How important is sound in anime? On August 7, 2021, the Virtual Crunchyroll Expo held a segment titled “From Sound to Voices: A To Your Eternity Panel” where they discussed this very topic. The special guests were Reiji Kawashima, Fushi’s voice actor, and Takeshi Takadera, the Sound Director of the anime. The 50-minute panel was hosted by Michael Weidner. Together, they explored the world of “To Your Eternity”, its emotional moments, and the creation process of its sounds.
The “To Your Eternity” panel begins very casually as everybody agrees on this fact. The anime show “To Your Eternity” has built its reputation around its beautiful, deep, and heart-aching story. One of the popular praises among fans is its profound soundtrack! Overall, it wraps up to be this emotional and immersive experience. It’s the reason why “To Your Eternity” is so special.
Creating the Sound of To Your Eternity
Takeshi Takadera (Yowamushi Pedal, Fate/Grand Order, Laid Back Camp) shares what a “Sound Director” does. In summary, he is the one in charge of the way the anime sounds from dialogue, music, to sound effects. Unlike overseas companies, Japanese studios and directors tend to have more assignments in their jobs. Takadera admits that it’s a big responsibility but nevertheless, gives him a lot of influence over the anime. It is both a lot of fun and a great honor.
Ryo Kawasaki (Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia, Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation) is the music composer of “To Your Eternity.” After describing the musical idea to the composer, Takadera receives this melodious and active music with varying tempos. He has to consider how to mix both the music and the onscreen situation, which is incredibly challenging. However, it is fun because of the diverse application and the new editing tools available now as compared to the old days.
Kawashima as Fushi the Immortal
Can you believe that this is Kawashima’s first-ever regular and protagonist role? He shares his shock, excitement, and nervousness as he portrays this character. “To Your Eternity” and Fushi are both complex and is not the simplest story to tell so Kawashima says that it’s a lot of pressure.
Fortunately, Kawashima independently studies his role very well that Takadera and the author, Yoshitoki Oima (A Silent Voice), says he’s perfect as Fushi. Takadera also adds that during the auditions, instead of capturing the character through acting technique, they thought it might work better if Fushi sounded natural. He says that despite being a relative newcomer, Kawashima has this wonderful, effortless, and neutral voice quality that perfectly matches Fushi’s features.
Voice Acting in the Studio
The “To Your Eternity” panel continues with more sound-related behind-the-scenes. According to Sound Director Takadera, a recording session usually starts with the voice actor’s own take. From there, he gives direction and they work together to complement the scene. Sometimes he asks the actors to “go bigger” or to breathe or react in a certain way. It’s also important that he guides them around the background music so the sounds don’t drown each other.
Recording vocalizations is critical for anime. Takadera says in the “To Your Eternity” panel that sounds should have appropriate parts of the emotional spectrum, even in non-speech vocalizations. For example, Fushi doesn’t speak much after the first episode and acts like an animal.
Thus, Takadera gives Kawashima direction to not make eating noises normally, but instead to “chow like a wolf.” Kawashima adds that it’s important to act right in scenes that are significant in the long run. Subsequently, the scenes with “only visuals and no vocalizations” can also leave the same strong impression as the ones with them. They are tricky to distinguish, but effective anyway.
Takadera also mentions how Japanese voice recording sessions are mostly in groups as compared to foreign studios where they record separately. He believes that this influences the actors’ performance that ends up in the final projects. Takadera also teases how Kawashima likes to join the other voice actors even though he has no lines.
To Your Eternity’s Bittersweet Theme
The panel takes a serious turn when Kawashima explains his take on “To Your Eternity’s” deep and complex themes. It makes him realize how valuable everyday life is in modern society. Of course, there’s the existential question which the character Gugu says,” Why am I who I am?” Kawashima realizes that he’s the same way as Fushi — learning, growing, and experiencing the sweet and bitter moments. It’s the accumulation of all these that define a person’s identity.
Just like all the emotional fans, Takadera and Kawashima also have their crying moments from the show. Sound Director Takadera admits that he has never cried during a recording before because nobody wants to see a director “bawling his eyes out.” He has to keep it together during selecting and editing tracks. However, he confesses that he cried while working on the musical tracks of March and Gugu’s episodes. The scene became much more emotional with the music he added.
Meanwhile, Kawashima shares that he also became overwhelmed with emotions while performing the nameless boy’s scene in episode 1. He says that when the boy walks to paradise and finds the graves, he saw “himself” in slow motion. It was just him and Tsuda ( The Beholder’s VA) that time, and he couldn’t help but cry while performing his heart-aching lines. Michael, the host, also admits that he was crying 80% of the run time while commending the acting and soundtrack.
Takadera Explains How A Scene Becomes Anime
According to Takadera, the music composition of “To Your Eternity” is so wonderful and perfect because it can cover different tones. He commends the composer’s exceptional work. Before picking a piece of music, he first has to feel his way through the scene.
For example, in the scene in episode 1 titled, “The Last One,” he wanted a piece that could reflect the boy’s state of mind, emotions, and hope of waiting for everyone’s return. It starts out with an optimistic and upbeat sound. After the boy realizes that he’s alone, that’s when Takadera changes to a more mournful sound. The amazing part is that this is all just “one continuous track.”
As the scene progresses, there’s an actual break in the track that allows us to hear the clattering sound of the fish line and “feel the silence.” This is important because it snaps the boy (and us) out of his daze, and then the music continues on.
That’s an example of Takadera’s train of thought when doing the sound for one scene in “To Your Eternity.” He also recalls how he asks Kawashima to sound more desperate for a more emotional impact. After the dialogue recording is complete, he then works on the editing process. He also collaborates with the other directors regarding the voice track, music, and sound effects (foley).
Saying Thank you to the Fans
The “From Voice to Sound: To Your Eternity” panel came to an end as the host commended Kawashima and Takadera’s masterful work. He also added in how there are numerous fans from all over the world. Kawashima feels that it is interesting “to see ‘To Your Eternity’ extend to people outside of Japan, crossing borders and oceans making people cry, smile and laugh.”
Anime continues to be influential around the world. The two guests thanked the “Virtual Crunchyroll Expo” for having them. Hopefully, they can come in person next time. They are active on Twitter and are happy to interact with fans. Takadera’s Twitter is @TakeshiTakadera while Kawashima is @reiji_kawashima. See their behind-the-scenes tweet and photos below.
About To Your Eternity
“To Your Eternity” is an anime adaptation of the manga series written by Yoshitoki Ōima. It follows the story of a mysterious orb sent to Earth. It has no identity nor emotions, but through time it learns to take different forms. One day, it acquires the form of a boy and gains consciousness. The boy, Fushi, sets off to travel in search of new experiences, places, and people. “The journey begins.”
It airs every Monday at 10:50 PM (JST). It will be available to watch on Crunchyroll in select regions. In addition, it is also available to watch for free on Ani-One Asia YouTube Channel.
Kodansha Comics is publishing the manga in English. Crunchyroll is also publishing the manga in English digitally as a simulpub. Furthermore, you may read all our other “To Your Eternity” articles on the site.
All images via Crunchyroll
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