Premiere Report: Utano☆Princesama Maji LOVE Kingdom at Anime Expo 2019

by Kalai Chik,

Popular boy idol franchise Utano☆Princesama received a warm welcome at Anime Expo during Sentai Filmworks' screening of the new movie: Utano☆Princesama Maji LOVE Kingdom. Voice actors Takuma Terashima and Mamoru Miyano, who voice the two main leads Otoya Ittoki and Tokiya Ichinose respectively, attended the panel, listening to the cheers and chants of fans behind their screen as the movie played out. The release date of the upcoming limited theatrical US release of the movie will be revealed later this year by Sentai Filmworks.

UtaPri fans showed up early to fill up the ballroom with light sticks and cosplay. The two voice actors in attendance would appear after the film up for a quick fan Q&A to talk about their favorite moments within the movie and chat about their work on the eight-year-old franchise - but we'll get to that later. If you have no idea what the series is about, the movie can still be for you.

Longtime UtaPri fans and fans of the male idol genre know exactly what to expect from Maji LOVE Kingdom. Armed with light sticks in both hands, the room of over 500 people cheered in unison as the STARISH descended on stage and began with the Overture Fantastic Prelude. For those who have no idea what this movie is about, don't worry, it's more or less an hour and a half of concert footage between the three main idol groups (STARISH, QUARTET NIGHT, and HEAVENS) and their sub groups. There's no plot involved; just a very fun and energetic “live” concert that is sure to keep you on your feet and cheering for your new favorite idols.

The spectacle is both the movie and the fan engagement. In Japan, movies are generally quiet and calm events where there isn't a lot of opportunity to interact with characters, but Maji LOVE Kingdom provides such a chance. And a movie with the word “kingdom” in its title can't be without an actual life size castle in the background. With mixed CG and 2D animation, you're encouraged to countdown, cheer, and gasp as the members of each group captures your heart in a truly over-the-top spectacle.

As promised, Terashima and Miyano hopped onto the stage to wave towards their adoring fans - the entire Q&A session was filled with screams. As fan service, the King Records team presented a special video to Anime Expo from the other voice actors of STARISH who couldn't make it.

Q: Uta no Princesama is both an anime and a game. How does voice acting for the two differ from each other?

Terashima: With Otoya, the character is a little different but not really. He loves performing and singing in front of everyone.

Miyano: Me? Haha, okay. The animation process in Japan is different from the way it's done in America. When we are recording, the cast comes together. You have the in-show rivalry between the different groups, STARISH vs. HEAVENS and STARISH vs. QUARTET NIGHT, but we're recording together. Because there's a synergy in the healthy rivalry these groups have, we're able to improve and grow as a group and as individual voice actors. We're separate for games, but together for the anime.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of performing as Otoya?

Terashima: He's very cute and energetic. Can't forget about his voice.

Miyano: Obviously for Tokiya, he's sexy.

Q: Do you have any other favorite characters besides your own?

Miyano: I like Otoya. He's so cute.

Terashima: I like Tokiya. He's so cool!

Miyano: Thank you.

Q: What are some of your favorite scenes in the movie?

Terashima: It's the moment where Otoya turns to Tokiya, and what he says is up to you. Maybe he said, “I love you.”

Miyano: One of my favorite scenes is when the group sings Kaleidoscope together, and they're flying on their hoverboards. Because its animation, they can do that, “BWOOSH,” swirl in the sky. Only in animation is that possible. After seeing it again, I thought, “I'd like to do that.”

Q: There are so many wonderful songs in the UtaPri franchise. What's your favorite and why? I believe you both picked the same song.

Miyano: Yes, it's Maji LOVE 1000%! Ah, I'm sad its over so fast!

Terashima: My reason is because this song came after all the challenges the characters had been through, and that song was the first time they all performed together. Also, the call and answer parts are simple, so everyone can join in. The dance is amazing and makes you want to do it with the song.

Miyano: Will you all dance with us?

Q: What is your favorite memory working on this series? Anything close to your heart?

Miyano: Good question! Was anyone here at the concert we held in Tokyo? Oh, you have! We did both the singing and voice acting in the studio, but in the concert and the first time I was on stage is my favorite memory. This was the first time everything and everyone had come together. Hopefully we'll be able to do the same concert in America. If we do, please come! In that case, we'll be able to make another special memory.

Terashima: I feel the same, because that was an incredible feeling. The UtaPri cast is extraordinary. The show created a real group of people who performed as one. It's truly a special performance. When we had the concert, we stay at a hotel and at night everyone goes into my room and play card games. It's known as “cockroach Poker”. We're just laughing the whole time when we play.

Q: Since you're in LA, I heard you were doing some sightseeing. Where did you go?

Terashima: Randy's Donuts!

Miyano: We went to Universal Studios Hollywood and I had a huge turkey leg! When I came here last time, I went to the walk of fame.

Q: Do you have a farewell message to your fans before you leave?

Terashima: I'm so happy to see all the fans who are here, who have come from different countries and from faraway places. The UtaPri love is so wide and genuine, and I'm grateful to be able to see how the characters, songs, and story has transcended language and culture. I'm so thankful to be able to be here. This gives me more energy to do my best as Otoya and I love you all.

Miyano: Thank you so much. I have this feeling of being a proud parent, because Tokiya is like my child. He's a character that I've put a lot of love into and to form with my voice and work. To see you all with such wonderful responses to Tokiya's performance on screen makes me so happy. We love all our characters and to see the reaction from this crowd made me teary-eyed. Now that the characters have spread all over the world, it's our turn on the stage. We will definitely be back and perform live for you. Please look forward to it!

All in all, fans were pleased (to say the least) to be the first ones in America to see the new UtaPri movie. In just eight short years, the series has expanded from a visual novel game in Japan to a worldwide phenomenon. Watch out for the film in theaters later this year.

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