Exclusive Interview with Yuu Asakawa


Special interview with Rider’s seiyuu Yuu Asakawa at COSPAR 3!


Hello again folks, con season is upon us in this South-East region of the world, with the biggest surprise being Ayako Kawasumi (Saber, Moffle) and Asami Imai (Chihaya Kisaragi, Makise Kurisu) invited to attend AFA Singapore later this year. The convention scene will surely continue to grow and few days ago in a rapidly growing local anime convention, COSPAR 3, I got to spend some time with fan favourite voice actress Yuu Asakawa to bring you guys an exclusive interview. So, stick around if you don’t want to miss any juicy details!

Yuu Asakawa, the voice behind many strong women anime characters such as Rider (Fate/Stay Night VN/anime/movies), Osakabe Itoko (School Rumble) and Leone (Akame ga Kill), has almost 20 years of experience under her belt and is still going strong. She is well recognized for being a fluent English speaker among Japanese voice actresses and has provided her voice for Vocaloid 2’s Megurine Luka. Throughout the interview, Yuu Asakawa spoke to me in English and Japanese, accompanied by a translator, but regretfully the audio and video I had recorded was plagued by horrible background noise and lots of interrupting, so it’s gonna be an old fashion transcribed interview. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Voice Acting Career

asakawaQ: How do you prepare for a role before going into the studio? Are there any homework, special notes from the writers to voice certain characters?

Yuu: We would get a script for each episode every week, so we have to of course check our script. Sometimes we read the manga or comic to understand the story in the animation, we have to think about our character like why does the character think like this, why did the character says it the way she did and then we have to imagine it, we have to think about it before we go to the studio to record our lines.

Q: What are the challenges that you have faced in your voice acting career?

Yuu: Hmm, oh, (laughs) when I was asked to voice a trans-gender character. At first I thought my character is the really cool, kick-ass type kind of girl but actually that character is a boy, and so when he revealed it, he was like, “Oh I’m sorry, I’m a boy but I couldn’t say it”. So it became a challenge when voicing these type of characters, I can’t sound too feminine. I have to sound like a lady but I have to talk like male.

Q: Have you ever ad-libbed a line from script and did it ever get into the anime?

Yuu: I have tried it but when a line from a manga is extended for the anime I have to account for the timing of the lip sync so sometimes I can ad-lib lines, sometimes I can’t so yes I have tried it before.

TK: Did it get into the anime, passing the QC and aired onto TV?

Yuu: Yes, but only some because I can’t totally change it.

Q: The biggest news so far is that you are now a freelancer. How has becoming a freelancer affected your career?

Yuu: Well, it has only been one month, but it’s more like, I have always had a manager when I was with an agency so usually if I have something to say to my client, I have to relay it to my manager then the manager will relay it to my client but it gets too complicated like that’s not what I wanted to say, so it depends on managers and not all managers are experienced or efficient. Now, I have to do the negotiating and everything else directly with my client so it’s actually easier for me as we can come to a mutual understanding easily so I’m happy about my status now. I think there will be lots more difficult challenges that will appear later but right now I’m very happy as it’s easy for me.

Q: You are quite literally known as being the go-to voice for strong yet feminine type of characters now but was it difficult for you to voice those characters early on in your career?

Yuu: Oh I can do it (laugh), it’s not difficult for me as I can just go into those roles easily. (laughs)

Social Media Presence

Q: When it comes to social media, you’re pretty active on twitter and facebook, communicating with your fans in English. I believe a lot of fans love the interactivity; in retrospect how much has the use of social media affected your career as a voice actress?

Yuu: Being on social media has really helped me a lot because it’s like, when I attend other conventions internationally, I have panels to communicate with fans but in order get closer to them beforehand I now use social media, for connecting to them directly. I have also made friends with other guests in other countries, like sending facebook friend requests and now I know a lot of foreign voice actor/actresses that way.

