I’ve been waiting for you! Yoshiki Nakajima, a male voice actor who is rapidly gaining popularity, has released his long-awaited first photo book! Focusing on Nagasaki Prefecture, from natural expressions to SEXY shots that have never been shown before, the charm of the subject goes beyond voice.
The inborn qualities awaken little by little. When I was a child, I was a child who stood out somewhere. When I was asked to perform “Cinderella” at a kindergarten recital. I was chosen as the prince, and at elementary school I was proactively acting as a leader and class representative. In that way, I was somehow in the middle of my class. Rather than hanging out with friends of the same age, I spent more time hanging out with the mothers, so maybe I was a little more grown-up. It may sound like a little boast, but I had been able to study and exercise normally since I was a child. It’s simply that I’m very good at getting the hang of things, and no matter what I do, I can get up to 80 points in no time. But I don’t aim beyond that point, thinking, “I’ve done this much, and if I try any further, I won’t get better, so it’s okay.” That’s why my mother used to tell me not to set limits for myself.
My first love was when I was in kindergarten. She was in the same class. At that time, I didn’t know exactly what that feeling was, and I didn’t have a girlfriend (laughs). When I was in junior high school, I wanted to be an illustrator, so I drew illustrations and made copy books with all my friends. I read all the light novels that took the world by storm. It was the time when I read the most in my life (laughs).
All qualities awaken
I’m the type of person who immediately wants to do something when I hear of it. It’s fun to think about the setting and play, and I’m satisfied with just that. It may be that I have something in common with today’s craftsmanship. In the third year of junior high school, when everyone around me started to get excited about high school entrance exams, I started walking on the path of entrance exams so that I could be swept away by that atmosphere. I went to public high school, open campuses and cultural festivals around my home and observed them. At the time, I wasn’t particularly smart, but my class attitude was serious, and if I submitted anything, I’d do well. I think my parents thought I would go to high school normally. But somewhere in my head, I had this thought: “I don’t like taking exams.” I simply didn’t like studying itself.
The turning point is summer vacation. A friend who likes anime invited me to go to the voice acting dubbing experience to make some memories because I’m going to be busy with exams. I’ve had a long relationship with that friend, and when I was in the 5th or 6th grade of elementary school, he told me for the first time he had a manga magazine other than CoroCoro Comic, Shounen Sunday, Shounen Jump, and Shounen magazine. It’s the guy who taught me. There was an article on “Fullmetal Alchemist”, which was very popular at the time, and he lent it to me, saying, “Let’s read it.” however, it wasn’t that I really liked anime at the time, and that’s why I went to the post-recording experience.
So, I invited another friend and the three of us went to Yoyogi Animation Academy, which was in Kannai, Yokohama at the time. From the audition I casually received the sudden opening of the road to becoming a voice actor. The first post-recording was just at the level of “experience”, but maybe because I didn’t shy away from it, my teacher said to me, “There’s an audition like this next time, so if you like it, why don’t you take it?” Since I was in my sensitive adolescent period, I felt embarrassed to speak in front of other people. I got an award there. That’s how it all began. At that time, I vaguely thought, “This is it.” In order to escape from high school entrance exams, I think I have this path. So, when I went home and said to my parents, “I want to go to this school because I got this award.” From my parents’ point of view, I don’t think they understood the meaning. After all, until the previous week, I was going to a high school open campus as usual, but I told them, “Please let me go to a voice acting vocational school. So, it’s good for my parents too.” Even from my point of view, “You’re the eldest son, and there are still two children younger than you. You can study…so why?” (laughs).
My parents…eventually divorced, but my father as irresponsible, for better or worse, and said, “If you want to do it, you can do it.” In the end, my parents gave in. Instead, I accepted the condition that I would not quit school or cause trouble, and at the age of 15, I decided to attend Yoyogi Animation Academy. I don’t know why I won the award at the audition. Maybe I was able to deliver even though I didn’t know, “Is this what acting is like for me?” But at the time, although I watched anime, I wasn’t the type to watch dramas, movies, or even listen to movies. No, perhaps I wasn’t judged for my acting ability, but on how loud and clear I could speak, and whether I had the courage to do so. After all, it’s a pretty high hurdle for someone in the middle of the third year in junior high school to act while being watched by people, isn’t it? What’s more, when I received the script, I was told, “Please memorize it in 30 minutes.”
