Interview: Haruka Tomatsu, Sword Art Online's Asuna

by Sarah Nelkin, Sep 4th 2013

ANN: You play Asuna, a swordsman, in Sword Art Online. If you played Sword Art Online, how would you customize your character?

Tomatsu: Let's see... If it were me, I'd really want to customize my character with extremely strong equipment, so I think that rather than going for a cute look, I'd try and make a character that's super buff. Rather than focusing on looks, I feel like I'd go for a more rugged look.

I see. So, would you try and make your character look like yourself, or a character whose looks you liked?

Oh. Well, if it was myself, I'm sure that the equipment wouldn't look good on me at all, and would look pretty ridiculous. That's why I'd probably make my character with a face and body with my ideal features.

Aside from Asuna, who would you say your favorite Sword Art Online character is?

I have a lot of characters I like, but if you're talking about characters I think are cute, I like Silica, because she's the kind of character I would want to have as a little sister.

Do you find yourself similar to Asuna in any way?

Rather than having something similar to her, I feel that to me, she is the ideal person that I would want to become. After all, she can cook, she's smart... I think that she's the type of woman I wanted to become and admired. Leaving aside if I can cook well, though, I really like to cook. I don't really know if I can say if we are alike because of that, though.

What was the trigger for you to become a voice actor?

One day I was told by my friend and fellow classmate, “You can't just keep on living a normal life.” (laughs) I guess that was my trigger.

That's one amazing friend.

Yes. It's not that I was weird or anything, but I didn't excel in academics or sports. If you had to call me anything, I was kind of the comedian of the class. (laughs) I was kind of like the mood-maker. My friend didn't think I would just become a normal adult and become an office-worker, so she suggested that I aim for a job that used my personality more. I had always had the thought of “I want to become an actor” and “I want to enter the world of anime” somewhere in my heart, so I said, “Oh! I want to aim to be in that world!” That's how I started moving.

You did become a voice actress when you were fairly young.

You're right. It was when I was about 16.

What do you try to do to prepare for a role?

When I get the script, I use the time until recording to read the source material if there is one. If it's an original work, I try to be straight-forward and feel what the words are trying to convey. I don't actually think much before recording about if I should do this or that; I think about how I want to act a role. Of course I plan before I act, and I do get instructions on how to act during recording, so I'm more of the kind of person to adapt when I'm working.

What kind of roles would you like to challenge now in your career?

I want to do the voice of an animal or something. Yes. Something that isn't human. Or a thing. (laughs)

Like a Pokémon?

Yeah, something like that! Pokémon! (laughs) Or some kind of creature that isn't human. Maybe an animal... Or maybe a car. (laughs) I couldn't think of anything but a car! Anyway, something that isn't human is something I'd like to try.

You're also very well known for your singing career. Is there anything you find difficult about balancing your singing career and voice acting career?

There really haven't been that many times that I've thought it was difficult to keep the balance between the two. Both are really fun! I always think that I love to do the work I do. Actually, I feel happy that I get allowed to do so many fun things. I also think it's a lot of fun to be able to experience so many things. That's the kind of person I am. But if we're talking about difficulties, well, the two jobs are very different, but they don't get mixed up in my head or anything. I guess the biggest problem I have is stamina. I have to be careful that I watch my health.

What do you like doing on your days off?

I like going out. Of course, it's totally possible for me to just stay home and relax, but I prefer going outside and seeing how far I can go and play before the sun goes down.

Where do you like going?

There's a limit of where you can go within just a day, but I like going in parts of Kanto that aren't in Tokyo. I especially like going to places like big amusement parks, or even big aquariums. I really like big theme park-like things.

Any advice for those looking to be voice actors?

(laughs) I'm not really in the position to be giving advice, but if I had to say something, I think that it's that voice acting is the only job that you can really use your voice to create different roles. You can become a boy, you can become an older woman, you can become a child, and sometimes, you can become something that's not even human. Now that I've entered the world of voice acting, I really feel that it's such a fun profession. It's hard to say from my mouth what people should do, but I think it's an amazing job. Japan is the place to aim to become a voice actor, so I want those people who are aiming to become one to understand the beauty of the profession.

Any messages to English-speaking fans?

I'm really happy that information is crossing seas and that people are learning about me and the works I'm in. There are times that I receive fan letters from overseas, and sometimes there are people who even cross the ocean to come to my events. I'm really grateful. There are a lot of different wonderful anime in Japan, so I'd be really happy if you'd fall in love with Japanese animation even more, and Sword Art Online has really become an amazing work. I'd be happy if you cheered us on in the future as well! Thank you!

SWORD ART ONLINE ©REKI KAWAHARA/ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO Project

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