Makoto Furukawa will be on the cover for the second time since “Voice Newtype No. 068” in June 2018. Over the past three and a half years, the range of roles he has played has expanded further, and his musical activities have also built a unique worldview. It’s also the 10th anniversary of his debut as a voice actor, and Furukawa-san, who made a big leap, will talk about his thoughts on the future.
It’s been 10 years since you made your debut as a voice actor. What was the decade like? Furukawa: My biggest impression is that I met various people. I met good people, met good works, and gradually grew up. There were good and bad things, but thanks to that, I was able to grow to this point.
Do you feel yourself growing? Furukawa: In my day-to-day work, I have learned how to approach and say my riffs that I could not say before, and I can respond to requests from directors. I crawled little by little; my sensibility is more refined, and my experience will increase. I feel like I’ve been able to pile it up properly.
How did you get back on your feet when you almost got discouraged years ago? Furukawa: When I feel discouraged, thankfully, the people around me say, “It’s okay.” I think there was a lot of things to say. I was in a state where I felt at home. When I say so, it feels like I will recover naturally in that state without forcibly correcting the course. When you’re depressed, you can switch to doing what you can do. So, when I’m depressed, I may not be able to do things on my own. It’s nice to have a human relationship where the people around me talk to me at times like that.
Afterwards, you often ask, “Did you worry about that?” (laughs) But even though you said to me, “You know, that sort of thing happens when you’re young,” and you’re depressed over little things, you’re still able to keep going because of the people around you. I think it’s because of your kindness. What events and works became your turning point? Furukawa: “Golden Time” and “Gaist Crusher” brought me to anime, games, and media. I believe that these works were given to me, so I think that my encounter with these two works was a turning point for me. After that, there were some of my works that became like this thanks to them, and I was able to put them on “Idolmaster SideM.” I’m not the only one who had to appear in their productions. Also, since I started working on character songs for idol works, I’ve focused on my own songs, and have been able to release my own CD, so it was a turning point for me. I feel like I’ve come this far because I think opportunities were accumulated.
During the broadcast of “Golden Time”, you also appeared Voice Newtype for the first time, so I’m deeply moved when I heard that that work was a turning point. Furukawa: That’s right! It’s been about eight years since then, so I can feel how fast time flies (laughs). I’m grateful to have had a long relationship with Voice Newtype.
Can you please tell us which of your two years of work has left a lasting impression on you? Furukawa: I have feelings for every work, but the one that left a deep impression on me when I saw it on air was “Moriarty the Patriot.” I’m going to do my best with what I’ve done with my voice so far. The dialogue with Soma Saitou-san and Yuki Ono-san was also interesting and I felt the power of the work itself.
“Dashikitta” was amazing. Furukawa: At that time, I did everything in my power to express what I wanted to do. My partner is John H. Watson. It’s a work called, “Kyuketsuki sugu shinu”, but I wondered if it had something to do with John (laughs). Also, “Visual Prison” and “MARS RED” are works in which vampires are focused on, so I wondered if I had a connection with vampires (laughs). It’s interesting to see the mysterious chain going on.
“Kyuketsuki sugu shinu” and “Visual Prison” also has vampires, but the taste is completely different. Furukawa: That’s right. Although the subject matter is the same, they also produced contrasting works, like a sample of how different works can be created depending on the method of depiction. The atmosphere on set was also the exact opposite. One is a story that progresses noisily, and the other progresses solemnly, so the swing is amazing. However, because they were by my side, it was reassuring to everyone, it was a help for the play. Various things are born, and I felt how important the sense of rhythm that comes out of that is.
How were you co-starring with Jun Fukuyama-san, who plays Draluc in “Kyuketsuki sugu shinu”? Furukawa: I’ve co-starred with Fukuyama-san a few times, but this was the first time he’s had such a strong dialogue. Fukuyama-san has a special approach and sensibility. He’s accumulated so far, and he feels the dreadfulness of what he’s come up with. An expression that will surely stab with even a small volume of dialogue. When you interact with such a person, you gradually pull up and I feel like I’m receiving it. At that point, I felt that he was a great senior, and he took the initiative in his free time to actively communicate with us and his staff, and I thought, “He’s an adult, isn’t he?” I thought. If I put it like this, I think he’ll probably deny it (laughs). He’s a wonderful senior and I want to grow like this, and he was really reassuring.
