[#KoiMimi Vol.4 Interview] Drawing into the “gentleman” in Kaji Yuki, and his message of encouragement towards working mothers out there

Source | Apr 27, 2019

@Onna wa Mimi kara Koi wo Suru (lit. Romance begins in the Ears for Women) ー A treat for busy working ladies who have been giving it their all at life! #KoiMimi delivers interviews of voice actors specially for grown-up ladies, and the spotlight is turned on Kaji Yuki this issue.

A question for the busy man, Kaji Yuki! Let’s say you were given 3 days off… what will you do?

In this edition, let us hear from Kaji Yuki, who is the voice behind the protagonist, Tachibana Touma, of the currently ongoing anime, Mix: Meisei Story. He previously shared about his feelings towards the series and his character (Vol.1), the atmosphere in the studio and about his partner Soichiro (Vol.2), and his policy as a voice actor (Vol.3)… revealing many different perspectives of Kaji-san as a person. The final and 4th volume of this interview will now focus on Kaji-san’s private life, and his message of encouragement towards working mothers out there.

This serialization of “Koi Mimi” aims to bring peace and soothing to working ladies. While Kaji-san is known to be extremely busy in the voice acting industry… is there something specific he does when he wants to take a breather?

Kaji: I guess… travelling. It could be either domestically or internationally. Well, it’s also true that travelling may tire you out in the end though (laughs). Even so, I certainly do receive vigor from the experience, and it refreshes me. Still, it’s difficult when there isn’t a fixed period of time, it can be tricky to find the right timing when I try to go for overnight trips over 2 days. 

▲The theme for the photo shoot this time is “Relaxing at home after a full day of work…”

That’s right, Kaji-san is awfully busy. Even if he is all for going on a trip, the reality is that he can hardly make the time to do so. Since that’s the case, let’s speak hypothetically! Let’s say, if he was told that “You’ll have the whole of the next three days off starting tomorrow!“… what will he do?

Oh, three days! Hmm…” he took some time thinking.

Kaji: I’m a little tired now… So I would avoid going overseas even if I want to travel, I’d most likely go for a 2-days 1-night trip. In a voice actor’s line of work, there are quite a lot of things we need to prepare for in advance before going for a recording session on the day itself. So, with that in mind, I would leave out any plans on the last of the 3 days to make time for preparation… and I believe I’ll spend the whole of that day at home doing what I need to do.

Our ‘hypothetical statement’ of a 3-day break, was unexpectedly broken down into “2 days on a trip & 1 day working at home.” Looks like 3 days weren’t enough…

Kaji: Not at all, I was able to dream! (laughs) It’s 3 whole days of break! And an overnight trip on top of that will certainly work as a great change of pace! 

If he were to go on an overnight trip around this time in spring, where would he like to visit?

Kaji: I love Kyoto very much, so it’d be great if I could go to Kyoto! If it’s still a little chilly, going to Hakone for a hot spring trip may be good as well. But, no matter where I am, I’m the type to want to cram everything I can do within the available time frame, and try to make sure I’m enjoying the full experience.

Saying that, it appears that just a few years back, Kaji-san did experience a time when he was told on short notice that he’ll be having a few consecutive days off! (Read about his experience adapted into a short manga chapter here!)

Kaji: At that time, I reserved a flight ticket by myself and flew to Cambodia alone. I just strongly felt that I didn’t want to waste any time I had. In terms of my intentions though, I couldn’t help but feel unsatisfied with simply relaxing myself, I ended up thinking that… I want to find a hint or clue that would act as a step-up for me as an actor (laughs). That’s why, even the way I spend my days off ended up becoming related to work again.

▲ “Completely turning off my switch for work is difficult given my personality,
thinking about work is in my nature ー that is my norm.”

Even travelling, is an important opportunity of “input.” Every single aspect of his daily life is devoted to breathing life into his work, his professionalism overwhelmed us. But even for someone like Kaji-san, is there a “boundary” that divides his “on” and “off” for work?

Kaji: There’s almost none. But I won’t say that it’s making things hard or difficult for me. I am in no way pushing myself, I’d say it’s more of a mentality that “I’m doing this because I want to.”

He gives it his all because he loves it. It’s as simple as that. That moment once again reminded us about his love for the profession of “voice acting.” Though, he did admit that “I might be accumulating stress unconsciously though (laughs).”

