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Interview: Kiyono Yasuno (Anime North 2018)

We sat down with seiyuu (voice actor) guest Kiyono Yasuno for an exclusive interview at Anime North, the biggest Japanese pop culture convention in Canada. Her best known roles include Megumi Kato from How to Raise a Boring Girlfriendand Kaname Buccaneer from Macross Delta. She also sings as a member of the musical unit Walküre, and debuted as a solo singer with a mini-album release last year. This April, her first single was released: an opening theme song for the new Card Captor Sakura: Clear Card anime. Read on to find out more about this talented seiyuu!

Welcome to Toronto! Could you tell us about your time in Canada so far?
Well, it’s my first time being so far abroad, and the time difference is 13 hours. I was really concerned about being able to adjust, so I decided not to sleep at all on the plane! After arriving, I was taken to eat some buffalo wings, which I really enjoyed! I also went on a winery tour, where I tried ice wine for the very first time. I bought many bottles to bring home to Japan. 

Then we went to Niagara Falls, visiting the “Journey Behind the Falls” attraction. I got soaked by the water of the powerful waterfall, but I also felt really energized. And then I had an autograph session yesterday. A lot of people came to see me! It was a personal item autograph session, so people brought various items, from trading cards to even flags! It was perhaps the most interesting autograph session ever in my life.

You played the role of Tina Kobayakawa from rival group I-1 club in the anime Wake Up, Girls!,which is mainly set in Miyagi Prefecture. Having grown up in Miyagi, could you tell us about your experience working on that project?
Because I’m from Miyagi, I feel really honoured and lucky to have been cast in the show. I grew up there and spent many of my childhood years there. It was great to be chosen.

Also, I was really moved to be part of the effort to help in Ishinomaki City’s recovery. (ed: This coastal city in Miyagi Prefecture was heavily damaged by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami). I’m really honoured to be part of this project, not just in being able to do my own work but also to help in encouraging both viewers and the local people in the region.

What’s your favourite thing about Miyagi?
The rice, the water, gyuutan (beef tongue, a local specialty), and especially, the Japanese saké! Everything is delicious there.

Congratulations on your solo debut last year and first single release, Rocket Beat. How did it feel to be selected for a Card Captor Sakura opening?
The original Card Captor Sakuraaired nearly 20 years ago, and I watched it back when I was a child. For this project I’m not doing the voice acting, but instead working on the music-related side of things. The single contains a strong “never give up” theme. Although I’m primarily a seiyuu, I didn’t want to neglect my singing career either, so this was a very big chance for me and I’m very honoured to have been chosen.

The music video for Walküre ga Tomaranai is very distinctive for taking place almost entirely in a sports gym. What kind of training do you and the members of Walküre do to stay in peak condition?
Basically, it’s very heavy training for all the members! We don’t always have a chance to meet each other so it’s not like we can regularly get everyone together to train. On our own we have private dance lessons, and we do running and other types of training too. Though to be honest, I’m not really making any specific effort at the moment!

Since we first started performing together, the level of physical fitness required for Walküre has really been going up! I’m actually the oldest member, so I’m afraid of falling behind in that department. Although I might not sign up for a gym membership, I plan to do a lot of running, dancing, and yoga this year! In the music video you can see some of my yoga poses. I’d like to tone my muscles to be nice and balanced.

What was your inspiration for becoming a voice actor?
From a child I was really into the manga Saint Tail, and the anime Saint Tail too. One day, I saw a TV special with the seiyuu from the show actually appearing in the program. They were introducing what it was like to do voice acting for anime. I was so impressed that I was inspired to become one too. They just showed so much passion to encourage kids like me.

What is the most enjoyable thing you have done as a voice actor?
Standing in the recording studio is my favorite thing. Everytime I go there, I’m happy. I find it very exciting when we record for a show. I do have many chances, through Idolmaster and Macross Delta, to see the audience in front of me as a stage actor. I get to interact with and respond to their reactions! But despite that, I am first and foremost a seiyuu. 

Do you have any message you’d like to give to your fans worldwide?
Being a seiyuu and performing scripts is my main job, but I do want to bring this experience out of the studio. Conventions like Anime North are a really great chance for me to interact with fans, and if there are a lot of people who want to see me, I’d like to be there. I’m proud to say that it’s the result of my effort as a seiyuu that I can be here today. Many thanks to everyone who watches my shows. Knowing there are so many fans around the world, I’m going to keep working hard so I can come back overseas again!

With that closing statement, Kiyono headed out to her second autograph session of the convention. With her dedication to her craft and the support of fans everywhere, we’re sure that she will continue to leave her mark in the anime industry, and we hope to see her back in North America soon!

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