“Kotobuki Minako's Another Wonderland in the UK” is a series of interviews with voice actress Kotobuki Minako, who is currently living in the UK, and reports her daily life in the UK in her own words.
In the last interview, we talked about the current situation in the UK after the deregulation, her thoughts on dubbing work during the corona crisis, and her reacting to Takagaki Ayahi-san's cooking video in “4 colors LABO”.
In this 4th interview, we will be looking back at Kotobuki-san's life in the UK with the photos she took for a change. What was the moment that touched Kotobuki-san this past month?
[Interview and composition by Yoneda Kaori]
■The UK and Kotobuki Minako both had a change in this past month.
――It's been about a month since the last interview. Could you tell us about what happened to you and your surroundings?
Kotobuki: In the UK, cafes and pubs started to re-open in July and I have the impression that the city is getting a lot busier.
I haven't had a meal inside a store, but as far as looking from the outside, each shop is doing its best to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
――Has there been any change in your life?
Kotobuki: I just finished this semester's exam the other day!
I'm now going to summer school. The content of the classes, teachers, and classmates have all changed, so I feel refreshed attending the classes.
■Enjoying delicious meals every day! Home cooking by the host family
――I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures and hearing stories that come with it! Here's the first photo. Is this a soap bar…?
Kotobuki: No, it's caramel made by my host mother, haha!
――Oh, I'm sorry…
Kotobuki: She told me its easy to make, “You just need to mix and let it harden.” I want to try making it someday!
――Is this second photo another dish by your host mother?
Kotobuki: Yes. It's a baked apple with caramel in it and custard on top of it.
In the UK, they have a tradition of having custard every holiday, and at my host house, the deserts we have for Sunday lunch always have custard on them.
――It looks so good it makes me hungry.
Kotobuki: It sure was delicious!
In fact, I used to dislike baked apples. I hated the sogginess of baked apples, but as you can see in the picture, it kept its shape and wasn't soggy so I could just keep on eating.
――There are a lot more photos of the dishes made by your host family.
Kotobuki: It's become more of a collection of my host mother's dishes, haha.
■Kotobuki Minako's home cooking! She challenges cooking on YouTube!
――In a previous interview, you said that you only eat food prepared by the host family on weekends. Do you have any photos of the dishes you cook for yourself on weekdays?
Kotobuki: Yes I do! I cooked this mango cheesecake with my host mother to celebrate the 375th (Minako) episode of “Kotobuki Minako's Rough Laugh”. (※A radio program hosted by Kotobuki-san broadcast on Chou! A&G+.)
And I also cooked sausage rolls, a traditional British dish. I've introduced this dish on my YouTube channel “Kotobuki Minako's ~Maji Kotobuki!~”.
Kotobuki: It's a delicious pie with sausage fillings in it. A friend of mine told me it was easy to cook, so I tried making it. I didn't need a knife for the most part and it was really simple.
British dishes are so heavily dependant on the oven, haha.
→Next Page: Meeting with a friend for the first time at the park! What did they talk about in nature?
■Meeting a friend for the first time at the park! What did they talk about in nature?
――These white flowers are beautiful!
Kotobuki: They're from my host family's garden. I loved the sense of humor of my host father when picked these flowers and said, “Don't tell about me giving you these flowers. She'll be jealous.”
Needless to say, it's rare to have such a big garden in Tokyo. The parks are full of nature, and it's so big that there's a river running through it. There are even wild squirrels and foxes in the park. I guess they find it very cozy.
――I heard you met your classmate with who you only communicated online.
Kotobuki: I'm really good friends with the girl from Iraq I mentioned in the last interview, and we actually met and talked at the park yesterday!
We both love K-pop and Korean dramas, so we always enjoy talking about it, haha.
Oh, and she watched “A Whisker Away”, which I take part in.
(Available worldwide on Netflix. ※Kotobuki-san voiced Fukase Yoriko).
―― What did your friend from Iraq think about it?
Kotobuki: She said that the cat's were super cute, and she enjoyed it.
I asked her if she recognized my voice, and she said “Of course! It was clear as day. You were that girl who becomes a cat (Muge voiced by Shida Mirai), right?” No, that wasn't me! I couldn't help laughing, haha.
――haha. But it is quite a rare experience to be able to hear about what overseas viewers think about the work you took part in. Did you notice any other differences between countries?
Kotobuki: When we decided to meet at the park, I brought “Potapota Yaki” (A common rice cracker from Japan) with me as a gift, but she brought me some homemade sweets!
She told me it was a traditional sweets from Iraq, and it looked like thick pancakes. It had grains often used in Arabic countries with some syrup on top.
She even had drinks and other snacks, so I felt bad for bringing only “Potapota Yaki”, haha.
――Do you talk to her about each other's countries?
Kotobuki: She's still 22, and she experienced the war between the US when she was in elementary school, and the war between ISIS when she was 16.
During class, we often talk about what we did as a child, but she almost never had the chance to play outside, and going out on her own was out of the question. It made me realize how different it is in Japan.
