First, I would like to ask about Sawashiro-san’s upbringing I will continue. Sawashiro: I was born and raised in a normal family in Tokyo. They weren’t that strict, and it was good.
What was your personality like when you were young? Sawashiro: I was just as playful as I am now (laughs). But I went to school saying, “It’s not cold.” Then, during the three-way interview with my mother, the homeroom teacher said, “Mom, please, Chiharu-kun, please let him wear thicker clothes.” Even though it’s cold, I thought it would be cool to go to school at the last minute! I ran into the gate! (laughs)
It’s funky (laughs). Was middle and high school the same? Sawashiro: Winter has winter clothes, doesn’t it? At that time, I had a mysterious obsession. Actually, it was really cold, but I persisted, saying, “I’m a character who doesn’t wear a school uniform.”
Sawashiro-san seemed to be serious when he was talking to me, so I was surprised that there was such a mischievous episode. Sawashiro: That’s right, I’m serious.
Is that so? Sawashiro: However, around this time, I started to think that perhaps I was changing. Come to think of it, I’m a very frugal person. When I was little, I would go to the supermarket with my parents and say, “Buy me a snack,” but they would say no, so I would crawl down and whine, “Oh, yeah.” I didn’t get any, so I was always drinking barley tea, so when I went to my friend’s house and got juice, I was happy. I think I have learned not to waste money.
By the way, when you were a child, you wanted to stand out. Was it so? Sawashiro: No (laughs). I don’t want to be in the public eye, but deep down, I want to stand out from the crowd.
So that’s it. Sawashiro-san, after graduating from high school, you went on to college. Sawashiro: When I was choosing a high school, I told my sister, “If you don’t like Kou, you can go to the affiliated high school and take the escalator up to the university.’ So, I entered the affiliated high school. I wanted to go to university. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do yet, so I thought it might be a good idea to go to university and take my time thinking about it. In fact, I didn’t have to take university entrance exams, and I really felt that I was lucky to be in the affiliated high school, so I thought I had a good big sister (laughs).
You don’t like studying that much. Sawashiro: I don’t like it (laughs). If anything, I liked moving my body. When I was in junior high school, I played baseball and was in a weak club. I have a good friend whose nickname is Pokonyan, and when I have to catch the ball, I say, “No” because I’m scared. I was weak like that, but thanks to that, I was able to meet good friends, so it’s a good memory.
It was pretty loose. Sawashiro: It was a homey club activity, with neighbourhood grandpas coming to teach me. I was in the handball club in high school, but handball was a tough sport, so I broke a few bones. I broke my fingers twice, broke my ankle three times… I broke that many. I was in the training room. Even in the last game, I wasn’t the only one on the bench, so I didn’t cry.
Were you not interested in the cultural club? Sawashiro: Right now, I would like to join the cultural club. I think it’s strange that I can’t quit. I think I couldn’t ask to quit because I was simply nervous.
Ahaha (laughs). Sawashiro: You went on to university and entered the Faculty of Law. I wasn’t sure whether to go to the Faculty of Economics or the Faculty of Law. However, at the time I was a little interested in law, so I chose to study law. I used to take classes using the Roppongi, but I remember that the content was very difficult. In high school, it was normal for us to copy what the teacher wrote on the blackboard into our notebooks! By the way, my favourite subject was Chinese (laughs).
What was your university life like? Sawashiro: After class, I enjoyed chatting with friends in the cafeteria and going to karaoke. I also liked going to the park, so I often went there with my friends. If that’s the case, I’d save the expressway fare and take six hours to go to a place that would take about two hours by ordinary road, or I’d look for super-discount supermarkets and buy ingredients (laughs). “This is a trip for students!” became a memorable experience for me. Since then, I’ve been playing the guitar at home every day. Like when I wake up in the morning, I play the guitar first and then go to school. Anyway, I enjoyed playing the guitar and once formed a band, but at that time it naturally disappeared after about a month (laughs). However, thanks to playing the guitar every day, it has become a job now, so I’m really glad that I continued playing the guitar.
