Check out the English language translation of the interview with So I'm a Spider, So What? Fei voice actor Eri Kitamura!
In coordination with the current season of So I’m a Spider, So What?, Crunchyroll News was given the opportunity to officially translate interviews with the staff and cast of the series. You can read the original Japanese interview with Eri Kitamura right here.
The interview was conducted by Daisuke Iwakura.
So I'm a Spider, So What? Relay Interview with Eri Kitamura as Fei: "I'm trying to portray reservedness as a human, and strength as a monster."
"Me" (a.k.a. Kumoko) has obtained Parallel Minds. Meanwhile, on the human side, the Hero Julius has entered the Great Elroe Labyrinth ...
Things are starting to take shape on So I'm a Spider, So What? For Part 9 of the relay interview series, we speak to Eri Kitamura-san, whose character was reincarnated as an Earth Wyrm. We spoke to her about what it was like to play a character who isn't human.
—What was your first impression of this project?
Kitamura: I thought it was pretty bold. (Laughs) I think I expected the heroine to be a cute girl because of how things normally go, so I was really surprised to see Kumoko's design. But when I saw the way she was throwing around internet slang, along with the typical video game elements like skills and leveling up, I realized that the story and writing would be just as interesting as the designs, and how Kumoko is really iconic of the show's appeal as a whole.
—When you auditioned, was it for the role of Fei?
Kitamura: At the tape submission phase of the audition it was for the role of Katia, but during the studio audition I also tried out for Filimøs. After that, they suddenly asked me if I could read for the dragon. There was no art or script at the time, so when I asked whether or not I should go for something more natural or exaggerated, they told me to show them what the difference would sound like. (Laughs) I thought they were maybe looking for someone who could do monster voices on the side, so I tried making battle sounds and talking cutely, and at the time, I had no idea whether it was what they were looking for.
Kitamura: When I was on my way out the door, Director (Shin) Itagaki said I did a good job, and I had no idea if he meant my take on Katia, Filimøs, or the dragon. (Laughs) But something about what I did made them think I was a good choice for Fei, so I'm glad about how it turned out.
—What's your impression of Fei?
Kitamura: Before being reincarnated, Mirei stood out a bit in her class, and tended to get on Wakaba's case, so she struck me as a pretty traditional high school character. The kind of person who is a bit more confident about themselves because they're one of the popular kids. But Director Itagaki explained that she wasn't just a simple heelish character, and that when everyone was fawning over Mirei, Wakaba was the one person who didn't, which is what caused that animosity. Essentially she's a young girl who was convinced she should be the center of attention, and that's why she picks on Wakaba and takes a high-handed tone with her specifically. It's not that Mirei is a villainous character, and that balance was something I tried to be careful about.
—She does have a bit of a precocious high schooler feeling.
Kitamura: I think so, too. I don't think she was quite what you would call a party girl, but she does come across as playful in the way that high school students who try to seem mature do. That was something I made an effort to get across, from Episode 1.
—Is there anything you're careful about because she's a monster?
Kitamura: Mostly just how monstrous to make her sound when she's using magic. An example of that is the scene in Episode 3 where they are using water magic for class. She becomes more powerful over time, so I didn't want to make her seem too strong from the get-go and tried to establish a baseline for how that she would sound initially instead.
—During the battle with the Earth Wyrm, Fei really demonstrated her strength.
Kitamura: There was something about that I was curious about. After the battle, she earns the title of Kin Eater, and I was wondering if there was a point in the battle that she realized her relationship to this other creature. It's pretty clear she's realized what happened in the scene right after the battle, but it's not specified in the script, so I wondered when she realized who she was fighting, and asked the director about it. Fei doesn't seem the type to be able to fight while keeping a lid on her emotions, so depending on how that works, I thought about maybe changing up the tone when she has to bite into the wyrm's neck.
—What did the director say?
Kitamura: He wasn't sure about the specifics of the Kin Eater thing, but he pointed out that she would be more analytical and cool-headed than Shun, and that she'd have a better idea of what's going on. Essentially, even if she did realize she was fighting a blood relative, she'd be able to figure out what needed to be done quickly, and would be able to fight normally. That being the case, I tried to make sure that it didn't sound like Fei was wavering or not sure about what to do, and tried to match the way the animation looked.
