Masumoto Takuya interview (first half) – “I admired seiyuu who dubbed and went to Tokyo for it, but as I learned, I begun to notice stageplays.”
This time we’ll be talking with Masumoto Takuya, who is part of TRICKSTER (Katsuta Masaharu), as well as Idolm@ster Side M (Shingen Seiji), HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! (Saiark), Gundam Reconguista in G (Oliver), and as a dubber in [the American movie] Pride (Mark).
I’d yearned for the “brand power” of seiyuu who can do dubbing.
Recently there are a lot of people who like anime and games who aim to be voice actors, but Masumoto-san said his motivation was “dubbed [works]”. First off, we talked about what drove him to pursue [voice acting], and his memories of that time.
Before you started work as a seiyuu, what work were you doing?
Masumoto Takuya (for short, Masumoto): From the start, I’d been into theatre for a long time, and I started doing voice work when I got into Ken Productions (for short, KenPro). I’ve been working as a seiyuu for around three to four years now.
To have once been in a theatre company, did you originally aspire to be an actor?
Masumoto: I went to Tokyo because I wanted to be a voice actor, but during my first year in the Nikkatsu Visual Arts Academy, I begun to notice stageplays. So in my second year I transferred into the stage actors’ department out of the seiyuu department, and time passed by quickly without my noticing it.
Please tell us about what made you want to be a seiyuu.
Masumoto: It was a dubbed foreign movie. Since I was a kid, my father liked watching movies, and since I liked dubs, he’d go out of his way to watch them with dubs. But it actually seemed that he just wanted to watch it with subtitles [and the original English audio] (lol)
Was there someone who you admired?
Masumoto: It was Otsuka Akio-san. It was around the time when Steven Seagal’s movies were popular, so I admired Otsuka-san, who dubbed for him. After that, I learned he was also active in many fields like in the game Metal Gear Solid, and when I looked it up I saw he was also in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 and Ghost in the Shell, and I thought “he’s amazing!” (lol) That’s when I started thinking I wanted to do dubbing.
Anime and games aside, it was his dubbing that made you want to be a voice actor.
Masumoto: I’d decided to be – like, for example, “this person is going to dub Brad Pitt”, those kinds of people? Like Horiuchi Kenyuu-san or Morikawa Toshiyuki-san. Seeing such “brand power” in action, it felt like having a job like that in my hands was cool, and so I wanted to do it too, and yearned after it.
That aside, by that time, what kind of child were you like?
Masumoto: I was a movie boy who just kept watching movies. I could do sports and stuff, but I didn’t really get hooked on them. I was in the baseball club in middle school, but it felt like I just chose it through process of elimination (lol) My motivation wasn’t high, and I didn’t have any ambitions towards baseball. It was fun guiding my kouhai, though (lol)
Were you a strict senpai?
Masumoto: Nah, rather than the kind who’d scream at them, I was the kind of senpai who’d make friends with them. While doing sit-ups behind the back net, I’d chat with them about stuff like “Is there someone you like?” (lol) So, I was glad to have had kouhai.
Did you not think about studying acting at the time?
Masumoto: I wasn’t thinking about that at all. It was just also in Tokyo, and I just wanted to go home. I was told “I’ll allow you to go to Tokyo if you get into university,” so I showed my parents the results of my center exam, which said I “had academic ability to enter university”. But I didn’t feel like going to university, so I didn’t apply for it and went to Nikkatsu instead.
His first job was as part of the audience in Idolm@ster
Masumoto-san says he was a movie boy who yearned to dub. However, it doesn’t seem like he’d been taking that seriously during the time he talks about. When he started learning more about it, did his outlook change?
How was your training school?
Masumoto: At the time I had the naïve idea that “training schools are schools specializing in that, so, if I get into one, I’ll become seiyuu.” I went into the students’ theatre troupe without much passion behind it, but I just deliberately wanted to have something setting me apart from everyone else.
When did that naïve idea of yours shatter?
Masumoto: Upon impact (lol) When I thought that I’d want to do action [stunts] at the training school, I was told “the action [stunt] curriculum had been canceled,” so I thought of going to see stageplays during summer vacation. At the time I only was going to see stageplays in Shimokitazawa, but I saw “Theatre Troupe Recruitment” written on a piece of A4 paper. It was a theatre company that was just starting up, and since I was asked if I could try it out, I got into it. And it was during stage practices at that theatre troupe when that naïve idea shattered.
