Sanada Asami Q&A Panel, Anime North 2005

Toronto, Ontario, Canada. May 27-29, 2005.
Reporter(s): Blitzwing01, SovietAirman

Agents Blitzwing01 and SovietAirman reporting in with some juicy details from Anime North 2005! This convention had the privilege of being graced with the presence of voice actress Sanada Asami, and we were there to get the scoop at the Saturday evening Q&A. Best known for her role as Dejiko from Di Gi Charat, Sanada-san has played several other parts, including Sakurada Jun from Rozen Maiden, Oe Chizuko fromMahoromatic, and Tamai Shiina from Narutaru. She is also an established idol, having performed the theme songs for much of the Di Gi Charat franchise as well as the ending themes for both seasons of Mahoromatic as a member of the group Triomatic. Dressed in a kimono and flanked by her translator and con staff, she answered about an hour’s worth of questions for the audience. Throughout the session, she was very enthusiastic and even gave her English a shot a few times! The attendees were lively and involved, and everything proceeded smoothly. 

What do you think about this anime convention versus other ones, like in Japan? How do the fans differ [between the two]?

At events of this type in Japan, usually the fans and the guests aren’t able to directly interact like this. As such, they don’t get too close anyhow; so North American conventions are much more friendly and fun in comparison. In Japan, there are different types of events. At a live [concert], you’re not allowed to take pictures or to record sound, and also, depending on the event, sometimes you’ll have people dressed up in cosplay and sometimes you don’t, whereas here you have everything. And it’s also really nice, like a sleepover party, to have all the fans together all doing things together [here].

Does the extremity of [some of] the fans that follow a series sometimes scare you?

Umm… when a fan is so deep that all they see is me, then that’s kind of scary. But if they really like the anime character, and they also like me as a part of that, then that’s ok.

Which [voice acting] role did you enjoy the most?

Dejiko, and Chizu, from Mahoromatic. I tend to get a lot of really fun roles, so it’s hard to choose. Also, Sakuraba Jin from Rozen Maiden. That was a very difficult role to play.

What’s your favourite flavour of Pocky?

In Japan they have a flavour called “Caramel Makiaato,” it’s like a coffee flavour, and I really like it.

Do you like DDR [Dance Dance Revolution]?

I’m not very good at it, but I like it.

What kind of difficulties are there in playing the role of a male as opposed to a female, as in Jun from Rozen Maiden

I guess you don’t really differentiate if a part is a male part or a female part; however depending on the role, it might be a bit difficult to figure out a character’s feelings and the reactions to the situations that they’ve been brought into. So the difficulties I face are more concerned with the actual role and not just gender.

The fact that Japanese voice actors often are required to also record the opening songs for a series contributes to the whole “idol” image. What is your favourite song [that you performed]?

I can’t really decide, but all the songs from Di Gi Charat are very bright and fun, and I really like them. The songs from Mahoromatic are also very bright and comical. We danced along with the songs, and it was fun. And the song I sang for Nanaka 6/17 was a type of song that I had never really sung before, so I really liked that one too.

If someone wanted to be a voice actor, what should they do?

I think that if you want to improve and become a voice actor, practice, practice, practice.

Do you like watching your own shows?

I’m not able to watch works that I’ve been involved in like an anime fan, as in enjoying the show for what it is, but I do watch the shows I’m involved in to see how I’m doing professionally. So for professional reasons yes I do. And my heart’s beating really fast and I’m nervous when I’m watching!

What kind of trouble have you gone through to interpret a character like Jun from Rozen Maiden?

The part of Jun has a very negative personality; they have severe agoraphobia. They’re in their own world and they’re not coming out of there, and it’s really difficult to express that. So that means that the way that they speak and distance themselves from other people is different than how a regular person functions. So it’s very difficult to figure out how to express that.

Do you play video games?

I have a Playstation 2 at home, and about 2 weeks ago I borrowed Dragon Quest 8 from my friend.

Do you watch any Western cartoons at all?

You don’t really get to see too many in Japan. They bring a lot of Disney movies into Japan, but I don’t go out of the way to watch too many of them, so I really don’t know anything.

Having the chance to come to a North American convention, what is the most embarrassing mistake you’ve seen regarding Japanese culture?

As you can see, I’m wearing a Japanese kimono today, and when I was at Narita Airport in Tokyo, they were selling kimonos at gift shops there too. But the kimonos there are not quite really kimonos. They’re made of a shiny material, and they’re more like gowns than what I’m wearing today. And they’ve got a ribbon around the waist – they’re totally different from the real kimono. And also, yesterday morning I was watching a children’s show, and they just happened to be introducing a Japanese person. She again was wearing what they thought was a kimono but looked more like a gown, and she had this obi that she looked like she had stuck to the back, and it was flapping around. And I remember looking, and thinking, this is wrong!”

