Anime Trending had the opportunity to interview Japanese voice actress Satomi Sato at Fanime 2018! Some of her notable roles include Ritsu from K-On, young Nagisa from Free! and Eru from Hyouka.
Thank you for coming to Fanime! How is your experience so far at the San Jose?
Satomi Sato: Up until now, I have been to a lot of Asian countries. So, Fanime is my first American convention! I was really moved to see even in America, people loved the work from Japan.
When it comes to voice acting, are there a lot of difficulties or challenges?
Dancing? (laughter) Recently, there has been a lot of shows where even the voice actors have to sing and dance, so that’s pretty hard! Other than that, if it’s for characters and if I think in my head “this is hard or challenging.” I wouldn’t be able to do the role.
You played as Ritsu from K-On. What were some memorable moments from performing for that series?
I’d have to go back to the auditions! For the K-On audition, I auditioned for two or three different parts that I chose. Up until then, I’ve played a lot of quiet characters and have chosen Miyo and Yuki. So after I did those two roles, they asked me if I could do Ritsu. Since I have never played a very energetic character, I just let out my voice as much as I could, and then I got the part! It was the first time I had played such an energetic and active character, so I had to work very hard. Thanks to that, it was able to open a new door to play other characters, and I am extremely grateful for that.
Ritsu plays drums in K-On. We heard you also played the drums. Did the character resonate with you since you both played the drums?
Because in the show, Ritsu says “I don’t want to play the drums because no one can see the drummer at all,” (laughter) I physically experienced that when I played the drums, watching from the back. So even in the show, when Ritsu realizes without the drums you can’t really start the music, I was able to experience that as well. I didn’t really do it on purpose, but we’re also very similar in that we end up rushing a lot when we play (laughter).
As you mentioned Ritsu was an energetic character and opened up a lot of opportunities, what are some of your favorite character types?
Yandere? (laughter). I really like characters who have different types. To try and figure out what that character is thinking, it’s a lot more interesting to do that character than to do someone that is always energetic. It might be because I played a lot of those yandere characters. My nickname is “Sugar” because Sato means sugar. I actually ended up with the nickname “Kuro Sato” which means “Black Sugar.”
Recently you played the Yuna from B: The Beginning. Since it was a Netflix Original Show (where all 13 episodes were released) compared to traditional TV anime series, were there any differences as a voice actress?
Because it was on the internet and not regular broadcasting, there were fewer regulations. The feel of the show was more of a foreign drama rather than an anime when we were making it. Even in the cast, rather than the people we usually see, we saw a lot of Japanese voice actors who dub foreign shows and veterans who work on those more.
Pop Team Epic has been very popular.
Ahh OK OK. It’s a sub-culture anime. In Japanese, you can kind of add “so” to sub-culture. That “damn sub-culture anime.”
Did you get the chance to see any cosplayers from the show?
I actually took a picture with some cosplayers yesterday! One of the cosplayers also liked the another show I was in and I was able to talk about. There were a lot of cosplayers from that anime. Do you guys like the show (Pop Team Epic)?
AT: Yeah!! (One of our writers wore a shirt from the show)
Sato-san: Thank you very much!
Does it surprise you this show is very popular in the West since there’s a lot of jokes people outside of Japan may not get?
You know how they give the middle finger? So I thought maybe from overseas they would get mad at us! It seemed like everyone was very accepting. So I thought they (foreigners) were very big-hearted people. Actually, I wonder, what parts do you guys like from it and foreign fans?
We love comedy, and it’s well-timed comedy. As an anime fan, so many of the jokes are still riffing on things from other shows and media that I enjoy from Japan. For instance, there are references we grew up with like Chrono Trigger so it really connected well.
So you’re enjoying the same way as Japanese people then! Wow. Everyone is able to understand each other.
One other role you played was Nagisa from the series Free! Were there any challenges with voicing a male character?
I originally started working on Free! as the friend of Gou, Hanamura. They suddenly asked me to play a different role, a role that isn’t credited or unlisted. I thought since Yonaga-san played Nagisa with such a high voice, I thought is that OK?? Since Yonaga-san was able to do it, I was able to kind of follow what he was doing. I’ve always wanted to play a boy character so I was really happy to do that.
Have you been following any recent anime?
I watched the shows I’m in, and also, if there’s any manga or stories that I liked before, then I’ll watch those too!
How often do role changes occur in the anime industry?
As long as you’re not the main character, but for instance, a side character, you often get asked to those type of roles. I have been asked to do a lot, relatively. As a newcomer, when I first started, I was able to do a lot of different roles which was interesting.
What would you tell your past-self when she started voice acting?
You don’t have to be so nervous! (laughter). Now that I look at my past roles, I feel “maybe I could do something better” but that was the best I could do. It makes me warm and fuzzy to think about.
You played Chiyo from Is the Order a Rabbit? Coffee or Green Tea?
GREEN TEA! I’ve always liked Japanese sweets and green tea. I enjoy matcha as well. It was destiny to have met Chiyo-chan.
Any final comments to fans online?
Recently, I feel that since I’ve been able to go around the world to meet fans, I realize that people around the world love Japanese anime. I was really moved to learn that people didn’t listen to the dub of their native language but the original Japanese dub and learn Japanese from watching anime! I really hope all these people who study so hard and are very passionate about anime will be able to enjoy more from now on. One day I hope to meet the people who read the article online and I look forward to that day! (laughter)
Special thanks to Fanime and Aoni Production for the amazing opportunity. Fanime 2019 is scheduled for May 24 to 27, 2019 at the San Jose Convention Center.