Here is a partial translation of the HaruChika anime interview with the Director Hashimoto Masakazu and Producer Tsuji Mitsuhito, which was published on animeanime.jp on December 31, 2015. This part of the interview covers the casting decisions of the main characters of the HaruChika anime. The reasons why they chose Hanae Natsuki for the teacher are especially interesting.
Casting: the deciding factors
– How did you choose the cast?
Tsuji: We did it by holding auditions for the three main characters: Chika, Haruta and Kusakabe-sensei. We decided on the other characters by choosing from among those who participated in those auditions.
– Please tell us the reason why you chose to appoint Sarah Emi Bridcutt for the role of Chika.
Hashimoto: Chika is a girl who is able to react directly to people’s feelings. She’s a bit inattentive and not very good at reasoning, but her broad-mindedness does not lose out to anyone else’s. If she wasn’t there, the amount of members in the wind ensemble club probably wouldn’t have increased. Bridcutt-san’s voice has a pleasant brightness and is the closest to Chika-chan’s image.
Tsuji: There are many voice actors who play main characters in the P.A. Works or Hashimoto’s works that were recorded so far. From Tari Tari three out of five people of the chorus club appeared: Asami Seto-san, Shimazaki Nobunaga-san, Hanae Natsuki-san. That might mean that Bridcutt-san is close to a challenge.
– She plays her first starring role in HaruChika, there’s also some resemblance with Chika who is a beginner at playing a musical instrument.
Hashimoto: Bridcutt-san studied by seeing the previous works I directed and requested to know how she should play the role. She’s working very hard and thinks about the series as well. Seeing her like that gives me peace of mind.
Tsuji: I think it’s good to be able to see the new Bridcutt-san in HaruChika.
Hashimoto: Isn’t it? It’s great to see her for sure.
– How about Saitou Souma who plays Haruta?
Hashimoto: I thought it was good to have a soft rather than a manly voice. Still, when it comes to the mystery genre there are also cool reasoning scenes, so I wanted it to be compatible with the usual gentle feel. Saitou-san was able to perform both aspects firmly and we pretty much unanimously decided on him at the audition.
Kusakabe-sensei is a 26 years old troubled young man
– Hanae-san who plays Kusakabe-sensei also auditioned.
Hashimoto: Hanae-san participated in the auditions in the role of Haruta. I didn’t want to make Kusakabe-sensei too teacher-like, but at the auditions there were many people with reliable adult-like voices. Using that kind of voice makes the Kusakabe-sensei I imagined too strong. Because of that I asked Hanae-san “Could you let me hear your teacher’s voice too?”, and later on I decided after consulting with the staff.
– What’s the reason for not wanting to depict him like a teacher?
Hashimoto: Kusakabe-sensei was a conductor who was expected to have a great future. But now he has given up on it and appears as a new music teacher. Parts of his mystery will be touched upon in the second half, so I wanted him to feel a little out of the place as seen from the audience’s perspective. He’s not only a good advisor who can be relied upon by his students, but I also wanted to feel the humane parts that contain his own troubles.
If so, isn’t Hanae-san’s boyish voice perfect? Also, I already know that he’s an incredibly hardworking person in Tari Tari, so I trusted him to seriously tackle this.
Tsuji: Personally I was a little concerned over Kusakabe-sensei being played by Hanae-san. In my head he had a young voice, so I couldn’t connect him to a teacher’s role at all. I thought he sounded way too young. During the post-recording we repeatedly adjusted his script with delicate lines and right now he’s completely become Kusakabe-sensei. I was really surprised.
Hashimoto: He’s a handsome teacher and there were many who performed him with a rather low voice, so I understood the anxiety that he would sound young. However, Kusakabe-sensei is only 26 years old. In reality, wouldn’t someone around 26 years old have a phase in which they are worried about their future? P.A’s work progress is also around that age (lol).
– If you think about it as animation staff, he really is young (lol). Are there any other reasons?
Tsuji: There’s nothing unpleasant about Hanae-san’s voice, so that’s also good.
Hashimoto: In the story a love triangle is depicted between Chika, Haruta and the teacher. However, HaruChika is not a story which has that relationship develop as the main plot. If Kusakabe-sensei had a dandy-like, suave voice, the love triangle would crumble (lol). If it’s Hanae-san’s neutral tone of voice, it’s possible to maintain an appropriate sense of distance as a teacher with both Haruta and Chika. To express that atmosphere carried by the voice is difficult in the story.
– I see. It’s also to depict a youth story and not a romance, right?
Hashimoto: Yes. If it were a work depicting a love relationship between the three, then it might have been better if the teacher had an adult atmosphere. The fact that this is not a story that depicts Haruta and Chika’s romance is a unique part of HaruChika.