An animation is created by the people in many divisions
Anime voice actress Mamiko Noto plays the role of Moriko in Recovery of an MMO Junkie, one of the fall season’s biggest hit titles on Crunchyroll. In this interview; Noto takes us behind the scenes of bringing her character to life, including forging that special bond between Moriko and Hayashi.
This interview originally appered on akiba-souken.com (Translation by Mikikazu Komatsu)
When did you learn about Recovery of an MMO Junkie for the first time?
Mamiko Noto: I read it when I tried out for the audition. Actually, I had no experience of playing net games, so I wanted to be auditioned after grasping the worldview and content of the work, in addition to the relationships before and after the given dialogues for the audition. I read the original manga at an early stage.
What was your first impression of the work?
I was very impressed by Moriko's uniqueness as a character. She has a lot of elements, such as her backbone and human relations. When I took the audition, I watched her from a viewpoint of “playing Moriko.” She has a very serious side, and while she has a sense of sincerity and politeness, she also acts very comically like talking to herself. I felt the contrast was very interesting. I had a feeling that her past was filled with her figure as a working adult, and her present was full of the typical things for net gamers. I thought those elements made her a character that was easy to sympathize with for many people. I can remember impressively that I tried to enter into the role while being aware of "how I can act this person humorously.”
Speaking of comical behavior, in the roundtable talk by the writers for this feature article, they mentioned her wriggling on the bed and the part about the hug pillow.
Oh yeah, and also when she used an adhesive tape cleaner (laugh). This anime contained many realistic depictions, so I could feel her very close. I myself did not play net games but had admiration for them. It was very new for me to see that people were connected to each other, not with machines, and that there was a person living in real life beyond this character. There were lots of things I did not know, so in that meaning, I got an enjoyment of learning about them while reading it through.
What did you think about Moriko’s setting, who quit her office job then became a NEET (young people not in education, employment or training)?
I felt that it was a very crucial part of Moriko's backbone. It was as important as "comical acting" in the "realistic depiction" that I mentioned earlier. Just being funny could make her a non-person. I played with awareness of the essences based on her back story.
We heard playing Moriko was a new challenge for you. Why was that?
Considering its setting, I think an animation work featuring a single female in her thirties who is a NEET as the protagonist is very new (laughs). In most of my career, I have played relatively introverted or normal girls. I recently had an opportunity to play an aggressive role, but I had never been cast as a character with this type of setting. So I thought it was a very fun role. I was able to pursue her directly, thinking like, “How about doing it this way?” or “If I do this, it may more sound like Moriko and can arouse the audience’s sympathy?” Of course, it requires performances with the opposite actors, too.
How was your relation with Ryota Suzuki who played Hayashi and created Moriko’s personality together?
Instead of discussing specifically, it was more like feeling each other out in the acting process. It was Suzuki-kun’s first regular role and a big one. I think he faced many difficulties. But even without discussions, there were moments I clearly felt like, “Now, he is speaking this line with the understanding of Moriko’s feeling.” or “He just connected me to the net world.” We played our characters while feeling that we were connected each other tightly at the root. We didn’t have a direct conversation in the story, but based on the character Moriko, we were able to create the Moriko-Hayashi connection together.
When doing performing as a character in animation, how do you create a natural acting style?
I think one big factor was that we recorded our dialogue in the pre-scoring sessions. Not everything was pre-recorded, but the director sometimes thought over our voice acting and agreed to change the length of the dialogue. The sound director Gouda-san often gave me some advice, “Don’t worry about the length too much.” In general voice recording sessions, we keep the rhythm of dialogues with the length of the animation. But in the case of Moriko who had a naïve personality in the work, I tried to play her reaction as she truly was. I thought it could show her personality clearly. It was very important to adjust myself to her. For that purpose, I was avoiding trying to act factitiously and tried to play with an empty mind as much as possible. Since there was a flow of the story, it was impossible to avoid the factitiousness completely, but I tried to put it as far as possible on the opposite side. I created the character Moriko by picking up on the neutral part of her.
The story about the length of your voice acting is very interesting. We have heard it is very difficult for newcomers to speak dialogues by adjusting the timing of the scenes, not of their own acting.
Even if you are not a newcomer, it is still difficult (laughs). But in this work, I felt many times that they put more priority on the timing of our voice acting. An animation is created by the people in many divisions. You could say that so many people, including director and animators, are working to create one character. That’s a wonderful thing about making an anime and is also one of the reasons why keeping the character’s consistency is so difficult. But I felt the characters were mainly created based on our voice acting this time.
We can see many scenes that used a space of time very effectively.
In the real world scenes, the character’s faces were intentionally hidden, and the time and the temperature were expressed by the amount of the dropping water. I thought those depictions were similar to live-action works. While such directions were featured in the real world part, the typical anime-type directions were used in the net game scenes. In that meaning, it was a unique producing style that only Recovery of an MMO Junkie made possible.