With his soft smile and unassuming character, Koutarou Nishiyama has a presence that is loved by everyone. Having won the 12th Voice Actor Award for Newcomer, and achieving his first goal of starring in a TV anime, what do you think about the coming of a new season? How do you feel about being selected for the front cover? Nishiyama: There were a lot of things that left an impression on me, so I’m really honoured to think that I could be listed among them. I’m going to shoot now, so I’m very excited. I want to say to those who have been watching over me for a long time, “Thank you for waiting,” and I hope I can introduce myself to those who have noticed me recently.
First of all, congratulations on winning the 12th Seiyuu Awards Newcomer Award. Nishiyama: Thank you.
It’s been a few years since your debut. Nishiyama: Of course, from the persecution of the industry, I’m still a “rookie”. However, I wondered what kind of complex feelings I need to have. There are already many juniors, so I don’t think I can always be a newcomer. However, please present yourself as a candidate in that way. It makes me genuinely happy to know that there were people like that. It’s the same with the front cover of this issue, and even more so when you go out to eat or play with someone. I’m grateful that I have someone who says, “Let’s call Nishiyama.” I want to respond to their feelings.
What kind of year is 2017? Nishiyama: It’s been a year since I realized that “I wouldn’t be who I am today without someone calling me.” My so-called nominated work “Nishiyama o yobou” has increased greatly. Especially when it comes to app games, most of them don’t have an audition, so I’m happy to think that they still have an image of my voice and that they’re calling me. At the same time, I will be able to work again with people who have helped me in the past in various situations. I felt the joy of different new encounters. “See you again” is actually very difficult for me. it’s the same thing I think about my fans. “Thank you again”, but in order to make that happen, I have to keep working hard, even if it means dying. In that sense, I think that my motivation is to work hard so that I can meet people again.
Have you experienced the same with various characters? Nishiyama: Right around the time of the first term, it was a time when I met a lot of people and built new relationships. Under such circumstances, each of us was busy with our own work, and there were times when we couldn’t talk to our friends who had been with us for a long time. It was also a time when communication between people was unstable. That’s why, looking at Atsushi-kun, I said, “It’s better if you put it into words!” Thank you for making me realize what’s important.
Out of all the roles you’ve played so far, which role do you feel is the closest to yourself? Nishiyama: Hmmm… After all, in the sense that I sympathize with him, I think I will become Atsushi Kinugawa (Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boei-bu love!). He is smart and a very kind character. However, to that extent, he sometimes shows that he is a no-nonsense person, but there are both good and bad points about him. When an incident occurs, he’ll try to put it aside for a while, thinking that time solve it. Because of him, there was a lot of chaos, and before he knew it, a big gap had been created. But I can’t help but think that he doesn’t have that feeling. Atsushi-kun doesn’t remember what he said.
It’s the first regular 30-minute TV anime, and it’s an indispensable work as a turning point in your life as a voice actor. Nishiyama: I agree. The other day, I drove with Kazutomi Yamamoto-san and Yusuke Shirai-san… I’m not so good, but when I was sending them on their way home, I heard the speaker say, “Mamoru-bu”. Eibu’s music was playing. At that moment, my chest suddenly became hot. When I was recording, the scenery I saw at the live: The memory came back vividly. Starting from the place where the members who met almost for the first time gathered, doing their best in each place, and then coming back to my place. Once again, we were able to realize just how great an experience we had. I chewed it up. I may be exaggerating, but I thought I was good at becoming a voice actor.
This spring, a new series by juniors, “Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boueibu Happy Kiss!” will also start. Nishiyama: I never thought that a work I was involved in would become a series over such a long span. I was happy when I thought that there was a possibility that it would continue in the future. Dear fans, please watch over me warmly. I haven’t met them yet, but I would like the new members to talk to me about anything. Well, all I can tell you is to take care of the people around you. After all, the people who help me when I’m in trouble are my friends. I heard that I’m the first regular child, so I’m sure I’ll get fired up and go around after I’m passed. I want you to keep bumping into me.