Looking back, maybe I didn’t have to be a voice actor. If my friend invited me to audition for a song, I might have aimed to become a singer. I might have said, “In short, I wanted an escape.” I didn’t have a very good home environment, so I wanted to breathe the air outside for as long as possible, and I wanted to rebel against my parents…now that’s what I think. Choosing my own path was a big first rebellion for me.
Of course, now my parents support me in this work, I think. My parents have always loved anime, and I think it was my mother who taught me about voice actors. My mother used to draw cartoons. When she asked why I knew that I found the manuscript when I was cleaning the house. I asked my mother, “What is this?” She replied, “That’s the one I drew a long time ago.” Maybe I’m influenced by that (laughs).
The groundwork for acting that has not changed since I build it during my three years as a student. When I was in vocational school, I was really blessed with people. I was 15 years old, so everyone was older than me, and the oldest was 26-27 (laughs). In spite of that, everyone treated me very kindly, and when I was rubbed, it felt like I had sharp corners removed. In class, I often had my nose broken (laughs). At that time, I was somehow in the centre of the class, and I was put in charge of directing during stage training, and I was entrusted with managing the entire production.
After entering school, I had a lot of culture shock. I didn’t have much preconceived notions or knowledge about acting or voice acting, so was constantly surprised by things like, “He really says, “Amanpo is red,” and “He really does “street selling.” For those who have even a little knowledge of this industry, I think they have the feeling that they are going to do this, but I couldn’t even read in the first place (laughs). At that time, the audition to appear in the actual site was passed by 100%. Various students from the Tokyo main school, Osaka, Sapporo, Hiroshima schools, etc. participated, but I was called an “audition troll” because I beat all the students who were considered excellent. It is also true that I had the feeling that I would be accepted. So, I think I was on top of things (laughs). 2 years at Yoyogi Animation School and 1 year at 81 Actor’s Studio, my training school for 81 Produce, 3 years in total is very important to me.
It was a great time. The foundation of my current play was created there. Plow the barren land and make it straight. Since I started to go to the site, I built or demolished the land, or expanded the building, but the foundation has not changed at all. When I think about it, these three years were a time that I could never have had in my high school life. If I had entered high school, I might have wasted my time. Well, it’s an afterthought, so if it weren’t for the current situation, I wouldn’t be able to say it, but… However, I strongly believe that there was no point in going on to higher education without any purpose just because everyone else is going.
Of course, I was apprehensive about going down this path. 81 Actor’s Studio is called a regular course, and when I finished my first year of classes, I take auditions to decide my future course. If you pass, you’ll be in the research student class, or you’ll skip it and join an agency, but of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll pass. That’s why I made up my mind that if I didn’t get a job with an agency through that audition, I’d give up on the path of being a voice actor. I was impatient because of my age. That fact that I have three years before the regular course means that it is time for my classmates who entered high school to move towards university entrance exams. So, if I fail the audition, I will study hard from there and go to university.
As a result, I was lucky that I skipped the research student class and joined the office. At that time, there were about 120 students in the regular course, and 30 advanced to the research student class. Me and one other person were the only ones who skipped the research student status and joined the department. It was 2 out of 120 people. I was waiting after debuting as a voice actor.
Four years of darkness and turning points
I was 18 years old when I joined 81 Produce. The next four years were, so to speak, a dark period. I didn’t have a job at all. I went straight to my affiliation and achieved one of my goals, so I thought, “I’m the only one who can get results, I just want to appear in anime.” I realized that I wouldn’t get it. I really didn’t get one. The self-confidence and self-esteem that I had cultivated over that time snapped and broke, and then I went to the next site while still broken, and then broke again. I felt like I was going to break even though I had only a little bit of my heart left.
The first major setback I experience, I kept thinking, “This month I won’t even get 1 yen.” I can’t eat because I have no income, but I can’t read my schedule and I can’t even work part-time. It was a time when I was neither a voice actor nor a part-timer, I was who I was, but I didn’t have a job. I always wanted to quit, but I didn’t even have the courage to quit. I can’t tell anyone that I want to quit. When I first joined the agency, I thought, “It doesn’t matter that I’m thin, I want to work in this industry for a long time.”
The first site after joining the office was the animation “Medaka Box.” When I looked around the studio, people who heard my voice once were lined up. It is a very good memory that the manager did not come to the scene despite the delicate timing of my affiliation before the formal announcement of my affiliation with the agency (laughs). Thanks to the seniors from the office, I was able to get through without any problems, but I still felt lonely.
