Oregairu Interview: Sakura Ayane reveals her ideal husband?! “I resonate with Hachiman’s despair”

Look, I’m gonna be honest here, I was reluctant to even translate the full headline and only include the Hachiman part it because it was really clickbait-y. No, I didn’t put that myself, the headline was literally clickbait. I’ll tell you know, if you’re here to learn about what Ayaneru’s ideal husband is like, I’m sorry but you’re gonna be disappointed (she says like one line), but I was like whatever I’ll include the whole thing, but I’ll tell you now, it’s a short interview. Hope you guys enjoys at least. Really looking forward to the adaptation Oregairu’s conclusion. All girls are the best and I mean EVERY girl in the show (and Totsuka). Thanks for reading again.

Could you please tell us your impressions of Oregairu?

Ayaneru: You know, I was pretty amazed when I read the script during the scenes where Iroha would do those rapid fire monologue like retorts. When I think about it, that girl doesn’t hold back on anyone, even herself. 

Are there any places you would like to visit in Chiba (the place where Oregairu is set)?

Ayaneru: Because of this show’s influence, when you think about Chiba, you just can’t help but think about ‘Oregairu’. I’ve been to Makuhari Messe before for work purposes, so, I’d like to stroll around the Kaihin Makuhari Station area someday. Also, you know when Hachiman and Iroha went to that ramen shop? I’d love to try out Naritake too! 

What are the post-recording sessions like? 

Ayaneru: 5 years have passed since the last one, but to be honest, it doesn’t really feel like it. Although, we’ve grown in the last 5 years. I thought that my lines were so fast because it’s been a while since I played this character. But, like all fast talking characters in this show, to be honest, Watari-sensei (Oregairu’s author) also talks fast like them. Everytime Watari-sensei comes to the studio to direct us, I find myself thinking “What would Watari-sensei do? What speed would he be at”?

Could you briefly describe to us what Iroha is like?

Ayaneru: That’s going to be a challenge… Last time I checked, light novel characters were pretty easy to describe but this is different… Whenever a character is introduced in Oregairu, it seems like everyone wants to break down and perceive what that character is like as a person. Especially in Oregairu Kan, each and every character’s monologues are intricately depicted in accordance with that character’s personality and nature. Like, at the start of the story, Yukino-san was easily established as the ‘cool beauty’. But now, cool beauty alone can’t be words that can describe her, she’s not like that anymore. As for Iroha, she was seen as the cunning and clever girl when she was introduced, but with the kind of person she’s become in Oregairu Kan, I feel that those words wouldn’t do her any justice in the end. 

Supposedly, if Hachiman did exist, what kind of relationship do you think you’d have with him? 

Ayaneru: If for some reason, I happen to meet him outside of school and I (for some reason) had no other choice but be forced to talk to him, I have a hunch that we’d develop some kind of special connection. I feel that his despair and dark past resonates within me (laughs). 

Is that what you like in a man?

-Ayaneru: Someone who is willing. As long as it’s not some hot blooded light novel protagonist (laughs). Someone who can become more of a husband material rather than being just an ‘ideal’ boyfriend. 

Lastly, a message to all your fans.

-Ayaneru: To the people who are looking forward to Oregairu Kan, from the mood that this work is trying to convey, to the tempo of the conversations and through each character’s choice of words, I feel that you’ll immediately fall in love with Oregairu. Even for just a bit, if you’d like, I’d be happy if you could watch it from the very start. For everyone who has been with us from the very start who have been eagerly waiting for the long awaited conclusion, I’d appreciate it if you would bear with us ‘till the very end.

