Animedia June 2020
Tatsuhisa Suzuki

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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | Animedia June 2020 Tatsuhisa Suzuki Interview

Animedia (June 2020)

The June 2020 issue of Animedia (on-sale May 9th, 2020) included an eight-page feature on the Pocket Monsters (2019) animated series that included interviews with members of both the show's cast and crew.

Below is a translation of the interview they ran with Tatsuhisa Suzuki, the voice actor who portrays the Gym Leader Kibana.

Animedia June 2020 Interviews
| Rica Matsumoto | Daiki Yamashita | Daisuke Ono | Tatsuhisa Suzuki | Daiki Tomiyasu |
| Miscellaneous |

Tatsuhisa Suzuki
Tatsuhisa Suzuki
Born November 11th. Belongs to the talent agent I'm Enterprise. His main roles include Makoto Tachibana in the Free series and Anos Voldigoad in The Misfit of Demon King Academy: History's Strongest Demon King Reincarnates and Goes to School with His Descendants, among others.

His impression of Kibana is that he's a "Japanese samurai"?

Animedia:  It's been a while since you've been in Pocket Monsters, hasn't it?

Tatsuhisa Suzuki:  It has! It's been about five years now, I guess. I'm really happy to be back. It seems like I come and go about as often as the Olympics do (laughs). I've been lucky to have always been able to play Pokémon Trainers, first Jun in Pocket Monsters Diamond & Pearl (2006 - 2010), then Ippei of the Ninja Village in Pocket Monsters XY (2015), and now this time I'm playing Dande's opponent, Kibana. I feel like Kibana's the strongest out of all the Trainers I've played so far.

I haven't touched a Pokémon game in a while now but I feel like a lot of the people around me have been playing Pocket Monsters Sword & Shield and so I'm aware that there's this character named Kibana and that he's really, super popular.

Animedia: The setting this time around, the Galar Region, has an added element to it, right?

Suzuki: Daimax was a real surprise, huh! But even though there's this flashy new gimmick added into the mix I'm coming into this as "Kibana" and so I think should really focus on the battle aspect of it. And so I went into this wanting to win. It was really a lot of fun! I feel like the Pokémon world has taken on this new form but, at the same time, hasn't really changed all that much since the first time I stepped into the recording booth all those years ago.

"I went into this wanting to win" (Suzuki)

Animedia: How did you create the role of Kibana for yourself?

Suzuki: Well I'm the kind of actor who has to know everything about the roles he's taken on. So I gathered a bunch of information from people who do play the games so I could get an idea of what kind of dialogue Kibana has and how he moves around. And although it's not a good idea to go into a role knowing too much I would still think about things like "Why did he say that?" "Why did he move like that?" or "Even though he doesn't move in this scene (in the game), what should he really be doing?" I gathered a bunch of information and thought about these kinds of things, one by one, before I even got a script in my hands.

During this process I realized that Kibana is someone who is full of confidence and is a competitive person. But he's also a nice young man with a really expressive face. He might not seem like it but he gives everything he's got into each and every thing he does. I also feel like he doesn't really pay attention to what others think about him and just beats to the rhythm of his own drum instead. Oh, and also, he uses social media. I think that part of him is also really interesting. He enjoys modern things. But even though he has strong interests in everything and is always ready to receive new information he can also be surprisingly thickheaded from time to time. I got the sense that even when he's put in some situation where he's very much aware of how it looks to everyone else that he just doesn't let any of it bother him. I think him knowing this makes Kibana a really good fighter.

Kibana's Partner Duraludon
Voiced by:  Yuichi Nakamura
Steel / Dragon-Type. At a height of 1.8 meters Duraludon is quite tall and yet its body is light and able to move quickly.

Animedia: You get the impression that Kibana is someone whose emotions are like a waves in the ocean.

Suzuki: Yes. But there's a reason he's like that. Right before a battle Kibana gets really excited about his opponent and is all ready to just have himself a good time. But as soon as the battle starts a switch flips inside him and his concentration levels start to rise. It's no fun for him if he doesn't take it seriously, you see, and I feel like he's the kind of person who expresses this joy through battle. I guess what I'm saying is that he's like a no-nonsense busho, or feudal era Japanese warrior. I think the way he thinks is just like that of a busho. Well, except for maybe the super flashy way he dresses (laughs).

Animedia: He's got a really great fashion sense, huh?

Suzuki: Right!? He's so cool! I kind of wondered how such a cool-looking character could show up in Pokémon. It's kind of like me when I go up on stage, actually (laughs). I don't not like wearing flashy clothes and so maybe that's just one way I have of expressing who I am. If we go back to the busho analogy from before, his "armor" shows off who he is and his "helmet" expresses his individuality. He's basically saying "This is me, this is who I am!" You know, fashion has been and continues to be a way to express yourself. Kibana is a character from the games and so that dictates how he dresses, sure, but more than that I see his clothing as him wanting to be seen a certain way. Maybe sometimes he wants to emphasize that the fact that he's a Dragon-Type Gym Leader? (laughs) It gives us a sense that he cares about his gym. Looking at characters from a fashion point of view is actually kind of fascinating, don't you think? I get excited just looking at him and feel like I want to wear the same clothes he does (laughs). And actually, when I went to the recording studio I made an effort to dress like him (laughs). I went in wearing an orange hoodie and everything!

