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All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024
Chosen Without An Audition: Ryukishi07 Voice Actress Sayaka Ohara Q&A

by Bamboo Dong,

ANN's coverage of Anime Expo 2024 sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!


Sayaka Ōhara, the voice behind popular characters like Beatrice in Umineko - When They Cry, Erza Scarlet in Fairy Tail, and Sailor Neptune/Michiru Kaioh in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, sent fans into a frenzy when she elegantly walked onto stage cosplaying as Beatrice. She bowed serenely, befitting a lady like Beatrice, before cheerfully greeting the crowd gathered to see her at the official Sayaka Ōhara Q&A panel presented by MangaGamer. Joining her on the stage was Ryukishi07, the writer, artist, and creator behind Umineko - When They Cry and Higurashi: When They Cry, who also had a panel the previous day.

The pair chatted about how Ohara was chosen for the role of Beatrice, saying that she was chosen directly by Ryukishi07 and his staff. “I was very lucky that I was chosen directly without an audition!” said Ohara. She joked about going into the project without context, “I thought, 'Oh, it might be a minor role like a mother role or a big sister,' but I was surprised when I opened Pandora's Box that it was a huge major role.” She went on to talk about the visual novel's shocking twists, “I thought, 'What a nice looking and elegant female character…' I came in without much idea of what the storyline was, but I was very honored to work alongside many of my voice actor senpai. But then I looked at Beatrice's role and thought, 'Hey… wait a minute…. Why am I not in this very much at the beginning? Hey, wait… why… why are so many of these characters dying off?' Meanwhile, all the senpai were saying, 'Wait, wait, why am I suddenly dead? Why are we dying off?'”

Ryukishi07 chimed in to say that it was his staff members who initially insisted on looking at Ohara for the role of Beatrice. He had visited her website to listen to her voice samples, thinking, “Most of her roles before Beatrice were very motherly, very heavenly. I thought she'd fit very well for the elegant part, but is it really okay to play the more diabolical and crass side?” But his staff assured him that she was up for the task, and now he's very grateful for their recommendation. “As you can see, her role was perfect, and I'm very proud that she hit it right on the mark for Beatrice.”

In talking about playing the dualities of Beatrice, Ohara said that typically her previous roles only revolved around one personality. She joked that in a previous interview, she had once told the journalist that she hoped to someday play a character with multiple personalities. “When I landed this role, I was very happy and surprised because not only does Beatrice have dual personalities, but a lot of personalities within her! I played so many personalities within Beatrice that I lost count.”

Ryukishi07 added that typically, most of his characters have 20 reference illustrations of emotions. “When I look at Beatrice, I think I created close to 100 emotion illustrations. So I think there must be maybe four or five different kinds of personalities within Beatrice.”

Ohara credited her ten years of voice acting experience to being able to play Beatrice, saying that the role had come to her at the right moment in her life. “Being able to portray Beatrice in this role, it was very much a learning and educational experience for myself, knowing how many different personalities a person can have… I was able to act as Beatrice because I was at that level of experience at that time. I can say from the bottom of my heart that I was really glad I was chosen at that specific time in my life to play Beatrice, and I'm grateful to Ryukishi07 for the opportunity.”

Ryukishi07 added that Ohara's acting experience was also able to influence the other actors, especially Daisuke Ono who voices Battler. “Her acting was able to bring out his experiences, too.” Later when Ohara answered a question from a fan as to some of her most memorable moments in the recording booth, she said there were two emotional moments—one was during an emotional recording session of the Valentine's Day episode that left her crying, with snot coming out of her nose. And the other was a scene near the end where she had to act together with Daisuke. “That scene was very memorable for me and Daisuke Ono. It brought a tear into his eyes as well. Even after all these years, he can still remember that point in time. He still remembers the day and the time, and the weather, and all the background details of when he recorded that role.”

She also said that Beatrice was very hard on her vocal cords because the character had such a wide range. “She goes from cutesy and sweet, to very loud and crass, to very aggressive! It was very challenging, but I'll probably never land another role that will push me to my vocal limits ever again!”

One of her biggest challenges though? Hiding spoilers from her fellow actors. “I had to fend off all the questions from all the other voice actors! Even though I knew the ending, I couldn't spill the beans. They were always looking for spoilers! I had to really control it.”

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