When you appeared in “Voice Newtype No. 078” released in December 2020, you said that you would like to cherish an aggressive stance in 2020. Were you able to keep pushing for 20 years? Furukawa: I don’t think I was attacking a lot. While attacking, there were also parts I wanted to protect. Now I have strong desire to protect (laughs). This is because Ronald in “Kyuketsuki sugu shinu” is a character who is physically and vocally difficult, and the more he plays, the more he gets tired. In that process, I started to think that it is important not only to push, but also to pull. Even in my own live performances, I was stepping on the accelerator as hard as I could, but during the live rehearsals, the staff told me, “Furukawa-san, you’ve been putting too much effort into it since the rehearsals.” Because of that, I thought, “Oh, I was too aggressive” (laughs). So, my goal for the second year is to consider when to start and when to withdraw.” It was a year that made me realize that there are things that can’t be done with just an offensive stance, and that my body has its limits.
When I talked to you before about “Makoto Furukawa no kokora de hitoiki”, which is serialized on Voice Newtype’s website “KIKI”, you said, “What people are looking for has changed.” Can you elaborate? Furukawa: I think that the reason why what is required in the field has changed because people expect me to be able to do this kind of play because I’ve been in the field for so long. Also, it may be that the type of character I play has simply changed. I responded to the expectations of “Furukawa would do this kind of thing,” or “No, this is what I’m thinking about.” I feel like I’m more likely to come up with a plan B. Of course, it is necessary to faithfully return what the script asks and what the director asked for, and that is important, but there are times when I’m not satisfied with just that. There were times when I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I wanted to do something a little bit more, so I asked for a retake. For better or worse, I feel that there are parts of me that are beginning to be selfish about what I wanted to express.
Thinking “I want to do more” is probably a sign of leeway. Furukawa: I don’t know if I can afford it. Even if I can express the correct answer, it would be nice if I could create something that would not be just a circle, but a flower circle. Furthermore, it would be nice if we could make it look like a star, so that people would say, “It’s a little different, but I like that one better.” But of course, I’m just trying to express what’s written in the script, and even though I know the correct answer, I sometimes feel frustrated when I can’t throw the ball. In that sense, I still have a lot to learn, and I think I need to improve my technique.
Do your feelings and approach to acting change as you gain more experience? Furukawa: I’ve come to understand what kind of characters the staff want to express by intuition. Sometimes it is a template, sometimes it becomes a new character that has never existed before. If you are looking for a template character, how should you attach decorations that are unique to that work or yourself? Sometimes I really don’t understand this character, so at that time I collect the correct answers that I can see. There’s no one way to create a role, so I can’t generalize, but I don’t want to be able to play any character without any problems. You can try out the expressions you want to use, I feel a sense of satisfaction within myself when I try to interpret things in my own way and think about what I can do to improve what I have built up so far. If there is a mistake in what we tried, the staff will correct it, so we can fix it there. I want to try various things to improve myself.
From September, a web radio program titled “Makoto Furukawa and the Storyteller’s Mansion” will start. Furukawa: Thankfully, there were people who said that they liked the program where I was just talking, and I also liked talking lazily while reading everyone’s emails, so I asked for your help. This is a program that started because of this. I think we have become a culture that makes it easy to write about the events around us on social media, but I myself am not good at conveying information through text without being able to talk casually about the current situation in words is a self-cleansing effect for me, and although it’s work, I feel like I’m having a good time.
Please tell us about the concept of the program. Furukawa: The main concept is “Let’s make games together.” It is a plan to create table talk RPG’s and table games using cards and dice that have become popular recently. I would like to incorporate everyone’s opinions, throw out my own opinions, and create something with the listeners in a conversational format. Also, in addition to opinions about the game, I would also like to receive emails with recent events and themes such as “When you think of winter?” It’s a program with a slightly different standing position. It would be great if we could create fun games while interacting with listeners.
In the mini album “Room of No Name” released on November 17, you wrote all the lyrics. When and how are the lyrics written? Furukawa: I also wrote the lyrics for “From Fairytale” (1st album released in December 2020). Since this is a mini-album, I thought it would be easier than a full-length album, but when I thought about it, the number of newly written songs was the same, and the time was tighter, so this mini-album was harder (laughs). An environment conducive to writing lyrics is the way to go the scene or on the way home. As I walk around listening to the music I write, I think, “Maybe this kind of word applies to me,” or “I want to see this kind of image, so let’s write this kind of story.” When I get excited, I sometimes go to a coffee shop and write it up. Rather than thinking, “Now, let’s write lyrics!” When I’m like, “Let’s do this.”