Bandori: 3rd Year Anniversary Interview with Sakura Ayane

A girl who values bonds over everything

With Bandori celebrating its 3rd year anniversary and Garuparty 2020 approaching fast in May (for now anyway), we have a Bandori interview with Ayaneru. Personally, before reading this interview I actually didn’t know how much Ayaneru knew about Bandori or how much she got involved in it. But after reading this, it’s pretty clear that Ayaneru really loves this franchise. I like Bandori, when I watched that livestream where they first announced all the lead vocalist/members of other Bandori bands, I knew I had to get into this franchise, not just because Ayaneru was in it, but because we might see things from Ayaneru we’ve never seen before. Fast forward to now, Bandori has made Ayaneru shine in a lot of areas we’ve never seen before, mainly singing. Not to mention, that 3rd anniversary livestream was pretty funny too. I really enjoyed seeing some insight from Ayaneru about Bandori. For me, what I found intriguing was when she talked about her experience performing for the first time as Ran in front of an audience. I feel that Ayaneru always feels so nervous performing in front of an audience. I just see a constant pattern where a 10 year veteran seiyuu still can’t get used to being in front of an audience, understandable I guess. Also this talk triggered me because I was supposed to go to that live but had to leave a day early. So, to this day I could never live it down (lol). Also, I’d like to highlight the part where Ayaneru briefly talks about her childhood friends. This is like the 2nd time she’s mentioned how she hangs with them & they come back to their old local area a lot. From what I gathered from Ayaneru’s photobook, this area is Musashino, Kichijoji? Also in the photobook: Ayaneru says that even though she’s been in this industry for a while, her childhood friends never treated her any differently & that’s why she loves them. Wonder if Kou-chan is also included here? Anyway, hope you guys enjoy.

―What was it like for you when it was decided that you would play as Ran?

Ayaneru: I’m… not really the most gifted when it comes to music and singing isn’t my strong point at all. Fate has never been on my side and so I thought, will someone like me even have a chance to get into this? I had such overwhelming insecurity and anxiety thinking about all of this. But when I read Ran’s profile, what Girls Band Party simply requested that you represent anything that the character loves however it pleases you. I specifically remember it saying “Most likely, we’re not asking you to have such extensive knowledge about music and whether or not you’re good at singing – well we’re not specifically demanding and looking for that kind of stuff.” I could finally take some weight off my shoulders after knowing that.

―Certainly, Afterglow’s qualities are just a different type compared to other bands.

Ayaneru: Yes that’s right. The other bands have aspirations like the desire to improve and the constant idea of stoically aiming to become a professional. Compared to Afterglow, where the loveable childhood friend band members emphasise the idea of doing activities together all the while refining the band’s musical ability and appeal. In saying that, Afterglow’s intimacy as childhood friends are one of their strong points compared to other bands.

―I think that the bonds between Afterglow members are stronger compared to other bands.

Ayaneru: For Ran, especially in Afterglow, getting along is necessary for this group to exist. It’s that important. The part where they pettily depend on each other, personally, is completely understandable. In the episodes where they have a bit of a disagreement, where everyone goes out on trips and like those various incidents at school, these are things and feelings that really hit close to home. I can say with confidence, that this genuine feeling and atmosphere that comes from Afterglow is the reason why they’re so fascinating.

―Ran and her band members are known for their intimate relationships. In saying that, do you talk to the other members when you are recording for your roles?

Ayaneru: Every member’s recordings, whether it’s for the game or for the show are done separately. So, even now, we haven’t had the chance to actually talk to each other at the recording studios. But, on certain occasions elsewhere, where everyone gets the chance to meet each other, we pretty much talk about anything Bandori related. Things like thoughts about episode recordings, talking about upcoming and past events, what happened at certain livestream talk shows – you name it. We tell each other everything.

―That’s interesting. When you’re reading the story, are there any moments that feel wholesome?

Ayaneru: Whenever I read the story… “I wanted to spend my youth like this” or “If you’re going to do something, do it with your friends”. Those are the kind of feelings and experiences that I’ve always aspired towards. Actually, I personally, have quite a few childhood friends too. To this day, whenever I get a chance to take a day off from work, we go out and have a meal together and we come back to our local home area. For that reason, I feel really envious of Ran’s daily life. I also think that, perhaps, if someone was observing my life, maybe they would also think about the same thing towards me, the way in which I get jealous of Ran’s life.  

―Putting aside the things you resonate with Ran, are there any particular highlights in the story that stand out to you the most?

Ayaneru: I could never forget that story when Ran and Tomoe had a disagreement and had a fight. When I was in the studio with Hikasa Yoko-san (Udagawa Tomoe’s voice actress), just imagining the way she performed made me convey those crushing feelings when I was performing too. Looking back at it now, emotions really were high during that episode. Also, Moca’s monologue where she says: “You’re way ahead of us Ran, though we’re unsure if all of us can keep up with you, even then, we chose to be together” really left an impression on me. Of course that monologue was unknown to Ran, but when I saw the script I thought Moca handled the situation in such a mature way. Even though she was in pain, keeping that feeling of uneasiness all to herself is very much like an adult. 

