Animage Jan. 2021 Interview: Wataru Komada (Translation)

I was gonna postpone this to the 3rd of March’s weekly slot, but to celebrate the MTC/FP battle, I moved it up a bit. Part 1 here.

Highlights:

  • Jyuto going to the supermarket
  • MTC in bathrobes, particularly Riou in a black bathrobe, sipping wine

You can find the interview on Bookwalker if you pay to read/purchase the magazine (unlimited ownership is about 800 JPY, while a subscription to various magazines for several months is about 700 JPY/month).

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any place you can cross-check this interview with, so…let’s hope I get this right…


Wataru Komada: voice of Yokohama Division Mad Trigger Crew’s Jyuto Iruma

Justice or evil? The team of 3 who everyone should be afraid of

The trio deepening their bonds that you see in the anime

For the anime episodes that have aired until now, what impressions have you had of your character?

Until the division battle, you get the feeling the bonds of the Yokohama Division trio are considerably tight. They share the same goals, so they’ll cooperate without words and even without that, they’ll want to lend a hand to each other and say, “That’s fine”. Since they had their facial expressions and movements added, I felt the subtleties of their emotions etc. created a[n impression] of trust between friends. That, and I got the feeling the anime Jyuto was holding back. In the original work and game app, there are a lot of situations which I’d never think of, but in the anime too, this feeling was lessened, but the uninhibited nature [of the anime] means there were situations which I became invested in. Samatoki, up until this point, spoke in a raw manner like he was grumbling whenever he wasn’t angry and only when he was angry, that anger seemed to be measured by an invisible gauge, but you could see in the anime, once his movements, expressions etc. were added, he’s actually full of emotions too. I feel like he was oozing naughtiness. Also, Riou…

What about Riou?

Komada: Riou is Riou, what do I say about that? *laughs* Regardless of if it’s the original CDs or the anime, Riou never changes. When Riou joins a battle, it has a remarkable impact because his presence in a battle causes it to feel different and you think, “Without participating in rap battles, MTC won’t want to change.” He rarely raises his voice, he goes at his own pace and he exudes an overly calm vibe. The fear when Riou casually pulls out his cooking – just from seeing it animated, that food is scary *laughs*.

…Riou’s cooking has even more effect in colour. In Episode 4, when Riou had prepared some food, Jyuto refused by saying “I ate already”…

Komada: Riou became dejected, didn’t he? Riou’s a tall guy exceeding 190 cm, but whether his dejected face can be said to be cute…*laughs* No matter how many times he refuses, Jyuto will always eat the food in the end, but he tried his best to evade it. Samatoki caught on relatively quickly. In the 4th episode, seeing the dejected Riou made [Samatoki] go, “[Riou] doesn’t make food all that often [for us], so we’ll eat it.” Samatoki’s nice to Riou, huh?

Out of all the episodes that aired so far, which one left the biggest impression?

Komada: Episode 8. The day before the division battle qualifiers happen, a string of robbery cases happens in Yokohama and Jyuto gets caught up in circumstances that may lead to him not being able to participate, but when Jyuto asks Samatoki and Riou to give him a hand, they’re able to resolve the case. If you only watch this episode, you’ll understand Jyuto’s relationship to others well. One’s own way [of living] does not exclude other people and as a police officer, in order to catch bad guys, he would have to be proactive and have a strong sense of justice. He would also have a lot of pride, but when push comes to shove, you can’t hate [the fact] he’ll call upon his friends for help. At moments like that, you can feel [he has] manly passion. On the other hand, when defeating enemies, he’ll do so in the blink of an eye. His obstinacy until the bitter end and [willingness] to let his opponents go free also give him an air of sexiness.

This case shows Jyuto going up against his fellow police, who were doing robberies behind-the-scenes.

Komada: Jyuto could have handed them over to be arrested, but he overlooked it. Instead, he declared, “You are now my slaves for as long as you live.” When I saw that line in the script, I confirmed once again, “Yep, that’s the sort of guy he is!” Jyuto’s characterisation from the beginning has been that of a corrupt policeman, but how he’s corrupt is vague. From this scene, everyone can understand Jyuto’s “reason for [becoming] a corrupt policeman”.

