Chikahiro Kobayashi (Anium Premium Vol. 4 2019)

小林 親弘

I would like to start the interview. Thank you very much. It’s kind of sudden, but Kobayashi-san is like a hero to me. Kobayashi: I’m happy. Why?

When I was watching the work, I felt like, “It’s been a long time since you’ve been an actor. Seeing the performance made me feel very warm. Kobayashi: Thank you very much.

As a viewer, I felt that template acting has been increasing in recent anime works, so I guess I was taken aback by Kobayashi-san’s acting. I was wondering what you wanted to see. Kobayashi: Thank you very much. Even if it was a template performance, it may be because that performance is required on set. They didn’t buy it, not just in the anime and voice acting industry, but in watching TV dramas and stage performances as well.

Do you also feel the trends in acting? Kobayashi: I feel it. It’s not about good or bad, it’s all about what you like, but I wanted to aim for something other than that. After that, young people should not do big things. I think there is a trend. I have a situation where I suppress my individuality and take a job. The stage is the stage, and I have my own standard of “skill”, and the voice actor also has such skills that are said to be plausible. It may come out.

I often think it’s plastic. Kobayashi: Do you really feel that way?

I feel like I’m flattering you, production, and actors. But Kobayashi-san felt different, and you were. I was curious if a good actor appeared, so I interviewed you this time. Kobayashi: I’m very happy to be praised. I really feel that there are people who can convey what I’ve been through at times like this. I’m currently involved in “Beastars”. There may be times when you feel like, “Do you want to do that?” Sometimes I think, “That’s true.” That’s because “Beastars” was recorded in the form of presco. I recorded the voice with a gun mic, but it was a special format where the actors looked at each other’s faces while recording with a few pictures. They actually grabbed me, held my hand and talked. After it was over, I really felt the change, thinking, “The lines have changed so much.” For that reason, the dialogue is different from the anime works I usually watch. I think some people got caught in the tone.

The impression of the play changes depending on the recording format. Kobayashi: It’s also interesting to change. There were times when I changed what I prepared according to the exchanges between the actors, and I felt that I was a Parisian when it came to performing arts.”

There is also a section that has become a mere form of animation production. Is fear the reason why they don’t fight? Kobayashi: There is fear, so take the safe one.

Isn’t that right? Kobayashi: I think.

If you come after getting rid of the fear of the industry, you may be able to see a world where you can pursue more interesting things. Kobayashi: That’s right. Standard is fine.

Exploring is important, isn’t it? Kobayashi: It’s about “acting” like an anime. I don’t think injury is the right answer.

I think that if you stick to something or get swayed by tends too much, it will become obsolete. Kobayashi: I think so. Unless you are stubborn to some extent, you will not be able to maintain yourself, and you will also need to take on new challenges. I started to realize that I wanted to do it. It may work as a job, but it’s difficult. It’s kind of cramped, it’s difficult, isn’t it? It’s easy to understand if you compare it to a ramen shop. I thought and pursued the taste of ramen. It’s fine if you put out.

If ramen doesn’t win, you might say, “Let’s serve curry, let’s serve sushi” the customer is coming. Kobayashi: But it seems that people who want to eat real ramen are no longer coming.

If you care too much about customer needs, the value will go down. Kobayashi: Maybe, by the way, you’ve been watching a lot about this industry. Do you check every cool anime?

Check. But lately, I haven’t watched anime at all. Kobayashi: That’s the reason, after all.

Anime is now being used more and more as an advertisement, and the content is not good. It makes me feel like I’m drinking diluted cola. This is just my opinion. Kobayashi: It is so.

The work is also losing its diversity. Kobayashi: I feel like I understand. When I go drinking with Yoshimasa Hosoya-san, I often talk about this. Arbitrarily judging things that are familiar to one’s ears and judging those that are familiar to one’s ears is dangerous. This applies not only to the industry, but also to politics and religion, and I sometimes feel that people’s ability to see and make decisions for themselves is declining. I think it’s dangerous to be biased, so I always try to ask myself this question. It is necessary to see and think for yourself. There are times when you flatter yourself and get more work, but in my case, it was more the case that things didn’t go well. Of course, it’s important to respond to requests, but on a separate axis, it’s better to have what you want to pursue as an actor. Let’s stop being trapped by something. After I came up with that idea, I was able to pass auditions.

So that was the breakthrough. Kobayashi: In the end, yes. I get evaluations from directors who have the same idea.

But there was a time when Kobayashi-san was flattered by something. It was surprising. Kobayashi:I thought that was the correct answer. At first, especially when I entered the world of voices from the stage, everyone said the lines with the same feeling, and I thought, “Is that what I have to do?” But I can’t get rid of the discomfort inside me. There were many people who said, “That’s what voice actors do.” When I started thinking about what would happen if I tried to do what I wanted to do in theatre as well, I felt like I was breaking out of my shell, and something changed.

