The panel is unique on several levels. One is that the host is Danny Choo, a celebrity in his own right. He spoke British English very quickly and it was hard to follow him at times. His Japanese is fluent of course but thankfully was at a normal pace. Asakawa Yu actually spoke English quite fluently as well which made the panel go by faster covering many more subject areas. Her energy was amazing! Internet and tv personality, Choo really knew how to get the fans cheering and excited. He had us calling out Asakawa-san’s name to get her onto the stage. But before that came the ‘rules’. “All those folks with cameras out, you can continue to take photos. But if you’re going to use the flash, please turn the flash to face yourself…. *audience laughs* So turn the flash off, otherwise you will knock out Asakawa-san.”
- Asakawa: Wow! Thank you for coming! *in Japanese* I’m so happy!
Choo: I tell you a secret. At first I was told to come here to translate. But then I was told that Asakawa-san is a native speaker of English.
Asakawa: *laughing* No!
Choo: But you’re learning English, is that right? And you tweet in English. How long have you been learning English?
Asakawa: How long? I quit actually. *audience laughs*
Choo: So you arrived in NY yesterday right?
Asakawa: Yesterday in the am.
Choo: What time did you get in?
Asakawa: At 11.
Choo: I actually knew this. Well, when you got in, you first had lunch, than you had rehearsal. Is it your first time in NY?
Asakawa: Yes, my first time.
Choo: What do you think of NY so far?
Asakawa: Everything is big! Buildings and advertisements. So bright. Times square… *in Japanese* …you use too much electricity! *audience laughs8
Choo: Since in Japan, we had an earthquake awhile ago and Japan is very much in electricity saving mode. So you went to Times Square.
Asakawa: Yes, I just went through.
Choo: So what other plans do you have while in NY?
Asakawa: I have no idea! Where? What?
Choo: Where should she go? *audience calls out places*
Asakawa: Your house?!?
Choo: Anyplace you want to go? I watched some American movies. So NY is like where the heroes are, lots of aliens. So is there anyplace that you particular see?
Asakawa: Hmmm…really no ideas.
Choo: How about the Empire State Building? *Asakawa-san nods* I’ll make you go there after this panel. *to the audience* Who wants to go with her? *audience hands go up*
Asakawa: Thank you!
Choo: It is the first time I met you. I’ve heard lots of good things about you.
Asakawa: Good things?
Choo: Yes, all good things. You are a voice actress. How long have you been doing voice acting?
Asakawa: 15 or 16 years…so I’m tired of it. *audience laughs*
Choo: How did you start?
Asakawa: One day I was watching tv and the topic was about voice actors and voice acting. And I decided to do that. ‘I could do it!’ I went to a school and there, I studied.
Choo: How long did you go to the school?
Asakawa: Two or three years. I skipped my lessons many times. *audience laughs* Actually, maybe for one year….
Choo: So you went for a few years, but only one year of classes?
Asakawa: *laughs* Full….
Choo: I know why. This is because you were studying very hard in your own time. Is that correct?
Asakawa: *thinking about it* Mmmm… *nods* *audience laughs*
Choo: I think that by everyone’s faces here, everyone wants to be a voice actor or voice actress. I want to be a voice actor.
Asakawa: Oh really?
Choo: I’ve been practicing all the time, voice training. I think I can only do one character. That is…Gollum from ‘Lord of the Rings’. *audience laughs*
Asakawa: Do it!
Choo: *Gollum voice* My precious! They stole it from me! Those nasty hobbits! *audience cheers*
Asakawa: There is my agent over there, why don’t you ask her?
Choo: So, I do that everyday on the trains. *audience laughs* What sort of things do these folks, budding voice actors have to do to become a voice actors?
Asakawa: The key point is ‘acting’.
Choo: Acting. Did you practice that by lying to people? *audience laughs* That is the best way to act.
Asakawa: Voice acting. *in Japanese*
Choo: So you have to lie people and than you can become a voice actor.
Asakawa: Lying? No way…. In voice acting, acting anime-ish voices is not so important. Acting and good luck and powerful agency.
- Choo: So we’re just talking about your agency. Your manager is just sitting right over there. What is her name?
Choo: Ayaka-san! *waves* *audience applauds* So you might want to give Ayaka-san your name card as you’re heading out. And you might want to follow her.
Choo: When you’re practicing your voice, you must get so many lines to remember. How do you remember the lines?
Asakawa: During recording we have a script.
Choo: Do you practice at home?
Asakawa: At home.
Choo: I hear that at home, you have be careful. Because when you’re practicing too loudly, the neighbors might hear.
Asakawa: *laughs* Yes, my friend was practicing her lines at home at night, she screamed, ‘Help me, my grandfather is killing me!’ *audience laughs* The neighbor called the police. So we have to be very careful, so we use a towel over the mouth.
Choo: So you played many characters and roles in your career. Are there any particular character that stand out in your mind during your career?
Asakawa: Luka? *points* My favorite project is Rider from Fate/Stay Night. It is a very small part. Recently, I don’t know if you know of it, but Anastasia from Brave 10, it is one of my favorite characters.
