Thursday, March 04, 2010

Seiyuu Yuuki Aoi on Mina Tepes and on Men

"Men begin at thirty." So says seventeen-year-old seiyuu Yuuki Aoi 悠木碧.

Aoi-chan, who plays vampire queen Mina Tepes in Akiyuki Shinbou's Dance in the Vampire Bund, was interviewed for the Hobby-Channel web magazine Seiyuu Police.

After talking about the joys and difficulties of playing the multi-faceted vampire queen, Aoi-chan was asked if the young hero of the show, Akira, was her type. She replied that -- as she and Saitou Chiwa, her co-star on the show's radio program, had discussed on-air -- she liked older men.

(It gives this statement a bit of context to know that a couple of months ago on her blog, she called herself "Yuuki Aoi, who hasn't had a boyfriend in 17 years.")

She said in the interview that her favorite man in the show was a character who hasn't appeared yet, Rosenmann, a very cool guy who is a bit of a sadist and wears an eyepatch.

The interview begins with the host "Squad Leader Tamon" asking: "Young lady, are you a vampire, or are you just kidding us?"

"No, I'm a vampire...." Yuuki replied.

Q: Yuuki-san, what kind of girl do you play Mina as?

Yuuki: Mina looks like a girl, but I see her as a woman. I guess she's the oldest woman I've played yet, in fact. She's a multifaceted character with a cute side and a terrifying side. Although she has very human feelings, she somehow also conveys the terrifying nature of a vampire. The purity of her love gives her a special cuteness, but it's a purity that can turn to being very frightening when she shows us the intensity of her anger. And when she is in public, she has the regal bearing of a queen.

It's all Mina, but it's like playing many characters. And all the time I'm playing her, I feel how adorable she is.

Q: There are many scenes in which Mina's feelings and attitude seem to change suddenly. Is that difficult to play?

Yuuki: On the contrary, when she changes suddenly, her feelings really don't change. It's all intentional, I think. Rather than being difficult to play, I'd say it's fun. Maybe since I'm a girl, I can tell it's feminine deceit. At times like that, I feel as if I am becoming friends with the character. I often speak of getting to know a character as "becoming friends with" them. And getting to know a character is fun.

Q: "Maybe since I'm a girl, I can tell it's feminine deceit." Does that mean you have a deceitful side, too? (laughs)

Yuuki: I wonder.... (laughs). Maybe sometimes? When you're talking to people on the phone, you change your voice depending on who it is. I think Mina's way of expressing her feelings is like that. If you were talking to the person you loved, maybe you would end up talking one way; but if it were your mother or a senior colleague, it would be quite different. Since all girls make a bit of a distinction between what's inside and what they show outside, maybe I might be the same? (laughs)

Yuuki Aoi and 'Squad leader Tamon'

Q: As a a vampire queen, Mina uses some unusual words. What's it like speaking words you don't normally use?

Yuuki: Even though I've studied a lot for this, I often feel as if the scriptwriter, Yoshino-san, has put in many words just to test me (laughs). Another show that Yoshino-san is the writer for, Sora no Oto, is nothing but difficult words. There, it's technical vocabulary; here it's political vocabulary. I keep thinking: "Ah, Yoshino-san is really putting me through an ordeal." (laughs)

Q: Are there parts of the script where you say: "I can't read this!"

Yuuki: In every episode.... (laughs). At the beginning, I just didn't know how to read all the political vocabulary. As time goes by, I feel as if my kanji vocabulary is getting bigger and bigger. But at recent recording sessions, there are sometimes just about no kanji I can't read. Anyway, learning new words is fun. I love words, and enjoy performing them.

Q: Her use of words is one of the attractive things about Mina.

Yuuki: Yes. She looks like a girl, but her manner of speaking makes her seem both cute and frightening, I think. It's one of the attractive things about 2D characters. They don't exist in real life, but they end up becoming real. The feeling of making that happen is enjoyable, and helps make them attractive.

Q: Seiyuu Police interviewed you before (two years ago; photo at right →), about Murasaki in Kurenai. She was a character who had a special way of speaking and who seemed quite proud. Can you compare her with Mina?

Yuuki: There are a lot of differences between Murasaki and Mina, and their manner of speaking differs, too. Murasaki had a very straight feeling, and went at things directly. Mina speaks slowly, word by word, and with weight. Mina is very aware of speaking so as to increase her authority. Knowing that she looks so young, she chooses her words. She says in the show that since she's the leader of the vampires, she has to be someone who is feared.

Q: What is an example of this?