―Do you ever talk about these feelings with other members of the cast?

Ayaneru: During one of the Bandori events, on stage, we had a chance to talk about our most memorable episode from the story. Hikasa-san and I brought up the Tomoe and Ran drama and we both agreed on how it was a really thrilling memory. Misawa Sachika-san (Aoba Moca’s voice actress), also remembered  the Moca episode well and talked about it. It’s good to know that we were all on the same page.

―When you came across that episode, did your impression of Ran change at all?

Ayaneru: At first, apart from the Afterglow members, Ran could not socialize at all. But, her circle of friends slowly got bigger and bigger and overtime, she started to socialize and go out more. Her growth as a person felt so natural. The impression I’m getting is that: as new Afterglow stories arise, yet again, their bonds would continue to grow deeper and become more meaningful. 

―When you observe that growth in Ran, are there any things that you can take from this and learn about yourself?

Ayaneru: Ran can make a lot of insensitive remarks, but, in the end, she can show her appreciation and can be a very apologetic girl. I value that kind of attitude and I feel that I also want to become a person like that.

―Among the numerous songs you’ve recorded, what’s your favourite Afterglow song so far? 

Ayaneru: I haven’t decided my favourite Afterglow song, but, if I have to pick, I’d pick Comic Panic and Hey-day Capriccio just because those are the songs that we, as a band have been able to share the stage together and gives off the feeling that we can finally spend time together. I feel so happy whenever I listen to them.

―Everyone’s duet certainly does create an impressive song.

Ayaneru: Yup that’s right. In a good sense, it’s kind of like a character song, or how should I say it… Being able to do a live duet makes me feel really happy. As expected, it really is lonely when I do solo recordings as Ran. Then, when I finally listen to the finished product, I feel like I’m finally free from that isolation. But when everyone does their recording first and I go last, I can do the recording without feeling lonely.

―I see. Whenever you’re recording songs or appearing as Ran, are there any particular things you keep in mind when you’re playing as Ran?

Ayaneru: Because I’m not trained to sing with such technicality, even now, with how far Bandori has gotten and how long it’s been going for, whenever I have to sing as Ran, to get a feel for the way she sings, in my head, I just imagine the way Ran would probably sound like when she sings.

―When you hear stories like this, I feel like you get to enjoy the song much more when you listen to it again. Sakura-san, you sang as Ran live for the first time in front of fans at Garupa Live & Garuparty in Tokyo during January of 2018. For you personally, would you please tell us your thoughts during that time?

Ayaneru: I rehearsed the day before, but actually, I only sang on the day of the performance. But I’m so inexperienced at performing at lives. So, three minutes before my performance, I noticed that I was completely speechless. 

―3 minutes before?! (Laughs).

Ayaneru: I thought that these people standing on stage actually practiced their singing beforehand and well… I didn’t want to remind myself of that. Even more, when the first person performed on stage, it was like I was no match for them. I was an amateur compared to them (laughs). At that time, I remembered well enough that I felt like I was about to lose it and panic. But when it was my time to perform, as I was standing on that stage, seeing all those fans show their love for Bandori and the cheering that they did. From head to toe, I felt all their love and support.

―Does it feel different doing talk shows in front of a crowd compared to singing in front of a crowd?

Ayaneru: If you think about it, I’m the sole singer on the stage, it’s my first time having a live band perform with me and I’m performing a song genre I don’t usually do, surely I’d be a nervous wreck. Also, compared to everyone else, I’ve got little to no experience. 

―Anyhow, gaining experience is valuable.

Ayaneru: Yes, when it comes to talk shows, when you’re forced to stand on stage, little by little, you overcome your stage fright and get better through experience. But when it comes to singing, to this day, you have to always be prepared.

―From what you just told us, do you mean that the same people who performed on stage with you have the same thoughts as you do?

