Sakuracon 2023: Junya Enoki Interview

Sakuracon 2023: Junya Enoki Interview

By Sean Cruz & Lisa Su
Transcribed & Edited by Sean Cruz
Photos courtesy of Crunchyroll

A very busy Junya Enoki managed to sit down for a round table interview during Sakuracon 2023. A jam packed schedule meant that he only had a brief amount of time but he diligently answered our questions on a rainy late Saturday afternoon.

How do your prepare for your anime roles vs your live action dubbing roles?

When we are recording the voices for animation, initially the images aren’t finished yet, they are usually rough images. So you have to take that, and use your own imagination, and combine that into a hallucination that we experience together and that’s a really different part of anime vs live action.

How did you get started in voice acting?

My cousin is actually a Seiyuu, when I was younger I watched a lot of anime, and I knew my cousin was in some of them, so it felt like a really familiar industry to me at that time, so that was why I decided to go into this particular industry.

How far into the Jujutsu Kaisen manga have you read into and how excited are you to voice the upcoming season?

So first of all I have read all of the manga that is out so far, including what’s in the weekly magazine so I’m fully caught up. As for parts I’m looking forward to later in the story, Itadori hasn’t demonstrated the technique of area expansion, where you create your own dimension, that technique, so I’m looking forward to what he can accomplish there, and also how he ends up fighting Sukuna, how that fight changes over time, and how that story ends, how they wrap it up, I’m interested in seeing where that goes.

What was it like working with Akari Kito-San again in a different role and capacity? Previously you had worked with her in Tonikawa and now you’re working with her in KamiKatsu.

I actually have a lot in common with Kito-San, so we get along really well when working together, this time as well during the recording of KamiKatsu it ended up going really smoothly, it was enjoyable to be able to talk with her in between recording sessions, so every time I get to work with her I enjoy it and look forward to it.

Is this your first time in Seattle? How have you enjoyed it so far? How is it meeting fans in Japan vs. in America?

This is my first time in Seattle. As far as the difference between Japanese fans and American fans, American fans when they’re having fun they’re really ok in showing that and being loud and yelling, especially in response during panels. In comparison to the Japanese fans who tend to be really focused and a bit more quiet. They’re definitely enjoying themselves but keeping those feelings more on the inside, where Americans let those feelings out on the outside.

You’re the Japanese voice of Spider-Man. How did you get that role and how different is it for you compared to voicing things in Japanese?

There was an audition, we went to the audition without knowing what role it was for, it was kept confidential, after we arrived we were told it was for the Spider-Man role, so we auditioned for that role. We did the audition and I was chosen, that’s how I got the role. As for dubbing Spider-Man vs. doing roles in Japanese there are some difficult points. First of all between Japanese and English there’s going to be differences in the length and the dialogue, and even the length of short words like “arigatou” vs. “thank you” is quite different so you have to keep that in mind when dubbing, and also matching the mouth shape and the mouth flap, you have to keep in mind does the line end with the mouth closed or open, and try to match what the mouth shape is for the actor on screen, and that’s difficult.

When receiving a script, usually the storyboards and keyframes aren’t final yet, what direction or input are you getting from directors, for example ad-libbing your unique take on a character, what do you do to make the character yours?

So when receiving a script, usually the script is finalized by the images aren’t. As for what I can add to the role for ad-libs and so on. Usually when we record we do at least 2 takes, so we do testing takes, which is usually just my approach to the character and the dialogue, and then there’s live takes, official takes that we use and record. In between those takes I will talk with the director, and he would tell me what to keep and what to fix, and we would come to an agreement and that’s what we would use for the official take.

You are also a singer. Did your interest in becoming a singer happen after you got involved in voiceover or is that something you were always interested in?

So before I became a Seiyuu I did not think I would have a chance to enter an industry that would allow me an opportunity to sing songs in front of people so I didn’t plan on it. After I became a Seiyuu I started to get chances to sing songs, and actually it was requested by fans of the works I was in, and I thought that “oh these chances are coming to me I better learn how to sing properly so that is added to my repertoire of skills”, and so there are more works I am able to audition for, it is helpful to be able to voice act and sing, and that means there is more possible work for me.

What has been your most difficult role so far and why?

My role in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure comes to mind, and the reason for that is that there were a lot of very detailed requests for how I delivered the lines in that show, the character that I voiced tends to extend the vowels of some of the words he was saying, and so getting that exactly right was difficult for example “ja” in “ja nai ka”, and the director would always correct me and say I wasn’t doing it right or I wasn’t doing it enough, so I would have to go again and again, fixing these small parts the director pointed out, including for example some places where the voices were extended and he’d want me to cut the word off in the middle, so all kinds of little details I was corrected on, and that was hard.

What kinds of hardships had you had to face in this very saturated market?

One of the hardships I faced was simply just being poor, not having enough money to cover all the expenses, I was scraping along, taking out loans in order to have enough food to eat and somehow managing to get by in that way, but that was really difficult and it took years before I was in a really good place financially.

Is there a genre that you haven’t been in, whether in Anime or Live action that you would like to try, or to do again?

I’ve had roles in just about every genre I can think of. I would like to continue dubbing Tom Holland’s roles into Japanese, partly because he doesn’t just do Avengers or Spider-Man roles, but he does all kinds of different genres. It was recently announced that he would be doing a Fred Astaire movie in the future so that would be dancing involved in that and whether I would get that role, it hasn’t been decided yet. It is something I would love to do if possible.

Is there any anime you would like to be in that you haven’t been in yet?

(after a long pause) I can’t really think of any at the moment… what are the most popular anime or manga in the US?

Shonen Jump is really popular… most of the anime that’s popular in the US is similar to that of Japan, mostly.

Hmm, most Jump manga have an anime already…. Sakamoto Days? Hmm…

What is something you wants fans to know about you that they don’t know?

I would like everyone to know although I look extremely young and am described as a babyface I’m actually 34 years old. Also please watch on Crunchyroll “KamiKatsu”, I would like to encourage everyone to watch that show.