—You let the animation direct the way you performed that scene.
Kitamura: I think so. When your character's face is on screen, there's always a temptation to try and get across some kind of subtext for the non-verbal parts, but in Fei's case, I generally try to make sure it's a neutral performance unless something specifically suggests otherwise.
—What's your impression of Fei and Shun's relationship?
Kitamura: They're pretty casual in an uncomplicated way, so I try to make sure that the performance comes across as low-key. She's a bit like Shun's pet in some ways, but instead of her being his familiar, their relationship is more of an extension of the one they had as classmates, which means they're on pretty even footing with each other. It's a bit like she's his adventure buddy and older sister.
—Adventuring Buddy and Older Sister is a great way of putting it. (Laughs)
Kitamura: She comes across as a lot more mature and reserved than Filimøs, who used to be their homeroom teacher. (Laughs) So when Hugo is being prickly, her reaction is to sigh and go, "Oh, well." She's not the type of character to push back when someone pushes her. She's reserved as a human being, and strong as a monster, and I think those two factors form the core of why I try to depict Fei with a pretty level-headed attitude.
—The way her relationship with Shun is so steady makes them seem like really good partners.
Kitamura: (Shun) Horie-kun is playing a character who's more calm instead of a really fiery young hero, so together we both give off a vibe of being level-headed. With these two, there's not a lot of, "Okay, let's do it!" "Yeah!" action. (Laughs) The way that they try to operate in a more collected fashion ends up making Hugo seem really impetuous in comparison.
—With Hugo in the picture, what's your take on how the human part of the story is developing?
Kitamura: The way they don't all get along despite being classmates is realistic to me. They're not exactly in open conflict with each other, but they're not forcing the idea of being friends, either. The fact that you still have different cliques among the class, even after reincarnating in a fantasy world, gives it a strange feeling of realism. Hugo and Yuri stand out a bit from the others, but I feel like the others don't let that bother them.
—Now that you mention it, excluding Yuri and Hugo, everyone seems to respect each other's space.
Kitamura: That's the case with Fei and Shun, too. Nobody has any idea what Filimøs is up to, and nobody is sticking excessively close to anyone else. They've all got a fair bit of independence from each other. I think Katia might be the one who's most on guard about their surroundings, though. It's that awareness that leads her to warn Shun about Hugo's hostility. There's no telling how everyone's relationships might change over time, which is one thing I'm looking forward to.
—Are there any characters you find interesting other than Fei?
Kitamura: Sue's brother complex is genuinely cute. Half of that is just me finding Yui Ogura cute, though. (Laughs) Other than that, definitely Kumoko. We record separately, and when I see the footage of her and how many lines she has, it always comes as a shock. Her sessions must make her feel like a ping pong ball being knocked around. When I encounter Ao-chan (Aoi Yuuki) in the studio, I always tell her she should be getting paid for three roles' worth this time around.
Kitamura: The simple fact is that the amount of lines means that it'd be a terrifying role for any actor who can't process that amount of material efficiently, which makes me believe that she's a character that can only be pulled off by someone like Ao-chan. I think a big part of that is that she herself is a bit of an otaku ... Granted, I am one, too, so it's not like I can talk. (Laughs) But the way Kumoko talks to herself and certain things about her speech have that distinct otaku style to it, right?
Kitamura: I think the otaku audience has certain things that they like to hear that they recognize, and Ao-chan is able to pull those parts off. Usually, if you're not an otaku yourself, it takes a while to really wrap your head around slang like that. And you can't just say it convincingly, but you also need to incorporate it into your performance in a way that feels natural and sounds good. With her, you're like, "Yes, exactly like that!" And between the chaotic action bits and the comedy parts, she does a great job of displaying her range.
—Thanks for speaking with us. Is there anything coming up after Episode 7 that you'd recommend people keep an eye out for?
Kitamura: A little bit further on, we're going to get a picture of what Fei ... or rather, what Mirei is like as a person, and I think that'll be one of the highlights for the first half of Fei's story. Not just her, but we'll also see what Shun and Wakaba were like during school, so I'd keep an eye out for that. I hope everyone enjoys it.