INTERVIEW: Rie Tanaka at Anime Central 2023

With over twenty years of experience, voice actress Rie Tanaka is an anime industry veteran. She came to Anime Central 2023 as a guest of honor. She participated in the opening festivities, signed autographs, and hosted panels. Anime Trending had the opportunity to speak with her at her first North American convention appearance to discuss her career and various roles.

Anime Trending: Welcome to Chicago! You were originally scheduled to come to ACEN in 2020, but unfortunately, that was canceled. So, how does it finally feel to come and visit? 

Rie Tanaka: I was really disappointed that my visit got canceled. So, I’m so happy to be able to be here this year and just to be able to be a part of Chicago and be immersed in the Chicago experience. Every day it’s been just different, fresh, and new, and that’s been really great. I arrived on Thursday, and I’m just very happy to be here. 

You’re the voice of Himeko, one of the many beloved characters from Hoyoverse and Honkai, in particular. Between Honkai Impact 3rd and Honkai Star Rail, has anything changed for your characterization, or has it stayed the same? What aspects have changed?

Yes, they are different. With the first one, Honkai Impact 3rd, it’s more about the onee-san character, like an older woman character. And so, she [Himeko] loves her liquor and she’s always saying to all the main characters, “Hey, let’s drink! Let’s have a drink and hangout.” But with Star Rail, I was told that the character was from a different world, first of all. But also, I was told that they wanted her to be younger. So, I’ve kind of been really emphasizing that, so it is definitely different between the two characters. 

AT: You also play a lot of roles in Final Fantasy 14, from very important NPCs like Kan-E-Senna and Sadu, to bosses like Garuda and Sophia. How do you keep track of all those different roles and maintain distinct voices for each?
It’s because all of these characters are [recorded] separately [at different time points]. So say, for instance, with the character Kan-E-Senna — it’s just that. I don’t mumble-jumble, or mix them up. But I do have a new character that I recently started doing called Ameliance, and she is quite similar to Kan-E-Senna’s character. But the character is so different that no matter what, I just do it authentically to that character and it just comes out differently. So, I don’t have a problem with differentiating them. 

AT: So you’ve played a variety of video games on your YouTube channel, Anesan TV (田中理恵の姐さんTV). What would be your favorite so far out of the different categories of games, be it single-player, multiplayer, or mobile games? 

Personally, I love playing single-player games more. Now, of course, there are so many games that I am in and that are actually out, and they are called mobile games. And that’s just so much more convenient, right? Because you don’t need to be at home with some kind of setup. You can just be going somewhere and then open your phone and just start playing until you need to work or do something else. After all, I do have to work, and I have a job, and I have a life that I have to [lead]. So, it’s just easier and more convenient for me. 

But I do love games! When I go home, I also play games. Mobile games cost money, like all the extra things that you have to buy. So I feel now that I’m kind of working in order to support that habit and continue to buy stuff, like buying my own character in the game, and stuff like that. So I really am working to support my habit in a way. And you guys were laughing at me! 

One of your latest anime roles is as Aphrodite in Record of Ragnarok. How were you approached for the role? And what were your thoughts as you were going through the script? 

A lot of times we audition for a role, but with this, it was actually offered to me. So, I was offered the role and then I was looking through it. I knew the original, and when I was reading through it, I was like, “Oh my gosh! Very big boobs!” I was very surprised by the boobs. Not just the big boobs, but also, there are two servants or villagers who are holding up the boobs, right? And then, the wind would come and hit her in the face and stuff like that, and I would be like, “Oh my gosh!” Yeah, it was kind of crazy. But at the same time, she is the Goddess of Beauty. So keeping that in mind and that my character has really big boobs, I still play her and I’m very serious about the way I play her character. 

Your career is incredibly prolific. You’ve done a lot of different roles. Out of them, what was the most difficult role to get into?

I get asked this question a lot. And even in the last panel, one of the fans asked, “What’s the hardest character that you’ve done? The one that’s been the hardest to portray?” And I say, “Without a doubt, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED,” because Lacus is a coordinator and is not really human. [She’s] kind of like a third generation, and expressions are not really supposed [to be shown] and everything is so much more subtle, right? So, just because they’re not human, even when they’re happy or when they’re sad, it’s so much more of a subtle difference. There’s not a wide range of emotion in this because of that, so it’s a lot harder to do. 

But the director actually first came up with the name Lacus Clyne, which actually means “lake,” right? And so, that’s kind of also the meaning behind that, like very serene, quiet, and peaceful. And so that’s also part of that character. 

The last question is somewhat similar. Out of all the roles that you’ve played so far, both anime and video games, do you have a favorite, or at least one that really stands out?

I just can’t decide! It’s really hard. Because I would say, “Oh, I like this character!” And maybe there will be a fan who will be like, “Oh, so she doesn’t really like the character that I really love so much.” So I don’t want to disappoint. But for me, it’s kind of frustrating. I don’t want that experience with fans, and it was really hard to come up with one character. 

Because we are not only voice actors, but we are the character, and we are given the opportunity to be the character. So, the director is also involved in helping us develop the character. And then, of course, there’s already the script and everything. There are so many pieces that are involved. But with every single character, I basically lived their lives, so there’s a part of me in every single one. And so, it’s really hard to say, “Oh, I like this one more because they’re so dear too, and they have such a big part of me in them.” 

And so, the answer would be, “I can’t choose a character. I’m sorry, not just one character.” 

Thank you very much!

A fan of shows with lots of talking. Non-anime hobbies include trains and trading card games.
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