NHK Denies Voice Actress Hiroko Konishi's Prince Mackaroo Anime Role Claims

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

Voice actress Hiroko Konishi revealed the details on June 1 of why she claims NHK forced her out of her lead role in the long-running children's anime Prince Mackaroo (Ojarumaru) 18 years ago. Konishi voiced Ojarumaru for the anime's first 270 episodes before Chinami Nishimura took over the role. Fans have long speculated about the reasons for the character's unexpected recasting. The website J-Cast News recently contacted NHK and Konishi's agency Office Squirrel to uncover the truth of the situation.

The website reported that a representative from NHK's public relations department said, "I've heard there is no truth [to the claims] that there was use of the specified voiced audio without permission." The representative added that they spoke with various sources about the situation. As far as they are aware, Konishi worked until the end of her contract, and it was not the case that "talks of recording ceased."

The representative added that the newly reported similar incident involving NHK has no bearing on Prince Mackaroo. They said the incident relates to a former employee, and it was appropriately dealt with. However, Konishi's agency Office Squirrel denied the representative's remarks to J-Cast News. The agency stated that the Prince Mackaroo producer's words were recorded on a tape 18 years ago, and the recording has since been burned to a CD, which provides proof of Konishi's claims.

Konishi's agency further stated that NHK-related companies had confirmed the details of the case in a telephone conversation, and the agency had received an apology. However, the agency has yet to receive a response in writing, which it believes NHK should rightfully send. Office Squirrel added, "There is room for reconciliation, but due to the interactions with NHK, I think we will also consider legal methods."

Konishi debuted the role of Ojarumaru in Prince Mackaroo in 1998, and Nishimura replaced her in 2000. According to Konishi's claims on Twitter on June 1, the change was the result of inappropriate actions by NHK, the network that broadcasts Prince Mackaroo.

Konishi claimed that NHK asked her to make recordings 18 years ago, which she was under the impression would be used in the anime itself. However, the recordings were used in Ojarumaru dolls and voiced merchandise. Konishi was not notified of the usage at the time, so she consulted with her agency.

An NHK program producer, who Konishi described as her "voice mama" "Matsumoto P," then responded that Konishi's questioning of the usage was audacious and said that she would no longer be able to work in the anime industry unless she kept quiet. NHK then allegedly stopped discussing new voice recordings for the anime itself with Konishi. Office Squirrel claims that Konishi was effectively let go due to the incident.

Konishi spoke up on Twitter about her past situation after hearing from her agency about a new similar incident involving NHK. The agency said it has proof to support its claims about the new incident in the form of spoken conversations, phone and e-mail messages, and bank transfer records. The agency submitted documents to NHK and has been in communication with the broadcaster.

Konishi has continued to Tweet in Japanese and English about the case since she first revealed her situation with NHK. On Thursday, she posted a formal information request letter, which is addressed to NHK Enterpirses CEO and president Yūji Itano and dated June 16 (Konishi later noted on Twitter that the future date on the document was an error). The letter cites J-Cast News' article and other sources and asks for related information and clarification. Konishi also made a virtual appearance on Fuji TV's High Noon TV Viking! program on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

Sources: Hiroko Konishi's Twitter account, J-Cast News, Nikkan Sports via Yaraon!

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