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The Movie "Koko"
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Dogasu's Backpack | Movies & Specials Guide | Koko
The seventh episode of Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" Supporters' Podcast - "The Movie Secrets We Want to Tell You" (劇場版ポ ケットモンスター ココ －サポーターズPodcastーいま、君に伝えたい映画のヒミツ) was released on Friday, December 4th, 2020.
You can listen to the podcast here, though do be aware that the episode is completely in Japanese.
Host: Mr. Hisanori Yoshida (吉田尚記)
Special Guest: The voice of Satoshi, Ms. Rica Matsumoto (松本梨香)
Mr. Hisanori Yoshida, the podcast's host, will turn 45 this month! He guesses he really is a true old person now? He looks back on the year and comments on just how fast it's all gone by; we only just now entered December but it feels like only yesterday we were celebrating the start of the new year! But at the same time, him having a daughter in middle school makes him hyper aware that yes, it really has been a full twelve months. Part of that is thanks to certain events taking place once a year -- events like the release of a new Pokémon movie, for example! In this year's case, Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" is going to hit theaters December 25th.
Welcome to the Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" Supporters' Podcast - "The Movie Secrets We Want to Tell You"! This is a podcast that takes a deep dive into the production side of the Pocket Monsters movies and offers behind-the-scenes looks at how they come to be. Mr. Yoshida tells us that they have a special announcement to make at the end of this episode so be sure to stick around until the end! In this podcast, they've had a number of fantastic guests so far. In Episodes 01 and 02 they talked to the film's director, Tetsuo Yajima, and voice actor Shoko Nakagawa; in Episode 03 they had the film's publicity producer Michihiro Morita; Episode 04 added the director of the film's trailers Taichi Terahara into the mix; and Episodes 05 and 06 had them get into the weeds of the films' sound production with their sound director Masafumi Mima and music composer Shinji Miyazaki. For this episode, they've brought a guest whose perfect for this week's theme of "People who have been with the Pokémon movies for 23 years! Breathing life into their characters with their voices." That's right, today's voice is none other than the voice of Satoshi, Ms. Rica Matsumoto!
The conversation starts off by talking about how Rica Matsumoto not only plays the show's main character but also tends to appear in promotional events a lot. In the world of animation and theater they have a word zachou (座長) to describe a person like this. It basically means to be "the face of a TV show, play, etc." Ms. Matsumoto says that her father, similarly, was the face of the Taishuu Engeki ("theater for the masses") acting troupe back in the day and so she knew firsthand how hard a role it could be. But it's strange, she says, because in his case he could become the face of his troupe after being in only one stage play. Wouldn't you expect them to have chosen someone a bit more experienced to take on that role, she wonders? But, everyone just threw around the phrase "face of the acting troupe" at him, over and over, until it stuck.
In contrast, Rica Matsumoto has been Satoshi for 23 years and it took her a really long time to achieve that same status. It would have been too much to expect her to be the zachou in her first year on the show, of course, but after a few years Ms. Matsumoto says her father was starting to starting to wonder what was taking her so long. But he's happy that she finally has this role now, after all these years. You know how they always have special guests come in to voice characters in the movies, Ms. Matsumoto asks. Well, she's the person now who gets to say goodbye to everyone at the end of promotional events or whatever. It's a role she's just sort of naturally fell into around ten years ago.
Mr. Yoshida is an announcer for the Nippon Broadcasting System, and both the network and Ms. Matsumoto seem to have a long history together. She was on Tsuruko Shoufukutei's (笑福亭鶴光) radio show back in the day as a field reporter, you see. Mr. Yoshida mentions that, by the way, Tsuruko's somewhere in the studio right now doing a live broadcast, even as they speak. Ms. Matsumoto says she'd better stop by and say hi before she leaves. But would now be a good time? She's also not wearing any make-up today, so she probably looks quite different from the energetic, fully painted young woman who used to work for him all those years ago. It's been a few decades since they last saw each other, you see. She was on his show right before Pokémon started.
Mr. Yoshida joined Nippon Broadcasting when Mr. Shoufukutei's show Tsuruko's Golden Gossip Hour (鶴光の噂のゴールデンアワー) was still going on, and even back then he thought of Ms. Matsumoto as a voice actor more than as a general celebrity or whatever. But he could also recognize her as a member of the Nippon Broadcasting staff all the same. She reminisces about how when she would leave for the day Tsuruko would give her a bunch of snacks, so many in fact that she would be absolutely stuffed if she ever ate them all. She also remembers the spinning of the cassette players in the studio at the time. She could spend all day taking this trip down memory lane, but to sum everything all up Rica Matsumoto got a lot of good experience from being the on-field reporter there, such as how to quickly establish good rapport with people of all ages. Mr. Yoshida comments that Ms. Matsumoto had come to the show today to talk about Pokémon but it seems like they're spending all their time gushing about Tsuruko instead. Whoops!
