Interview with Shoko Nakagawa at Anime Expo 2018

interview - 08.02.2018 20:01

Let Shoko Nakagawa's enthusiasm for anisongs rub off on you!

A few hours before her performance at Anime Expo 2018’s Anisong World Matsuri ~Japan Kawaii Live~, singer, TV personality, voice/movie actress and illustrator Shoko Nakagawa spoke to JaME about her great love for anisongs, Pokémon and her recent works.

As a start, please tell us what the driving force behind your enthusiasm in spreading otaku culture and anisongs worldwide is.

Shoko Nakagawa: Since my high school days I've really, really loved anime songs. That was the very beginning of how I have this enthusiasm towards anime and many things. I listen to many, many anisongs, including the ones released before I was born and the recent ones, and I kept listening, listening and listening.

Now I'm actually a personality of a show that has in the last five years covered many anisongs non-stop with our commercials. I love anisongs; it covers a wide range of topics such as love, friends and advice on how you do it in order to live. It’s not just a simple topic. I love the fact that it covers a wide range of topics, like in friendship, and many, many different things. One thing I love about anisongs is that.

Listening to many anisongs in my teenage days became an asset to me being a performer these days. I'm personally not really good at killing time; I can’t really sit still. I'm that kind of person, and whenever I have a lot of time, I try to analyze, listen to new anisongs or anisongs I haven’t really listened to before, or I try to watch anime even for one episode. So I try to do something.

And compared to a long time ago, anime is now widely accepted as a subculture and it’s not really an otaku thing. It’s more like a lightly accepted or friendly topic, and I really, really love it. I enjoy living thanks to that too. A lot of Twitter trend topics in Japan are related to or have something to do with anime, which is something great to me too.

What motivates or excites you the most whenever you work on something related to Pokémon?

Shoko Nakagawa: So, what excites me the most is the fact that Pokémon became such a global, beyond generation kind of existence itself. When I started playing Pokémon years ago, I had a hard time finding a friend whom I can do monster exchanges with, but now everyone knows Pokémon globally and internationally, beyond generations, and I think it’s such a wonderful thing. For example, when they announced the new game the other day, everyone immediately tweeted and exchanged information online. When it comes to Twitter trends in Japan, whenever there's some Pokémon related news, hashtags with something Pokémon related will start trending immediately on all the charts. I think it’s a great thing.

Although I've personally done a variety or comedic TV show for 12 years that is about Pokémon, every time I work for the show, it’s non-stop. I can talk about Pokémon with the crew or people involved, and I have such a great time filled with laughter, and I think it’s a great thing I’m so happy to work for. Ever since I was a kid, I’d wanted to do voiceover for the film and my dream came true. That is also special for me. Now that my dream has come true, my goal has changed. It shifted to the point I want the kids to have great moments, a great future, and I like to support them to have great a future through Pokémon. That’s my mission.

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Please describe your experience singing as Rapunzel for the Rapunzel TV series soundtrack. Do you share any personality traits with Rapunzel that you think might have helped you to sing in character?

Shoko Nakagawa: I can relate to Rapunzel on many things. For example, she’s always curious, always interested in something new, and she loves drawing, I love drawing too. She has a pet chameleon and just like her, I have a pet that I’m a friend with although mine’s a cat, not a chameleon, but that’s something similar. I live with my mother and she does too, so I can relate to many things.

I try to do a performance barefoot when it comes to singing for Rapunzel because she’s always barefoot. I feel like that’s wonderful and I try to do that when I sing as Rapunzel. The only thing she might be a little better at than me is when it comes to relationships, but I feel like, you know, I’m okay, but she’s doing what I can’t in relationships. Maybe that’s something different.

