Anime Expo 2012 Nobuhiko Okamoto Focus Panel
by Carlo Santos,
Fans of Nobuhiko Okamoto filled the room to capacity as they gathered to hear from the talented young voice actor. The panel began with a trailer for the hit anime Blue Exorcist, in which Okamoto plays the role of protagonist Rin. After that, Okamoto took the stage, introduced himself, and got a big round of cheers as he delivered one of Rin's trademark lines from the show.
After that, a long line of fans quickly formed to ask Okamoto some questions.
What warm-ups do you do to prepare for recording in the booth?
Well, for Rin specifically, I repeat "Oisu!" many times over and over, because that's his trademark greeting.
What inspired you to become a voice actor?
I've always been a big fan of Slam Dunk, and I thought the character Rukawa was really cool, so I wanted to be like him.
What do you do in your spare time?
[In English] I play video games.
I'm a big fan of all your roles. What's the line that gives the strongest impression, or that you find most interesting?
One of Accelerator's lines in A Certain Magical Index, which isn't really Japanese but more of a [scratchy laugh] like "kokikakekukeko." This one was tough, because the line in the script was actually faithful to the original written story, so I tried to do it exactly as written—although later I started to adlib it.
Do you ever get so caught up in your role that you start to act like your characters?
When I was playing [eccentric manga artist] Eiji Niizuma in Bakuman., I felt really liberated.
What is your favorite part of voice acting in general?
Well, anime characters get to say lots of cool things, and being a voice actor means you can still say all those things as a grown-up.
Among the other voice actors you've met, who do you admire?
I admire a lot of people, but Mr. Takehito Koyasu is one I really respect.
Since you perform so many roles, what particular type of character do you like to act as?
Well, I feel satisfied with all my characters, there's really no difference among any of them.
Do you prefer acting in games or anime?
I much prefer recording for anime, because the whole cast is there. In video games, there are thousands of words you have to record alone, so you're really only performing to yourself.
If you weren't a voice actor, what other kind of career would you like to be in?
I've always loved the [Japanese chess] game of shogi, so I would like to have been a professional shogi player.
Out of all your roles, I really love Accelerator. How did you prepare for such a villainous character?
At the recordings, I would reflect on all the bad memories I would like to erase, and then I shout as if I'm blowing those all off.
What impression did you have of Los Angeles?
L.A. is so cheerful and full of people, I wanted to join in a conversation with everyone. Next time I come here, I'd like to brush up on my English and talk to more people.
What steps did you take to become a voice actor, what kind of hardships did you face along the way?
I took various classes like in an acting school, and the hard part is, you do need [the element of] luck.
Have you ever considered a singing career in addition to voice acting?
Well, I recently released a mini-album titled Palette, so yes, I've already tried singing.
What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you whle recording?
In the recording for the game Seventh Dragon, I shouted a line, and suddenly a light bulb blew out at the exact same time. It was very scary.
You're my favorite voice actor and Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index is my favorite character. What did you think of the original Index novel compared to the script?
In adapting the text from written to spoken, it's tricky because of different writing systems in Japanese. Like with katakana [used for foreign or unusual words], you have to work with a professional coach to figure it out.
Aside from these questions, Okamoto also got several requests to perform lines as his most well-known characters. In addition to Rin from Blue Exorcist, Okamoto also stepped into the roles of Accelerator from Index, Niizuma from Bakuman. (with the hilarious English phrase "Let's hospital!"), Usui from Kaichō wa Maid-sama!, Origami Cyclone from Tiger and Bunny, and aspiring rocker Seiji from Kids on the Slope. Each of these on-the-fly voice clips got plenty of cheers from the audience.
Lastly, Okamoto offered a final message to his fans in America: "I will continue performing in various roles, and in the Blue Exorcist movie coming out, so I hope you enjoy the upcoming movie. Thank you."
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