So, let's get things back on track. The podcast host observes that there are not a lot of characters in the world of animation who are as earnest as Satoshi from Pocket Monsters is. Ms. Matsumoto says she's equally as earnest. But she's not really playing a part when she's in the recording booth, she reveals. From day one, her approach with the character was to make her performance as Satoshi the most honest performance of her career. Acting, by its very nature, requires you to lie to your audience, after all. But she wanted her Satoshi to be as close to her in real life as she could. Children will be watching this show, she figured, and they can tell if adults are being fake with them. So she wanted to act in a way that, if she was ever approached by a fan on the street, she could deliver one of Satoshi's famous lines for them in a way that seemed genuine. Especially when it comes to little boys; if she performs some lines as Satoshi for them right there on the spot then she wants them to feel as though Satoshi is right there beside them. Y'know, even though he's just a bunch of drawings on paper.
Mr. Yoshida states that there aren't many characters like Satoshi out there these days. He embodies the typical idea of what it is to be a boy, he continues, and we as an audience can feel like he'll always be by our side. Ms. Matsumoto thanks him for the compliment. She then says that when she was little she would get mistaken for a little boy all the time. She would correct them at first -- "Actually, I'm a girl..." -- but that got annoying after a while and so she just kind of leaned into it later on. She started talking like a boy, using masculine pronouns like boku, and if someone asked her for directions she would reply in a purposefully boyish way. The podcast host asks if this was before she ever thought of being a voice actor, and she says it was. This was around the time she was in elementary school, she remembers. If she embraces that mischievous side of hers, she says, her performance naturally becomes more boyish.
Mr. Yoshida mentions how there are some actors who go for the whole method acting approach, right? Well, Ms. Matsumoto just said that she wanted to play Satoshi as earnestly as she could, but if you look at her...well, the elephant in the room is that she's a grown woman and not a ten-year-old boy. Isn't that a huge lie right there off the bat? But yet somehow her attempt to be earnest still absolutely works. Ms. Matsumoto feels that she has the heart of a boy ("justice will always prevail!", etc.), though Mr. Yoshida is quick to point out that those kinds of things don't necessarily depend on being a "boy" or "girl," especially when it comes to kids Satoshi's age. Nevertheless, Mr. Yoshida concludes, that aspiring Pokémon Master's the kind of kid who will end up being your best friend forever. Ms. Matsumoto is happy to hear this.
She says he doesn't want to make anyone to feel like they're alone, prompting Mr. Yoshida to ask what she means by that. She replies that he's the kind of kid who will be like "do you want to join us?" or "come over anytime" if he sees someone sitting by themselves. Mr. Yoshida reckons that Satoshi won't go up to someone and demand that they "let's battle" right this second but he will accept a battle invitation if it were to come his way Or, he'll go where his mom wants him to go instead of making her go to him. In other words, Satoshi won't push someone to do something they don't wanna do and has a loving personality. Ms. Matsumoto's the same. If she's in the middle of something and her friends invite her to go somewhere then she'll drop whatever it is she's doing to meet up with them, putting off her own personal errands for another day.
Ms. Matsumoto says her personality is the type that it's easy for her to feel lonely so maybe that spills into her performance as Satoshi. They have a rule in her household that they're not allowed to be make anyone else feel like they're all alone. This means that even, for example, if her father tells a joke that isn't funny she'll still make sure to laugh or say something like "ah, that old joke!" instead of just sitting there with a blank face, saying nothing. She has to show some kind of reaction to what others or saying or else they'll think they're being ignored, she reasons. Mr. Yoshida has a job that requires him to talk to people, of course, so he can understand what she's talking about. Last year, he says, he was talking to a voice actor and heard this person say the phrase "love can be found in other people's reactions," and he completely agrees with this. Therefore, he says, Satoshi is the King of Reactions, right? Ms. Matsumoto laughs; did he mean to say "Satoshi" or "Rica Matsumoto"? Mr. Yoshida replies that to him, they're pretty much one and the same. The podcast host continues, saying that when Satoshi sees something rare or scary or whatever he's sure to have at least some kind of reaction to it. If he's surprised by something, Ms. Matsumoto adds, he'll make sure say "you startled me!" or something like that.
