Tasuku Hatanaka (Voice Stars Vol. 14 2020)

畠中 祐

A single shadow that moves with every strobe light. At first, Tasuku Hatanaka’s eyes showed a slightly bewildered expression, but before he knew it, he began to shine with unwavering strength. A session with world-famous photographer Leslie Lee, who vividly captures the figure of a man in a frame with beautiful shadows. A new door that even Hatanaka himself didn’t know is that an innocent and energetic young man transforms into an adult man with a strong sense of responsibility. You pushed yourself to be creative.

First, please tell us about your first sessions with Leslie. Hatanaka-san seemed a little nervous before the shoot…? Hatanaka: Actually, this series has been a big topic in the male voice acting industry for a long time. I mimicked the conversations I had with Leslie-san during filming and reproduced them. So, what kind of filming will it be? Am I going to be, okay? When it finally became a reality, it will certainly be a shock. Now that I’m also involved in singing activities, the opportunities to have cool photos taken have increased dramatically. However, it was a completely different feeling from the photos at that time, and it was a feeling I had never experienced before. Even though we were doing various poses, the shooting was extremely speedy, so I felt like, “Are you done yet?”

It started with a dynamic action of jumping while flipping your shirt. Hatanaka: From the state where my body was warm, I moved to a well-crafted shoot, so I don’t know what to say… I’ve gradually lost my shyness (laughs).

It was a long time, but I felt that it was a creative site where I could feel a rich exchange of souls. Hatanaka: Yes, it felt like I was being directed. It was a lot of fun. It’s a cut that shows the movement of the clothes by adding lighting from the background and have the wind wake up. I thought the attention to detail was amazing. It was a lot of fun. It was like having a person called Tasuku Hatanaka retouched. I felt fresh again about the expression in photography. I could look at the monitor during the shoot, but I was desperate, so I didn’t have much time. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the finished photo will look like.

In the 8P (Eight Piece) feature of our magazine, Vol. 1, however, it was the complete opposite and very refreshing. Hatanaka: Ahahaha (laughs)! That’s true. I had a lot of fun shooting both, but if you have the back number, I’d like you to compare them. I think it’s a completely different feeling.

By the way, this time, preparing for the shoot, have you ever done it? Hatanaka: I was just doing 100 push-up every day (laughs). From the beginning of last year, I started going to the gym for an hour every day, but since I had a period of self-restraint, my muscles were completely gone. I felt down. At my peak, my body was about one size bigger.

What made you start attending? Hatanaka: The most important thing is that I wanted to build up my stamina. In July of last year, I had the chance to perform my first one-man live as an artist, Tasuku Hatanaka, at Toyosu PIT. My occupation is basically indoors, so I don’t have the opportunity to build up my physical strength.

Have you noticed any noticeable changes in your body since you started going to the gym? Hatanaka: Because I gained muscle, my weight also increased by about 8 kilograms. When I was at the peak of my muscles, I was about 5 kilograms more. I’ve lost my weight, so I’m already punipuni (laughs). When your body changes, you check it every day. At first, I started thinking that I wanted to look cool, but if I continue to go to the gym every day, if I skip muscle training even for one day, I will lose weight in life.

That’s right. People who like muscle training often post selfies on social media. Hatanaka: I also take selfies with my smartphone because I want to know how each day goes, but when the photos pile up, I’m so embarrassed that I delete them. I’ll delete it again… it’s a repetition (laughs).

While immersed in a new hobby that tickles men’s hearts, speaking of changes in his private life, he finally got a driver’s license. Hatanaka: Yes, I got it in the spring, and the state of emergency was declared right away, so it’s a paper driver that’s a little bit of a treat. I become a member of the racing team “VART”, but it started from zero when I got my license. Honestly, Miki-san, I wasn’t interested in cars. But once you start riding, it’s fun. In the race, I will be driving a sports car, so I got a manual driver’s license. The sound of the engine also excites me.

It’s a boy after all (laughs). Hatanaka: No, I’m surprised too (laughs). There was a boom. Probably Kaito-san was the one who spread the word at the meeting, but Soma Saito and I had no interest in cars at all, so we couldn’t keep up with the conversation. But at last, Soma-san is the only person who doesn’t want a car. It’s very safe driving! I’d like to have my own car in the future, but I think it’s okay to have a car with an automatic driving system. I’m too cautious about driving, and I can’t turn at all even in practise at the driving school, so I can move forward. No, before the self-restraint, I was allowed to test drive a sports car on the private road, but I was told, “Run fast!” I have a feeling that there is, but the speed is not increasing at all. I thought it was strange, and there was an incident when I mistook the meter that displays the engine speed and the speedometer (laughs). Since then, I’ve become more and more cautious.

