Closing in on the life of Kotobuki Minako in Britain! What is it like living in a lockdown situation? What messages did she receive from the members of Sphere? 【Part 1】
In 2019, Kotobuki Minako, the voice actress known for the roles, such as Isabella York from "Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll" and Blue Rose/Karina Lyle from "Tiger & Bunny", had announced in her blog that she will move to Britain for a year from spring 2020.
Many fans cheered for her on social media with comments like, "I'll be waiting for the return of the even better Kotobuki Minako-san!" and "It's amazing how she is quick to take action. I admire her for that!"
Kotobuki-san went to Britain this spring.
She wrote in her blog on Mar. 25, that she is facing a language barrier, but spending an exciting time.
She said she is, "Preparing for sending out new things I feel and find out through this blog and other means."
This interview series is one of them. We at Anime!Anime! will be reporting Kotobuki-san's life in Britain with her own words!
In this memorable 1st report, we will be asking Kotobuki-san the reason she moved and what kind of life she lives in Britain. We will also ask her about the situation of the novel coronavirus in Britain, which is now in lockdown.
"I want to cherish the time I have now more than ever," she says. Let's see what her situation in Britain is.
[Interviewed and written by Yoneda Kaori]
■What does she do in lockdown Britain?
――(Seeing Kotobuki-san in the video chat software)Hi, Kotobuki-san. Can you hear me?
Kotobuki: Crystal clear.
――Great！ So, in this interview series, I intend to close in on how you spend your everyday life in Britain. First of all, about the worldwide issue. How's the situation of the novel coronavirus in Britain?
Kotobuki: As you know, Britain is in lockdown now. It happened right after I came to Britain. So, to me, this is the only Britain I know, and it hasn't been much of a problem for me.
The house I'm staying at is very big, and they have a nice English garden, so I'm enjoying myself even without leaving the house.
Every day the news is about the coronavirus, and I believe what you hear about Britain is mostly gloomy news like the increasing numbers of the infected.
The rules in Britain are quite strict. We are not allowed to go out except for groceries or exercising, and can be fined for going out or having meetings if they are considered unnecessary.
I'm flattered that some of you are worried about me, but I'm doing quite well over here!
■Why did Kotobuki Minako decide to go to Britain? A dream she had since she was 26.
――I'm glad to hear you're doing well! Once again, can you tell us why you decided to move to Britain?
Kotobuki: Actually, I've wanted to see a new world, live in a foreign country since I was around 26 or 27.
――Why did you choose Britain?
Kotobuki: Well, there are many countries I want to visit, but I also wanted to study English and drama. So my choices were down to Britain or New York, where the entertainment industry is big.
In the end, I chose Britain because, a few years ago, I enjoyed my visit during the New Year's holidays to see my brother studying in Britain. It made me want to live there.
Another reason is the works that I was involved in projects related to Britain. For example, in the "K-On!" film, Kotobuki Tsumugi and her friends visit Britain, or the stageplays "Tanin no Me" and "Run for Your Wife" were set in Britain. I guess I felt some kind of fate.
――How did everyone react when you told them about moving to Britain?
Kotobuki: I showed all my determination when telling my management team. I simulated many patterns like "How should I react when I say this," and got ready for any kind of questions, haha.
But fortunately, I was overthinking, and they encouraged me of this idea.
Since then, I've advanced my career, built trust in the industry, etc. so I can keep working from Britain.
――How about the members of Sphere (※)? How did they react?
Kotobuki: I remember the day I told them as if it were yesterday.
We had this morning meeting and were having breakfast together. I told them I have something to tell them and talked about my thoughts to them for about an hour.
I said that I want to go to Britain, but then I can't work together with them. To be honest, I wasn't sure what will be of Sphere.
Even though this could cause trouble for them, they were like, "Wow! Sounds great! Go for it!"
They told me, "No matter what troubles come up, you should do what you want to." Their words encouraged me and lightened my worried mind.
※A voice actress unit that consists of Kotobuki Minako, Takagaki Ayahi, Tomatsu Haruka, and Toyosaki Aki. They reached their 10th anniversary in 2019 and performed all of their songs in a live performance.