The cartoon series is based off video games, right? The Satoshi-like main character in the games is someone whose personality changes based on the player's actions. There are certain things you have to do in the games because it's an RPG with a set story, of course, but the player still has a lot of freedom in regards to ignoring certain aspects of the game. He's a clean slate character, more or less. But for the animated series, they were able to make a protagonist that didn't exist in the video games, one who is able to make a bunch of friends because of the actions he takes. Did the show's staff have any detailed directions for just what kind of character they wanted her to make Satoshi in the very beginning? Ms. Matsumoto replies that they did not. "Just keep doing it the way you're doing," they would tell her as she was recording. But she didn't really get any direction on where to take the character beyond that. Well, actually, there is one thing. There actually would be times when she'd do a woman's voice for the Japanese dub of a foreign film, and then when she would go to do Satoshi's voice the following day she'd still have a little bit of that feminine energy in her performance. And so when that would happen, she says, she'd be told that she sounds a little bit girlish today and needed to adjust.
There isn't really a time where she's not able to revert back to Satoshi mode, Mr. Yoshida assumes, since Rica Matsumoto and Satoshi are more or less the same person at this point. If you just relax then you can settle back into your Satoshi voice, right? Ms. Matsumoto replies that it's more like when she gets fired up than just "relaxing." When she goes somewhere like Tokyo Disneyland or a ball game, for example, the "yay!" and "let's go!" shouts she lets out are 100% that of Satoshi. It's so similar, she says, that the people around her hear this screaming and are like "waitaminute..do you hear that? It sounds like Satoshi from Pokémon. Is he here!?" Ms. Matsumoto likes to go to baseball games a lot -- not that she's been to any lately, of course -- and every time she goes the kids around her notice that Satoshi's voice is coming out of this really excited woman. "You're Ms. Rica, aren't you!?" they'll say. "Can you sign my T-shirt?" She, of course, grants these kids' requests. When she was in preschool, Ms. Matsumoto recalls, a celebrity came to their school one day and refused her request for an autograph. Ms. Matsumoto remembers that making her cry at the time so now that she's in that position herself she tries to grant this request as much as possible.
This is not always possible for one reason or another, of course, but she tries to sign autographs as much as she can. Mr. Yoshida takes a moment to ask the audience to please read the room if they ever meet Ms. Matsumoto and to figure out whether or not she has a spare minute before asking her to do something like perform in a character's voice. Sometimes Ms. Matsumoto will be spotted when she's out eating and fans will ask her to sign things like paper napkins or those little paper sleeves that disposable chopsticks come in, but she asks that fans don't do this. She'll autograph your bare skin, though. Mr. Yoshida responds to this by saying that this is very Satoshi-like of her. In the Pokémon world Satoshi would probably be a superstar, after all, and so he can totally imagine that kid from Masara Town refusing to sign napkins but being OK with signing someone's arm because it'd be funny to him. "He's a little bit of a mischievous boy like that" she says.
All this talk about celebrity citings reminds Mr. Yoshida of stories he heard about this one celebrity from back in the day who was known for being a gourmand. If he was out eating in a restaurant somewhere and he was recognized, Mr. Yoshida recalls, he would go ahead and order another dish, even if he was already full and just about to finish up, just so that the fans who spotted him could say that they saw him while he was eating.
Does Ms. Matsumoto ever do anything like that? Definitely, she says. For example, she'll be at Disneyland, waiting in line to go on some ride or something. You typically have to wait in line an hour, hour and a half, right? Well, she'll be talking to a co-worker, and he'll be saying something like "...and boys are like this or that," and some of the kids around might overhear them and start to stare at Ms. Matsumoto. Oh, do they realize who I am, she wonders. But, it turns out that they were looking her way because of the unusual conversation she was having with her co-worker. Later, when it's finally time to get on the roller coaster or whatever, those same children will turn around, point at Ms. Matsumoto, and shout out "you sound just like Satoshi!" But the kinds of conversations she was having with her co-worker aren't the kinds of things the real Satoshi would ever say, she realizes, so she'll blubber something like "Oh yeah, I get that a lot!" The podcast host is impressed with how much she tries to protect her character and be true to him. Ms. Matsumoto continues, saying that she won't run a red traffic light even if no one is around, and she won't litter, and she'll even pick up trash off the side of the road if she sees it. Playing Satoshi has made Ms. Matsumoto a more responsible member of society, she concludes.
The podcast host believes that out of all the characters in Pocket Monsters that Satoshi is probably the most pure. For 23 years he's been forging ahead, never giving up on his dreams. Satoshi becomes the baseline -- the zachou -- that everyone else is then measured up against. When you think Satoshi, he continues, you instantly think Pokémon! He's also the one who starts off each episode by being the one to read their title screens. Ms. Matsumoto hopes that by giving her title screen performances so much energy that this will set the tone for the episode and that everyone else will match that energy level to deliver a really fantastic show. First impressions are important, after all.
