“Another Wonderland in the UK” is a series of interviews in which Kotobuki Minako, a voice actress who is currently living in the UK, talks about her daily life in the UK.
In the last interview, she was enjoying her life in England, overcoming her stay home period, enjoying her long-cherished “Victoria & Albert Museum” and celebrating her friend’s birthday. In the theme talk, she revealed the person for whom she has been longing for 10 years.
In this part 16, we will take a look back on her last month in England with photos taken by Kotobuki-san. She tells about what she learned from this experience and her impressions of the “Wimbledon Tennis Championships”, which was her first challenge as a reporter. Also, as Japan is in the middle of the “Tokyo Olympics 2020”, I asked Kotobuki-san about her memories of “sports”.
[Interview / text = Yoneda Kaori]
■ The first challenge as a reporter at Wimbledon Tennis!
――Congratulations on your reporter’s job for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships! Fans were excited to see Kotobuki-san’s everyday reports.
Kotobuki: Thank you to everyone who watched it! This was my first time working as a reporter, so I was very nervous. My knowledge of tennis was a little bit ignorant when I was playing “Baby Steps” (* an anime about tennis in which Kotobuki-san played Takasaki Natsu). I was even asked, “Maybe you’ll be interviewed in English.” I was happy when I heard that, but as time went on, I was worried, “Can I handle it?”
――In the first place, Kotobuki-san, how have you been assigned to a reporter?
Kotobuki: Previously, I was in charge of narration for a program that introduced the Lake District in England, and the person who took care of me recommended me for the position. After the recommendation, I was asked, “I recommended you, but, Kotobuki-san, are you interested in tennis?” (Laughs). At that time, I thought, “The order is reversed (laughs)!” But now I’m thinking, “I’m glad I checked after the fact!” Because, I would have declined the offer because “It might be difficult because I don’t have knowledge of tennis…”.
Earlier, I said, “There were times when I was struck by anxiety,” but I’ve had a lot of fun every day since it started. I am grateful to those who recommended me.
――I was watching the broadcast on WOWOW every day, but most of the people there didn’t wear masks. Please tell us about the recent situation in England.
Kotobuki: Looking at the current number of infected people in the UK, you will be scared. It’s a nightmare for me, like last year’s third lockdown. However, compared to that time, the number of seriously sick people has decreased considerably. So, by the time this article comes out, I think the regulations will have been completely lifted, and the day commonly known as “Freedom Day,” will have arrived.
――In the last interview, you mentioned that you made a reservation for the vaccine, but on YouTube, you introduced in detail the physical condition after the vaccination.
Kotobuki: I received only one shot. In the UK, you have to wait at least 6 weeks till the second shot, so I’ll receive it next month (August). Up to that point, I cannot neglect the rules. In the UK, there was news that the cases are increasing in which people who received the first shot, get too relaxed, and tend to be infected after.
――Let’s take a look back at the state of England and the precious Wimbledon with photos.
■ Memories of Wimbledon, what I learned from an unfamiliar field
――It’s Strawberry & Cream, which was introduced on YouTube. It looks pretty good, so I’m really curious about the taste.
Kotobuki: I imagined eating a strawberry with condensed milk, so I thought it was a little lacking in sweetness. However, the strawberries themselves are delicious enough to compensate for that! I’ve never eaten such a delicious strawberry in England. They use strawberries that were just picked in the morning in Kent.
――You also enjoyed shopping for tennis and children’s clothing.
Kotobuki: I’m addicted to collecting Wimbledon goods (laughs). What I wear in this photo is the wear for the ball person (* the person who manages the ball) on the tennis court. It is by Ralph Lauren and it is so cute that I needed to buy it.
――What was your favorite thing to buy, and what do you recommend to those who will come to Wimbledon in the future?
Kotobuki: you can buy the used ball, the one that players actually used in the game, and I think it is something good to buy. It’s valuable, it can be used as a souvenir, and it’s cheaper than a new one! Although you never know who used it (laughs).
――Are there any people or things that you referred to during your reporter’s job?
Kotobuki: Regarding the interview, I just remembered my interviews, in aspects such as “This was easy to answer”, and “I was happy with this question.” I’m interviewed by Anime!Anime! every month, so I thought, “I should have asked about things the interviewers are being careful of! ” (Laughs).
Regarding the reports, I asked my good friend Kae Hiromi (a talent who is active in multiple fields such as actress and radio personality) over the phone. When I asked, “What do you value in reporting?”, she said, “You have to talk with your face!” (Laughs). Of all the advice I received, the most memorable one was, “It’s enough to think that live broadcasts and broadcasts will not go as planned.” I usually work with a script, so I think I would have panicked if I didn’t have it.
■ “Visit my brother’s memories” in Cambridge
――This is Cambridge! It’s a wonderful photo with flowers.
Kotobuki: I also like this one! But it is out of focus (laughs). My brother used to live in Cambridge, and I had been there at that time, but it was winter then, so no blooming flowers, and even no shopping during the New Year holidays. I’m glad I was able to visit Cambridge again at a right time.
――It was the long-awaited Cambridge. Where did you go for sightseeing?
Kotobuki: The photo shows a famous place called King’s College Chapel, but other than this, it was a “visit my brother’s memories”. When I called my brother and asked, “Where should I go?”, he said “I want to see Lloyds (bank)” and burst into laughter (laughs). When I arrived at the bank, we talked “I couldn’t open an account at this bank”, and added “What kind of tour is this !?” (laughs). But I’m glad I was able to do it for my brother.
■ How Kotobuki Minako enjoys sports
――You said you started playing tennis after Wimbledon tennis. How are you doing now?
Kotobuki: When I am asked how I’m doing, I feel as if I were a player (laughs). Before Wimbledon started, I went practicing there three times a week and was training thoroughly. I wanted to know what people like about tennis and knowing that I wanted to challenge Wimbledon. I wanted to learn early, so I asked a lot of questions about Japanese coaches, such as “What should I answer when asked?” and “What kind of ball is this?”
――Will you continue playing tennis after you return to Japan?
Kotobuki: I want to continue! I would like to prepare for next year’s Wimbledon! (For sure!)
――Japan is currently in the midst of the Tokyo Olympics. Please tell us if there are any competitions that you are interested in or “how you enjoy sports” after going through Wimbledon.
Kotobuki: I like water sports, so I’m interested in surfing, which is a competition from this year. Also, since I used to be a swimmer, I always pay attention to swimming. What I thought because I experienced Wimbledon this time is that the more I know about the players, the more interesting it becomes. I think you will be deeply moved when you know what kind of feelings they have when they are fighting.
■ The first-ever voice actors’ unit! Sphere’s VR live concert
――It was announced that the first “VR live” will be held on August 22nd.
Kotobuki: It seems that this is the first attempt in history for a voice actors’ unit to become 3D models and perform at a virtual live concert. Perhaps fans were thinking, “What will they do after the live event to perform all the songs!?” There is a full virtual debut! Once again, I was very grateful that I had to do it for the first time even after more than 10 years of activity.
――I’m very curious about what kind of live it will be.
Kotobuki: The girls drawn in the key visual will be singing and dancing in 3D. I’m really looking forward to it too! Moreover, I think one of the highlights is that everyone can enjoy in the front row.
I would like you to to enjoy the fresh feeling of the virtual live, and if you have experienced real Sphere live, I would like you to enjoy the difference. I would like you to feel the “Sphere circle” that we have created together in virtual space.
The new songs released by Sphere this year have not been performed live yet, so please look forward to what kind of setlist it will be. Also, there may be a new choreography by the dance leader Minako-sensei!! So check out it too!
――I’m looking forward to it!