Hi, it’s Aki
the member of Sternbild who was supposed to translate this ages ago!
Today we have for you an interview from the 5th issue of Cool Voice, with Tiger and Barnaby’s seiyuu, Hirata Hiroaki and Morita Masakazu. It’s a bit tl;dr, but I decided to translate the whole thing – they make some interesting points about the characters they play and I think it’s an interesting read in general.
If you happen to have some scans with interviews/comments/other stuff related to Tiger & Bunny you’d like to see translated, e-mail us at ThisIsSternbild[at]gmail.com – I might translate it if we find it interesting enough!
Scanned by vanishing-age, used with permission.
Disclaimer: not a professional translator, doing this for fun, etc. Standard fantranslation rules apply.
Tiger and Bunny, a bumpy combination made of a cheerful, hot-blooded hero and a cool hero newbie is capturing the hearts of female audience. What is the secret of their popularity? Their seiyuus, Hirata and Morita, will talk about it enthusiastically today!
Q: Eight episodes were broadcast so far. Could you tell us what’s the appeal of this new series?
Hirata: The show is packed with cool things, but there are many comedy elements, and the tempo with which the story is told is pretty fast, too. There are many shows advertised as “intense something-action”, but I think these words describe Tiger and Bunny pretty well.
Morita: Up until now, I think there weren’t many shows focusing on the meaning of the word “hero”. Hero shows that were produced so far focused on different things, that’s why it might be so interesting.
Q: There are many sponsor logos attached to your hero suits – they remind me of F1, by the way. (laughs)
Morita: Heroes are usually pictured as characters shrouded in mystery, beyond human knowledge. This time, however, they have sponsors and take part in a TV show. The citizens watch them as if it was some kind of a sport. This kind of setting with heroes being a part of the society is pretty original. Dear viewers, didn’t it feel like a nice twist when you saw logos of real life companies in the OP? (laughs)
Hirata: Yeah, I’ve heard people were discussing it a lot lately.
Morita: That’s right! But it’s not only this original way of drawing the show, the story also has these old themes of compassion and obligation, and this weird mix is what makes Tiger and Bunny so charming, I think.
Q: Was there something you noticed while playing the characters?
Morita: Barnaby is different from all the characters I played so far, so I tasted the hardships of creating a new persona. Especially in the very beginning, I couldn’t satisfy the director’s wishes at all, and it made me quite worried, to be honest. “Morita-kun, your voice is soft, try to make it cool, give it that hard quality”, he kept telling me, but it’s not like I can just change the way my throat works, right… I still haven’t worked out what should I focus on to change that. But I realized that the important part is trying to impersonate your character. If I let my mind wander, Barnaby just stops being Barnaby, so I’m pretty conscious about that. The Barnaby we see now [TL note: up to ep 8] has three faces: the face he shows in front of people, his face as a hero, and his face when he’s alone, and playing them and making them feel different is difficult, too. Well, it’s a role I’ve never done before, so I guess I find it interesting.
Hirata: My role is kind of difficult, too. It’s easy to understand Tiger’s emotions, so no matter what he does, he should be easy to read, it should easy to predict the actions he’s going to take. So technically, it’s easy to change the pitch of my voice or the way I play him, but it makes me wonder if the lines I say really come out “alive”, you know? So I always have to try to keep that enthusiasm in his voice. If I don’t, I always get the feeling that his funny lines don’t sound as funny as they should. I felt that during the recording for the first episode.
Q: So, what would you say is the appeal of Kotetsu and Barnaby?
Hirata: I think it might be Kotetsu’s straightforwardness. However, I think his honesty may tire some people. Like some of the characters around him, who find him a bit annoying. (laughs).
Morita: Personally, I honestly love his enthusiasm and the way he just kinda plays dumb, and how broad-minded he is, and how tolerant he is… If we look at Kotetsu age-wise, I’m not that different from him – I can really feel his determination towards heroes resounding in my chest. But my role-wise, I can’t just accept that, so from the side of my very own feelings, it’s kinda difficult. Barnaby is embracing his sad past, the way he thinks about the criminals, for example, is slightly different from Kotetsu’s way of thinking – that’s the way he was brought up. So it’s easy to understand why he seems to have a cool, cold personality, but at the very core, he’s different. I love that about him.
Hirata: Yeah, that’s how Barnaby seems to be at the first glance, but in reality, I think he simply is very human. Of course, I’ve never experienced anything as painful as he did, but I think everyone has a negative part inside of them. We try to hide that part, sometimes we live using it as a weapon of sorts. So I think everyone might actually find it easier to relate to Barnaby, not Kotetsu. I’m really interested how he’ll act, with his hard past burdening his shoulders.
Q: Enthusiastic, straightforward middle-aged man and a cool, a bit gloomy young man – I think there are people like them in the modern society, don’t you think?
