Interview: Miho Okasakiby Jacob Chapman,
Miho Okasaki is a fresh voice in the anime industry, beginning her career in 2017 before landing her first major part as Rimuru in the hit isekai fantasy, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. We sat down with the talented young seiyuu at Crunchyroll Expo to discuss her experience on this hit show and her aspirations for the future.
Note: this interview was conducted press-junket style, with journalists from many outlets present to ask questions. "ANN:" precedes the questions asked by our representative.
Do you perform Rimuru differently when he's in slime form compared to his humanoid form?
Miho Okasaki: In slime form, Rimuru is much more relaxed, whereas in human form, he feels pressure to act more like the lord of a nation. Internally, I try to make Rimuru sound more casual in his natural slime body, and when he's in human form, he expresses himself with more authority and power.
Do you prefer one form over the other?
Yes, the slime form.
The series has an impressive and immense cast, so what was your recording studio experience like?
I was very nervous at first, but I guess I'm the kind of person who doesn't show it, so I was able to communicate well with all my seniors there and learn from their advice. I actually hadn't had recording sessions like that before, in such a major role, so it was a very good experience for me.
What is your go-to song at karaoke and why?
I really love Disney, so one of my go-to songs is "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid. I always love singing that, and I love singing both the openings and endings for That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime now as well.
What manga would you like to see adapted into an anime, and what role would you like to portray in it?
That's a very tough question. Oftentimes, when reading manga, if I find it really interesting, it's already been announced that there's an anime with a full cast cemented. So I feel like the process of manga being adapted into anime has become accelerated recently. But there is one particular genre I'm drawn to, and that would be more family material that airs in a prime time slot, around 7 PM or so. I would love to have the opportunity to play the lead role in the kinds of nationally acclaimed anime that kids watch, in contrast to things that are only part of the anime fandom world.
Have there been any unique challenges to voicing Rimuru, who is both a slime and a reincarnated salaryman?
Yes, Rimuru may be a very cute slime in appearance, but internally, he has already experienced 37 years of life as a man. The challenge was definitely to find that cute voice in expression, while at the same time making sure that 37 years of middle-aged experience came through behind the voice.
Since your career as a voice actress is still in its early stages, what kind of goals would you like to accomplish in the future?
I mentioned earlier that I would love to be in the kind of anime that children will watch, and one in particular would be Doraemon. I loved watching Doraemon growing up, so I want to voice a character that kids would love. Actually, many kids have loved That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime as well, so I'm happy about that.
What was your initial impression when That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime began airing and your character became so popular?
I was certainly happy, but I think the #1 thing that I felt was relief. There are a lot of fans of the original work, and there was a lot of hype surrounding the show as it was announced, so when there was a great response from fans toward the anime, I was relieved that people were enjoying the show on top of the original work that they had already loved.
One of your first major roles was Miku Nishino from Music Girls, and you also participated in the idol group of the same name. Do you see singing continuing to be part of your career in the future?
If I'm good enough, then that would be great! Through playing Miku, I was able to experience singing as a character, and naturally, I enjoy singing in general. So if there are opportunities in the future where I can sing as a character again, then that would be great.
ANN: There are many superpowered protagonists in isekai that enter another world and gradually sculpt it in their own image. What do you think makes Rimuru stand out as different from the others?
The initial impression when you see is Rimuru is like "...oh." He's not a species that people yearn to become. In fact, he's the weakest kind of creature at first. But one of the unique things about Rimuru is that even when the slime was very weak at the start, he didn't become discouraged. He didn't think "Oh, I'm a slime, I'm depressed." Instead, his reincarnation gave him the confidence to explore the world around him, so I think that's pretty cool.
How has this past year been as a new breakout voice actress on the scene, and have you received any advice from other veteran voice actors?
I'm very happy to have had the opportunity to do this show that's basically become part of my identity, and regarding advice from veterans, it's comforting to learn that they also struggle sometimes to find their character and do them justice.
What's the transition been like from voicing background characters to leading roles?
It's certainly different in terms of the number of lines you have to deliver, but whether you're Person A or Person B or the lead, every character is someone living in this anime's world. So even though there are more lines, I don't particularly put extra emotion into performing a protagonist's role compared to those smaller parts.
Were you ever discouraged about your career, because it must have taken a lot of auditions and small roles before you were able to get a leading part?
