Yuichirou Umehara & Yoshiki Nakajima (梅原裕一郎 & 中島ヨシキ) Voice Stars Vol. 14

Our heartbeat is April 1st. In one corner of the vast web, a new band called Sir Vanity was born. The members are Yuichirou Umehara and Yoshiki Nakajima, who are active on the front line as voice actors. Subaru Kuwabara of the music production team Arte Refact, who has produced numerous hit songs, and Taisei Watanabe, who is involved in the spatial production of large stages as a director. The project of the four people is conspicuous, but many of them are still wrapped in a veil. This time, we will unravel the secrets of the new band, centering on Umehara and Nakajima.

A portrait shot over 10,000 characters. The vibes of the two people felt at zero distance. “Actually, I’m going to do a band with Yuichirou Umehara next time.” During a certain interview, Yoshiki Nakajima secretly told our staff. I can’t help but feel my heart pounding just by hearing that combination. In response to the cameraman’s instruction to “Get closer!”, Yoshiki Nakajima quickly shortens the distance between him and Yuichirou Umehara. Nakajima, who seems to be having fun, and Umehara, who has a calm expression but serious eyes. Even if they were close enough to hear each other’s heartbeats, they were able to stay in that state because they felt an absolute sense of security.

Sir Vanity’s official website opened on April 1, aiming for free expression without being bound by anything. “How was the reaction from those around you?” Nakajima: “The day we opened was April Fool’s Day, so people thought it was a lie (laughs). Umehara: That’s right (laughs). “Even with Nakajima, there were times when it made me wonder, is it true or is it a lie?” Nakajima: “Originally, the schedule was a little more relaxed, but the world situation was getting more and more suspicious, and it was difficult to judge whether it was appropriate to announce it on April 1st. However, the four of us decided that it would be fine because it was happy news, so we decided to release the artist photo first. I had to take an artist photo to coincide with the opening of Umehara, so once the release date was decided, I was pretty hectic. Interviewer: “In the first place, Sir Vanity, how did you form it?” Umehara: “The trigger was when the four of us went out to eat around July last year. So, naturally, we started talking about forming a band. Even before Nakajima, Kuwabara-san was called during “Ensemble Stars!” I was indebted to him on the Nico Nico Live Broadcasting program, and we thought it would be interesting to be able to express something beyond the scope of work, just to take a breather.” Umehara: “It’s easier that way.” Nakajima: “As expected, when content is involved, the burden becomes bigger.”

“That’s why I’m trying to do things freely without being bound by numbers such as content and sales. So, about two days after we went out to eat, I went to buy a guitar (laughs). If we don’t keep moving, we’ll just get together and have an interesting conversation and it’ll be over. That’s all, the feeling was positive. That’s what I mean.” Umehara: “I thought it was kind of interesting.” Nakajima: “I think Mr. Kuwabara was probably the one who wanted to do it the most (laughs). Before the four of us went out to eat, Mr. Kuwabara told us: “Let’s do something.” When (Watanabe) Taisei-san appeared there, I thought that he might be able to move seriously. Interviewer: The starting point of the formation was the feeling that it would be possible to do something interesting.” “That’s why you all have such a close relationship.” Umehara: “Actually, that was the first time I met Taisei-san.” Nakajima: “Until then, I was only acquainted with Taisei-san, who was in charge of the general production of “Ensemble Stars” held at Nipoon Budokan last year. “I was there, but I didn’t have much chance to talk there. After that, time passed, and the meeting of the meal was realized. I called Ume (Umehara) there. Umehara: “Kuwabara-san, I had drunk with him only once before that.” “Yoshiki-san, you were there, right?” Nakajima: “Yes, I’m pretty sure it was the same store.” Umehara: “Yes, it’s the same store (laughs). At the that time, the topic of the band came up.” “I heard that there was a push from Kuwabara-san. However, Umehara’s participation was surprising. In a previous interview, he said, “I had band experience in the light music club when I was in high school, but I don’t think I’ll be able to show it to the public.”

Umehara: Yoshiki was a big part of the reason I decided to participate. If Kuwabara-san had only called out to me, he might not have thought of doing activities. If I was called out, I think I would invite Yoshiki. Besides, rather than working solo, I’m more suited to being in a group called a band. Even though I used to be in a band, I’m not sure if I’m good enough to show off my guitar (laughs). Nakajima: The judges were asked what level they had to reach to be able to show off. Umehara: “That’s right. However, it might be fun just to fumble around.” There was certainly a change in my state of mind. Interviewer: Umehara-san, what genre of music did you play in the band? Umehara: “BUMP OF CHICKEN. I was in charge of the guitar and vocals, but I don’t know how far Sir Vanity will go, because the vocals are more weighted and I haven’t played the guitar solo.” Interviewer: Did you touch the guitar again with that opportunity? Umehara: Right now, I’m doing my best to practice, but it’s still difficult. Kuwabara-san has an acquaintance who is a professional guitarist, and he teaches guitar once every two weeks, but due to the current situation, there is a period where he cannot teach. Even in my private life, I play a little bit on a daily basis, but I still have a long way to go, so I have to practice again. On the other hand, Nakajima-san said that is started from going to buy a guitar.