Choo: Why are you fond of these characters?
Asakawa: Rider is very impressive to me. She wears a purple dress, is very sexy and has a mask. And she has a very sad background.
Choo: So you like sad people?
Asakawa: Yes. *audience laughs*
Choo: So And she is very sexy.
Asakawa: Sexy…yeah. *gestures for large bosoms*
Choo: With big boobs. Who likes big boobs? *pause* They’re just shy.
Choo: Since you speak native English….
Asakawa: Do you really consider me ‘native’?
Choo: Yes, when she meets others who ask her, ‘Do you speak native English,’ she always say, *in Japanese* ‘Do you understand what native means?’ You can say that when you go to the agency for your voice acting auction and they’ll be very impressed. *to Asakawa* Have you done any native English roles?
Asakawa: No, but I’ve done English text narration as Luka. Since I’m not a native speaker, it’s very tough for me.
- Choo: When did you do the recording for Luka’s voice? Awhile ago?
Asakawa: I forgot, 5? 3? Maybe 3 or 4.
Choo: Was it a few days or a few hours?
Asakawa: One recording was three or four hours for three days. The Japanese script is not so much but the English script is really like this. *holding fingers over 2 inches apart* So it was hard.
Choo: Now that you have done the voice for a vocaloid. What is the difference between doing the voice for a vocaloid and an anime character.
Asakawa: For an anime character, we have to act. For Luka, I just provide my own voice for her. I didn’t have to act. I just had to read a script.
Choo: *to the audience* Did you learn of Luka through music? Figures? *takes a poll*
Fan: Through your website!
Choo: Oh, really!
Fan: NicoNico douga.
Choo: So when you see Luka singing, because it’s your voice, but it’s other people making the lyrics from your voice, how did you feel?
Asakawa: That feeling is very strange. I didn’t do anything for the song. But many people listen to that. Very strange. It’s me, but it’s not me. *in Japanese* Even though when I’m asleep, Luka continues to sing. When I’m doing a recording for an anime title, I would like Luka to come and do it so I could take a day off. *audience laughs* I just get money!
Choo: I would like to listen to Luka’s music and see the visual of Luka singing. *to the audience* Do we just happen to have one ready on a computer over there with the man standing by? Do we? Shall we listen to it?
There were calls of yes as the lyrics for the song, ‘Just be Friends’ was handed to the audience. The video was a clip from ‘Mikunopolis’ with Luka appearing holographically on stage to a crowd of concert attendees.
- Choo: The song is ‘Just be Friends’ and we just happen to have the lyrics. This is actually a test for all of you who want to be a voice actor. The manager is over there and she’ll be coming around. The person who sings very well will be receive a contract and be the next vocaloid.
Asakawa sang along to the video. “It is the first time for me!” She did a few of the hand motions to the delight of the fans.
- Asakawa: When I saw the video for the first, I was very worried about Japan. People were waving penlights for just a screen!
Choo: Have you met Luka before?
Asakawa: Uh…yeah! But singing with Luka, this was the first time.
Choo: So I met Miku, Rin and Ren for the first time last year at AnimeExpo. There was the concert, ‘Mikunopolis’. Who was there? *a few hands came up* Who would like to see them back there again? *audience cheers*
Fans: Take my money!
Choo: So do you have any other plans for Luka or any other vocaloids?
Asakawa: No. Maybe Luka will get angry if I become another vocaloid.
Choo: You have been a voice actress for many years now. Is there anything else that you would like to do? Like acting on a big screen? Anything else in your career?
Asakawa: One of the things I would love to do is coming to more conventions in the US. I also have a webshow, Otaku Versus Zero and I like to report on events around the world. I want to report back on the differences in the events and culture.
Choo: ‘Just Be Friends’ is made by Dixie Flatline. Is he a friend of yours?
Asakawa: No! *audience laughs*
The floor was open to questions from the fans. Choo set the ground rules again. “You can’t ask about bank details or addresses.”
- Q: How is your recording of the pen voice banks with Cryton going? Miku has 6 extra voice banks, ‘pop’, ‘vivid’ etc….
Asakawa: If I does some, would you buy them? *audience agrees* Miku is pretty popular and Luka is not so popular. So maybe if she [Asakawa] did some, no one would buy them.
Choo: Is that true?
Fan: That is a bunch of lies!
Choo: Are we allowed to do a Miku vs. Vocaloid poll? Are we allowed?
Asakawa: I heard from Crypton that we’re going to do something very big with Luka next year. I’m not allowed to give any details but please follow my blog and my twitter.
Q: What is your general impression of the other characters in Fate/Stay Night while interacting with Rider? Was her opinion from before she got the part or while during the recording?
Asakawa: Rider is the most beautiful of the characters and that her master was stupid. By the end, Rider is the most beautiful.
Q: When you’re doing the voice work at home, do you have a recording studio?
Asakawa: No, I don’t. People may think that voice actors have louds of cash but they don’t. They go to a recording studio.
Fan: It may be interesting for you to know that that in America, alot of American voice actors actually record from home.
