The Japan Foundation recently housed the Evangelion Exhibition in one of its few showings outside of Japan. Special guest Yuko Miyamura, the seiyuu of Asuka, attended the event, working on a voice acting workshop as well as providing insight into her work on Evangelion via an in depth question and answer session.
Regarding the unstoppable force that is Evangelion, Miyamura explained what the series meant to her.
“So Evangelion has continued for so long and it has become so popular and first of all I want to say that I’m absolutely happy and honoured that its become something like this. I’m happy, absolutely ecstatic to be a part of this. Maybe one reason was that the airing of Evangelion also doubled up with the spread of the internet, so the distance of foreign fans and Japanese fans got so small that it allowed foreign fans to also be a part of this movement, this phenomenon. I thought that was really good timing for the airing of Evangelion. The meaning of this, and I’ve been thinking for a long, long time, being because there are so many fans that love Evangelion, foreign and in Japan, I just began to think that this was a part of a movement to bring the overseas cultures and the Japanese cultures together as one. And I’m part of this? I’m just really happy to be part of this movement.”
When asked about the mysterious Evangelion director Hideaki Anno, Miyamura gave insight into the man himself, as well as an interesting story from the recording of series.
“If I had to describe him in one word, it would be that he is an otaku. He is known as one of the top four otaku in Japan, but he’s also a very persistent man. He is fairly pragmatic and he won’t stop until he gets what he wants from his actors. That means about twenty-thirty retakes for different scenes in Evangelion. In my opinion, otaku’s are intelligent, very intelligent people and he is also that. Sometimes I think, this guy must be travelling in space. What is he thinking? Sometimes I think that, and you just have to wonder what he’s doing, what he wants. That might be why he’s thought to be pretty mysterious and pretty intelligent but in one word he is just an otaku like us. For example in Death and Rebirth, there is a scene at the end of the movie, I’m sure you all know it, where Shinji strangles Asuka and there’s a little voice I had to act, where she is strangled and trying to breathe. I did thousands of retakes for that, just so many, and I got so confused that I didn’t know what he wanted. What do you want? Do you want me to die? (laughs) So Megumi Ogata, the voice actor for Shinji, decided to do this: “Okay, Miyamu.” that’s my nickname, “Lie down.” So I lie down and she got on top of me and started to strangle me. That was recorded, and that was ok. (laughs)”
Miyamura also gave her opinion on the news that Anno will be voicing the lead in the newest Studio Ghibli film.
“I’ve never heard of this. (Miyamura claps) As a voice actor it doesn’t really matter what your voice is like, so long as your voice is fit for the character you’re acting out. So if his voice will fit well with the character he is voicing then it’s good, it’s fine. However, I hope he goes through a lot of troubles (laughs) and I hope he has to sit through a lot of retakes (laughs) and has to agonise himself in the process of thinking “What does the director want out of me? (laughs) Not only that, I would like to see him go through this. (laughs, claps, cheering)”
One fan asked Miyamura, in a somewhat roundabout way, about any changes that may have happened during the production of Evangelion Kyu and she provided answers for all interpretations of the question.
“Kyu, the movie itself is unlike the TV series, it’s unlike any of the movies, it’s unlike any of the newer movies. It will be a completely different thing and because it hasn’t aired out properly in English, I can’t really speak much about it. But if that’s the sort of change you are thinking of then it’s a big change. The script changes all the time, it basically just doesn’t exist, so that’s normal. I don’t think there were any drastic changes to the whole production, her character or anything like that. Jo, Ha and Kyu, the three movies, were actually supposed to finish with just three movies but in the process of making Kyu, the director was like “This really long. We need another movie after this.” (laughs) So I guess thats another change that happened during Kyu, a big one I guess. “Oh we’ll just make another movie, nothing big” (laughs) But I’m convinced, well at least I assume and I hope, that in the director’s mind, his spacious mind from time and space, that there is something in there. That he knows that the ending is like this and that he will direct the movie like this and there will be one direction and one ending. Let’s go right towards that. I think. (laughs) But other than that there have been no big, drastic changes.”
Miyamura also weighed in on the heated topic of subbed versus dubbed anime, keeping the issue burning with questions of her own.
“Yeah, that’s actually a very good question and it’s a question that I would actually want to ask all of you. I usually watch anime with Japanese voices and English subtitles and I feel a lot of the time that the subtitles are short and most of the time can be pretty wrong. This is because it’s very difficult because subtitles have a limited word count to convey a lot of information so I know its difficult. So I am actually wondering, it is actually a mystery to me, if the sensitive Japanese nuances are conveyed to the audience by this short sentence. I actually want to know that. I actually have a daughter who’s now eight years old and she watches anime in English and Japanese and sometimes I want to know which is actually better for her, because she currently can understand some level of Japanese and English, which one she feels more comfortable with listening to. But it seems like she forgets which language she was actually listening to after she’s watched something. She’ll still remember the anime itself, so it’s not really the language itself as it is, she doesn’t remember it word for word or as a language, she remembers the feeling that she’s left with after watching anime. We all know how this feels. So while language is also important I don’t think it’s the most important thing when you’re watching an anime. It’s just a question that is something I want to personally know and ask all of you here today.”
To hear more from Miyamura about her work on Evangelion, check out her interview with Capsule Computers. While you’re at it, take a look at some of the art shown at the Evangelion Exhibition.