[interview] memories of our digimon adventure pt. 1

SPECIAL TALK! with Toshiko Fujita & Chika Sakamoto
A special interview that came with the “Digimon Adventure” DVD Box released on December 21, 2007.

Purchase of the DVD Box (Region 2 only) available at: Amazon.JP, CDJapan, YesAsia

Leaders even in postrecording sessions, both Fujita-san and Sakamoto-san reminisce on 8 years ago.

Toshiko Fujita :: Taichi Yagami, Toshiko Takenouchi Main character roles in such works as “Ikkyuu-san” (as Ikkyuu), “Kiteretsu Daihyakka” (as Kiteretsu), etc. Besides young boy roles, her range includes a mature, feminine voice, such as the beautiful Rui Kisugi in “CAT’S♥EYE”.
Chika Sakamoto :: Koromon, Agumon, Greymon, etc. Main character roles in such works as “Tonari no Totoro” (as Mei), “Shounen Ashibe” (as Ashibe), etc. In “CAT’S♥EYE” (as Ai Kisugi), she performs together with Fujita-san as sisters.

[ What was the first image they held of their characters? ]

Please tell us the first impression you had of the character you had played.

Toshiko Fujita-san (abbreviated TF below) I saw him as a relatively energetic and normal boy that you can find anywhere. One that cares for his younger sister and is perhaps a bit clumsy or lacking, but full of passion. That’s why I didn’t have any trouble getting into character. Maybe it’s because the movie[1] preceded the TV series, because I could jump in rather naturally.
Chika Sakamoto-san (abbreviated CS below) Koromon is cute while he’s small, but Agumon’s visual is pretty real as a dinosaur. His teeth are eyebrow-raising, and when I first saw pictures of him, I thought, “This is going to talk and go on a journey with children?” (laughs)
TF To tell you the truth, when I first saw Agumon, I also thought, “What, wait, he isn’t cute at all!” (laughs) I grew to like him as I kept watching him, but Koromon will always be cute, so I suppose I like Koromon the best. There’s also his last stage, WarGreymon, I like him.

Did you find any other Digimon cute?

TF Well, not as such. I did like Palmon[2] because she was amusing, though. (laughs)
CS Palmon was funny, but Mizowaki herself was also a funny person. (laughs)
TF Her Palmon was the best. I was always looking forward to how she’d deliver such and such line for the day’s recording. We couldn’t even imagine… it was as if there was this distinct character that seemed to go beyond her performance. I’d really loved that.

How was the atmosphere like during postrecording at the studio?

TF Everything aside, it’s a show with a lot of voice actors, you see. When you include guest characters, our numbers would go over 20 people but we’d only have 3 mics to work with. All of us had a time of it, trying to maneuver ourselves around.[3]
CS There were also some young ‘uns who couldn’t budge in from behind a great senior like Toko-san [Fujita-san’s nickname]. (laughs) Apparently this show was the first time they experienced a postrecording, so even when Toko-san said it was okay to go in after her, they’d turn her down.
TF That’s why us seniors would say things like “When it’s your turn, just push aside the person standing in front of you”. (laughs) We were like mothers or older sisters to them.
CS Everyone really put all of their effort into their roles. They gave off such a fresh feeling that I felt like I was receiving from them the things I’d lost. (laughs)
TF We had a variety of people, like some whose voices themselves were interesting. We’d keep busy thinking about whether they’d approach their role like this or like that. We were also frantic. But, despite our large numbers, we worked well together, so the studio would always be filled with a cheerful excitement. I felt that most of all when everyone was singing together.
CS You mean after “Adventure” was over, right?
TF Right. In the second year, we sang a song that was like “We are the World,” called “Bokura no Digital World”[4]. That time, I thought, after performing in one show for so long, we could move in such wonderful harmony without saying anything more. It honestly made me feel happy and inspired.
CS Everyone really loved their roles. We’d often talk to each other as our characters.

[ Taichi and Agumon’s deep and strong bond ]

How do you think Taichi and Agumon feel about each other?

