Sakura Ayane gives it all for Hayato [Shinkalion Interview]

‘As long as shinkansens exist, Shinkalion will continue to run. Sakura Ayane pours all her passion and energy ever since she’s played as Hayato.’

With the new Shinkalion movie’s release on the 27th of December, this interview focuses on Ayaneru’s experiences and her thoughts about the state of Shinkalion thus far. Things like her standpoint as the main character, the challenges she has faced playing Hayato, her thoughts about having both children and their families as fans, wondering if her feelings and messages can reach them the way she conveys them, even going as far as talking about her parents in relation to Shinkalion and so forth.

‘With an affectionate outlook, Ayaneru looks back at her experiences playing as Hayato from Shinkalion.’

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Seeing all those children singing the theme song as loud as they can brought me to tears

It’s been a year and a half since you’ve come face to face with Hayato for Shinkalion, what are your thoughts about Shinkalion so far?

For me, it really didn’t feel like it’s been that long. As for the viewers, they probably thought that it went by in a flash. Still, this year and a half has brought me many substantial blessings and opportunities. I’ve frantically dealt with a lot of troubles during the post-recordings, but, as we had a job to do, regardless of the time of day, many staff members continued to do their jobs. With that in mind, our work reached our fans and we were returned with a positive response. When things like this happen, you realize that you won’t regret anything if you put this much time and effort. That hard work does indeed bear fruits. That really is the reality of life. I feel a bit overwhelmed thinking about it.

– How did you come to terms knowing that Shinkalion was in its final stages?

During the day of the final recordings, well… I didn’t really succumb to my true feelings. I understood that the story would continue from the movie and from this, I thought to myself that as long as shinkansens continue to exist, then Shinkalion itself will continue. Actually, whenever I see a shinkansen speeding by, I am reminded of Shinkalion. I wonder if I am able to leave those same feelings and impressions into the fans and embed them in their hearts, with that thought, I feel no sadness, but rather tears of joy start to fall…

– Tears of joy?

You see, Shinkalion’s had a launch party during the 2019 International Tokyo Toy Show. There, the producer revealed the event’s designs, visuals and some clips. During that event, the sight of seeing all those children who came to the venue – that being Tokyo Big Sight, singing Shinkalion’s theme song as loud as they can, made me burst into tears. It was definitely a sight to see.

[Shinkalion opening theme song]

– Seemingly, seeing all those children enjoy that event from the bottom of their hearts left a deep impression in you, didn’t it?

The children really did have fun! Seeing children with such happy expressions is definitely a sight to see. That’s what I realized when I first got involved with Shinkalion. For that reason, whenever I see the sight of children singing, I get overwhelmed and I try to hold the tears in. I felt that in a society where people are expected to keep up appearances 「建前」 for once, I saw something so beautiful and lovely. From that moment, I’ve felt more reactive from my work than ever before.

– And from that, you think that it truly reached the audience?

Yes, that’s the case. Shinkalion definitely does influence and reach the children who watch it and so, for the parents who watch it, that might be the case too. From this, surely we are able to reach a wide variety of audiences.  Shinkalions aims to please audiences of different generations. The feeling of achieving this goal is very satisfying.

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It can’t be helped, but maybe, it’ll be quite lonesome when the movie ends

The new movie will be showing in theaters on the 27th of December. How did you feel when a new movie was announced?

Somehow, I had a feeling that Shinkalion would surely get a new movie. Seemingly, because Shinkalion is an anime aimed towards children, this occasion brings about festivity and celebration for them.

– In saying that, summer and winter anime movies certainly are a big deal for children aren’t they?

Because I fondly remember the days where I would go and watch anime movies with my family, the summer and winter holidays were definitely a big deal for me too. I hope that families will want to see Shinkalion in theatres and that the adult fans who support Shinkalion can have a fun time watching it on the big screen as well. 

– From the time of the post-recording, up to now, has the cast managed to meet up again at all?

Hmm… That’s right. It hasn’t been that long since the last post-recordings so even now, it still feels like a game going into overtime.

It would be really sad to completely part from the show so I thought that after the movie is released, I would decide that I would take it all in and relish that feeling… Nevertheless, back and forth it went. As I thought, I miss travelling back and forth to the studio every week. The feeling of travelling to the studio every week, then suddenly, stopping this routine – it really is lonesome. For this reason, I would be so happy to be able to meetup with the cast members even just once. I really do wish that all of us could meet up again.