Is it because you felt the same way at the time? Nishiyama: That’s right (laughs). But really, I can’t forget the day I received the script for the first episode. My name is written at the top, and when I turn it over, it starts with Atsushi-kun’s line, and when I turn it over, I have a turn. “He’s been talking all the time!” Happily, I left, hugging the script.
Recently, my heart is pounding like that. Do you have a favourite work? Nishiyama: To this day, every episode of any of the works still excite me. But that’s right… It’s a “Major 2nd” that starts in spring. I read the “Major 2nd” comics for the audition, but before the actual recording, I wanted to conquer all the volumes of the previous series, “Major” as well. There are 16 volumes in total, so I put my heart into it. Then I realized it was funny, interesting, and read the first volume. When I finished watching it, I wanted to read the next one, and the next one… I couldn’t sleep for days. With the joy and pressure of being involved in such a wonderful work, I did it (laughs).
What kind of character is Hikaru Satou, played by Nishiyama-san? Nishiyama: He is a very nostalgic guy from the beginning. He’s also very cute (laughs). He doesn’t have the muddiness that is typical of a so-called sportsman, and he has no interest in baseball in the first place. How does he fall in love with baseball and open up to Diago, which is his battery? Although I will be in the second role, I would like to act while carefully thinking about it as a work called “Major” that transcends generations.
“Tsukipro the Animation”, I thought that Eichi Horimiya was a very Nishiyama-like role. Nishiyama: I was happy to finally get to see Eichi in the anime. I love the warm atmosphere of QUELL. I really respect him for the way he puts other people before himself, and the fact that just by having him around makes the scene calmer.
It’s mostly about you. Nishiyama: Souma Saitou-san also told me, “This is Nishiyama-san, isn’t it?” I was happy, but I don’t think he’s like that at all, not here.
In that sense, is it motherhood? Is there something that has sprouted recently while playing Ryuuichi Kashima in “Gakuen Babysitters?” Nishiyama: Certainly, the power of Gakuhebi is amazing! Originally, he had a desire to see his own child someday, but he feels that motherhood, or rather fatherhood, is sprouting up that he has never had before. Until now, rather than taking care of someone, he has lived a more satisfying way of being taken care of you.
You are the youngest child who was doted on by your older sisters and brothers. Nishiyama: That’s right. To be honest, I don’t want anyone to see me playing with dogs, cats, or small children. I’m not as open to others. Before, I didn’t really understand what you meant when you said that there were things you didn’t seem to understand. I feel a sense of freedom now. I want to live with my dog, and I want to play as much as a can with my friends’ children. Or course, it was my first top credit’s role, but it was a work that was typical of me as it gave me the opportunity to grow as a person.
Nishiyama-san has the impression that he is a loved one. On top of that, his character Fratte in “91 Days” was also intense. Nishiyama: I’ll never forget Fratte’s line, “I don’t want to be loved, I want to be recognized!” No matter how hard I try, it is my brother Nero, played by Takuya Eguchi-san, who gets the recognition. In the middle of nowhere, he struggled. After all, he must have been asking for something that didn’t have an older or younger brother. If you ask me if there is something about him that I can relate to… I want to be loved and recognized (laughs).
I see. Do you ever get frustrated without being recognized like Fratte? Nishiyama: Of course. And I also think, “I didn’t reach it, did I?” Rather than getting angry and saying, “I tried, but it didn’t work out.” That’s why I don’t often talk about my broken heart.
That is the strength of Nishiyama-san. Nishiyama: I’m positive.
Earlier, you said that you often get nominated, but what kind of commitment do you have when it comes to working on games? Nishiyama: There is something like a running script, so regardless of the amount of voice, I read it carefully and check the connections before and after to prepare the path. Unlike the dialogue in anime, I record by myself, and there are strict time constraints, so it’s kind of like a challenge to myself. I feel like I’m fighting with myself. As a result, I am very happy when I realize that the character is standing up to me and can talk to other characters and players. The direction is so that he can get there.
