The official Twitter for the Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- anime recently commemorated passing 20,000 followers with a couple special treats. In addition to Twitter icons that turned the show's characters into 8-bit sprites, they got the Japanese voice cast to comment on the show.
Thanks to a translation by William Chu, we can all enjoy the interview in English! Dig in below as they discuss everything from Tappei Nagatsuki's original source material to the pros and cons of getting a second crack at life.
Tell us about the impression you had when you read the source material and acted out your role.
Yusuke Kobayashi (voice of Natsuki Subaru): When I first heard about the audition and started reading the source material, I thought it was a slapstick love comedy, but as I read more of it I found it to be very deep and it really tugged at my heart. Just thinking about doing this role drained me emotionally (laughs). But because Subaru is a protagonist that does his best to change a dark future, even in tough situations I tried to play the role in a cheerful and happy manner.
Rie Takahashi (Emilia): When I read the source material, I was surprised by the level of detail in the writing. I imagine Mr. Tappei Nagatsuki must have had a strong passion and vision in mind for every single scene he wrote. I was motivated to act with as much passion and intensity as he had.
Chinatsu Akasaki (Felt): I thought reading this novel was like standing behind one of my guy relatives and watching him play a video game. Subaru was summoned to a new world without any particular goal, but once he met Elimia he worked toward trying to save her, and I feel that is what I would do in his position. These parts of the story surprise you by making you think that maybe our goal in life is do good things for other people.
Inori Minase (Rem): I thought this work was perfect for an anime adaptation. Fans of the source material and people who are new to the work will get to see cute girls move about, and newcomers will be on their edge of their seats, while the source material fans will be smirking and all, “Oh that's happening.” (Laughs) We already know what's going to happen, but we sometimes can't tell how a scene will unfold, or will suddenly be surprised by the actual depiction. This is a fun show where you can't be complacent for even a moment. Personally I read a lot of novels that are heavy on mystery or psychological characterization, so I thought this work seemed interesting since I first auditioned.
Rie Murakawa (Ram): Well, the keyword “Return by Death” caught my interest, but I wondered if anything would actually change if you got a redo. But when Subaru had a different experience whenever he Returned by Death, I was surprised and at the same time honestly entertained. It was like a mystery novel, where my perspective and Subaru's perspective became one, and it was fun to think about how this challenge can be overcome. The writing's also detailed so it's easy to imagine what's happening and get emotionally invested. I think that's part of what makes this work wonderful.
Satomi Arai (Beatrice): I felt it was like a mystery novel... I hate that I'm saying the same thing Murakawa did (laughs)... In today's recording I was starting to forget which night it was and how many times Subaru has Returned by Death, so I was talking with [Koyasu] Takehito (who plays Roswaal) about how we should make a chart. But Subaru has these comical expressions and movements, and there are fun scenes between him and Puck, so there's a lot of fun parts to this work and that's what I think makes it charming.
What impression do you have of the character you play, and what do you keep in mind when playing the role?
Kobayashi: Subaru's an idiot who has four faults: clueless, useless, powerless, and reckless (laughs). But what makes him endearing is that compared to the average person he's more stubborn, gutsy, and unwilling to give up. My hope is that I'm putting that part of Subaru at the forefront.
Now the recording can be tough because I'm looking at the animation while I'm acting, and I see how Subaru is fussing and jumping around much more intensely than I imagined. But if I don't do my best to act carefree and cheerful, [my performance] during the death scenes would go too far into a negative direction, so I'm careful not to go in that direction when I'm acting.
Takahashi: I worry about Emilia like a mother would worry about a child. (Laughs) When Emilia first meets Subaru, she's unsociable and often says things that make her seem unapproachable, so I worry if I was too forceful, or if people will actually like my character. But what I try to keep in mind is that Emilia is a person who takes great care with each word she says. To see Emilia's charm and good points, please pay attention to her language.
Uchiyama: Puck is mysterious in that he looks like a cute cat, but he's actually over four hundred years old. He's like Emilia's guardian, always watching over her and forever by her side. I hope that people feel a sense of reassurance from my performance.
Akasaki: Felt makes a lot of cat-like faces during the series, but I think she's more like a puppy who can't hide her excitement and is furiously wagging her tail. (Laughs) I hope my performance is able to convey her standoffish personality as well as her inner adorableness.
Minase: Rem is often with her older sister Ram, and while the sisters may have the same lines, I think Rem's unique personality comes out in the way she speaks. So even in the same mean line, Ram would just be direct, while Rem would beat around the bush and at the same time not beat around the bush. (Laughs). The interactions between these two are fun, and I hope people who see the series will realize why two people were cast instead of one person playing both roles. But when the sisters speak in unison I do my best with Murakawa to make a pleasant harmony.
Murakawa: (Nodding in agreement) Right! Ram and Rem look very cute, and having that contrast with that sharp tongue is what makes them interesting. I try to speak flatly because Ram is not the type to let her emotions come out, but I hope that I was able to convey humor during the gag parts, as well as the kindness that Ram sometimes shows to Subaru.
Arai: Bettie acts mature, but she looks like a loli with drill-shaped hair. These kinds of roles are right up my alley.