Q: Obviously you’re not new to the internet but do you know that there is an anime blogging scene where English writers from all over the world, cover anime exclusively?

Yuu: Ah yes I know. I also have friends working for Crunchyroll so yeah I know about it.

TK: What are your thoughts about it? Knowing that millions of people would read about them.

Yuu: It’s really helpful, for one it’s legal and when it comes to panels in the US or here in Malaysia, I don’t know what is popular here but if I ask my friend in Crunchyroll I can know that. I can get first-hand information on what is the hottest anime out there, I don’t have to guess from conversations, and the internet has no time-lag, so I don’t want to spoil the story of what’s going to happen accidentally.

Q: If you weren’t a voice actress, what would be your ideal career?

Yuu: I would say, maybe a nurse because my aunt was a nurse a long time ago. She told me about nursing, about hospitals and the human body so I was really interested in nursing, to care for other people.

Fate Franchise History as Rider

Q: Alright, now we’re going into Fate territory! So first off, is the Fate franchise the longest ever production work you are associated with?

Yuu: Hmm, between the first series and the new series there has been a 7 year gap, but even so I’m going to say maybe yes, it’s the longest one.

TK: Well if you count the Visual Novel it has been 10 years since.

Yuu: Ah yes but I only started counting once I voiced in it. The visual novel first released without any voice cast so I didn’t have anything to do with it then but once I voiced in it and from all the other in-between releases like games until the new F/SN series, the constant work related to it has spanned total 8 years. So, yes it has been the longest for me.

_:rider lights:_

Q: As you have voiced FSN Rider since the VN was released, how has this long journey been as a voice actress?

Yuu: It’s difficult to explain but for us, as in for me, my co-workers, the directors and all the staff members, everyone and every character have been important. What I mean is that Rider is special to me but to the other industry people Rider is just one of the many important characters. In terms of my career, Rider is just one of the many characters I have voiced but to the fans, Rider means a lot to them. To staff members they won’t find it anything special in it but for the fans, Rider is a really well known character internationally and thus the heavy popular.

Q: How is it like to return to roles that you have voiced many years ago, like maybe returning to voice Itoko for a School Rumble OVA after many years. Do you find it difficult to slip back into those roles?

Yuu: Hmm, sometimes but usually it’s not a problem for me. There are times where it has been too long between the last one, maybe my voice might have changed a little since then. We will sometimes be asked to like, “Can you act more younger?”, “Can you have a younger voice?, or “This is a little bit too high now,” etc., like that.

Q: When it comes to anime, the characters will never age but we will constantly experience different things in our life as we work, would these new experiences affect you when returning to voice characters from past work?

Yuu: Well it hasn’t affected me yet, when a series has stopped for so long and is being reproduced for a newer audience they would usually make slight changes to suit the newer style and the seiyuu, there is no meaning in creating the same thing again, you can just watch the DVD. So, the staff would usually change or add a little bit more. For example Rider, the previous Rider was just a cool, faceless killing machine but for the new Rider, the director directed me to make Rider a little bit more elegant although she’s really cool and emotionless. The director wanted her to be more elegant and to have a softer husky voice. So, maybe years ago I couldn’t act so elegantly as I was too young.

TK: Ah so basically the industry will mature with its audience alongside its voice actors and actresses and they make changes accordingly.

Yuu: Yeah, so Rider became a little bit more lady-like now compared to before where she’s just a servant killing-machine.

Q: Now that the Fate/Stay Night: Heavens Feel movie adaptation has been confirmed, how excited are you about Rider’s portrayal in the movie?

Yuu: Is that the Rider route by the way? Then yaaay finally! (laughs) Because in the TV series I only have a small part there. I have heard that Rider’s route is very popular so I’m really excited. But I haven’t been told anything about it yet so, I don’t know…..

TK: Oh really? Well Rider is pretty badass in Heavens Feel so….

