Jun Fukuyama (Voice Newtype Vol. 77 2020)

福山 潤

With the establishment of Black Ship, where he serves as the representative director, I feel that his service spirit and “human power”, which he uses in front of the camera and moves the scene with his special talk, has grown a little. 20 years since his debut, looking back on that trajectory, Jun Fukuyama talks about the flow of his work.

Looking back from you debut to your early twenties, how did you deal with work at that time? Fukuyama: The hardest time in my life was the three years after my debut, and I was motivated by my love for animation and I was running recklessly. At that time, there weren’t many chances for young people, and even when I auditioned, I kept getting rejected. Without special talent, it took a lot of effort to get the part, but I had a good time. It’s frustrating that I can’t reach it, but on the contrary, I can’t reach it at all, so I’m glad I did my best.

What anime work became a turning point in your 30s? Fukuyama: “Gundam” stood at the starting as a voice actor. In “Mutekiou Tri-Zenon,” where I played the lead role for the first time, I felt first-hand the amazingness of Megumi Hayashibara-san, who skilfully controls her voice and emotions, and realized that there are many things I must learn as a voice actor. Thanks to the realization, I was put on the starting line. With “Gravion,” which followed, I learned about the joy of creating a work with the staff. It was “xxxHOLiC” that I could clearly see that I could perform with my own good line = natural voice.

“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion” broadcasted at the same time. It was iconic. Fukuyama: “Code Geass” was a work that brought about a half-forced turning point that led me to an unexpected life as a voice actor. “Creating a voice and acting” Lelouch’s method was a taboo for me. But I had no choice but to do what I couldn’t do, so I did it. As a result, I was able to create two lines, one where I used my natural voice, and the other where I created my own voice, which broadened the range of roles I could play.

Around that time, the boom for voice actors has arrived, but what is Fukuyama-san’s stance? Fukuyama: When I was in my 20s, I wanted to solidify my foothold and move forward without making a mistake, so I declared that I would not engage in any individual activities until I turned 30. I was fortunate that the people around me, including the staff at the office I belonged to at the time, accepted me.

After that, you made your artist debut at the age of 35, but what kind of change did you have? Fukuyama: After a change of 10 years or more and a certain amount of achievements have been built up, there will be no complaints at the workplace. It was only natural that I could do it, and if I made a mistake, I would be told that I couldn’t do it, and then I would be quietly cut off. I realized that I needed to have a clear understanding of what I could and could not do, so I started looking for a turning point to try things I had never done before, which was a big change.

What did you gain from your activities as an artist? Fukuyama: It was great to meet lyricists and composes with professional thinking and sensibilities, and to be exposed to the skills of a professional. Singing has also changed the style of my voice acting activities. Singing in the voice actor’s way puts a strain on my body, so I was taught how to pronounce the song, and I was able to understand the difference in accent between the words in the songs and in the play. I think those experiences have been fed back in a good way to my voice acting activities.

What was the turning point in your 30s? Fukuyama: This is Koro-sensei from “Assassination Classroom.” Up until then, I had mostly played the role of a boy, but when I took on the role of a teacher, I thought a lot about how I could turn the experience I had cultivated up until now into a role, and how I could use it. Since then, even now in my 40s, I still have the opportunity to play a boy role, but the feeling at that time was so desperate that I would never play a boy role again I was trapped in. Also, I thought that correct individual play would lead to correct team play, so I tried not to get too involved with other people. Recognize that you can’t do a proper stand play unless you properly interact with people. Since then, the way I work has changed dramatically. In addition, by becoming a teacher, I was able to find my own answer to the question of what it means to look at people.

