Hanae Natsuki, voice actor of Kamado Tanjiro from “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”, is part of the main cast of the movie “Gyoko no Nikuko-chan” which premiered on Jun. 11, 2021.

The movie is based on the original novel written by Nishi Kanako, and was awarded the 152nd Naoki prize holding a sales record of 350,000 copies. Akashiya Sanma was involved as a producer in the the anime movie.
The plot follows a journey of growth of Nikuko-chan and Kikuko, a mother and daughter living on a boat in a fishing harbor. The next day after the release was announced, voice actor Hanae Natsuki was also announced as being part the cast, quickly raising awareness to the movie.

Hanae voices Kikuko’s classmate, Ninomiya, a young boy who plays an important role in the development of the story.

We have interviewed Hanae via email and asked questions about the highlights of the movie and production anecdotes involving Akashiya Sanma.

■ What was some of the advice received from Akashiya Sanma? “He was there for the recording, but…”
—How did you feel when you were first proposed the role, given that Akashiya Sanma was involved as a producer?

Hanae: When I first got the proposal through my agency I was told that Sanma would be producing it. But I only decided to accept the role after taking a close look at the development papers from STUDIO4°C. I was quite impressed by the retrograde aesthetic of the visuals, such as the decaying fishing harbor town, which evoked a sense of nostalgia, and I also found myself being fond to the work as a whole.

—What was your first impression of Akashiya Sanma?

Hanae: I grew up watching him on the TV since I was a child, so the impression I have of him is of “being that guy on the screen”. He always seems to be enjoying himself when he talks, and that puts me in a happy mood.

—The original novel by Nishi Kanko won the 152nd Naoki Prize selling more than 350,000 copies. What’s your opinion about the novel after reading it alongside the screenplay script? What did you find interesting about it?

Hanae: The dialogues between Nikuko and Kikuko were very funny. And the plot twist is compelling as well. Despite being narrow in terms of themes touched upon, the world building itself felt huge.
Also I was looking forward to seeing what kind of way Nikuko was going to turn out on the big screen since her sense of presence in the original work is so powerful; and the movie ended up blowing my expectations. I think it turned out this great due to the visual quality of the animation and the superb performance by Otake (Nikuko’s voice).

—What kind of character is Ninomiya, the young boy you voiced?

Hanae: Ninomiya isn’t a character who gets much of the spotlight. However, he serves as a guiding light for Kikuko, reminding through his dialogues with her about what the important things really are.

—In regards to character building, what were some specific things you were careful about or what were some foundational points that served as a basis for your performance?

Hanae: Ninomiya is a mysterious kid. I was given some pointers from the director such as “to speak in a way that almost sounds like he is engaged in a conversation but at the same time isn’t”, and “saying all the things he wants to say one sidedly during the dialogues”; so I decided to focus on that. Because of that I feel that my character has the smallest voice among all the characters that appear in the movie…. (laugh).

Also, people normally don’t really pay any special attention to stuff like voice intonation or the way they speak when they’re talking to others, let alone an elementary school kid like Ninomiya . So I tried to voice him in a natural manner as much as possible rather than focusing on more technical aspects of performing.

—Was there any particular directing orders from Akashiya Sanma in regards to voice acting?

Hanae: There was this time when I stuttered during the recordings. Sanma was present during that, and he told me to be careful about it (laughs).

—In Jan. 21, 2021 you appeared on his show “Sanma no Manma”. Do you have further appearances scheduled?

Hanae: Well I was very nervous during the show, but it was a lot of fun at the same time. I would love very much to make another appearance if another opportunity presents itself in the future!

—Anything you want to say to the audience who are about to see the movie?

Hanae: It’s a movie made for people of all ages. You can watch it with your family, friends, or lover. And I think it’s the type of movie that changes people. After finishing it you’ll feel a little bit different inside when thinking about the important people in your life. I hope that people will be invigorated after seeing the powerfulness of Nikuko on the theaters. Do look forward to it.

(c) 2021 “Gyoko no Nikuko-chan” Production Committee
Distributed by Asmik Ace