There seems to be a borderline between justice and evil, right?

Komada: Right. That anti-hero feeling is the appeal of Jyuto and also Yokohama. There is no correct path upon which to act, so there is always suspicion and fear. [Yokohama] don’t want to become close to each other, so in reality, I feel they conduct themselves according to their [senses of] justice.

What did you realise when performing episode 8’s insert song, Bayside – Suicide?

Komada: In comparison to the usual, Jyuto normally sung quietly [for the anime]. Jyuto is always responsible for the high voice that pierces through everything, but for this, he sings in a tone closer to his speaking voice.

What intention do you believe was behind this way of singing?

Komada: [The ones responsible for the track] wanted to try and make the track’s atmosphere and content of the lyrics create a tension similar to [Jyuto’s] questioning of his professional duties, and the staff approved that. I think they were able to single out Yokohama’s darkness.

During the rap scenes, Yokohama Division’s Yokohama-ness shone through, didn’t it?

Komada: The anime shows Jyuto’s Hypnosis Speaker in full, but I’m pretty sure episode 8 is the first time you see this. It’s a big speaker made up of several little speakers! With just this as his speaker, no matter where you are, it seems you’ll be able to hear the voiceover warning and upon hearing that, your ears would be destroyed *laughs*. Barricade tape also appears and restrains the opponents. It has an appearance befitting a policeman and that’s cool.

…Also, starting in episode 9, the division battle began. It was the battle between Yokohama Division and Ikebukuro Division’s Buster Bros!!!, right?

Komada: Of course, the battles were entertaining, weren’t they? The two divisions clash with their words and while doing a mic relay, the extremeness [of their attack] becomes so great, it becomes overwhelming. Due to the content, the kind of word choices used were very carefully considered. In the anime, while someone’s in the middle of receiving their attack, the screen becomes narrower. If you pay attention to the lyrics, Ikebukuro reacts a lot to the words [Yokohama] throws at them. It’s a fighting atmosphere and so your spirits are lifted.

The visual direction of this battle was very flashy, wasn’t it?

Komada: Here, it was Riou who was amazing as expected *laughs*. Lots of soldiers appeared, so Saburo Yamada attacking them was…The other members also had flashy attacks, but as expected, Saburo and Riou stood out.

What were the hard parts of recording this insert song, DRB Rhyme Anima – 1st Battle – Buster Bros!!! VS MAD TRIGGER CREW?

Komada: Before and after receiving attacks, the level of fatigue is different, so I realised this as the battle went into its 2nd half and they went into sudden death mode. Those nuances [used in conveying the fatigue] were balanced out by our individual direction. It was intensive, but it made work more enjoyable.

We want to know! Jyuto’s mysterious everyday life

Are there any memories from other episodes that were profoundly memorable?

Komada: Episode 4, where MTC infiltrated the casino, made me laugh a lot. They changed their clothes a bit, but they didn’t hide themselves very well. If Samatoki and Riou were wearing glasses, you would expect Jyuto, who typically wears glasses, to take his off, wouldn’t you think? I thought, “If they’re lucky, Jyuto’s the only one who’ll be exposed!” *laughs* I thought it was kind of cute how they thought they could change their clothes a bit [and call it a “disguise”].

After that, they got caught in the enemy’s trap, right?

Komada: That’s how they were exposed. *laughs* After that, Riou won big at the casino and that was entertaining. Although Dice sings the praises of gamblers often, he was losing hugely in a place like that…As expected of Riou, he can do anything.

Jyuto and Fling Posse’s Dice Arisugawa don’t get involved with each other much in the original work, do they?

Komada: I was happy the characters don’t interact with each other much outside division battles. Isn’t it said that Riou treated Dice to food? I’m interested in what Dice initially thought of Riou’s food. Someday, we’ll be able to see a flashback scene along those lines, huh? The anime goes places not shown in the original work and often goes outside the limits of focussing on the division [members] – I greatly enjoyed watching it. What if, maybe, their daily lives differ to this? What if they met in this place? That’s the sort of thoughts I believe gave rise to [such plotlines].