Ayaneru: As soon as the live ended, Aiai (Aiba Aina-san who plays as Minato Yukina), quickly came up to me and the first thing she said was: “I’m Aiba Aina. I’m so glad that I performed at this live. I almost cried.” That was the first time I’ve ever met Aiai. I was so happy meeting her. That was the flag that started our friendship. Nowadays, we go out and have meals together and try to do all sorts of stuff. Also, after that, the band that performed with me, who was formerly known as THE THIRD, but now known as RAS, said to me: “We’d like to perform with you on stage again”. I was so happy hearing that too.

―How was your encounter with RAS on stage?

Ayaneru: Whenever our eyes met during the performance, I’d give them a cheery smile and after the live, we congratulated each other. Because I’ve never had any experiences being in a band, I felt that because it was so enjoyable being in a band, it felt like I was connected with Ran and the others when I was on stage. This left such a lasting impression on me.

―When you experienced this, did you have this burning desire to be on stage along with everyone from Afterglow?

Ayaneru: Actually, now that you say that, a long time after that, all 5 Afterglow members finally, were able to gather as one at the Afterglow Itsumodoori no Houkago Days Special Event on the 2nd February, 2020. It was really fun having the chance to sing even just for a little while. On the other hand, I also felt that nothing beats performing like a real band after all, so I felt all excited and I didn’t know what to do and all that (laughs).

―I want to see all the members on stage again as soon as possible! Sakura-san, have you had the chance to see the other bands perform?

Ayaneru: Well, there was that time I watched everyone perform backstage at GarupaLive. Those times on NHK and I also saw that time when Poppin Party appeared on Anisama’s digest.

―Do you have any bands you’d like to watch in particular?

Ayaneru: I have to see my bestest best friend Aiai transform into Yukina at a Roselia live at least once in my lifetime.

―In May, you’ll be performing at MetLife Dome for BanG Dream! Special☆LIVE Girls Band Party! 2020. What’s it going to be like there?

Ayaneru: Generally speaking, I want to stand on that stage and show everyone what Ran’s really made off. I want to convey her feelings and emotions through my singing. I’ll be channeling Ran on that stage, performing with everything I’ve got.

―So what you’re saying is, that your burning desire to perform as Ran remains unchanged? That you want to perform as you usually do?

Ayaneru: Absolutely. At any rate, I’ll make sure to never spoil her image. I’ll get my Ran T-shirt and red hair extensions ready for Garuparty. I look forward to that day. On the day of the event, everybody will see Ran in a different light. That, I guarantee.

―Looking forward to the event in May! From here on, what kind of challenges do you want to try and overcome through Bandori?

Ayaneru: The Bandori staff always work so earnestly creating new content for this project. Anyhow, I want to cling to this strong feeling with everything I’ve got. In saying that, rather than me trying to overcome my challenges, I feel that whatever challenges Ran encounters and overcomes, I too want to overcome them. 

―Thank you very much! Lastly, could you please give us any thoughts for what’s to come?

Ayaneru: To the fans who already show so much love and support for Bandori; its activities and characters, but also, to the people who are yet to discover the wonders of Bandori, who someday, will also see the light, as always, I will continue to do my absolute best!

よくね?

Shirobako Movie Interview: Sakura Ayane reminisces about the movie’s recording

As it is, I intended to highlight Miyai Kaede’s character gap, so, I deliberately acted cool and played your typical mature character.

With the movie’s release on the 29th of February 2020, Ayaneru talks about her experiences and best moments during the recording stages of the Shirobako movie. Here we get some insight on how Ayaneru feels about Shirobako: an anime about making anime, (because as we know Ayaneru wanted to be an actress/seiyuu because she was more into the behind the scenes and technical stuff of this industry). We also get some insight about how Ayaneru views the characters in this show (especially her own character), how the director of Shirobako mapped out the movie and such. Even things like who the female cast were fangirling about and Ayaneru’s favourite character in the show. Anyway, I can’t really remember anything about Shirobako since the last time I watched was when it was airing (back then when I actually watched anime). The only thing I remember from Shirobako was don don donuts and Ema’s dance but you know, who doesn’t?

As always, I have to cap it off with something more serious, but, it’s always nice to see what’s going through Ayaneru’s mind with these interviews. Well actually, if this movie ever gets showed here in the middle of nowhere or when I eventually watch it, like when I watched the Shinkalion movie, I had a better understanding of the emotions and impressions Ayaneru was trying to convey during her interview. So, maybe, when I watch Shirobako, I’ll be like “oh so that’s what she meant”. Also, I hope the stage greeting for Shirobako gets rescheduled and everyone enjoys it when things clear up a bit more.

