Kentarou Kumagai (Pash November 2020)


Voice Feature ReFlap Interview act 141

Kentarou Kumagai-san, who decided on a cool look in a suit. In the interview, he directly hits on his roots that led him to aim for a career as a voice actor, his ideal date, and impression of the former host and entrepreneur, Reiji Kujakuseki, who he plays in the YouTube real audition program “ReFlap”.

What kind of child was Kumagai-san when he was young? Kumagai: No matter what I did, I feel like I was a child who reported to my parents whenever I did something. They often found out what I did, and then I reported to my parents, “I’m going to do this.” As for club activities, I belonged to the soccer club from the 1st grade of elementary school to the 3rd grade of junior high school. But she took it. I went to see her as it was, and when I got home, my mother said to me, “Do you want to join the soccer club?” I was the type of boy who would act on my own if something happened to me. It was a childhood when I pushed forward with what I wanted to do.

What made you want to play soccer? Kumagai: I really like sports. I love not only cars, but also baseball. It was a bit of a passive choice to play soccer (laughs). I didn’t join the soccer in high school. When I was in my second or third year of junior high school, I became interested in the profession of voice acting and started to actually want to do it. So, in high school, I worked part-time to save up money for moving to Tokyo, and I went to classes once a month to pursue what I really wanted to do.

Was he the one that got you interested in voice acting? Kumagai: When I was watching a music program at home on a day off from club activities, Mamoru Miyano-san’s song was on the charts. Then I thought, “This person’s songs are good,” and started listening to Miyano-san’s songs. After that, I happened to find Miyano-san’s name in the cast credits of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. I wondered, “What is this name?” This is how I learned about the world of voice acting. At that time, I didn’t know the difference between a voice actor and an actor. The voice actors are amazing, and I was fascinated by being able to touch a part of the lives of various people with just their voices.

What kind of part-time job did you do? Kumagai: I used to work at a wedding hall. At weddings in Okinawa, five or six entertainments are included in the program, and many ceremony halls have stages with drop curtains. I opened and closed the curtains and attended the entertainment for the guests. I mainly worked behind the scenes for entertainment. I used to work part-time almost every day after school.

Since you were also studying voice acting at the same time, it must have been a pretty busy day. Kumagai: To study voice acting, I attended a monthly lesson for high school students. If I remember correctly, I was in the second or third year of high school, and I felt like I was taking lessons, such as post-recording training. I was doing it because I liked it, and I wanted to experience the world of voices as soon as possible, so even though I was busy, it was a waste to sleep.

Immediately after graduating from high school, you moved to Tokyo, didn’t you? Kumagai: I studied for a year under the teacher at the high school I attended. After that, I moved to Tokyo, worked part-time while helping an acquaintance on stage, and made money with him. Now, thankfully, I’m able to eat at this job, but I think it’s because I really had a connection. Rather than relying on my own strength, I have a strong sense that the people around me are making the most of it.

What are your future goals as a voice actor? Kumagai: I want to increase the number of animation appearances and meet more new characters. At the same time, ideally, dubbing of foreign films is also possible. I want to be a good actor. My ultimate goal is to continue doing voice work until she can no longer move.

Thank you. Next, please tell us about your memories of your first love. Kumagai: Before I can remember, my aunt says I went to the same kindergarten as Jenny, and it seems that she was my first love. She went to a nursery school in Okinawa for a short period of time before moving from the Kanto region to Okinawa in earnest. I vaguely remember being on good terms with her, but after returning to Kanto, we never met again. I hope you are doing well. As far as I can remember, I think I was in the same grade as junior high school. I was very shy at the time, and I might have had a crush on her for a year or two. Just before I graduated, I confessed to her and started dating, but I was too lazy, and I immediately got dumped (laughs). It’s just a sour memory (smile).

Then, what is the point at which Kumagai-san feels attracted to the opposite sex? Kumagai: I really like the hairstyle with one side of the hair hanging over the ear.

Would you say it’s like an asymmetry, with only one ear visible? Kumagai: The length can be long or bob. Also, I like glasses. If the glasses can be seen on and off, it’s fine.

Where would you like to go on a date? Kumagai: I would like to go on a solid date. I said yes, but I can’t ride the screaming machine. To calm down, I want to go on a drive date or something.

Speaking of Kumagai-san, I get the impression that she likes sweets and wrestling. Kumagai: It’s nice to visit cafes. I also like coffee, so it’s easy to relax at a pure café where you can drink delicious coffee. Professional wrestling is a bit difficult, but I’m good. I love professional wrestling, and I want you to watch it with me, but… it would be a pain if you didn’t really get into watching it (laughs). I have about two hours at the Lores box office, and if you think “I don’t like it very much” in the beginning, the remaining hour and a half will be pretty tough. In that sense, going with him is a high hurdle (laughs).

