One Piece has introduced Yamato in both the anime and manga, and the majority of fans absolutely adore the character. The voice actress is Hayami Saori, who spoke about the role in an interview published in Shonen Jump and talked about how she’s been a fan of the anime since elementary school and how she’s excited seeing Mayumi Tanaka voice act. There were also additional comments posted on the official Twitter, which weren’t available in the interview.
First, the adorable introduction video she got (the ‘uzu, uzu’ at the end is particularly priceless):
After seeing Mayumi Tanaka voice acting Luffy in person, she said she felt the same excitement as when she watched episode 1 of the anime. This was while she was in elementary school (episode 1 came out back in 1999)! The same goes for Ulti’s voice actress, Tomoyo Kurosawa. The two were actually together when Ulti was contacted for the role, and she talks about it:
It’d be nice if we could have a recording session together” I said to her. And out of the blue, that opportunity came sooner than I expected. Of course, both of us came to play our roles, but as a One Piece viewers, we couldn’t hold back our excitement seeing Tanaka Mayumi’s live acting (haha).Hayami Saori, voice of Yamato
It felt like when we saw the first episode of One Piece. It was also the first time for Tomoyo to be with Tanaka Mayumi, “It’s the real Luffy!” we thought as we returned home.
Regarding Yamato’s statements about being Oden, she said that she that being Oden is more important to Yamato than blood or gender. She keeps in mind that Yamato is like a boy full of curiosity, and it’s the first time she got a role like that. Another thing she mentioned was that she felt relaxed when Mayumi Tanaka told her that Yamato was a great character.
They also asked her what the impression was playing Diva Anne at the One Piece Live Attraction 3: PHANTOM live-action.
Playing the role of Utahime An was a challenge. Firstly, it was very difficult trying to imagine the character’s movements on stage, and upon reading the lyrics, I had to sing like it was a musical. Thus, a different kind of expression was necessary. In addition, Utahime’s personality is cheerful and energetic, so I had to give it everything I had.Hayami Saori
That’s why I was scrambling at the after recording session (haha). But since An is such an energetic character, I felt more empowered when acting as the character, or maybe she gave me the energy to do well. Music does empower people, and I think Anne is a character that can empower people.
When asked if she admired someone like Yamato admires Oden, she said she admires people who are free spirited yet decisive, and are loved by those around them. “In my case, my personality doesn’t really reach people’s hearts (doesn’t inspire them)…”
She also said that Oden was so cool in the boiling pot episodes, and she understood why people looked up to him.
I also like Komurasaki (Kozuki Hiyori). I’ve become very fond of her strength of will to continue performing Komurasaki’s role for 13 years. The resilience to stand for your own beliefs. Unfaltering dedication. As a fellow woman, it sends chills down my spine.Hayami Saori
Finally, Hayami Saori said she trembled with excitement for one of Yamato’s iconic lines, and words like this make you appreciate the fact that she’s a long-time One Piece fan:
I trembled with excitement for Yamato’s line “My other name is Yamato! I’m prepared to die for you!”Hayami Saori
I’ll give my all to act as Yamato, so please look forward to it!
Seeing a dedicated One Piece fan get such an important role is satisfying, and Hayami Saori being such a good fit makes it perfect! Ai Fairouz also talked about how she landed a dream role as Jolyne Cujoh (JoJo), and these stories are always wholesome!
You can also watch the 2nd WE ARE ONE episode, featuring some of the most powerful women characters of One Piece and introducing Yamato without her mask:
Episode 991 premieres in just a few hours, and we’ll get to see and hear more Yamato in “Enemy or Ally? Luffy and Yamato!”
Images via Crunchyroll, videos and thumbnail via One Piece YouTube
Source: Weekly Shonen Jump, One Piece official Twitter for Question 1, Question 2 & Question 3
© Eiichiro Oda / Shueisha, Toei Animation