At Anime Central 2023, we had the privilege of being able to talk to the legendary voice actress Tadokoro Azusa. Please find below a transcript of our interview!
Welcome to the United States. How has your first experience at a North American convention been so far?
Azusa Tadokoro: While the convention has been keeping me busy, I finally had a chance to do some shopping yesterday! I bought quite a few things including some souvenirs to take back home.
Speaking of hectic schedule, you frequently need to switch between various characters as you perform them for several games or anime. How do you manage to balance this?
Tadokoro: On days where I have more than one work appointment, I will use the time in-between recordings to get into character. Frequently I will try my best to decipher and truly understand their personality, and if I cannot understand their feelings on my own, I would refer to other videos or works to help work out the character’s personality.
For anime, I feel like I am part of a continuing story where each recording reflects the character at different points in time. Sometimes for works such as Bang Dream! Girls Band Party I have the happy circumstance of being able to watch my character grow through time. For other works, I am asked to do things like the narration or menu system, which is sometimes the case for games.
One such game is Arknights, for which I voice two characters – Texas and Kroos. Texas’ voice is very close to my own so she presents less of a challenge. For Kroos, she both feels and is different from me, so I often feel nervous recording lines for her – this is not helped by the fact that I do not record lines for her often!
Both Texas and Kroos received alternate versions. How did you feel about acting as an updated version of the same character? Did the feelings of the characters change significantly since you first acted in those roles?
Tadokoro: The new versions gave expanded depth to their stories and roles, and so I was excited to learn more about each of them. Kroos became more of an adult in her story – an experience that really moved me because it was so sad. Her original voice was so beloved by the creators at the company that we took extra time to develop and refine her voice. For Texas, I felt like her original story was full of angst but resulted in forming deeper bonds with her comrades so it felt more heartwarming to me.
Switching to a different topic, you are also a prolific artist with over 10 years since your first debut as a solo artist. How do you feel about your growth since your debut?
Tadokoro: Time seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye! These 10 years have really expanded my horizons with new opportunities open to me that I didn’t think were possible. There are feelings that I think can only be expressed when I am just the solo artist, Tadokoro Azusa, on the stage – a deep contrast to when I am performing as a character for a franchise, where I try my best to really channel what I think a character would act or feel like if they were there in person. As myself, I try to express what I truly believe and feel into my solo work.
Building on that point, you have released so much music over the years. Would you mind talking about some special pieces that are particularly meaningful to you and why?
Tadokoro: I had the opportunity to release my latest album, Waver, which was the first time I had ever self-produced a work.
Up until that point, I had been working with a producer who was deeply familiar with me and what I had wanted to express. When that person left, I was left with asking myself if there would be another person who would know myself as well as they did – and my only answer was myself. It was quite the experience and challenge, and critically grew me as an artist and creator in ways that I didn’t expect.
While everyone has their own opinions on what they would like me to say and act, I wanted this album to reflect the fact that I want to live the life I want to live and stay true to myself, and be as authentic as I would like to be. This means that some people are going to be disappointed, but it gives me the ability to truly channel my most authentic self into this work.
If we were to go back in time and talk about your first album, Beyond Myself, what would you choose as the most meaningful song for you? And what would you say to the Tadokoro Azusa as she recorded that song?
Tadokoro: It would have to be Hikari ni Natte! Because it was the first original song that I had ever created, it holds a special place in my heart. I wish I could tell that Azusa to not care what other people think, and to simply have fun both on stage and as an artist.
And what about Waver? What song holds the most meaning for you from that album?
Tadokoro: This one is quite difficult to choose from as so many of the tracks hold special meaning to me. If I had to choose, it would be the title track – Waver is about my childhood and family life while growing up.
And finally, a word for all your music fans – what can we look out for from the artist, Tadokoro Azusa?
Tadokoro: Please live freely! I will soon be holding my first solo live in quite a while, so it would be wonderful if everyone could come – though I know for foreign fans this might be quite a challenge. I would love to come back to the US again as well!