Yuu: Yeah that’s why she’s so popular.

Q: Alright, for our last Fate oriented session, when it comes to Rider’s portrayal in F/SN in general, do you have anything that you would like to change about her?

Yuu: Well for me, she should never serve that guy, that stupid guy Shinji! (laughs)

TK: Ah, well no worries then because in Heavens Feel she will not be under Shinji for sure.

Yuu: Yaaay!


Vocaloid Career as Megurine Luka

Q: In the context of Vocaloid, how is it like working with Crypton Future Media? How does it differ with working on an anime series or games?

Yuu: For games and animation, it’s acting, we need to act but for Vocaloid, we just provide our voice and we don’t have to act for Vocaloid so that’s the big difference I think. For Vocaloid, they’re like androids you know, so their voice is always perfect but for video game or animation characters they are human, they get tired, fall in love, they are emotional but that is not the case for Vocaloid so I have to make sure my voice is perfect before any recordings.

Q: Did you anticipate the successes of Vocaloid as a medium and the popularity of Megurine Luka when Hatsune Miku was becoming increasingly popular at the time?

Yuu: (laughs) Well, the way I look at it, I’m really happy about Hatsune Miku getting really popular not only in Japan but all over the world for example she appeared in Lady Gaga’s opening act?

TK: Yeah and she even appeared in David Letterman’s talk show.

Yuu: Yeah so we’re really happy about it, her popularity can lead the other Vocaloids to be more popular so if they know about Hatsune Miku, people would know about the other Vocaloids but recently, I think Miku is too strong, it’s like if the light is too strong there will be a really dark shadow behind you know. So, I’ve started to become a little bit worried about it because there are other wonderful Vocaloids as well and I don’t want people to focus on only Miku. It’s difficult to say cause we’re really happy that Miku is so popular but I think the light is too strong. (laughs)

Q: With the constant improvement of the Vocaloid software do you think the Vocaloid characters could replace real singers further into the future?

Yuu: No, I don’t think so.

Passion for English Language

Q: You are well known as being really fluent in English, but what drove you to start mastering English in the beginning?

Yuu: When I was in Junior High, I had to go to a prep school for entrance exams. So my English was very bad at the time, so, I met an English teacher in prep school, this teacher was just a part-timer college student and she was really good at it and so I got interested in English. Before that, I knew nothing about English but after that I realized English would be really good for me, and I can be good in it so that’s how I started. It’s all thanks to that teacher.

Q: How has this knowledge in language affected or helped your career as a voice actress?

Yuu: I provided my voice to Megurine Luka and that’s one of the reasons that made my name famous overseas and the second reason is my English, for example if people outside Japan wanted to invite me to conventions, I think they would need more reasons because like, “she’s the voice of Megurine Luka or Rider, that’s not enough I think plus she speaks English or she really wants to learn more so maybe we can invite her” or something like that.

Q: Will you be open to learning more foreign languages? E.g. Russian or Malay?

Yuu: Of course. Hmm, Malay language, is it difficult?

TK: Well, kind of. (My malay sucks now so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Yuu: Ehh, I’ll try. ‘cause there is a seiyuu from Russia in Japan, there’s also a seiyuu from Germany so maybe learning a language no one speaks in Japan, especially in the seiyuu world should be fun. Maybe no one speaks Malay yet so I will try.

Q: If given the opportunity, would you take up the challenge of voicing a character only in English for an entire series?

Yuu: Sure why not, that is one of my dreams; I would like to do that in the future.

Gaming Industry Involvement

asakawa1Q: What are your hobbies?

Yuu: Why don’t you know? Didn’t you google me? (laughs)

TK: (Oh shi–) Well, of course I know that you’re all about Resident Evil but other than that anything else you can tell us?

Yuu: Well, I’m still playing Final Fantasy 11, it’s been a long time but I still have a lot of good friends in there so it’s that, Resident Evil and just playing games.