It’s completely subjective, but as you explore, you’ll come to the point where you can tell the difference between the real thing and the fake. Kobayashi: Yes. I think each person is fine. Pursuing what theatre is, emphasizing how to appeal to the world, you are free to choose any of them, but I wanted to act with my own ideals and beliefs, that’s all. Well, I didn’t know that this kind of story could be published in a magazine. I ended up talking with Hosoya-san, saying, “No one will understand me (laughs).”

Kobayashi-san gave me a sense of the confidence that come from having performed so many times. Kobayashi: I think it was a big part of what I came up with from the stage. They will help you.

When you see a lot of actors, can’t you tell what kind of person they are just by acting? Kobayashi: I can understand it, whether it’s seniors and juniors. There are many people who say, “I came here to pursue a play that responds to what is required of me.”

You can sell it, you can’t sell it. Kobayashi: There are people who are selling well and are doing well, and there are people who are doing well even if they are not selling well, so I can’t say for sure, but what I want to cherish the most is acting. It’s just that I want to pursue acting, and now I’m making a living from acting. However, whether or not someone is a senior or junior, you can tell at once. Just one word and you’ll understand. Output accuracy.

Is that so, Kobayashi-san, are you good at expressing exactly what you have in mind? Kobayashi: Hmm, it doesn’t matter if you are good at it or not. If you were to ask me if I was able to capture it accurately, I might not be very confident. If there is a misalignment, it will not be conveyed.

Just like in baseball, is the trajectory of the bat you envisioned actually being swung properly? Kobayashi: I think people who make fewer errors are good people. I still can’t do it accurately, so I have a long way to go. But I feel that the output is closer to what I imagined than when I became an actor.

There is such a thing as output accuracy. Does reproducibility matter so much in a play? Kobayashi: Yes, I think it is very difficult to deal with reproducibility when it comes to voice work. Rather than reproducing the same thing, I feel that living in that place is more important. It may be better not to place importance on reproducibility.

Maybe that’s why the number of imitation-like performance has increased. Kobayashi: It may be a bad word, but I think there is. There is a popular image that if you say something like this to an old woman, you will hear it that way. I guess I must symbolize it. It’s very difficult, but I think it’s more important to be able to properly express what the character has.

In recent anime, characters often end up together, and I feel that there is a lot of superficial acting. Kobayashi: Genuine and authentic.

Thinking about various animations, it’s interesting to have a stage writer write a script. Kobayashi: That’s right. Anime works created through discussions between stage writers are quite interesting. Is that good?

Certainly, anime works in recent years tend to lose that aspect. Kobayashi: I think there is also a need for viewers.

Would you say that you want an idol that is convenient for you? It seems that animation is used for that. It’s difficult, isn’t it? Kobayashi: I think that people all want a base.

After all, it is a difference of belief, so there are people who regard it as a good thing. Each of them has a different definition of genuine. Kobayashi: When I try to find the meaning of my life and the meaning of aiming to be an actor, I want to be “real”. If I see it, I might die.

Kobayashi-san, are you afraid of your own death? Kobayashi: It’s scary. It’s really scary, but when it comes to my awareness of death, there are many different parts of me that think, “I don’t care.” I would be very scared if it happened, and I don’t like the pain. Five or six years ago, when I was working part-time at a hospital, an actor who was my senior passed away. We were relatively close in age and were on good terms, so we talked a lot, but one day he got cancer. About thirty-six or thirty-seven years old. He was as old as I am now. He started saying, “My back hurts,” and before I knew it, he was in the final stage. But after being diagnosed with three months to live, he lived for 2 years and was so energetic that he participated in the book reading until three days before he died. Listen to the recording  of the reading voice at that time, I thought I was fine before “Humans don’t know when they will die.” The feeling of “What is this?” sprouts inside of me. I’m scared of many things, but I think it’s a waste not to anything. That’s why, even when it comes to voice work, I always say, “Let’s do what we think.” I feel like it’s in the root. It was a very big event.

Also, my older brother, who was two years older than me, died of a stroke when he was thirty-three. Until now, when I go home at the end of the year, everyone is usually there, but at time, only my brother wasn’t there. I was thinking, “I won’t be able to see this year,” but my parents were trembling and said, “I need to talk to you, but I’m in the intensive care unit right now.” Luckily, I was saved, but I thought it might die at that time. After that, I went to the hospital and said, “My brother is here.” I saw it right in front of my eyes. We met normally two or three months ago. And then, being stunned even I thought it might not be more, the human being dies without being dumbfounded. Since I had such experiences one after another, I thought, “I don’t know when I will die.”

Do those experiences influence your play? Kobayashi: Yes, it did. I can’t help it. I’m going to die someday anyway, so I’ll do my best. When the play partner is serious, you’ll want to return what you deserve.

