Takeo Ootsuka (Voice Newtype Vol. 74 2019)

大塚 剛央

A sincere look that shines in a quiet smile. The facial expression Takeo Ootsuka shows during filming reflects his attitude towards acting. What made him decide to become a voice actor?

What kind of boy was Ootsuka-san? Ootsuka: When I was in elementary school, after school, all my friends would gather at a nearby park to play. At a friend’s grandma’s house, 3 or 4 people get together and play games. It’s normal, isn’t it? When I was alone at home, I often read books. “Harry Potter” and “Darren Shan series.”

Did you have any favourite anime back then? Ootsuka: I think I started watching anime properly when I was in high school. I remember crying a lot when I saw “CLANNAD” recommended by a kid in the same soccer club. It was around the time when the game began to have voice actors. I never thought would become one.

So, what made you think about becoming a voice actor as a profession? Ootsuka: It was around the time I started job hunting in college. When I thought about whether I would be able to get a job at a regular company like this, I couldn’t think of a specific image in my mind. At that time, for some reason, the path of becoming a voice actor suddenly popped up in my mind, and I thought it might be good to have such a future.

You didn’t have any acting experience before? Ootsuka: That’s right. It’s strange even for me, but I think it’s because it’s something I’ve never done before that I decided to take on the challenge. After that, do some research on the training school make various preparations, and tell your parents. At first, there was a lot of opposition. But I had a strong feeling that I didn’t want to regret not doing it, so I started running even though I knew the risks.

When you first started working, what kind of memories do you have? Ootsuka: The first job I received was the dubbing of Gai for the 2016 movie version of “GANTZ:O.” I was at the stage where I belonged to an agency while going to a training school, so I didn’t really know how to behave in front of the microphone yet. All I remember is that I was so nervous that I hit my head against the monitor (laughs). The first work in TV animation was “Amanchu!” Toshiki Iwasawa-san and Tadachi Date-san, who were my seniors at the agency, also appeared in the film, so I have memories of being taught how to turn the pages of the script. I studied a lot before coming in, but when I actually entered the site, I didn’t even know where to sit.

Not long after that, in 2018, you starred in two films in a row. Ootsuka: “Shiki Oriyo” is an omnibus movie, and I played the role of Remo in “Shanghai Love.” It’s directed by Haorin-san, and it’s very stimulating because it’s a play that touches on a different culture from Japan. It was rewarding because I was able to play Rimo’s boyhood and adolescent years. In boyhood, the faint feelings of puberty and the feeling that you can’t be honest with girls. During his adolescence, I drew a little troublesome emotional turmoil that could not be resolved even with the passage of time. Capturing the roots of Rimo’s heart that appear moment by moment.

 In “Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru” you ran through 2 cours in the middle of an impressive cast. Ootsuka: The theme of the story was a hot and wonderful Ekiden, and while I was drawn to that energy, I was unsatisfied with the chairmanship. The characters are runners, so while cherishing their breathing, put their feelings into it. They acted with such realism that I had the illusion that the characters actually existed. Toshiyuki Toyonaga-san and everyone else who co-starred with me gave me impressions that I had never thought of, and I learned a lot. Being able to complete 2 cours has given me a lot of confidence. The post-recording scene was like a college boy’s glue during the work and it was really fun.

Your latest work is “Our Seven Days War” which is currently airing in theaters. Ootsuka: The original is a work that has been loved by many people for many years. When it was decided that I would be appearing in the film, the reaction from the people around me was overwhelming, and I was reminded of the greatness of the original work. This work is a new “Pokura’s Seven Days War,” which is set about 30 years after the original work. Hiroto Honjo, who I play, is a grown-up boy who keeps his distance from his classmates. That said, there are course high school-like qualities and boy-like qualities of this age. That’s why, it’s not like he’s really grown-up, he’s a stubborn child who thinks that this is what it means to be an adult.

How was the recording? Ootsuka: Everyone was able to record the high school characters, so I think we were able to create a unique atmosphere. At the scene, I was overwhelmed by the performances of actors Takumi Kitamura-san and Kyoko Yoshine-san. Both of them have their own atmosphere, and that fits perfectly into their characters. The feeling of getting caught up in that atmosphere. Maybe the way you read the script is also different. We write down various technical things, but it seemed that the two of them were almost memorizing the script, just like a live-action film.

What kind of charm do you think the film has become? Ootsuka: The theme between the series “The battle between adults and children,” is attractively depicted in this work as well. First of all, enjoy the story. I would be very happy if you could give it a try and watch how Hiroto grows. I think it’s a work that will have a deep impact on both teenagers of the same age as Hiroto and others, people of my age who have just left that era, and even more mature people. I would love to see it in theatres.

Finally, please tell me about your future goal of your image as a voice actor. Ootsuka: I would like to do a job where people who don’t usually watch anime can say, “I know this character’s voice.” For that reason, we have to take care of each site one by one. As for the role, I would like to challenge myself to play a villain. A hopeless piece of crap with whom there is nothing to sympathize with, or a person who is absolutely terrifying. I think it would be blessing to be an actor if I could be so deeply hated by the audience. Anyway, I want to challenge without doing anything.

Column: My Christmas!

I would like to spend some time abroad someday. In particular, I heard it from a friend who thinks the Christmas market is great in Germany, so I’m longing for it. I want to immerse myself in an atmosphere that is hard to find in Japan, like the world of fairy tales.


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