Nakajima: It seems I’m playing completely from scratch. Umehara: On the contrary, there is nothing to be afraid of (laughs). Interviewer: Umehara-san, have you already heard Nakajima-san’s guitar playing? Umehara: Yes, because we practice together. Nakajima: Basically, the four of us get together once every two weeks. Umehara: From the first time he touched it, his progress is insanely fast. You can tell that he is practicing properly at home. Nakajima: Hahaha! (laughs). Umehara: I’ve become able to play more and more to the extent that I can’t believe that two weeks have changed so much. While I find it fun, it also encourages me to do my best. Once you give up on the guitar, it’s very difficult to start again. I once bought a Nakajima guitar when I was in middle school. I think a lot of people feel the same way, but I’m satisfied with just getting the sound out of the amp once, and the rest is the interior (laughs). But I can’t pull everyone’s legs. The part where everyone matches my level is natural, so I want to clear it even if I can’t catch up. If we were to do a live show and there was a phrase that I couldn’t play, I thought it would be nice if I could get the sound to come out from the back. Yes, that is also an ant. Interviewer: Eh, are you an ant? Nakajima: Of course, because I decided to do it. I will do my best. However, this project is not something that is stiff like aiming to perform at Fuji Rock someday or Saitama Super Arena. As I said earlier, “It’s based on the idea of not being bound by anything.” Probably, each member was overwhelmed with work, so this activity started, I think so. I guess everyone was looking for freedom of mind…

Kuwabara: Nakajima also has a sense of tension, saying, “If the key is high and you can’t speak, why don’t you turn it down? Because it is our song.” – Because I don’t carry the work on my back there is no need to keep the voice of Kuta and sing. Nakajima: That’s right. That’s why I think the time when we opened the website was probably our MAX and the coolest time for us as a band (laughs). Interviewer: Because it is Nakajima, the image that everyone has is a looser feel than the original. Nakajima: Loose, huh? Indeed, right after the site opened, the video was uploaded on the official YouTube channel and the update stopped for a while… Umehara: That’s right. Nakajima: I’m sending you a handmade feeling (laughs). Interviewer: By the way, you two have twin guitars and twin vocals. Umehara: That area is still fumbling around. Nakajima: I’m still not sure if I’ll sing one song separately, or if I’ll go solo depending on the song. When the four of us get together, I think it will naturally be decided. Interviewer: Nakajima-san, you are also active in the music unit UMake with Kent Ito. How do you draw the line? Nakajima: UMake is a radio project (“Kent Ito and Yoshiki Nakajima will make you crazy 〜 Yume Radio 〜”), and Sir Vanity is a spontaneous band project. In that sense, the two draw a line. Actually, when the Sir Vanity site opened on April 1st, quite a few people said, “What are you going to do with UMake?” I was a little worried, thinking, “What? Of course, I properly reported to Ito-san about Sir Vanity’s activities right after the formation. Then he said, “That’s great!” and was very happy. Umehara: You look happy (laughs). Interviewer: I think there is a possibility that the four of you will be able to express yourself in a variety of ways.

Nakajima: That’s right. It all started when Kuwabara-san said he wanted to produce with Ume and me.  I said I would write the Umehara song. A wall that didn’t exist when we first met. Interviewer: First, please tell us how you met. Umehara: The first time we met was five years ago. It was the launch venue for “The Idolmaster SideM.” There was a release event for the unit I belong to, Beit, and High x Joker, and Yoshiki was there for the launch. But beyond that, we knew each other from before. Nakajima: In the same content, there were a lot of roles that were somehow related to each other. It’s the same with “Ensemble Stars”, and in the first work of the game series “Dynamic Chord,” they were both members of the same band and played Mob. Umehara: That’s right. At that time, there was no standing picture of the character. In Nakajima’s app game, “Shironeko Project”, he is also a childhood friend. Interviewer: The settings are strangely similar. Nakajima: That’s right. Even with Umehara, the situation continued that they had never met. However, at that time, Umehara-san also said that he was wary of people he met for the first time. But why was it that you were able to open up to Nakajima-san? Umehara: “Hmm, what is it? (Laughs). Nakajima: There were a lot of people involved at that launch event, so we didn’t get to talk much, so we decided to go out for a drink afterward. Yusuke Kobayashi, Daiki Hamano, Yuuma Uchida, Saito Soma… and so on. Umehara: If I’m not mistaken, Yusuke was the founder. “I’ll try to invite someone randomly,” he said to Yoshiki. So, at that time, rather than meeting on site, we often met at parties, after parties and drinking parties. Nakajima: I don’t remember how it all happened, but the two of us went to Yokohama Chinatown (laughs). Umehara: I wonder why he went there (laughs). Nakajima: Wonder why (laughs). Both of them are free in the afternoon, so I think it was a light move to go out for a while (laughs). Umehara: That was about five years ago. I think it was about the 3rd or 4th time we met.

