Forum Settings
Forums

Interview: Minori Chihara Reflects on 15 Years in the Industry

#1
Nov 7, 1:22 AM
Ready to Ruffle

Offline
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 441
Referred to as Minorin by her fans, Minori Chihara has been active in the industry as both a voice actor and musical artist for over 15 years. In that time, Chihara has amassed over 50 insert and theme song credits and has appeared in over 100 different anime. She is most well-known for her early breakout role as Yuki Nagato in the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise, but her emotional ending theme for last year's Violet Evergarden quickly became one of her most beloved songs to date.

Minori Chihara was invited to perform at SMASH! (Sydney Manga and Anime Show) 2019's I Love Anisong concert, and MyAnimeList had the opportunity to sit down and talk with her before the event.


You've been active for 15 years this year. What have been some of the highlights of your career?

Throughout my career, I've been working as a voice actress as well as a singer. My dream was to do a solo live performance at Budokan, and in May 2015 my dream came true: I was able to perform there and I will never forget the smiles of the audience I could see and all the lights. In fact, I've actually performed at Budokan twice so far, so Budokan for me is a special place and it is still my dream to go back and do a solo live performance there.

One of your earliest big roles was Yuki Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu back in 2006. What was it like returning to the role in 2015 for Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu?

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu was a spin-off from the main series. You'll know if you've watched both the main series and the spin-off that they are totally different worlds and Yuki is a totally different character, so it's basically a normal high school girl falling in love and living a normal high school life. What the director told me was, "Please just act like what a normal girl would go through as a high school student." That was a bit of a challenging request for me because I knew what she was like in the main series. During the dubbing of this spin-off, there was a lot of discussion and consultation with the sound director. I guess for Yuki as a character, for her it was like the world she had been dreaming of had finally come true. So I acted as a normal high school girl and I felt like I worked together with Yuki to make the dubbing successful. And also for myself, I was able to experience what I couldn't in the main series in this spin-off.

Your ending theme performance for Violet Evergarden, "Michishirube," has many beautiful lines like "ichiwa no tori ga naite iru (A single bird is crying) / namae no nai sora ni watashi wo sagashite (As it searches for me in a nameless sky)." Where did you draw inspiration from for your lyrics?

I have written many songs and lots of lyrics up until now. However, Violet Evergarden was the first major anime song for which I was requested to do the lyrics and I felt a lot of pressure. I read the novels so many times, and I had a lot of consultation and discussion with the director to make the lyrics. The request from the director was "please make a song as if Violet was singing while she was walking." So I guess that the melody and music itself also led me through its creation, and I also thought of the words and feelings of Violet as she grows; that was something that I focused on. When I read the novel, the novel itself made me feel like everyone meets someone precious in their life. It could be parents, friends, a boyfriend, a girlfriend — the existence of that person makes you move forward. For Violet, it was the Colonel that was that special existence for her. So to summarise, it was the original novel and the music itself, and then I put those feelings into words.



You've notably had roles in many of Kyoto Animation's work outside of Violet Evergarden, including Hibike! Euphonium, Hyouka, Kyoukai no Kanata, Lucky☆Star, and Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. Do you have a favorite KyoAni anime among them?

I love everything that Kyoto Animation makes, they put so much love into every anime they create. But if I had to pick a favorite, I would say it's Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. It's such a special title because it changed my life. Without it, I wouldn't have worked in this role for 15 years — Haruhi and Yuki were a big turning point for me.

It's my understanding that you used to dream of becoming a manga artist, but decided to become a singer and voice actress instead. Do you still draw at all?

From primary school, I was always drawing manga up until around my final year in junior high school. Then finally, I thought "this is gonna do it" and I sent one of my manga works to a competition. But of course, I failed and that hurt me so badly that I quit.

However, I do still like drawing and one good thing about me drawing manga back then is that nowadays when I do a live performance, I draw and design my own costumes for it, then I request the costume designer make it for me. And they make it exactly the way I want it.

What was your image of Australia before you came, and how has your experience here so far met that image?

I haven't actually had much chance to look around so far, but the image I had before I arrived here was that Sydney has so much greenery, and koalas, too. I also had the impression that the meat here is delicious. When I have more free time tomorrow, I would love to look around and find out more!

Interview was conducted through an interpreter and has been edited for clarity.
Modified by Kineta, Nov 7, 1:48 AM
 
#2
Nov 7, 2:39 AM

Offline
Joined: Jun 2017
Posts: 3130
Awesome interview, thanks to Minorin and MAL for this!

Violet Evergarden’s ED is one of my personal favourites so it’s nice to know a big of history on it! Kyoukai no Kanata’s Op is bloody dope too, I wish the interviewee could’ve asked a short question about this too.

I didn’t think she wanted to be a manga artist though, that’s a surprise. She’s got serious talent as a voice actress and especially as a musician in my opinion so I’m glad for her that she got into this manga + anime industry albeit from a different line of work.

I seriously have to watch the Suzumiya series and its spin-off...
#Anime4Life be my Life Motto! #PrayForKyoAni


 
#3
Nov 7, 3:09 AM

Offline
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 1428
Mirai Nikki is TRASH
Angel Beats is horrible.
Charlotte is a dumpster fire.
Shinsekai Yori has no characters.
Oreimo's S2 specials don't actually exist.

IM NOT AN ELITIST

I live to see the day where Hidamari Sketch or Little Witch Academia get another season.
 