Hirata: Our director said “I want to shout out to all the tired, middle-aged men”, so we create our roles trying to be aware of that. We have a guy who fails at pretty much everything, and a guy who’s almost perfect at everything, but I really don’t think the latter leads a satisfying life just because of that. It’s easy to see when you watch the series, so maybe it could even make you think about your life in the society again.
Q: At first it doesn’t seem like it, but Kotetsu and Barnaby really do have similar points. How do their relationship look from your perspective?
Morita: Yeah, their partnership is a bit rough, but I get the feeling that they work together smoothly, and that they “shake” each other’s feelings. I can’t wait to see how their relationship is going to change in the future. But rather than seeing them as a perfect team fighting hand to hand, combining their techniques, I’d rather see them as still struggling while fighting, because it’s a part of them I find interesting. I want it to still be there.
Hirata: Well, I think Kotetsu comes through as an adult. That’s because even though he doesn’t know Barnaby’s feelings that well, he can still catch him when he’s about to fall. On the other hand, that might be because he’s too honest for his own good and just does stuff without thinking. (laughs) But even though Barnaby doesn’t want to open to Kotetsu, Kotetsu still somehow manages to win him over. (laughs) Well, it’s not only Barnaby, everyone around Kotetsu gets drawn in to him, I think. But for Barnaby, who doesn‘t want to get involved with people, he”s the worst type to be paired up with. He doesn’t sense any evil intentions from him – and if Barnaby lets his guard down, it’s Kotetsu’s win.
Q: In one of the episodes, Kotetsu wanted to make a surprise party for Barnaby. (laughs) It’s one of the scenes in which Barnaby gets dragged into Kotetsu’s crazy ideas, but you can clearly see he doesn’t mind it at all.
Hirata: I really like that part~ Up to that point, I thought Kotetsu was the only one enthusiastic, unable to read the atmosphere character, but after this episode I was like “Oh great, at least I’m not playing the only idiot here!” (laughs)
Morita: Yeah. Everyone turned out to be some kind of stupid, with Sky High being the King of Stupid. (laughs)
Hirata: I got that weird feeling Origami Cyclone was kind of suspicious there. (laughs) So really, I think the characters are really human. I mean, it’s not like they show the characters hit their fingers and scream ow ow ow like sometimes happens to us in real life, but you can almost feel they could do something like that.
Morita: Yeah. And the characters have their own normal jobs and stuff. Blue Rose is an idol, but in real life, she’s a normal student. I think it’s one of the better parts of the show – the fact that most heroes have more than one face to them.
Hirata: In episode 8, Origami’s past gets revealed, we know Fire Emblem owns a company, but not everyone’s true faces have been presented yet.
Morita: Yeah, he owns a company. But in the past, he was a celeb, right? (laughs)
Hirata: When his beloved car gets burned, he instantly forgets his flaming persona. He’s like “DOOOORYAAAAA!”, right. (laughs) I think there are like 3-4 episodes close to each other in which certain characters are presented. In private, everyone is a bit different, but once they get on the stage, they put on their personas and become someone slightly different.
Q: And among them, there is our burdened-by-his-gloomy-worries Barnaby, right. (laughs)
Hirata: Well, it’s a rule heroes should have gloomy worries!
Morita: Haha, isn’t that right. Because if there isn’t something that weighs down on their shoulders, they can’t change into someone cooler, better.
Hirata: You aren’t trying to remind me of Kotetsu failing at going to his daughter’s skating event, are you. (laughs)
Morita: (laughs) This reminds me how Kotetsu bought his hero cards in episode 1. I absolutely loved that part.
Q: And he bought so many of them, too! (laughs)
Hirata: Well, I’m more worried about the state of his wallet, since he managed to buy only ten of them. (laughs) It’d be more like him to say “Lady, all of them please!”… Buying the whole card box would be like 3000 yen, right? Watching him, I was like, “work harder, you poor Kotetsu!”.
Q: Are there some lines or their actions you sympathize with?
Hirata: Kotetsu is a very charming man, I can see why people are attracted to him, but I don’t think there is a specific thing about him I sympathize with. But I can understand Barnaby’s troubles with communicating with people. I have a bit of a mean personality, I’d like to tell Barnaby “Honestly, you just want me to say everything is going to be alright, isn’t it?”. I want to tell him “Open your heart. Just try to depend on someone”, because you know, there’s Kotetsu, who’s the one closest to him, and he’s perfect for that. (laughs)
Morita: Mean personality, huh~~ (laughs) I have nothing but good wishes for my Barnaby.
Hirata: Hey, I like Kotetsu a whole lot, too! Morita-kun, you’re trying to make me look like a criminal here with your polite way of speaking, aren’t you. (laughs)
Morita: Oh, but I understand your feelings well! Just like you really love Kotetsu, I really love Barnaby. (laughs) How should I put it… From my point of view, Barnaby is still like a kid. He has problems with showing his emotions. So I can understand why you’d like to tell him all that. I feel like Barnaby himself would feel better if he invited Kotetsu out for a drink to talk some. But he doesn’t want to do that, he prefers to take on that pose of his. Maybe it’s because of what happened to him in the past. I get that feeling he had never really relaxed around anyone.
