Rumiko Takahashi


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Recording Report

Taken from The Art of Inu-Yasha and translated by Stephen Ayers

Rumiko Takahashi sits down and talks with the actors who are bringing her characters to life. Kappei Yamaguchi (Inuyasha) and Noriko Hidaka (Kikyo) had both worked with Ms. Takahashi previously on as the main couple on her previous series, Ranma . Satsuki Yukino (Kagome) is working on her first Takahashi project.

Takahashi: Thank you so much for the opening party for the animation last week!

Yamaguchi: Thank YOU! We had a lot of fun.

Yukino: My ears are still ringing from Kappei-san singing "Change the World" (laughs)!

Yamaguchi: Did that really happen?

Hidaka: It sure did (laughs)! There were too many people around last week for a good chat, let's take some time to really talk today.

Takahashi: Episode 3 will go on the air at seven, so we should finish up by then. I set my VCR to record it just in case, though.

Yamaguchi: Let's start with Takahashi-sensei. Just among ourselves, now. You watched the first two episodes on TV. I'd like you to feel free to be completely honest and tell us what you thought of our performances.

Takahashi: Everything was so well done, including your acting, which I was totally blown away by. Episode 1 was very special. I came to the studio recording and watched the whole process come together. When it was done, I was so impressed with the results that I said, "It's just too good to be true!" Kappei-san's Inuyasha was the best, of course.

Yamaguchi: Such direct praise from you makes me feel a littly shy. Well... I don't know what to say!

Takahashi: I've been thinking about it, and I just can't think of anyone who could do Inuyasha better, Kappei-san.

Hidaka: That's got to put Kappei on Cloud Nine!

Yukino: We better hurry up and bring him down (laughs)!

Takahashi: I liked Yukino-san as Kagome, too. I was utterly convinced; I thought, "Now I know how she sounds!" And you have such a cute scream!

Yukino: I've got to make that scream cuter!

Takahashi: Don't push it too much, it sounded fine to me. And Kikyo, I'd been looking forward to that performance since the day they picked Hidaka-san! How would you do? Kikyo doesn't show up often in the story, but she has a huge presence. Hidaka-san's Kikyo, just like in the comic, makes me feel that she's right there at my side, making me feel good.

Yamaguchi: I know what you mean -- she's always there!

Hidaka: Take a picture in the studio and you'll probably see me in it, even when I'm not there.

Yukino: No kidding, really! Even when Hidaka-san isn't in the studio, it's like your aura is still there, I swear.

Yamaguchi: Yeah, it's like you're watching us from somewhere.

Hidaka: I'm probably peeking through the crack in the door (laughs)! You know, I was real tense and nervous when I gave my first line: "Inuyasha!" Kikyo is so conflicted about Inuyasha and so tense, I really wondered how it'd sound coming out of my throat. I had no idea. I worried that it might be exactly like Akane's "Ranma!" My heart was pounding! But an entirely different voice came out, I was so relieved! It felt good, and I knew, "this is it" (laughs)!

Takahashi: I knew Hidaka-san was doing it, but if I hadn't known that ahead of time I couldn't have told you who was in the role.

Yamaguchi: I've been hearing from a lot of people since the show went on the air, from TV people to my neighbors (laughs). I've found out that a lot more people are watching "Inuyasha" than I expected.

Hidaka: I went to a gig at a different studio, and people were talking about "Inuyasha" all the time, not the show they were working on (laughs)! "Noriko-san, I'll play Shippo. And he'll probably play Hojo."

Takahashi: Will Kumiko Watanabe do Shippo? I'm looking forward to hearing that. I wonder what sort of voice she'll use. I saw her at the opening party last week, but I didn't have the guts to ask her to do a little Shippo right there (laughs)!

Yamaguchi: We had Miroku and Koga at the party, too. I'd tell the readers who they are, but it's still a secret, sorry!

Takahashi: Indeed. I can't wait to hear that person do Miroku (laughs)!

Hidaka: He couldn't come to the party, but Ken'ichi Ogata, who's doing Myoga, told me he's looking forward to the sessions very much. Everyone who got parts are really excited and waiting anxiously for their sessions. That's so cool!

Yamaguchi: For myself, when I got the part, I was so blown away that I couldn't believe it really happened, and I couldn't feel anything, even joy. When I got back to my house, it all gradually dawned on me and I suddenly just went, "Yesss!"

