A man in agony covering his face with his bandaged hand… Behind him is jet-black… His name is… “The Jet-Black Wings”
The anime “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Reawakened” (hereinafter, the series is called “Saiki”) was released on Netflix from Dec. 30, 2019. Here at Anime!Anime!, we had an interview with Shimazaki Nobunaga, who did the voice of Kaidou Shun.
Kaidou is a friend of the protagonist, Saiki Kusuo. He refers to himself as “The Jet-Black Wings” due to his “Chuunibyou”. We asked Shimazaki to cosplay the character for some photos. He nailed it displaying his deep love towards the series.
His love also seeped through the interview in which we asked about his feelings towards “Reawakened”, the must-see episodes, etc.
[Coverage・Composition: Matsumoto Mayuge, Photos: Ohara Souta]
■The “Saiki” series goes well with smartphone viewing.
―― Let's begin with how you felt when you were informed that “Reawakened” is going to be produced.
Shimazaki: It was such a treat! Me and my senpai, Kamiya Hiroshi-san (voice of Saiki Kusuo), talked about how rare it is for a once finished series to return so many times.
We went through two seasons, followed by two special episodes (Conclusion), which was an adaption of the final episodes of the manga in which Saiki-kun seals his powers. I didn't expect the subsequent episodes to be animated as well.
―― Many fans must have been looking forward to them since it was in the original manga but making an anime isn't so simple.
Shimazaki: Yes, I really felt Netflix's passion to create a new series of “Saiki” and how much the fans enjoyed the series. It made me so happy in many ways.
―― Did you ask Netflix why they decided to produce the anime?
Shimazaki: Well, I didn't ask them directly, but I did hear a story from someone else. You know that most short-stories of “Saiki” is 4 minutes long, right?
―― Yes, each episode has five 4-minute long short stories.
Shimazaki: That makes it “easy to watch when you go out”. Generally, a 30-minute anime is about 25 minutes without the commercials.
So, in many cases, you don't have the time to watch the whole show when you go out. I heard that “Saiki” works well since the stories are only 4 minutes long.
―― Come to think of it, that makes sense.
Shimazaki: It was also surprising that Netflix was producing “Saiki”. I usually had serious roles when voicing for works from Netflix.
When Kamiya-san and I attended the presentation of new animes, there was such a gap between the promotional videos of “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.” and “Levius” (starring Shimazaki)!
―― A comedy and a serious martial arts anime are quite different after all.
Shimazaki: I then realized how wide-ranged Netflix is. They both are super interesting in different ways and I want people all over the world to enjoy both of them. Especially “Saiki”, I believe is for all generations to enjoy. I couldn't wait for the streaming.
■The “sensitive” Hairo appears a lot
―― How was the recording? It must have been a while since the last.
Shimazaki: I really missed “Saiki” when we finished the recording for the 2nd season. I felt a bit better during the recording of “Conclusion”, but right after it, the void came back.
―― So you really missed the recordings.
Shimazaki: Yes, the “Saiki” recordings were like a training ground for voice actors to reach their limits.
As I often say at events, director Sakurai Hiroaki kept raising the bars. Every time we reach his standards, he would say “Well, if you can do that, try doing this”.
We being professionals, tried very hard to keep up. As a result, we end up at levels we never expected, haha.
―― I guess that's why the lines became faster and faster.
Shimazaki: It's not only the speed but the true value of “Saiki”'s recording is adding a cent of comedy to the lines.
We sometimes had to read our lines with 3 ~ 5 people in total at the same time, making it indistinguishable at the studio, but when the recordings are completed, all of our voices can be distinctively heard and are understandable and funny. It was tough but rewarding.
All the other cast are great voice actors, making me miss the recordings even more.
It's not that other recordings are easier and I'm being lazy, but “Saiki” was a physically tough training ground. Leaving the recordings was quite a loss.
―― How did you feel returning to such a recording?
Shimazaki: It made me so excited! It was nice that the environment hadn't changed. Every cast gets better and better.
―― The energy at the recordings must have been incredible.
Shimazaki: To me, Hairo(Kineshi)'s voice had the strongest impression. Hearing him truly brought me back to “Saiki”'s recordings.
―― The super hot-blooded guy voiced by Hino Satoshi-san, right.
Shimazaki: He was already heated in the original comics, but Hino-san's voice makes him even hotter. We usually consider the “distance” between the characters during recordings, changing our tone and volume according to how far the characters are.
