Sakuracon 2015: Kana Ueda Fan Q&A

by Caitlin Moore,
Kana Ueda's Q&A panel was held on Saturday, April 4 at Sakuracon in Seattle, WA. Fans lined up by the hundreds for the chance to ask the seiyuu a question or two.

KANA UEDA: Hi, I'm Kana Ueda. I play the part of Rachel in BlazBlue. I'm glad to meet everyone.

PANEL MODERATOR: What is the most interesting interaction you've had with a fan in your career?

The dinner last night. Was anyone there? It was really fun for me as well because in Japan, there's never an event where we interact with the fans so closely and intimately, like over dinner. So, I got a lot of great questions from the fans. Thank you.

Q: Who is your favorite character in BlazBlue, and why is that your favorite character?

[English] I love Ragna the Bloodedge. [Japanese] I am personally friends with Sugita-san, Ragna's voice actor. You know, there is… He loves games and I love games myself, so even outside of our work, we definitely hang out a lot and, you know, go for drinks. But aside from that, you know, Rachel, the character, loves Ragna too, so I think that I can't get that out of my head and I too am kind of, you know, really kind of like Ragna myself.

Q: What is your favorite video game?

A: My favorite game is Sakura Taisen. I don't know if you guys know what that is… I would like to take a game where you take Sakura Taisen and [email protected] and combine it and divide it by two. That would be my game that I would like.

Q: If you met Rachel in real life, do you think you would become friends?

A: (hesitantly) I think we could become friends. Rachel is nocturnal as I am myself, so I think we'd have a wonderful night together.

Q: What is your favorite game or anime outside of BlazBlue?

A: [English] My favorite animation is Hokuto no Ken. [laughter] I love Kenshiro! I love fighting games. [Japanese] I think my favorite genre is the fighting game genre because I love Kenshiro. I think naturally Kenshiro and fighting games go hand in hand.

The floor was then opened for audience questions.

Q: Konnichiwa. Recently I met Johji Nakata and managed to get him to record a line. I was wondering if you had a favorite line you had in anything like Fate/stay night that you'd like to try in English? But before that, I'll play what he said to me. [plays clip, “Nice young man”]

What did he say?

Q: Yorokobe shounen.


That's from Fate, right? What's it going to be? Do you have a request? Anything?

Q: You can also say what he said.

Any character? What should I say… [recites line in Japanese] Doko ni kaite aru no, Archer?


Q: Ohayou. I heard Kana-sama also liked Monster Hunter. What is your favorite weapon in the series?

[English] I love gun-lance. [Japanese] But the gun-lance is apparently not that great in terms of balance in the game. So I first used the bow when I started playing Monster Hunter, but after a version where they added a patch to it, they upgraded the version, the bow became weaker. I didn't want to give up my marksmanship roots, that's why I chose the gun-lance, where I can both shoot From Far Away and get up close. That's how I ended up with the gun-lance.

Q: Konnichiwa. If Urazawa Yumi never met Sachiko, and instead she met Tohsaka Rin, do you think they would become sisters?

I think they would become good sisters, because Rin in the world of Fate/stay night is kind of like the onee-san character, where she is responsible for guiding Shiro through his adventure. I think because of that, there's a lot of overlap between her and Sachiko and therefore they would become very good sisters.

Q: Ohayou. I was wondering the differences in production studios, between Studio DEEN's Fate/stay night and ufotable's series. Can you talk a little bit about the difference in how the recording goes and that experience?

The different studios have really different ways of producing animation, which was a surprise for myself as well. At Studio DEEN, they first create the pictures , so all the animation is done and we have to match the voice to what they're doing on-screen.

However, with ufotable, you voice it first, and then they draw it around our voices, so once we voice the character they'll start to put the picture to it. Therefore, I believe there's no other studio that can produce quality like ufotable.

Q: Also, who's your favorite [email protected] character?

Rii-chan. So Rii-chan is my favorite character, and [email protected], I don't know if you're aware, is doing a lot of collaboration with other games and other intellectual properties in Japan, and there's another game that I'm working on right now, and the character Rii shows up here as well and she's very strong in this game, therefore I really, really like her.

Q: I know that you didn't like Shiro in the original Fate/stay night, but in the new version, you said that your opinion changed after that?

So, ten years ago, Shiro was talking about justice and preaching it, but I couldn't help but feel there was something missing in his original sense of justice, like a core backbone of the character where he would justify it. Just watching it made me feel frustrated. But, right now, Shiro still preaches justice, but I believe that he is able to back it up with his actions and words, so I feel it's a much better form of justice, so he's starting to grow on me.