TK: Okay, so what about anime? Any favourite anime?

Yuu: Favourite anime huh, I guess Fate/Stay Night? (laughs) Because I’m a female so moe anime is not my type you know, so titles like F/SN or Akame ga Kill, those kinds of titles has substantial story, has meaning and characters that are not only beautiful but they are alive as well. So, that’s why F/SN is one of my favourite anime.

TK: Oh speaking about Fate, I’ve watched the latest episode (UBW ep05) and great job with the new Rider, I’m actually really afraid of her now. It’s such a menacingly scary voice!

Yuu: Hahaha, yay thank you so much! I shall kill you softly. (laughs)

Q: Recently you have tweeted that you have dubbed in Call of Duty Advanced Warfare. Are there any differences when it comes to voice work in Japanese games and in western games?

Yuu: Yeah there are, in Japanese games there is no need for a guide, we can act freely in the way that we wanted but for overseas games, we have to first listen to original voice, then we have to act like the reference. It’s like, if I want to act like this in my way, I think this character is more passionate or more aggressive and I really wanted to voice it like that but then there is already a guide so sometimes we cannot do that. So it’s a big difference, and you know, the original voice is in another language so sometimes the length of a line is different so sometimes we have to speak in Japanese really fast, it’s not natural but it’s something we have to do. We need a special skill for it.

Q: Will you be playing Advanced Warfare once it’s released? (Japanese release is Nov13th)

Yuu: Sure, but the game is so difficult… I get killed so many times that I lost count.

TK: Which Call of Duty have you been playing?

Yuu: Black Ops 2. I played it with my ex-manager and she’s really good at it. I always get killed instantly, and we talk via Skype during our plays so she laughs at me every time I die, like “Yuu-san, you died again? You’re so useless.” (laughs) It’s so fun.


Future Projects and Message to Fans

Q: You have also tweeted that you’ll be voicing a character in a new 2015 anime (Shinmai maou no Testament), what can you expect from this character?

Yuu: The story is based in a high school setting and I’m a nursing teacher in that school so I don’t want my character to be out of the circle because usually teachers are always out of the loop, so I want my character to be one of the main characters. I don’t want her to be just be a character that sits in the nursing room all day, that’s boring, I want her to get involved in the fighting as well!

TK: That’s interesting, that your character is a nursing teacher, that sort of fulfils your other ideal career of being a nurse isn’t it?

Yuu: Hahahaha, uh-huh yes.

Q: Are there any other future projects that you can share with us?

Yuu: Ah yes, well I have the usual animation projects coming out next year, I can’t reveal any details yet but I will tell you guys about it on my twitter and facebook so keep an eye out for it.

Q: Alright, moving on, if you were deserted in an island, who are the three seiyuu friends you will take if given a choice, to survive the wild?

Yuu: Three seiyuu huh? Umm, okay, Mamiko Noto…and umm, seiyuu, in a deserted island, we’re kinda useless in that kind of situation (laugh), so I have no idea. Okay, I will take Mamiko Noto only. (laughs)

Q: Finally, would you like to leave a message for all your fans out there?

Yuu: Thank you so much! I have never expected that I can be this popular overseas so I’m really grateful! Thank you very much for all your support and please keep supporting me (laugh). One day I really want to try voicing in English somewhere in the world so, don’t doubt me? (laughs) Thank you so much!

And that is all folks! It was incredible to get a chance to talk with the ever lively Yuu Asakawa. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to have a drink with her as a fellow beer person. But, oh well, at least she signed my artwork (depicted above)! XD

I also asked her if she knows about Tokyo Encounter, she said that she does and will gladly join the bro-team if she were invited to the show. Many thanks to Kyokai for the media application, the organizers of COSPAR for letting me interview her and Yuu Asakawa herself for visiting Malaysia again and braving through my horde of questions. Be sure to check out her twitter @Julia320 and facebook for more updates on what she’ll be doing in the future. As closing, I’ll leave you with two-part videos of her panel under spoiler tag below, where she talks more about her career, sings “Just Be Friends” live, Q&A session with fans and other shenanigans. Hope you guys enjoyed the interview and see you guys next time!