――Seems that many people accepted your idea and encouraged you.
Kotobuki: Thankfully, yes. Oh, but there was one person who was against it. My father, haha.
He's afraid of flying. It's too unpredictable for him because he's never been on a plane. He must have been worried when my brother went to Britain, and now it's my turn. Every chance he had, he would say, "You can still choose not to go," haha.
――I see. He must have been even more worried since the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Kotobuki: My father for sure was worried, but actually, it was my brother who tried to stop me right before leaving. He told me how inconvenient it could be with me not being fluent in English, and was worried if I could deal with the problems that may come up.
My family thought maybe I should come back to Japan, but the need to keep myself in quarantine for 2 weeks and not having such a place, I told them that it's out of the question.
――It seems you had a hard time right before going to Britain.
Kotobouki: I sure did. But mentally, the decision to go was the hardest. Once decided, it was like being relieved from a heavy burden.
Before that, I always tried to push back my desire to go by thinking about work or other things. It was relieving to not have to do that anymore.
→Next Page: "I want to cherish the time I have now more than ever.” What does she do in lockdown Britain?
■"I want to cherish the time I have now more than ever.” What does she do in lockdown Britain?
――I believe there were many fans worried about what will happen to Sphere's activities. The "Seiyu Roudokukai" (Voice Actors' Recitation Club) held the other day, in which the members of Sphere recited picture books and fairy tales, had attracted much attention.
Kotobuki: Takagaki Ayahi-chan told me she wants to "Do what we can even more so in our situation," and that's how it all happened.
Also, I will be participating in the "Kotohayu Relay Recitation" of "Seiyu Roudokukai" with Yuuki Aoi-chan and Hayami Saori-chan. This was Aoi-chan's idea!
I'm quite busy with these recordings and English studies, even in this lockdown situation.
――It seems like it's not only you, but the whole voice acting industry is starting to move towards online activities, such as the "Seiyu Roudokukai".
Kotobuki: I believe so too. These activities from Britain and online recitations are new things.
If it were 5 years ago, I would have come to Britain, but since the situation was completely different, I might have had to stop most of my work.
――So far as what I read in your blogs, you seem to be enjoying your life in Britain.
Kotobuki: When I arrived in Britain, I had been thinking about how I would go to watch a stage performance every weekend. But since I realized that's not going to happen, I decided to enjoy what I can do even in this situation.
If anything, now is the time to study. If I can't get myself to study in this situation, I think I will never be able to learn anything forever, haha.
■In what did she feel Britishness the most?
――Tell us about Britain in your experience. In what did you feel Britishness the most?
Kotobuki: Well, there are many things. The first thing that comes to mind is how everyone doesn't wait for the green light, haha.
It may be because the crosswalks are shorter than in Japan, but the traffic lights seldom work for the convenience of pedestrians.
Seeing "Look Right" at the beginning of the crosswalk and seeing "Look Left" after crossing halfway was quite the experience. It's the complete opposite of what we do in Japan.
Also, somehow I feel that British people are not afraid of having their own opinion.
The host family often tells me to do as I wish. For instance, when I was waiting for the host mother to finish using the kitchen, she told me I should have just asked how long she would be there.
I think everyone is confident about what they want.
Not in a self-centered way, because they always ask me what I want too. I realized how important it is to have my own opinion.
――We often hear that the food in Britain is not good. How is your dining experience?
Kotobuki: I also had that image and wasn't expecting much for the food. But fortunately, my host mother is a great cook!
She told me she had been taking cooking classes since she was 11 (the first year of Secondary School in Britain). She even cooks me dishes from Japan or other countries. They're all so delicious.
I haven't had any problems with the food.
――Was there any especially memorable dish?
Kotobuki: That would be the lamb steak she cooked on Easter(※). It's a custom that is also in the story of Easter.