Q: Did you know there's a mahjong room here, and will you go there to play?

I heard there's two mahjong rooms at Sakura Con…only one? I wasn't able to go yesterday because I was working, but if I have some time in my schedule, I definitely might take a peek.

Q: They're playing Saki in there the whole time…

Oh, is that so? Thank you!

Q: When you auditioned for the part of Rachel in BlazBlue, did you audition for any other characters? And between Rachel's familiars Nago and Gii, which one is your favorite?

I only auditioned for Rachel in BlazBlue, actually. The producer, Mori, specifically requested that I play the role of Rachel and it really wasn't much of an audition process if you will. It just kind of happened naturally. [Regarding Nago vs. Gii] This is a hard choice! Nago, I think. But I do love both of my familiars, and I hope that one day I'll get plushies of them.

Q: I have two questions, one of them is BlazBlue and one of them is Saki. The BlazBlue one is, I was wondering what your opinion is on what the relationship between Rachel and Noelle is?

So I think in the beginning, since the world was repeating itself, Rachel was in a position just as an observer. She was kind of watching this play out in front of her, and she would hope that Noelle asked her about the way she does certain things, so little by little she'd implant that consciousness in her. And in Chrono Phantasma, she's able to see Noelle be able to do things, like she's not just the helpless person she was, so Rachel slowly starts to become invested in what happens in the human world. And in Chrono Phantasma: Extend, I really feel that Noelle and Rachel are going to be walking almost side by side while in the past, Rachel almost had to hold Noelle's hand. I think there's a lot of exciting story there.

Q: Sakura just, like, since, I mean… To enjoy Saki, a person should at least enjoy mahjong… How did you feel, like, getting a part in Saki, then Saki getting two other seasons and becoming as… sort of popular but not as popular as you think, but popular in that some people were turned on to mahjong because of the show?

So, back when I was still into mahjong, the go-to mahjong anime was Akagi. I really enjoyed this show and I expressed my love for mahjong so that when the time for Saki came along, the producers said, “I know you like mahjong, you should try to do this,” and kindly offered me the position. And, like you said, with Saki I think the mahjong-playing population, at least on the internet, has really exploded in growth so I hope that love of mahjong can spread.

Q: I believe Ueda-sama played a yuri anime part and I was wondering how did she feel about being in a yuri anime. What is the difference between a yuri anime and a regular anime?

So the biggest difference… all the dialogue is really similar. The only difference, I would say, is I have to make sure it was more memorable whenever I used these lines. So, if I'd say something I'd have to deliver it with impact, is the main difference. So, again, a very important point is the sensei who write yuri novels, anime, whatever it is… they really care about this world they create, and that is why I really have to keep that in mind. So some might go for more of a gag, sort of funny route, while others might want a more serious and dramatic route, so I always keep this in mind when I'm acting out some sort of romantic scene.

Q: In the anime Maria-sama ga Miteru, your character Yumi chooses Sachiko as her petite soeur, which I thought was a great… they're perfect for each other. If you yourself could choose any of the characters as your own petite soeur, who would you choose? Who would you want to call you oneesan?

 Sei is more of an oneesama role, I believe, but there is at one point a flashback to the past, and when I saw Sei-sama in that context in the past, I really thought I wanted a little sister like her.

Q: Have you ever cosplayed as one of the characters you've voice-acted before? Who would you, if you were to?

I actually started off as a cosplayer. My very first cosplay was when I was in grade school, in sixth grade. I cosplayed as Seina and Sakura from Sakura Wars and [English] do you know Saber Marionette? So there's been quite a bit of cosplay. And at Japanese events that have cosplay, Rachel as well. And secretly today, without telling anyone, I cosplay at some events. It's a hobby of mine.

Q: In [email protected], I was wondering, what's your favorite song and would you want to voice an idol?

Actually, when [email protected] was auditioning, there were roles I was a part of in a different idol group. Therefore, as part of the non-compete clause, I was unable to audition for [email protected], unfortunately. In hindsight, I really wish I could have auditioned for that. It's really difficult to answer my favorite song because of its long history, so I'll leave that as an unknown for now.

Q: After voice-acting, has there ever been a point in time where you actually believe you could get a rinshan kaiho? (Editor's note: a rinshan kaiho is a mahjong term)


Q: What's your favorite yaku?