Up to that point, I had misunderstood and kept thinking “I’ve somehow gotten by life acting as I am, I can manage.” But that luck will only keep up like that for around ten years at best. However, as practice went on, I kept being told “no, that’s no good.” Right after hearing those words it feels like they’d just been said on purpose, but I noticed that just going the usual way I worked was no good, so I finally begun thinking about plays seriously.
There are pros and cons to thinking [everything you’d done up to then] was no good, but your naïve thinking changed from then on, didn’t it.
Masumoto: When I started getting money from plays, I started noticing that it was such a difficult thing to do. During our plays at the training school, people we knew would come, but here it’s not like that – whether we be paid 1,500 yen or 2,000 yen, it’s impossible to make it if you’re just depending on that for motivation. And that’s when I came to my senses about stageplays, and that’s when I thought I wanted to continue doing plays just like that.
And then, you did work in theatre for a while.
Masumoto: That’s right. I’d always thought I’d wanted to do work with my voice, but I had no clue how to go through with it.
What made you become part of the agency you’re part of now?
Masumoto: An acquaintance of mine found out about Ken Pro’s nationwide seiyuu audition, and when I applied, I made it through until the very end. I wasn’t affiliated with the company immediately, but after studying at Ken Pro’s training school for half a year, somehow, I got in.
What was the first role you got for voice work?
Masumoto: A mob character in Idolm@ster (Audience Member D).
So it was that, wasn’t it. You’d never had thought that after playing Idolm@ster’s audience member, you’d get to play an idol [Side M’s Shingen Seiji] yourself, did you?
Masumoto: My peer Masuyama Takeaki [Side M’s Akai Suzaku] also went through the same thing. He was also part of the audience. That’s why, if we’re talking about rivals, then I guess he’d be my rival.
There are a lot of happy chances like this, aren’t there.
Masumoto: That’s right. I don’t get to be in anime much, but I dub over for quite a lot of roles.
Do you yourself hope that you’d get more roles in dubs?
Masumoto: Not in particular – I just “accept whatever [role] comes,” and it’s just that I think it’s easier for my vocal range to work with dubs. Because in dubbing you can voice for an older role, or take on two roles at once.
And because you have a calm, cool voice, don’t you. This is going to sound strange, but [your voice] isn’t one I’d call “an anime voice”.
Masumoto: I also think the same (lol) Because my usual tone is one tone lower than a normal person’s, it’s quite hard for me to get main roles in anime.
It seems like the role of someone who’d bring people together would suit you.
Masumoto: Thank you very much. I also like anime, so I’d also like to play bigger roles in anime.
In the second half, I asked in more detail about productions that catalyze him and what kind of seiyuu he aims to be. Also, “Kinoko” and “Takenoko” suddenly appeared!?
Article: Chiba Kenichi
Photographer: Takenaka Tomoya
Hair/Makeup: Nagaki Mizuho
- Fun fact: The credits are exactly the same as the ones for fellow Ken Pro member Komatsu Shohei (part one, part two), because as the offshot pictures show their photoshoots happened at the same time!
- They draw a clear line between “dubbing” and “seiyuu work” (anime, games) here – the usual viewpoint in Japan is that just calling something “dubbing” is when dubbing over foreign films.
- Some popular Western celebrities get specific “official dubbers” to dub over their roles exclusively – Otsuka Akio is the official dubber for Steven Seagal. Horiuchi Kenyuu (who is also the boss in Ken Pro) is who Massan refers in his example – he dubs for Brad Pitt and many other established Western celebrities. And if you remember some of my interview translations with [Hamano] Daiki (this one in particular), Morikawa Toshiyuki is the official dubber for Tom Cruise, among many others.
- The “when did that naive idea of yours shatter?” “upon impact” exchange wasn’t an exact word translation, but it sounded more fun at the time (lol)
- Shimokitazawa is a commercial and entertainment district in Setagaya (Tokyo), and is well known for its many indie shops, cafes, theatres, etc. It’s been called “a rising star of creative bohemian acclaim” on Airbnb, so if that helps you paint a picture…
- OKAY SOMETHING THAT CONFUSED ME – I’m not in butai fandom, so I can only say “around 1,500 to 2,000 yen” he was referring to can point to one of two things – either he was using “we” in terms of the theatre troupe being paid (in the form of tickets) or “we” in terms of them the actors being paid (in the form of salaries). Either way works, because either way he still says that money isn’t a good motivation for people to work (and stay!) in the business.
- Spoiler alert (lol): Kinoko (mushroom) and Takenoko (bamboo shoot) are the names of his pets…
- Like in Shohei’s interviews, there is a second half to this interview, which I shall link to in these notes upon posting!
- Please do not redistribute this interview anywhere without permission and credit.
- Thanks for reading!