[interview] memories of our digimon adventure 02 pt. 6

SPECIAL INTERVIEW! with Hiroaki Hirata
A special interview that came with the “Digimon Adventure 02” DVD Box released on December 22, 2006.

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

Hiroaki Hirata :: Narrator, Hiroaki Ishida, Young Gennai
“ONE PIECE” (as Sanji, Carue), “FINAL FANTASY XII” (as Balthier), etc.
While praised for his involvement in anime and video games such as the ones listed above, he is also famous as a stage actor (as Charlie in “Flowers for Algernon”) and for dubbing in overseas drama (as Carter in “ER”) and movies (voicing Johnny Depp and Matt Damon).

[ We interviewed Hiroaki Hirata-san on his performance of the narrator, who guided viewers through the story and was also the voice of Gennai and Yamato’s father. ]

Although only by voice, did you imagine what sort of person the narrator to be?

I was over my head with my work back in the day, so I didn’t particularly think about what kind of character he was. When they mentioned “narrator” to me, I remember that “Ultra Q”[1] came to mind. It’s a little bit before my generation, but that was what I’d call the prime example of narrating. (laughs)

Does it take the same amount of time every time when you introduce a Digimon?

Pictures were available for those scenes[2], so I spoke as I watched the images. There are no mouth movements[3], so once I think the picture has changed, I’d be reading mechanically fast. But there were times when the scene would change before I’d finished and I had a hard time bringing it to a close. (laughs) I should note that the recorders[4] tested it out for themselves beforehand and told me “within this much time it should be fine,” but I could never get it to fit. (laughs) I even asked a few times if they’d really tested it and didn’t just pick a random time length. (laughs) When the Digimon mature, both their names and techniques get longer and longer, so by the time I introduce the third Digimon in one episode, I’m already exhausted. There was also a time when I almost snapped, wondering if so-and-so-mon was really going to use this technique. (laughs)

Not only were you the narrator, but you also did roles such as Leomon[5]. You’ve had a long involvement with the show.

▲ Although he claims not to remember much about his experience back then, Hirata-san told us a lot of memories.

I was very attracted to the role of narrator. I love documentaries and other natural sorts of film, so I’d always be thinking that I’d like to be part of a show that had comfortable narrating or provided a chance to make me better at narrating. Since this is an anime, the atmosphere of it may be different but since the role of guide for the show was still important, I was worried about whether or not I’d be able to pull it off. It was both an honor and a joy for me to be given this role.

Did you have any confusion whenever you played the voice of a Digimon?

Back in the day, I was doing most of my work in foreign film[6], so I did not have much experience with anime. I wondered how those with non-human characters would be able to play their part. For the Geckomon[7] that appeared in the previous series, I’d constrict my throat while saying all of my lines with “ribbit” at the end, and although I’d be thinking that I should say it in this way, I’d get embarrassed as I stood before the mic. Even acting as other Digimon surprisingly gave me a lot to learn, which I think would be helpful to me even in the distant future. When I received the role of voicing the tiny Digimon and other such things[8], I’d enjoy thinking about how I should perform them.

Please give a message to fans who have bought the DVD Box after these six years.

Thank you, really. It’s embarrassing for me to hear it for myself, but for those who enjoy my young narrator voice or want to hear my voice, then by all means. I believe the “02” world to be very interesting, and we always enjoyed ourselves while performing. The show is filled with the energy of everyone in the cast, so I would like it if you saw that and enjoyed it, too.

N1) “Ultra Q” — A television series that broadcast on TBS in 1966, and the first Ultra series that came before “Ultraman.” Its narration was done by Kouji Ishizaka. It grew in cult popularity, and after its run a movie and a remake series “Ultra Q DARK FANTASY” was produced.
N2) Pictures were available for those scenes — There are many times when a postrecording for an animation is done while the animation is incomplete. It could be lineart that hasn’t been colored yet, or sometimes even done using the storyboard as a visual. The introductory scenes for Digimon are done re-using pictures of the previous episode, so when it is time to record audio for them, the images are already prepared.
N3) Mouth movements — Meaning the animation sequence when images of a character’s mouth are made to open and shut as they speak lines. Usually, a voice actor would match their words to these mouth movements. In such cases when a character has his/her back turned and their mouth cannot be seen, and in narration, lines are given within a pre-determined time period.
N4) Recorders — Production staff who are assigned the role of scripters. They are responsible for assisting the episode director, and they record many different kinds of data that is connected to the video. As Hirata-san tells us here, they have the important job of recording an allocated timed scene during postrecording.
N5) Leomon — A Digimon without a partner in “Digimon Adventure,” who aides Taichi and the others. He also grows to be able to evolve to his Ultimate Level, SaberLeomon. However, after protecting Mimi from an attack by MetalEtemon, the wounds inflicted at the time bring about his death.
N6) Foreign film — Meaning western film produced overseas. It also often indicates foreign television series or television movies (special broadcasts). To divide the work of a voice actor in broad terms, it is either focused on anime and foreign films; Hirata-san is a multi-player who performs well in both.
N7) Geckomon — Appeared in the previous series’ episode 25 (“The Sleeping Tyrant, TonosamaGeckomon!”). He and Otamamon are ordered around by a selfish Mimi, but he joins Taichi and the others to help them in their fight against the Dark Masters. TonosamaGeckomon also appears in “02.”
N8) Tiny Digimon and other such things — Besides Leomon, Hirata-san voiced other Digimon in “02” such as the praying mantis-type Digimon, Snimon. Other minor characters he voiced include the Gennai clones (Jackie, Jose, and Eliah) that exist throughout the world.

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