Show ▼


// About TK Takeru: I’m a Type-Moon fanboy and a massive Touhou-fag. Known as an avid procrastinator and appreciator of Heavy Metal. Loves the horror mystery genre and sometimes animes that makes no sense. You can find me @ TwitterGoogle+ and dA.


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13 Responses to “Exclusive Interview with Yuu Asakawa”

  1. Rakkyo says:

    Great job on the interview! She sounds so awesome in person XD

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Nice interview! Sounds like you had a good time and she looks great. Yuu Asakawa is a voice actress that’s recently getting my attention since I wasn’t aware of any of her previous roles, neither did it occur to me she’s the voice of Rider in Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. That “I shall kill you softly” line gave me chills. The only role I can point out and have liked so far is Akame ga Kill’s Leone. Her character gives a big sister feel among the other Night Raid members.

    To catch up on what other animes she’s played in, I took a look at her MAL character list. Can’t say I would remember them without someone pointing out who she’s playing. About 95% of all her roles are from series I haven’t seen at all so it’s enough of a justification why I know so little of her and her work.

    So she’s a fluent English speaker. That’s a cool and indispensable advantage over most in her line of work as she can effortlessly cover any English sentences thrown at her with the right pronunciation in the animes she takes part in.

    Fun Fact: Did you know she’s also crossed the border into hentai territory? To my overwhelming surprise, Yuu Asakawa has voiced one of the lead characters Carrera, a succubus, in the 3 OVA hentai anime Viper GTS. A hentai I came across a few years ago.

    • T.K. says:

      Her more notable or memorable characters are mostly in the early to mid 2000’s, my favourite so far is definitely Jura from Vandread.

      Her fluency in English and activity with fans are great. More seiyuu’s should learn from her and Nakata Jouji.

      I was told about the hentai content but I research about that show. Amusingly it has the same title as one of my favourite cars, the Dodge Viper GTS. XD

  3. akagami says:

    Pretty cool! I don’t know her that well, although I’ve seen more than a handful of the anime where she’s been in, and enjoyed the characters that she’s VA’d.

    This was a cool piece, thanks for contributing! ^_^

  4. belatkuro says:

    Did she really say her line from FSN ep5 in front of you? Because daaammnnn, I’m so jealous.

    Asakawa Yuu is one of those seiyuus that I recognize the voice but can’t put a name to it when I try to remember. Mostly because her range can vary from role to role. I was actually surprised at first that she was voicing Leone in Akame.
    Interesting read and didn’t know that she voiced Luka(then again, I’m not too familiar with any of the Vocaloids). I can’t imagine her playing CoD Black Ops at all. Imagining her panicking and mashing buttons is somehow interesting.

    Good read. Hope you can also interview Kawasumi Ayako later.

    • T.K. says:

      Yes, yes she did XD

      She might not be that skilled in FPS’s but she’s quite a gamer herself. If you followed her twitter, she casually tweets about playing Resident Evil 6.

      I would love to interview Kawasumi Ayako but AFA Singapore is an expensive undertaking, I won’t be able to make AFA again this year. Sorry orz

  5. Joojoobees says:

    Thanks for doing such an in depth interview. It was a very interesting read.

  6. Kyokai says:

    Thank you for this coverage, TK! Really informative!

    Glad to see her answer some of my questions (especially the fate ones), and I was really surprised on her Noto Mamiko choice as she’s one of my favourites from the old batch of female seiyuu. ^^

    • T.K. says:

      I fanboi’d so hard inside when she mentioned Noto Mamiko, this came back to bite me later as I totally forgot to ask her why she would bring Noto-sama with her. XD

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