*This is a translated article by QooApp under the permission of SPICE. Reproduction in any form without permission is prohibited.
Following the young teens pursuing their Japanese archery (Kyudo) techniques at the school club, Tsurune The Linking Shot, the series’ second season, has begun airing on January 4, 2023. This time, we’re honored to have a special interview with Yuto Uemura, the voice of Tsurune’s protagonist Minato Narumiya; Kensho Ono, the voice of Shu Fujiwara; and Jun Fukuyama, the voice of Eisuke Nikaido, newcomer of the new season.
As part of this interview, we’ll be delving into the nuances of the new character Nikaido, alongside the charms of Kyudo and the high school life of the trio!
Q: Fans of Tsurune got very excited seeing Nikaido and his good looks in the teaser visuals that dropped before the airing of the anime. Could you tell us your first impressions of seeing the character you’d be acting?
Fukuyama: I felt like I got what the character was going for just by his visual design (laugh). I’d also assumed that fans would have high expectations of a guy like Nikaido, so I tried not to have his looks do all the talking when voicing him. After learning about the character’s role in the arc plot, I got a hang of how he should sound after one or two line reads.
From what I’ve seen and read of the script, Eisuke Nikaido is a character with an interesting layer. He seems to me at least, as an antithesis to Minato, considering how he wears a mask around others and carries a different kind of inner conflict. I hope I did the fans justice with how I acted!
Uemura: When he briefly showed up in Tsurune The Movie: The First Shot, he came off a lot more mysterious and almost ominous to me (laugh). He carries himself graciously when conversing with others, but when he starts talking with his clubmates, his tone becomes a lot colder. He’s introduced to the audience as a senior student Minato knows from middle school, yet any interaction between the two has this sort of unease that makes you question “What’s going on inside this guy’s head?”
Ono: The show’s chock-full of Ikémens, but Tsurune sure knows how to cover all grounds (laugh). Since Nikaido hasn’t interacted with Shu in the story yet, I have to go off what I’ve seen for the most part. I do find it interesting that whenever he gets brought up in the story, there’s an odd camera cut in the anime. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d assume that Shu has his own two cents on Nikaido as well, and they don’t seem to be all that positive.
Q: The art and smooth animations are a real eye-catcher! What was the most memorable scene in the anime for the three of you?
Fukuyama: We don’t always get to head into the recording booth with fully animated clips, but KyoAni (Kyoto Animation), more often than not, has all their scenes done up to near completion when we come around to voicing the characters. The anime’s direction and creative intention were explained, so we understood the nuances of each scene. I felt as though extra care was taken in the recording process to make it easy for us to take inspiration from the animation and script in articulating our voices.
Uemura: Just like what Fukuyama-san said, the animation in Tsurune has a pristine atmosphere. As for the most memorable scene for me, it would have to be the kyudo match in the first season and the movie. I thought the camera cuts have impeccable detail, even including the expressions of every spectator.
When I saw the finished version, I felt an indescribable feeling. During the dubbing, I imagined the space as I acted, but in the finished version, the depth came out, and I thought it was amazing.
Ono: The first thing I recognized was that every character in Tsurune has a very expressive quality to them. Not in the sense that they over-act, but more so that they express their emotions in a very human way.
For example, there are scenes during the anime where you see the eyes of a character twitch for a split second and avert their eyes from who they’re talking to. It goes a long way to show stuff like this so you get a feeling as to what characters have in their mind. Moments like the arrow being fired give you the chills and It really inspires you to go see archery matches for real.
Fukuyama: It must be a pain to pour so much detail into every single part of the script (laugh)
Ono: It sure feels that way. It’s like a drop of water falling and ripples spreading out from that drop. Personally, what was interesting was the sports festival in the first episode of the second season. All the nameless mob characters were handsome (laughs).
Fukuyama: It’s a beautiful-looking world so I guess its inhabitants follow suit?
Ono: It’s kind of comical how it makes you wonder if everyone in school just looks that way.
Q: Through working with Tsurune, what would you say was the most fascinating thing you learned about Kyudo?
Fukuyama: For me, Kyudo had a strangely cool impression, and I thought it was a sport that wouldn’t be easy to start even if you wanted to. I think I sort of set a higher-than-normal bar for the sport since it requires a special venue and equipment to compete in. That being said, I think I now see it as a fully-fledged form of martial art after looking at footage of Kyudo matches and reading through things like the different katas (Japanese for form).
