Spy x Family: Interview with Takuya Eguchi

Source: Animate Times (Apr 06, 2022)
Interview by Risook Song

The Spy x Family anime starts on April 9, 2022 and will run for two split cours!

Spy x Family is based on the hit manga of the same name by Tatsuya Endo. Since its debut on Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ platform in March 2019, its biweekly chapters have been collected into nine volumes, with over 15 million total copies currently in circulation.

To commemorate its televised premiere, we interviewed the cast behind the Forger family. First up was Loid Forger’s voice actor, Takuya Eguchi, who talked about everything from the series’ strengths to his own family’s dynamics.

Takuya Eguchi

Born on May 22, 1987 in Tokyo, but grew up in Ibaraki Prefecture. Won Best New Actor at the 2012 Seiyu Awards for his performance as Kazuya Kujo (Gosick), then Best Actor at the 2015 Newtype Anime Awards for his performances as Hachiman Hikigaya (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU) and Takeo Goda (My Love Story!!). Other notable roles include Nagi Rokuya (Idolish7), Julius Euclius (Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World-), Shuji Hanma (Tokyo Revengers), and Domas (Ranking of Kings).

Trusty Co-Stars Saori Hayami (Yor) and Atsumi Tanezaki (Anya)

What are your thoughts on this series?

Eguchi: The story opens with the wild premise of a spy, a telepath, and an assassin forming a makeshift family under mysterious circumstances, but as I read on, I realized the tone was more heartfelt than serious.

It has a lot of comedic parts too, and its messages are actually much simpler than they appear. I’m pretty sure that’s why it strikes a chord with people.

Could you tell us about your character, Loid Forger?

Eguchi: Loid’s an extraordinarily capable, stone-faced guy. He comes across as a robotic man with no fear, but that’s really not the case—the first episode of the anime explains why he acts the way he does.

He’s also compassionate, and his self-sacrificial nature stems from a warm place deep inside his heart. I believe his powers of observation and his sympathy towards others are what drive him as a spy.

Could you tell us what Yor Forger and Anya Forger are like?

Eguchi: Yor is extremely simple-minded. She embodies a primal way of thinking where everything boils down to live or die, kill or be killed. [laughs]

Meanwhile, Anya may have a superpower that lets her read people’s minds, but she’s a straightforward character who wears her emotions on her face. I guess she’s the kind of person I wish there was more of in the real world.

How did you feel when you got the part?

Eguchi: I was happy to accept it, of course. The casting process for anime typically involves an audition, so I’m always very glad and grateful to be chosen for a role, regardless of the series.

But this time, the folks at my agency—especially my manager—were more pumped than usual. [laughs] As a big fan of the manga, he must’ve been particularly pleased to have an actor from his company be cast in the adaptation. Judging by the reactions of everyone around me, I knew I had gotten involved in something big.

How about when you found out Ms. Saori Hayami had been cast as Yor?

Eguchi: Ms. Hayami and I worked together on the first show I ever auditioned for, Eden of the East, and we’ve been working together frequently ever since. She’s a wonderful person I knew I could trust.

(Note: Eden of the East came out in 2009. In it, Eguchi played Satoshi Ohsugi and Hayami played Saki Morimi.)

What did you think of her during the Eden of the East days?

Eguchi: She was only 18 back then, and already the leading lady. I remember being impressed by her confidence.

How did you feel when you heard that Ms. Atsumi Tanezaki had been cast as Anya?

Eguchi: Ms. Tanezaki’s had such a diverse career. Whenever we’re in the studio and I witness her range in front of the mic, I get the feeling she’s a specialist who can handle any role. That’s partly why I had faith in her before I even walked through the door.

Have you worked with Ms. Tanezaki before?

Eguchi: I have, but we never really had a chance to talk because I’m not the type to strike up conversations at work. We’d barely greet each other even when we did live events together, so this is the first time I’ve spoken to her at length.

A Stress-Free Family Environment

Did you feel good about your audition?

Eguchi: Although some parts were tough to act out, I felt like I could get into character pretty easily. But I tend to fail auditions when I think “I was born to play this role,” so I try enter them with the mindset of “if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.”

You said that you could easily get into character for the audition. Did you have to tweak your performance at all for the actual recording?

Eguchi: At the audition, I presented something of my own creation. At the studio, however, multiple people from various departments come together to shape Loid.

Once I take my mental image of Loid to the studio, we take turns sculpting the raw material—chipping a bit here, adding a bit there, and determining how far we should go through trial and error. It’s hard work, but I enjoy the process.

Then when I’m recording scenes alongside Ms. Hayami and Ms. Tanezaki, I sometimes change the nuance of my lines in response to what I’m hearing in the session. Without the involvement of all these individuals, my words wouldn’t carry the same weight or emotion that they do.

Do the scenes when Loid thinks to himself while talking to other characters require extra attention?