When do you come up with ideas? Furukawa: I write the lyrics before the song, so the first thing is my impression when I listen to the song. I also think about the tempo of the song, brightness, darkness, and the tone of the instruments used. For example, while listening to a song, I thought, “This has the image of a sunset,” or “What is this?” I don’t know, but I can feel the cold (laughs). I’m building from there, but when I think about “Yuyake”, what I think about this song is “My bicycle has rusted,” and “If my bicycle has rusted, I think it’s my parents’ house. I will continue. If you don’t think based on the image you get from the song, the song and the lyrics won’t match.
Is the work of writing lyrics fun or difficult? Furukawa: When you’re writing, you’re engrossed. Sometimes I get embarrassed when I look back at the finished product. But when the lyrics are completed with the song, I feel like I’ve changed, and it’s fun and exciting.
Has your career in music influenced your work as a voice actor? Furukawa: Acting and singing are two different things for me. I think it’s another vector and this link hasn’t been created yet, or should I say… there are parts where I know how to express emotions, but I haven’t found a place beyond that, and I think it’s a part where I haven’t been able to grow yet.
Another emotional expression? Furukawa: That’s right. When it comes to expression in a play, I think about things like the speed of speech and sound pressure, and if it’s post-recording, how to match it with the animation, and how to create a dialogue. Singing puts words on a musical scale and I think about matching them with the performance of the musical instruments. There are some similarities, but it feels like they are not completely linked.
In that case, does it become a useful existence for the character song harmony? Furukawa: I start by imagining how this character would sing like this. I wondered if this character would use a voice like this, or if this character doesn’t seem very good at singing (laughs). Character songs often express emotions in the lyrics, so I sing while imagining how to interpret and express them as a character. It’s not a difficult task for me, and I often let myself do it while thinking that I can see a new side of the character.
Is that also different from when you sing your own songs? Furukawa: Not at all. When I sing my own songs, I just keep thinking about what to do (laughs). I wanted to do something like this, so I intended to write something like this. However, there are many times when I sing while thinking about how I should express it.
It’s been 4 years since you started your music career. Furukawa: When I thought about what I wanted to do as a singer, I realized that there were many genres of music that I didn’t know yet, and that I had a new view of the world. I learned that there are many different types of music, and that there are many approaches to them, so I would like to continue to dabble in genres that interest me and incorporate the nuances in them into my own music.
Then, how do you feel about your experience? Are there any difficulties in learning? Furukawa: It’s a song that I chose myself, but it’s not like I can sing it live in perfect conditions. I learned this through experience, and because I was able to see the limits of my throat and my physical strength. As I said earlier, I’ve been told that I put too much effort into it during rehearsals, so I’d like to think about how to distribute it. As for the lyrics, if I use this word at a high pitch, I will have a hard time later (laughs). I’m sure the professionals are aware of these things when writing the lyrics. From now on, I will work on it after understanding the technique of writing lyrics. However, this is an issue for the future.
I would like to ask about your privacy. Please tell us about your recent healing or change of pace. Furukawa: It’s throwing things away. I started clearing out a room that was piled up like a ravine. I saw Masayasu Wakabayashi-san from Audrey talk about how to get rid of things, and I was influenced by it. I’m happy when the garbage bag is full, happy when I can throw it away when I have a few bags, and happy when I look around the room and see how clean it is. But by the time this is published, I’ll probably be exhausted and burnt out (laughs).
Are there any health methods or health good that you use that are popular? Furukawa: I still eat natto every day. Also, I try to eat fatty fish and DHA. Also, there are health goods that I want. I have a terrible straight neck, so to fix it, I must gently stretch the sternocleidomastoid muscle, the muscle that runs from the front of the collarbone to the back of the ear. It seems that this muscle is tightened and hardened, so it seems that the neck is fixed in a state where it protrudes forward. I’m hesitant because it’s more expensive. Also, fine bubble shower. It’s a shower head that enhances detergency with fine bubbles, but it’s also expensive (laughs).