When you graduated from university, did you have to decide your career path? Sawashiro: I was really worried. I didn’t have anything I wanted to do in particular, but everyone around me was looking for a job when I was in the third grade. That’s when I realized that I had always wanted to do acting. However, since there are also child actors, it may be a bit late to start performing arts after the age of 20. I decided to leave university and pursue acting.
Did you also act in college? Sawashiro: I started acting when I was in my second year of college. Since that time, I entered a small theatre, I was doing the stage at the same time, and it was quite difficult. We practised on the day of the graduation ceremony, and from then on it was a small theatre. Looking back, I enjoyed the small theatre the most.
What do you enjoy about acting? Sawashiro: I enjoy being able to express my inner feelings and sensations without being criticized. I couldn’t help it. Of course, there were times when it was difficult. Since it’s a small theatre, we had to make the stage set ourselves. The hardest part was when me and my seniors and juniors went by car to borrow props, and when we tried to put the partitions in the car, we couldn’t because wee had made a mistake in the measurements (laughs). What should I do? When I was in a panic, I was told by my seniors, “You guys should carry it together.” I took the Yamanote Line (laughs).
That’s amazing, how often were you unable to stop the ticket gates? Sawashiro: I couldn’t stop myself at all. However, when I was waiting for the train at Shinjuku Station, my eyes were piercing. In terms of money, if I put on a performance, the cost of transportation to rehearsals and the cost of food would be higher than the performance fee, so I was in the red anyway.
Did you ever find it difficult to express yourself in a play? Sawashiro: Everything is difficult. The expression is completely different. It’s the same when someone takes a picture with a camera, but even if you think it’s cool and pose for it, when you look at the picture, you’ll be like, “Wow, that’s lame” (laughs). in short, it was difficult to reconcile what I saw from the outside with what I wanted to do. Even now, although there is not as much of a gap as there used to be, I still sometimes feel that what I see is different from what I imagine.
How do you prepare? Sawashiro: Practising plays and watching other people’s performances is a given, but these days, what you want to do and what makes you feel good isn’t necessarily what the audience is looking for. When I was working in a small theatre or on stage, I didn’t really think about it that much, and maybe it was because I was just doing what I wanted to do. As a voice actor, I have a lot of work to do, but I don’t think it’s possible to just say, “I want to do this!” I am conscious of thinking about what the client is looking for in my performance. Now that I’ve grown up, there are pressures. The vector is different from the “enjoyment” of the small theatre, but now I’m finding joy in the harshness.
The small theatre that you talked about was the most fun, but what made you decide to become a voice actor? Sawashiro: For about five or six years, I worked frantically doing plays in small theatres, but I couldn’t sleep at night for days on end. But after graduating from university and turning 23, when my friends were working side by side, I suddenly thought, “What do you do?” When I say, “I’m an actor,” they ask me, “Which celebrities are you working with?” I can’t say it, and the point is, do I do part-time jobs? Dangling in mid-air, I wondered, “What will happen to me in the future?” It’s really good to have a play I couldn’t sleep because my heart was pounding, wondering if I would really be able to appear on TV. Once again, I thought, “What do I want to do?” I realized that I had the thought, “I want to be a voice actor someday too.” After reconfirming that, I made up my mind to do it, no matter what others said or what anyone said. “I want to become a voice actor,” and entered the training school. That’s how I got to where I’m today as a voice actor.
It’s been a while since you decided. Sawashiro: Oto, I was surprised when I suddenly said, “I want to become a voice actor.” I felt like if I didn’t do it, when would I do it? For some reasons, voice actors try to imitate anime voices and think, “I can do it myself,” don’t you think? And I thought, “I’ve done acting, so I can afford it!” so I entered the training school, but it was extremely difficult. I could hear normal voices on the TV, but it was amazing… I was devastated when I entered the training school.
