Hayami Saori @ Otakon 2014 Q&A

Posted on August 15, 2014

Illustration from THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage Cards

The following is a very rough transcript of Hayami Saori’s Q&A Panel during her visit to Baltimore at Otakon 2014. As no form of recording was allowed, the following might be a bit of a stretch from what was actually said (and seen) during the panel. Thankfully, laptops were not banned if one wanted to take notes…that is, if you were fast enough to type everything.

Right now, mostly everything is in English. I know there we have fellow Hayamists out there straight from Japan who may want to know about what transpired in her panel, so there may be a Japanese transcription.

As for Hayami, she was just “Wow”. There are no words I can say right now to describe her that would be befitting. If I can only show the people who missed out…oh wait. Do check out Aniplex USA’s Facebook post on the panel!

I will leave the fanboying for later.

Opening Remarks

Host: Ms. Hayami, if it’s okay, could you give the audience some opening remarks?

Hayamin: Hi!

Audience laughs

Hayamin:My name is Saori Hayami. Nice to meet you. Thank you very much for inviting me.

Audience applause. Some are howling.

Host: That pretty much explains it all. For you guys who are not familiar with Hayami-san’s works, we actually have a highlight video showing you some of her parts. Let’s go and check out the screen real quick.. 

Showing of Clips

The following clips were shown

  • Mahouka
    • Hayamin Lauging as the watches the clip *
  • Oreimo
  • AnoHana
  • Monogatari
    • Audience applauds


Host: Before we proceed with the Q&A, let’s go ahead and ask some ice-breaker questions, starting off with…Ms. Hayami-san, do you have any memories or interesting stories about recording any of your titles?

Hayamin: _Well, each show that I’ve been in so different in tone, like one, where I can
just punch or kick out the other guy, or it might be someone that I actually have feelings for but I can just tell him “you’re such a hentai”. Or conversely I could be in such a nice tear-jerker show that I can just have feelings forming. It’s really these various different roles that I enjoy each time in the studio. 

Host: Alright, this counts for you guys so
we’ll go ahead and proceed to the Q&A. We have a Ma- Wako cosplayer right here holding a wireless mic.

Hayamin: Wako!!!

Hayamin getting excited that there’s a Wako cosplayer, smiles and everything.

Host: If you want to ask a question to Ms. Hayami-san, go ahead line up here in this center aisle. We’ll try to answer as many questions as possible.

I stand up and dash to the line


Hayamin: Thank you! Thank you very much!

Host: So go ahead. We’ll start with the first question.

Hayamin: Don’t be shy!

Questions & Answers

Hayami-san, thank you very much for coming to see us here in United States. As I’m sure you’d know, you play Aila in [Gundam] Build Fighters. The character’s a very powerful pilot. If you could pilot a mobile suit, what would it be?

HayaminAs the character Aila, she is someone who doesn’t pilot a mobile suit on her own will but is someone brainwashed and is manipulated into
piloting a mobile suit. But in the latter half of the story, she does pilot on her own accord and not us a puppet and that when she shows her own capabilities. However, I’ve never been in a mobile suit myself so I can’t really tell what to choose.

Thank you for coming to Otakon. I like Oreimo and I like Ayase-san, so could you please say a line from Ayase-san for me?

Hayamin: Okay! Close your eyes.

Hayamin jokingly feeling embarrassed. Everybody laughs.

Hayamin: お兄さん…ぶち殺しますよ!この変態!!

Everyone applauds

Hayamin: Since taking on this role, I think I’ve been casted into similar roles more often._

Good afternoon. Were there any anime you watched as a child that made you want to take up voice acting? 

Hayamin: Actually my very first role as a voice actor was not from anime but was to dub live action films. That’s because my grandmother was actually a big fan of Audrey Hepburn. Her favorite movie included Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And I learned that there was a profession in voice acting where you can dub foreign movies into Japanese. And that’s how I wanted to be a voice actor. But as a normal kid, of course I had plenty of anime that I loved and those shows included Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura.

Audience clap in approval with Hayamin’s choice of anime. Hayamin is pleasantly surprised.

Hayamin: I have my standard list of shows that I love but I started as voice actor in different way.

Thank you very much for being here. I know it’s a long way to come [here]. I was curious, out of the characters we saw on the TV, which one is your favorite and why?

