Voiceover direction game 『BATON=RELAY』’s regular event 「WORKSHOP vol.3」 took place on Nov.24,2019, at the Bellsalle Onarimon-ekimae in Tokyo.
This is a new project that allows fans to enjoy a sneak peel. Vol.3 featured voice actors such as Hoshiki Sena (Jingu Ririka), Shirahana Renka (Sakura Misato), Tachibana Ichika (Kanzaki Senri), and Shiosaki Natsumi (Aratama Nao).
As with 『BATON=RELAY』, whose show theme is “the heroines behind the voices,” 「WORKSHOP」 showcases the voice actors’ singing, live voice acting and stage reading. It’s an event which voice actors take “lessons” and do their best to become a professional voice actor.
On the day of the event, after the initial screening of the 『BATON=RELAY』 trailer, the cast appeared on the stage dressing their character’s outfits as on the official website. They performed “Start me up”, an original song from the game.
With the exception of Hoshiki, voice actors had a little to no experience talking or performing in front of a live audience. Naturally, they sounded a bit nervous in the beginning, but they carried on singing with smiles on their faces.
After performing “Start me up”, the cast introduced themselves, before moving on the first lesson which was “Introducing the characters of 『BATON=RELAY』.”
The aim of this lesson was to improve explanation and communication skills by letting them introduce the characters they play. During the introduction, the four shared memorable moments from their auditions and their first impressions of their characters.
Shirahana confessed she was immediately drawn to Sakura Misato, Misato was the only role shie auditioned for, so she said she was really happy when she got the part.
Hoshiki, on the other hand, said she had auditioned for the other characters as well. When asked about being assigned the role of Ririka, she commented: “the staff probably felt Ririka was the best math for me.”
Tachibana said that she got the impression that Lanzaki Senri was modest and ladylike from the character sketch that she got during her audition, but in reality“she’s actually a lively girl.” Despite her appearance, she’s mature for her age, and Tachibana praises the fact that she’s “kind to everyone and is like a reliable big sister.”
Shiosaki recalled her surprise at learning about Aratama, who “seemed more mature in the line drawing, but turned out to be only 13 years old.” She said she looked forward to unraveling the secrets of Aratama, whose character is still shrouded in mystery.
The talk show also highlighted the similarities between the voice actors and their roles. Hoshiki said that although she personally felt that “unlike me, my character isn’t an anime otaku, while I enthusiastically promote anime. But we have some things in common,” others pointed out that “they both try to make sure others are having a good time while also having fun themselves.” Shirahana said that her castmates often tell her “you’re definitely Misato” “you’re both earnest, diligent, and a hardworker,” and she admits they have similar personalities.
Tachibana commented her admiration fot har character, saying “We are similar in some ways, but I want to be more reliable like Senri. I’ll do my best to emulate her.” Despite her comment, it seems that her castmates already trust her, as they quickly jumped in by saying “you’re already like a big sister!”
Shiosaki listed the following similarities between her and her role: “we’re both born in August, we both love shonen manga, we have the same height, and we enjoy doing household chores.”
The afternoon program featured “Let’s Talk!” where members discuss a chosen theme, while the evening program featured an improve session called “Let’s Practice Etudes!”.
The theme of “Let’s Talk!” was “choose the number one hot pot for winter.” The winner was decided by the number of claps from fans in the audience.
Shirahana was the first to raise her hand in this discussion, eyes shining as she answered “udon!”. When asked about what kind, she mentioned “mizutaki (a simple hot pot simmered with chicken and vegetables) and udon,” showing her undying love for udon.
Hoshiki chose “kimchi hot pot,” Tachibana chose “thick white chicken broth and clear chicken broth (hot pot),” and Shiosaki voted “mizutaki and rice porridge.” As the debate became more and more heated, the staff jumped in by suggesting “try acting like your favorite hot pot.” The voice actors then attempted to promote themselves as their hot pot of choice.
Hoshiki and Shirahana made an impassioned speech about their favorite hot pot in a weird accent that sounded part Kansai dialect, part broken Japanese. Tachibana made a strong point about there being “lots of collagen” and Shiosaki introduced mizutaki in an elegant Kyoto-Esque dialect.
As a result, all three except Hoshiki were deemed to have got the same number of votes, which concluded the talk show.
The evening program’s “Let’s Practice Etudes!” was one of the most challenging events in 「WORKSHOP」vol.1 and vol.2, and this time was no exception.
The theme of the improve was “rookie voice actors introduce themselves to a famous voice actor on the way to a voice recording.” Before the improve session, the members were talking about who was going to play the part of the famous voice actor, but Shiosaki fell into the role with ease.
The remaining three acted as flustered rookie voice actors, while Shiosaki did her best impression as a famous actor. However, the story took a turn; instead, the three rookies pointed out that Shiosaki was actually a comedian impersonating a famous voice actor. At the climax, Tachibana confessed “actually, I was the real voice actor,” and expressed her disappointment at the newbies who couldn’t even introduce themselves properly, and the show came to an end.
After the improv, the four took to the stage to show off their cover songs. The songs they covered were chosen from fan requests sent to the 『BATON=RELAY』 official Twitter account.
