead of the film.

June 6, 8:00 pm

Studio 1 of Nippon Broadcasting in Yurakucho, Tokyo, was quiet and still. It felt like the calm before the storm. This is Nippon Broadcasting’s largest studio, big enough to accommodate the performance of a full orchestra. The staff is busy moving equipment around and the mixer is adjusting the mikes.

Mr. Takeshi Aono, who plays the part of Sanada, is the first to arrive at 9:15. He fixes his eyes on his script and concentrates on reading it.

There is a rehearsal today to follow the one from yesterday. One by one, the voice actors enter the studio. The seats in the lobby outside will also soon fill up. But so far, it is just men. This cannot be helped, because Yamato is a ship of men…but then Keiko Han appears, for the role of Sasha. Ooh, she’s so cool…I watch her with fascination.

At 10:00 pm, Producer Nishizaki arrives in his own car, wearing his favorite Harley Davidson jacket.

“Nice to see you, everyone, I’m pleased to work with you,” he said in greeting, then he went to meet with Director Don Ueno.

There is a rehearsal of part 1 at 10:15 and part 2 at 11:00. Various checks are carried out. A live drama can only be done once, so there is some tension among the actors. But Mr. Masato Ibu was calm and composed because he only had a few scenes to work on.

“Eh, I admit I’m a bit nervous. Dessler doesn’t appear this time, but I’m doing the voice of the Commander, which is difficult because it’s very deep and gutteral.”

But it seems to me Mr. Ibu always enjoys his life whenever I meet him.

The rehearsal of parts 3 and 4 finishes at midnight on the 7th. Producer Nishizaki emerges from the mixing room and gives a briefing.

“This line here is good, but it should be a little more elegant.” This instruction is for a rookie, Yumiko Sasaki. Sasaki was the prize winner of last year’s Nighttime Drama House Amateur Voice Actor Contest. She has just entered this world.

“It’s difficult to perform it elegantly. What do you suggest?”

That question was asked of this reporter, but the only advice was to “try your best.”

Everyone takes a short break before the performance and eats boxed sushi together. Hmm…I feel hungry, too. I gaze at it with hopeful eyes and Mr. Ichiro Nagai [Sado] takes the trouble to divide it up for me. Ta-daa! I’m deeply moved!! Now I’ve full of fighting spirit, and I can be with them until 5:00 am.

In addition, Ms. Yoko Asagami [Yuki] serves me tea. She is dressed very stylish and elegant, all in black today.

Oh, what’s happening? I hear the voices of Kei Tomiyama and Ms. Asagami from over the radio; it is a commercial for a digital clock.

Suddenly, Ms. Asagami exclaims, “Wow, it’s my voice!”

And meanwhile, it’s already 12:50. The real thing will start in just 10 minutes. The performers’ faces are firm.

“It’s the real thing! Standby OK?”

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Yuki!!

1:00 am

The 4-hour live drama started with the familiar opening BGM. First of all, it is a simultaneous broadcast on two stations in front of the Alta building in Shinjuku. Though it was the middle of the night, more than thirty fans seem to have formed a line in front of reporter Issei Ran. And, following a message from Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Part 1 finally begins.

There is a scene of Kodai approaching Mars in a patrol boat. The air traffic controller on Mars is played by Yutaka Mizushima. I wonder if anyone recognized Yu-kun!

At 1:40 am, Leiji Matsumoto comes to the microphone. In fact, Matsumoto-sensei arrived at the studio just ten minutes before the take. Surprisingly, he broke three ribs while on a research trip to Minami-Torishima, and he was delayed because he had to go to the hospital.

This reporter left Nippon Broadcasting and flew over to Shinjuku Alta by taxi. If this is a dual broadcast, there has to be dual coverage!

At Studio Alta, the reporter Ms. Issei Ran welcomed us.

“I’m going to get some interviews on the Kabukicho streets now.”

I followed them, saying, “It’s quite a day, isn’t it?”