Eguchi: Since Anya can hear exactly what people are internally monologuing, the contrast between their actions and their thoughts are plain to see. That’s one of the beauties of this show, so I do pay extra attention to the changes in tempo when I’m rapidly switching from dialogue to monologue to dialogue to monologue.

Things could get messy if I don’t make a clear game plan in my head.

I know you’re not Loid, but do you ever mumble to yourself?

Eguchi: I think I’m kind of a mumbler, though if you were to ask me what’s usually going through my mind, I’d have to say “nothing.” A whooole lotta nothing. [laughs]

According to the narrator, “Everyone has a side they don’t show anyone else.” How do you interpret this quote?

Eguchi: Every human being has their own sense of values, and we live our lives while hiding what we consider normal and what we consider unusual. In order to coexist, we can’t be 100% true to ourselves.

For example, we have to wear clothes outside because it’s wrong to be naked in public. But isn’t the act of wearing clothes kinda secretive? Even if some people may want to take a walk in the nude, society has established a rule saying that’s not allowed. So we all follow it to preserve the peace.

Don’t expose yourself to strangers. [laughs] How much you reveal to someone should depend on what your relationship is, so closeness is the deciding factor here.

Will the Forgers grow closer as a family?

Eguchi: I personally feel the most genuine and comfortable when I’m with my family, which is the result of us trying to make our home as stress-free as possible. “Family” is a major theme of the series, and even though Loid occasionally grumbles about becoming more relaxed, being able to show your vulnerable side around each other is exactly what makes a family.

Maintaining an Unbiased Perspective While Acting

What are some elements unique to the anime that we should look out for?

Eguchi: As the title suggests, Spy x Family features Loid doing spy work as well as Yor doing assassin work, so the stylish action sequences are a treat.

You can definitely look forward to some speedy fight choreography. The split-second movements and character acting were already spectacular in the test footage, so I’m excited to see the finished product for myself.

Were any scenes particularly memorable or fun to perform?

Eguchi: A lot come to mind, but first is the friendly conversation I had with Franky. He’s a trustworthy person even outside of work. It was tricky to decide how much to let my guard down, but being able to talk so casually made things fun.

Next is the scene when Anya reminds Loid why he became a spy in the first place. It gripped me when I read the manga, and I thought to myself, “Wow, what a powerful scene” as I was recording it. I would’ve fumbled my lines if I got too caught up in the moment, so I tried not to dwell on it. [laughs]

If I don’t maintain an unbiased perspective when I’m acting, then my personal feelings will take over my performance, and I might put in more effort than expected and strain my voice. It’s a fine line to tread.

The scene when Loid gives Yor a wedding ring was unforgettable.

Eguchi: I had to say a bunch of stuff while running around in that scene, so we worked it into the flow of the dialogue. I could tell from the preview that it’s a spectacular action sequence with flashy explosions, and I can’t wait to watch the full thing.

What Completely Changed After Becoming a Voice Actor

This show depicts the Forgers interacting and evolving as a family. What’s something a family member told you that has really stuck with you?

Eguchi: A family is essentially a group of people whose lives intertwine and influence one another in a significant way.

When I first told my family that I’d move to the big city after graduating high school, they were very against it. But if they hadn’t fought back, I don’t think I could’ve steeled my heart, come to Tokyo, and gotten this job.

I’m a bit of a rebel, so it’s precisely because they put up such a fierce resistance that I was able to make up my mind. If they supported me instead, I probably would’ve been less motivated.

The fact that they looked at me from different angles and opposed my unstable career choice with all their might only lit a fire in me, so I appreciate that they were upfront about their feelings.

So you didn’t buy their argument?

Eguchi: Their argument was just, “You’ll never make it”… [laughs] It’s true that you need money to live on your own, but you can get by without much if you take advantage of the systems in place.

And so, I told them I’d “leave no matter what because I can’t change who I am,” even though I knew it wouldn’t convince them. I hoped they could learn to accept that part of me.

Does your family support you now?

Eguchi: These days, they watch the shows and buy the magazines I’m in. I don’t contact them that often, but rather than outright supporting me, I think they’re just happy to see me doing well.

What are some important considerations you make when taking on a role?

Eguchi: When I think about who my characters are, I draw from a pool of both firsthand and secondhand experiences. I take into consideration all the things I’ve seen, heard, and felt in my life, then decide how much of those components to infuse them with in order to maximize their appeal.

Once I’ve settled on my ideal interpretation of a character, I like to inject at least a little bit of humanity in there. Figuring out the right balance is always a fun exercise.

How have you changed as a person since starting this career?

Eguchi: I’ve pulled a complete 180. Before, I was the type of guy who could live just fine without human contact. I enjoyed spending time alone, so I had no qualms about doing that forever.

However, since becoming an actor, I’ve realized that interacting with all kinds of people is the key to learning how they view the world around them. When it comes to playing a variety of roles, being able to communicate is as indispensable as being able to emote.

A lack of good communication can throw a production schedule out of whack, so as someone who knows he’s bad at communicating, I make a conscious effort to get better at it every day.

Thank you for your time!

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