I think you were in a position to welcome juniors on site, but how did you behave as a senior? Fukuyama: It’s easy to give advice, but I was scared because I didn’t know if giving advice was good. A long time ago, Nobuyuki Hiyama-san said, “Even if we play supporting roles, I don’t think it’s a side. When the winner is decided in the story, I think I lost in the scenario. I was shocked. After playing many main characters, I feel that I have never really beaten the final boss. The main character wins because of the staging and scenario, and I didn’t win against my seniors. I should have understood it in my head, but when Hiyama-san properly explained it in words, I suddenly understood. After that, it felt like I had set a goal: “I have to beat my seniors outside of the scenario, and I’ll put my juniors in a position where they lost in the scenario.” Hiyama-san’s words are still treasured to this day. So that I can appeal to something, I wish I could be a presence. Even if it’s something you want to become. There is only diligence.

How old were you when you realized that you were able to output those experiences as a voice actor as a result of going through various places such as the stage and reading aloud? Fukuyama: From around my late 30s, I was able to put my experiences into words little by little, and I think I was able to take a step further in my consideration of characters and works. I don’t think I’ve made it this far, but I think the fact that the brakes on my senses are starting to work properly is proof that my experience and consideration are starting to mesh well. “Blue Exorcist”, “Star Driver Kagayaki no Takuto”, “Legend of the Legendary Heroes”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Osomatsu-san”, etc. Although it’s a role, it was also during a period that I played a role in a position that was different from before. Being able to play multiple different types of roles at the same time was a great experience. On the other hand, dubbing live-action dramas such as “The Flash” and “Hwarang” gave me opportunities to express myself plainly, and I was fortunate to be able to maintain a good balance. It was a chance encounter.

At the age of 38, you established Black Ship and now that you are in your 40s, how do you face your work? Fukuyama: It’s become more serious. It’s the environment I want in my 30s. Although I felt that I had no choice but to create a product myself, I did not have the confidence to take responsibility. However, I thought that unless I tried, I wouldn’t know how good or difficult it is to run a company. I was worried at first, but when I tried it, it became worthwhile. I neither like or dislike my work. Work is fun.

Is it fun naturally, or you find your own fun? Fukuyama: It has changed to 3 types of discovering fun. I came to see it as an opportunity to learn to do things that I was not good at, and I feel that my motivation for work has gone up a notch. I think I’ve started to realize that there is no work that I don’t have to do, even if there is work that I can’t do due to timing or schedule. Of course, there is a need to overdo it, so it is also necessary to make sure that it is not reckless. I do not think that I’m doing well as a manager, so I would like to exchange frank opinions with the staff. If I had my own aesthetic, it would be “I don’t want to show off.”

Please tell us what you reconsidered about entertainment during the stay-at-home period. Fukuyama: Wasteful things like entertainment are actually important to humans. What we can do is provide entertainment. There are staff working there to create the space. The opposite is also possible, and the presence of the performers can also create a space. I realized that our activities are also a proper part of economic activities. Regarding the voice acting industry, if individual recordings with a small number of people are prolonger, there is a possibility that techniques such as microphone work and the ability to balance performances with co-stars may disappear. I feel if the “work” of going to recordings alone or with a small group of people and leaving at a set time becomes established as it is today, what will happen to the value of voice actors? Once again, with voice actors, I think it’s time for us to reconsider the value of our existence. There is a field of works that everyone can nurture together, and there is a method of selecting young people and an arrangement of solid veterans. It’s a thing. In the past, there were a lot of people who didn’t have a chance even if they had a chance, but now it’s the opposite. That is why I would like you to make this a good opportunity to reconsider the value of your talents. What you see on TV is not free. It’s something you put a lot of time, passion and money into. Our role is to provide active enjoyment so that people do not feel a sense of obligation or loss when paying for it. I will continue to do my best so that I can create entertainment that is properly paid for. I want to stay active for the rest of my life, and I want to be a barrier to many talents.

Column: Little happiness

I am prone to temporomandibular disorders, and eating is a challenge during treatment. That’s why I’m really happy to be able to eat delicious food the way I like it. I love the moment when my mouth is full of solid meat and rice.


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