Interviewer: Did you come back from eating Chinese food normally? Umehara: That’s right. Anyway, I decided to eat the most expensive Chinese food. Nakajima: I did an internet search with the word “Chinatown luxury” and went to the shop that came up first (laughs). Since I drove the car, I didn’t drink alcohol, he just ate Chinese food to his heart’s content. Umehara: After that, you went to Minato Mirai and rode a roller coaster. Nakajima: Yes, yes (laughs)! Umehara: Don’t know the translation (laughs). …..Interviewer: 2 people? Umehara: I was there. Nakajima: I wasn’t as busy as I am now. Umehara: I think so. When you listen to the story, the two of them really get along. Interviewer: do you think the sensibilities are similar? Nakajima: I think they probably don’t care about each other. There is no other relationship like riding a roller coaster together (laughs). Umehara: (laughs). However, even if they meet, they just talk casually, and it doesn’t seem like they have anything in common.

Nakajima: It’s just the two of us (laughs). The students riding behind us were also two boys, so we rode the roller coaster with a total of four people (laughs). Umehara: In addition, it was raining lightly at that time (laughs). Nakajima was also interesting. The two of us played a shooting game, and after that, we came back to Tokyo, parked the car, and had a drink with Taku Yashiro. Umehara: At that time, people of the same generation went out drinking, a conversation without productivity (laughs). My age is different from Ume, and my hometown is also different. Above all, unlike me, Ume has very fashionable hobbies. Umehara: No, no. as for the records in my room, they’re just decorations (laughs). Interviewer: From the beginning when you first met, the relationship has been like it is now. The two of you are two years apart in age, but Nakajima-san, at fist, did you call Umehara-san by “Umehara-san”, Nakajima-san? Nakajima: From the beginning, it’s “Ume-chan” (laughs).

Umehara: I’m two years older than you, but in terms of career, Yoshiki is a year older than me, so I don’t think there were that many barriers from the beginning. Yoshiki himself is the type that doesn’t put walls up against anyone. Nakajima: That’s right. You don’t have to put up walls with people you want to get along with. Interviewer; Do you still have many opportunities to meet in private? Nakajima: Since this activity started, we have been able to meet more often than before. We would go to each other’s houses and have “meat parties”. (Umehara, in addition to Nakajima, Kaito Ishikawa, Yuma Uchida, Soma Saito, Tasuku Hatanaka, and Taku Yashiro gather and eat meat at a private drinking party.) Umehara: Nikukai hasn’t been operating at all lately (laughs). In “TV Guide Person Vol.2”, there was a story about wanting to celebrate Hatanaka-san’s wedding… Nakajima: Still haven’t been able to do it (laughs). Umehara: Well, in the current situation, we can’t meet. Before announcing his marriage, Nakajima properly told us, “I’m thinking of getting married.” One day before the announcement, you reported it on Nikukai’s line. It’s been about a year since we said, “Well then, the next time we meet, we’ll have to congratulate each other.” But without that kind of opportunity, we wouldn’t get together. The members of Nikukai are all busy. Even Umehara, everyone’ schedules are always strangely matched.Career, acting, voice quality that can be said now… Recently, I think there are many opportunities to meet each other at the post-recording site.

Nakajima: Simply speaking, I think that there are so many plums that it would be difficult. If you look at the cast information of an anime, there is always a name somewhere. But he doesn’t compete with me much for a role, so I’ve never been conscious of that. What I felt at the post-recording site of the anime “Plunderer” starring Yoshiki, Umehara was a chief. I think we must learn from them, including communication skills. So, what can you respect? Umehara: The image I have of Yoshiki is “someone who can do anything.” From post-recording, of course, to singing and live performance, I feel that they are very versatile. Yoshiki looks like he’s having a lot of fun while performing behind the scenes. But when he comes back on his sleeve, he looks like he’s going to die.

