Komatsu Shohei interview (first half) “Occasionally I’d think ‘whatever is fine’, but even then, I’ll end up taking it ‘seriously’.”
This time we’ll be talking to Komatsu Shohei, who had first appeared on the currently-airing TV anime DAYS (as Sato Hideki) and in Idolm@ster Side M (as Kizaki Ren). Komatsu-san was also active in the group HIROZ, which used to do action performances.
The tears I shed when I lost made me realize how serious I was.
From doing activities with HIROZ, Komatsu-san entered Ken Production and started taking the path of a voice actor. First off, I asked him what he was aiming for by entering this world.
Komatsu-san, you were previously a part of HIROZ. Weren’t you originally an aspiring actor and not an aspiring voice actor?
Komatsu Shohei (Komatsu, for short): It was really vague, but all I thought was “I would like to feed [myself] through my acting”. In high school I was in the theatre club, and when I went to Tokyo, I went to a theatre company to audition, but I didn’t get accepted…and that’s when I got [the opening for HIROZ]. Actually, I’d only found out our main point was to be the action after I got accepted (lol)
So you didn’t intend to get into action-related things at the beginning, were you. Well then, what made you want to be part of plays?
Komatsu: I entered my high school’s theater club thinking “[doing] whatever is fine” (lol). Up until then, I was doing karate and kendo, but I thought that come high school, I wanted to do something different. I saw the theater club’s performance at the entrance ceremony’s welcoming party, got interested, and joined it. Also, I was a props man at first. And then I got told “there are few male actors, so we’ll let you be an actor”, so I somehow got to be an actor, and somehow it was fun so I kept on with that. Before I knew it, [the theatre club’s] actors began increasing (lol)
As part of the theatre club, I went to a prefectural convention as my last high school competition, and even though I’d thought I could finish second place in the Kyushu tournament, I lost by around third or fourth place… As I was going back home, I couldn’t stop crying. I was crying until morning came. That’s when I first started thinking “so I was taking this seriously, wasn’t I,” “So I wanted to be in plays, after all!” After that, it became impossible for me to think about them as *just* plays.
So this being said, you weren’t aiming to be an actor since you were little.
Komatsu: That’s right. I didn’t watch anime much, and while I found plays fun, I never really longed [to be in] them. But then, when I lost in that competition, I thought that I wanted to do more, so I thought of being in plays as a profession.
Plays aside, what kind of child were you?
Komatsu: In a word I’d guess I’d say I “didn’t like losing”. I’ll do stuff this way ‘cuz I knew I’d regret it if I lost. But I think it was only with plays when I ended up being seriously regretful. Because when I lost in karate or in kendo tournaments, I was never regretful enough about losing to end up crying.
What was your hobby as a kid?
Komatsu: If we’re talking about hobbies, I tried out lots of them. When I was little everyone was into Pokemon, and since elementary I had been doing nothing but karate. In middle school, somehow I started doing kendo, and there was a time when I was playing guitar as part of a band. I did various stuff, but there’s not really something I got hooked on.
And then in the middle of all that, you got hooked on the play you saw in high school.
Komatsu: I found something I could take seriously, so I thought “this is it!”
You said you were surprised that HIROZ’s main focus was action, didn’t you?
Komatsu: I was surprised. But I got to make use of the karate I used to do, and I took advantage of my history doing kendo to somehow wield swords.
What made you end up thinking you should quit?
Komatsu: For the first one, two months, I’d thought I should have quit. But in those months I got to be part of a play, and got to be the main MC of the new parade in Kagawa named “NEW LEOMA WORLD” pretty quickly. We got to be gourmet reporters for RSK (Sanyo Broadcasting), and step by step, it felt rewarding.
No matter who chose it, I was always chosen for my “voice”. In that group whose main point was action, I was the “one in charge of having a good voice”, the “one responsible for MC”. From then on, I felt that “if it’s regarding voices, I could hold my own in battle.” But because I thought “if I want to take my voice seriously, I should decide on it properly and stop going about this half-baked,” I ended up quitting HIROZ so that I could study to be a voice actor.
I didn’t think I’d be needing my experience with action that quickly.
Even though he quit HIROZ to do battle with his voice, he was not able to join the world of voice acting immediately after. What kind of study did he do in order to be part of his current company?
Since you quit HIROZ and made the big decision to be a voice actor, did you have any difficulties?
Komatsu: I didn’t have the foundation of studying at a vocational school, and since I was around 23 years old when I quit HIROZ, to be honest I didn’t have the time to start school just then. I thought that there had to be a way for me to get into the scene earlier somehow, so I went into auditions.
And that audition was?
Komatsu: The Seiyuu Awards’ “Newcomer Discovery Audition”. If I passed that annual audition, depending on the company [that took me] I’d be able to be part of the school immediately, going into the training center as a special student, so I thought I’d like to go through that kind of shortcut.
The applications for that were such that if you didn’t have a recommendation, you’d go through general entry, right?
Komatsu: In the first year I tried, I applied through general entry and failed. Looking it up I found out that vocational schools and stuff gave out recommendations, too. Very few people get chosen through general entry. So, because the site called Koebu’s Internet-based voice actor school “MANAVO!” also gave out recommendations, I participated in its workshop, and through my results I got a recommendation.
Using previous knowledge, huh. What was the results of your audition?
Komatsu: Thankfully, I’d gotten a lot of offers from offices, and, after thinking it over, I decided to join Ken Production.
Taking the shortest possible route by your own power.
Komatsu: That ‘shortest route’ took me two years, though (lol) But I’d already done action in front of the public [as part of HIROZ], so I have courage that I could not lose to anyone when it came to public performances.
For that sake, you had to take roles that could appeal to your strengths, didn’t you.
Komatsu: That’s true. Since I had been in the public eye for three years, I was pretty good at appealing to people with my action [stunts].
So from that alone we already know you’re good with action, but how about dancing?
Komatsu: I was doing dances since I entered HIROZ. In that group, the frequency with which we did stages was amazing. We were doing around five stage performances a day, for all days of the year. Everyday from morning ‘til night, including a hero show and other things, we got to move our bodies a lot, so our quality as an action group was surprisingly high, as far as public performances were concerned.
It was a pretty packed schedule, wasn’t it?
Komatsu: I know around two to three years is a relatively short period, but I think the number of stage performances I’d been in was tremendous, because I’d been on stage every day.
That’s also how your life is now, though.
Komatsu: That’s right. Honestly, I didn’t expect to dance and do action [stunts] again after being a voice actor (lol)
Recently, more people have been wanting to become voice actors, after seeing those kind of performances.
Komatsu: That’s right, too. I didn’t watch anime much when I was a kid, and I don’t know much about the world of voice actors. I used action [stunts] as my self-appeal point, but I didn’t think I would be able to use them on stage that quickly.
In the second half, I asked him about what he felt about being at the actual scene [of voice actor work], and about his senpais. Also, the gaps in his everyday life are also revealed!
Article: Chiba Kenichi
Photographer: Takenaka Tomoya
Hair/Makeup: Nagaki Mizuho