This interview has been revised and edited for clarity. It was first conducted on September 2, 2023 before the premiere of Firefighter Daigo: Rescuer in Orange.
Anime sound director Takeshi Takadera made an exciting return to Anime Toronto 2023 over the Labor Day weekend of September 1-3, 2023. It was his first visit to Toronto since attending the 2019 convention, which was then known as the International Fan Festival, with Fate/Stay Night voice actors Noriaki Sugiyama, Ayako Kawasumi, Kana Ueda, and Noriko Shitaya.
Besides snacking on Canadian ketchup chips and indulging in eggs benedict for breakfast, Takadera met many anime fans at his three panels, discussing his role as a sound director, the series he worked on, and engaging in fun Q&A sessions with fellow convention attendee Atsushi Abe.
Anime Toronto attendees were also treated to an early premiere of the first episode of Firefighter Daigo: Rescuer in Orange, which has now aired as of September 30, 2023. The first 100 people who got into the panel were also given clear files based on the anime series. Clad in a bright orange jacket inspired by the anime, Takadera was greatly receptive to the audience’s appreciation for his work on the series, and he wasn’t afraid to practice his English as he fielded questions from the audience.
Anime Trending had a chance to speak with Takadera about his return to Toronto, his work on Firefighter Daigo: Rescuer in Orange and OSHI NO KO, and his overall experiences as a professional sound director in the anime industry.
Welcome again to Toronto, Takadera-san! You premiered the first episode of Firefighter Daigo: Rescuer in Orange, which you worked on as sound director. What can you tell the people who couldn’t make it here about this series?
Obviously it hasn’t aired quite yet, but it is a show about a firefighter and is a down-to-earth realistic story. It’s a good balance between realism and drama, which I think a lot of people will enjoy.
What was the general process like recording the firefighting sounds and action scenes for Firefighter Daigo: Rescuer in Orange?
In terms of the voice lines, the fire department in Japan is fairly similar to an army style of operation. Especially in episode one, there’s a scene when the characters are going through training as new recruits, and there was a lot of screaming, yelling, and really vocalizing their lines. It was a very exhausting process for the cast members.
Did you do any basic research or real-life recordings for the anime, such as visiting a firehouse station or recording a real-life fire?
I did go to the fire department to interview actual firefighters, as well as take a look at all the equipment they use. There’s a lot of specialty equipment that they use that we have no samples for. We have no reference for what kind of sounds they make. We record them directly to sample the sounds of the equipment they use on a daily basis.
In terms of the sound production for the anime series, are there any kind of special sounds viewers should listen to when they are watching the first episode?
Maybe not for the first episode that we aired at the premiere, but for the second episode and beyond, there might be a lot of sounds the equipment makes during preparation. That is something most audiences will not have heard of before, so stay tuned and keep an ear out for those kinds of unique sounds.
Our team at Anime Trending previously interviewed you in 2021 while you were promoting To Your Eternity, and you mentioned to us that you “order soundtracks” and “select music” as part of your job. What other responsibilities does a sound director have during a production?
In terms of responsibilities, basically anything that makes a sound. That can be sound effects, the actual voice lines, and music. Everything sound-related is under my scope.
Could you elaborate on the relationship between the director, the sound director, and the music composer of a production?
In terms of animated TV series these days, one cour is 10 to 12 episodes. For Firefighter Daigo, it is 20 episodes. At the very beginning, I have to basically list out about 40 to 50 tracks of what I think I will need throughout the entire series at the very beginning. So I will have to predict what I need down the line in order to make that one request to the composer. This is for a TV series usually. For movies in a theatrical release, it’s a little bit different.
As a sound director, what’s your relationship with the voice cast and their performance within a scene?
The voice actors and actresses come in with their own understanding of their characters and how they believe the characters would say those lines. As a sound director, I have my own opinion of how each character should be saying those lines too. I have to basically understand everyone’s ideas and opinions to get the right balance and output to help enhance the work as a whole.
You’ve worked with Doga Kobo frequently in the last few years. How did you first begin working with them?
The first time I worked with Doga Kobo was also actually the first time I worked with director [Daisuke] Hiramaki for Wateten, who is also the director for OSHI NO KO. From there, I had the privilege to work with them again and made connections with them at that time. Afterward, I found out that I had good synergy with director Hiramaki, so from there, I frequently collaborated with Doga Kobo on various projects, including OSHI NO KO.
One of your most popular collaborations with Hiramaki is OSHI NO KO. What were the most memorable or difficult scenes from that series that you had to work on?
Frankly speaking, it’s the scene where Ai dies. The reason why I really like that scene is because prior to that scene, there’s something uncanny. Almost like everything Ai’s saying is a lie just to make the people around her feel better or have a good impression of her. Nothing she says seems genuine, but it’s right at the final moment in the scene when she passes away, that she was able to speak the truth from the heart to her kids. And then basically finding that sweet spot of telling something so genuine after hearing all her lies. That was very challenging and enjoyable to work on.
Ironically, Abe-san also mentioned this during his panel, but it was difficult for him to properly play the role of a father because he has no kids. The same thing happened with Rie Takahashi, who played Ai in the series. It was challenging for us to learn how she can play the role of a mother. In the end, I asked Takahashi how she played that role. She knew the source material before being cast as Ai and brute-forced it through her love for the actual work. I listened to her acting and found it very nice.
You’ve been involved in multiple genres of anime. Throughout your career, which show or genre has proved to be the most challenging or required the most unorthodox approaches?
For the theatrical release of the Yuru Camp movie, the original series had source material, but the movie takes place 10 years after the actual content of the source material. The movie itself had no source material and was original content.
How do I extrapolate those characters 10 years later, especially if they were already based on source material in the beginning? It was difficult to find the right acting strategy for a character with an already strong background but no direct source material. So that was something that was challenging and unusual among my works.
That was definitely an unusual type of work. If a work has a source material, I usually base my work on that. If it’s original content, it’s a brand-new work. If it’s original content, but based on source material that takes place 10 years later for an existing character, it was quite challenging and unusual for me.
This is your second time in Toronto after your first visit in 2019. What message do you have for all the Canadian anime fans at Anime Toronto and fans around the world?
This is my second time in Toronto. Unfortunately, we had to pause the activities here in 2020 due to the pandemic, but I’m aware that it is a really big city with a huge population. I go to Vancouver a lot for the convention there, but I know that Anime Toronto has a lot of potential to grow.
Thank you for coming the screening today!— 高寺たけし／Takeshi Takadera(音響監督／Sound Director) (@TakeshiTakadera) September 3, 2023
I’m happy you are interested the anime of #め組の大吾 🔥🔥🔥
I will have 2 more panels tomorrow! I will talk with Abe-san about some titles we worked together and our relationship.
Please join me!#animetoronto pic.twitter.com/sGchoTP1Cc
So I really look forward to being able to expand Anime Toronto. I really want to try my best to bring new work and share it with the fans here. I’ll try my best to come back and bring more interesting stories and work.
Translator: Andy Ichikawa
Special thanks to Anime Toronto for helping to arrange this interview. You can follow Takeshi Takadera on Twitter @TakeshiTakadera.