Yuuki: Even where there are exclamations in the scripts, Mina never shouts, but keeps her voice low. This is to make her more frightening. The sound director, Tsuruoka-san, told me: "Think of ways to make the person you're talking to obey you without shouting at them." It's hard.

Q: It must be difficult for 17-year-old Yuuki-san to play several-hundred-year-old Mina.

Yuuki: Where's the power that can make people like Nakata Jouji-san (Wolfgang), Kaida Yuuko-san (Vera), and Kuroda Takaya-san (Alphonse) obey me? I'm always worrying about that.

And really I'm a chicken (laughs). In the scene in episode five where I was negotiating with the prime minister, I was always just about to fall apart. But I said to myself "Do your best! Never give in!" I did it like I was going into battle (laughs).

Q: Fearsome as she is, what are some cute aspects of Mina that you definitely want people to see?

Yuuki: Mina is very genuine. In episodes to come, she is confronted with her inescapable mission as queen of the vampires, but she resists it. "I want to be Akira's alone," she says. She has lived for hundreds of years, and has seen so much human deceit, but she still has these pure feelings. It's so sad, and so lovely. I think this is a way in which she is very human. When she's like that, she is so cute.

And her relationship with Yuki: how nice they are to each other, how they fight, and yet how they become close. Mina becomes almost human. I want people to see the Mina who is like a human being.

Q: I'd like to ask about Akira, the one who protects Mina. How does Yuuki-san see Akira?

Yuuki: Akira is truly Mina's knight. Of course because he protects her, but also in his heart. Akira is my age, but boys with that much to them are just about nonexistent. He's trustworthy, and has the weight of having been raised to be be Mina's protecting "knight." Even though he had lost his memory, he's very adult, and his feeling of having to protect "the princess" comes from the bottom of his heart. Nakamura-san's wonderful acting makes Akira seem wonderful. Young as he is, he is an unconscious feminist, and I think that may also be part of his appeal.

Q: Is Yuuki-san attracted by people like Akira?

Yuuki: be truthful.... I'm someone who "likes older men." I'm sorry (laughs).

Q: "Likes older men"?

Yuuki: We've talked about it on the radio show, "Radio in the Vampire Bund." Along with Saitou Chiwa-san, who plays Yuki, and is my co-host on the show, we've talked about liking older men. "Men start at 30" has become a saying on the show. We introduce ourselves with things like: "I'm Yuuki Aoi, who thinks men start at 30." (laughs)

Q: What characters do you like in the show, then?

Yuuki: There's a character who will appear only much later in the show, a vampire called Rosenmann. Now, he is cool! He has an eyepatch on his left eye, but I say: "Wow, is he cool!" (laughs) He's an older guy with a bit of a sadistic streak, but he's great! (laughs) In any case, my favorite appears later in the show.

Q: With Yuuki-san's support for Rosenmann, I'm feeling a bit sorry for Akira. (laughs)

Yuuki: Akira is Mina's. Rosenmann is mine. (laughs)

Q: As queen of the vampires, Mina has absolute power and great wealth. if Yuuki-san had the same power and wealth, what would you do with it?

Yuuki: I'd like to buy an old castle and live in it.

Q: A castle?

Yuuki: In class, there was an assignment where we had to choose a country we liked. I found out about an old castle in Ireland that had been turned into a hotel. I thought I'd like to buy that hotel and live there forever. If I had Mina's wealth, I'd definitely do that. Even though I'm not the type who can wield power. (laughs) I don't have power, but I'd like to live in a castle. (laughs)

Q: I guess that suits a vampire princess. But getting back to where we were, can you tell us what to watch for in the second half of the show?

Yuuki: From here on, we'll see why Mina looks like a child. Her weakest and most painful scenes will come up one after the other. And Akira will show his true heroism. Up to episode 7, Akira had doubts about Mina, leading up to their confrontation, but from now on he will show himself as the princess's true knight and protector.

And we will gradually learn the anime-original character Meiren's secrets. The story will develop quickly now. The layers of foreshadowing that have been laid down in the script so far will all be revealed. It will be very interesting.

You've said "this is strange" or "what is this?" about some things up to now, but now you'll say "Oh, I see. It was so that this could happen!" By the end, I think you'll want to watch it all over again.

Q: Finally, do you have a message to the readers.

Yuuki: Even though I'm happy that people think Mina is cute, I think that's not all there is to her. There is in her as well something to make you feel a critique of today's human society. And I think that if everyone can see and feel that, they will find it enjoyable. Thank you very much for your support.