Nakajima: Hahaha (laughs)! Because it’s Umehara, I felt that this person must have a switch. I admire him as a performer. That means I’m a liar, doesn’t it? (laughs) Umehara: No, no (laughs). Nakajima: (laughs). I feel that I am a person who is sought after by Ume. There is a sense of security when I am always second or third in the production, and when I am on set, I am calm and feel like a weight. Recently, there are many young people who are close in age to co-star, so the scene is a little floating. I feel like I can stand. Of course, it’s good to have that kind of atmosphere, but depending on the work, there are times when I think it would be better if the atmosphere was more tense. Ume is a person who creates a solid atmosphere at such a site. On the contrary, I’m the type to try not to make the air heavy. Especially in “Plunderer”, I think we were able to create a good atmosphere. Perhaps it’s because they’re polar opposites that it’s a good balance.

Umehara: That’s right. Because the nature is different, it fits. Even Nakajima, when we’re together, I think the tension is similar (laughs). I often get a ride in Yoshiki’s car, and when I came to this shooting site today, it’s always complaining time in the car (laughs). Nakajima: For each other (laughs). Interviewer: Oh, it’s not about work, is it? Nakajima: It’s about irrational events in the world. Umehara: There are many times when I’m just one-sidedly grumbling (laughs). It’s a relationship where you can say what you want to say without embellishing. Interviewer: I see. Umehara-san has often played the main character since his debut, and Nakajima-san has the impression that he has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years. How do you see each other’s careers and successes? Umehara: I envy you. I think Yoshiki will become a supporting player in the future, but I can’t be in that position. In terms of acting, I’m not very dexterous, but there are times when Yoshiki can do anything. I think that kind of actor has a longer lifespan. Nakajima: It’s true that I’ve been getting a lot of big roles in the past few years. Recently, people around me often say, “It’s good that my name is in the front,” but I feel like I’m always busy with work, just like before. Umehara: Because it’s easier to remember what you can see with your own eyes, no matter what.

Nakajima: About five years after my debut, my main job was dubbing and narration. Earlier, Ume described me as a “supporting player”, but at the dubbing site, one person must play 3 or 4 roles, so in order to be able to be called to the site next time, I have to do my best. I have no choice but to hone my skill of erasing my presence. I think that by working hard like that, I now have more opportunities to show myself. Interviewer: Was it difficult in a way to erase your presence? Nakajima: I can say this now, but I had a complex about the members of Nikukai who were active on the front lines. However, all the members say, “It’s good to work like Yoshiki.” I listened to the story while trying to cover up my self-esteem (laughs).

Interviewer: I once heard from Kaito Ishikawa that “Yoshiki is the ultimate weapon in the meat party.” That’s why I’m happy that my name is out in the world as the main character. It’s nice.” Nakajima: Just when the leading role was decided for “Hina Matsuri”, Kaito told me, “Yoshiki-kun will be out in the world!” (laughs). Umehara: There were times like that! The voices of the Nakajima Naikai members have their own characteristics and presence. That’s why I think there’s a charm that can be put out, but I’ve been thorough in erasing it. Everyone knows that, so there may have been something deeply moving. There are many ways to build your career. Umehara: I don’t have a lot of range in my role, so I tend to find out what I do with my voice in an instant, but Yoshiki is good at hiding. As an actor’s skill, I’m envious of people who are surprised to hear, “Oh, this character was played by that person,” because in a way it means that they’ve played the role properly. I end up asking for things I don’t have. One thing that left a deep impression on me when I played the role of Nakajima was last year, when Ume played the lead role in “Careful Hero”. Actually, I auditioned for the same role, but when I read the script, I thought, “This role looks like Ume or Kaito.” Then wonderfully…

Umehara: Certainly, many people have said that to me. My seniors also said, “I wonder if this is Ume-chan (laughs). In a way, I am grateful that you have an image of me. Of course, we shouldn’t rely too much on images, but I’m happy that people remember us there. Nakajima: In my case, it seems that the manager is very confused about what role to audition for. Is it better to feel energetic, or is it better to be mature? Interviewer: Nakajima-san, do you have an image of a character that is easy to play? Nakajima: I want to play any role, and if I’m not sure which one to choose, I’d rather play all of them (laughs). Interviewer: Then, which character would you like to play, Umehara-san? Umehara: I played the crazy role (Zoltan Akkaken) in “Mobile Suit Gundam NT”, and it was really fun. As for that role, partly because it was later, I wanted to act (*In 2016 Umehara took a temporary hiatus for medical treatment). It was really fun during the post-recording, and I thought it would be nice if there were more roles like this in the future, but there weren’t any at all (laughs).