First, you need to train yourself to get used to the car. Hatanaka: However, I couldn’t go for a drive during the self-restrain period, so I trained hard at home with the game “Gran Turismo”. Assemble and keep the legal speed on the metropolitan expressway and keep the left lane. Practise running without hitting the wall while pushing. That game is amazing. When you step on the accelerator, you can feel that the road and the tires are now in mesh! It’s very real. I learned how to drive while lowering and raising the engine speed.

It’s perfect for image training. Hatanaka: During the self-restraint period, I watched movies, read books, and devoted time to various inputs, but when I watched the drama, “JINI Jin”, I was tired of crying. Let’s go! I was changing my mood with Gran Turismo.

Was it a remote drinking party that changed? With whom? Hatanaka: I think the 8P members were the most popular. There were many other people who asked me, and when there were many, I was doing it about three times a week. I guess it’s my mother. I’m away from my parent’s house, and it’s really lonely to be in a situation where I can’t go anywhere. It was fresh and fun to have a remote drinking party with my mother. I wonder if it was a distraction to me.

Challenge yourself to play the role of a hero you admire. Speaking of things that have changed in your work, you became the first regular tokusatsu hero program on “Ultraman Z” (TV Tokyo), which has just started broadcasting. You oversee the voice of the main character, Ultraman Z. Hatanaka: I’m really happy to be able to appear in “Ultraman”, which has been a dream since I was a child. As far as the TV series is concerned, I would say “Ultraman Tiga”, “Dyna”, “Gaia”, which is said to be the Heisei Ultraman trilogy. “Generation”, and if it’s a movie, “Ultraman Zearth”. Ultraman was literally my hero.

Yes, moreover, this time it was a nomination, not an audition. Hatanaka: Thank you, but why? What happened to the staff? I was surprised (laughs).

How do you feel about playing a hero? Do you feel the difference between anime and tokusatsu? Hatanaka: I don’t know if I’ll say it myself, but I think Zed is perfect for me, and I don’t feel uncomfortable playing him. At first, “How are you talking?” I was worried. However, I can play the role of Ultraman Zero, Zed’s master. Mamoru Miyano, who is with me, said, “Rather than being the voice of Ultraman, I’m in the position of a person who speaks for Ultraman’s feelings.” So, instead of putting forward the feeling of “I’m going to do Ultraman’s voice!” I came to think that I want to be in the position of being the person who understands N’s feelings the most and can stand by him the most.

That’s wonderful advice from a senior. Hatanaka: The directors also told me to relax my shoulders towards my partner in the play, Haruki (Hirano Hirochika), who is a voice actor, without being conscious of the play. I was told that it would be good if I could act naturally. In fact, Zed is very similar to me, so I honestly said, “I can do it.”

What do you think is similar? Hatanaka: I’m trying to do something with all my might, but there’s a place where I’m spinning (laughs). Miyano-san, rather than starting from scratch, he is a rookie Ultraman who is said to be “a third person, not half a person”. It’s a hot story about how he grows up as an Ultraman. When I was a kid, I was able to make use of my skill in mimicking various Ultraman characters, so the recording is fun. I sweat a lot though (laughs).

Hatanaka, who admired Ultraman, will turn 26 on 17 August. Next year will be the 15h anniversary of your career. Zed too, regarding the growth process, how do you feel about the growth of actor Hatanaka Tasuku? Hatanaka: Wow, 15th anniversary? As for myself, I want to keep growing as a man and as an actor. I have continued to explore whether it is to increase the number of drawers as a person. And now, I think… I wonder if both are doing everything together at the same time.

The goodness of Tasuku Hatanaka. Hatanaka: What? I want to be the one who can confidently answer when asked. Especially this spring, when I had more time to face myself, that feeling became even stronger.

Then, what is the “Hatanaka Tasuku-ness” that you think of now? Hatanaka: I want to be a person who can proudly say, “I don’t want to hide it, I want to be honest. I can take it off in front of the microphone, just like today’s shoot!” At the same time, it is necessary to have a side that I can wear such clothes. Slowly but surely, but I’m going to increase what I can do. As a 25-year-old adult man, I want to take responsibility for myself and my work, and while properly showing consideration and gratitude to the people around me who support me, I want to walk steadily, even if it’s clumsy.

Tasuku Hatanaka is loved by seniors and trusted by people of the same generation for his unadorned personality that honestly faces everything, his energy that brightens the surroundings just by being there, and his stoicness that continues to work tirelessly toward acting. I can’t take my eyes off him, who continues to progress from a young man to an adult actor, which I realized during the shooting on this day.


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