Tomoaki Maeno will play the role of Leon Lau, the main character in the new animation “Jushinki Pandora” starting in April. As a Kawamori fan, Maeno-san, who wanted to participate in this work directed by Masaharu Kawamori of the “Macross” and “Aquarion” series, won the leading role in the audition. What are your thoughts on this work?
Please tell us about the time of the audition for “Jyushinki Pandora”. Maeno: After the tape audition, I proceeded to the studio audition with Kawamori-san. I’m grateful that I was able to proceed to the studio audition with this work, so I listened to the songs of “Aquarion” series to raise my morale so that I wouldn’t have any regrets. In the audition, I was given the opportunity to play several characters other than Leon, but Leon was the one I wanted to challenge the most, so I tried my best.
I heard that you’ve decided to play the role of Leon. Were you happy when you were there? Maeno: This work is about robots, but it’s also new that the main character isn’t a so-called hot-blooded character. Especially with Leon, there was something that stuck with me ever since the audition. I thought that with this character, I would be able to make the most of my own characteristics. I felt that I was very lucky. What kind of person is Leon in the sci-fi story unfolding in Neo Shouryu in 2031? Maeno: A researcher who is said to be one of the people who caused the big incident called “Shouryuu Crisis.” Because of that, I was driven to the suburbs of Neo Shouryuu, and now I’m continuing my research alone to fight against an enemy called B.R.A.I., which is a fusion of living things and machines. At first the government does not approve of his research, but eventually they must rely on him. He’s a genius scientist, but he can’t take of himself or live without his “little sister” named Chloe, with whom he has a family contract.
They are not blood-related, they are siblings through a contract. Maeno: Between the two of them, there is a family contract that is bound under detailed rules with more than 100 articles. Those rules are very important to Leon and Chloe. Even when facing an enemy and getting into a pinch, he overcomes the situation with the thought that he cannot afford to die in order to fulfil his family contract. It’s a very special rule for Leon.
As a man in his mid-twenties, he seems to have a mature charm. Maeno: It’s good that he’s not too cool (laughs). His back is not fully stretched, he fell in the middle of nowhere. Do you think there is a stupidity to it? Sometimes he gets lost. That kind of thing doesn’t look like the main character of a robot anime, and I really like it too. It is easy for the performer to do because it can be done in a life-size sense. I don’t try to create a tone of voice, but rather I create a character based on how I feel, how I speak, and how loud my voice is. There are times when he speaks slowly, valuing the feeling of being light-hearted, basically he’s not very crisp. I try to put a lack of sharpness on the end of the words. It’s hard to explain with words (laughs).
On the other hand, you have a passionate personality. In the other place he is very talkative about his research or when he analyses research subjects. Maeno: I’m a scientist, and my dialogue involves quantum mechanics, so it’s difficult for me to write dialogue that’s like a list of technical terms. We don’t usually use quantum mechanics terminology, but Leon should be familiar with it because he uses it every day. I think that you can also feel the gap between the lightness and the feeling.
Since one of your models is China, does your work have that kind of atmosphere? Maeno: There are many stories that incorporate Chinese food culture. That’s why I feel very hungry when I see it. There are quite a few scenes where he eats greedily. After the post-recording of the episode where the hot pot came out, I went out to eat hot pot with the cast and staff.
It’s nice to have a hot pot with everyone. This means that the atmosphere on site is also good. Maeno: It’s a great atmosphere. There is a good balance of people from young people to veterans. Since it’s an original work, we don’t know what the story will be like next time. Everyone is excited about what will happen next week, whether this character and that character are having this kind of exchange behind the scenes, and making predictions about the future.
Now that spring is here, many people are starting a new life. Maeno-san, is there anything that comes to your mind when you hear about your new life? Maeno: Yes, there were a time when telephone and internet prices were cheaper late at night. Yes, from 11:00 pm to 8:00 am I was really playing games during that time. I was in the afternoon class at school, so I was able to sleep until around 11:00 noon. I used to go to karaoke with my friends at school, but when I got home, I was immersed in games by myself. Like Leon, I was absorbed in it.
After all, Maeno-san likes stories such as games and anime. Maeno: I agree. Even now, I am deeply moved when I see the characters I voiced in action in animation. I don’t really have a love for my character. They all feel like our children. I’m especially happy to see my character moving in the opening video, and I want to see the opening of “Jushinki Pandora” as soon as possible. It must be amazing.
To be honest, up until now, I had a strong feeling that taking a new step forward would be chore, but if you don’t start something, nothing will open up. So now, if there is something I can challenge, I have a strong desire to try it.