Special Guest Report - Kana Ueda

Kana Ueda is a ‘Seiyuu’ (voice actress) for Japanese animation and games, best known for her voices as ‘Rin Tohsaka’ from the “Fate” series, ‘Hayate Yagami’ in the “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha” series, ‘Rachel Alucard’ in "BlazBlue" and most recently ‘Ishtar’ and ‘Ereshkigal’ in “Fate/Grand Order”.

Kana Ueda (right) on stage at Comic Fiesta 2019

Visiting Malaysia for the second time, Ueda-san was a special guest in the Comic Fiesta 2019, participating in our Q/A stage and panel session. You can check out our full coverage on the event here.

Unfortunately, due to limited places and timing of things, not everyone got to see Ueda-san and have their questions answered. 

For those poor unfortunate folks out there, rejoice! We at Anime Access managed to learn quite a bit about Ueda-san and we’re happy to share our sessions here in this Special Guest report!

1.) The Beginning

Ever wondered how Kana Ueda started her career?

It turns out Ueda-san originally didn’t aim to be a voice actress at all. Her original desire was to be a stage actress, part of the acting troupe “Takarazuka Revue”. The process involved  her to attend a special training school in order to join the troupe.  

However, Ueda-san failed the entry test; or rather she wasn’t even allowed to take the audition exam because she didn’t meet the 158 cm height requirement. She was 142 cm at that time.

Instead of giving up on her dreams, Ueda-san gained a new drive that would become the stepping stone to her career. After being rejected, Ueda-san sought a way to get back at them for discriminating against her for her height.

She wanted to show that she could play any role regardless of her height or even just being a human. And she found that through voice acting. Her inspiration and her new career as a voice actress ultimately came from wanting to prove herself.

Rin Tohsaka from "Fate" Series

2.) Challenges of being a Seiyuu

Being a Seiyuu is a steep learning curve and there were many things that Ueda-san had to learn. From the beginning, there were struggles of voice practicing to overcome.

During the first recording she did, Ueda-san noticed that the mic wasn’t picking up her voice well enough despite her speaking loudly in the higher-volume scripts.

Rin Tohsaka from "Fate" series

She also noticed that contrary to her struggle, her fellow Seiyuu’s acting in the recording room was being received audibly well by the mic despite her soft volume lines.

Ueda-san approached this ‘Senpai’ (senior) after the session for advice. Her "Senpai" advised her not to aim her voice directly at the mic and taught her to properly focus certain tones in certain scenes of an anime to help portray a clearer sound.

Interestingly enough, that Senpai was the legendary Seiyuu ‘Megumi Hayashibara’ who voice acted in famous animes such as “Ranma ½”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, and even the “Pokémon” anime. Now that’s a mind-blowing first day!

Seiyuu 'Megumi Hayashibara' and her many roles 

There are challenges that even now Ueda-san as a veteran Seiyuu would still struggle with. One big challenge Ueda-san faces is voicing characters that uses a lot of technical terms and jargon words. 

The reason is that the lines for these characters are hard to read, as they were often written in a string of Kanji characters. This interrupts the script-reading from being smooth on the initial starting phase until she has memorized every word to her heart.

Ishtar from Fate/Grand Order

Another challenge Ueda-san has is in singing as a character. She finds it especially challenging to balance doing the character’s voice while singing along.  

Ueda-san credits the hardest skill she had to learn was maintaining her voice through a recording which takes hours at a time. For example, as she is recording for the character shouting lines, she would be shouting for hours and still be able to maintain the quality and projection of her voice without any breaks. 

Hayate Yagami in the “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha” series

Apparently, it takes four hours after waking up before Ueda can start voice acting. We take our hats off to you Ueda-san…

3.) Roles

Ueda-san has done many memorable roles, but wouldn’t you want to know which ones stand out to her the most?!

This may seem like a giant coincidence, but Ueda says that the hardest character she has voiced is actually ‘Rin Tohsaka’ from the “Fate” series, the character she is best known for!

Rin Tohsaka from "Fate" Series

15 years ago when the role of Rin Tohsaka was first offered to her in the Fate/Stay Night anime by Studio Deen, Ueda-san actually didn’t feel confident in being able to portray the character well. 

Ueda-san imagined Rin with a “ladylike” persona and she didn’t feel like her high-ish voice would work for the character. Imagine if she had passed on the role! 

Now we can’t imagine anyone else as the voice of Rin Tohsaka today, but back then the ‘voice’ of the character was practically non-existent. She had no reference for the character other than her own imagery. 

Rin Tohsaka from the "Fate" series

Eventually, she learned that although the character of Rin acted the mature and serious type, she was still inexperience and trepidatious in the face of something as grand as the Holy Grail war. Understanding the situation gave Ueda-san the confidence to voice the role and the rest is history.   
However, Ueda-san says the most memorable character she has played is ‘Mikan Sakura’ from the “Gakuen Alice” (Alice Academy) anime. 

Mikan Sakura from "Gakuen Alice" anime

Ueda-san explains that from that role, people discovered that she could do a ‘Kansai-ban” dialect and it opened many more opportunities for her. As such, this remains as Ueda-san’s most impactful and profound role which she has done.

4.) Advice

To close it off, Ueda-san shares some advice for aspiring ’Seiyuu’ voice actors/actresses:

Ueda-san encourages them to always have the drive to try as many things as you can. She explains that one will never know what experiences in life will help you understand and relate to a character in order to bring it to life.

Ishtar from Fate/Grand Order

Ueda-san advises aspiring Seiyuu’s to pay attention to their surroundings. Any activity has the potential to translate into one’s acting, even something trivial as hearing how someone drinks water can be used.  

Ueda-san also shares her hopes that there will be more Malaysian Seiyuu’s in the industry one day and that she can have the chance to work with them.

5.) Bonus Trivia

Of course, there is much more to learn about Kana Ueda and we can only share so much when telling her story. So we’ve prepared this bonus quick-fire trivia section to close this Special Interview article. Enjoy! 

- Winter is Ueda’s favorite season as she likes the season’s outdoor activities. She enjoys skiing a lot but she says she can’t stay upright on a snowboard. 

- When she’s not working, Ueda-san likes to visit the arcades. Her game of choice tends to be “Gundam” related. 

Gundam arcade games 

- Ueda-san chooses to be a Rider class servant so she can ride on a “Gundam” and be summoned by a game controller as the catalyst.

- Ueda-san actually enjoys western hero films, giving “Spider-Man” as an example. She actually hopes to voice act in an American superhero one day.
Written by KittyBoss


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