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With Hayato’s pro-activeness, he helps anyone without hesitation

– In the movie, the story depicts the development of The East Japan Railway Company’s true to life prototype shinkansen ‘ALFA-X’ and used it as the story’s motif. From this, Hayato’s dad – Hokuto, goes missing (CV: Sugita Tomokazu). We see the young Hokuto (CV: Kugimiya Rie) cross space and time in the movie.

It really is a well thought out story. Not only does young Hokuto appear, but also, other new characters are introduced as well. Thinking about it now, a strong cast lineup does indeed yield good results.

– As you were performing as Hayato in the movie, were you aware of the changes and his growth in character?

Frankly speaking, my first impression of Hayato was that his personality was practically perfect from the very start. From the first episode, Hokuto, at that time, promised Hayato that they would ride the shinkansen together. Due to unfortunate circumstances, he had no choice but to return to his duties. Hayato, at that time, swallowed his pride and merely uttered “do your best”. And so, from that alone, I’ve always had the impression that Hayato was definitely a ‘ capable boy’.

But of course, as the T.V. series progressed, there are other things. His skill in battle and communication has improved greatly. His knowledge and passion in regards to shinkansen and shinkalion has grown. I also believe that his ability as a shinkalion operator has progressed. Much to say, his indiscriminate personality towards anyone he gets to know remains unchanged. From beginning to end, his kind motivation to do all things for others is untouched. 

I believe that children actually understand this feeling and sensation better in their heads when they watch this show, so when a character becomes weaker it’s way too obvious.”Something seems off” they think. Therefore, Hayato is a good role model of someone who sticks to his guns when children decide to imitate him.

– He really does remain unchanged in the movie doesn’t he?

Oh definitely. Hayato’s positive energy and his willingness to never say no to others, so far, has always enabled him to rescue many others. I’m an example of one of those people he has rescued actually. I feel so relieved whenever I reunite with Hayato.

That boy is too good for this world. I really don’t deserve someone so lovely as him. I feel that I’m glad that I was able to meet him. I’m also glad that I was given the opportunity to give him a voice. I can’t help but wish him nothing but his own happiness.Ayaneru shinkalion interview stolen pose

There are times when my parents are very much like the Hayasugi couple

– I believe that a lot of parents from this generation who watch the show wish for their children to grow up like Hayato. Don’t you think?

I think so too! I also want a son like Hayato! (laughs)

I always think how does someone like Hayato grow up to be such a good boy? Thinking about it, a child’s family environment plays a vital role in someone’s upbringing doesn’t it? In saying that, I really, really love my mother – Sakura (Hayasugi Sakura – CV: Shimizu Risa). Even during the movie, she never fails to show her strength. It’s such a satisfying display of strength to see.

You know, when Hokuto went missing, Sakura told Hayato “Have faith in your father”. As a woman myself, from my standpoint, if that was me, I could never be so calm and collected at a moment like that. An important thing which I got out of this, is that for me, Sakura is someone I see as a symbol of life. 

– Is there anyone around you who are similar to Hokuto and Sakura’s likenesses?

As a matter of fact, my parents do resemble the Hayasugi couple just a bit. The way my dad deals with me and his attitude towards me is kind of like how Hokuto treats Hayato. Things like how he pampers me and agrees with his own daughter all the time, even praising me and always talks highly of me. “You’re such a good girl” he says. 

On the other hand, my mum always gives me a lot of good advice. She’s the positive type that always sends me good vibes. Whenever I lose the plot, or I feel troubled or unsure of anything, to this very day, whenever I talk to her, she supports me and gives me that extra edge and motivation to be able to do anything. Among other things, this just proves that my mum and Hayato’s mum are alike. Most likely, my mum wanted to raise a child like Hayato didn’t she? Well, thanks to Shinkalion, I actually realized this (laughs).

– How about you? Do you and Hayato have any common features and likenesses? 

It’s a bit sad to say, but unfortunately, Hayato and I don’t have much similarities (laughs). There are times when I can’t keep up with Hayato’s growth at all. His existence and aspirations are way too flashy for me. For this reason, I thought that it could be good if I performed him in a more mature style, however, the sound director quickly tells me that I’m not in character anymore, I’m just my usual 25 year old self. “Wrap it up please” he tells me. Now that I think about it, the sound director (Mitsuma) was born to be like a dad (laughs).


And with that, it’s quite intriguing to see how much Ayaneru struggled and grew from her experiences in Shinkalion. It does tread the waters in how a seiyuu like Ayaneru thinks about her roles and how she carries them out. That’s always been my aim whenever I try to find content to translate. I’ve always been curious about what goes on in the mind of a seiyuu – big shot or not, it seems like that every role yields experience and growth. In saying that, I really need to watch more episodes of Shinkalion and try to support this show even more.


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