(laughs). Now let’s talk about “ReFlap”. It seems that the role of Reiji was decided. Kumagai: Yes, at the audition, Mizuto-san was accepted along with Reiji, and I was given the chance to play him. Now, I can’t think of Mizuto-san other than Daiki Hamano-san, so it feels a little strange (laughs).

What is the time when Reiji, who is always full of leeway, shows his true nature? What is your impression of your boss? Kumagai: As a former number one host in Ikebukuro and an entrepreneur, he is a self-confident and ambitious entrepreneur. I also came to Tokyo from Okinawa, so I felt a lot of sympathy. Reiji is a person who watches his surroundings very well, and he is a very hard worker, and he firmly holds within himself the idea that “Reiji Kujakuseki should be him.” He probably doesn’t like to show people how hard he works, but I’m sure he did it in his own way. I wonder if he is a person who has a clear “self I want to show” and “a self I don’t want to show.” This is the part that changed my impression. Reiji’s appearance is relied on by Iku. Basically, he’s like a big brother. As for Leona, he’s a man who can sense that he’s worried alone. He has a deep affection for Mizuto-san. Also, I think he has a mature side in a different direction.

What do you have in mind when you play him? Kumagai: Based on Tsukasa-san’s own idea of “Reiji Kujakuseki, how he should do it,” I wanted to create a sense of leeway. Whether he’s laughing or not, I want him to be mature and relaxed, so I’m letting him do it while always keeping in the corner of his mind not to lose confidence… However, when it comes to the manager, you can catch a glimpse of his natural expression from under the mask of the former Ikebukuro number one host. I think Tsukasa is, but when Reiji is in front of S who is even stronger than himself, he becomes a little weaker, doesn’t he? In that sense, I think Manager S is better than Reiji. Even so, he can’t just be completely beaten, so he has a lot of self-restraint, so he doesn’t want to show his natural expression, and he has the leeway to say, “Reiji Kujakuseki should be like this.” I think it would be nice if I could put out the part where I let my guard down when I was caught off guard as a gap.

What about songs? Kumagai: During “Moment”, the first thing Fu-san said was, “It smells like the night” (laughs). “Anyway, you should be ugly, erotic, mature, and make you feel the smell of the night,” he said. I tried to connect the feeling, and was doing it while thinking, “What is eroticism?” I was doing it while squeezing. “Diamonds”, which was sung in the top 3 (top 3 voters in 1st Voting), has reached an important phase as the story progresses, and under 4 (bottom 4 voters in 1st Voting) are catching up. By the way, I thought it would be nice if I could put in a sense of frustration and desperation, rather than just being relaxed and erotic. This song is in a high key, and there is also pressure to sing with two professional singers (Matsuoaka (Yuri), who plays Hinata, and Amatsuki (Leona). Pure singing. There are some parts that I just can’t compete with in terms of strength and expressiveness in the song, so I thought it would be nice to add some dialogue nuances so that I could put in some playfulness elsewhere. ReFlap songs are always difficult, and everyone is so good at it that I hate it, really (laughs). On the other hand, Reiji’s solo song “Spotlight”. I made it simple while imagining the statue of Reiji as a peacock.

In “Spotlight”, in the part from “can’t give up, I can’t give up” before the last chorus, you can see something like Reiji’s determination not to lose, and it hits me hard. He was a number one host in Ikebukuro in the past, but now that he is challenging new goals, he is not doing well. He has a debt of 60 million, and in “RePlayers Note:04”, which is available on YouTube, he was kidnapped and beaten up by scary people. In such a situation, he would definitely have no leeway, but I think he would face up to whatever troubles with a smile on his face. That’s why the melody has some calming parts, but the song itself doesn’t let him fall that far.

The CD “ReFlap End and Beginning” released on October 21st will include a new song by 7 people. Kumagai: At the time of this interview, I haven’t recorded it yet, but since the song of “ReFlap” has rap, it would be nice if I could warm up my mouth. And until now, I said that only one of them would be the 100-year idol in the end, but in Final Showdown, it was decided that they would be active as 7 members, and then they would decide on the centre and leader. The situation surrounding replayers has changed a little. Of course, Reiji is aiming for the top, but more than that, he’s gained a good impression of his companions in the time so far, so rather than feeling impatience and urgency up until now, sing with more grace and enjoyment.

Right now, the final showdown is on. Please give a message to your Reviver (fans) who support ReFlap. With Reiji’s encouragement in singing and lines, is Reiji only looking at the top? Kumagai: I wish I could do it, but at this stage when the voting has started, there’s not much you can do. Then, during the final showdown in a beautiful way, vote with all your might for the person you think “I like this person.” I hope you will do you best. If you like him, please vote for Reiji. He is a very attractive person; I would be very happy to have it.


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