Originally, Masakazu Morita debuted in the entertainment industry as a stage actor, but his ticket to fame was his role as the voice actor behind Ichigo Kurosaki, the lead character of one of the most popular shounen manga/animes, Bleach. In continuation of the Bleach franchise, he also hosted a radio show titled Bleach B-Station for five years.
In the span of his career, he worked in a variety of entertainment mediums, from anime to video games to drama CDs, providing the voices for Final Fantasy X's Tidus and Gundam Seed Destiny's Auel Neider.
Masakazu Morita chats with APA at Anime Expo 2010.
Interview with Masakazu Morita
Interviewed by Keira Truong
Camera by Craig Stubing
Translations by Jen Lamm and Mai Nguyen
Video edit by Henry Chen
APA: Which character did you have the most fun doing the voice for?
Masakazu Morita: Well, first, my favorite is the main character Kurosaki Ichigo from the anime, Bleach. But as I think about it, Final Fantasy X's Tidus is also a good memory.
MM: I was able to emotionally capture Tidus as a character. I moved my body and did the voice at the same time. I completely felt like it was my own consciousness. Tidus's emotions and expressions -- when he was angry -- it felt really similar. Even though our names and faces are different, inside of me, I honestly thought that Tidus's mind and body was my own, and I really liked that. Ichigo, on the other hand, was basically separated from my body's senses, but he was a type of person that I respected.
APA: What other characters do you think you resemble?
MM: I'm most like Tidus overall. However, if we're talking about other characters, then there's Saint Seiyan's Pegasus Seiya and Ring ni Kakero's Ryuji Takane. I think I like the type who is spirited and passionate. Anyone with those two characteristics, I think I resemble the most.
APA: Did you have any character that you absolutely hated acting for?
MM: Hate, no, but one I really didn't like was an extremely huge and greasy teacher. He wore a red bikini bottom. That role was something I couldn't like. Also, despite him being quite large, I had to give him a good natured voice. Normally, I would have made it a deeper voice like, [mimics deep voice] "Hello everyone, how are you? (Minna-san, genki desu ka)?" But I had to do it in a higher voice [mimics higher pitched voice], "Hello everyone, how are you? (Minna-san, genki desu ka?)" I thought that was weird.
APA: How do you get into the right mindset for these characters?
MM: My method of acting is to first go directly to the script. I would read the script and try to get a first impression. The first impression becomes very important. I keep that in mind and try to make expressions from that. Afterward, I get that feeling. I think that's the most important thing to do.
APA: Which character did you have the most trouble with?
MM: I think the role of Ichigo is really hard. He is really difficult. Most people generally think about 2-3 seconds before doing something, right? But he takes his time to analyze the situation deep inside. For people who normally think only for a few seconds, I don't think there's much thought behind their actions. But someone who thinks like [Ichigo] should not be taken lightly.
APA: Do you like working with higher registered voice, middle, or lower?
MM: Generally speaking, my own voice is quite high. When I do Ichigo's voice it has to be quite low. As a result, right now my voice is quite lower than usual. I think I like [working close to] my own voice overall. To portray Ichigo's voice is very strenuous. In the bottom of my stomach, I create that voice, and then let it out. But when I let out a lower voice, I have to widen my throat. In Ichigo's case, when I portray his voice, my throat squeezes, and then I let it out, and then I open my throat. But when I let out the voice, I have to close my mouth right away. I have to lower the base of my tongue. That's pretty difficult.
APA: Singers generally do the same thing. Do you like singing?
Morita. I do sing often. I often sing the characters' songs. I really like singing, especially in the shower.
APA: Which character's songs is your favorite?
MM: Ichigo's song, I think. The very first one. the duet with Zangetsu and White Ichigo -- I would say that that's my favorite.
APA: What kind of music do you like?
MM: The first Western music I listened to was Bon Jovi. And from then on, I started liking Western music. In junior high, I listened mostly to Western music and not Japanese. However, right now it's really the opposite. I really like Japanese music now. The ones who sang Bleach's first opening song, Orange Renji, TM Revolution, etc. I actually quite like hard rock too.
APA: Do you have a favorite voice actor?
MM: My favorite, and the voice actor who I truly most respect, is Mr. Toru Furuya, who played Amuro Ray in Gundam. Do you know Mobile Suit Gundam? He's been a voice actor ever since I was young. As a child growing up, when I heard his voice, I thought: that's what a hero's voice should sound like. From then on, that's what I came to think of a hero's voice; it had to be like his.
From Mr. Furuya's hero roles, I associated heros with some warrior of justice, someone cool, someone with that kind of voice. I think that for Japanese boys my age, Furuya-san was the image of a hero.
APA: Do you have any series that you really wanted to work on, that you weren't chosen for?
MM: [laughs] Yes, of course there are a LOT. This year, the director of Eden of the East was at Anime Expo. I auditioned for the lead role, but I failed. I was able to get involved in Eden of the East in another role. That made me really happy. When I heard the main character's voice, by Ryohei Kimura, later I realized, "Oh, that was the right voice for it."
APA: What other goals would you like to accomplish?
MM: I was actually originally an actor, so I'd like to get involved with theatre again. I'll be doing a little more of that. Along with stage acting, I'd like to mix a lot of things together, like anime and film, to make new content. It's just that it's really, really fun acting live in front of an audience. So in a way, I'd like to celebrate on-stage along with the viewers.
APA: What kind of characters do you like to play -- if you could create a character for yourself?
MM: Generally, a very hot blooded character comes to mind. But the actual me is very...delicate. [laughs] Okay, that was a joke.
APA: It seems like you play a lot of heros. Do you ever feel like you'd rather play a villain?
APA: I'd like to do a villian character. I like characters that don't talk much and settle things with one line. As main characters, we talk a lot. Ichigo doesn't talk a lot, but in general, they talk a lot, and it's tiring. A lot of fighting and yelling. But a villain can settle things with a few words, so that's really nice. If possible, I'd like to play someone who pops in for a few lines here and there.
APA: How do you feel about voice acting for characters who are in their teens?
MM: That makes me really happy. I mean, I'm 37 years old, but I don't really look like it. In Japan, it's the same way. It's hard to tell because people look really young. But my voice has always sounded like a younger male. But, even though a teenager's voice comes out, I'm really not that young. The bad part is I'm getting older, and I need to keep doing things that will help me keep a freah, young mindset.
APA: Do you see yourself still voice acting for these same characters 20 years down the road?
MM: Yes, I think I'll do it! In 20 years, maybe -- but by 30 or 40 years, I'd like to pass it on my own kouhai [juniors]. I think I'd like to do Aizen [Bleach's antagonist] later on. I really like that actor's voice, but the me right now cannot imitate that voice. However, maybe in about 30 or 40 years I'll be able to do it. That's what I'm hoping and expecting.