THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS at Anime Expo
Interview Date: July 6, 2018
On July 7, 2018 THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS returned to Anime Expo for the second year in a row with a new lineup pulled from the popular video game’s nearly 200 characters: Yui Makino (voice of Mayu Sakuma), Ruriko Aoki (voice of Riina Tada), and Kotomi Aihara (voice of Shiki Ichinose) made their Anisong World Matsuri debut next to Anime Expo veterans Rei Matsuzaki (voice of Kirari Moroboshi), Yuko Iida (voice of Kanade Hayami), and Tomoyo Kurosawa (voice of Miria Akagi).
Selective Hearing had the opportunity to talk to members of CINDERELLA GIRLS the day before the Anisong World Matsuri “Japan Kawaii Live” concert to discuss their time in America, the CINDERELLA GIRLS franchise and their voice acting work.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Now that you are in the United States, how have you been enjoying your time thus far?
Ruriko Aoki: We just arrived here, so we haven’t been able to explore as much. Hopefully there will be time both before and after the concert to see more of Los Angeles!
IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS is a huge franchise, spanning decades with lots of content – including even a Korean drama spin-off series. Where would you like to see it go next?
Rei Matsuzaki: IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS is all about the fans – that is, the Producer, and going out as the characters to meet these Producers in real life. We want to be able to create something together with their team that the various Producers all over the world want to see, and evolve towards that goal together.
By “what Producers want to see”, what forms do you see this taking?
Rei: We can’t really predict what forms it will take, to be honest.
Ruriko: We want to try various mediums, especially since IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS is a fun and challenging franchise that continues to evolve and innovate with each passing year.
Getting into how that evolves, how is IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS different from the other roles that you have played as voice actresses?
Yuko Iida: What makes this franchise different is the fact that the actual voice actresses go out and perform on stage as the characters themselves, allowing Producers to engage the characters in real life. The fact that the Producers are fans not just of the characters but also of the voice actresses is rare and special, and quite frankly is the most enjoyable part of being one of the actresses for this series.
This is really the heart of what makes this franchise so different – so how have you as actresses changed since starting this particular role?
Rei: Having the chance to perform on stage is an incredibly rare one, especially for voice actresses. The person that I am on stage – the character – and I are completely different, to the point where I would look back at live footage and wonder “did I really do that?” This is only possible due to the Producers who encourage us, and through that encouragement give us the ability to go past 100% on stage.
Ruriko: Lina as a character is super into rock music, which was totally different from me in the beginning. Since playing her though, I’ve changed and started becoming more of an audiophile, even becoming interested in audio devices, headphones and the like. Much like Rei, I also felt like I’ve grown so much because of our ability to perform live.
Kotomi Aihara: This was actually one of my first roles as a voice actress, giving me a lot of exposure both professionally and through the character. It is due to this character that I’ve been able to really become the voice actress I am today.
Tomoyo Kurosawa: In the beginning, I tried to find ways to show off how original and unique Miriya was among all the girls – there are so many in the franchise. But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that this is really what makes Japanese kawaii culture stand out – what makes Japanese idols unique in the world of pop music. What makes this so unique is the fact that you can put such different people together, and through their costumes and movements, create this unified beautiful thing as a group. Much like in cheerleading where people are unified as one, each character and person does the same thing together on stage that becomes much greater than the whole. This is something that I truly cherish particularly about this role.
Yuko Iida: Kanade was my first major role where, while 17, Kanade (my character) acts in a very flirty, sexy way. I was able to grow so much as an actress through acting out the character, and I really enjoy the fact that I’m able to showcase my “sexy voice” through Kanade.
Yui Makino: There are so many Producers out there, that I feel that there is an expectation that we as actresses must live up to, both when voicing the characters and on the stage. Each movement and action is something that I think over constantly, and I’m aware of every inflection or motion that I make as Mayu. The main reason we keep going and what we learn from is really the love and support that we receive both as characters and as actresses from the Producers all over the world.
Finally, how do you see your characters changing in the future? Given how long the game has gone, the various spin-offs you’ve gotten and where the game is going now, is there a direction that you would like to see the characters change towards?
Yui: Part of what makes IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS so unique is the fact that we get to have these large concerts where we meet thousands of Producers face to face. While there will be ups and downs in every performance and experience, each one allows not just myself but all of us to develop our characters and ourselves in different ways, and is a precious experience for all of us.