I think as an amateur, in terms of exchange, it’s easier to feel it on stage. In terms of heat, it’s easier to feel it on stage, you know. Kobayashi: Yes, after all, the stage is the only place where you can directly feel things like body temperature and breathing.

No, I’m so happy to be able to talk like this… Exactly what I imagined. Kobayashi: Wrong. After the interview ended by saying something blander (laughs).

It would have been better to have asked my boom (laughs). Kobayashi: No, not at all. Let’s go.

Kobayashi-san has always lived as an actor. Do you have a desire to do something? Kobayashi: I’m trying my best to finish it. From now on, whatever the form of expression, I want to put something on it. I honestly don’t know what that will look like. I obediently follow what interests me or what I think is interesting at that time. I think it’s better to say. If I continue to be an actor even when I’m old, I want to say to myself, “You’ve done well.” It would be nice if I could continue with the attitude of doing my best at what is in front of me. it’s vague, but I want to act every day as much as possible so that I won’t have any regrets even if I die tomorrow.

I see. There are also ephemeral thoughts. Kobayashi: Perhaps even if it piles up, I wish I could be true to it. I want to cherish my doubts and things that I want to do more. I don’t know if that’s what it means to be an actor, but I really like acting, so I’d be happy if I could continue acting like this. It all started when I joined a drama club at university. I feel like the moment has come. I wish I could continue to be an actor. Let’s become something concrete.

What? Kobayashi: You can’t beat me for saying this.

I won’t get hit. There are many such people. Kobayashi: Really.

It’s dangerous to be caught up in things like “It’s wonderful to have a tangible goal!” While it is wonderful, it is also dangerous if it is over-glamourized. Kobayashi: I think so. If I aim for something tangible, I feel like I’m acting out of a desire for status, so I don’t get too close to that way of thinking. However, there are times when you can do what you want to do if you are evaluated by various people, so this cannot be said unconditionally. Of course, I also want to be evaluated. Which one should I choose, the ingenuity to make it easy to understand, or acting? What? If you want to make money, you often must choose the former.

Public is difficult. Kobayashi: Picasso’s paintings were also appreciated by those who appreciate art, so the awareness of “Picasso is amazing” grew and many people recognized him. For example, I think there are a surprisingly large number of people who are shown Guemica without any knowledge and think, “I don’t need 100 yen for this.”

That’s right. I think that artists are often evaluated after death. Kobayashi: I don’t mind, but it’s better when you’re alive. I want to be praised. I want to be praised right now (laughs). People who died without being evaluated would have wanted evaluation in their lifetime. But what is it? still, I want to do what I want to do. That’s all. There’s always risks.

Certainly. Kobayashi: I do what I am asked to do, and I also put energy into what I want to do. It would be nice if I could do both. As a preface, I think that earning money as a job and living in the world of entertainment down to whether you can provide what many people want. If you do that, it will be difficult for you to go on an adventure, sold in the past. If there is a certain product, we will inevitably go along with it and create a similar product, which makes it difficult to take on the challenge. After debuting, depending on what is expected of us, we will be happy and sad about it, but after three or four years, a new person will come out and take our place. It’s so barren, I think.

 It’s barren, isn’t it? Kobayashi-san, what kind of child were you in your childhood? Kobayashi: I was a problem child, especially in elementary school.

You are very calm now, so I wonder if it’s been a long time. Kobayashi: Not at all. After I entered junior high school, I was in a dark place. I was reading all the time. It was a time of intense waves. I guess I was afraid of people and lacked self-confidence. Second and third junior high school. It was a very dark from 1988 until the end of high school. When I met people who knew me from elementary school, they would say something like, “Kobayashi, what happened? Huh, what?”

Is that so? It was surprising. Kobayashi: My friends who liked anime invited me to play card games, and I was just like, “Okay, let’s play” (laughs).

Kobayashi-san, what kind of environment were you born and raised in? Kobayashi: In a family of four, I’m the second son. I grew up in a place called Nisshin City, Aichi prefecture. At that time, wild raccoon dogs were common. Now that development has progressed, there was a time when it had the highest population growth rate.

Do you like your hometown? Kobayashi: I love it. I go back to my hometown from time to time, but every time I do, the townscape changes a lot. Supermarkets and hot spring facilities have been built where there used to be mountains, and the number of roads has increased.

I know you’re kind of lonely. Did you want to be an actor from an early age? Kobayashi: I really liked movies. My mother was a fan of foreign movies, and we used to watch movies together when I was little. It was on TV. I watched it without fail, and since it was only Tuesdays, I was like, “What is this?”

You didn’t show much interest in Tuesday suspense (laughs). Kobayashi: I thought, “You’re always cornered by a cliff” (laughs). Even though I was in elementary school, I thought about it, so I must have been cornered by a cliff.