Miyai Kaede: Sakura Ayane’s character in the movie

―What were your impressions of Shirobako before being casted in it?

Ayaneru: “An anime about the anime industry” or so to speak. When the anime was airing, the ins and outs of the anime industry became such a huge topic. Wherever you went, it seemed like cast and staff members were having fun discussing Shirobako. Although I was a bit curious, I wasn’t directly involved in these discussions and just remained on the side as a spectator. 

―When you got involved in the movie, did everything turn out to be the way it seemed?

Ayaneru: Before recording started, I rewatched all the episodes again. Looking back at it now, everything really was well made. It really is an interesting show. Seeing it done in real time, I regret not being able to discuss it with everyone else. 

―Do you have any memorable scenes from the anime that you want to talk about?

Ayaneru: You know Takanashi. As in Tarou. I’m pointing the finger at him. That recurring theme where people keep covering for him and taking the hit is really funny to me. He just keeps creating problems one after the other and even though he’s a troublemaker, the fact that everyone still gives him some love is so nice to see. 

As for myself, I don’t have what it takes to keep my calm and composure when I can’t solve each and every one of my problems, yet; I admire and want to live my life the way Tarou does. Things like being pampered by everyone around you. ‘Being babied’ by the people around you. A feeling of innocence and being easy going… I get really jealous just by thinking about it. 

―Miyai Kaede… What kind of character is she like?

Ayaneru: Playing as the part of an assistant producer… Hmm, I have to say, it’s a role that revolves around supporting the rest of the cast. I’m entrusted with important situations and more. Actually, there’s a scene in the movie where Kaede tests out her own competence.

―What about her personality? What are her characteristics like?

Ayaneru: If we were judging by looks: cool, calm and a perfectionist in her work are words I would use. In saying that, that’s like most of Shirobako’s lineup right? What I should say is that she’s a person that’s nothing like the rest.

―About Miyai Kaede’s name (宮井楓), it’s been bothering me a bit. But you know, both her and Miyamori Aoi (宮森あおい) have the same 宮 kanji in their surnames. 

Ayaneru: You know I was just thinking about that too! Bearing ‘Miya’ (laughs). This is purely a guess but I think both Miyai Kaede and Miyamori Aoi are born on the same day. Even both of them happen to have careers in the anime industry. While both have existing similarities, being different – as in choosing a path that others don’t usually take is what Miyamori strongly believes in. No other person could fill that role as partners like Miyai. Because both of them complement each other, they both bear ‘Miya’ in their names. I wonder what changes will occur when Miyai suddenly appears in Miyamori’s life – things like how she handles her workload and deals with problems during production. Keep an eye out for this development. 

―How did you prepare for this role? Was there anything that you needed to take note of?

Ayaneru: Kaede’s character design really gives off mature vibes. The things I took note of were like, given her appearance, she’s roughly a similar age to Miyamori and the others, so the sense of trying to have a younger impression in spite of her character design were a bit troubling to express for me. But throughout the show, it seems like the gap between how Kaede tries to present herself on the outside and how she really is on the inside became more apparent. So, for the sake of highlighting that charm gap, I thought it’d be better to deliberately make her cool and play her as your usual mature character.

―During the production and recordings, were there any scenes that you felt like were ‘off’ or didn’t feel right?

Ayaneru: Wherever there were any doubts in how we acted during the scenes, we’d consult the sound directors and staff. They would set a guideline of ‘trends’ to look out for and when they notice a general trend of what felt off, they’d deal with it during editing. However, with Shirobako, I was impressed by how specific and clear the staff was in giving us feedback. It really stuck with me how clear they were in what they wanted out of us. For example, during one of the more intense scenes, they were thinking about how flustered the character should be during that scene. Upon asking that, a full on brainstorm on how to do the scene happened between everyone. Actually, up to now, all my personal experiences happened during recording, so, I was able to immediately share my sentiments towards all the members of the team there. In saying that, it was a very Shirobako-like scene in real life isn’t it?