What was difficult? Sawashiro: At first, I was just reading a stick. The acting itself is the same whether it’s anime content or stage play, just by matching it to the animation picture, but I had to change my approach a little. Because when I’m doing a stage play, I can express my voice with my whole body, so when I make a gesture, I can tell, “This child is crying.” But when it comes to voice work, if I just say, “Well, I miss you,” it sounds like a straight line, so I had to think about how to create a reality in front of the microphone while my body movements were restricted to some extent. It was different from the places where I used to express my emotions with my whole body, and it was difficult because I couldn’t get rid of the peculiarities of performing on stage.
You don’t feel uncomfortable with acting with your voice? Sawashiro: At first, I was really embarrassed, but now I’ve gotten used to it. At first, I was confident that I had been acting for about five years, so I thought I was the best in the training school, was tall and insanely good. That’s why I lost my confidence and now I’m here. I once again thought that voice actors are really amazing. From there, I practised thoroughly with the feeling that I was going to overcome the wall in front of me. This road is still ongoing.
You made your debut in 2013. Do you remember your first job? Sawashiro: My first job was the role of “Kurofuku.” Then, for some reason, my nose suddenly started to bleed, and I got really impatient. I didn’t expect to stuff my nose with a tissue in my first job, so my seniors followed me and made fun of me (laughs). Now, it’s a very impressive memory.
Haha (laughs). Do you get nervous at work? Sawashiro: Yes, I do. I don’t get nervous during the shoot, but I do get nervous during the dubbing. Shut up.
Do you give NG? Sawashiro: I do, a lot. I get nervous when I say no, so I try to remember what my university friend’s father used to tell me. He was the manager of the Yokohama Bay Stars. When I was active, I was mainly a pitcher in defence, and I think that there were many pitches in situations where mistakes were not allowed. Then he said, “It’s impossible not to get nervous when you’re on the mound, so just take it for granted. It’s always natural, so you don’t have to think about relieving tension.” From that point on, even if I get nervous, I act with the mindset that “It’s only natural to be nervous.”
Even when I went to the audition for the first time. Are you nervous? Sawashiro: Of course, I was nervous. Up until then, I had only had auditions for theatre and movies. But at the time I was modest and had absolutely no special talents, so I became a voice actor, had a test recording, recorded the actual performance, and the actual performance, and the audition was over. “Sawashiro-san, did you have anything left to do?” I thought, “Now is the time!” However, when you audition as a voice actor, you basically don’t have time to show off your special skills (laughs). On stage, I was with Akira Fujii-san, who is famous for playing cards out of his mouth, and we were all learning some simple magic tricks. There was a magic trick what when you press a cap that looks just like your thumb sold at Tokyu Hands inside, it glows and looks like light is coming out of your mouth. Then, everyone who was there said, “Oh…” (laughs)
By the way, you didn’t pass the audition. Did you pay? Sawashiro: I failed… (laughs). Now that I’ve been a voice actor and had many auditions, I wonder what I’ve done. Now that I think about it, it’s scary. A person who performed magic at an audition, but at that time, I came home satisfied and said, “OK, I left an impact!” (smile)
Is there a role you would like to play in the future? Sawashiro: I would be happy if you let me play any role. If it’s a work with an event, it’s a good opportunity to meet the people who support me, and I think I can repay the favour through the work, so the main role is attractive (laughs). But I want to be able to take on the challenge of playing roles that I have never played before. In order to do that, I want to study acting more and more, and I want people to think that Chiharu Sawashiro still has room to grow.
Are you the type of person who wants to overcome the challenges that come their way? Sawashiro: Actually, I’m the type of person who wants to avoid the difficulties in front of me. However, if I did that, I would not be able to reach my destination, and in the end, I would be left with nothing. After all, you want to somehow overcome the difficulties in front of you. The one who runs and loses gets experience points, so first of all, I think I’ll run as hard as I can without running away.