Haven’t you seen anime? Kobayashi: That’s why I didn’t really watch it. I used to watch “Sangokushi” and “Doraemon”, but for some reason I became embarrassed to watch anime around the fifth grade of elementary school. Evangelion was popular even when I was in junior high school. however, even if they were recommended to me, I would not watch it at all. I don’t know, but I think I was trying to be cool. But now that I think about it, I should have watched more anime. Watching “World Masterpieces Theatre” on Netflix is really interesting. I was just a bookworm back then.

Are you a bookworm? What were you reading? Kobayashi: Osamu Dazai and others. In Japanese language textbooks, there are one or two works by literary masters. I happened to have a lot of books at home, and I used to read Eiji Yoshikawa’s Sangokushi and Suikoden, although I wasn’t really a reader. I was even told to “read more”.

You were influenced by your mother. Kobayashi: I think it’s affected me.

Did your father influence you? Kobayashi: What about my father?

Do you have similar personalities? Kobayashi: I don’t know. Sometimes I feel that our laughter is similar. Sometimes I feel like, “Ah, this is my father’s way of laughing.” My father was a car mechanic and came home late every day, so I didn’t get to see him often. I like gardening, so I’m often asked to help on Sundays, but it’s a real hassle. I was often scolded when I said, “Famicom is better!” (laughs)You were on good terms with your family. Kobayashi: That’s right. My brother and I used to have silly fights. It’s known as the NES save data slot problem. I couldn’t beat my brother in strength, so I got really frustrated… I often punched holes in the walls of my room. Even now, when I go back to my parents’ house, there are traces of filling the holes.

I have it at my house too (laughs). Kobayashi: I guess I had a lot of energy (laughs). I caused a lot of trouble. I had a lot to say.

I get it. Kobayashi: Then, my cram schoolteacher contacted me and said, “Kobayashi-kun, you haven’t come to cram school today.”

Were you scared? Kobayashi: I was terrified. The lights in the room were all turned off. “Kuh, it’s dark.” If you say, “I’m home” without knowing that you’ve been found out, you’ll be asked “Where have you really been?” I don’t think I’m being found out, so I say “Juku Juku~”. But they found out. They got really angry. I was kicked.

Haha (laughs). Kobayashi: But I also aware that I had something apologetic, so I just kept crouching for a while.

It’s really fun when you think about it. I heard that you spent time in Aichi from junior high school to high school, but did you go on to university? Kobayashi: I did. This is about my father, but my father’s mother died when my father was in the first grade of elementary school, so he had to support the household and started working immediately after graduating from junior high school. He came to Nagoya from Nagano, stayed in a dormitory and worked from the age of 15, and didn’t go on to higher education after junior high school. He seems to have had an academic complex. When I said, “I’m in junior high school,” he made a fool of me. Because of that, he told me, “I definitely want you to go to university,” so I think I went to university just to make that face stand out. Honestly, when I was in high school, I kind of thought about it. There is no point in studying ordinary subjects. Besides, I’m not interested in anything. But when I went to university because of my obligations, I was able to encounter theatre, so the results were good.

It’s a chance encounter. Kobayashi: I think it’s really a coincidence.

How did you first come across theatre? Kobayashi: It happened by chance. My university had an equestrian club, and I liked animals, so I was thinking about joining the equestrian club. Beside me people from the drama club were handing out leaflets with great force, saying, “There are only four members. All you must do is show your face, so please come.” I went to the club room, and suddenly the welcome performance began. It’s like… “I can’t leave in the middle of this…” (laughs). That’s what surprised me. I was surprised because I’ve never seen people perform so hard from such a close distance. I thought, “Wow, this might be interesting,” so I joined the club. At first, I was a stage helper on stage. But since there were only four of us, we were like, “We don’t have any actors.” Self-proclaimed Japan’s toughest drama club.

Self-proclaimed. Kobayashi: Now that I think about it, it’s really self-proclaimed, but it was funny. It was normal to stay overnight, go to training camps, and be forced to run 5km every day. It was my first time taking the test, so it was tough.

Didn’t you join club activities when you were in middle school of high school? Kobayashi: When I was in junior high school, I was in the table tennis club, but it was by no means comparable. Theatre was the hardest for me. I think I said to my family, “I’ve lived for nineteen years, so it must have been too much of a shock.”

It’s really rude, but don’t you have a very gloomy image of the drama club? But when I was in junior high school, I had this prejudice that I didn’t know what the drama club was doing. Kobayashi: I totally understand. I had the same image.

Unlike sports club activities, it’s hard to understand what it is without practise. Kobayashi: It’s difficult, isn’t it? The self-proclaimed toughest drama club in Japan has a set of guidelines. It’s like, “This is a good play. Just be smooth and always move according to every line.” (laughs) When I think about it now, I think, “That’s strange! They get really angry at me,” and I’m like, “What is this?” At the training camp, I was taken deep into the mountains and made to sit on tatami mats. Each person should try to express their emotions in 10 levels with just their faces. Even if you desperately say “Yes!” you are not suited for acting. “It’s not suitable.”