However, Hairo voiced by Hino-san doesn't have a sense of distance. He's always shouting no matter where he is. It's amazing how he still is able to incorporate minor details into his acting.
―― If he was shouting without any thought, the character would be out of place.
Shimazaki: That's right. How he balances his voice is great, and by us adjusting to him, we make an awesome synergy.
What's more, Hairo appears a lot more than the previous series. Maybe it's because Hairo appeared in many of the episodes that hadn't yet become an anime, such as the basketball episode and the escape room episode, haha.
I used to think that Hairo wasn't in the show as much because he was a “sensitive content” since he often showed his butt. It lifted my mood that he was able to be on the show.
→Next page: Enjoy the contrast between the characters of “Boku no Watashi no Yuusha Gaku” (Our Hero Studies).
■Enjoy the contrast between the characters of “Boku no Watashi no Yuusha Gaku” (Our Hero Studies).
―― Any other must-see episodes other than the ones with Hairo in them?
Shimazaki: That would be the collaboration episode with “Boku no Watashi no Yuusha Gaku” (hereinafter “Yuusha Gaku”), which I believe everyone was looking forward to. You would see that the “Saiki” cast voiced the characters of “Yuusha Gaku”.
―― The protagonist Haganeno Ken was voiced by Kamiya-san, Hinoki Nozomi by Kayano Ai-san (Teruhashi Kokomi in “Saiki”), Munemura Masayuki by Ono Daisuke-san (Nendou Riki in “Saiki”), and you voiced Kouno Jun.
Shimazaki: The casting was to suit the positions of the characters in “Saiki”, but Kusuo and Haganeno Ken have totally opposite personalities, and Kamiya-san seemed quite excited about the recordings. He said, “I can be the person I always wanted to be at this recording!”, haha.
On the other hand, Masayuki The Guillotine (nickname of Munemura Masayuki) and Nendou are similar characters. Nendou is dull-witted, so you just be a morone without any hesitation, and though not as much as Nendou, he also is dull-witted too, haha.
―― So he had to make a difference inside the idiot genre.
Shimazaki: It was refreshing to see Ono-san getting lost during his voice acting since that never happened at the “Saiki” recordings.
The gap of Saiko Metori's voice actor, Matsukaze Masaya-san acting as Ono Ishio AKA Pig was also interesting.
―― The gap between a millionaire like Saiko and a nerd like Pig must have been quite wide.
Shimazaki: I could see the hierarchy in school. “Yuusha Gaku” is, of course, entertaining on its own, but it was interesting comparing the characters with the characters of “Saiki”. I had deep feelings for this episode since I liked “Yuusha Gaku” in the magazine.
I wish Asou-sensei would start an infinite loop of an anime of “Yuusha Gaku”, sequels of “Saiki”, another anime of “Saiki”, sequels of “Yuusha Gaku”, and so on.
―― That's how much you want both series to keep going.
Shimazaki: I sure do! I know that Asou-sensei is busy and it's only my wish, but the “Yuusha Gaku” collaboration had that much potential.
Another thing that left an impression on me from “Reawakened” was the scene where Kusuo was upset. It moved me a lot to see the mighty psychic to be disturbed so much.
I was glad to see the humanly side of Kusuo expressing his emotions and communicating without telepathy. I have to thank the series for continuing for so long.
■Fully realizing the charm of “Saiki” through a letter
―― Since the anime is released on Netflix all around the world, there are 28 languages of subtitles and 8 languages of dubbing. A few of the languages can be chosen in Japan.
Shimazaki: Netflix is very careful with localization, so I believe everyone can enjoy even a series like “Saiki” with its voluminous and speedy lines.
―― However, I fear that the subtitles of some languages are going to fill the whole screen.
Shimazaki: I know, haha. I had a chance to see the title logos of “Saiki” for each country. Each language had completely different translations of the Furigana (writing above the Kanji). It was as if they had a subtitle.
However, the best part was the dubbing. Some languages may have been more reduced, but those languages that can smoothly connect the lines might even have more content than our lines, haha. That was one of the things I really look forward to. I hope those who read this article would check out the different languages even if it's just for kicks. I believe it will be quite the experience.
Also, it's interesting to see the cultural differences through translation. I always wonder what they would say instead of the jokes that only makes sense in Japanese.
―― “Saiki” does have a lot of cultural references, such as Hatsumoude (first visit to the shrine of a new year) and Christmas.
Shimazaki: That's so true. I wonder how they interpreted them. Some events like Valentines came from overseas but now is a unique Japanese event. We were like, “We don't really understand what it stands for, but it's a happy day we got from overseas, yeah!!”, haha.