Animedia: There's a lot to like about Kibana, but what stands out to you that's particularly charming?

Suzuki: Kibana has this line in the middle of a battle, "Let the winds blow! Stream forward, Sandstorm!" and it made me think "Wow, this guy's some kinda poet!" That line's one of the reasons I think he's so busho-like. I think he's trying to inject some fighting spirit into himself...or maybe it'd be better to say that lines like these are almost like a kind of self-suggestion. Kibana not knowing either way makes him charming and I can definitely relate with him (laughs).

The King Dande is "an annoying guy" that he puts up with

Animedia: What was recording like?

Suzuki: It was a lot of fun! The sound director Mr. Masafumi Mima would say "You're giving too much, pull back a little bit" (laughs). Or he would say things like "This isn't a battle to the death so try to enjoy it a little more," or "You're too focused on Dande," or "Take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and just be excited to be there."

When Dande and I are talking to each other our dialogue becomes more and more playful as we go along. I don't mean that in a bad way or anything like that, it's just that Kibana is very up tempo. Well, maybe it's better to say that I'm talking more about the rhythm more than the actual dialogue itself. I can't put my finger on it but it feels like we're making music. Melodies keep springing up, and then get layered on top of each other, and in the end you uncover something new that had been buried deep inside the earth. That's the way I felt.

And then when I stood in front of the mic I'd see Kibana flailing a lot on the screen. "Oh crap, he really can't control himself," I thought. I guess he was getting carried away by his excitement, you know? I, too, would get carried away by Kibana's "I want to have even more fun" attitude and then, on top of that, Dande would say "Now, enjoy the battle!" and I'd instantly feel even more excited! It really does feel like Kibana's grabbed me by the collar, or like I'm being swallowed up by a Sandstorm. When push comes to shove Kibana would try to be too much to be like Dande but I guess even that's a part of his charm. He can't see the forest for the trees. That part of him really is a lot like me.

So cool! Why Kibana's such a charismatic challenger
He wears his fighting spirit on his sleeve! His earnest drive to victory!!
Kibana is both a Gym Leader and the "Challenger" currently ranked at number 7. Rather than feel timid about going up against the king Dande he instead makes an oath to put an end to the legend of him being undefeated! You can get a glimpse of the power that backs up his self confidence as he enjoys battles with everything he's got.

What was your impression of Dande?

Suzuki: Ugh, that guy. He makes me sick to my stomach! (laughs) This is me speaking as Kibana, by the way. You know, in the story of the games he's been defeated by Dande so many times, and so he's just over it at this point! I'm sitting here in Kibana's corner so that's how I have to feel.

But I can also understand the allure of seeing Dande as this giant obstacle you have to overcome. You see, as an actor there are things that I'm good at and things that I'm not so good at. So when I see another actor excel at one of the latter I think "Well, I can't be mad at that" and so I think that's similar to the way Kibana feels. He wants to win, but he also respects his opponent, and he also can't give up. So I think that's something else that makes him very likable.

But also, Dande's just a pain in his neck (laughs).

Animedia: What was it like when you heard Daisuke Ono as Dande for yourself, in person?

Suzuki: Daisuke's Dande is this whole other level, you know? Daisuke's a really nice person in real life and his kindness just sort of emanates off him and I think you can hear all that in his performance. You can feel the big heart of this person known as "Daisuke Ono." And he has those incredible clothes, and he wears his cap a certain way... Dande going out there and showing off his true self is just like Daisuke. Dande has a big heart when it comes to being a king as well. He talks as though nothing bothers him, and I can't tell if that's true or if he just has a really good pokerface. You can see that he's an entertainer, through and through. I think he has charm as a Trainer, he has charm as a man, he has charm as a human, and, on top of that, is an incredible competitor.

Animedia: Do you have any stories that stand out from when you were recording?

Suzuki: Well...and I'm telling you this because Daisuke told me I could...the two of us didn't speak to each other inside the studio before recording started. We just said "hello" to each other and that was it. And the reason for this is because of this idea that you're not supposed to talk to your opponent right before a big match. So we were on pins and needles in the moments leading up to our recording, and that moment, that moment right there, is when the real battle began. Luckily, Daisuke understood this philosophy and treated me as an adult. That last part made me really happy. Since, y'know, I'm actually still just a kid (laughs).

Animedia: Finally, could you please send us off with a message to Animedia's readers?

Suzuki: I really feel a ton of pressure to take care of this character that so many of you out there love so much. So when I was in the recording booth I challenged myself to turn those feelings of nervousness into feelings of excitement. I hope that by my voice being added to the show will make your love for the Pokémon world expand even more. It'd make me happy if you can give your love to Kibana and the world of Pokémon. Thank you so much!

Animedia June 2020 Interviews
| Rica Matsumoto | Daiki Yamashita | Daisuke Ono | Tatsuhisa Suzuki | Daiki Tomiyasu |
| Miscellaneous |

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