Kabukicho is a town without day or night. A lot of young people are coming and going. Among the girls returning to the disco, there it is–a Yamato fan! She’s listening to the broadcast on a pocket radio.

This reporter is back in a car at 2:10 am. Hiroshi Miyagawa is talking on the radio. While listening to the conversation about Yamato music, I arrive back at Nippon Broadcasting.

Part 2 has just begun. So as not to make noise during the production, we stay out of the studio. Voice actors who have been giving enthusiastic performances at the mike are covered in sweat. Oh, and some figures have been put up on the wall; large full-figure displays of Kodai, Yuki, and Sasha. There are even some Yamato cels there, too.

When a scene changes, the studio lighting also changes. One of the staff informs me quietly, “to expand the image for the actors, we use various devices in the studio like a strobe light for an explosion.” What a great way to learn such a lesson!

Broadcasting ends–it’s 5:00 am, what will happen after anticipating Part 4!?

3:00 am. In the lobby outside the studio, the voice actors who finished their turn are relaxing. Masato Ibu drinks straight from a bottle in his hand. There are no more lines for him to perform, so nobody would blame him if he went home to sleep.

“I can’t go home while others are working hard. Ah, by the way, this booze tastes good!”

Then Takeshi Aono whispers into his ear: “Hey, don’t drink it all. Leave some for us!”

“Hey, hey, it’s all right.”

But the bottle is already only 2/3 full.

Yutaka Mizushima has started to learn to golf. Osamu Kobayashi is an old-timer and gives him some advice.

“That stance isn’t good, there’s too much of a twist.”

Did this improve Yutaka’s game?

3:40 am. Part 3 is completed. Kei Tomiyama and Hideo Nakamura are relieved to be away from the mike. Yoko Asagami hands out donuts, and I grab one immediately. Sorry, Yoko fans!

4:00 am. The cast doesn’t even show a little bit of fatigue. Now that’s the mark of a pro. The drama has entered part 4, the final act.

“There was a blue planet–it was the Earth, covered with white clouds.”

The narration is by Michio Hazama. In this drama, the narration is the most serious part. In a radio drama without a movie screen, most of the information is in the narration. Unlike the other cast members, Mr. Hazama is separated in a small box with his own mike.

4:40 am. Finally, the last scene. Kei Tomiyama and Keiko Han are together at the mike.

“Goodbye, Yamato. Goodbye, Kodai…!”

“Goodbye, Sasha!”

Keiko Han’s eyes are wet. Mr. Tomiyama slowly takes his eyes off the script.

4:55 am. The staff and all the performers are gathered in the studio. Everyone wears an expression of fulfillment that says, “finished.” I couldn’t hear All Night Nippon in the background because of everyone’s thunderous applause.

And at 5:00 am, the 4-hour broadcast is successfully completed! The cast and staff gather in the lobby.

“Cheers for good work! Here’s a snack!”

“Cheers, I’ve been waiting for it!”

Now there is beer and a toast. Producer Nishizaki and Director Don Ueno look very happy. Toru Furuya [Tokugawa] is a non-drinker, but he has a beer today and looks like he likes it. It has come full circle to this. Beer is good after work! The cast is full of great enthusiasm. This will make the voice recording for Be Forever Yamato even better.

You did nice work today, indeed. “Thank you very much for your great work!”

The morning light is dazzling when I finally leave the studio.

Thoughts about their role: a word from the Voice Actors

Kei Tomiyama (Susumu Kodai)

What’s my impression of Yamato Part III?

I’ve only read a little of the script for the radio drama. There seem to be a lot of battle scenes. But if this helps to avoid over-analyzing and over-arguing, isn’t that a good thing? Although I was in Part 1 and Farewell to Yamato, it seems to be especially difficult this time. But please watch the movie anyway, because we’ll do our best to make it good!

Yoko Asagami (Yuki Mori)

Yes, it’s quite a shock.