TF Agumon is a friend, but one that’s inside Taichi. Not like Yamato or his other friends, but more like a clone, like another part of himself.
CS Agumon loves Taichi in a way that’s kind of like how a chick that’s hatched from its egg thinks the first thing it sees is its parent. Taichi is a straightforward boy that often acts without thinking first, right? So when Agumon sees that, I think he thinks, “That’s what’s hopeless about Taichi. But that’s what I like about him, so it can’t be helped.”
TF At first glance, Taichi seems to be the responsible one who treats Agumon like his little brother, but I think that’s far from the truth.
CS Yes. But Taichi and the others ended up maturing a great deal, don’t you think?
TF Yeah. The rate of their growth was very natural. Even for us, who get to read the scripts and think about how such-and-such an incident would provoke such-and-such reaction… they’d grown up a lot before we’d even realized it.
CS Since there were 54 episodes in total, the problems that each of the children had[5] was written quite thoroughly. I think the actors found a good challenge in that.
TF The actor him/herself has to mature along with his/her character, if they want to accurately portray their growth. If they don’t have a good grasp of their role, it’ll mess things up midway. I think that, in that sense as well, everyone did their best.

As Taichi matures, Agumon evolves as well, but was there any point where you went through trouble?

CS There are tons of different types when it comes to evolution, and since there are also a lot of Digimon, I think the Digimon actors[6] went through trouble to make sure that they didn’t end up sounding the same as the others. Whoever does it first, wins, so there were some times when people would say, “I’d thought of doing that, but you took it from me~” (laughs)
TF The fighting scenes are also difficult for the Digimon side.
CS Yes, they just keep getting stronger and stronger. Even back when Agumon became Greymon, I felt like I couldn’t go any lower [to sound stronger], so when I got to WarGreymon… That part was touched up with devices, but it still made me wish I could take something to soothe my throat. (laughs)
TF As for us, even though we’re visibly maturing, it’s not as if our faces change along with our personalities.
CS If some elementary school boys told me, “Greymon sounds cheap,” that would be sad, you know? That gave me pressure. Whenever I heard children talk about Digimon on the train, my heart would beat fast as I eavesdropped on them. (laughs)

Because the show was popular even among children, the series was given a continuation.

TF It’s amazing, the number of Digimon series that kept going after. But when “02” ended, there weren’t any developments of us getting a return, were there?
CS That’s because Taichi and the others became adults[7] at the end of “02,” remember?
TF Oh, that’s right.
CS (in Agumon’s voice) Taichi, why did you have to become an adult? I can’t appear in the show anymore now that you’ve grown up. (laughs)
TF I’m sorry. (laughs) How about we make a story based on Taichi’s son, then? (laughs)

The adult Taichi and Agumon became diplomats of the real world and Digital World.

TF Yes, and wearing those suits. That visual was shocking. It made me chortle a little. (laughs)
CS Kind of made you wonder how that came about.
TF But, with that, I realized that it really was the end. I remember thinking then that it was time for me to say goodbye to Taichi.

[ What they wished to tell the children ]

What did you wish to tell the viewers, through this series?

CS I think that “Digimon Adventure” is a story about how there are many things that the characters wanted to run away from, but they all kept moving forward even though they were reluctant to do it and, as a result, they changed and matured. I greatly sympathize with them in that regard, and I think the people who watch the show will also feel that way. Sometimes you hide behind other people and push each other ahead while saying, “You go first,” but because everyone is still there with you, everyone takes one step ahead. I find that wonderful.
TF Each of the children had a specialty, but they also had little faults about them. So they compensate for that with their friends’ strengths. There’s a constant theme on how you can’t do everything on your own, but with help from your friends, you can, and with help from you, your friends can as well. For instance, the belief between Taichi and Agumon. Having belief between two humans is difficult as it is, but Taichi and Agumon never distrusted each other, no matter what happened. Having a strong relationship like that is really lovely. I’d like it if the viewers felt the same. If they can find a friend in a person like that, it would be even more wonderful. You hardly come across a friend like that, and I think Taichi has that in Agumon. Oh, I finally understood that myself while I was talking. (laughs)
CS That was very coherent. A terrific speech!
TF I kind of want my own Digimon. That would be nice.
CS Yeah. You’ll have one, too, some day, I’m sure of it.

[ A message to Digimon fans ]

In closing, please give us a message to those who have bought this DVD box.

