Interview: Atsumi Tanezaki

by Lynzee Loveridge & Rose Bridges,

The odds that you've heard veteran voice actress Atsumi Tanezaki in one of your favorite recent anime are pretty high – she's appeared in Mob Psycho 100, Sound! Euphonium Season 2, Keijo!!!!!!!!, Monster Musume and even for a moment in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans. You'll hear her this fall as Chise in the lavish, hotly-anticipated adaptation of the smash hit fantasy manga The Ancient Magus Bride, and luckily, she was in attendance at AnimeFest 2017 this year to help promote the show. We got the chance to sit down with Tanezaki and ask her a few questions about the seiyuu life, and what's coming up next for her.

ANN: When did you decide you'd like to pursue a voice acting career?

TANEZAKI: Just before I entered elementary school – actually, I think it was perhaps right around the time I started elementary school – I decided I wanted to become an actress. Some years after that I saw Sailor Moon, and that's when I became aware of voice acting – so it was around then that I decided I wanted to be a voice actress. I love Sailor Moon. My favorite is Sailor Mercury.

Is there a veteran voice actress whose work made you want to get into voice acting?

Because it was a show that inspired me to become a voice actress, there wasn't really a particular person that inspired me.

Chise is a particularly unfortunate character – she's experienced a lot of misery in her life. What experiences have you had that help you relate to her?

I haven't experienced as much hardship as Chise, but the name Chise actually comes from the Ainu word “where we sleep”, pertaining to one's “home”. So “Chise” actually means “Home”. So like Chise, I have strong feelings and attachment to my family. I mentioned this at my panel yesterday, but I was raised by a single mother. By the time I was in middle school, my mom was always out working, and my brother and sister were out doing their own thing so they were never at home either, so I always wondered what it would be like to have a home with a father, everyone gathered around the table at home. So I understand Chise's feelings toward family, wanting to have a family to belong to.

Did you read the manga to prepare for the role?

If I'm ever working on a show that's based on another work like a manga, I definitely read it. I want to get as close to the original work as possible.

The world of the Ancient Magus Bride is filled with magical and fantastic creatures – what do you think makes the show relatable to modern audiences?

I thought that was a really good question. I thought a lot about it last night. For people who like The Ancient Magus Bride, I feel like it's not necessarily because they relate to it specifically. Even though it's set in present times, it has a lot of elements that make you feel like it's kind of historical, or in an alternate dimension or something. The fantastical elements help you go beyond that preoccupation, because the world is so well-developed. It really is a world that you can enter very easily and helps you forget reality. There's also Chise and Elias, who still have so much room to grow. For the audience, you just want to watch over them and see how they mature. Seeing how those two turn out, and how the world draws you in and just doesn't let you go – I think those things draw you in rather than if the story is relatable or not.

Which roles are the most challenging for you as an actress?

When I take over another person's role. There was a certain movie, where scheduling conflicts kept the main voice actress from playing her usual role, and I had to take it over. She only had time to handle the side character she played, so they recast her main role. There was a lot of pressure – the person doing the character was still in the room sometimes, and I had to do it in front of her. I felt so much pressure, having to play the role in front of the original actress!

There's also another long-running anime on NHK called Ojarumaru – there's a lot of cast turnover when you have a long-running show like that, and I just recently took over the role of Otome-sensei. I'm really happy that they asked me to take over a role that's been going on for so long, but yeah, it was a big challenge.

Your first singing role was for Nora, Princess and Stray Cat. What kind of preparation did you have to do for that?

The theme song was the first time I've sung an anime theme song specifically, but I've sung plenty of character songs before so I didn't really prepare specifically for that. This theme song is in-character as Asuhara, so I just sang it as acting as her.

Do you have plans to expand into more music?

If it's to contribute to a series, or a character, I'd love to do anything like that, any songs they would ask for. But to work as a singer, as Atsumi Tanezaki – I don't have any plans for that. I'm really an actor at heart.

So if you could have any of the girls from Nora, Princess and Stray Cat as a companion in real life, which would you choose and why?

Of the four, I'd love to say my own character Asahara – but I'd have to say Sachi, because she's good at housework and cooking. I'd love to live with her!

After wrapping up Ancient Magus Bride, what's next for you?

I have a few roles coming up that I can't say anything about yet, and then more roles after that I can't say anything about yet! I hope to share those roles as soon as I can. If I have an event or a show I can announce, I always announce it on my Twitter. Thank you!

Thanks to Atsumi Tanezaki and Anime Fest for the opportunity.

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