#4
Nov 7, 5:40 AM
DB Administrator
Plus Ultra

Offline
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 12490
KyoAni and Minorin are a great combo. Can't imagine the pressure she must've felt when she was asked to write the VE song.


Aw man, why didn't you ask her? What a wasted opportunity.

open.staff.applications  
guidelines.faq  
report.abuse
  
Thx Kina.
  
[H+] ³  

 
#5
Nov 7, 7:59 AM

Offline
Joined: Jul 2015
Posts: 901
Great interview!

Who'd guess she wanted to be a mangaka, eh?
She's such a great singer/songwriter that I'm actually glad she didn't get to be one. lol

I love her songs! "Michishirube" was such a masterful craft.
Those lyrics highlighted in the question about the song really are the ones that hit my feelings the hardest, specially in the context of Violet Evergarden.

It might be a long shot, but I wonder if her dream of playing at Budokan has any relation to a certain girls' band I know...
Though it is Budokan, I guess any Japanese artist would dream to play there.




Totsuka route is the way, Hachiman!
 
#6
Nov 7, 8:18 AM
Ready to Ruffle

Offline
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 441


It was certainly a fun discovery while researching questions for this to find her roles in that and Hametsu no Mars 😂
 
#7
Nov 7, 8:52 AM
Case is closed!

Offline
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 31
Great interview! I'm glad to hear her story about the song "Michishirube" =)
 
#8
Nov 7, 2:18 PM

Offline
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 1428
cyruz said:
KyoAni and Minorin are a great combo. Can't imagine the pressure she must've felt when she was asked to write the VE song.


Aw man, why didn't you ask her? What a wasted opportunity.

I didn't know I had a chance to do it all the way from home! I'll make sure to try next time, but you need to tell me how.
Mirai Nikki is TRASH
Angel Beats is horrible.
Charlotte is a dumpster fire.
Shinsekai Yori has no characters.
Oreimo's S2 specials don't actually exist.

IM NOT AN ELITIST

I live to see the day where Hidamari Sketch or Little Witch Academia get another season.
 
#9
Nov 7, 3:08 PM

Offline
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 803
Thanks for the interview! Minorin is such an amazing person, seiyuu, and singer. I hope I can hear her live someday.
 
Nov 7, 5:10 PM
I love stuff...

Offline
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 902
I wonder how Kana Hanazawa, and Kamiya Hiroshi would react to their popularity on MAL if they were interviewed.
 
Nov 7, 10:22 PM
Ready to Ruffle

Offline
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 441
Psajdak said:
I wonder how Kana Hanazawa, and Kamiya Hiroshi would react to their popularity on MAL if they were interviewed.


They may not actually allow that kind of question.

I had an interview with Rie Kugimiya (rank #5) where I submitted a question that touched on that subject, but they struck it from our list of questions during the approval stage. Though, in all fairness, her team was incredibly strict in that process.

 
Nov 7, 11:39 PM
I love stuff...

Offline
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 902
Shymander said:


They may not actually allow that kind of question.

I had an interview with Rie Kugimiya (rank #5) where I submitted a question that touched on that subject, but they struck it from our list of questions during the approval stage. Though, in all fairness, her team was incredibly strict in that process.

Kugimiya WAS actually #1 on MAL since 2012, and stayed there for a while until Hanazawa whose popularity just suddenly soared at the start of this decade (compared to before) became current MAL Queen.

Before Kugimiya, Aya Hirano was I believe the most popular person on MAL, but due to the thing that happened around 2011, she started to get less roles, and while still rated rather high, considering there are hundreds of people in MAL database, Hirano in the meantime gained "only" few thousand more favorites.

Not that rankings are all that important, but I always felt for such talented seiyu such as Hirano, that it was a shame we didn't hear her in more stuff in this decade.

Anyway, about interiew thing, well, wow, I always knew that one can't actually just approach a voice actor, and start to talk with them about stuff, but I wasn't aware that it can get so strict.

One would think that being popular on one of most popular anime sites in the world would have actually worked in their favour.
 
Nov 8, 8:51 AM

Online
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 15934
YumioSF said:
Great interview! I'm glad to hear her story about the song "Michishirube" =)


Wait a minute, she's the one singing the ending theme?

I thought it was some old granny the whole time! :P
 
Nov 8, 11:54 AM

Online
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 476
Seiya said:

I thought it was some old granny the whole time! :P

Yeah it kinda sounds weird at first. But her voice is very distinctive that you can easily tell that is her just by her voice.Glad you interviewed the voice behind my best girl and the singer of one of my favorite ED's.

Even though I mostly watch dubs and I never really get to fully hear her voice in a series, I still consider her an amazing seiyuu. I'm also surprised that someone like her would work on some of the shittiest anime shows in history (according to MAL).

Also, I hope she does more popular anime outside of those in KyoAni like that girl in MHA3.
"Allow me to teach you something useful."
My Top 15 Japanese Cartoons
 
Nov 8, 11:36 PM
Case is closed!

Offline
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 31
Seiya said:
YumioSF said:
Great interview! I'm glad to hear her story about the song "Michishirube" =)


Wait a minute, she's the one singing the ending theme?

I thought it was some old granny the whole time! :P


Hahaha. I agree with you. When I heard the song the first time, I felt the same. But, I still love her voice because it's beautiful and has power.
Modified by YumioSF, Nov 8, 11:50 PM
 
Top