That is a common assumption in the US since recording equipment can be bought easily and material can just be sent via skype and e-mail. It is true but only up to a point. Due to the nature of dubbing work which is recording with individuals, the option of at home dubs can be made…with certain equipment in place. Most people create demo tapes at home but still record in a studio in the US. Japanese seiyuu work in a different setting since anime voices requires the cast to be at the studio at the same time, recording the scene together.
- Asakawa: In Japan’s voice acting industry, its generally favored to see people struggle. *audience laughs* So they have this thing where they try to get the actors or actresses to be at the same place, at the same time. When you’re at the bottom, they like to see you struggle your way up.
Q: Luka’s vocal range is much lower than the other vocaloids. Is that very different from your vocal range?
Asakawa: Luka certainly does have a mature voice. One of the reasons was that there was a demand to have a vocaloid who doesn’t have a high pitched voice. I do feel that if I had a high pitched voice, I would be more popular. *audience disagrees* Japanese people like high pitched voices.
Choo: Do you like high pitched voices? *audience agrees* But you like low pitched voices too? *audience agrees*
Asakawa: Thank you!
Q: Knowing how prominent Vocaloid is in Japan, how are you taking the response in the US?
Asakawa: I’m very surprised that a DTM [Desktop Music] software package can cross borders and go overseas. Especially when the characters have very little personality. I’m surprised that this phenomenon can so popular outside of Japan.
Q: What is your opinion of people pairing different vocaloids together? *audience groans*
Asakawa: Ehhhhh?!? *laughs* Luka is the best so there is no need for others. *audience applauds*
Q: Do you consider yourself a good singer in comparison to Luka? Do you shy away in the shower or do you belt it out?
Asakawa: It is completely different. I will sing like this, *sings a smoothly line from ‘Just Be Friends’*. Luka sings like *sings same line as Luka* just a bit higher and in a artificial voice. It is completely different.
Choo: Given the nature of the software, she doesn’t really consider that it is herself singing. *reinstates the question* Do you like to sing?
Asakawa: I like to sing and I want to do more songs as well. I come out and see fans from around the world. One day, I would like to do a mini-concert. *audience cheers*
Q: Out of all the vocaloids, besides Luka who is your favorite?
Asakawa: Besides Luka, it’s not from Crypton, but Gakupo. Luka has pink hair and he has purple hair and they match very well. From Crypton, I like Rin. Rin is cute.
Q: Do you own any Luke merchandise?
Asakawa: I do! I have Luka Nendroids, cellphone straps….
Choo: Is your bedroom like a Luka shrine? Someone from Crypton offers her loads of things as well.
Q: Is there any chance that we can get any concerts like that here? *audience cheers* But I’m from Miami…. *audience objects*
Asakawa: All these concerts are not in my control. If I do release concert overseas, I want to come along as well. Maybe I’ll consider to go to Miami.
Q: If you were familiar with people who cover vocaloid songs on youtube? What are you opinion on them?
Asakawa: I am familiar with the videos. They are all so good at singing, they make me feel very nervous.
Choo: Do you make those videos?
Fan: I do, but I’m not extremely popular. I’m just kinda popular.
Q: Do you play any type of musical games like Pop’n Music, Project Diva?
Asakawa: I’m not good at rhythm games. I have the taiko controller.
Choo: When the PS Vita first came out, there was a game called Gravity Daze.
Asakawa: I play it.
Choo: So you have a PS Vita. What other game consoles do you have?
Asakawa: PS3, PS2, Wii, xbox.
Choo: You’re quite a gamer.
Asakawa: I like the Resident Evil series. I prefer Leon. He is the main character for RE4, he is my prince charming. *happy sigh*
Choo: When you’re playing, do you make him turn to face you and then you leave the controller there? *audience laughs*
Asakawa: Yeah…before I take control.
Fan: You look like Ada! You look pretty like Ada!
Asakawa: Yay…but Ada is my rival.
Choo: We have one guy that said we have 5 min. and a lady that saids 10 min. So I think that mean we have 20 min. left, is that right? *audience laughs*
Fan: Welcome to NY…especially on my birthday. *audience applauds*
Asakawa: What is your name? Nia? Why don’t we sing happy birthday to Nia? *everyone sings*
Q: When you’re working on Vocaloid or voicing anime characters, do you work by yourself in the booth or with others?
Asakawa: For tv animation or animation, we work together. For video games, we work separately.
Q: What is your first impression of Luka?
Asakawa: Usually I can get a document of the character before recording. But for Luka, there was no document of the character. They came up with the visual after the recording. After the recording, Cryton came up with a character design based on the voice.
Choo: Is there any similarities between Luka and yourself?
Asakawa: Voice? Hair? Beautiful? Okay? More more! The breasts? *laughs*
Choo blames the ‘chucking out time’ to the staff in the orange shirts and evil eyes. lol Asakawa-san gave her farewell remarks.
- Asakawa: Thank you so much for coming. I love you all! Otsukaresama! I’m so glad to be here at NY Comic Con. I have a signing session at 5pm. If you have ticket for it, you can see me again. *audience cheers*
Asakawa-san ends with a picture of the crowd for her twitter.