Eri Kitamura: child actor, cool beauty, woman of many voices. Since her voice actor debut in 2003 as Tatiana Wisla in Gonzo’s Last Exile, KitaEri, as she is more popularly called, has voiced over a hundred characters in anime and games with all kinds of personalities, from the dark and brooding Saya in Blood+ to the eternally positive Cure Berry in Fresh Pretty Cure, as well as a bevy of male characters like Yasaka Mahiro in Haiyore! Nyaruko-san.
As part and parcel of being a seiyuu, she frequently sang character songs. It was not until “Happy Girl” in 2012, which ranked in at #5 on the Oricon chart, that began her meteoric rise as an accomplished singer, combining main character roles with opening and ending theme songs, with singles released most recently for Knights of Sidonia and Cross Ange – Rondo of Angels and Dragons.
Is this your first time here in Singapore? Have you gotten used to it?
Yes, it is my first time here in Singapore. Upon my arrival, I started getting busy with stage rehearsals and due to tight schedule, I do not have any time for sightseeing at all. As for whether I am getting used to the weather in Singapore, I would say that I am slowly getting used to it.
What is your favourite game or anime?
Well, because there are so many of them to choose from, selecting my favourite is really a hard task and I really can’t choose at all. But, genre wise, I love fantasy, horror and violence. Also, my preference on games and anime would depend on the characters as well as the artwork.
Both of those elements play an important role in attracting me towards a piece of work. If the genre as well as characters and artwork are to my liking, then I would love it. So as you can see, there are a lot of things that I really like until I can’t even choose which one is my favourite.
As a seiyuu, after voicing so many characters, which character do you think suits your personality the most?
Erm, actually before voicing a character, the seiyuus actually take the personality of the character, for example cute, pretty, handsome or cool into consideration. So after identifying the character’s personality, the seiyuu will voice accordingly.
So instead of saying which character suits me more, I guess it should be which kind of character I am better at voicing. If you’re referring to my whole journey as a seiyuu, there are too many characters that I’ve voiced until I’ve lost count myself so it is really hard for me to choose. Sorry. (laugh)
Seiyuu or Singer? Which do you like the most?
I can’t choose! (laugh) I really like both of them. As a seiyuu, our profession is voicing a certain character. So, you’ll get to experience being different people along the journey as well as enjoy the story plot of the character from the series you’re voicing.
As a singer, I think it is more like a challenge to portray something they like or their story to the audience and both of it makes me very happy. But the excitement and happiness is different, therefore, I can’t choose which I like better.
Why did you wanted to become a seiyuu and singer?
Ever since I was a child, I have liked watching anime, playing games and reading manga. My mom likes the profession of a seiyuu. so since I was young, I have already known a lot about the profession of a seiyuu. Thanks to my hobbies I came to be connected with the stuff I am passionate about and so because of that, I would work as hard as possible and give my all to be able to get this job and be a part of my passion. Hence, here I am right now with this job.
From the anime Knights of Sidonia, which scene left you the deepest impression?
There are lots of scenes in general because I like robots and sci-fi animation. There’s a scene in it which I find it beautiful and cool. It’s when hero Nagate was launching off in the Tsugumori. And when they formed the Shoui formation a circle which looks like a glowing ring at the same time.The lyrics and song “Show 掌” that I wrote was based on the impression of it, so this scene is what I was most impressed with.
What is your reason for starting this brand “Ghost Chest”?
It began when I started my singing career. There were situations during my live performances, where I felt like wearing some uniquely designed costumes that were not found on the market. So I thought to myself that the only way to have these kinds of costumes was to design them myself and that is the reason the brand “Ghost Chest” started. I used my own favourite font and imagine dark and black-toned fashion when I was creating this brand. I also look into many situations like how I would like to wear for my concerts, at the work place and also how others would like to wear on usual days and so many more. After much consideration on everyone as well as myself, here is the brand “Ghost Chest”.
Wow! Kitamura-san’s art is very good! Were you confident with those works?
Not at all! (laugh) Because this is just a hobby for me only and there are many who are much better than me. For example, there are so many who are very good at illustrations and artworks amongst the seiyuus as well. So whenever I see their works, I feel a pang within me and feel that my drawing is not really that good after all. Although I like to draw a lot, most of my drawings are just random sketches and are only beginner level stuff. I can’t really say if I’ve ever drawn anything nice or to my preferences because I have never tried drawing any of my favourite characters before.