…It makes you want to know more about their daily lives, right?

Komada: Yeah, that’s right. In particular, I think Yokohama is a team where not much of their private life is known. About the only thing you know about [Riou’s] base camp is that his unique cooking happens there. Jyuto gets scenes on the job, but I want to spend time with him outside of that. For instance, when he goes to the supermarket to buy stuff or something – even if it were just depicted in images, it would be fun to see, but I’m interested in what he would buy.

Jyuto’s not a man you get to see the private life of very much, is he?

Komada: For the [BB & MTC] manga bonus CD, Jyuto and Riou perform the song Private Time and I really like it because it has a chill feeling to it. Despite this, it only reveals a small fraction of their private lives. That increases the feeling of wanting to know about it. Of course, this includes [Jyuto] going to the supermarket, but also him coming home from that until he goes to sleep and what he does in between.

It’s a Jyuto sighing a sigh of relief, is it not?

Komada: It’s him coming home, sighing while sitting on the sofa, standing in the kitchen, taking a bath, things like that *laughs*. By the way, I imagine he’d use a bathrobe after taking a bath. Samatoki would absolutely also use one.

What about Riou?

Komada: We never see him in a bathrobe at base camp, but he seems to sleep like that [without a bathrobe]…However, while staying at the hotel during the battle season, he wears one. The image of him in a black bathrobe with wine in one hand makes for quite a sight.

Yokohama Division would all look good in bathrobes. Furthermore, was there anything that made an impression on you from the other divisions?

Komada: Ichiro from episode 2. It’s the episode which reveals what the anime is like, so the scene where while I Am Ichiro is playing, he’s heading to the place where his brothers are waiting for him. You hear I Am Ichiro as the BGM all the way through and after passersby hear the song, Ichiro gathers an audience, who chant along with him. This scene establishes Ichiro as the main protagonist and it’s the best, you see?

What are the highlights of the anime so far?

Komada: After the battle with Ikebukuro, the next battle is the decisive one. Their opponents are Shinjuku Division’s “Matenrou”. The highlight is that it’s more than just a battle, and when you watch it, you’ll look forward to it. Even in the qualifiers, there is an appeal to them exchanging words and it increases the fervour of the match. Both episodes 9 and 10 are like this, but it’s mostly 30 minutes of pure battles and you hope to see it with fresh eyes. Of course, you look forward to the performance, but I also want [the audience to] pay attention to the lyrics and the beat as well. On the contrary, isn’t there also a way to enjoy [the songs] by sound alone? In that case, I have good news for everyone. A compilation of the anime’s songs will be sold on January 13th, 2021!

…That is indeed good news. What sort of content does it have?

Komada: The album title is Straight Outta Rhyme Anima. It’s a 2 CD album with all the insert songs and background music of the anime recorded on it! Of course, the OP and the ED were recorded for it too, so that makes it a must-buy album. There are plans to announce a new battle season for the original work, so HypMic[‘s world] will gradually grow bigger. First of all though, please enjoy the anime to your heart’s content!

Wataru Komada / Born September 5 / Born in Germany / Represents 81 Produce / Recent roles include news zero (role: narration on Fridays), Idolmaster Side M (role: Chris Koron) and so on.

Jyuto’s aims

Jyuto, who hates drugs, is climbing to the top of the force to eradicate them. In episode 4, he relies on Samatoki and Riou, rather than people in his line of work, to do a criminal investigation and get all the credit for it.

Idiosyncratic cooking

Riou’s cooking can be said to be that of “a pro’s”, but his ingredients are idiosyncratic. An obvious mosaic was placed on top of the food, but it can be guessed they’re kinds of frogs, bugs etc. In order to make Riou happy [that he treated the others to food], Jyuto and Samatoki can’t refuse Riou’s request [to eat].  


About HypMic‘s Music

In the original work, the songs range from aggressive to chill, so they have a lot of variation, right?

