Mone Kamishiraishi: A soothing, Captivating Voice

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Mone Kamishiraishi’s voice is soft and captivating, absolutely soothing. That’s exactly why she was chosen to play the heroine in “Kimi no Na wa” (your name.), a new anime film released last week. The movie was directed by Makoto Shinkai, expected to be the successor of two anime giants, Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Hosoda.

Kamishiraishi plays Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school student in a mountainous town. She said she felt like she was working in a live-action production when recording for the film “because Shinkai’s artwork was so elaborate and true.”

Actor Ryunosuke Kamiki voices her partner, Taki Tachibana, who attends a high school in an urban city. The two discover that they switch lives in each other’s dreams.

The film begins with a taste of fantasy and comedy combined, but eventually turns into a story about Earth facing a crisis. This is where Kamishiraishi’s gentle voice demonstrates its strength, suggesting a ray of hope in the grave situation.

Kamishiraishi said she was happy to take part in a production that had a unique approach. “We’d recall certain scenes and say, ‘Oh, so that was a hint!’ like in a mystery novel,” she said.

In one scene, Mitsuha — who aspires to urban life — shouts out loud that she wants to be “reborn as a good-looking boy living in Tokyo.” Kamishiraishi said she understood Mitsuha’s feeling of wanting to be a boy, though she prefers to live in a rural area.

Kamishiraishi described the heroine as “a person who’s always upright.”
“She’s not concerned about consequences. She would head directly to what she believes she must do. She’s dutiful and takes responsibility. I admire her way of living, and I wish I could be like her,” Kamishiraishi said.

Kamishiraishi, a native of Kagoshima Prefecture, said she “listened to various kinds of music” when she was still in her mother’s womb. She was told she started singing almost as soon as she started to talk.
She was also a child who would sing songs with themes related to whatever she came across during her walks. Inevitably, she started taking musical classes.

Her tutor suggested she take on the challenge of the Toho Cinderella Audition that discovers young actresses when she was 12. Kamishiraishi only agreed so she’d have the memory of doing it, but ultimately she won the judges’ special prize. Her younger sister, Moka, won the grand prix.
Kamishiraishi soon began her career in showbiz, shuttling between Kagoshima and Tokyo.

Her turning point came when she won the lead role in the film “Lady Maiko,” directed by Masayuki Suo. When she later asked the director why he had chosen her among the about 800 applicants, he said it was because she was drab and inconspicuous.

“He told me he liked how I dramatically changed when I started singing,” she said. “‘I liked the gap,’ he said.”
Kamishiraishi is currently enrolled in a private university in Tokyo while continuing her career in showbiz. She will make her singing debut in October.

“In a way, I think being an actress means to reveal yourself to the world,” she said. “I know my acting skills are far from perfect and I need to improve. But then, I probably will never be bored or satisfied with acting. And this is so much fun.”
How do you like her voice?
Makoto Shinkai

Her voice had a really strong presence. It told me what Mitsuha was like. I knew she was right there when I heard her at the audition. I chose her on the spot. I think her voice tells us a lot. It’s clear and easily conveys what she has in mind. And yet the variations it generates are limitless.
Ryunosuke Kamiki

Her voice is a gift. When I heard her voice for the first time, I immediately knew it was her — the heroine for Shinkai’s film. You don’t even notice that you’re listening to anything when it’s the sound of her voice. So ... I sincerely congratulate her on her debut as a singer!

“Kimi no Na wa” a new achievement
By Masafumi Taga / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

“Kimi no Na wa” (your name.), the latest work by up-and-coming anime director Makoto Shinkai, is a fantasy depicting a couple in a Japan when the country is excited about a specific comet approaching for the first time in 1,000 years.

Mitsuha Miyamizu (voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi) lives in a mountainous town, and aspires to urban life so much that she changes in her dreams into a boy attending high school in Tokyo. Taki Tachibana (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is an actual high school student in Tokyo and simultaneously recalls unfamiliar landscapes of a rural area in his dreams. The two eventually realize they are switching places in their sleep.

The appealing description of characters presented by Masashi Ando, who was also in charge of “Spirited Away,” and character animators inspires the audience to empathize with the story.

The anxiety of Mitsuha, who is tired of the too close human relations in the countryside, is depicted in especial detail. There are portrayals of unfamiliar religious rituals, since Mitsuha’s family manages a Shinto shrine, but the piece always depicts the realities of high school. The two eventually become aware of each other’s presence after exchanging their roles repeatedly.

The film starts as a story about the lives of teenagers, but eventually it takes a drastic turn, conveying a message behind the approach of the comet.

There is a sad side to the movie, but it doesn’t leave us with bad feelings, as the two overcome the challenge and finally meet each other. The film shows us hope — beyond the initial despair — in a form nobody could have imagined.

The anime is certainly a new achievement by Shinkai, who is expected to lead the anime production of the next generation. The film is showing at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills and other cinemas. Please visit www.kiminona.com for more information.

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