As a seiyuu, is there any difference in voicing for male or female?
Erm, it is a bit difficult to explain. Of course, even though if the dialogue is the same, voicing a male and female character can be very different. For instance, the sound, the intervals, the tone and other nuances are all very different.
I would go to family restaurants or café and observe the voices and actions of people around me. I would observe how a man cries, or how is it like if he is angry, or how female people laugh and so on. I not only have to observe the melody but also the emotion and feel they put in when they are in that specific state. I would try to act the same and apply it in my work as a seiyuu.
Do you have a favourite singer or seiyuu?
I have so many singers and seiyuu that I like until I can’t count. (laugh) I can’t decide who ranks first because everyone’s voice has different texture and tone. Even for singers as well when they are performing. I am very impressed by the quality. But each and every singer has different way of expressing themselves and I can’t choose which of them I love the most.
For example, for Cross Ange, I had a chance to work with Nana Mizuki. Her expression, skills and singing are all very powerful. Her voice is very unique as it is accented with colours and power. There are also many male singers who have the same power as a singer and a cool accent while voicing as a seiyuu that I admire a lot. Therefore, because there are a lot of people that I am very envious of, and at this time, I cannot choose a specific one. (laugh) I am a person who is easily attracted to other people’s talent or skill that I myself do not possess and it gives me a huge impact as well.
What do you usually do before a performance?
I would listen to my own songs. At home, in front of the mirror, I would listen to my own songs repeatedly and practice. I would imagine I am on the stage in front of the crowd performing. So as my songs play on, I would practice the steps I would do at each part of the song. For example, at this part I would like to invite everyone to be hyped up with me and at another point, I would like everyone to be clapping and so on. I would practice how I would hold my microphone, how I would move around on stage and how I would wave my hand to the audience when I am performing. But, when it comes to the real thing, I forget everything I practiced. (laugh) But one day before the performance, I would listen to the songs I am prepared to sing.
Eh! So Kitamura san’s preparations and performance are usually not the same! Does that mean that Kitamura san is very good at impromptu performances?
My own imagination on the audience reaction the day before the performance versus the real thing is usually very different. But the audience reactions are something that can only be experienced live on the spot and it is usually very good so I like it very much. The audience usually convey their feelings through their shouts, happiness and cheers and I was able to receive it. Before I knew it, I had already finished one song and had movde on to the next. Usually when I am visualising myself, I always imagine myself moving the crowd to get their reactions. But in fact, it is usually the crowd reaction that activates my emotion and emotion in the song I am singing. So instead of saying I am good at improvising, I think the crowd is better at improvising. (laughs)
Have you ever want to collaborate with any singers or seiyuu?
I personally love metal and rock music. As a voice actor, my voice can usually be quite cute and high pitched. But when I am singing, my tone is relatively low. So I think I am more suitable in singing in a male’s key.
Of course, there are many female voice actors and singers that I like but their songs are usually high and powerful which I have no confidence that I can achieve. So I think, for now, I can’t say.
What is your favourite metal band?
I have many favourites so of course, I can’t choose which one is the first but I personally listen to quite a number of female metal singers like NightWish, Delai, and ArchEnemy. There is also UNSUN! I listen to those minor to major metal singers as well. I often listen to UNSUN and WITHIN TEMPATION. Others would be top secret. (laughs)
Is there anything you would like to say to Singapore?
In my works, be it in games or anime, there is a certain view and popularity in it. As this is my first time coming to Singapore to perform at an anime festival, I feel that people would have some form of expectation of me. But since the concert has not yet begun, I’m still wondering about how others feel and think about me. I hope to be loved by the people here.
Do you have any advice to those who wants to become a singer and a seiyuu?
If there is, I would also like to say that…(laughs), it all depends on timing, luck and also market demand, I guess? (laugh) In this industry, the popularity of the genre of the songs as well as each individual’s personal skills and talent is also included. I think this is really based on luck, opportunity and destiny as it is really very hard to become popular so all I can say is please work hard and I will also work hard in order to remain popular in this industry as well. (laugh)
That’s all we have for Eri Kitamura, stay tuned for more from Ani-Culture.net !