I see. Kobayashi: It’s serious and life-risking. Everyone tried desperately, but no matter what they did, they would deny it. I was yelled at a lot of times, saying, “No, you’re wrong!” But I did my best, thinking, “The only way to become an actor is to overcome these tough trails and training camps.” Now that I think about it, it’s not like that at all.

But you didn’t quit. Kobayashi: That’s right. I didn’t quit, even though it was hard.

All the other college students are playing… Kobayashi: University! It’s a joint party! All the while, I suffered from not being able to express my emotions in 10 levels, and I was constantly being yelled at… It was like joining the military. However, I think I learned through theatre the importance of putting all our effort into dealing with such “aimless things” and facing them seriously without hesitation. Even if it’s forced, I’m going to put this much passion into it.

It’s important, isn’t it? The experience of working hard without thinking about any reason. Kobayashi: However, my self-esteem has plummeted.

But that’s how much you got into theatre. Kobayashi: I was totally absorbed in it. I put so much effort into theatre that I was only able to get two credits in my second year of university. Scramble for mounts, quarrel over very small things, and confront each other’s immaturity. The script is slow to come up, the lighting is not working right, that’s us actors. That’s what made me want to go to Tokyo. I wondered what it would be like to see people who are said to be good at it and people who are actually active. Tokyo. There are as many groups as there are stars in the sky, and I can see a lot of things, and I don’t know, but I thought I could get better.

Your parents wanted you to continue acting and move to Tokyo. Didn’t you oppose them? Kobayashi: I was against it for a long time. My mother was relatively okay with it, and my father was like, “Come back in three years or so if nothing happens.” But my brother didn’t really object. When I said that, I think he said, “Isn’t that great?” In the end, my parents also said, “Just do as much as I can, but they won’t pay for it.” After that, I knocked on the gates of the theatre troupe En’s training school, and there were people with a wide range of ages, as well as talented actors such Ken Watanabe-san and Isao Hashizume-san. For that decided, I decided to take the exam at the training school as a trial. That’s nostalgic. It’s already been thirteen years ago.

Did it go by fast? Kobayashi: It’s already gone by in a blink of an eye.

Did you have any worries about your life when you came to Tokyo? Kobayashi: I must have thought that I could do something about it. Perhaps you are the type to jump in without thinking too much about the future. I was worried when I jumped in, but I was like, “Oh, come on!” Immediately after I came to Tokyo, I knocked on the door of the theatre troupe En, but I thought, “If I work hard for a year or two and don’t make it, I’m not that big of a deal.” I was working on it.

You decided to knock on the door because you wanted something that you lacked. Kobayashi: Yes, rather than becoming an actor, it was more like “I want to be good at something…” I’m really clumsy no matter what I do. Because there are so many. Even if I get criticized, I think, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Did you lose your role? Kobayashi: I was dropped. I was told, “I didn’t get it at all, and I couldn’t fix it, so I quit.” No, no answer. I thought that if I continued like this, I would not be able to become a good actor. I want to see more people acting.

Have you seen what practise is for actors now? Kobayashi: The first is to get your body used to the words. Then, when you say it out loud, check to see if your image matches your voice. It is self-rehearsal that goes as far as bringing it to the scene while grasping only the core. Lately I’ve been thinking that it’s old.

You didn’t know that at the time. Kobayashi: I didn’t understand at all. I wonder if it’s good. You say it’s out of the question? Even though I realized that the plays I was doing for some reason didn’t reach the acting of the actors I had seen in the movies, I wondered why it didn’t.

Is that so. At the time, did you ever feel jealous of other actor’s acting skills? Kobayashi: Yes, especially when I was in my twenties.

Genuinely admit defeat, not envy as well? Kobayashi: That’s right. This person is amazing. I can’t do this at all.

So, you weren’t able to catch up? Kobayashi: There are still some people who have not been able to win within themselves.

You’ve become an insurmountable opponent. Kobayashi: Well, I can’t pass, maybe. I wonder if the day will come when I think I’ve made it through.

Did you become a member of the troupe? Kobayashi: First, I went to the training school of the theatre troupe En. From there, there was an audition for affiliation. If there are good people among them, they will become affiliated, but in our period, there were six people left. That’s right. It was there that I first joined the En troupe.

From there, you devoted yourself to theatrical performances. Kobayashi: I’m working hard on the job while I’m doing my best and standing on the stage, I’m trying things like this and that.

I wonder what the life of a stage performer is actually like. Kobayashi: Well, everyone says there is no money.

It’s a part-time job and parallel days. Kobayashi: Unless your family is very wealthy, you definitely will. I was envious of them because I thought, “I’ll have more time to concentrate on my acting.”

There is a difference. Kobayashi: I thought it was good, but I couldn’t get it even if I wanted it, so I felt like I had to it myself.

