Yuichirou Umehara (Voice Newtype No. 81 2021)

梅原 裕一郎

He’s as elusive as clouds floating calmly in the blue sky, blown by the wind. While giving such an impression, he also speaks of the craftsmanship of looking only at what is inside himself and continuing to study, and his words echo with the roar of thunder. A film of “Voice Actor Yuichirou Umehara” imprinted in the serene flow of time. Filming continues, he decides his whereabouts in this world of octopuses.

As the front cover, it will be first time in four years since “Voice Newtype no. 63” released in March 2017. At that time, you were on board the ship, weren’t you? Umehara: I don’t have much experience, so I remember it well. I heard that it was four years ago. It seems to be a more recent issue, but I would be happy if you could think that I have aged compared to the previous cover page.

I think you’ve become stronger. Last time, I talked to Umehara-san about his secret “fever” as the theme. Have you been excited recently? Umehara: Hmm, maybe not. After four years, it seems that the fever has gradually disappeared. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one of my recent worries is that I can’t get my spirits up. Of course, there are things that naturally come into play for dubbing, but there are many times when I think that I’ve had that kind of itch in the past, such as events. I think I’m really flat, and I’m not different from the waiting room.

Always stay flat, one of our strengths is that we can. Umehara: In the past, I had the opportunity to appear on TV Tokyo’s program “Ichiyazuke” in connection with my work. At that point, the people in charge of “Ani Reco TV”, who had overseen the narration for a long time, came to see it, and said after the recording, “Umehara-san is the same as usual on TV.” I remembered saying, “Yes.” I wondered if that was me. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but I don’t have any intention of changing it.

In “No. 076” (released in July 2020), where you appeared last time, we asked you about the changes in yourself that occurred before and after the first state of emergency declaration. How are you feeling? Umehara: I had less opportunities to record due to dialogue, so it’s still difficult for me, but now I’m used to it. Rather, we were able to record together again. I’m afraid that sometimes I feel a sense of discomfort. However, I can still to someone about reading events, so I think it’s fun to have it like that.

The entertainment industry, which have become your source, is being questioned again, but what does it mean to you? Umehara: For example, in the case of movies, you can see emotions and scenery that you can’t get in your daily life, so I think it’s something that allows you to escape from reality. However, I thought so and enjoyed myself, but when I become involved in work, it became a reality. I find myself unable to enjoy it with a blank mind, and sometimes think that it would have been better for me to be the recipient.

What makes you forget about work for now? Umehara: Recently, I feel that I don’t dare touch entertainment as a break. Rather than that, I wondered if it was fun for me to lie down on the bed or veranda and be dazed. I also need to rest my head, so I consciously try to cherish that kind of time.

In this shoot, the “clouds” flowing slowly beyond the window and the hand-held “fireworks” that add colour to the end of summer left a strong impression on me. By the way, which way of life are you attracted to? Umehara: If anything, it’s clouds. Even on that veranda, when you look up, you can only see the sky. It’s fun to see thunder in this season. Fireworks used to be like that for me. There was a feeling that I would give it a shot, and I did. I’m past that age. Now I feel like I’m really spending the rest of my life.

What was secret goal? Did it come true? Umehara: I didn’t have anything like that. Over the years, I’ve lost my strength in a good way.

Eight years after your debut, do you have own policies and rules that you created in your life? Umehara: When I’m asked if there are any areas in which I’ve grown, I cannot think of anything, so I’m grateful that I’ve had the job the past eight years. It’s not as big as it sounds, but the past few years have seen a noticeable expansion in the range of voice actor work, and even within that, I don’t want that to expand. I think I will follow my heart better if I do things that fit within the scope of my work as a voice actor. Of course, I’ve done a lot of things, and I think the people I have with me are amazing, and I’m just talking about what I can’t do. To play the role I received, to narrate, I would like to cherish that kind of work.

Do you want that desire to be born? Umehara: I wish I could do a better job with dubbing and narration. Of course, I have thought. However, I realized that I didn’t have the greed to “do well and be recognized widely.” I think it’s great that I’ve been working hard. If I can get my peers and the sound director to say, “That was fun,” that’s enough. Like fireworks, when I was thinking, “I’m going to do something, I’m going to do something!” It wasn’t that big for me. It was like that for eight years.