Unfortunately, I'm not very fond of sheep meat, so I wasn't very excited when I heard the menu. Even worse, it came with Indian rice, which had a fruit sauce on it and raisins in it. I'm not the type to put pineapples in fried rice, so I was nervous about eating this raisin rice, but it was sooooo delicious!! I dug right into it.
The Easter lunch Kotobuki-san enjoyed.
※Also known as Resurrection Sunday, Easter is an important day for the Christian religion. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ 3 days after his burial following his crucifixion.
――Easter is an important day for the British right? Did you do anything on that day?
Kotobuki: I handcrafted Easter eggs and a hat called an Easter bonnet.
The Easter eggs Kotobuki-san crafted. There's an egg inspired by Sphere too.
Kotobuki-san wearing her Easter bonnet.
I bought a hat with rabbit ears on it and decorated it with ornaments I bought for 1£. I sewed on eggs and put some stickers on it.
"I borrowed a sewing box and sewed this on the top of the hat. It came out quite stylish. Now it's become a decoration for my room."
――It seems you've enjoyed Easter. You also talked about going to a supermarket that has Japanese foods on the radio. Do you miss Japanese cuisine?
Kotobuki: The Japanese taste is quite comforting. I've had this routine in Japan of eating Japanese food after two days of western cuisine, and I'm still on the same diet, haha.
I get the Miso pickled mackerels at the sashimi section of the supermarket, where they prepare the food for you in front of you. I keep them in the freezer and cook them when I feel like it.
――Is there anywhere you want to go or try out in Britain?
Kotobuki: There are so many things I want to do! I can't go out because of the lockdown, but I do want to go to a café to have some afternoon tea.
Another thing I definitely want to do is to go see a stageplay. The restricted view seats can be quite cheap if you get the same-day tickets, and if the seats in front are vacant, I hear they even let you sit in those seats.
I can't wait to see a live British stageplay. I'm going to watch so many until I feel that I had enough stageplays for the time being.
■Kotobuki Minako debuts as a YouTuber! What kind of channel does she want to make it?
――You started your YouTube channel, "Kotobuki Minako no ~Maji Kotobuki!", on Apr. 21. What kind of channel do you want to create?
Kotobuki: I started the channel to introduce the everyday life and the different sceneries that can only be seen in Britain.
Sadly, I can't show you the British sites due to the lockdown, so I'll be shooting in my room or from the garden.
But I believe there is much Britishness even inside the house, and what I feel is something that can only be felt now, so I'll do my best to thoroughly report whats going on.
I had this planned out from before arriving in Britain and studied a lot since I wasn't familiar with YouTube. I hope I can show the fans a new side of me.
――Are there any projects you have in mind?
Kotobuki: I was intending to report on the cafés in Britain, but I guess I'll start with something I can do in the house like comparing the tastes of different foods.
Just the other day, I made a video about comparing the tastes of this food I'm really into.
――That's interesting! Can you give us any recommendations?
Kotobuki: I was surprised by how tasty the chocolates are in Britain. Among them, I'm addicted to "Twirl" from Cadbury Chocolate.
It's a long, flaky chocolate bar, and has two in a pack, making it filling. It has a light texture a bit different from that of Aero. The other chocolates are also all so tasty!
――Thanks for the recommendation. Finally, please give a message to your fans from Japan.
Kotobuki: Ever since I announced that I was going to go to Britain, people have told me how they would miss me, and that in itself is like a miracle for me.
It was amazing that people felt something and were inspired by my moving to Britain.
I myself had to brace my self for many things when I decided to go to Britain.
My life in Britain started off a bit different from what I expected, but each and every day is fresh and exciting.
I will be sharing my daily life on my blog and Youtube channel, so I'd love it if you would enjoy it.
Thank you for your continuous support!
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Britain is on lockdown due to the novel coronavirus, but Kotobuki-san is looking forward to taking on the challenge of doing what she can even in such a situation. In this series, we will continue to report her life in Britain in her own words in Part 2 and beyond.
Kotobuki Minako Profile
Fukase Yoriko from "Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu".
A member of "Sphere" which consists of her colleagues from the same production, Takagaki Ayahi, Tomatsu Haruka, and Toyosaki Aki.