I was excited at the New York Anime Festival to receive the chance to interview singer/voice actress Rie Tanaka. Below are the results of that interview, edited only for readability and grammar.
Is this your first time in New York City?
Yes, my first time.
Did you get a chance to explore the area at all?
I didn't have time to look around, I only got to go to the souvenir store next to my hotel.
Will you have a chance to look around after the convention is over?
No...I'm leaving tomorrow. Tomorrow is the only time I have to go shopping!
I read online that you have a cat who knows how to play video games, is this true?
Not my cat...I have a cat but it doesn't play video games. My character in Final Fantasy XI is a cat though, maybe that's how the rumor started?
If you play FFXI, it means you're a gamer, a lot of your fans must love that.
All my fans know that Rie Tanaka = Gamer.
What console do you prefer then?
I usually like the PS2 but these days I'm spending time with the PSP too, a new model is coming out soon I heard, I think I'm going to buy it.
I see pictures of Chi everywhere here in New York City, on backpacks and notebooks, and I guess that's true too in Japan, have you ever gone up to someone and said "that's me!"
I often have the urge to do it, but I usually just smile and smirk at them from behind.
You mean like stalking them?
100 years from now would you rather be remembered for your music or for your acting?
Definitely as a voice actress.
How did you get into voice acting?
When I was a kid I always imitated people and played around with my voice. I've also always been an anime fan. When I was in high school I realized that there was an actual job available to match my interests, so I started collecting information, and that's when I first started.
How did you get your first job?
My first role was as a girl in the Rurouni Kenshin movie. The sound director was a guest teacher of my voice acting school and I went to audition for it and he liked my voice so I got my job. He is my mentor.
A lot of voice actors in Japan go to professional school then?
I'm sure there's some people that don't go to school but these days in Japan people go to voice acting school for one or two years and then jump into auditions and then get an agent and get a job.
When you're creating a character, how do you create their unique voice?
When I get these parts, the character just comes to me. If I'm playing a cute character, I'll get an ultra cute inspiration and just naturally I'll know how to play the role. I don't know if I'm controlling myself but it's how it happens.
Do you ever have disagreements with your director about how to voice a character?
Never happens. I never disagree with the director, I feel like the people who are making anime have a vision so I closely follow their direction. I'm sure other voice actors have a different opinion. I've been doing this for 10 years now and I've never had a disagreement, maybe in the future it'll change.
Congratulations on 10 years in the industry, and you're still so young!
Thank you...young? How old do you think I am?
Well, I read your biography, so I already know...
Yesterday, people thought I was 20 years old and I was so happy. People thought I looked like a high school student...so happy!
I noticed some snacks on the table here, when you travel are there any snacks or products you always bring along?
Skin care products! I always bring them with me. Spray medicine for my throat and cough drops and things.
Do you have a favorite character you voice?
I played so many...I get so many letters from fans who love a certain character and that makes me happy, but I don't have a favorite.
Other than acting and singing, I see your fashion is so creative, your nails and everything. Are there any other creative hobbies you have?
Thanks for complimenting my nails. This isn't nail polish, it's a gel, I do it all myself. I have a whole kit. This is a simple one, but I draw the designs, do the graphics...this is my hobby and I've done it to my mom and like the really "neat" stuff.
One of the big debates among fans in the US is on dubbing vs. subbing for anime. My question is, when you're watching international movies do you prefer them subtitled or dubbed?
I actually love and watch both. Because of my job I watch the original with subtitles first and the second time I'll watch with the dubbed version and then I can compare them...it's very interesting to me.
Have you had a chance to meet any American voice actors?
No...I want to meet them, but I don't have many chances to do it.
That's an excuse to come to the US more often.
(Claps) Yes! There's a magazine for voice actors in Japan and I have a column there about movies. That's another reason that I watch both subbed and dubbed versions. I've actually dubbed Hollywood movies before.
Are there any Hollywood celebrities that you have a crush on?
I love Al Pacino...Tom Cruise...Hugh Grant...and Morgan Freeman.
Are you currently single? In a relationship? Married?
There aren't any Internet rumors saying I was married, right? I'm single.
You're obviously very talented and beautiful, are there any other traits you'd like to be appreciated for?
It's hard for me to define myself like that, I don't like selling myself, but on my blog I have a motto. It says "I'm not going to get defeated, I'm not going to escape, and I'll never give up" - this motto isn't just for my work, it's also for my private life, so I'm never going to feel defeated or escape from problems. I'll just keep going, as a working female. I don't want to sell myself too much but that's how I'll get to the next step.
Where do you see yourself going for that next step? A lot of people want to be you when they grow up, but where do you want to go?
There's a manga that features a really strong working lady in a man's society and I played the main character in that anime so work-wise I want to be like her. In my private life sometimes people call me a tomboy but that's why I spend a lot of time on my fashion, to look feminine. I just want to be a strong and confident woman.