Speaking of games, I recently fell in love with Daisuke Hirakawa-san. Nishiyama: I’m a little offended (laughs). At “Otomate Party 2017”, which I participated in with “Surran Digit”, I was drawn into Hirakawa-san’s play of “Code: Realize ~ Future of Blessings.”
If you bought the game yourself, did you clear it? Nishiyama: Really, he is a character to what I say as a player and responds back. “Oh, I want to be like this too!” I felt like I was watching Hirakawa-san as he tackled his work seriously. One of the seniors I want to hear from someday.
The world of actors is the theme of “A3!” How did you feel when you first received the script? Nishiyama: I often say, “I understand it!” I was hooked. It’s very difficult for an actor to play an actor and sing a song about their character, but it’s worth doing. During the recording, I carefully read the character’s background and profile. As a voice actor, it’s fun to see the app game characters being nurtured by the players and leading them to the next stage.
KiLLER KiNG also appeared in the video of the 2nd production of the TV anime that was played at the “B-Project” event, and I’m looking forward to future developments. Nishiyama: I’m looking forward to it too. On the CD “Phantom of Love” that just came out this month, I sang a solo song of Yuzuki Teramitsu for the first time. There are a lot of intense songs for everyone, so I was happy that I could bring out Yuzuki-san’s gentle side.
By the way, when you first appeared in Voice New Type No.055, you said that you would like to continue reading aloud, which is your starting point. Recently, there are many opportunities to perform on stage. Nishiyama: Yes, last year, I played the role of Abe no Seimei in a work called Onmyoji, and it gave me plenty of time to rehearse. It was really fun to make a work and I was able to go. I also learned how to be a chairperson.
Speaking of the stage, the independent activity “Oimachi Cream Soda” is also vigorously performing. Nishiyama: We started this unit with Reona Irie and Yu Taniguchi when we started thinking about what we really want to do, rather than being passive. Or rather, I think it’s only natural that we’ll continue to work together. I’m getting more and more fond of the members (laughs).
You’re also active in variety shows and live-action films. Recently, “Bokusei” became a hot topic. Nishiyama: It was my first time filming a drama, so I didn’t know what to do. There is no rehearsal period, and it’s only natural to have the lines in your head, and you’re required to have a tremendous amount of spontaneity in terms of how you can move on set. I’m still hard at work, but it was fun, as I was halfway between post-recording and the stage.
You also appeared in a singing corner. Nishiyama: Ah, it’s the song “Otoko no Chikubi”. It was during the time when I was living at Eguchi-san’s house during the time filming took place. “Let me practise with him, please,” Eguchi-san said, “That’s fine,” and I was happy. After that, I received a lot of complaints, saying, “I can’t get the song out of my head!” (laughs)
The announcement of “living together” with Eguchi-san also caused a stir. Nishiyama: I made a mistake in renewing my contract at home. I had nowhere to live, and he accepted me for a month, but I was able to spend meaningful time talking about work. The more I talked to him, the more I realize that he really got along with me. I wanted to hear more and more.
In the original content of Voice Newtype’s website “KIKI”, “Omikuji shi kyoudai”, you play with seniors and juniors in the same office. Nishiyama: It’s a fun piece. Wataru Hatano-san, who is kind and considerate to others, Souma Saitou-san, who is knowledgeable and can see things from a bird’s-eye view, and Shunsuke Takeuchi-kun. All of them are really nice people, and when there is a recording, I think that I’m in a blessed place.
Please tell us a little more about yourself. Has anything changed since you moved? Nishiyama: There is only a table and a piano. Oh, and I have a yoga mat. Originally, I’m a person without attachments, but I don’t want to increase things as much as possible. I admire the trend of “minimalism” (laughs). However, it is difficult for me to sit on the ground all the time, so I’m looking for a table and chairs. Come to think of it, I don’t have a girlfriend, but I’m moved every two years. If I get married, I should live there all the time, right? I don’t have a girlfriend. That’s why I want to live in various cities with because I can move.