Komada: There’s a lot of parts with fast talking, but also relaxed parts. For fast parts, how to physically move your mouth is a problem, so just because a part is slow, it doesn’t necessarily make that part easy. In rap songs, it’s hard to fix things up [if you mess up], isn’t it? The directions will be something like, “Say this in one breath,” so I’ll think, “My lungs can’t handle it~!” *laughs* Depending on the artist, rappers responsible for the lyrics may give directions like that.

You get advice from them, right?

Komada: I’ll receive advice on parts where words rhyme after I’m done [trying it out first]. When it comes to rhyming, I learnt you can’t mess with the words – you have to emphasise where the rhyme is and it can also have a [certain] meaning. [These rappers] are also picky about the rhythm, so if your rhythm is out-of-sync, the nuance they want won’t be conveyed and so they’ll give rough directions. I’m always amazed at what the rappers produce. Not only do their songs rhyme, they have complex jokes and the vowels match up instantaneously but the parts of speech change, so [to be a rapper,] thinking quickly is a necessity.

After doing HypMic for close to 3 years, have you gotten used to it?

Komada: I’m still not used to it. However, I think I’ve gotten better at understanding the directions and what they want from that. I’ve become interested in rap itself as a result and have been listening to other rap songs to study up on the use of flow and remember how fun [rap is to perform]. Compared to when I started out, [the HypMic voice actors have] gotten better at getting along with the directing staff…I think that’s a fine thing.


T/N notes:

  • “…MTC won’t want to change.” – As in, they don’t want to join forces all that often outside of rap battles, due to differences in interests, worries and the like.
  • “…left the biggest impression?” – This made me realise I missed a bit from Saito’s part, since 印象的 is used in both. As of the time of writing, it’s since been put in.
  • “…exceeding 190 cm…” – Riou is 191 cm, or about 6 foot 3.
  • “…let his opponents go free…” – The literal wording in the original text makes reference to the fact his opponents are swimming to escape him, which I found kind of funny.
  • “characterisation” – The original word here was “profile” (katakana). However, it doesn’t seem to be the right word when used wholesale in English, so I had to switch it with something similar.
  • Riou treating Dice to food – Not much is known (at the time of writing) about how Dice and Riou met, aside from “Dice was starving, so Riou fed him”.
  • “chill” – …yes, whenever it’s mentioned, the interviewer and Komada say that (in English).
  • MTC in bathrobes – It never actually happens in content featuring MTC to memory (as of the time of writing), but this was likely supported by the fact Dice is sleeping in a bathrobe near the end of the FP & M manga.
  • BGM – Background music.
  • “new battle season” – For those coming from the future, the 2nd DRB/6th live [concert] was announced at the end of November 2020, around when this interview was published. I hit “publish” on this post just in time to coincide with the final battle of the 2nd DRB (MTC vs FP), or the 21st of February 2021.
  • “close to 3 years” – That’s what the interviewer said, but the publishing date of this Animage issue was the 10th of December 2020, which was actually a few months past the 3rd anniversary.
  • “…I think that’s a fine thing.” – Ellipses in Japanese and English vary in their usage a bit, meaning you can deliver a punchline by contradicting something you said earlier with something else after an ellipsis in Japanese (i.e. going “Blah blah blah…or so I thought” works in both languages). If this sentence looks funky, it was because I tried to replicate the effect of sudden doubt Komada gives by using that.
  • [The section in the bottom left is an ad of Straight Outta Rhyme Anima. You’ll notice I even translated some content translators don’t normally bother with because I’m trying to treat this professionally, but I won’t go that far.]
  • …as for citing this, I worked hard over several days to make sure it was as accurate as possible, but there still might be mistakes. I might tweak it a little if I remember I missed a bit, but otherwise feel free to quote this or use the images. If another translator who tackles this and I greatly differ on a nuance in the translation, please take their word for it…By the way, any feedback is welcome. However, I was fairly loose with translating some parts, so I don’t believe you should translate from this into a different language.

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