Partly because you were determined to act, you didn’t even feel isolated. Kobayashi: No, but the electricity was often cut off. I ran out of time, and I was behind on my rent for about two months.

You were allowed to stay late. Kobayashi: No, no. they were really angry. Ultimately relying on consumer finance…

That’s what you must do, isn’t it? Kobayashi: I had no choice but to do that. When I finished repaying the rent, the blue sky was beautiful when I saw it. “I’m free! I don’t have to go back anymore.”

It’s a good story because you were able to return it. You mentioned that you don’t have money, but for those who aspire to become actors, it seems that hardships are unavoidable. Kobayashi: What do you think?

As for your own hardships, it was worth it. Kobayashi: I thought it was good, but I don’t want to do it if I don’t have to do it. But now I don’t know what I needed, and I didn’t need, and I wonder how I fell. If I didn’t have one thing, I wouldn’t be able to eat here now.

It will also be a consequentialist story. Kobayashi-san, even when watching the stage, do you feel white? Kobayashi: It varies, maybe.

The fun of the stage is also up to the audience. When I was a child, I used to think that performing on stage was boring. Kobayashi: I also think that the work is easy to understand. I also think that anything that everyone finds interesting is dangerous.

That’s right. By the way, Kobayashi-san, what made you enter the voice acting industry? Kobayashi: It all started when I received a phone call from my manager during my travel performance and he said, “We’re doing a Korean drama next week.” It was dubbed, and that’s what got me started. You must go to the studio, do what you don’t know, and do your best to work out what you’ve been given. Since it’s my job, I do my best not to cause trouble and not to steal everyone’s time, but as I go along, I go through a period of time when I wonder if it’s better to imitate everyone else. From there, I thought, “That’s right, I think I can do more like this.”

In terms of your career, dubbing came before anime, right? Were you surprised when you first heard about anime? Kobayashi: Anime is different from dubbing, and I was surprised at how cool and cute everyone was. It’s amazing that he’s acting with a voice that sounds like I’ve seen him on TV. I also thought that if I didn’t do this, it wouldn’t be a job, so I desperately tried to imitate it. But it doesn’t really suit me. However, being able to participate in a program called “Duel Masters” changed my consciousness. The people who did this destroyed one of my images of anime and voice actors. Did they destroy the image? Kobayashi: When I saw the performance of my senior Settsuji Sato-san and Arts Vision’s Wataru Takagi-san up close, I thought, “It’s alright to speak more naturally while you’re still alive.” My thoughts about anime have changed, and I think it’s okay to talk more normally. Otherwise, I think there is an obsessive compulsion in this industry that it doesn’t fit the picture. I feels like I had an encounter with “Golden Kamuy”.

Was “Golden Kamuy” decided through an audition? When it was decided, I thought it was addictive role? Kobayashi: I didn’t think anything of it, because I had never been accepted. There were foreign films, but “Golden Kamuy” was the first time I was accepted for an anime. At that time, I was thinking of talking normally, and I was just wondering if there was a connection, but when the tape came out, I got a call saying, “Please come to the studio.” So, I went to the studio. After that, I didn’t hear anything about three months. Just when I thought it was over, I got a call saying, “It’s decided!… I was really surprised.”

You were surprised. Kobayashi: I was surprised. I cried. I love you so I’m happy.

Did you scream? Kobayashi: In the room, I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!”

You got a call from the manager? Kobayashi: Yes. I remember coming home from drinking the night before, and when I was exhausted in the morning, I got a call and learned that I was going to be cast.

You’re happy when the work is decided. Kobayashi: I would be happy if I could be involved in any work. I am very happy to be able to work.

Are there any roles that you feel strongly about? Kobayashi: That’s not true. Not at all. As an actor, even if I think about the meaning of my existence, there is no such thing as something that must be mine. It’s the same with “Golden Kamuy” and “Beastars”, but I don’t feel like I really did it. In an interview, when I was asked, “How did you play the role of **?” Did I do it? It’s so fluffy. Why? Ultimately, it may be because the role in the work is not me.

It is interesting, the role and yourself. Do you see the works that you participated in? Kobayashi: I see what I see, and I don’t see what I don’t see. I often look at it as confirmation when I want to make use of it next time.

Are you uninterested in things that are finished? Kobayashi: It depends on what you are doing. There are times when I think, “People will appreciate it,” and there are times when I watch because I am curious about the performances around me. I think it’s good to have a variety of expression techniques in the play, and I think it’s just a matter of preference. Each performer should choose his or her own method of expression and find a point of contact to see how well it fits into the production.

Kobayashi-san, you have been thinking deeply about the way you express yourself. Didn’t you always say, “I want to express myself!” from a long time ago? Kobayashi: It was completely different.

You want to stand out. Why? Kobayashi: Maybe they wanted me to acknowledge it. I think they wanted it.

Are you still strong? Kobayashi:I think I am.