In the summer of my first year with the company, I received an anime regular for the first time in my life. That is “Chousoku Henkei Gyrosetter”. It is a one-year animation that was unusual for me at the time, being broadcast in a cool series. What I got there was really big. Also, I must not forget the dubbing of movies and foreign dramas. It is no exaggeration to say that my work was saved in the field of foreign dramas. The director of the work took notice of me, and sometimes called me to the scene, and he invited me to the audition, so I was really grateful. That’s how I lived relying on good lines.
At that time, the first big project that was decided was “The Idolmaster SideM”. But I never thought that I would end up playing Jiro Yamashita (laughs). At the audition site, I was suddenly told, “Jiro Yamashita, please try it.” At that time, I often played a type like Teturo Nagumo from “Ensemble Stars!” (laughs) Thankfully, the popularity of “Ensemble Stars!” has steadily increased since its release. From that point onwards, the dark ages gradually came to an end, and a sense of self-affirmation began to grow.
About the type of women he likes and his pet cat Tetora
Do you want to hear stories about love as well? The type of women I like is that when I introduce them to a friend, they say, “I love you,” rather than people who are tall and beautiful, or who are models or actresses. I like people who can do it (laughs). As for the faces, since I have dark eyes, I think it would be better if it was light. Maybe you’re looking for something you don’t have. Also, I’m the type to take care of others, so I think it’s better to be a little out of the way. I feel cute. Maybe because of that, I end up in a position like a mother (laughs).
Even when talking my private life, me, and my cat Tetora are inseparable. Tetora came to our house in December 2016. I always thought I was allergic to cats. When I was a child, I went to a friend’s house who had a cat, and my eyes were so itchy that I thought I was going to die, and I started sneezing. That’s why I always avoided cats. However, when it came to appearing in a video content broadcast live at a cat café called “Nekorobi Danshi” starring Atsushi Kosaka, Yusuke Shirai, and Daiki Hamano, I decided to take an allergy test just in case. When I took the test, my cat allergy score was zero! That’s why Tetora is the one who welcomed us right away.
I’ve always wanted a pet. I used to have a dog at home, so I thought it would be nice to have a dog, but since I spend a lot of time away from home at work, I thought a cat would be better. The reason I chose Bengal for the breed is simply because I thought it was cute when I was shown a picture of Kensho Ono-san’s Bengal (laughs).
After I started raising Tetora, I got Saki, a Scottish Fold. Tetora is a spoiled child who doesn’t like being alone, so I decided to keep her as a friend. The encounter was a pet shop where I went to buy Tetora’s things. Saki-chan was the oldest cat there, and she seemed to have been there at a fairly cheap price. I decided, “If she says until the day after tomorrow, I’ll take her home.” I got her. Saki-chan, when I saw her at the store, she was really quiet, but when she came home, she was completely different, and I was wearing a cat (laughs). She seems to like being aloof, and when Tetora gets close to her, she becomes intimidating (laughs). By the way, the origin of the name Saki-chan is that there was a flower attached to her collar that she wore at the pet shop. Now the house is lively with her, and it’s like a self-service cat café (laughs).
The circle of work expands by valuing connections
Thankfully, since around 2016, I have been called by “Yoshiki Nakajima.” The content of my work has increased. Everyone who invited me to try making things must have had the courage to do so (laughs). Because I didn’t have anything to sell at the time. Then, when asked which work was the turning point, it was all of them (laughs). If I had to pick one, it would be the 2018 anime “Hinamatsuri” that I played the lead role in. For the first time, I thought, “I’m going to pass the audition” (laughs). Kaito (Ishikawa), a member of Nikukai (a group of voice actors and meat eaters), said when “Hinamatsuri” was decided, “Ah, everyone will find Yoshiki-kun. I was happy that you were looking at me like that.
At meat gatherings, I often act as the secretary. Because everyone doesn’t want to do it (laughs). You have that kind of power. When I talk about going out to dinner with someone, I say, “Then when do you want to go?” That’s one of the things I learned on the set of foreign dramas. As a foreigner, I value my relatives very much, and have a bit of an athletic flair that says, “Be sure to show up at drinking parties.” That’s why I try not to refuse invitations from people. If you do so, it will lead to a natural relationship. For example, Takeshi Kamo-san, who was a staff member of the app game “Shironeko Project”, where I played the role of Zack, approached me when he became independent, and the apparel brand “True Self” was born. Sei Kuwabara-san of Arte Refact, the music producer of “Ensemble Stars!”, launched Sir Vanity. It’s a strange flow, isn’t it? (laughs)
The fact that I like to talk to people may also be a factor in creating connections. When I talk to people, the important thing to keep in mind is to “never deny.” There are people who often respond with “but” to what other people say. At first, that was my type of answer. I can’t help but I want to talk about myself (laughs). But I reflected on it and changed it to say, “That’s right.” Because I think it’s very important to affirm the other person. I used to do it consciously. I have time, but now I can do it naturally. The reason I came to think that way was because of the darkness at the time, everything looked negative. I can’t accept myself, and I can’t accept what I can’t accept. Even when someone gave me advice, saying, “What if you do this?” However, when I got out of that dark period and had some leeway in my mind and money, I became able to honestly talk to people. That’s probably why I do a lot of talking work, like radio, video, and MC.