Nakajima: Because there aren’t many characters like that (laughs). You can understand each other because the distance is close – From here, change the taste of the question… Interviewer: If you were the opposite sex, what part of the other person would you be attracted to? Nakajima: It’s a Nakajima face (immediate answer). Interviewer: So the first thing you see is your face, right? Nakajima: No matter where you go, it’s all about faces (laughs). Umehara; (laughs). I’m good at taking care of Yoshiki. If it was the opposite sex, wouldn’t that be unbearable? Nakajima: That’s right. Umehara: I admitted it myself (laughs). Nakajima: For better or worse, I’m aware of that (laughs). From juniors, I think it’s someone to rely on. Interviewer: I see. Umehara-san mentioned Nakajima-san’s inner life, so I would like to ask Nakajima-san again, is it the face? Nakajima: That’s right (laughs). But I think there are quite a few things that he naturally forgives if he has a good face. This is not just about plums. I often say this, but when I’m asked. “What kind of person do you like?” After all, humans are kind, aren’t they? The point is whether you want that person’s kindness surely.

Nakajima: To put it the other way around, I think it’s precisely because you like “that person” that you notice their kindness. In other words, I think there are many things that can be forgiven if you like the way it looks. Interviewer: Maybe so. This is a bit of an awkard question, Umehara-san is Nakajima-san. What do you like about the visual side? Umehara: In terms of visuals (laughs)? Hmmm… I think it’s the part where the features are solid. I admire dark faces, because I think my face it thin. Also, I envy you for having a beard. I’d like to grow a beard someday, but I’m not the type to grow it. Nakajima: Higemoja (laughs). Interviewer: Changing the subject, in our magazine “Vol. 12”, Nakajima-san said that he working out at the gym. Umehara also said that after being discharged from the hospital with “Vol. 7”. Umehara: Lately, I haven’t been training much, so I only do a little bit when I have time. Nakajima: Come to think of it, the day before the “Ensemble Stars” live that was held two years ago, I went to the public bath with Kotarou Nishiyama. Umehara: I made a mistake (laughs). When I asked Nakajima, “What happened?” (laughs) Umehara: I didn’t realize it at all (laughs). When I walking, my back was like a ridge-end tile. Kotaro and I were like, “What, that back…” (laughs). Umehara’s not that far now. At that time, I was obsessed with pull-ups, and I was doing them all the time at home. Nakajima: In the first place, it’s amazing to have a suspension machine at home. Interviewer: It was a behind-the-scenes episode (laughs). Thank you (smile). By the way, the release date of this magazine is Nakajima-san’s birthday. Nakajima-san, what kind of year do you want to make this year? Nakajima: I want to put my health first. He says “health” every time, and I think this word has a lot of meaning this year. I often hear the phrase “A species with life,” but in this situation, is it really true…? It’s precisely because I’m in this profession that I feel that when an event is postponed or cancelled, the people who are making those decisions are literally putting their lives on the line. That’s why I want to be healthy so that I can move whenever I’m asked. I’ve been watching Ume’s medical treatment up close, so I really feel that way… Interviewer: Nakajima-san, there must be something you can feel. Even when Ume was in the hospital, we kept in touch frequently. The first time when I heard the news, I didn’t get a serious impression, but when the name of the disease was announced, I was curious and looked it up on the internet, and it turned out to be quite a serious disease.

Umehara: It was tough. Nakajima: I’m glad now that I’ve recovered to the point where I can make a joke about it… I really want both of us to stay healthy. Interviewer: Then, if Umehara-san were to give Nakajima-san a present, what would he give? Umehara: That’s right, what about kitchen knives? Nakajima: No, I’ve already received it (laughs)! Before, when I moved, I told him, “I want a kitchen knife,” and he went to the department store with me (laughs). Umehara (laughs): I got perfume from Yoshiki for my birthday the other day, so I feel like I have to give something back. Nakajima: Because I’m giving it for that purpose (laughs). Umehara: Then, how about making a slightly better knife? Nakajima: Hahaha (laughs). Well, just saying that makes me very grateful. Umehara: I’m not very good at choosing presents, so I go shopping with them and have them choose. Nakajima: Your budget is around 300,000 yen, right? Umehara: No, please stop (laughs). Interviewer: What impressed me during the interview was how he agreed with what the other person was saying and how often he laughed. It must be a spectacle because the distance of the heart is close. The overflowing words naturally contained purity and strength, and I felt that I could see the essence of the two more than usual. Expectations are growing for the world of Sir Vanity, in which they are spun as gears.

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