Don’t you think it’s difficult to satisfy people’s desire for approval in the field of art, where evaluations change depending on the person? Kobayashi: It’s an art thing, isn’t it? Evaluating a work or a play itself is just like morality, and it changes with the times, so it’s difficult. Art can never be separated from the times.

There is a sense of times. When you recorded the video message earlier, you used two titles, “I’m actor / voice actor Chikahiro Kobayashi.”  Kobayashi: No, it doesn’t matter which one. It was the first time for me seeing an introduction like “I’m an actor” since I first read this magazine. Kobayashi: I’m not picky about it. It might have been better if I said I was an actor. If I didn’t know my profession, people would think I was this guy.

The occupation of an actor is difficult, isn’t it? Kobayashi: What is an actor? It may sound like quibbles, but I think it’s just that people decide their occupations. I call myself a painter, but I earn my income from my paintings. What do people who make jars say? While teaching songs, I asked them what kind of person they are on stage. I get a script and put my feelings into it, and I’m just doing what’s called an actor. I think my profession is like that. I try not to say too much about what an actor should be like. Actor… what is it? There is no way it should be… Hmm, no.

Why do you act like a human? Kobayashi: Well, it’s a bad way to put it, but it’s probably because I’m free (laughs).

Haha (laughs). I think so. It’s entertainment. Kobayashi: Since I had some free time, I could draw pictures on the floor and walls, and create a series of stories. I wonder what would happen if we took this more seriously. Going back to the beginning, entertainment was born in leisure time, so it was unnecessary.

It’s not life-threatening. Kobayashi: Yes. I have it, and I need it.

When you think about it, free time is important. Kobayashi: It’s important. Time is important.

This magazine will be released at the end of 2019. How is this year for Kobayashi-san? Was it a good year? Kobayashi: From my point of view, I don’t think I’m doing anything (laughs).

That’s not true (laughs). That is a real feeling only for this year? Kobayashi: Ever since I turned 30. I’ve been doing nothing for a year and it’s over. It’s not like that. Next year is already the year of the Olympics. In the first place, even the division of one year is something that humans decide on their own, so it’s not like we see it in that span.

Haha (laughs). That’s right, Kobayashi-san, how many changes have you felt in your twenties and thirties? Kobayashi: I feel like I haven’t changed much since I was 17 years old. Putting aside my likes and dislikes, I think I’ve come to be able to accept others, saying that this way of thinking is also valid. 

It doesn’t change much on the inside. Kobayashi: I thought so. Am I thirty-six now? I thought you were so grown-up.

Haha (laughs). Kobayashi: I feel like I’m not an adult at all. That was the recording for “Golden Kamuy”, so I asked Joji Nakata-san about it. Nakata-san is in his late sixties, I think. Then he said, “No, we’re always together. I’m still fifteen or sixteen.” Ah, I thought that was the case with Nakata-san, too.

Did you happen to hear that story? Kobayashi: We were talking about how quickly one year has passed, and when I asked him how he was doing, he started talking like that. When I asked him, “Is it different when I become like Joji-san?” he replied, “We’re all the same, we’re still children.”

Kobayashi-san, do you often talk about trivial matters on site? Kobayashi: I talk a lot.

Are you also an actor of the same generation? Kobayashi: That’s right. Good friends like, Yoshimasa Hosoya-san, Junya Enoki-san, Kenjiro Tsuda-san, Haruka Shiraishi-san, Ayaka Senbongi-san and Atsumi Tanezaki. I talk about things like what it means to be good at something and how to live.

That seems fun. I want to listen to their conversation. Kobayashi-san, do you draw a line between your private life and your work? Kobayashi: I might have.

Not very clear. Kobayashi: It’s always been like this. I don’t it changes that much for everyone at home or at work, and I don’t feel like I switch it on and off very much.

Isn’t it spicy? Kobayashi: It’s not hard, isn’t it? That’s what I thought.

Did you start thinking that way recently? Kobayashi: It was after I turned 30 and the various reasons I mentioned earlier. I realized that there was no point in being scared, and I feel that the barrier between my work and my private life has gradually disappeared.

You never wanted to quit acting. Kobayashi: No.

Never? Kobayashi: When I had only 17 yen in my savings passbook, I really wanted to die. I almost screamed, “I can’t do this!” I was 24. But I was in despair, and I was like, “Oh, what should I do now?” I can’t live without money, but I feel guilty about making money. But I can’t tell you how beautiful it is. After all, it’s only 17 yen.

By the way, do you remember the first time you got paid to work? Kobayashi: It was my first time… I remember. It was an independent film from a film school or something. In the end, the role of persuading the buttocks by showing the crotch. “I’m going to put it out…” As expected, I couldn’t project the front, so I attached the front… I still remember, it was a location on the road in front of the museum in Ueno. It’s my first job.

Is that the first time? (laughs). Interesting. Kobayashi: So, I pulled my pants down and I think it was the line, “You’re not bad,” but I don’t know what was wrong (laughs).