The handsome officer of the enemy, named Kiman, makes advances to me. To make matters worse, his voice actor is Mr. Nachi Nozawa, who always dubs the voice of [French actor] Alain Delon. I have to say, he was shockingly impressive. (Laughs) However, this time Yuki has much more presence and this will have a very favorable impression. Be Forever Yamato is a deeper, darker story than before. Matsumoto-sensei is now burning with passion, so won’t he make a great movie?

Hideo Nakamura (Shima Daisuke)

Be Forever Yamato seems to be much better than I expected. There’s an attempt to bring some freshness to the story. Although my role is in Kodai’s shadow as usual, even this sort of role is worth doing. I’m part of the team play that helps elevate Kodai and Yuki to shine as the main characters. If it were an orchestra, I would be the bass supporting the violin and brass (laughs).

This can also be said about anime. So I want to tell fans not to judge an anime only by side issues such as their dislike for commercialism or having a different image in their mind. I’d like them to see the good points, like the theme and romance.

Osamu Kobayashi (Captain Yamanami)

I’ve become the captain of Yamato at last! (laughs) Before now I’ve only been on the enemy side as Domel or Zordar, so the fans would never have expected this. For my previous roles, I played them as if they were not evil. For Domel, he has a different point of view from Yamato–I mean, from Earth. And Zordar has a different philosophy altogether.

That reminds me, protests came in from Domel fans when I did Zordar. I’m worried that it will happen again. (Laughs) Still, I’d like to be a great captain, as great as previous Yamato captains, in my own way.

Takeshi Aono (Shiro Sanada)

In a word, it’s interesting! There are a lot of reversals, especially in the second half, and I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe. This is my third Yamato movie already, but I’ve performed the role of Shiro Sanada in my true character. He secretly took charge of Yamato this time and improved its performance. He gets more depth and stature than before. Therefore, I think I should play it more to my own age.

The Yamato movie this summer will be followed by a new TV series in the fall, so please watch for it.

Ichiro Nagai (Dr. Sado)

Be Forever Yamato feels like it has a much larger scale than the previous series. Not just the figure of 400,000 light years, but also a bigger story. I didn’t quite catch it all, but I’m looking forward to the voice recording. As for me, Chief Engineer Tokugawa is gone now, but I was able to help my son. (Taisuke Tokugawa = Toru Furuya.) So please root for him, because he takes an active role. Please look forward to the big scale of Be Forever Yamato.

[Translator’s note: Nagai refers to Chief Engineer Tokugawa (Orion in Star Blazers) because he did that voice in addition to Dr. Sado in previous productions.]

Masato Ibu (Commander)

For the first time, I didn’t have to perform two roles. In all the previous Yamato series, I was both Dessler and the Commander. In Be Forever Yamato, I only had the role of the Commander. So I’m a little lonely. (Laughs)

As for the story, I feel like, “that’s Yamato all over.” I have nothing special to say about the acting. Well, I’m not sure what will happen until I actually act it out. (Laughs) Anyway, to the fans, please come to the theater to support us.

Keiko Han (Sasha)

I appeared in Yamato before, but this time it was a very important role. Yes, Sasha, the daughter of Starsha and Mamoru, did grow to 17 in just one year. (Laughs) When I appeared before [in Yamato 2], I was the daughter of the observatory director, named Momoyo. Sasha is a person with supernatural powers, like the character I did named Lala [in Mobile Suit Gundam]. But I show the human inside without particularly emphasizing that. I place great value on important roles.

Akira Kamiya (Shiro Kato)

I’m here, too! (Laughs) I board a Cosmo Tiger as Kato again this time. It is the younger brother of Saburo Kato, who was killed in action in Farewell and Yamato 2. Of course, I am careful with it, because he’s different from the first Kato. Specifically, I played the elder brother as older than Kodai, but a younger brother is constantly played as a subordinate. There is a difference in the performance, but the character looks just like his older brother. (Laughs) Old Kato fans, cheer for him!

The End

Special thanks to Tsuneo Tateno for translation assistance

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