Sometimes Satoshi will even get to sing the TV show's opening themes. In those instances, Ms. Matsumoto says, she went into those songs fully aware that they were going to be what signals the start of this week's story. This was back in the days when the show would start directly from the opening theme without any cold openings or anything like that. Mr. Yoshida adds that her opening songs don't really ever have a "this show is ending" feeling to them, though she mentions that she has done ending themes in the past as well. Back to the openings, Mezase Pokémon Master in particular is a song that gives a really strong feeling that a show is about to start. Nobody ever listens to that song and feels like something just ended, you know?
For next week's episode they'll be bringing in someone else who's been with Pokémon for 23 years, Mr. Kou'ichi Yamadera! Ms. Matsumoto applauds and asks if he's really going to be on the show. She then mentions that she's known him for a long time, way before Pokémon started. She was a teenager when they met, and she says that at school he would be right there with her whenever she had a performance or announcement to give. They would often be paired together so they know each other very well. They would spend a lot of time talking after a show, encouraging each other to keep giving it their all.
Ms. Matsumoto being a teenager when she met Mr. Yamadera causes Mr. Yoshida, who's in his 40s now, to mention that if he thinks about it his mindset now isn't really any different from when he was a teenager. He was a university student when he started watching Pokémon, he says, and he still likes it even today. The things he liked back then are the same things he likes now, and he's only becoming a fan of more new things as the years go by, not fewer. Ms Matsumoto agrees with all of this.
Mr. Yoshida says that the kids who liked Pokémon when they were little are in their 20s now and he thinks that maybe it's not so unusual for those young adults to still like Pokémon even now. In fact, that extra life experience these fans get over the years have helped them appreciate the show in a whole new light. When he became a parent, for example, he understood this whole new world of what being a father is like. So when it comes to Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko," which he has not seen yet, he wonders how he'll view it in the context of being a father himself. Ms. Matsumoto points out that there are lots of different ways to look at things; when you're a kid you'll look at a movie like Koko from the kids' point of view, and if you're a parent then you'll look at it from the parents'. Revisiting something you watched as a kid now, with fresh eyes, enables you to enjoy it in new says you weren't able to before, she adds.
Mr. Yoshida says that video games are the same way. Kids are playing Pokémon on the Switch, his household included. His parents would take him to go see rakugo, a type of Japanese comedy show, but in his case it's him taking his kids to see Pokémon. Ms. Matsumoto chimes in by talking about how in her family they were always doing something, always being like "go! go! go!" and so she would have to work hard to keep up with everyone. When she'd get recognized by her mom for this hard work she would become very happy. Ms. Matsumoto hasn't made a family of her own -- she's not even married, she points out -- but hearing her mother acknowledge her was really, really nice, she says. She concludes by saying that she really wants to see this year's movie Koko with her family. She thinks the movie has a lot of things that will resonate with audiences, but it's the kind of thing that's hard to explain without actually going to see it yourself. Mr. Yoshida says that in his case, his grandma and grandpa would take him to go see the rakugo performer Kosan Yanagiya (柳家小さん) when he was in elementary school and they used to go home afterwards and talk about how amazing he was. In the case of his own daughter, Mr. Yoshida explains, Rica Matsumoto is that person for the two of them. Ms. Matsumoto is honored by the comparison.
Rica Matsumoto is really amazing, Mr. Yoshida continues, since she's been playing Satoshi for so long. Ms. Matsumoto says that about once a week she'll think about how she's been playing this role for 23 and a half years -- almost 24 years at this point -- and while she does have an understanding that yes, this is objectively true, at the same time she still can't believe it sometimes. She's been able to continue for as long as she has, she says, because of the support of the staff, and other cast members, and the fans who have been with her this whole time. Just thinking about all these people cheering her on makes her tear up at night, she says with a laugh. Mr. Yoshida jokes that if any of you want to be like Ms. Matsumoto then it'll take them 23 years to get to where she is now.
Well, it's time to wrap up the show! Mr. Yamadera will be here next week but Ms. Matsumoto will be coming back as well! She repeats that she and Mr. Yamadera are very close and so she'll have to take care not to get too carried away when the two of them are in the studio together.
Mr. Yoshida also mentions that it's time to reveal that special announcement they teased at the beginning of the show! As an early Christmas present, they're going to hold a second movie premiere! This newly announced premiere will take place on Saturday, December 19th somewhere in Tokyo. Ms. Matsumoto says the date is really easy to remember using Japanese wordplay; one way of reading the numbers "1" and "9," in Japanese, are i-ku, which sounds like the word iku (行く), or "to go somewhere." So, "go to" the preview screening on the 19th! Details about applying to attend this special screening can be found on the official website and on the movie's Twitter account.
Ms. Matsumoto and Mr. Yoshida sign off for the episode and invite us to listen again next week. Until next time!
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