Hayamin: That’s a question that I’m often asked in Japan as well and it’s one of the toughest questions too. I can’t really single out one particular character that I played as my favorite but when I share a clip of all the characters that I played, especially with audiences outside Japan, it really makes me feel wonderful that I’m here in the states sharing a time with you and conversing like this.

Hayami-san hello. I flew from Canada just to see you. You sang the opening for the third season of The World God Only Knows – Secrets of the Goddess. My question was, what kind of preparations and troubles did you have to sing a song in English for 13 minutes?

Hayamin: Yes, 13 minutes!

Hayamin emphasizes those 13 minutes

Hayamin: Usually when I do a recording for an opening Song or an ending song or a character song, it takes about 3-5 hours of studio time…and 5 hours is the longest. Also, for The World God Only Knows, the song took about 5 hours of studio time. However, the main melody part…_

Hayamin starts singing the first line to God only knows -Secrets of the Goddess, ‘whenever you cry…’

Hayamin…and the harmony part were recorded on separate days just because the song is so long. Singing in English was tough but I did have an English coach and that helped out. I did like English songs and I like listening to English songs [but] singing English was much tougher. But I did have fun so that was a good session.

Hayamin addresses the people standing at the back of the room

Hayamin: If you guys in the back are getting tired of standing all the time, squatting down is not a bad option._

Someone in the audience yells out that they’re alright

First of all, welcome to America and thank you for seeing us. A couple of weeks ago in your radio show, someone requested for you to do an impression of someone crying. Would you be able to do an impression of someone expressing contempt? I don’t know what it is in English but….

I show Hayamin my tablet PC reading 侮蔑講座. Hayamin laughs. Translator tries to look at the tablet. Everybody laughs at his reaction

Hayamin: So you want an insult?_

I delightfully say “Yes, Please!”

HayaminIn the radio show that I’m in, I do this segment called “Lessons in _” where the “” could be a different theme such as crying [and] eating. In the crying segment, I did the strong sob or a big cry…

Hayamin does an impression where she cries really hard. Everybody applauds

Hayamin: …and with eating…

Hayamin does an impression of someone eating, making very loud chomping and gulping noises.Hayamin does an impression of someone eating, making very loud chomping and gulping noises.

Hayamin: If you want an insult, a character like Ayase would come up very headstrong and she would say バーカ(Idiot)!エッチ(Pervert)!or死ねのへんたいが(Die, you hentai)!!Another character who has a strong chord might actually speak softly and say something very [cold]. あなたの考えてることは一体何を言っているのか全く分からないけれども、もう一度頭を整理していただけるかしら (I don’t know what you’re thinking but perhaps you should replace your head then come back to me so you can be more clear )。

Hello Hayami-san. As a fan of many of your roles like Yukino, Ayase, Hacqua…you said it’s a hard time to pick out some of your favorites but how does relating to a character help you voice them better, and on the other hand, how does not relating to a character like [when] the personality is different, how does that make it more difficult to voice a character?

Hayamin: I would say yes, because if a character talks normally the way I do, it would be easier for me to get into the character. I don’t have too many opportunities to play characters that are so radically different from myself. For example, Onononiki-chan – trying out that character surprises myself because it’s so different from how I would normally sound.

Hello again Ms. Hayami. Thank you for again for coming to the US. What sort of life experience do you use to draw from to elicit emotion in your performances?

HayaminAlmost every instances of my acting has come from real life experience, although there are some rare experiences that are hard for me to go through. For example, Wako having a happy school life is something from my own happy times. That will be the same for sad acting.

Hi! I love, love, love your voice when you’re singing. I’m a big fan and I was wondering, among all the songs you sang, for character songs/opening/ending, do you have a favorite one and are there any songs that you just listen to again even when after they anime is done, just for fun?

Hayamin: I do listen to these songs all the time and that includes the song that Ayase sings in Oreimo, 想うコト, because this was on infinite repeat while I was in the hotel a couple of hours ago.

Hayamin hums and sings うコト and then interrupts herself. Everybody applauds

Hello Hayamin-san. You are the first voice actress that I know who is as old as me. Actually checked my schedule to come to US earlier than my original plan from China. My question is, we know your hobbies and one of your movies is [watching movies]. You have commented on a movie called 船を編むin your radio show [and] it’s called The Great Passage in English. What’s your favorite movie and what’s your favorite animated movie?