As a voice actor, I think you have appeared in various works. When did you gain confidence as a voice actor? Sawashiro: Honestly, when asked about that, I don’t think I have any confidence. When I go to the field, everyone looks like a genius, and compared to them, I think I have no sense at ll. I often hear it, but right now u just have to put all my effort into whatever is in front of me and gradually built up my confidence.
Among the performances, what works were you particularly impressed with? Sawashiro: The first drama where the casting was decided was a CD job, but the members were all seniors. I’m the only one with no experience. I don’t now right or left. No at the character’s check. Where it ends in a about a minute or two, it wasn’t over for a minute. “The character is different, it doesn’t fit. So, for now, let’s start. Let’s try it.” There were overwhelmingly few places that were not retakes, so they said, “Only Sawashiro-san will say the places that are not retakes, only here and here.” I didn’t feel alive.
That sounds scary. What happened after that? Sawashiro: The other members recorded the revised parts and went home, but as expected, they said, “Is it okay if only Sawashiro-san left the rest?” Then the staff said, “We’ll discuss it.” Then I saw the producer-san holding his head and said, “Ah, this is a possibility that you’ll be dropped from the project.” The recording was in mid-December, but he asked me, “Would it be okay if you re-recorded it in a month?” One month later January, isn’t it halfway through? So, I practised frantically because I didn’t feel like I was living on New Year’s Eve.
It’s the difficulty of a voice actor’s job. Sawashiro: There comes a time when you have to search for something by yourself. When I was in the small theatre, when I went to the rehearsal room, someone was there and said, “You should do it like this.” They tell me things like, “Let’s do that,” but in the case of the voice acting industry, there aren’t many opportunities for voice actors to get together. I have no choice but to create my performance at home, so I don’t know the correct answer, and I’m thinking, “Is it okay?” In the end, I managed to get the OK, but I couldn’t ask anyone else. It’s a result that makes you want to think. After all, that job was the hardest. So, I was depressed thinking, “I can’t do all the retakes… I can’t do it…” When I said, “I’m always like that too,” he brightly said, “Everyone is like that.” What’s more, it’s amazing that you can live so brightly even though you’re “always”, and I was impressed, and it gave me courage. From then on, I came to think that making mistakes was a learning experience, saying, “Don’t worry too much about it.”
So, that happened. In connection with the release of this magazine at the end of the year, what was 2019 like? Sawashiro: I really had a lot of work to do. To tell the truth, there were times when I couldn’t express myself as I wanted because of the pressure, so I didn’t really enjoy my work. There are quite a few times when I struggle with myself, but this year, I am gaining experience and gradually improving my technical skills. I think I’ve improved, so I feel that I’ve come to enjoy it, albeit little by little. 2020, I’ll make it a year in which I’ll gain more and more confidence in myself so that I can enjoy working with others. I think I want to do that.
Is there anything that you consider important in your work? Sawashiro: It is important to be aware that what the audience enjoys come first. I was always told by my master, the chairman, that in my theatre company, I would like to say that I’m the most in the performance on a later day, add an ad-lib to the lines. Anything like playing around with it, changing the pauses, saying something funny, etc. was strictly prohibited. The chairman said, “We’ve been performing the same program for more than ten performances, but there’s a person who’s coming to see us for the first time today. I remember saying that kind of thing sourly, and even now those words remain in my heart.
It may be important as creed. Sawashiro-san, what kind of person do you want to become from now on? Sawashiro: When I started acting, I thought I wanted to improve my skills, and I wanted to get closer to my seniors. I feel like right now, I’m working for the people who support my work and those who support me. I wish I could do it. The appearance that many people are pleased with, I think that this will lead to my own happiness and growth, so I’m clumsy for that reason. But I want to live each day with care, I think.
Thank you very much!