Do you feel like you’ve grown up? Nishiyama: When I was a student, I thought that once I turned 25, I was more of an adult. I don’t know if I look like an adult to teenagers now (laughs). However, it’s not what I said earlier, but I’m really at this age. I’ve come to be healed by cute things, so that may be a big change. Am I an adult?
On the contrary, I feel like a child again. What is it? Nishiyama: I stop talking and walk much faster. Also, with Sanpaku eyes, I think it will make you feel like “Kurome Chiccha!” It’s easy to understand (laughs).
Do you have something on hand to prevent hunger? Nishiyama: I have a banana in my rucksack today. I like fruits very much. I buy cut fruits at the supermarket and eat them every morning.
You are 26 years old now, but is there anything that you are conscious of about turning 30? Nishiyama: I feel like I’m already 30 years old. If you try to say “I’m already 30” when you’re in your late 20’s, you’ll naturally behave like a 30-year-old. It’s going to be said. I respect Tetsuya Kakihara-san, but I think it’s time to imitate him.
What kind of 30s do you want to be? Nishiyama: I wish I could used to liking music more. It’s nice to have fun, but there’s a lot of pressure. I want to get my balance right as soon as possible. The other day, at the “Hyorotto Danshi” event, I performed “Oshieteyo” for the first time. As I practised, I could feel that I was getting better and better, and I was able to face the actual performance without being too nervous. As a result, it was fun to be able to sing while dancing with the audience. I thought it was a great experience.
When do you read your fan letters? Nishiyama: I don’t have a specific timing, but I sometimes read it right after the event. I can’t help but feel grateful when it says, “I came to know about Nishiyama-san for some reason and came to today’s event.” It goes without saying, but there are people who watch every work and program, and thanks to those people, I realize that I am who I am today. Or rather, I’m really happy that they’re the only ones who tells me how they feel. Email to the radio or Twitter and reply of course.
Speaking of Twitter, I often notice the on-air time of the works Nishiyama-san’s appears in through the posts. Nishiyama: It was good. after all, if I don’t get to know any work, I won’t start. There was a time when I kept a distance from SNS for a while. The more opportunities I get to do work outside of anime, the more I will become a character called “Koutarou Nishiyama”, and that image will affect my role in a bad way… When I thought about it, I thought that I should refrain from speaking on SNS. I restarted because I thought there was something I could do for the work. There is nothing that would make me happier than for someone who knew that their existence was the reason for my creation.
Recently, a photo-essay book has been published, and the word “Tarorizumu” has a perfect world view. Did you like writing letters since you were a child? Nishiyama: When I was in elementary school, I was helped by a teacher who told me, “You don’t have a girlfriend to give you any homework, so you should write in your diary every day.” It felt like an exchange diary with a diary. Also, when I think about it, these days I tend to take notes on my smartphone, but ever since I was in the training school, I’ve been making things like “confidential notebooks” that I can’t show to anyone.
What were you writing about? Nishiyama: Free talks and stories that can be used in self-promotion classes. Also, I itemize what I want to do and what I can do, and what do they all have in common? I used to ask myself this question often. Before going to bed with it on my bedside, I was thinking about these things, so I think I was depressed (laughs).
Right now, we are in the midst of a “dream” that has come true. Do you ever think you might have had a different life? Nishiyama: That’s… unthinkable, isn’t it? Because I think I should be a voice actor as much as possible. When I went to university, I thought about a different path. However, when I was in my third year of high school, I auditioned for an agency and received a special award. There was a time when I couldn’t do my original “voice acting” work, so now I’m really happy just to be able to act.
So, where do we go from here? Nishiyama: The road ahead is not something that can be advanced with just a feeling. As Kakihara-san said before, “I’ll go first.” I thought that “beyond that” means that what is inside of you is to improve yourself.