Anyhow, Kaji-san! When you take a break, please rest properly!

How does one soothe a tired lady? Kaji-san’s “shocking response,” which demonstrates the gentleman in him!

The next question we asked was, “What would you do for a tired lady?” Say hypothetically, an exhausted lady appears before you, worn out from a full day of work, what would you do to “soothe” her weariness?

Kaji: In that case, instead of interviewing me, I need to first interview that lady before I do anything else.  

The whole editorial department was thrown into surprise by the unexpected response! It was an answer that fully displayed how considerate Kaji-san is for the people around him.

Kaji: In the first place, I know nothing about whether the lady is looking to be “soothed” by anyone. She may just want some space alone, not wanting to be called out to, there’s also every possibility that she’d rather someone else that isn’t me to talk to her.

▲ Prioritizing what the other party feels above everything.
“My intentions don’t matter if I don’t know enough about that ‘tired lady‘”
ー truly a representation of a gentleman…!

Kaji: I fully understand that me taking action isn’t necessarily what that person desires. It’s never about what I want to do, but rather what that person wants, reading into what that person wants me to do for her might just be the most important thing to consider.

And so, that statement is heavily connected to Kaji-san’s work policy.

Kaji: This is something I believe applies to my demeanor at work as well. I often question, “What do the people around me expect of me?”, “How should I take action to contribute to create the most ideal environment for everyone?” It’s an important effort to watch and infer from the social cues in the room, such as people’s expressions or the vibe of the studio. Well, although even without me putting it in words specifically this way, it may already be something everyone else does subconsciously. 

To dig into the other party’s feelings and sympathise with them… that behaviour seemed to be engraved very deeply into Kaji-san’s character. That is, what makes Kaji-san as a person, as well as an “occupational tendency” of a voice actor in the form of〝putting oneself in the shoes of a character.

One day, the love you’re pouring out now will grow larger and return to you. So please enjoy to the fullest the unique present you experience as “Mum”

Lastly, let’s receive a message of encouragement for working mothers out there who continue to bend over backwards for their children!

Kaji: Thank you for your hard work…! Although I’ve never been a father, nor have I been a mother (laughs), in recent years, I’ve seen more and more people around me becoming mothers, and so I’ve had many opportunities to watch “mothers” in my daily life… During those times, I’m constantly reminded that, “Mothers have such a blinding shine to them! But, at the same time, I cannot fathom how challenging their role is.” Work, house chores, parenting… In the midst of your busyness, there may be plenty of fun and happy times, and of course times which are not. Mothers are just as human as anyone of us. I’m sure there are times where you want to be selfish, to complain, and rely on someone. 

Though I feel that it’s out of my place to deliver an encouragement message…

I too, used to be a child until a little over 10 years ago… No, I’d say in my Mum’s eyes, I still am a child (laughs). Although I’ve said this over various platforms, I want to say that I still love my Mum very much, and she certainly is an irreplaceable existence. That is, regardless of her pride in many things, she still continues pour everything she has, with love, in “mother-ing” and in raising me to who I am today. That is why, to all the mothers who continue to pour love to their children, I’m sure that one day, when your child grows up, you may just witness the fruits of your love ripened. 

▲Kaji spoke his message from a “son’s perspective”

Kaji: I’m sure your days are not easy… you may be accompanied by fatigue, stress, and many other burdens. But if you would just enjoy your role as a “mother” to the fullest, and live the present, there can be nothing more we can wish of as sons.  For all the love that you have showered over us, I’m sure us sons cannot be more fortunate, and thankful. Mums, please continue to watch over us! 

By the time we noticed, it turned out to be a message of love to mothers. The sight of Kaji-san looking a little embarrassed was a true representation of his〝true sound (*)〟and it instantly warmed the atmosphere in the room.

Translation by Raku 0925 
Photography by 中田陽子 (MAETTICO) 
Hair & Make-up by 中山芽美 (e-mu) 
Interview by 旧井菜月・福本絵里香 (main issue)

*本音 (hon’ne) – true nature / intentions | But I translated it as “true sound” because the breakdown of the characters itself is literally [original (hon’) + sound (’ne)], and I personally think that the “sound (’ne)” can be interpreted as a play on his occupation as a “voice actor.”

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