My favorite is iipeiko. As for me, rinshan kaiho is really hard to get in actual matches and it is not worth a lot of points, so I don't think it's in the arsenal of actual games. But when I'm on TV, there's definitely a moment where I try going for it because they just love when I do it.

Q: If Nanoha Innocent is animated, what sort of scene would you like to create?

So, it's actually a game right now as well… it's a social game… so if I were to be able to create a scene, I would like it to be something to do with King.

Q: In your role as Miyanaga Saki, you do a lot of singing - OPs, EDs, character songs, I love your voice. My question is this: this never happened in four seasons, so could we hear Saki confess her love to Nodoka?

What would Saki say… “Haramura-san… do you want to… go somewhere this Sunday?”

Q: One of the things you're known for is Kansai dialect. One of the things I wanted to know is what makes Kansai dialect so easy for you?

There are accents in the states too, right? I feel like it's “spice” in acting. It kind of makes things softer and easier on the pallet when a character is speaking in Kansai-ben. There are lots of anime with lots of girls in Japan, so in terms of differentiating and making characters individual, Kansai-ben becomes the easiest way to make a character a character. I feel it is my responsibility because a lot of times people make characters this way because it's so easy. They just throw the Kansai accent onto them, but I think it's similar if on American TV someone has a British accent, but it's really not a British accent, so in a similar way, I feel I have a responsibility to deliver a proper Kansai accent when I do these characters.

Q: If you were in the Holy Grail War, what Servant would you summon?

If I'm going for the win, it would probably be Saber. If it were someone I'd have to spend a lot of time with, it would have to be Rider. Specifically, Rider from Zero. He's very kakkoii.

Q: My question is, have you ever found yourself accidentally or intentionally doing a tsundere voice in real life?

[tsundere voice] B-betsu ni! [laughter]

Q: You've done like eight voices for Tohsaka Rin throughout all these years. How much could you relate to her and in what way?

When I first met the character Tohsaka Rin and I was to voice her, I was still very green and she was still very young as a character, so there's this weird parallel between my career and her growth as a character. I think that would be the biggest link between myself and her. I think that was actually a reason I was cast - when I was auditioning for the role, the director made a comment that said, “You seem kind of young and kind of green” ten years ago, and now I see that kind of growth in myself as well as in that character.

Q: In Tales of Graces F, when you first portrayed Pascal, what type of personality did you want to give her?

I was really attracted to her lack of, sort of… she was almost straightforward and there was nothing she would hide, and she was always very bright. So, her honesty and way she interacted with people was what I found attractive in her. Specifically, while I was recording, it was really interesting, because a lot of characters in Graces F had some kind of burden, some kind of dark side… “Oh, I have to protect her… Oh, I could have protected so-and-so back then… Why is it me… Why not me…” So in contrast to them, the fact that I was portraying a character that was so bright and so straightforward with herself and other people just made me feel like I was coming in from a different game when everyone else's scenes were dark.

Q: Do you still head seiyuu mahjong games? And if so, who do you schedule with?

There are a lot of good players, actually, in the voice acting community, which is really strange, but Jun Fukuyama and Hideo Ishikawa are two very, very talented mahjong players and actors.

Q: Who is your favorite seiyuu to work with, male and female? And who's your your favorite vocal leader?

Takayama Minami. She's actually the most senior among us working, but she is also the one who is most courteous and conscious of what's going on around her, so when we have dinner at work, she would be the one who would say, serve people on their plates. She has a motherly role in the voice acting community. That's a tough question… So, Kakihara Tetsuya, the actor for the role Jin Kisaragi in BlazBlue, we have been friends for over ten years, but he was living overseas for a very long time. When he first came back to Japan, his manner of speech was very rusty and it almost felt kind of childish, so that was definitely a memorable moment. More recently, we attended BlazBlue events together, and there I really saw, wow, he's really matured so well, he had a proper closing comment, greeting, it was startling to see him grow up so much in these past fifteen years.

Q: How do you remember all the different characters and songs you produce and were involved with over the years?

I've been involved with hundreds of characters and songs but really, because I gave birth to them, I would ask the question, how can you forget them? That said, there is the more physical problem with acting, which is remembering the voices and actually physically producing them is very different. For example, more recently, it's harder for me to maintain a high voice that I could do a long time ago. Now if I try that, it's really strenuous on me. By contrast, for example, Tohsaka Rin, her deeper voice, I really had to try when I first debuted to get that voice but now it comes more naturally. I think my muscles and my vocal cords are more balanced and more able to adapt to that. There's a physical problem in terms of changing voices.

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