Uemura: I think there’s something theoretically similar to the act of voice acting and Kyudo. With voice acting, you stand in front of a mic acting alongside other actors at times emoting and casting conversations among others.
Kyudo also has this ceremonial quality to it, where in group competitions each archer shoots their arrow and passes it off to another teammate in another position. I thought the process was similar to how we had to recreate our roles and situations all over again in the movie for Tsurune, especially with how everyone at the studio got tense during the recording sessions.
Ono: Martial arts like Kyudo, where you repeat the same action, takes considerable concentration and effort. I’d get tired of it no matter what, so I felt that the whole ceremonial process of the sport would train your mind a whole lot just from the repetitive nature of it.
Q: Did any of you have personal dilemmas back in high school like Minato?
Fukuyama: Did I have something like that?
Ono: I think I just wanted to be taller back then (laugh)
Fukuyama: I’d say insecurities were a thing back then. High school was full of social hierarchies, with the soccer club and baseball club members being at the top. I often thought of the popular guys as rivals in my head.
Ono: Coming to think of it, I didn’t get along with the soccer club guys either.
Uemura: Why’s that? Is it because they were more popular among the girls? (laugh)
Fukuyama: I think I just hated the biggest clique in class in general (laugh). I’d think about stuff like “what if I can beat them in their own games” even though I was in the manga club. Prideful stuff like that.
Uemura: Sounds a lot like what Nikaidou would say (laugh)!
Ono: I felt the same way about the soccer club in my school. Though, in retrospect, I think they thought I was some sort of flirty extrovert as well. I was in the school band then, but I do remember how laid back everyone was with band practices (laugh).
Uemura: Yeah, soccer club members were the cream of the crop out of all the school clubs. Popular with the girls and all.
Fukuyama: If I go on any longer, it’ll just be me talking about my grievances with the whole in-school hierarchy… Did you two have any dilemmas by the way?
Uemura: I surely did.
Fukuyama: It’d probably be better if you talked. I think I’d just talk about stuff I was jealous of or indignant about my schoolmates(laugh).
Uemura: I was in the Kendo club, so I think there are some similarities there and Kyudo. Both are individual competitive martial arts. I remember trying out different styles of fighting like shouting to intimidate my opponent and trying to look cool doing swinging the sword.
Fukuyama: What was your best technique in Kendo?
Uemura: Kote, which you go for the wrists.
Fukuyama: It is a thrill when you pull it off in a match. It was my best move too. I ended up doing Kendo for 10 years. When I figured out that I always win with Kote, I kept perfecting that move (laugh).
Uemura: In Kendo, it’s easy to forget the nuanced feeling of moves if you don’t often practice with Shinai (the sword of Kendo) in your hand. I had my mind preoccupied with Kendo a lot back then.
Ono: Sounds swell. The school band was great too. Things were laid back, and we’d just ask ourselves “What are we going to practice today?”
Fukuyama: I mentioned the whole thing of being jealous about the soccer/baseball club guys but outside of that, I think I had a generally great time back in high school. I was always thinking about how to skip class and how to get by painful studies. Once I even tried attending a class I wasn’t in.
Uemura & Ono: Wait, what?
Fukuyama: I’d steal the seat of whoever was absent in that class. Try to see how long I can keep it up until the teacher notices.
Ono: So it was like an experiment?
Fukuyama: They catch you quicker if you’re in the back row, but they won’t notice if you’re right in front of the chalkboard!
Ono: So there’s a sort of statistic to it (laugh).
Uemura: Sounds fun (laugh). Any other social experiments that you did?
Fukuyama: In my third year, the teacher requested the students to allocate their own lesson timeslot as a way to practice independence. In my first year, I worked really hard and in my second year, I became at the top of my class.
When I finally got to the third year, I stopped attending all those self-study timeslots altogether. But because I did so well in those first two years, the teacher marked my attendance as though I was present. Think I learned a lot about making a good first impression then (laugh).
Ono: Sounds like a worry-free high school experience (laugh).
Q: How were things outside of school? Did you ever stop by and eat okonomiyaki like Minato?
Fukuyama: There was this rice shop near my school that sold Ikayaki. They were 150 yen a pop. With toppings like tuna, you got it for about 230 yen. It was cheap and tasted great, so I remember all kinds of students from all walks of life would hang around that shop.
