In/Spectre Premiere at Anime Expo 2019

Miyano Mamoru visited Anime Expo this year and took part in a variety of panels, one of which was the In/Spectre premiere already set to officially air in Winter 2020. While I knew the source material was well received, I tend to avoid synopsis articles to avoid potential spoilers. As a result, I really didn’t know what exactly was going to happen in the series itself. For a pilot episode though, I think In/Spectre accomplishes what all pilot episodes attempt to do – it grips a viewer’s curiosity to watch the next one.

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As many might guess from the punny name, In/Spectre involves mysteries around mythical creatures and beings, in this case largely ayakashi. Kotoko Iwanaga acts as an ambassador of sorts between the spirits and the human realm as she has an ability to see and communicate with them. Her character design is particularly interesting as she is actually missing a leg and an eye. The fact that she is disabled but actually the protagonist of the story brings something fresh to the table that I have missed since seeing Fullmetal Alchemist’s Edward Elric.

I also really like Kotoko’s personality with what little we see in the first episode. While it is undeniable that any young character who is a bridge between spirits and humans will not likely act normal, there’s a quirkiness to her character’s dialogue and voice that really makes me want to continue watching her. This is thanks to her seiyuu, Kito Akari, who only came to my attention recently with her performance of Siluca in Grancrest Senki.

But of course, Kotoko is not the only protagonist as Miyano Mamoru would not have graced us with his presence in the first place. Kuro Sakuragawa is the second protagonist who currently takes classes in college. It’s a small detail, but I still felt excited at the prospect that a main character isn’t a teenager but a man in his twenties. Unfortunately, the details of his character and exactly what charms me about him wades into spoiler territory, so I cannot dive too deep in exploration.

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I will say that Kuro’s character once again proves the wide range of characters Miyano Mamoru is capable of voicing. While he is typically more known for his more flamboyant and quirky characters such as Dazai of Bungou Stray Dogs, Tamaki of Ouran Highschool Host Club, and most recently Manager of Zombieland Saga, Kuro’s tone and overall character takes a calmer viewpoint and outlook…which eventually descends into unsettling despite the fact that Kuro’s tone never truly changes.

The two standout characters and the twist at the end of the episode really reeled me into the storyline. However, judging a series based on the first episode is not optimal as there are plenty of examples of anime that started out great and rolled downhill. I hope that is not the case here. The pilot episode of In/Spectre effectively conveyed the tone, story, and characters to me, and it would disappoint me beyond belief if this quality level of storytelling does not extend into the later episodes.

One thing’s for certain though. I am definitely watching the series once it is out in January 2020.

Here are the highlights from the Q&A session with Mamoru Miyano:

Favorite part of LA and AX so far?

Mamoru Miyano: This is the first time I’m in LA for an actual event, and last night while I was eating steak at a restaurant, I saw some amazing cosplay. All of this gives me power and joy to be with you guys. I’m sure you all were waiting for me to come here.

How did you get started in voice acting?

So I was a child actor since I was seven years old and I’d always been working on stage and TV. When I was eighteen, I auditioned for a voice acting role and that became more of the work I did. So I didn’t know too much about voice acting, but I’m sure that I had a really good voice.

You really have a great voice.

Thank you~

How did you get involved with In/Spectre?

I was offered the position for Kuro and I did the voice test in front of the director and that was how I was given this role. 

Could you tell us a little bit about your character in In/Spectre?
Are you guys aware of the culture of yokai and spirits in general? So my character has slight involvement with those spirits, and I think you saw in the episode at the end Kuro digested and ate and then gained a special power after that. So I hope you guys look forward to learning more about him after this first episode. 

So not everyone at the age of eleven gets to eat yokai and gain powers. How do you find things in your daily life that relate to that experience?
Imagination. It is obviously a fantastical world setting, but you have got to remember the emotions that Kuro feels are human. But everyone feels different emotions, so emotions you feel as a human – by the way, I am human – so all those human emotions that everyone feels I also feel as Kuro would feel and that’s how I get into character. World setting aside, I don’t think about the complications but more about what Kuro himself would feel.

Could you talk about what it’s been like to work with Director Gotoh on In/Spectre?

He has a very precise vision and directs me very well so I never really had a hard time acting as Kuro behind the mic. And he’s really good and clear about how I can take Kuro’s character and how I should be reacting to Kotoko and how to take in those feelings around Kuro. So as I said earlier, the world setting is given to me by the director and I would act upon that. I have a great and wonderful relationship with the director.

You’re not the only character in In/Spectre, so what has it been like acting alongside Akari Kito?

It is the first time I’m in a show with her.

What has it been like so far? 

The show has to do with yokai and spirits changing forms and all that and it’s mostly deducing and solving mysteries. Kotoko is the main character that does the crime-solving and so difficult words come out. Kito-san is so good – she never makes any mistakes. It’s amazing to watch her. 

Every great anime has a great opening and every anime has an even better ending, and we’re proud to announce that Mamoru Miyano is performing the ending theme song! Miyano-san, can you tell us what this song is like?

So I have a lot of requests from the production side, and it’s not a sweet ballad, it’s not fanciful, and makes you feel like you want to have a lot of fun. Please look forward to it.

I created this song with a very close friend who’s a creator so I’m looking forward to it a lot. They always help me go above and beyond and go for another challenge in my life. So I’m pretty sure you’re going to see another side of me. I got a lot of compliments while recording like, “Gorgeous, baby~”

There seems to be a fun dynamic between Kotoko and Kuro. Can you talk about their relationship? 

I’m sure you all are aware of the dynamic between the characters. As I was waiting to go on stage, and I heard a lot of you laughing. I didn’t think it was going to be that funny so I’m glad you all find it funny. There are a lot of Japanese jokes, and there’s a lot of comedic scenes. Kuro can be pretty cold to Kotoko but the two of them have to have a relationship where they have to work together. 

We saw the comedic elements and serious moments. How did you balance those two while voice acting?

My usual self is very funny and comedic. For Kuro as a character, he does have that comedic side and serious side also, but his “core” doesn’t move. So naturally, because he has a clear core, it’s easy to see both sides.

Living both in the natural and supernatural world. How did you let that theme come into your acting in In/Spectre?

I have never experienced something supernatural before – I’ve never seen ghosts, but I’ve actually been in many animation stories with different worlds so its not unfamiliar to me. So to understand the work, I read the actual story to understand what’s going on. 

*A fan shares a short account of seeing ghosts and Miyano reacts to the story:

Scary! Oh no thank you! Yesterday, I went to Universal Studios. I couldn’t go into the Walking Dead exhibit, no way. I didn’t go.

What is one thing you would like everyone to look forward to or know about In/Spectre?

It’s a very unique mystery-solving fantasy story a little bit, so if you think about it you can enjoy both kinds of genres at the same time. If you like mystery genre and also the yokai or supernatural genre, you can enjoy both sides. And both of the genres come together very well-mixed. The original is really that amazing, so I really hope you guys enjoy it and enjoy the whole series.

For instance, I wonder what kinds of things I’m going to see in the ending sequence. And I’m pretty sure you’re going to have a lot of fun watching how the song is portrayed through the animation itself.

So obviously all the fans overseas have loved so many of your roles, and have followed you for a long time, you are one of the most beloved voice actors. Now that you’ve heard them shout every role you’ve ever played, do you have anything you want to say to your western fans?

I love you.

I was really able to experience and feel from you guys that you love not only me, but Japanese animation in general, and I feel so honored to feel that from you. Thank you so much. I’m going to keep working to create a lot more characters that you guys are going to love. Definitely gonna come back here again.

This has been an absolute honor and pleasure to talk with you today.

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