――An English garden full of nature seems like a good place to have a conversation.
Kotobuki: It sure is! In fact, yesterday was the second time I met her, but we got to talk a lot more than we did online.
■Which Marvel movie does Kotobuki Minako like? The movie she watched with Yuuki Aoi ranked in.
――This photo is from a shop. I see many Marvel goods.
Kotobuki: They had a corner full of Marvel goods, so I had to take a picture. I bought Marvel designed Q-tips and cotton pads because they were so cute.
――By the way, which Marvel movies are your favorites?
Kotobuki: I chose my “Top 5 favorite movies” in class the other day, and I put “Avengers: Endgame” at 4th place.
I've watched most of the Marvel movies, and I love them all so it was hard to pick one of them.
I went to watch the earliest screening of “Endgame” with Yuuki Aoi-chan. There were many people in cosplay and I took a picture with a person in the costume of Black Widow. I loved the film including these memories.
Oh, and Black Panther is my favorite hero! It was the first Marvel film I've ever seen.
■Is “Harry Potter” everywhere in the UK? Lots of cute goods.
――These are “Harry Potter” socks.
Kotobuki: I found these at the fashion chain “Primark”, which is said to be the cheapest in the UK. It's not a surprise that you can find “Harry Potter” goods where ever you go.
――You watched a “Harry Potter” stage play in the UK, right?
Kotobuki: Yes! I really enjoyed it so I want everyone to watch it. I was in awe during the entire show.
They are planning to bring it to Japan in 2022, and I look forward to that too.
→Next Page: Hair cut in the garden! Hairdressers in the UK get creative.
■Hair cut in the garden! Hairdressers in the UK get creative.
――This is a selfie of you. Your hair is a lot shorter than in the last interview!
Kotobuki: Thanks for noticing!
I could only meet people outside to prevent the spread of CVID-19, so I had a hairdresser cut my hair in the yard. It was nice to get a hair cut under the open sky!
■First time to see the sights in the UK!
――This is a photo of the famous “Marble Arch”. (The gates at Hyde Park, London. Designed by John Nash in 1828.)
Kotobuki: Yes. There were some documents I needed to pick up from central London, so I took a photo of it on my first train ride since I got here.
It was shocking to see people playing table tennis under the Marble Arch, haha.
I was also shocked to see the people in the photo shaking their elbows instead of their hands after the game. I've heard about “greeting with elbows and feet” in the news, but this was the first time to see people actually doing it.
■Choosing tea of the color of Sphere! What did she send as her first international mail?
――The package design of this tea is so cute!
Kotobuki: This brand is called “Hebden Tea”. The tea is from Yorkshire and comes in a variety of flavors! I bought it because my friend recommended it to me.
――I saw you comparing different flavor teas on YouTube. Did you change your ranking or find any new delicious tea since then?
Kotobuki: Lately, I've been drinking “Pukka Tea”, which I mentioned on YouTube. It's cheap and delicious!
The other day, I had an opportunity to use international mail for the first time, so I decided to send “Pukka Tea” to the members of Sphere.
“Pukka Tea” has a really wide variety, so I got a pink tea that says “LOVE” for (Takagaki) Ayaka and because Haru-chan (Tomatsu Haruka) is orange, I got her some with Manuka and ginger in it. For Aki-chan (Toyosaki Aki), I got some tea designed with white and green because she sang a song about white clovers. I chose tea based on the color of the members of Sphere.
■Fireworks at midnight?! Different rules from Japan.
――This is a video instead of a photo. It looks like you were recording fireworks from home.
Kotobuki: You would think they're organized by the government or the city, but they're actually set off by locals.
I was surprised that anybody could set off fireworks in the UK.
Also, it's about 10:00 p.m. when the sun goes down in the UK now, so the fireworks go off when people try to go to bed. The explosions shook me up when I was half asleep, and I was like, “What's going on?!” But I forgave them because they were so beautiful, haha.
■Kotobuki Minako's thoughts on looking back on life in the UK.
――Looking back on the past month with these photos, was there anything new you noticed?
Kotobuki: It's great to feel inspired and laugh again at what happened in the past! I try to take pictures of even the little things, but some of them I find not interesting enough to post it on my blog, so it was nice to be able to show you these photos I didn't have the opportunity to reveal.
I hope they'll give you a smile.
―― Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to your fans?
Kotobuki: The seasons have changed in the blink of the eye, and summer is already here. The UK does have four seasons, not as distinct as in Japan, but I'm enjoying it.
I hope you all enjoy each day and turn your ordinary days into great memories!
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For this series, we're looking for ideas on what about ask Kotobuki-san and what you would want her to do on Twitter. Our editorial team will consider the questions and ideas tweeted with the hashtag “#寿美菜子AA連載”.
We'd love to see your ideas!
Kotobuki Minako Profile
“A Whisker Away” as Fukase Yoriko
A member of “Sphere” consisting of Takagaki Ayahi, Tomatsu Haruka, and Toyosaki Aki.