Uemura: There was a bakery and a croquette shop outside the school gates at about 10-second walking distance. It became an afterschool tradition every day to hang out and eat at those two places. We knew we had to be back home sooner or later but wandering around town was so much fun! Those were the good old days…
Ono: I enrolled in a high school in Shinjuku, so I had tons of places to go. When it was exam season, since the school closed before 12, My friends and I would head to ramen joints that were listed in a map guide we’d bought in a convenience store. We did this for the entire three years when we were there, so by the time we were in our third year, we had to find new ramen shops because we went to every single restaurant the guide listed.
Fukuyama: So you were like a ramen critic! (laugh)
Ono: More or less. I think I’ve covered almost every ramen shop in Shinjuku, at the least. I’ve been going around finding new places ever since!
Q: One last thing. Any messages to the fans and anything you want them to watch out for in Tsurune Season 2?
Fukuyama: There’s a part of this season that delves into what kind of person Nikaido is. His introduction as a wild card in the world of Tsurune will no doubt be a main focus this season. I think that the viewers will also get a sense of why the second season’s called “The Linking Shot”, by the time they hit the end. It’s going to be a packed season with a lot going on, so don’t miss out!
Ono: Personally, being able to re-establish the characters in the movie was important for me to be able to get inside the head of my character. Shu gets introduced as a childhood friend to Minato but is also portrayed as a rival in the other school. The second season shows more of what’s on his mind, alongside how he gets along with his teammates at Kirisaki High School. I hope fans get a kick out of the introspection that goes on.
Uemura: Just like how Kensho-san put it, being able to recount the events of season 1 through the recording of the movie made voicing Minato much easier. In the first season, Tsurune mostly focused on Minato and the Kazemai High School Kyudo Club.
But in season 2, you get a sense of change with Nikaido and Shu being thrown into the mix along with their respective teammates. The show goes the extra mile in portraying each character and the complexity of Kyudo as martial arts. Tsurune has a fantastic sense of flow and puts painstaking detail into every motion performed in the shooting. All I’m saying is that fans should watch out for every aspect of season 2 (laugh). Don’t miss a single thing!
▍ About Tsurune: The Linking Shot
The story of Tsurune: Linking Shot centers around high school second-year student Minato Narumiya. Minato used to be a key player in the kyūdō club of his middle school until a certain incident during his last tournament causes him to quit.
When he starts attending Kazemai high school, his childhood friends Seiya Takehaya and Ryōhei Yamanouchi try to rope him into joining the high school’s kyūdō club again, but he refuses. However, an encounter with a mysterious man at an archery range in a forest inspires Minato to take up kyūdō once more. Minato joins the high school Kyūdō Club, joined by old friends and new teammates Nanao Kisaragi and Kaito Onogi, aiming for the top, and winning the prefectural tournament.
▍ Tsurune: The Linking Shot Anime Staff & Production
Original Story: Tsurune Kazemai High School’s Kyūdō Club by Kotoko Ayano
Director: Takuya Yamamura
Animation Production: Kyoto Animation Co., Ltd.
Production: Tsurune II Production Committee
© Kotoko Ayano・Kyoto Animation/Tsurune II Production Commitee
▍ Tsurune: The Linking Shot Anime Cast
■ Minato Narumiya – CV: Yūto Uemura
■ Seiya Takahata – CV: Aoi Ichikawa
■ Ryōhei Yamanouchi – CV: Ryōta Suzuki
■ Nanao Kisaragi – CV: Shōgo Yano
■ Kaito Onogi – CV: Kaito Ishikawa
■ Shū Fujiwara – CV: Kensho Ono
■ Hiroki Motomura – CV: Takuma Terashima
■ Daigo Sase – CV: Yū Miyazaki
■ Senichi Sugawara – CV: Yūsuke Kobayashi
■ Manji Sugawara – CV: Kōhei Amasaki
■ Eisuke Nikaidō – CV: Jun Fukuyama
■ Fuwa Koshirō – CV: Takayuki Kondō
■ Touma Higuchi – CV: Yūya Hirose
■ Reiji Aragaki – CV: Yūichirō Umehara
■ Kenyuu Ootaguro – CV: Yōhei Azakami
■Masaki Takigawa – CV: Shintarō Asanuma
The original article was written by Shinobu Tanaka (タナカシノブ) and published by SPICE, which can be found here: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/313007