Yuichirou Umehara (Voice Animage Vol. 46 2020)

梅原 裕一郎

Akudama Drive is an original animation depicting the way of life of ultra-unique criminals set in a distorted society. We spoke with Yuichirou Umehara, who plays the role of the courier in the film, about the work’s unique worldview and charm of the characters. Umehara: I really learn a lot from young people to veterans.

“Akudama Drive” will start soon, but first look at the materials of this work?  Umehara: The character illustrations and setting materials I received during the audition had a stylish and futuristic view of the world, and I thought, “This must be a cool work.” Amid all these different personalities, I wondered how I could bring out the individuality of the “courier”.

The world view of this work is quite unique. Umehara: What was impressive was the presence of “Shinkansen” in the first episode, rather than sympathizing with the “courier”, it shines with a rainbow colour, and it’s like an object of faith. I felt that the settings were thought out down to the smallest details, given the misunderstanding that there is something like a deep faith in the somewhat ruined city of Kansai. After that, the scene where the pedestrian crossing comes out. When the traffic light changes, a traffic control display appears in the air. I think it would be nice if that kind of thing existed (laughs).

Was there anything that left an impression on you when you auditioned? Umehara: “Courier” is a character who doesn’t talk much, so when I went from the tape audition to the studio audition, the sound director told me, “You don’t have many lines.” (laughs)

How did you feel when it was decided that you would play the role of the carrier? Umehara: Since original work does not have an original work, we, who play it, have been dubbing repeatedly to develop the story and the backstory of the character. I know a lot about scenery. So, when the role was decided. I was looking forward to what kind of story it would turn out to be, and I was also interested in who the cast would be.

The cast that has been decided is a super gorgeous lineup. Umehara: All the actors are as unique as Akudama and others. I felt that the characters and cast were perfect, and at the same time, I thought it would be an interesting work. There are also great seniors, so it’s a place where you can really learn.

What kind of things are you conscious of in playing the role of the “courier” who gradually understood the pride and person of the “courier” while acting? Umehara:  He is not a character who speaks expressively. He doesn’t go as far as mumbling, but I tried to emphasize the cool part. However, he is serious about his work. When things don’t go well, there’s a side of me that shows off my anger, so I’m conscious of what I must do in such a narrow range.

Is it a difficult type of character in your career so far? Umehara: I often play characters that have a cool voice, and the “courier” is the best of them all. In this work, the surrounding characters are the type to move forward, so I was worried that they would be buried, and I assumed that the SE and BGM would effectively sound scenes. I thought about how much I should raise my voice. Even in scenes where the physical distance is wide, if you raise your voice too much, you will not be a carrier. Especially in the beginning, it was difficult to find that balance. I made a lot of adjustments in response to the request.

After the dubbing started, did your impression of the delivery change? Umehara: At first, I had the impression that he was the type to go his own way, putting his own work first and having no interest in other Akudama. Gradually, it became clear who he was and what he was thinking, and the way I looked at him changed. He takes great pride in his work as a “courier”, and I think he’s a character who has the confidence to say, “I won’t fail,” as in the opening lines.

It looks cool at first glance, but it’s hot inside. Umehara: As the story progresses, the number of conversations between the two of us with ordinary people increases. The number of scenes where he talks about things has increased, and sometimes I get a glimpse of his humanity.

In the words and deeds of the “courier”, what part of Umehara-san can sympathize with? Umehara: Rather than sympathize, I admire him. That’s how confident I am. If I were you, I’d complain first (laughs).

There is a line that seems to carry Gen. Umehara-san, when you work, how do you carry Gen? Umehara: Drink an energy drink before starting your first job in the morning. If you drink it first thing in the morning, it will switch the feeling of “work, work”. I don’t know if it’s good for my body.

No. (laughs). It may be like a workaholic carrier. Umehara: No, I’m not a workaholic. Basically, I’m a person who thinks “I think I want to skip it.” (laughs)

So, if Umehara-san were to choose one of the Akudama characters in this work, who would he choose? Umehara: It seems to be useful in some way, and I don’t think it’s harmful to be with people because he’s not very aggressive.

What kind of work do you do with such a “hacker?” Umehara: Well, that’s hacking (laugh). Although, it’s not hacking, I’m more than a little interested in peeking at things that are considered to be urban legends. For example, top-secret American documents (lol).

Are there any episodes that left an impression on you? Umehara: Shunsuke Takeuchi-kun, who plays Fighter, bought a large amount of bread at the scene for two or three weeks. Then I thought, “No, I don’t want to buy rice,” and went to the set, but it just so happened that there was no bread that day. He was hungry and felt sorry for various laughs (laughs).

Finally, please give a message to the fans who are looking forward to the broadcast! Umehara: It’s cool, but it also has scenes but make you laugh a little. Since it’s an original work. There are still many things you don’t understand at the beginning, but first, I would like you to understand the characters’ personalities and enjoy the world view “Akudama Drive” that will gradually become clear.


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