Did you resist? Kobayashi: I don’t think so. It’s my first job, so wow! I’m so happy!

With bare buttocks, “You were like, “Actors have to do things like this!” Kobayashi: I was very embarrassed when I heard, “I’m filming something.” At that time, I received 15,000 yen. When I was doing it, I didn’t even get one.

Did you feel that this was a job? Or was it like, “Lucky!” Kobayashi: It was also light-hearted. Rather than feeling the responsibility of “It’s work!”

Like pursuing with play. Kobayashi: I think there is also that aspect. I think part of it is the aspect of work. You can’t just do what you want to do and get paid.

It’s already the end of the year. What kind of year will it be next year? Kobayashi: Yes. I would be happy if I could be involved in more works. I’d like to work with more actors I’ve never met. If my dream comes true, I’d like to appear in a World Masterpiece Theatre Production. Am I greedy? Also, I want to become better at acting. I had the opportunity to see a stage performance by Isao Hashizume-san and others, and I thought, “After receiving the book, how can I finish it to that level before the performance?” There are still many things to think about while watching. I still think, “If I do better” or “I could have done better.” There are many things like that, and on the day before the end of the year I finally realized…”

Even during performances, there is growth. Kobayashi: The feeling and the quality of the play are completely different between the first day and the final performance.

The stage evolves through performances. You’re coming. The person who plays is serious. It is precisely because you face each other that something is born, and no two scenes are the same. Kobayashi: I think that kind of place is wonderful. I must have been fascinated by the play.

By the way, have you ever thought of wanting to direct and write a script? Kobayashi: Actually, I tried it once. Each performer interprets things differently.

When was that? Kobayashi: I think I was about twenty-seven. It was three or four years after I joined the agency. I also realized that the three of us had different sensibilities for “big”, and that we had to have words for each of us to communicate. Actors and directors.

For Kobayashi-san, it must have been a great experience to see the play from a different angle than usual. Kobayashi: That was a big experience. I felt like that, and maybe that’s what people think of me when I’m a performer.

As you grow older, what kind of person do you want to be? Kobayashi: Well, I want to be a person who doesn’t preach and talk about old stories.

A sermon. Kobayashi: I don’t like adults preaching (laughs).

The interview is nearing its end, but is there anything that has greatly shaped the current Kobayashi-san? Kobayashi: There are a lot of things… but yes. The point is when I first fell in love. My first love, Y-chan, and we fell in love with each other. It was when I was in sixth grade. But one day, on the way home from school, I discovered that “Y-chan” has three people she likes. “Seriously, life…” and fell asleep for two days. I don’t know. “I don’t want to go to school anymore.”

What happened? It’s heavy for an elementary schooler, isn’t it? Kobayashi: It was too heavy. In the end, Y-kun and Y-chan, who live in my neighbourhood, started dating, and it was hell. Life is so dark. Even when I talk to people around me, they say the same thing. That event was really big in my life. When I made up my mind to go to the hospital, and when I experienced the death of someone close to me up close. That was a lot of damage.

No, it must be tough. Kobayashi: So, looking back, since then I feel that love has become timid. It’s like, “How far is it okay to be absorbed in this love?” I guess I got scared.

You were kicked out once. Kobayashi: At first, I was number one, but when did I drop to second place? “Oh, there are two more. Eh, there were three of us?”

It’s a rare experience. Kobayashi-san, what kind of life experience is lacking even no? Kobayashi: What is it? Is it to ask for someone’s opinion? Life is full of things you don’t know. I’m quite rigid. I think I am waiting. That’s why I so met so many people. I want to talk to a lot of people, I want to have an experience that shakes my sense of values.

Are there any issues that you are facing recently? Kobayashi: The immediate task. How can I be good, what does it mean to be good or something. It’s very blurry, so I’d like to think about it. I know, but there a lot of things I skip.

Kobayashi-san, do you ever skip work? Kobayashi: So, I concentrate on stretching, but one day I thought, “Oh, I’m done.” I often throw.

Are you tired of it? Kobayashi: Even though I know the necessity, I quit.

That’s next year’s task. Kobayashi: I may think, “Even if I become, there’s nothing I can do about it.” It’s better, because acting on stage is different from video expression, and you can’t hide it.

Besides, isn’t stress necessary? I’m rooting for Kobayashi-san next year. That’s it for this interview. I’m sorry that it ended like this. Kobayashi: No, no, no way. Thank you for your help.

How was the interview? Kobayashi: Talk or something (laughs).

Voice actors have a lot of NG’s when talking about their first love. Kobayashi: I’m totally fine. I’m human, and I thought, “I’ll fall in love! It’s normal!”

Is love important? Kobayashi: I think it’s important to fall in love with people. I think it’s better to love them more and more. Your sense of values may change. Yes, I’ll do my best. Thank you very much! Kobayashi: Thank you very much.


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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