New York Comic-Con 2012
Yu Asakawa

by David Cabrera,

When I first sat down for this panel, an elegant lady in a witchy-looking dress passed me by and sat down a few rows up. I thought to myself, “That's something Yu Asakawa would wear.” Then I thought to myself, “Actually, wait, that's Yu Asakawa”. Sure enough, when moderator Danny Choo summoned Asakawa up to the stage, that mysterious lady a few rows up stood and took the stage.

The format was a direct Q&A session with the voice actress and source human of Vocaloid Luka Megurine, first with Choo and then with the audience.

The first questions were about her learning English; Yu even runs an English-language Twitter account through which she communicates with fans. When asked, Yu said “I just quit”. This is her first time in New York, and her impression of Times Square (hey! that's not real New York!) is that we use way too much electricity.

Asakawa's been active for about 15 or 16 years, by her count. She watched a TV show about voice acting one day and simply chose to sign up for a voice acting school... where she was a truant. She joked that for the two or three years she was attending, her total attendance only added up to about a year.

(A shouted comment from the crowd around this point eventually led Danny Choo to do a very convincing impression of Andy Serkis as Gollum.)

Yu's advice to the aspiring voice actress is to make sure you've got three key points going for you: acting skill (“anime voice” being secondary), sheer luck, and a powerful agency representing you.

Her favorite role was Rider in Fate stay/night, and more recently Anastasia in Brave10. When pressed further about Rider, she described her as cool-looking, sad (“so you like sad people?” “Yes.”), and of course sexy. “With big boobs,” she added. When asked again about Rider during audience Q&A she put it even more simply: “Rider was the prettiest and her master was stupid.”

Of course, this was a panel for Megurine Luka as well, and certainly the crowd was there to see the Vocaloid character first and foremost. The Luka portion was capped with a singalong to a performance video (by a Luka hologram) of Dixie Flatline's Just Be Friends from the Mikunopolis concert. Yu's comment: “They're waving those lights at a screen! It's just a screen!”

Both Choo and others had quite a lot to ask about Luka. When asked how she felt about new material being made with a program that borrows her own voice, Asakawa admitted that it was a strange feeling to have her voice heard by so many in songs whose production she didn't have much to do with. “It's me, and it's not me.”

Asakawa also described their actual singing styles as very different, demonstrating by singing a few bars of Just Be Friends naturally... and then pitching her voice up a little bit and adopting a machine-voice inflection to approximate Luka. When asked about the many fan cover artists on Youtube and Nico, she admitted to being a little intimidated by just how good some of those singers are.

Even when she's asleep, Yu joked, Luka is still singing... so that's convenient. She'd like to have Luka come in and cover her at voice acting work sometime, so she could stay home and sleep and get paid.

Not that she doesn't love Luka: every time somebody tried to ask her if she liked the other Vocaloids, or tried to get her to compare them, she'd just say “Luka's the best!” When really pressed, she admitted that Gackpo was cool. Yu hinted that “secret agents from Crypton Media” told her that something big was to happen with Luka next year... but couldn't say anything more.

A question about music games like the Vocaloid game Project Diva (“I'm no good at them”) led to Asakawa revealing her wide selection of game consoles: her desire for an Xbox, amusingly, was met with boos from the crowd. (Japanophile = Sony loyalist, I imagine?) It wasn't too long before she got to her deep love of Resident Evil-- or perhaps more to the point, her deep love of the babyfaced hero Leon F. Kennedy. When asked about his love interest, Ada Wong, she called her “my rival.”

When time was up, the crowd gathered together into the center of the room so Yu could take a group picture. I couldn't wiggle my way into the picture: there were too many people standing on the seats in front of me! Oh well.

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