TF I strongly recommend this show. Since the DVD box has released, I, too, have watched a number of “Adventure” episodes. It may be strange for me to say this in a show that I’m involved in, but watching it again brought new excitement. For those who had watched the show long ago, and for those who are watching it for the first time, I do hope you enjoy it. Also, the two movies that were released before and after the TV series are fantastic, so I hope you watch them, too.
CS The people who bought this DVD box will probably get to watch it on a big TV screen, won’t they? I’m a bit envious of that. Back in the day, we’d wake up on Sunday mornings to watch it on a small TV, so I’ll bet even the intensity of it will be vastly different.
TF Yeah. Also, while we did watch it on TV or video back then, that was only to check up on our acting, so we couldn’t view it objectively and have the chance to just enjoy it. But now we, too, can finally sit back and truly enjoy the show.
CS With seven years having passed now, I feel like I can listen to Hirata-kun’s narration[8] during the opening purely as an audience member.

N1) The movie — Meaning the movie “Digimon Adventure” that opened in theaters on March 1999. Taking place four years before the TV series, during spring vacation of 1995, it reveals the truth behind how Taichi and his friends became the “Chosen Children.” Both Fujita-san and Sakamoto-san appear in the movie as first-grader Taichi and Koromon. This movie is the debut piece of Director Mamoru Hosoda, whose movie “Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo” won the thirtieth Japan Academy Prize for Best Animation of the Year, and it is still highly appraised.
N2) Palmon — Just like her human partner Mimi Tachikawa, this Digimon does things at her own pace. She evolves into Togemon and Lilimon. Palmon is voiced by Shihomi Mizowaki (currently going by the name Kinoko Yamada), whose unique husky voice and high-tension acting left a very strong impression not only on viewers, but on her fellow performers as well.
N3) Trying to maneuver ourselves around — In a usual postrecording for anime, there is a fixed number of 3 to 4 mics that are used by all voice actors. Recording takes place by going in front of the mic when it is one’s turn, and then stepping back once that person has given his/her lines. In the large family that encompasses “Adventure,” where the Chosen Children and their Digimon alone make up 16 people, working the mics can get pretty complicated. Mizutani-san and Maeda-san also talk about the difficulties of this in their interview here.
N4) “Bokura no Digital World” — The insert song that played in the last episode of “Adventure”‘s continuation, “02”. It is performed by the Chosen Children and their Digimon of both “Adventure” and “02,” as the “Digimon All Stars,” as well as theme song artists, Wada-san and AiM. Narration in the song is performed by Hiroaki Hirata-san. The song was recorded on a not-for-sale CD, which could only be obtained by gathering all 12 application forms included in the character song CD series, “Digimon Adventure 02 Best Partner”.
N5) The problems that each of the children had — Unlike the familiar stereotypes of kid leader and perfect student, the children that appear in “Adventure” are depicted to have faults and problems at home, which the series carefully attempts to show them overcome. For instance, the two brothers Yamato and Takeru live separately due to their parents’ divorce, while Sora, who seems the perfect student type among her friends, clashes with her strict mother. Even Taichi, who appears not to have any concerns at first glance, has a bitter past of almost killing his younger sister, Hikari, due to his own carelessness.
N6) The Digimon actors — Because the Digimon grow bigger and their attacks become stronger as they evolve, the actors who perform them were requested to have a large voice variation. Even the experienced Sakamoto-san said she had a lot of trouble with this. “It’s because we get much, much bigger as we continue to evolve. You can’t say you can’t do anymore, since you don’t want to get replaced by another actor. (laughs) I performed my role while consulting with the others on it. Even in that part, I was standing up to the fight. (laughs)” (Sakamoto-san)
N7) Taichi and the others became adults — In the last episode of “02”, “Our Digital World,” the ending scene takes place in the year 2027. It depicts scenes of the adult “Chosen Children,” even introducing their jobs and their new families. The adult Taichi is shown to be an ambassador who acts as a bridge between the Digital World and real world, with the humorous appearance of Agumon in a gray suit and bowtie at his side. What’s more, Taichi’s son, looking just like Taichi as a child, makes an appearance and is voiced by Fujita-san.
N8) Narration — Hiroaki Hirata-san, a stage actor as well as voice actor, was narrator. He also performed as Leomon and the father of Yamato and Takeru. Main character roles of other works include series such as “ONE PIECE” (as Sanji). He also appears in many overseas movies, performing as dub voice to such actors as Johnny Depp and Jude Law.

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