Have you thought on how to spend your New Year’s Eve? Furukawa: I’m trying to stay still (laughs). I don’t think I can go back to my parents’ house, so I just stay at home. I spent New Year’s Eve at home last year, but I want to eat New Year’s Eve by myself, so I thought I should buy something for myself, but the shops were crowded everywhere at the end of the year. Well then, when I try to ask on the internet, most were sold out. There was something like a final sale, and even if I hit repeatedly to put it in the cart, it would be sold out immediately (laughs). So, I made a reservation early this time, so I’m looking forward to New Year’s Eve. I’d like to buy groceries by New Year’s Eve, go to New Year’s visit only, and then spend the rest of the year watching TV programs as much as possible without going out.
What does the Furukawa family’s ozone taste like? Furukawa: My mother makes a very delicious ozone with chicken and root vegetables such as lotus root and taro in a soy sauce base. In addition to ozone and osechi, my mother makes simmered dishes for the New Year at my parents’ house. And boiled crabs. Since it is Kumamoto, it is mustard lotus root and horse sashimi. Just when I was feeling lonely because I couldn’t eat mochi from Kumamoto, I learned that there is an antenna shop in Ginza. The other day, I bought some mustard lotus root and went home (laughs).
What are your personal and work goals for 2022? Furukawa: Regarding work, there are still many things that are not easy, and there are places where I can’t get rid of the tension. I think that my own uneasiness about what to do if I fail is increasing my tension, but I want to eliminate it. It’s okay to be nervous because it’s important, but I want to be able to be confident when it comes to expressing myself. I would like to set this as a goal for the future rather than two years. My personal goal is to lose some weight (laughs). I’ve narrowed it down quite a bit, but… Hmmm, lately I’m addicted to persimmon and peas (laughs).
Do you feel nervous, or do you feel that it depends on the situation? Furukawa: It depends on the situation. My current tongue twister and the character I play. Sometimes I think “I may not be able to do it” or “I can’t say, I can’t even pretend.” In the case of a work that I can easily put down in my mind, or that I can come up with an alternative plan on the spot. I can proudly think that it will be something like that, but there is not one voice actor’s work that is the same. Each work has a different taste, and even the same work can change depending on the number of episodes. I sometimes think that my capacity may not keep up with such things… That makes me nervous, so I want to find a way to relieve unnecessary tension, and I want to grow so that I can deal with anything.
“We can do something on the spot.” What kind of works are you good at? Furukawa: People who show their emotions easily, people who don’t say difficult things (laughs). I think it’s simple myself, but it’s easy for people who can see what they’re trying to do, and it’s easy to understand because the actions of the characters are directly linked to the development of the story. A smart character who uses a lot of technical terms or says difficult things will be nervous because they can’t keep up with the speed of their brains. But regardless of my own brain, I often get to play smart characters (laughs). I want to do my best so that I can have content that matches.
Decorating the cover for the first time in three and a half years. By the way, how about looking at the previous cover issues? Furukawa: Three and a half years ago, I was really young (laughs). In the same issue, you also posted the jacket photo shoot for “Miserable Masquerade” (1st single released in July 2018). In that respect as well, I can sense my own growth and passage of time. This interview took place at the end of 2010, and since it was the 10th anniversary of my debut, there were a lot of serious talks, but for the serialization I’m doing on KIKI, it would be wrong to say loosely. I wonder (laughs). Anyway, I think you can see me in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s a project that I enjoy at my own pace, such as practising the guitar and doing nagashi somen in the summer. You are touching my personal part, it doesn’t contain many treasures (laughs), but I think it’s a funny series, so please read it. In addition, a photobook was published for “Kokora de Ichinose”, and I was allowed to go to Fukuoka, where I spent my time at a vocational school to take pictures. It would be great if we could make the second and third photobooks.
Finally, please give a message to your fans. Furukawa: To be very honest, I feel that the past two years were a year of overestimation of our existing image and of being swayed by it. That’s why I’ve struggled while thinking desperately about how close I could come to that image, or whether I could repaint the existing image and surpass it. As I said, I gained a lot of experience during that time, and I think it was a year in which I was able to renew myself, albeit little by little. I would like to try various things in the next two years, so please continue to support me.
Makoto Furukawa column: Happy Holidays
It’s quite difficult due to the corona crisis, but when things settle down, I’d like to visit my relatives on New Year’s Day. My grandparents who supported me have passed away, so I want to visit their graves again. When I was a kid, I was looking forward to New Year’s gifts (laughs), but now my reason for wanting to go back to my hometown has changed, and I feel like I’ve grown up.