―― You've got that right, haha.
Shimazaki: I think people in America wouldn't understand whats going on. I'm really interested in how they depict the episodes.
The same goes for food. Some words like “Sushi” are already well known to other countries, but there must be some that are still not known to overseas audiences. I have to go check them out.
But I think I can't watch it on my smartphone, haha.
―― Because you would laugh?
Shimazaki: Yes, I just said that it works well with smartphones, but I myself am afraid of watching it outside. I think I would break out into so much laughter from the memories of the recordings that I wouldn't be able to hide it even under a mask. The sudden voice of mine usually becomes quite loud due to my occupation, haha.
Another problem is that I sometimes make the same faces as the characters I voiced without noticing it.
―― Maybe you should stay at home when you watch it, haha.
Shimazaki: I guess so. If I'm going to watch it outside, I would choose a place where I wouldn't disturb anyone. If I'm at home, I would watch it on the TV. I have an Android TV, so I can watch Netflix on the TV screen.
―― Do you check out your own works on the TV?
Shimazaki: Yes, I do. It's only been two years since I've been exposed to the streaming culture. One day, I saw the Netflix button on the remote. It's been there the whole time but I never knew I could watch Netflix on my TV until I pressed the button. Since then I started to drink at home, which I never did before. Now I'm enjoying myself so much! I'd be drinking a beer with some snacks and laughing my head off watching “Saiki”, haha.
―― Sounds amazing, haha. “Saiki” is a great choice when you want to let loose and laugh.
Shimazaki: Absolutely. I hear that many people watch with their families and I completely understand why. That reminds me, a letter from an elderly viewer came to the “Saiki” program. It said, “I'm watching 'Saiki' with my grandson. To be honest, some lines are too fast for me to understand, but my grandson will tell me what was said. I want to thank you for giving me more time to communicate with my grandson.”
―― That's wonderful!
Shimazaki: I was mind-blown with the influence of “Saiki”. Also, the lines being too fast to understand is so “Saiki”, haha.
I do wish to make the lines easier on the ear for the elderly audience, but this was a nice surprise. It made my day.
→ Next page: Aoni Production is The Dark Reunion?
■ Aoni Production is The Dark Reunion?
―― You said the “Saiki” recordings were a training ground. Here's a question for you voicing Kaidou. Did the training “unleash” any powers within you?
Shimazaki: I would quote Bruce Lee and say my mindset of “Don't think, feel” has been unleashed.
You really need momentum at the recordings of “Saiki”. There's no time to think of things such as, “I'll take a pause here.” or “I'll break the lines in these sections.”
―― The standards seem very high.
Shimazaki: At the recording, they have indications on the VTR so we know when to speak. However, it's so speedy we don't have the time to think of when the indications are going to appear. So we have to “feel” the timing of when to speak.
―― That's where the “Don't think, feel” mindset kicks in.
Shimazaki: When 4 or 5 of us are speaking at the same time, all of us, even the staff, are like, “We don't understand why but it worked out.” That's how much we rely on our senses.
Since I had to feel my way through the recordings, I believe my sensibilities have been expanded along with the unleashing of my “impulses” and “guts”.
In the recordings, there's a vague line between what goes and doesn't. I was able to expand the width and aim for right on the edge of the line.
―― Here's one more question related to Kaidou. I'd like to know what is the equivalent of The Dark Reunion to you? It doesn't matter if its something from work or your private life, something that has a big impact on you.
Shimazaki: Hmm… That's a difficult question… I guess that would be Aoni Production.
―― Your own agency?
Shimazaki: Yes. The members of the association are so powerful! Do you know how many of us have saved or destroyed the world multiple times? Some of us even repetitively destroy and save the world.
―― That's so true! Everyone is in super-human activities in various worlds.
Shimazaki: And in the real world, they're super famous in and out of the country. You sometimes don't even know you're listening to their voices. Having such power, it shouldn't be too difficult to take over the world!
I'm in a different position from Kaidou since he is being hunted for leaving the organization, but Aoni Production would be “the association that is always in my head” and “the association that has a great impact on myself”.
The works I've been involved in may also be The Dark Reunion. They all have great members and are interesting, having a great influence on the world.
In the end, I asked him if he misses the recordings again since the end of “Reawakened”. He crossed his fingers in front of his face and said in Kaidou-style, “What has left will never return… But I believe that the gears of time will start spinning again…”
He seems to have left a special spot for the “Saiki” series in his heart.