A drink commercial featuring Umehara-san’s name is also a hot topic. That’s how you got the spotlight. How was it received? Umehara: At first, I thought it was just a normal narration, but when I read the manuscript, there was a storyboard for the scene where the actress was shouting my name, and I thought, “Oh, that’s what it feels like.” (laughs) My face doesn’t show up, and I’m grateful, but 98% of the people who see me think, “Who’s this?” Of course, I’m used to making it without problems, but I’ve been feeling uneasy about it. Since the broadcast, even seniors who haven’t talked to me so much until now have called me “Oh, Georgia!” I’m very happy that I went over there.

Recently, it was announced that you will be appearing as Weather Report in “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stone Ocean”, and your name has become a hot topic on social media. It’s hard for you to be drifting vaguely like a cloud. Umehara: It is so. I wasn’t involved in the topic on the internet, but I was happy to hear that I passed. The first season of the anime was broadcast when I was in training school, and I watched it. Yes, it’s deeply moving to be able to appear in such a work.

That’s what happens after eight years. It may be the work that teaches us the passage of time. Umehara: I agree. I received a phone call at the office desk. I don’t know why but I thought it would be nice to be happy together, so I replied, “Is that so? Yes.” Later, Desk-san said to the manager. “Umehara-san, the tone of your voice didn’t change… Are you happy?” (laughs).

It’s an impregnable flat… Umehara: I was happy in my heart. I really wish I could say it normally.

In “No. 076”, we talked about the unit “Sir Vanity” with Yoshiki Nakajima-san and the films you appeared in at the time. Did you have any encounters? Umehara: I’ve been on good terms with Shunsuke Takeuchi-kun since before the corona crisis started. He’s six years younger than me, so it’s interesting to see how his sensibilities are different. I often do LINE, but when I try to put everything in a long sentence, he throws short sentences in a row (laughs). Also, he really likes people, and he likes voice actors. He sees all kinds of people’s plays closely, he is working hard, and he enjoys his efforts without thinking it’s an effort. Also, I don’t think there are many people who can say that without being sarcastic. Not only in the voice acting industry, but if there were more girls with this kind of feeling, I think it would be even more interesting. Before the state of emergency was declared, we went to Dora with Tasuku Hatanaka.

And there, like a mass of heat, the fact that Hatanaka-san was there also makes him interesting. Umehara: Basically, we’re three people who don’t like to fight, so it’s very peaceful and comfortable. I’ve known them for a long time. But Takeuchi-kun, it’s been two years. At that time, it was “Akudama Drive” and we had the opportunity to meet at the gallery two or three times a week. That’s why it was great that he came with Tomoyo Kurosawa-san in “Akudama Drive”. Originally, she had been active since she was a child actress and has done a lot of theatre, and she a method of acting that moves her body and is performing in front of the microphone, so from my point of view it is fresh. I was always reminded of how it should be. It became an interesting work in that I was able to co-star with such two people, and if my timing was off even in the first course, I think that we could not dub together due to the corona crisis, so the timing is also good. It was really nice.

In “Akudama Drive”, there was a scene in which I answered the question, “Why are you working as a courier?” “Why are you a voice actor?” How would you answer? Umehara: I think that the courier’s answer, “Because it’s where I belong,” is correct. I have the title of a voice actor, I’m just a high school graduate, 30 years old, and I haven’t had any kind of social career in 8 years. I have a negative connotation, but I think that this is my place and I’m here. For that reason, it’s natural for me to face my role seriously, but I’m not good at trying to get around well, so I would know myself and protect myself with the people around me.

In terms of title, Koyomi Yamanaka of “SSSS Dynazenon” is an unemployed hikikomori. Umehara: The script was written by the director, and he was so funny that I thought there was an animation of him with such realistic lines, and it was fun to play him. Many of my co-stars, starting with Junya Enoki-san, acted in a natural way, and it was a good experience to be a part of them. At the time of dubbing, he was able to draw quite a bit, but even so, I was told, “If it doesn’t fit the play, I’ll fix it, so please do it freely.” I was the one who received the things. I had very few direction corrections from start to finish. But that’s why I thought I had to do my best. I think it was a work in which a very good chemical reaction occurred. The scene that left a deep impression on me was when Chise (Asukagawa) and I ate candy and laughed together. Chika Anzai-san actually ate candy when she recorded, so I let her go. So, there was a time when she actually did a play while chewing, and said, “I’ll take this,” and she didn’t record the actual performance. Originally, from the stage of her audition, she thought that she would not be accepted unless she acted naturally, but she was more interesting than I had imagined.