As a follow-up to that, while you were in Japan, were there any misconceptions about Canada or the United States that were cleared up when you came here?

I heard that Canada was very big and green and had lots of trees, and that turned out exactly the way I had imagined it. One thing that I realized when I got here: I used to think that Canada and the United States were pretty similar, but after coming here I realized that Canada does have its own culture, and the USA has its own culture. I had the opportunity to go to the USA 2 years ago, and I’m really glad that I’m able to come to Canada this time.

Have you heard of The Simpsons?

Yes, I am familiar with that one.

Have you seen the episode where they went to Japan?

*laughter* No! I’ve never actually seen The Simpsons. Why I know The Simpsons is because there was this commercial for a carbonated drink called CC Lemon in Japan, and The Simpsons are in that commercial.

Have you had any jobs before becoming a voice actor, and if so what are they?

No. I was a student, and then I went to voice acting school. After I graduated from there, I took the audition for Di Gi Charat and started off.

As a follow-up to the question about the previous jobs, as the lead of an anime series, and it being your very first job, how did your first day go?

I don’t remember. I was too nervous that day so I really don’t remember what happened. But about the first fan event I had after that – it lasted about 30 minutes, I think I had to sing 2 songs – when I got home, I realized that I had lost 2kg (about 4-5 lbs)!

When North American programs like cartoons and shows are imported to Japan, do they dub it, and if so, is the dubbing any good?

There are times when it’s good and some times when it’s really bad I think. However, I have friends who are involved in this type of work, so I really don’t want to say too many bad things about them! However, we’re also friends, and so I think it’s proper for friends to say, “I don’t think you did a good job with that,” when it’s not good.

If you could choose the perfect English voice actor to do English Dejiko, who would you choose?

*surprised* No idea, but an American, Karen [Hsin], is doing the voice of Dejiko. She was selected by audition, but I think she would still be the one doing it.

What’s your favourite food?

A type of sweet and fruity Chinese dumpling.

Q: Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Digital photography, darts, and billiards. When I get together with my friends, we play darts and billiards a lot.

Do you have a favourite Japanese myth or story?

There’s a story called “The Red Ogre That Cried.” There’s a red ogre and a blue ogre, and the blue ogre wants to become friends with humans. Ogres are really big and scary, and so the humans are afraid and they won’t. So the red ogre, who is the blue ogre’s friend, says, “I’ll go and threaten some humans, and then you can come in and save them, and maybe you can become friends with them.” So they do that; the red ogre goes and scares a bunch of humans. The blue ogre comes in and saves them, and the humans are really thankful for the blue ogre and they become friends. But the red ogre, because he was the one that did the threatening, realizes that the humans are afraid of him. So he says, “because you want to be friends with these humans and they’re afraid of me, I’ll go away.” And that’s how the story ends. It’s a really sad story, but it’s also about friendships and I really like that story.

What’s your favourite band or musical artist?

I really like listening to J-pop a lot. I actually do listen to American and European pop artists, but I don’t really know the names. I don’t listen to the songs because I like the bands or singers, I listen because I like the songs. So I tend to listen to a lot of songs.

What was your favourite anime when you were younger?

When I was small, there was this series called World Masterpiece Theatre. I really liked that.

What kind of North American shows have you ever watched or followed?

I watched Full House, and it was very interesting. Of course, the Japanese version of Full Housewas dubbed, but it was really funny. I came over here, and I actually got to see Full House in English. And of course I can’t tell what they’re saying but the atmosphere of the whole show is still funny the way I remembered it. I thought it was great!

What are the differences between a J-pop idol and an anime idol in how they’re perceived in society?

Personally I’m really not sure, but, on a broad basis, I’m sure that Japanese society does view the two different types of idols differently. The way I see it, with regular idols [J-pop idols], the average person can see them on TV etc. and they learn about them that way. Whereas with an anime related idol anime the fans go out of their way to find out about them, so the average person doesn’t really know about them. So they are different genres altogether.

Would you be willing to do a Dejiko impression?
Hi everyone-nyo! I’m Dejiko-nyo! I’m really glad to be in Canada today-nyo! But there’s lots of people here and they’re making me nervous-nyo. >_>

The comical impression was the perfect way to end the panel! After a few last-minute autographs and photos, she was whisked away to prepare for her 6 AM flight home the next day. She was definitely well received at Anime North 2005, and was certainly one of the more popular guests (Scott McNeil not withstanding, as he’s always a big hit with the ladies!) One can only hope that she passes on the good word about Anime North to her fellow seiyuu, to help the con continue to attract such excellent guests in the future.