Introducing Sphere, a group of 4 voice actresses which debuted at April 2009 with their first single, “Future Stream”. Many will know they are voice actresses and their roles, such as Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna in Sword Art Online, Ayahi Takagaki as Saki Mizukoshi in Natsuiro Kiseki, Minako Kotobuki as Tsumugi Kotobuki from K-ON!!, and last but not least Aki Toyosaki as Yui from K-ON!! or Medaka Box’s Kurokami Medaka. Over the last 3 years, they’ve held 2 live tours and made appearance in Animelo 2010 and many concerts. They also run a radio program from which they answer fan mail and other interesting stuff. They were at AFA 12 for a Stage event and concert on the Diamond Stage on the 11th November.
For those who are curious of their activities in Singapore, they arrived on Saturday morning of AFA and first visited the Merlion and then the Marina Bay Sands. They had lunch at Lau Puat Sat. Oh and did I mention that Haruka Tomatsu loves durians?
Those that missed out the stage interview with the wonderful ladies of Sphere, here are the questions that were asked 🙂 Thanks a bunch to Danny Choo and Yoshimi for the translations!
A huge turnout for the Sphere stage!
Q: As a seiyuu individually the roles that they have done till today. Which role till today can they most relate to?
Haruka Tomatsu: The most relatable one should be Anohana’s Anaru. Anaru is very keen on her looks which I’m not but I feel very relatable to her.
Minako Kotobuki: I have been told a lot that Mugi from K-On! as I was told that I have as much musical talent as Mugi but I’m not as ojou-sama like as Mugi.
Ayahi Takagaki: Difficult! However, lately I have been able to relate myself to the feelings of Lisbeth from Sword Art Online a lot. It does not matter whether their age or gender, I must be able to feel connected to be able to play the roles I play as a voice actress.
Aki Toyosaki: Difficult… I feel most connected to Yui from K-ON! As I feel that Yui and I do very similar things in real life, she plays the guitar, she sings thus I feel very connected to her. Just like Takagaki-san, I must be connected to the roles I play in some way. There is a part of me in the character and every character I play is like a persona of myself.
Q: What inspired you to take up voice acting as a job?
Haruka Tomatsu: When I was in elementary school, I watched Spirited Away((千と千尋の神隠し) and after that I thought I would really love to become a voice actress. My first role was when I was 17 in Manabi straight.
Minako Kotobuki: When I was younger, I really love to sing and act. At home I would watch Morning Musume and I would sing and dance along with them. I started slowly and eventually I auditioned with my current company and became a voice actress. My first role as a voice actress was with Aki-chan as a Student A and Student B in the anime Red Garden.
Ayahi Takagaki: When I was in kindergarden I wanted to be Sailor Moon and use some magic but I realised that I can’t. In elementary school, I watched Slayers and I realised that if I become a voice actress, I can use magic. That was how I became a voice actress. My first role was in Ouran Highschool Host Club and though I was a student in that role, it lead me to play other characters who use magic.
Aki Toyosaki: At first, I did not really like my own voice, I had a complex about it and wanted to change my voice . However when I was in high school, I worked on TV,radio part time and discovered that my voice can make people happy and empower them. That was how I decided to become a voice actress.
Which character do you feel most confident voice acting?
Haruka Tomatsu: Even though I voice many characters which may not fit with my personality, what I try to do is to find a common theme with the character and expand it in order to voice act that character.
Minako Kotobuki: Difficult, very difficult! My hometown is in the Kansai region in Hyogo. I feel most comfortable with characters that speak in the Kansai dialect like A-channel’s Yuuko and Medaka Box’s Nabeshima.
Ayahi Takagaki: So…. Difficult! Sometimes it is difficult to be confident. But rather than be confident, I will use my skills to help play my characters. One example was that I used to study opera in a music school and I used these skills to help with characters I’m voice acting as.
Aki Toyosaki: I really love to play characters with animal like characteristics. I like playing characters like Accel World’s Chiruyi.
Message for the fans:
Haruka Tomatsu: As this is Spheres first time overseas over at Singapore. It was very fun! To be able to see everyone here and their reactions, I’m very happy!
Minako Kotobuki: I got to meet everyone here and got to talk about my job and passion as a seiyuu and it was very fun for me.
Ayahi Takagaki: This is a first time as Sphere going to an overseas event and at first I was really really nervous but seeing everyone here not only the fans from Singapore, also fans from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand all here to see us, I felt relax and had a great time. I felt the passion from everyone despite not everyone here speaking Japanese yet have the same passion towards Japanese animation. I’m going to take that passion back to Japan and work harder as a seiyuu. So please enjoy Japanese anime more!
Aki Toyosaki: To be able to see everyone here, I’m really really happy about it so thanks for coming! No matter which country you are from, anime moves across countries and the language of anime travels across countries so I will continue to speak to everyone through my voice.
After the stage interviews, was a live dubbing session featuring scenes from the anime, Natsuiro Kiseki. This is Sphere’s first voice acting role together as a group!
The first scene is from episode 2 where Yuka and Rinko wished Natsumi and Saki (who were at loggerheads with each other) were together, after which they became literally stuck together! The scene played was a short chase scene with Natsumi and Saki chasing Yuka and Rinko which was so funny to watch! Watching Minako Kotobuki’s and Ayahi Takagaki’s voice acting was very interesting for me.
The second scene was taken from episode 5 where Yuka fell sick and the rest wanted to wish her well, but only to be stopped by Yuka herself after which they fell down a flight of stairs together. It was nice to see the ladies expressions in the scene especially Aki Toyosaki’s expression ‘crying’ in that particular scene. Hearing Haruka Tomatsu’s voice in that part was so funny. Their expressions during voice acting were immense fun for others and myself to watch.
There was also a short group interview session with the ladies, despite the noise from the stage, it was great fun hearing the interview with them. Here is the question asked ~
Q: Sphere Club is your first variety show not as guests, any special memories regarding the show?
A: Many,Many! Since it was a variety show, there are times where we accidentally laughed and it had to be NG. There were a lot of first experiences and as we get to sing and act it was very very fun.
To round up, I had great fun hearing them whether in the interview room or on the stage, they are amazing. Seeing Aki Toyosaki and Minako Kotobuki again was very fun and exciting, especially up close! It was so surreal to see Sphere voice act Natsuiro Kiseki live as well, seeing live voice acting is always a refreshing and invigorating experience. I was sad to miss the concert though but from what I heard from others, they were amazing!