Were there any aspects of her that you could relate to, such as feeling dazzled by her positive companions? Umehara: Certainly, out of all the characters I’ve played so far, I feel like he was the character closest to me. I usually tend to call someone when waiting for instructions. Also, he’s 33 years old, which is close to my age, so it was easy to do.

Do you drink alcohol? Do you throw up? Umehara: I don’t drink alcohol. If I complain about someone, I won’t say anything, and if I vent, I’ll often punch someone in my dreams (laughs). I think that the only way to really bring out what’s inside of you is to play, and that’s why it’s fun.

Seiryu Kaimiki in “Mashiro no Oto” was a role full of passion for the shamisen. Umehara: A key that can hold crazy stuff. The original work is very interesting, and they faithfully adapted it into animation. Due to the corona crisis, I was mostly alone during the recording, and it was a pity that I couldn’t meet the co-stars in the final episode in the waiting room. But by chance, the performer was recording the shamisen before I joined his recording, and I had the opportunity to hear it live. It was so powerful that I wondered why a human could make such a big sound from such a small instrument. It was a shock. Being able to feel that kind of energy was a big part of playing the role of Seiryu. Also, since Seiryu is in his 20s, he was more of an adult.

Is it worth playing a role with a high sense of age? Umehara: Or rather, it would be impossible for me to play the role of a high school student. (laughs) Tasuku Hatanaka-kun also appeared in “Mashiro no Oto”, but when he heard my play, he said, “It was really good.” He said that he felt something like the “depth” behind the human being called Fukami. Personally, I was surprised that I wasn’t conscious of it, but I was genuinely happy to be able to play a character with a certain amount of life experience. And I wanted to be able to play roles that are the same age or older as soon as possible.

I wonder how much is needed to express that conflict and growth in young characters. A voice actor who can play a high school student no matter how old he is is a special job. Umehara: The seniors who can do that are amazing. I feel like my heart won’t be able to keep up with my voice. When I think about it like that, I think again that I’m someone who has a ridiculous energy and a young boy’s heart.

On the other hand, looking at your role as Izumi Himekawa of “Skate Leading Stars”, one of Umehara-san’s main strengths is “lone wolf”. I can feel it. Umehara: Each character has a strong sense of depth, and although they are being serious, there are many places where I wonder if they are gags. I thought that five or six years ago I would have played many roles like this. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in such a hot, thorny, and frustrating role, and it’s been a long time since I’ve played a character so young, so it’s been difficult to bring out his sharp side. It’s just maybe, it’s a part of me that’s missing. I think I’m the one who’s curled up.

Misao Aoki in “2.43 Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley-bu” is a high school student, but Umehara-sad played him, he is a senior to the main characters. Umehara: He’s quite mature in personality as well. So, in that sense, it was easy. In this sense, the Fukui dialect was very difficult, but on the contrary, I think that it was helped by the mysterious power that you can feel something just by reading the intonation of him. The moment you put it in a dialect, you can feel so close to it. But I thought that standard language is the only way to convey emotions. It may be difficult.

Do you have an accent yourself? Umehara: Yes, I have a Chubu accent, since I had relatives there, I lived in the central part of Japan. It wasn’t that picky, but there was almost no sushi. But after all, it’s warmer than standard Japanese. There is a place where I remember.

From what I’ve heard, it seems that you have been able to protect your own “place” while overcoming various hurdles such as “natural” and “dialect”. Umehara:It’s a hurdle, but it’s fun. Speaking of dialects, I used to speak Okayama dialect before, but compared to that time, I was used to it. However, I’m confident that even if another dialect role comes up next time, as long as I have the audio materials, I will be able to do something about it. I’m already afraid of dialects. There have many works that been involved for a long time.

It’s nice. “TsukiPro the Animation 2” is also on air. Umehara: The work “TsukiPro” is getting older. If you are only watching the anime, you may feel that there are some parts that have lost with the previous series, but in the meantime, the CD’s are being made regularly. I’m very grateful that I can play the character Dai Murase for several years, but he will always stay in the same place.

Recently, you participated in the song “voy@ger” commemorating the 15th anniversary of the “Idolmaster SideM” series. Umehara: Originally, it was content for a female character, but I think it’s unique to “IMAS” that you can participate in the form of mixing.

By the time this magazine goes on sale, it will be over, but you will also appear at the live performance of “Ensemble Stars!” Umehara: It’s been a long time since the live itself. I think many of the other cast members have already experienced it, but this is the first time for me to perform live in a situation where there is a local audience, but vocalization is prohibited, so it is very strange. I can feel it, and I’m a little worried about what the atmosphere will be like. However, when I went to the last live performance, I could tell that the staff members were thinking about the performers first, and it was very easy to do. So, feel free to come again this time. Also, there will be songs that we will perform live for the first time, so I want to do what I can to meet the high expectations of the people who support us, saying, “It will be even better than last time.”