Hayamin: When it comes to movies, I have a lot of favorite movies and that includes 船を編む/The Great Passage. I love this movie because it has such choice placements of words all over the film. When I was in high school, we did a music production of a movie called天使にラブ・ソング 2 / Love Song to the Angel.

Hayamin interjects that 天使にラブ・ソングis actually Sister Act. Everybody laughs.

Hayamin: The musical production, [is] something I really remember fondly. When it comes to an animated film, I see today at Otakon that there are a lots of cosplayers. I think you are a fond of characters you cosplay like Mononoke and Sailor Moon. I saw Naruto, I saw lots of Dragonball, and I saw a lot of Sailor Moon cosplay. When I started voice acting, I had a role in one of the Naruto movies (Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower). Because of that, and not because I saw it, I could say that the Naruto film is one of my favorite and fondest films.

Hayami-san good morning. In Oreimo, Kyousuke is played by Nakamura Yuuchi and Ayase was much more of a tsundere character who is in a love/hate relationship with [Kyousuke]. Now with Mahouka, we have Miyuki who is very very lovable sisters doting on [her older brother] Tatsuya. I was wondering if there was anything interesting working with Nakamura both times. When I think about it, Nakamura also played LovePlus and was also a Manaka fan, which you voiced. I was wondering if there was anything interesting stories. Did you actually play LovePlus?

Hayamin laughs at the mention of LovePlus

Hayamin: For the two characters, Tatsuya and Kyousuke, I feel something very karmic because we have these two older brother characters. But how can they be so different? To one of them, my character is very affectionate. To the other one, my character is saying “Die, you hentai”. The gap between these two characters is just so wide that it’s amazing. But the funny thing is that I do meet Mr. Nakamura in person and he’s the same regardless of what kind of character he plays. I can’t tell what he’s thinking and I really really want to figure out what’s going on in his head. As for LovePlus, someone by the name of Tomokazu Sugita has said that he [has] played Manaka and I’m impressed that I got a reaction from by mentioning just his name to you guys. I hope to ask Mr. Nakamura if he has recently played LovePlus and see if I can get a reaction out of him.

早見さんこんにちは。In Sword Art Online you played character as Sachi. She was my favorite character in the entire series and [she] really made me tear up during that one particular episode. Would it be possible by any chance to hum that tune that she sang, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, by any chance?

#Hayamin begins to sing as requested. Everybody applauds.#

Hayamin: I think that was just a bit of that song

Since you did your role as Tsuruko in AnoHana, did you go to Chichibu City (the city, which AnoHana is set in) and what did you think of the city?

Hayamin: It was in fact after I played [as] Tsuruko that I got more opportunities to Chichibu, and we go to the Secret Base. Whenever Summer rolls in, I do recollect and we have cast reunions. It might be everyone or it might just the three girls but we do have reunions since I [played as] Tsuruko.

Did you watch LoveLive by any chance ?

Everybody laughs.

Hayamin: The other day my classmate in college said “My younger brother wants to go a Love Live concert, so can you get me a ticket?”.

Everybody laughs again.

Can you do ニコニコニ~?

Hayamin: I never watched Love Live but please forgive my by taking my best smile for you.

Person asking previous questions asks if he can ask something else. Everybody yells out “NO” in unison.

Host: It’s one question per person and you already asked two.

Out of the seiyuu who worked with so far, who is your favorite?

Hayamin expresses the difficulty in answering the question. It’s as if she’s doing a segment in her radio show, “Lessons in complaining”, jokingly of course.

Someone in the audience suggests Naobou (Touyama Nao). Hayamin is surprised.

Hayamin: That’s a very vexing question because I can’t really single out one colleague but Touyama Nao, Yuuki Aoi, Kotobuki Minako, [the girls from AnoHana] Kayano Ai, Tomatsu Haruka…all the voice actress that are similar in age, we do get along closely [so] I can mention them. But my role model is the great Japanese voice actress, Masako Ikeda, who dubbed the voice of Audrey Hepburn in the Great Ages, and she is my great senior role model. I had the chance to be cast in the same title as her just once. Even though I was an aspiring voice actor and [even when] we didn’t have a place in the studio to sit down we had to stay standing, [she would] actually come to every single one of us cast members and greet us – and I really respected that as a role model.