Takahashi: From a long time ago, since the very beginning, I thought long and hard about Inuyasha's voice. I couldn't think of anyone but Kappei-san. In the early production meetings the staff asked me if I had any requests. There was only one: "Please have Kappei-san do Inuyasha."

Yamaguchi: That's wonderful, I'm so grateful! It's a lot of responsibility.

Takahashi: Honestly, I want you to play it the way you feel it. I told them then that I take it for granted that the animation would be very different from the original story. I firmly believe that everything will be better if all the voice actors are completely comfortable with how they're doing their parts.

Yukino: I've been a fan of Ms. Takahashi's work since I was a little kid, and it was so strange to be playing what I'd been reading. I went to the audition for Kagome thinking, "I HAVE to get this part!" It came true, and I got it. After that the pressure, gradually built up. I asked myself, "Am I really Kagome? Me? Are you sure?" It got really heavy.

Takahashi: Don't worry, you're perfect for it!

Hidaka: That's so funny. I go to an audition absolutely resolved that I'll get the part, then after the audition I'm sure I was terrible, then I do get the part and I'm ecstatic, then I realize I really have to do it and the pressure makes me all nervous again. This emotional rollercoaster seems to be the same for everybody.

Yamaguchi: For me the hardest time was between getting the part and recording Episode 1. But that's when it's most exciting, too, huh?

Hidaka: I was going to the audition for Kagome, but I knew nothing about her, so I went to a bookstore, picked up the comic, took a look at her and was shocked to find a 15-year-old girl!

Yamaguchi: Younger than Akane....

Hidaka: No, no, (laughs) that's not what I mean! For the past few years I've been looking for more adult characters. So at 15, Kagome didn't look very good in that way. Anyway I kept reading, drawn in by the story. I didn't pay much attention to the characters at all and finished the whole thing. It was great. But, well, that's not what I should have done, right?

Yamaguchi: That happens, I can relate.

Hidaka: Then I went back to the story and rediscovered Kagome as an attractive character, typical of Ms. Takahashi's heroines. Looking at her as an actress, I wanted to play her. But, personally, I was still so attached to my favorite character, Akane in "Ranma 1/2." Anyway I went to the audition and read my lines, feeling a strange sense of deja vu. I didn't know whether that was good or bad, and I went home with mixed feelings about the whole thing.

Yamaguchi: I don't catch that you were feeling that way. I just kept going on about myself, didn't I? I apologize.

Hidaka: Thank you (laughs)! A while later, as I expected I was offered "another" character, not Kagome. I said to myself, "I knew it!" I thougt that other character would be Yura, so I reread the story over and over thinking about her (everyone bursts into laughter)!

Hidaka: Then they told me I got Kikyo, and I thought that made a lot of sense. Now I was elated, playing the wonderful past life of Kagome. (laughs) This time I read the story focusing on Kikyo. Honestly, she's a tough one, not like any other character I've done, but I could see some challenge in her. To get to Kikyo, I had to wander around through several character (laughs).

Yamaguchi: Now I understand the long history behind that first line (laughs)!

Takahashi: Watching Hidaka-san working in the studio, I only thought of your professionalism. I never imagined such a history behind it (laughs).

Yukino: But Ms. Takahashi, was that really your first time in a recording session?

Takahashi: Yes, indeed. The first since I was born (laughs). Everything was new, and it was quite a show. Listening to you chat during the break, I was seeing you totally as ordinary fans, saying, "this person plays this character, that person plays that...."

Yamaguchi: During the session, before they introduced you, I looked back and saw Ms. Takahashi there. That made doing my part more fun.

Yukino: I was too involved to look around.

Yamaguchi: 'Fun' might not be the right word. I was told that Ms. Takahashi recommended me for the role, so I wanted you to hear me as soon as possible; naturally I'd decided I had to live up to your confidence and turn in the best possible performance.

Takahashi: I didn't realize that. It was a little weird dropping in so casually, as if I'd come to play or have a bite. It was clear that you were all having so much fun with your parts.

Yamaguchi: In addition to every "Inuyasha" actor having a good time, there's a really good balance among us, from the very young people to the very experienced actors. It's particularly great to have Hisako Kyoda there doing Kaede.

Yukino: She is such a great actress!

Yamaguchi: She gives us little comments about our acting, saying things like, "that inflection was a little odd," or "something's not quite right about that." This alone is so precious. Once she began commenting to me, I felt her watching me constantly. This makes rehearsal really fun, but builds up a lot of pressure for the final take.