I'm certainly always worried about future roles and upcoming auditions. When I got the call confirming that I was going to play Rimuru, it was completely out-of-the-blue for me, so that was certainly an exciting day. But I'm always battling with worries over whether or not I'm going to get parts I have auditioned for. Despite that, I want to remain tough and continue my career. It's something I love, regardless of the size of the role.
If you were reborn as a creature in the world of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, what would you want to be?
I would want to be able to fly, so maybe some kind of bird? But birds are pretty weak, so potentially a dragon. Dragons are powerful and they can fly.
If you had a Great Sage of your own, what would you ask it?
I would have it wake me up in the morning. It would be great if my Great Sage could tell me "Oh, you should sleep now so you can wake up at this time and get this many hours of rest." Basically, I want a Great Sage to teach me time management.
As an actress, does the genre or demographic of a work affect the way you deliver your performance?
I do certainly value the audience while performing. For example, with That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, I knew there would be many people of all ages and genders watching, so I tried to create a character that would suit that audience, as opposed to a character like Miku from Music Girls, where most of the audience will be male. So in that case, I tried to create a character that's more cutesy and will be favored by that predominantly male audience.
Is becoming a voice actress just like you imagined, or were there any notable surprises?
I think it's going to be just as I imagined? But there's definitely many difficult steps ahead of me, so I want to continue taking those necessary steps and become the kind of voice actress that I was always inspired to be.
What are your thoughts on the popularity of anime in the West?
I'm very happy about how popular anime is over here. I've always been interested in going overseas, but it takes a lot of energy to hop on a plane and fly across the ocean. Now that I'm able to do that because of my role as Rimuru, it's been a great experience. It's great that so many people are accepting, that so many people are fans of the show.
What would you like fans to know about you?
I'm still fairly nervous when I come to these events, and while I have been to a couple at this point, I'm still very shy. So I want the fans to know that I'm funnier and more interesting than I seem to be in person.
How familiar were you with the source material for That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime when you started voicing Rimuru?
I knew about the title, but due to the demands of my job, I never really had the opportunity to read up-and-coming works that had just gotten popular like this one. But after I got the role of Rimuru, I started reading up on the manga version.
Were you expecting to become a bigger success as an actress when you were recording the role of Rimuru?
I certainly had hopes, because of the fame that the title had before the anime began airing, for me to become more popular through the success of this work, but it definitely wasn't the focal point of my efforts at the time. You can't create good anime by thinking, "This is for the sake of my own career." You can't focus on your greater personal dreams and create good work, so it's not something that people make their #1 priority as voice actors. This is true of all my colleagues in the cast working on this series. They want to create something that's going to remain out in the world as special.
How has your time in San Jose been so far? What is your impression of the west coast?
It's very easy to stay here. The weather is incredible. I can't say too much, since I haven't had a lot of time to explore San Jose, but I really love the awesome scenery of the area. The food is very good, and it's much easier to be in this weather than Japan right now.
Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories about your time as a voice actress so far?
This story is a little bit technical, but one of my first roles was an extra on IDOLiSH7. There was a scene where the crowd is going crazy during a live performance, and I didn't know that it was customary to record those reactions of "kyaa~!" as a group afterwards, once the main actors in the scene have finished. So while the performance was going on, I just followed the timing of my script, walked up to the mic, and went "kyaa~!", and everyone was like "What is she doing?!"
ANN: How has your perception of Rimuru deepened over the course of the series compared to where you started?
Initially, my impression was to play him as a cute slime, so his physical appearance played a big role in my performance choices. I knew that he would switch between being a human and a slime on the outside, but I didn't think about that shift as deeply. So over the course of these 26 episodes, I grew to love his human side, like how he's always thoughtful toward even his enemies, coming from the more experienced background that he lived through before. After encountering Shizu-san, I think Rimuru becomes more proud of himself and stands stronger in his convictions, so things like that really grew on me throughout the process.
Is there any Western animation that you like to watch?
I love SpongeBob, I watched it growing up. It's so funny.
Rimuru enjoys the company of women in a very male kind of way, so how do you get into his mindset when he's expressing that side of his personality?
People often think that this might be a challenge for me, but I actually love seeing cute girls myself, because I mean, they're so cute. In the studio, when I see the male voice actors laughing at my performance during those scenes, it really empowers me to be even funnier and even more daring with my performance. I love getting laughs out of my colleagues.
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