Are there any other jobs other that character voice work that leave a strong impression on you? Umehara: I’m doing the narration for “NHK Kagaku Kiso”, and it’s one of my favourite jobs right now. It’s partly because I simply like experiments and science, but I’m really working on my own. If I make a mistake, it’s my responsibility, and if the recording goes smoothly, it’s thanks to me. I think it’s fun to be in a situation where everything comes down to you. There is also the bonus of being able to go home early because of my hard work (laughs).

Recently, you appeared in the recitation play of “Nigeru wa hajidaga yaku ni tatsu”. Is there anything you can gain from co-starring with the actors? Umehara: I did about two readings and chances, and then there were two more performances, but it seems that the other people practised more. When I heard that it was still a small number, I thought, “This is really bad,” as I was nervously waiting for the performance in two days. For us voice actors, the basic rule is that you will do one test and then the actual performance, but the people who are doing the stage play the same program repeatedly to make it better. I have the intention of going and I went. I was keenly aware of the difference in sensation.

I think it’s amazing how professional voice actors respond to requests in such a short amount of time. Umehara: Of course, it’s not a matter of which one is better, but I feel that I must pursue my work as a voice actor more thoroughly. I was really surprised, but if I had 100 points of improvement during rehearsals, the actors would change about 100 points. Since I witnessed the change with my own eyes, I regretted it a little.

About dubbing work, do you like it? Umehara: I’ve been able to put out a lot of works recently, but I’m not quite used to it. First, it takes a lot of time to read the script. Sometimes I put fractions into the script if it is too difficult to understand, but I must listen to the sound and judge who is speaking where, which is difficult for me. Maybe there’s a way I can do it better, but to be honest I’ve just not practised enough to learn it.

The anime world was also the reason why you wanted to work as a voice actor. Umehara: I agree. However, rather than the joy of being able to do the job I longed for, the feeling that “I have to do it properly” is stronger. Besides, anime is the reason why I was originally interested in voice acting work. I don’t think there’s that much of a difference in consciousness, or rather, I think it’s because I want to do more dubbing.

Listening to your story this time, Umehara-san’s indifferent personality is strange. It feels more stoic without getting worse. By the issue, the theme of this issue is “short movies.” Umehara: Basically, I like disgusting movies, so as a punchline, I really like the feeling that there is no salvation. I say it’s kind of addictive. Even if it’s not popular with the public, I think it would be interesting to make music for people who have similar sensibilities as me.

You’re flat and nice, but you’re still carrying a bomb in your chest. Umehara: What is it? It’s been that way for a long time, I think it’s a disease that will kill you if you don’t look at it in a twisted way.

Commonly, it is a disease that develops in the second year of junior high school. Umehara: I guess I’ve been there for a long time. I’m a person who can’t stand looking at heart-warming works honestly, “It’s heart-warming, isn’t it?” I don’t think I’m okay if I keep saying this even after I turn 40.

In the past, while salaried workers of the same generation lived in the turmoil of society, you’ve said that you have a complex about your own youthfulness, while you have acquired a bitterness as a human being. Umehara: I think I must change, but I also feel that I’ve been working in the industry for a long time. I belong to an agency, but in the end, I work as an individual.

What is the “ideal self”? What are your thoughts? Umehara: The ideal is that I might not be enough. I have a strong feeling that it will not work. I must do what I can.

You turned 30 in March of this year. What do you expect from yourself in your 30’s? Umehara: I wish I was older. It’s not just about the appearance, but my voice, the appearance, and the depth of the play. I’m good at being able to play roles that are the same or older than me without overdoing it.

You turned 30 in March of this year. What do you expect from yourself in your 30’s? Umehara: I wish I was older. It’s not just about the appearance, but my voice, the appearance, and the depth of the play. I’m good at being able to play roles that are the same or older than me without overdoing it.

Yuichirou Umehara Column:

Recommended movies for long autumn nights: Saving Private Ryan

About a year or two after I moved to Tokyo, I used to play this movie loudly at my bedside for no reason at night. I’m usually asleep by the end of the gunfight at the beginning. It’s a long piece, so I think it’s perfect for the long autumn nights. Everyone, please give it a try.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s