Anime Central invited many special guests from Japan including voice actress Aya Suzaki. Some of her roles include Kayano Kaeda from Assassination Classroom, Tamako Kitashirakawa in Tamako Market and Mako Mankanshoku from Kill la Kill. We had the fantastic opportunity to interview her in Chicago at ACEN.
Anime Trending: Suzaki-san, thank you so much for joining us at Anime Central. How was your time in Chicago so far?
Suzaki-san: I arrived early yesterday morning. There was some time before the reception took place last night. I went around to different parts of Chicago that were listened in tourist books for Chicago. There’s the mirrored chrome bean in the park along the lake, and the sculpture of Picasso, and the Chicago theater. I took a lot of photographs.
That’s good to hear! You’ve seen a lot more of Chicago than I have. So, what led you to become a voice actress? Was there a particular influence that started you down this path?
I liked the top anime series Detective Conan for quite a bit. Megumi Hayashibara was a voice actress in that show; somebody exemplary and I always aspired to be like her and that’s what led me down this path.
Excellent. I’d like to talk a little bit about one of your roles as Kano Kaeda from Assassination Classroom. I think it’s one of your most well-known roles here in the United States and how was it voice acting as this character? She is a character that gets a lot of development as the series progresses. What was it like playing the role as the character changes?
I was completely oblivious to how the series ends when I went for the audition for the series. I was quite surprised when the series took a very dramatic turn within the serialization of the magazine. Mainly I’ve been playing characters that are primarily optimistic and cheerful as an overall. So when the dramatic turn took place with the character, it was very stressful and I actually had to approach it carefully. But it was an opportunity for me to really explore myself as an actress, so that’s something that I found to be very rewarding.
I’m very glad to hear that. I’m a big fan of Assassination Classroom.
Ah! Thank you very much.
For another one of the shows that you had a role in, Kill La Kill as Mako Mankanshoku: she is possibly one of the most energetic characters in an already vibrant and wild show. Was there any difficulty to keep that level of energy throughout the show?
Actually, Mako Mankanshoku was a character that I did not have to work hard in acting out; it’s something that flowed out of me quite naturally. The audio director mentioned that there are not that many opportunities for a voice actor or voice actress to fill in a role where they can just naturally act as that character. It’s not something that happens quite often, and you’re fortunate to come across a character like that. And I feel the same way: I was very fortunate to be able to play that character.
On transitioning from voice acting for anime to voice acting for video games: you’ve done some voices for various video games. How does that differ from anime?
As a general rule, when you’re recording for a game, you’re doing it alone and you have no other actors and actresses to work off of. So the interaction is not there and it’s a little harder because you have to push yourself to develop that character more.
I see. In previous interviews, you’ve stated that your hobbies include playing the trumpet and flower arranging. Those are, first of all, two very different things to do. And second, how did you get into those hobbies? What drew you into them?
Ikebana was something that I had to take up for my high school education; it’s part of the curriculum. I started playing the trumpet when I was in grade school. Scuba diving, I started doing it in university. I’m the kind of person that I suppose, has a wide range of interests.
Excellent, it’s good to be proficient in many things.
Yes, yes, thank you very much!
Out of all the roles that you’ve done, is there a particular character that you’ve found to be very memorable or difficult to play?
All the characters that I’ve played are memorable in one way or another. But if I had to choose one, I suppose the character that stands out was the first character where I played the lead: Tamako from Tamako’s Market. That’s a character role that I remember quite a bit and hold dear to my heart.
The difficult character, that I suppose I played, is one that I just ended. It’s Asuka from Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. I also play the lead character for that series, but that character was different from the other characters I played. She’s a lot more monotone, she’s a lot more somber, and she’s not as energetic. So I had to go through the scripts carefully to appreciate and understand. I checked the reference material quite carefully for that character.
One more question then. Have you ever gotten the opportunity to listen to roles you have played dubbed in other languages?
Oh! I have actually not had a chance to watch one. I’m very interested [to hear them]— I’d like to be pointed toward where I should—so I can enjoy different versions of my voice!
The two shows that I think have some of the best dubs that you’ve done roles in are Assassination Classroom and Kill La Kill. Both have very solid English dubs.
I have actually seen a photograph of the voice actor play my role in Kill La Kill with someone else. I was really surprised how the voice actor for Gamagōri, the big muscle man, actually looked just like him! And the person who played Mako was actually this petite girl that looked somewhat similar to me. I thought the photograph of the two of them was very lovely.
I’m glad to hear that. I think that wraps up all the questions I have prepared. I’d like to thank you so much, again, for coming out to Anime Central and giving me this opportunity for this interview.
Thank you very much!
Ah, actually I have one last closing question! Do you have any closing words or statements for the fans?
Yes! I went and had a panel. I did a talk show and had the opportunity to interact with some of the cosplayers that attended. I also walked into the Dealer’s Room and I could see all sorts of people who were enthusiastic and energetic. And what really struck me is that there are a lot of things that are a lot more common among anime fans across the borders. So that was something that was really heartwarming and reaffirming.
Being in Japan, I don’t have the chance to interact with foreign fans. So it was wonderful that I could have the opportunity of visiting Chicago so that I could directly interact with them. I’m very thankful that I could take up this opportunity. I would like to thank everybody that is involved.
Thank you very much. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend.
Thank you very much! I am sure I will have a good time!
Special thanks to Anime Central for the opportunity.