Speaking of the Rapunzel TV series, now it’s season two. Alan Menken is writing a lot more songs and when I did this voiceover the first time back in 2011, I had so much fun singing, so I’m really excited about the new season. It's also going to be on the Kingdom Hearts game and it's so good to see just now that they’re going to create a new area for Rapunzel. That’s something super exciting. I’m not sure if it’s going to be me for that part; I’m hoping that it’s going to be me, that I can do the voiceover of Rapunzel, but that’s something I’m really looking forward to for those other projects involving Rapunzel. How much I can get involved in stuff is something I’m really looking forward to.

What did you enjoy most about singing the ending theme song for "Mahojin Guru-Guru"?

Shoko Nakagawa: First of all, singing anisongs has been a big dream of mine, and that was a big dream come true. When this ending theme song for "Mahojin Guru-Guru" came, I was really happy. At the same time, this is a very special anime for me because I grew up watching this and my grandpa took me to the theatre for "Mahojin Guru-Guru" and he bought me some merchandise from "Mahojin Guru-Guru", so it’s really special and connected to my memories.

One thing about performing the "Mahojin Guru-Guru" ending theme is that I have this specific choreography I can do with hands during the concert, and today I’m expecting to do it with the fans. I’m looking forward to it; being able to do that is really enjoyable and that’s something exciting.

When I was doing this "Mahojin Guru-Guru" recording, I was already 30 years old. The song is about a character named Kukuri and she’s only 10 years old. There is a part I need to do as if it’s a voiceover, like speaking spoken words a little bit, not singing, and I needed to do it as if I'm a 10-year-old girl. So I re-read the comic book and re-watched the animation, everything, and I analyzed everything to fully prepare for it. That was something challenging but fun at the same time and the fact that the song is called Magical Circle, which is the same title as the anime, is something big for me. That was something I enjoyed too, and at the same it was challenging.

How was it like singing Tsubasa wo motsu mono ~Not an angel Just a dreamer~ with so many voice actors and actresses?

Shoko Nakagawa: So basically, I always sing in my work, mostly just solo. In this run, I had many people around me, including some people I always looked up to and friends who are really close to me. There were a lot of harmonics together with those amazing people; it was great, something new and refreshing.

I have this kind of personal conflict that causes my voice to change every time I sing a song. It sounds different, and I always have moments when I think about that. When I got this project, I was like “Which voice can I do the best?” because my voice changes every time I record my voice. This time around I could probably go somewhere in between that the nature of my voice fits into.

However, when I went to the actual recording session, those people who recorded with me supported me in such a way that created a comfortable, really relaxed atmosphere, so I didn’t have to be worried about those things anymore. Ichirou Mizuki and Kouhei Tanaka, both of whom are professionals, supported me so much, especially Ichirou Mizuki who stayed for me even after he’d done his part of recording. He was like “Yeah just go for it!” He was really cheering me on and that was wonderful. Ayana Taketatsu is a really close friend of mine, so it was right to have her in the session as well. It was something special and enjoyable.

To wrap up the interview, please leave a message for JaME readers.

Shoko Nakagawa: It’s been 10 years since I was here in Los Angeles. Compared to that time, I have a little more capacity, like I’m mentally prepared and I have a lot more songs that I performed within the last 10 years, so that’s something great as well. 10 years ago when I was here I never expected to have another brilliant 10 years, which is something special to me too.

Anisong itself is really like an element for anything and everything. For example, sometimes there are age limits in Japan when it comes to getting involved in projects, but when it comes to anisongs, there are so many people from the older generation who still stay on top of their career, creating amazing anisongs, and I really like that part. One of the great things about old anisongs is the fact that they shine more as they age; it gets something nostalgic, connected to so many memories, and it shines more. However, the new ones have a goodness about them being new; they have a brilliance, heat, passion and power that I like as well. With that said, I would love the fans in Los Angeles or in the States to enjoy my performance as well as my music in the future. That will be my message for JaME readers. Thank you so much.

JaME would like to thank Shoko Nakagawa, Resonance Media and the Anisong World Matsuri team for this interview opportunity.

Shoko Nakagawa Website:
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