What Bettie carries inside of her is not normal, so just acting like a cute girl is not enough. I hope that I was able convey her inner aspects.
Subaru can revisit and redo his past thanks to his Return by Death power. If you could return to the past, when would you return to and what would you do?
Kawamura: I don't want to go back. I'm happy in the present.
Arai: Same here. I'm going to grow happier as time passes. I'll be making my own future, so I don't think I need the past.
Uchiyama: That's cool!
Minase: I don't think I'd go back either. I'm satisfied with myself now, and I'm who I am because of mistakes I made in the past. If I go back and make everything perfect, who I am would change and that is scary.
Uchiyama: My parents made me take lessons like calligraphy or swimming during preschool and elementary. Thinking back, I wonder if I should have also taken dancing. I wonder if I should have asked them to let me learn a musical instrument like piano. Once I grew I realized that those skills are surprisingly necessary, and a lot of people around me do that stuff.
Akasaki: The other day I was watching a retro game being played on TV, and it reminded me that I used to love games and would stay in all day playing. I would like to relive those days, when I would head directly home with my friends after school ended, play games with them, and have my mom call me for dinner. I think about how happy those days were and how I cannot go back, so recently I’ve been thinking about how I want to go back just once.
Murakawa: What a nice story.
Kobayashi: I would go back to my college years, get my credits the right way, and graduate. When I graduated I just barely had enough credits, and actually during my fourth year I still had a ways to go. About two weeks before the graduation ceremony I wasn’t even sure if I could graduate. I was able to graduate, but even now I have dreams where I was short one credit and had to stay behind one year. It happens once or twice a month.
Takahashi: That’s very serious-minded of you.
Kobayashi: That’s why I want to graduate with extra credits. So I won’t see that nightmare anymore.
Akasaki: But wouldn’t you be cutting it close if you go back now?
Kobayashi: I’ll be fine if I’m going back with my current memories intact, or at least that’s what I want to believe. (Laughs) I might be tempted to play a few more games.
Akasaki: Perhaps. (Laughs)
Takahashi: I don’t think I need to go back, but if I were to maybe I would do the typical thing and get a winning race horse ticket.
Kobayashi: Are we talking about money again?
Takahashi: I could memorize the winning numbers and go back a week. Or, because I headed out the house without knowing that the trains were delayed, I could go back two hours, wake up early, and get ready for the day. I want to make my daily life a little bit more comfortable. (Laughs)
Lastly, could you give the audience a message, perhaps about the series' high points or what to watch out for?
Arai: I think you can tell by looking at this interview, but this cast has lots of interesting points of view. (Laughs) There are an assortment of amazing characters. There are elegant characters like nobles and knights and then there’s normal guys in sweat suits like Subaru. The world these characters are in is interesting and chaotic. Enjoy a strange experience in another world, just like Subaru.
Murakawa: I think once you start watching the show, you’ll want to know what happens next as intriguing events unfold. This is a wonderful work with a unique fantasy/mystery setting. I hope those who read the source material will be excited to see how the characters move on film. For those who start from scratch with the anime, please see for yourself what Re:Zero is about.
Minase: This is a story you cannot take your eyes off for a second. It has everything, from slice-of-life scenes featuring cute girls to riveting scenes that make your hands sweat. You’ll go from worried to suspicious, then you’ll feel a sense of achievement when the challenge has been overcome, and you’ll feel smarter once you finish watching. (Laughs) Put your mind in full swing and enjoy the show.
Akasaki: The show reflects the wish of going to a different world, which everyone has thought of at least once, but absolutely breaks the expectation that one would be summoned with some sort of special power. Have fun watching how Subaru fights and grows in such a world.
Uchiyama: Return by Death is a major keyword. While recording, I think about how the smallest thing can impact the results so much when you’re redoing your day. Everyone has regretted saying something to someone and wondered if they could go back and change what happened, so I think this is a series where you can see some part of your own life in the work. There is also a game aspect to it where selecting a different route changes the end result. There are many ways to enjoy the series. I’ve learned a lot seeing all these wonderful characters brilliantly played by everyone. I hope you listen to details in the performance.
Takahashi: What I’m paying attention to in this series are the random expressions of the characters. I would see a certain expression during a scene and I would be wondering what that was. Each character has their own true path and I believe you’ll find the series loops interesting as you see those paths intertwine. You cannot actually experience a loop, so that is excitement, but that’s also sadness and pain. I hope everyone enjoys the series and follows through to see what lies beyond those challenges.
Kobayashi: There are a lot of wonderful characters, and the series can be enjoyed as a mystery, but I think I would like everyone to pay attention to Subaru. In the end, Subaru’s the only one who knows everything, so he has a lot of joy, sadness, and pain that only he understands. What I also like is that time does not reverse unless Subaru dies, so he cannot reverse time whenever he wants. As long as he’s alive, Subaru has to keep on fighting, and I think that would become motivation for the people that live in the now.
Perhaps people will be filled with a sense of bravery when they see a person who is considered worthless just struggle and struggle with all he’s got. Actually, I hear there’s a ranking for Subaru’s deaths (laughs), so I think there are not that many protagonists that die so many times. I practically black out each time I play his intense death sequences, so please enjoy both the characters and the story.
Thanks again to William for the translation!