Yuu Asakawa has returned to North America with Mitsuo Iwata in tow. Both Asakawa and Iwata were Guests of Honors at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2013. This year Asakawa and Iwata held a panel and a concert at Anime Weekend Atlanta, and Word of the Nerd had the chance to attend both! Here are the recaps.
*Some of the content was abbreviated and cut out due to time constraints, so not all questions and answers will be word for word.
Asakawa and Iwata held a panel on Friday telling the audience about themselves and holding a Q&A session.
Here’s a video taken at the panel, showcasing the voices of the characters they portray. ( I wasn’t planning on taking videos at the convention and did not have a tripod on me, please excuse the wobbliness, I sincerely apologize)
Here’s a recap of the Q&A panel:
Question: How did you guys get into voice acting?
Iwata: I was a child star back then. My roles went from commercials, TV dramas, and films. I also did theatrics in high school. Acting back then was the segue that got me into my eventual career as a voice actor. I even got the role of Peter Pan back then! When it came to anime, I tried out for a role in Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, but failed. However, after that audition I went to the Akira audition and got the role for Kaneda.
Asakawa: I was a big anime fan as a child. It wasn’t until age 20 that I considered to be a voice actor. I started out by buying books and magazines on voice actors and actresses. I went to the same voice acting school as Megumi Ogata, the voice actor for Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The school was very strict.
Q: To Asakawa. Is there anything you might be able to tell us about the upcoming Ufotable adaptation of Fate/Stay Night?
Asakawa: As of now I don’t know much and have not been contacted. If I had some info you should expect to see it on my Twitter page or expect an official announcement. My Twitter name is @Julia320. Please follow to expect some news in the future! Social media is a great way for us voice actors to connect with the fans, especially in this day and age. You can also find Iwata on Twitter with the username @Kanata6info. If you didn’t know, that is the Twitter account for the band Iwata is a part of!
Iwata: Yes, I’m a songwriter and I released 5 or 6 singles and about 3 small albums. The music I usually make is punk rock. I like bands like Journey and Van Halen. I got into both of them while I in high school. Journey’s song Open Arms is one song I really like. Michael Jackson also happens to be another artist I love.
I was influenced to start music by joining a band in junior high. Although, since I was the only one who owned a piano (something that I never touched but was still in my home) I had to become the pianist. The band I was a part of was a copy band, and Japanese music was much easier to play than American music. Our band even got to play in our high school’s school festival!
However, after I entered theater I quit music.
Asakawa: My favorite kind of music is visual kei. Bands I like are Dir en gray, The Gazette, and Nightmare. Nightmare’s song Kaikou Catharsis is one of my favorites. I used to go to concerts and headbang to the music. I also had an incident where I had a wardrobe malfunction during a concert (TRUE STORY. SHE SAID THIS HERSELF. Don’t worry she laughed the incident off).
Q: What do you two like to do during your down times? Do you have any hobbies?
Iwata: I have old man hobbies. Kind of boring. I like going to temples and shrines, and making and drinking tea.
Q: Do you roast your own coffee beans Iwata?
Iwata: Well there was this incident where I burned my hand while trying to do that, hahaha. *Iwata holds hand out and screams*
Asakawa: Well one of my hobbies is playing video games, and I like playing the Resident Evil series specifically. I still even play Resident Evil 6. I even dream of doing a voice in a Resident Evil game.
Q: Speaking of dreams, what are yours Iwata?
Iwata: Well, many voice actors get to live at an old age and still get to work even then. I want to be like them. I want to contribute to the future ages and continue my work.
Q: Iwata, did you expect Akira to become so popular?
Iwata: I definitely did not know it’d get this big! I’m a fan of Katsuhiro Otomo (the creator of Akira) and I used to read a lot of his manga. I really didn’t think that I’d get the role in the movie!
When I tried out for the character, I prepared by not preparing. I was 20 at the time and I thought that I was pretty close to the character already. That way, I just tried to channel his character through myself.
I went through the audition 3 times, and on the final audition I got to meet Otomo! I was so excited and was like AHHHHHHHH (fangirl scream). However, that was just on the inside and I just calmly shook his hand.
There was also this one time when my family and I went on a trip to Australia. On the trip, our tour guide asked if I knew Akira. I just shook my head (not telling him I was the voice of Kaneda). Throughout the tour he just ranted on about Akira. Even to this day, that man still doesn’t know that the voice of the main character was next to him. Next time I see him, I’m going to tell him “I’M KANEDA! ME!”
Iwata then continues to talk about his wife and son. His wife, Rikako Aikawa, is a voice actor herself and was in series like Pokemon and D.Gray-Man. She voiced many Pokemon in the anime series. Their son is also a BIG Pokemon fan. A vote was held to see which Pokemon game he would buy for his son, Pokemon X or Y. The crowd voted for Y, and Iwata said that he would tell his son that his council members in America decided that he would receive Y.
Afterwards, Asakawa takes off her jacket, and both her and Iwata show off the matching shirts they bought at Target. Both of them went to Target for the first time since there is no Target in Japan. They were surprised to see the Halloween items around the store since that holiday was coming soon. Iwata retold his story of how he was frightened by a Halloween prop, after he pressed on its button and it jumped up at him.
Q: What kind of difference is there when voice acting for video games and anime?
Iwata: It usually takes 4 hours to voice a 30 minutes anime episode. For anime, voice actors go in at different times to do their voices, but when we do work together at the same time, we get a type of synergy. When one person does a really good job of voice acting, I get hyped and want to do just as good. However; for games; we get a huuuuge script. We have to record the voices all by ourselves. It takes so much to voice the entire script that it’s hard to fit it in one day.
Asakawa: Pretty much what Iwata said. The difference is time.
Near the end of the panel Iwata tells the crowd that he is currently working on the new season for Initial D and its new game. It is also said that Iwata hosts his own radio show called Radio Osaka and that he will be holding a live event at the end of the year, at Okinawa. The live event has 6000 people signed up so far. The event have a musical performance.
Both Iwata and Asakawa also told the audience about their upcoming autograph sessions and concert.
Asakawa took the stage first during the concert performance. Her set list consisted of songs sung by her Vocaloid counterpart, Megurine Luka. Her singing skills were above what most people would’ve expected from a voice actor. Her singing skills were also accompanied by her mesmerizing dance. She said herself that it was her first time singing and dancing at the same in a performance, but no one would’ve thought so. She performed 3 songs and ended with an encore performance by singing Moonlight Densetsu, the theme song of Sailor Moon.
You can listen to one of the songs she sang, Lie, here.
I’m going to say something that I should’ve said before. Mitsuo Iwata was definitely overshadowed by Yuu Asakawa at this year’s Anime Weekend Atlanta. More questions were directed at Asakawa during the panel, and the crowd at the concert was expecting Asakawa more than Iwata. Despite all that, Iwata still won over many fans in the end due to his upbeat and eccentric personality. He has a very friendly attitude and is somewhat of a funny man. His musical performance was also fun compared to Asakawa’s, whereas her songs were serious and deep while Iwata had a higher pace and brighter theme to his songs. The audience sang along with him and even pumped their fists up in the air with him numerous times. If I were to make an assumption, I’d have to say that more people might have enjoyed Iwata’s performance more than Asakawa’s. It truly goes to show how great of a man he is to win over many fans while overseas.
You can listen to one of the songs he sang, Grasshopper, here.
Yuu Asakawa and Mitsuo Iwata were definitely a major part of AWA’s overall enjoyability. Both voice actors are very friendly and love to interact with fans. Both guests hope to return to North America very soon. Until then, we fans will continue to support them and wish them good luck in their fabulous careers.