Stating “I feel like I can remember an important, long-lost memory,” and “I want Misato to sing it too,” Shirahana chose ZONE’s “secret base~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~” for the afternoon program and “To see the future” by Ren (voiced by Kusunoki Tomori) from “Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online” for the evening program.
You could feel the emotion in her voice as she stared straight in front of her, sometimes gazing up at the ceiling, other times closing her eyes as if lost in thought.
Shiosaki sang Suda Masaki’s “Machigai Sagashi” in the afternoon, which she loved from the original, and LiSA’s “Catch the Moment” in the evening. Although the two songs have a different feel to them and are difficult to sing, Shiosaki sang them both steadily in her characteristic cute voice even during the high notes.
Tachibana chose LiSA’s “say my name no kataomoi” for the afternoon program, which she picked with her character in mind, and her idol Mizuki Nana’s “Shin-ai” for the evening.
Both performances closely resembled the original artists, including her hand movements, engagement with the crowd, and ways of singing.
Hoshiki chose to sing “Get over” by Ogura Yui in the afternoon and TrySail’s “adrenaline!!!” in the evening. When engaging with the audience she pointed the mic toward them, using her whole body to rile up the crowd and encourage clapping and cheering, never letting her smile slip throughout her performance.
On the other hand, she also showed a serious side before performing “Get over”. “Lately, I let myself down, so I’m singing this to help me get over this hump”. Her expression and words conveyed her professionalism and passion for her job as a voice actor.
The concept of 『BATON=RELAY』 is “Voice Actresses of the Next Generation Project” and aims to discover the next generation of “voice actresses.” Therefore, the 「WORKSHOP」 included a stage reading aimed to polish the acting skills essential for voice acting.
The event revealed many things about each of the characters, such as how Misato becomes obsessed when she’s interested in something and likes “things that happen to catch your eye.” Ririka is unique but tends to analyze things with calm composure. Senri pays attention to everyone’s needs and keeps the group together. Nao is usually laid back, but once she’s in the zone even the tone of her voice changes.
The live voice acting lesson that followed was like the『BATON=RELAY』 game. Using the animation that’s actually used in the game, the four members played the characters in the anime.
At this performance, guests received special items such as a character flow chart and a booklet including the audition script, which made it seem more like an actual audition and recording session.
The clips used for the live acting was from a comedy anime called 『Arcana? Clover』, which involves “chibis, comedy acts, and absurdity.” As with vol.2, the four voice actors dubbed the roughly sketched characters in time to the “bold” sign (indicates timing) flashing on the screen.
After the performance they said they “felt nervous” but they also “wanted to know more about the story,” showing their interest in the source material.
Once the live voice acting ended, it was time for the second live performance. This time the cast sang original songs from 『BATON=RELAY』.
First Tachibana and Shiosaki sang “Canary” and the theme song of 『Tenki-ame to, Kumorizora』“TADAIMA,” which was the source material for the live voice acting session in vol.2. They both had strong voices in their solo performances, but this time they harmonized beautifully with each other. Next Hoshiki and Shirahana sang “Dreams come true in April” and the theme song of 『@MAGIA』 “MAJI de MAGIA,” the source material of the first live voice acting session. While one sung the other riled up the crowd, and the two perfectly complemented each other.
After showing comments from the cast members for the next event, 「BATON=RELAY WORKSHOP vol.4」, the four reappeared on stage in white costumes and performed “Kakedashi no Monologue.” “We’re each wearing different-colored floral hairpieces that express our personalities,” they explained, before giving a preview of upcoming events.
The voice actors announced that they would be holding an autograph giveaway to celebrate 30,000 followers on the 『BATON=RELAY』 official Twitter account and that they would be selling a booklet featuring Wakaki Tamiki’s original illustrations and a CD including “Start me up” and “Kakedashi no Monologue” (Short ver.) at 「Comic Market 97」. They also hinted that Kaduho, the creator of “Kill Me Baby,” would be starting an “official” webcomic series on the 『BATON=RELAY』 official website and Twitter account.
The evening program unveiled the second set of hero images specially designed by Wakaki. In addition, illustrations of Ikari Neiko (voiced by Izawa Mikako), the chief manager in charge of 「Relay Production」 and the 16 rookie voice actors, and company president Koen Akari (voiced by Inami Anju) were also revealed.
As a way of attracting more attendees to WORKSHOP vol.4, Mikuzuki Kaede who plays the role of Tenjin Matsuri also joined the stage. While she seemed highly nervous in the afternoon, she seemed more relaxed in the evening and promoted the event in earnest, although her castmates pointed out she had “a habit of inching backward once she started talking.”
Lastly, the four gave their impressions of the event. Shirahana talked about her hopes for the project, stating “I’m happy that through this event, I’m able to stand here as Sakura Misato and with all 16 members. I’m looking forward to meeting new voices and to the beginning of a new chapter”.
The show ended on one more performance of “Start me up” amidst the four voice actors’ sweet and carefree smiles.
The 「BATON=RELAY WORKSHOP vol.4」 held at Bellesalle Onarimon-ekimae Event Hall is planning a free invitation-only rehearsal. For details, please check the 『BATON=RELAY』 official website and Twitter account.
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