Are you fujoshi?

Hayamin: …not really into BL [but] perhaps a colleague of mine, someone like Aoi Yuuki…

Some of the audience applauds at the mention of Aoi Yuuki

Hayamin: …might be versed in BL.

People applaud at mention of BL

Hayamin: However we don’t really talk about BL that much as voice actresses so I’m not really familiar.

Hi I’m a big fan of the Monogatari series and I was hoping [if] Hanamonogatari is confirmed.

Host: We actually can’t answer that question.

Hayamin tries to clarifies the question

Hayamin: Did you mean to ask if I] will be a cast in those titles?

I’m just wonderingif they’re going to be aired soon.

Hayamin asks her managers if she will be in the anime

Host: To be honest with you man, that’s an Aniplex of America question, and like I said, we can’t say anything about it.

So can I ask something else then?

The audience says no

Host: Make it quick.

Can you say with a posed look (reference to Ononoki Yotsugi’s 僕はキメ顔でそう言った), “Yay, peace peace”?

Hayamin (impersonating Yotsugi): Yay…peace peace.

Everybody applauds.

What is your favorite food?

Hayamin: I am fond of Japanese food. My mother often cooks boiled gyoza. That’s one of my favorites._

What was your high-school life like?

Hayamin: I mentioned that I’ve been in musical productions. I was also in a choir competition committee [and] also in a committee for doing the school athletics. Basically I loved to be involved in a lot of festivities.

First of, welcome to America. Also, my favorite show done by you (your voice) is Yukino Yukinoshita from Oregairu. [Also] congratulations on the green light for the next season. Hopefully that goes through. My question is, when you do a role like Yukino where you’re when you sound more conversational but you’re very stoic and very flat, what kind of challenges do you have to face when you have to try and portray some kind of emotion at different moments in time as your roles for characters like that?

Hayamin: Are there any Oregairu viewers [here]?

Some of the audience raise their hands, myself included

Hayamin: see that you watch other shows than the ones that we saw in the clips. Thank you! Of the characters that I play, Yukino is relatively the flat one. It is not a character to really emote but a character to include nuances into her flat acting or flat character.

Host: Due to timing, we have only enough time for two more questions.

Person next in line to ask a question expresses a loud sigh of relief.

Hayamin: Would it be possible to do a speed round for a few more?_

Host: Alright, quick questions.

I heard you recently were in a show called Kamigami no Asobi as Yui Kusanagi. My question to you is, out of all the gods your character interacts with, which one would you pick?

Hayamin gets impressed that someone knows of Kamigami no Asobi.

Hayamin takes a while to choose

Hayamin: Abi.

The seiyuu life, how is it? Is it difficult?

Hayamin: There is nothing really to be afraid of in terms of being [a seiyuu]. Everyone is supportive. It’s really that we have to be serious about our profession…

Thank you so much for coming. Thank you for the speed round. I just want to say I really enjoyed your work on Tari Tari. It’s amazing. How does doing choir singing compare with the kind of stuff/songs you usually work for anime projects?

Everybody applauds for Tari Tari.

Hayamin: For character songs, I can normally do those smiling but for Tari Tari songs, they are more vocalized.

Hayamin performs an impressive vocalization.

Host: Alright, this really is the last question.


Person about to be cut off asks if he can include just one more.

Host: Make it quick.

はじめまして。I am wondering out of all the roles you play, which character do you feel like the most closest to yourself?

Hayamin: I would say Tari Tari would be the closest.

Everybody applauds at Tari Tari. Hayamin expresses jokingly that she’s not too happy about the resemblance.

Of the four male characters (Shiba Tatsuya, Katsuragi Keima, Yuki (Kirito) Rito, Kousaka Kyousuke) in the shows that you’ve been, which one is your favorite?

Hayamin: Keima Katsuragi from The World God Only Knows would rank the lowest. That’s because he only plays video games all the time. That means there is no convo time with him. So he would not be a fun guy to be with.

Closing Remarks

Host: Everyone, let’s give a round of applause one more time.

Everybody applauds.

Host: Ms. Hayami, do you have any final remarks before we let everyone go?

Hayamin: Thank you very much for coming today. It was great to talk to you guys in person. Let’s meet someday again. See you next time. Bye bye!

Hayamin waves both of her hands while bobbing back and forth.