Seems like all members were being utilized to their fullest potential. During recording sessions, did Director Mizushima Tsutomu have any special instructions in how you guys performed certain scenes?

Ayaneru: Hmm, Director Mizushima didn’t really have any specific problems or requests of that kind. It was more like “Let’s do that one more time. If there’s anything different, I’ll point it out.” You know, things like that. He pretty much let us decide for ourselves and we did the scenes as it pleased us.

―The director certainly had confidence in his cast members, you know, with entrusting them to do whatever they want. I mean reliance is good and all, but like when you don’t have a definitive plan for this and that, didn’t you have moments of doubt where you thought “Is this gonna be alright? Is it actually going to fit the scene?” Did you have any uncertainties like that?

Ayaneru: This is Director Mizushima’s work. The more times I say this, the better I understand his reasoning as to why he barely stopped us during the recordings. We didn’t have any doubts and in Shirobako’s case, being the exceptional work that it is, pondering on uncertainties and mistakes will only further validate how special it is.

―Were there any noteworthy moments during the recording sessions?

Ayaneru: There really are a whole heap of characters in Shirobako. The studio was always crowded by the cast members. Thing is, people just went out of the room when it wasn’t their turn during the recording. Everyone’s chattering was a mess but at the same time, looking back at it now, those passing moments were one of my fondest memories during recording. Seriously, I’m pretty sure there were like 30 of us outside at one point. 

―That’s like the size of one class!

Ayaneru: Pretty much like a big family! Among them were veteran senpais who would go around the room and talk to everyone. There were serious discussions, but also, in-jokes and banter happening all around. And if there were serious discussions it’d be things like talking about magazine articles, unexpected legendary stories and myths (about each other) or something like that, they’d come out one after the other. Even newcomers like me were easily assimilated in that environment. I was so happy being in an environment were I was able to connect with people so easily without any exclusion or discrimination or anything.

―It was as if a scene in Shirobako came to life!

Ayaneru: Yea you’re right (laughs)! Because we are deeply affected by the talks about the anime industry, I think there were many people who were projecting themselves while acting. Furthermore, there were bustling topics and talks among the girls and they were thinking who could be the no.1 male lead character in the show too. 

―Really? I’m curious as to who was the most popular? I mean, if we’re talking about the most good looking, it has to be NabeP (Watanabe Shun) right?

Ayaneru: Ah, my secrets have been revealed. We couldn’t really narrow it down to just one person. In terms of NabeP, he’s the type of guy who would do nothing but party and drink after work and never come home after. His wife wouldn’t be impressed at all. But anyway, everyone was getting too excited and they started making stuff up about him (laughs). On the other hand, some people were saying stuff like “I love drinking too. I’d be ecstatic if we could drink together”. There was no controlling that talk at all. It was a mess.

―That’s hilarious.

Ayaneru: I mean Tarou too. Sometime ago, earlier on I thought that him as a character was definitely no good. But as time passed by, when he had those drinking scenes with Hiraoka, he got popular. I wouldn’t like it if I had to work with Tarou, but it would be adorable if he was my kouhai.

―The Tarou scenes were good weren’t they? What about you Ayaneru, who’s your favourite?

Ayaneru: My favourite would be the cinematographer with the same surname as me, Sakura Yoshiki (佐倉良樹).

―Bit of a serious choice I see.

Ayaneru: Yea it’s a bit naive of me, but the thing I like about Sakura is that he stoically solves whatever he has on his plate. Saying things like “Please wait. Anticipation is part of cinematography” and taking advice is a good thing.

―Every character in the show has a certain charm to them that will surely lure the viewers don’t they? Lastly, please tell us about the highlights of this film?

Ayaneru: This time around, the movie tells the story about the blood, sweat and tears that Miyamori and the gang will face in making yet another anime. It’s so weird yet wonderful how numerous real life anime producers, staff members and cast members are used to tell the story & journey about an anime’s production. Including me.

―So, like elements of parody and breaking the fourth wall right?

Ayaneru: I am very thankful for the personal experiences I’ve made and the influence which this show has had on me. This time around, Miyai Kaede, the character I play, like us; had the same desire of being able to express and present anything and everything as a woman who has established herself in the anime industry. I wonder what this girl, Miyamori, and the others will be able to present this time? I’d be happy if the viewers can take something out of this.