Aoi Yuuki At Fanimecon 2022 Talks About Growing Up As A Child Actor, How Voice Acting Shaped Her Career, And Her Favorite Pokemon!

FanimeCon 2022 finally returned to San Jose, California during Memorial Day weekend, marking its first event since 2019. Guest of Honor and superstar voice actress Aoi Yuuki (Madoka Magica, My Hero Academia, The Heike Story) gave a pre-recorded interview. Anime Trending attended the panel and got a firsthand look at Yuuki’s reflection on her career, projects over the last two years, and more.

Yuuki’s career began at the age of three, before she could even remember her first audition, when her grandma saw an advertisement for child actors and signed her up. She didn’t begin in voice acting, but instead appeared on various variety shows such as “family karaoke battles.” Her doting family always supported her and thought she was “the cutest in the world.” 

This child acting work lasted almost 10 years, and she was well-known through elementary and middle school. Yuuki noted that she struggled with the attention and felt different from the other kids at school. This manifested in ways such as being the only student whose home contact information was left off of the school registry. A common practice in schools in Japan is for administrators to contact students’ families, so to her fellow students, Yuuki couldn’t pretend that she was just some other person who shared the name of a child actress. Classmates would tease her or ask her to act for them, much to her embarrassment, and she thought about quitting during her school days despite loving acting. 

It was from there that Yuuki was introduced to the world of voice acting. Her manager helped her “find a way to continue acting without showing [her] face,” which she had never considered but ultimately found a ton of freedom in. With a laugh, she added that she didn’t initially consider voice acting because, as a child, she thought that anime characters were real. 

Voice acting greatly changed the way she approached acting. One of her biggest impressions came from fellow voice actress Miyuki Sawashiro when recording a drama CD for the series Kure-Nai. Despite having no visuals, Sawashiro had to act and speak as if she were behind a screen door in one particular scene. “This person is amazing,” Yuuki thought, and that drove her to train in her VA work, which eventually led to her role as Iris in Pokémon: Best Wishes. The Pokémon franchise has always been a huge part of Yuuki’s life. 

“I learned how to read katakana through Pokémon Green,” she said, recounting her nerves as she was lead into the audition.

While she was ecstatic to land the role, she felt a heavy responsibility because of the legendary talent on the series. She learned a lot from the project and remembers that she constantly thought, “What can I do to be seen as an equal?” 

Commissioned artwork of Aoi Yuuki and Luxray inspired from the panel (Artist: https://twitter.com/rachta_lin

 

When asked about her favorite Pokémon, Yuuki confidently answered, “It’s Luxray. The silhouette is cool-looking, [very fluffy] with an exquisite sexiness (laughs).”  The interviewer then asked if she preferred Electric-type Pokémon overall. “No, just Luxray,” Yuuki replied with another laugh. She added that she does prefer Pokémon that can be both fluffy and muscular, such as Lucario and Zoroark. 

Later in the interview, Yuuki was asked which voiced character she would spend a day with. “Actually, I have an uncredited voice role on Pokémon: Best Wishes as the voice of Shinx, [since Shinx is the pre-evolution of Luxray], so I would spend a day with my very own Shinx. We would go to Yoyogi park and I’d just watch Shinx run around, and I’d probably have to move closer to the park so we could do that all the time, and also remodel my house so it could fit when Shinx eventually evolves to Luxray.”

The conversation shifted to focus on Yuuki’s starring role in Madoka Magica, directed by Gen Urobuchi. Madoka became a smash hit and shocked audiences with its dark and thrilling dive into the world of magical girls, but the success wasn’t entirely unexpected by the crew. 

“[Everyone working on the project] goes into a project thinking it will be a hit, but the summary given to the crew was vastly different from what was presented [on the broadcast descriptions],” Yuuki said.  She believed the show would make waves because it was “presented so otherworldly [in the designs, the world, the school, etc.], but the emotions were very real.” As one of the anime’s leads, she felt that “it was our responsibility [as VAs] to become the gears to shape the director’s vision,” and she was happy seeing how the emotions the team poured into Madoka Magica were so relatable across multiple cultures beyond Japan. “[Customs and cultures can be different], but feelings can be shared.”

Outside of her voice acting career, Yuuki talked about her other ventures, such as the YUKI x AOI Chimera Project, an animal-based series written for adults, which she notes is “a grave state of affairs” because these kinds of series are shockingly sparse. She wrote scripts, drew character designs, and produced this project out of passion, using her love of animals as a creative driver for the project. She aimed to understand more of the production process outside of VA work and also mentioned that she wanted to voice an animal character. 

Another project she started during the pandemic was an audiobook recording of the children’s book Buying Mittens, as part of the #SeiyuuRoudokuKai (Voice Actors Reading Club) Twitter trend. She created and shared her recording for free as she simply wanted to contribute something to the trend. The panel M.C. mentioned that it almost felt full-circle for Yuuki because of the impact Pokémon Green had for her as a child. “There could be fans learning Japanese through this narration project,” the interviewer mentioned to Yuuki’s delight.

In her final thoughts, Yuuki expressed immense gratitude to her fans. She emphasized that animation and games connect people, and seeing the ways her work impacts people was an incredible feeling. While she was unable to visit San Jose for the convention, considering current travel restrictions, her desire to visit San Jose has only grown. Perhaps she could be Guest of Honor in person for future Fanimecon events, so look out for future announcements!

Note: At the panel, all audience members were entered in a random drawing to win an autographed FanimeCon 2022 poster from Aoi Yuuki. To our amazement, one of our staff members ended up winning one of the autographed posters which made this event extra special on top of a really entertaining interview.

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