Interview Date: April 6, 2019
Aina Aiba, singer and actress behind Claudine Saijou in Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight, participated in a fansign event for overseas fans at Kinokuniya New York bookstore.
Fans lined up for hours to get tickets, with many eagerly anticipating getting to meet Aina Aiba for her first New York City event. Day of, people gathered together to greet her and warmly welcome her to the Big Apple. People cosplayed, brought their Aiai related goods, and famous Claudine lines could be heard everywhere.
Selective Hearing had the opportunity to speak to her during her time in New York to discuss her first visit to the city, the Butai Shoujo series and video game and her love of professional wrestling.
Is this your first time in New York City?
This is my first time! I got to see the Metropolitan Museum, the Statue of Liberty, and even Frozen! Plus, I got to eat New York STEAK and Five Napkins! Given that I am a “Butai Shoujo”, trying to go see a New York Broadway show was definitely high on my list of priorities.
What would you say was your favorite landmark or activity?
It is so hard to choose! I’ve dreamed about seeing the Statue of Liberty since I was a child, but at the same time I so wanted to see a Broadway musical as someone who is a “Butai Shoujo”. But the steak and hamburgers were so good too!
So speaking of the Butai Shoujo in question, what is your impression of Claudine Saijo? She’s very different from your other characters that you have played in the past.
She has a mixed background, with her mother being French and her father being Japanese, and has a deep sense of pride, having acted all her life. There is a real external beauty to Claudine Saijo that I really wanted to convey to the fans.
If you think about it, Claudine Saijo is really different from the other two characters that you are most famous for in the U.S., Minato Yukina and Iwatobi Penguin. How was it playing each one?
There is such a difference in the mannerisms of each of the characters! Especially when I get in the ‘zone’, their mannerisms and behaviors become very clear to me. Iwatobi is a very energetic character, and Yukina definitely is the type to hold things in her heart. Claudine on the other hand is not afraid to overflow with emotion – she can be very ANGRY and speaks her mind!
What was your favorite moment or line for each of those characters?
Hmmm… For Yukina, it’s definitely hard to pick, but lately it has been ロゼリアにすべてを賭ける覚悟はある (“Are you ready to devote everything to Roselia?”) and being able to draw everyone together. As Claudine, it has to be that rivalry with Tendou Maya, and that way that she works really hard. There’s one particular scene (in episode 10) where Claudine says all her lines toward Maya in French that I really loved. For Iwatobi Penguin, it is that positivity despite always failing (even though she tries so hard!). Plus in episode 8 Iwatobi’s movements are just so cute – I love how she winks.
Was it interesting playing a character both on stage and as a voice actress?
Claudine was not that different in the theater versus the anime. What made playing her so interesting for me was the fact that in the anime, people only heard my voice, while on the stage, you can not just hear my voice but also see my mannerisms. I tried really copying some of the stereotypical mannerisms of what I thought a French character should be like!
Turning towards the video game, you now have Claudine Saijo as a video game character. Given the various iterations of Claudine in the game, what was your favorite version?
Ever since I was young I loved Disney – particularly Aladdin. So when Claudine was Aladdin and Maya was the Genie in the Lamp, I was super overjoyed!
As Western fans finally get a localized version of the game, what would you like fans to look forward to?
The new schools, and being able to learn the various new backstories including the new girls! Also, I love being able to design my own room.
So if you were to choose another Starlight Revue character in the anime to play, who would you pick?
It really changes depending on my mood! Definitely not Tendou Maya though. For today, I would pick Junna!
And what about from the video game?
I would always choose to be Claudine! But if you were to take out Claudine and Maya… There is a new character named Yachiyo Tsuruhime who is just so fun! I love the fact that she is a bit koakuma-ish, and that really appeals to me.
Now that we have the game coming to the West and there has been such a major outpouring of support for Revue Starlight, what would you like to see next for possible overseas events as Claudine Saijo?
Given that we are Butai Shoujo, I really do want to bring the theater performance to Western audiences – especially since New York is the home of Broadway! But since I don’t really know when we will be able to, I really appreciate it when fans come to see us in Japan.
Your characters always seem to have a musical aspect to them – and your fans absolutely love hearing your voice in all your various roles. Would you tell us your favorite songs from Kemono Friends, Starlight Revue, and Bang Dream?
It is so hard to choose! For Roselia it has to be Black Shout and Neo Aspect. For Kemono Friends, Youkoso Japari Park e. For Starlight though, it is a bit harder to choose. The classic has to be Star Divine, which has that sense of fighting spirit that really gets you going, yet I love Yakusoku Tower for how everyone participates in that particular song.
What are you looking forward to the most if we were to see the new girls in the theater show?
It has to be the fighting! They all have very different moves as well as weapons, and so I’m looking forward to seeing how that will play out on stage. Of course, this does mean that 99組 may lose though!
Now for a change of pace – before you were a voice actress, you were a pro-wrestler. Do you still follow pro-wrestling? Are there wrestlers that you have a particular interest in?
I love wrestling still! It is still hard to choose, and I can’t ever really stop getting all the wrestler-related goods. Recently I’ve been interested in Zack Sabre Jr., Ibushi Kota and (Tetsuya) Naito!
Finally, a message for your fans!
Being only in Japan, it is definitely really difficult to see how popular I am overseas. So coming here and meeting my fans in person in a place like New York City is really fun and exciting for me. Please continue to support us, and spread the love of Starlight Revue to others so that we can come back and do more overseas events!