Takahashi: In that way, "Inuyasha" is blessed.

Yukino: Kyoda-san and the experienced actors are great, but look at you, Kappei-san.

Yamaguchi: (surprised) What?

Yukino: You're terrible, Kappei-san, always calling me Akane!

Yamaguchi: I got a good chewing out for that the other day.

Yukino: I let it go twice, but the third time? I thought I shouldn't be so sweet to you!

Yamaguchi: She sounded just like Kagome in the first episode telling me, "You know, I'm not Akane, I'm Kagome! Kah, Goh, Meh! Right?"

Hidaka: It's the same three syllables (laughs).

Yamaguchi: Anyway... Ms. Takahashi, I sometimes wondered how I should pronounce certain names, like Kikyo and Shikon no Tama.

Hidaka: Everybody was doing it their own way, so we talked about it a lot in the studio.

Yamaguchi: All my readings turned out to be wrong.

Yukino: I still say "Kikyo" wrong once in awhile, I did it last week, too.

Yamaguchi: The guest actors wonder, too. They often whisper to me, "Hey, how do you say this?"

Hidaka: We need an Inuyasha Dialect Dictionary so everyone will be clear.

Takahashi: I had some ideas about pronunciation when I thought of these names. Because I created so many characters, I ran out of normal names, so I got some names you don't ordinarily hear spoken.

Yamaguchi: 'Inuyasha' is also a rare name.

Takahashi: He's both a dog (inu) and a forest spirit (yasha). There you have it, Inuyasha (laughs).

Yukino: Kappei gets mad when I call him 'inu,' even though it's in the script.

Yamaguchi: Don't call me "inu." I don't know why, but I hate being called a dog.

Takahashi: (laughs) Come to think of it, I did a lot of thinking before deciding on Kagome. I wrote down everything that came to mind. Kagome sounded cute. I like names that end with 'me,' so for no particular reason, I chose Kagome (laughs).

Hidaka: How did you come up with Kikyo?

Takahashi: The language of flowers was the key. I happened to see a balloonflower (kikyo) on TV, and its meaning was introduced: "unchanging love." I said, "That's it!"

Yamaguchi: I have to say it's so much fun doing Inuyasha. At this moment, the character's focus is on the Jewel rather than Kagome. So what I play is joy, anger, joy, anger, joy, anger.... The director warned me not to be so argumentative all the time. I love Inuyasha that way, he's a stress reliever (laughs).

Yukino: You may be having fun, but when Inuyasha calls me 'stupid woman' over and over, I'm offended (laughs)! I feel like he's getting a little sweeter lately, though.

Yamaguchi: Is he? I worry that after Kikyo appears, I won't know how to switch my feelings between Kagome and Kikyo. Don't you think that'll be difficult, Ms. Takahashi?

Takahashi: Don't worry. I avoided situations where the three of them would be together talking. Inuyasha always likes the girl he is with the best.

Yamaguchi: Uh-huh (laughs)! Shame, shame, bad Inuyasha!

Takahashi: I think he's all right that way (laughs). There might be a problem if the three of them were together.

Yamaguchi: I still can't believe I'm doing Inuyasha. I feel so blessed, it might be better that I have a little difficulty with the character (laughs). The thought of Inuyasha always makes me happy. I know I'll fully enjoy this character. I'll think about the hard stuff later.

Hidaka: It's hard to really understand Inuyasha's emotions, but Kikyo's are mysterious, too. I feel I have to read the original story more and work harder. My mission is to keep frightening everyone as much as I can, both as a character and in the studio.

Takahashi: We can't wait, can we? The revived Kikyo just explodes to life. She makes the scenes with all her screaming and such. She has so much hatred, but enormous love as well. I wonder what sort of voice she'll have....

Hidaka: Because she has so much love, her hatred is deep, right? Her only reason to come back from death is that 'unchanging love.'

Yukino: Without thinking too hard about it, I hope to directly express my feelings as I identify with Kagome. I've got experienced colleages to watch me, so I can't go too far wrong with that approach. My ideal is to relax and play it without trying too hard.

Takahashi: A job well done when it's done at ease. I'll watch you on TV every week. Good luck everyone.

Yamaguchi: Please come back to more sessions!

Yukino: Our regular crew is expanding.

Hidaka: Please come back when Kikyo appears (laughs).

Takahashi: I will, but only if I don't get in your way (laughs)!

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