|Thinking about giving up being a seiyuu if I failed, I went to the audition!!
--- First Inami-san, tell us your motivation to audition for "Love Live Sunshine".
For a long time, I've been a big fan of Love Live. My favorite member is Koizumi Hanayo chan. I went to many µ's concerts... For me, µ's was an existence beyond the sky which I could never reach with my own hands. When I heard the news about "Love Live Sunshine", I was overflowed with lots of unbelievable feelings. At that time, I had been working at my agency for 2 years. While I was working on my stage job (Japanese is 舞台のお仕事. She used to act for theatrical plays, so that might refer to that. Thanks, bobishere123456 for the heads up), I auditioned as a seiyuu everyday but I failed lots of them. However, Love Live is a work I admire!! For this audition, everything I cultivated during those past 2 years, everything I absorbed/learnt, I faced all those strong feelings I held. If I failed this audition, I was really considering quitting being a seiyuu.
--- In short, this challenge (the audition) was something that changed the present you. Then, could you describe your feelings when you learnt you would be voicing Takami Chika?
Even thought I only dreamt up to passing the audition at first, while I was imagining a future where I would walk alongside Chika, I was once again filled with anxiety. I instantly shouted "What should I do ?..." "All those things I have to carry..." and all those responsibilities I don't know about, I felt them right away on my shoulders. The dreams, the trust, the radiance, everything our senpai in µ's built.... Being the leader, I would not be forgiven carrying all of them if I failed. At that time, I had no self-confidence and kept on worrying that "Playing the role of Chika-chan is impossible for me, after all".
--- So, we could say you were engulfed by the pressure.
Yes. Because I was always looking over Kousaka Honoka-chan. She is always full of spirit, and always looking forward, you know ? Because Chika-chan is similar to Honoka-chan, for someone like me who is not sparkling, I could not think I would be able to reach them with my own hands. For someone like me who do not deserve to voice the leader, I wanted to refuse the role many times. So, there were numerous moments when I honestly hated my beloved "Love Live". Even when I received a fan letter, I was quickly filled with anxiety, and I could not stop thinking "Is this a letter telling me that I am not fit to voice Chika ?" Today, even though the leader is a big role, together with Chika-chan, I am going forward carrying those important responsibilities, turning the pressure into feelings I can enjoy. However, at that time, I really had trouble sorting my feelings.
Chika's positive words guided me, and helped me release the pressure
--- What triggered this change of mindset of going forward ?
The first one happened on January, 11th during a special event reserved to buyers of the first single, in Mielparque hall. That was the first time the nine members of Aqours gathered, and we performed in front of the fans. This is a memorable day. For the choreography of the third song, "Aqours☆HEROES", we form a triangle, and as the center I am positioned at the tip. In my field of vision, I could only see people in the hall. Even by looking left and right, there was no other members in sight... I felt like I was all alone, and I quickly became nervous. For the D-day, I had group and self trainings. I was supposed to be perfectly prepared, but I was worrying whether "I was dancing correctly". However, I could hear everyone's voice behind my back and I really felt that "I was not alone. My friends who always support me are definitely here, near me." At that time, I felt so confident!! This sense of security really helped me giving my all until the end. Because everyone saved me with their feelings and support, I am here right now---. "Aaah, if we nine are together, I can do it.", "I can't be energetic by myself." I thought. I can remember that those honest feelings calmed me down, little by little. And then, by meeting Aqours fans during multiple events and receiving their cheering/support, Chika-chan's words deeply encouraged me.
---So you're saying that not only the support of your friends and your fans saved you from the pressure, but also Chika?
Yes. When I read the script at the beginning of the TV Anime recording, I finally understood the character and appeals of Chika, which I was never conscious of before then. Chika-chan's words really gives me courage, you know ? Her positive remark, "The 9 people of Aqours are but one!", really makes me think. Because her conviction is firm, people around her wants to support and help her, right ...? I want to glance at the world Chika-chan is able to see, I want to feel everything she can feel. By holding hands with her, even if it's only a little, I want to get closer to Chika-chan.... It seems like a bad joke though (laughs). There is a song called "Todokanai Hoshi da to Shitemo" (Even if we can't reach the stars, literally) in the 2nd single. Well, there was a time I felt embarassed at home, because I thought that my "unreachable star" was Chika-chan. From then on, we will grow together, and I want to see sceneries only us can see. When I passed the audition, I felt the pressure of voicing Chika-chan, but the fact that Chika-chan saved me is really a miracle. I now believe she is my irreplaceable partner.
---Then, here is the last question. From now, as a member of Aqours, what kind of dream do you want to fulfill?
If the 9 members are together, nothing is impossible. If the 9 members are together, the fact that we can go everywhere, I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to carry though what I began until the end, and I want to do it successfully. Because I now believe that everything is possible....
---That's a really facing-forward (bold/direct) declaration!
During this past whole year I spent as an Aqours member, Chika-chan's ability to turn everything positive saved me. When I sing, when I dance, during plays, being the leader, and developing as an host/presenter... Even though I thought it was impossible for me, if I never took the audition, none of this would have happened. It was only possible because of everyone's support. That's why I now believe that "I should stop setting my own limits by myself". From now on, even if I hit a big wall, if everyone is by my side, I won't be afraid of anything. I want to create a new story worthy of Aqours, and I want to see a new dream alongside everyone. This dream, I want to make it bloom.