Making the most of the given environment and maximizing the output
When you look at it this way, I often get triggered by people and move. Producing fashion for True Self, music activities for UMake (music unit with Kent Itou) and Sir Vanity (with Yuichirou Umehara) is also the reason why I became a lyricist. Since there would be a lot of work between us, I said, “Why don’t I try writing the lyrics?” Itou-san says, “If you have the lyrics, I can make a song,” so he did (laughs). That’s amazing. The lyrics are self-taught. My background in writing was probably influenced by the theatre company I was in in my early twenties. At that time, I had many opportunities to experience my creative side, such as writing scripts and directing. I felt like it was out of necessity (laughs).
Like when I wrote lyrics for UMake and Sir Vanity, and when I wrote the script for the drama cd Octave!! Side Over Run!! I strongly feel that it is important to deliver it to everyone properly. At the end of the day, you won’t know if the person who made it will enjoy it until he sees it. What kind of expressions do you have on what you sent, and whatever it is, I will accept it. Even if the opinion is “I don’t like it”, it doesn’t change the fact that he shook my heart, right?
When it comes to making things, I don’t have a lot of things like “I have to do this.” Because the work is not something I make by myself. To use an anime analogy, there is the original author, the person writes the proposal, and the person who crates the screenplay and video…A lot of people spend time by building it. our role is only a small part of the process. I believe that professionals are those who can flexibly switch between them according to the situation, precisely because they have so many thoughts on them. Of course, I have ideas and things I want to do. However, even if there are doubts, once you are convinced, you will understand. It’s the same when writing lyrics. When I receive requests such as “I shouldn’t put words here” or “I want to add lyrics”, I try to answer “yes”. That flexibility was also cultivated during the Dark Ages. At the time, there were a lot of jobs that didn’t need to be mine. There is no point in talking about someone who is not that kind of person, someone who cannot become anyone. Instead of whining, I think, “Let’s hurry up and go home!” (laughs) I mean, it’s smoother that way, and it’s cool to be able to respond flexibly.
Walk with the flow of time. With the road ahead.
If anime, games, and dubbing are the stars of my work as a voice actor, I think that the work derived from that is a reward to me. Reading dramas, events, radio, video, content, True Self, UMake, and Sir Vanity activities. “I’ve worked hard as a voice actor, so there’s a way for me.” Also, I’m a curious person, so I was interested in how things like radio and my apparel came to be. Above all, I should know. That’s how I felt.
However, there are times when the spotlight hits and criticizes such activities. Since I started True Self, I’ve been like that. As a human being, I think it’s very important to experience various things and do things that you enjoy. That’s why I don’t want my juniors to be timid when they come across an opportunity. I often tell everyone, “It’s a waste to hurt yourself by saying I’m a voice actor.” That experience will live in front of the microphone, and I don’t think I have any experience that shouldn’t be done. There are some experiences that I don’t have to dare to do (laughs). Recently, young people who feel that they have no work to do and have free time, I think you should try a theatre company or an independent production. It is better to experience the pain of birth there. Book a place yourself, make a pamphlet for yourself, buy a ticket… I think that experience will be very useful.
Since many seniors paved the way for me, we are now in an era where voice actors who have been called behind the scenes will gradually come to the forefront. I think that the framework of being a voice actor, being an actor, or being an entertainer is gradually disappearing with the passage of time. Now, when I started this job 10 years ago, I couldn’t have imagined this, and 10 years from now, I will be completely different from now… I feel that way.
In a world that moves at a dizzying pace, the axis that remains constant within me is the play. I will never lose that feeling. After all, I really like acting. Now matter how thin the shaft it, if it sticks somewhere, all you must do is think about how to express it. I think I am really lucky to be blessed with an environment where I can output.