Q: So basically, you agree Barnaby should open his heart, huh. (laughs)
Morita: Other heroes also look at Kotetsu’s back as he goes forward and learn from him. He’s not a perfect teacher kinda type, more like a hot-blooded, scoundrel teacher type if you know what I mean. If Barnaby doesn’t try to learn something from his soon, things might turn sour for him. (laughs)
Q: Is there a part of Kotetsu you sympathize with?
Morita: Kotetsu is a hot-blooded character type, but I think he was even more enthusiastic in his younger days. And then he had a kid and started a family, new burden on his shoulders. He always aspired to be a hero, it’s way more than just his job. But he always has to be considerate of his family. He’s always torn between his dream and reality, and I can sympathize with that. Kotetsu’s straightforwardness, the way he lives his life – even from a man’s point of view, he’s really cool.
Hirata: Now that I hear you talk, I noticed that the heroes in this show – be it Origami Cyclone, be it Blue Rose – they all armed themselves with these negative parts of them, and were caught in them. But Kotetsu helped them overcome them, understood their feelings. He may not act very cool, but I believe the way he lives his life is good. I think there might be people who actually admire him for that.
Q: You said something about them already, but – could you tell me what is your impression of your rival heroes?
Morita: Some of the other heroes’ backgrounds were not revealed yet, so it’s a bit hard to talk about all of them. In many series, characters that the series weren’t focusing on, prompted by some event, join the main characters. I think T&B isn’t one of them. It’s because even if there are episodes about them, they never join the main “Kotetsu team”. So we don’t really know what they think about, what prompts them to act the way they do.
Hirata: And because of that, people really wait for and want to watch character episodes. And even non-hero characters like Saito-san can be used to make the show even more interesting. Even thought when he appears during important moments, you can’t really hear him…. (laughs)
Morita: But lately, Kotetsu has no problems with understanding him, right? (laughs) I bet the moment this magazine goes out, he’ll have many fans out there.
Hirata: I really think he gets more popular? Maybe soon he’ll get some sponsor logos on that white outfit of his? (laughs)
Morita: (laughs) Maybe we should recommend him or something!
Hirata: Also, there’s a whole lot of seiyuus with different, interesting personalities in this show. Normally when I read the scenario, I seriously can’t wait for the recording time. I always laugh a whole lot.
Morita: Fire Emblem’s Tsuda-san (Tsuda Kenjirou) is especially “dangerous”, since he tends to say different things during the main recording from the ones we rehearsed.
Q: So you can’t burst out laughing during the main recording?
Hirata: We can’t. But we do.
Morita: (laughs) It’s especially problematic for me, because my character doesn’t laugh… I always have to say really serious lines! Blue Rose is difficult too, because she has singing parts…
Hirata: Yeah, and she does the PEPSI NEX commercial, too.
Q: By the way, what do you think about the popularity of productions with small teams? These always been popular.
Hirata: You mean, like teams with two people? Well, it’s not like 1 + 1 means 2 in this case, it’s more about reading each other’s power and energy and moving according to them. “I’m going right, so you go left” – you really don’t have enough time during the action to decide on something like that. Even so, the two of our heroes always somehow read each other’s feelings, put together the puzzle pieces and without talking, do what they have to do.
Morita: I think the popularity of productions with two-people-teams lies in the real life, maybe because the world goes in that direction, too. Being on your own always feels too lonely. It’s like that with family and friends, but simply the contact, the trust between two people these days run thin. Just like Hirata-san said, maybe we crave for that simple relationship, in which we can understand each other with simple “yeah”, “uhuh”. In this case, it’s not simply a relationship between a man and a woman, not between a husband and his wife, it’s a relationship between complete strangers. We want to see it change.
Q: New characters appear, there is a still a lot of riddles in the characters’ pasts… Could you tell us what we’re going to see soon?
Morita: Well, we don’t really know what’s going to happen ahead, so we can’t even guess.
Hirata: Yeah, exactly. A lot of things we didn’t expect to happen actually happened.
Morita: The director and the staff apparently leave a lot of “traps” in the production. I really can’t wait to see what comes up next.
Hirata: But you know, maybe because there’s this pattern of us predicting something and them surprising us, we actually expect them to do just that? That’s why we’re excited to see more, too.
Morita: Well, of course we hear some hints about the story here and there, but the info we get is so scattered it’s hard to understand anything. Sometimes, when other actors says something during the recording, we’re like “EH!? SERIOUSLY!?” (laughs) What exactly is this Ouroboros Barnaby is pursuing? I’d love to know that, too!