Voice actresses Yui Horie and Eri Kitamura were in attendance at Anime Expo 2010 to celebrate the English release of the school romance comedy anime Toradora! in America. Horie is a highly successful singer and voice actress in Japan with an impressive number of roles including Naru Narusegawa from Love Hina, Eri Sawachika from School Rumble, and of course Minori Kushieda from Toradora!. Kitamura has recently established a fan base for herself with her role as Rin Kokonoe from Kodomo no Jikan. She is probably also best known for her work as Saya Otonashi from Blood+, and as Ami Kawashima from Toradora!. See what they had to say about their work in the series in our exclusive interview with them both!
T-ONO: Toradora! is finally officially released in America, are you excited?
Horie: First of all, I am really glad that this is happening. Toradora! is one of my favorite series, it’s very interesting overall, and extremely popular in Japan. I hope that the show doesn’t get restricted to one country because I want the American audience and everyone else to experience the same enjoyment that we do in Japan through the show.
Kitamura: ME TOO! (both laugh)
Toradora! was really well received in Japan and I have a lot of otaku friends that were all excitedly talking about the show with me. I am very happy with the quality of the work. So I think Toradora! is a show that can come to America because it should, and not by some twist of fate.
T-ONO: What was your reaction to seeing so many fans here in the United States?
Horie: I am really happy, but what really surprised me the most was the fact so many people knew about us in a place so far away. I got a sense of surprise as well as a feeling of being connected. In any case, I am really happy that everyone can enjoy these anime regardless of the country.
Kitamura: I felt the dedication of otaku over here as well. I dressed up in cosplay too, but I only did the school uniform. People over here have the wigs down, and it really shows that people want to do Ami's cosplay. I was impressed with the passion by the fans over here. Another thing was, I noticed a lot of the cosplayers over here are taking in the same attitude and feel of the characters. I think they translated famous quotes from the show and really represent them well. To put it short, I was very impressed by the presentation of character. It makes me feel so glad that I got to do such a great character.
T-ONO: Horie-san, how are you and Minori Kushieda alike?
Horie: How am I alike? Minori just likes to enjoy and experience all kinds of different things, regardless of what it is... well, I'm not that alike her in this way, but I have a little bit of that quality. Another thing that I found similar with Minori and myself is that Minori can’t express her feelings openly as you would imagine given her character personality.
T-ONO: Kitamura-san, how are you and Ami Kawashima alike?
Kitamura: Ami really is a perfectionist and always so strict on herself. And I felt like I had to try really hard while I was recording for the show. A lot of times Ami is called baka-chi (or a stupid chihuahua) because she is always upbeat and annoying. I felt that I sometimes seem to resemble her when she's yapping out like a dog in an outburst of emotion (Kitamura does a voice impression of a yapping chihuahua). There's a little bit of that in me too. (both laugh)
T-ONO: Of all of the characters in Toradora!, which character do you relate to the most?
Horie: Hm, now which character do I connect to the most?
Kitamura: Inko-chan? [a parakeet from the series]
Horie: Inko-chan? No way! Not Inko-chan! (laughs)
But hmm, who do I relate to?
Kitamura: Well, since I actually recorded Ami’s voice, I understood her character the most. I felt that I can relate to her especially when she feels like she needs to put up a tough front, yet feeling vulnerable inside because she gets so self-conscious. That sort of character was something I could really relate to.
T-ONO: What do you like best about Toradora!?
Horie: There are two elements that I liked about Toradora!. One was the comedy of everyone being together causing a scene and how they interact with each other. The other one is the irony between the character interactions, because a lot of the times the characters really want to express something to each other but they barely miss each other and something bad happens. It makes me feel like everyone really is trying hard in that series.
Kitamura: I enjoy the comedy and the gags for their high quality because they really do shine through everything else in the series. Though, another part that I liked was the explosive scenes where characters would dump all of their emotions out in one call out. For an example, Taiga says “Ryuji is mine!” or Minori says “I’m going to decide my own life!” Ami has too many for me to list off, but scenes like those really are tug on my heart. (laughs)
Anyway, I think one of the greatest things for this show is how people want to scream out everything they are feeling.
T-ONO: What was it like working with each other?
Kitamura: There's so many things I could talk about. You see, I’m a big fan! As a seiyuu she’s my senpai.
Horie: Oh, that's just because of how long I’ve been working in the industry right?
Kitamura: I am a big fan of Horie-san! I started out as a Hocchan fan and I would be on the opposite side of the television cheering her on. (Kitamura cheers loudly)
It is kind of surreal in a way to see her in front of me and to be able to work with her. Actually, I’m using an extremely polite form of Japanese unintentionally because she is present! (laughs)
Horie: Kitamura-san is a fun character to have around. She is also a really great artist and she leaves an everlasting impression on me. (Everyone laughs)
T-ONO: Any message to your fans?
Horie: I thought Toradora! is a really great show, so I want to let the fans know that I hope you will watch the series from start to finish. The show was an enjoyable experience and has touched me in many ways. So, I want the fans to share that same experience that I experienced.
Kitamura: I had the pleasure of knowing Takemiya Yuyuko (original creator of Toradora!). Yuyuko-san - I call her Yuyuko-san (laughs) - is a woman, so I think that she can offer a lot of unique perspectives such as the pain and hardships, as well as friendships, between women. Even though it is a 2-D piece of art, it still felt very real and we put a lot of work into this product so we hope that everyone can enjoy this. We worked really hard in creating this show. We took our time with our after recording to make sure everything was in place. I hope that really comes through when American audiences see this.
T-ONO: Thank you very much.
Both: Thank you very much!
[Images copyright Takemiya Yuyuko / ASCII Media Works / Toradora Product Committee]