Tamako Love Story Pamphlet Special Talk – Naoko Yamada x Aya Suzaki

Tamako Love Story Pamphlet Special Talk – Naoko Yamada x Aya Suzaki

Our friend megax is back this week with some more guest translations related to Naoko Yamada! Moving onto Tamako Love Story to celebrate that today is Mochi Day!

Welcome to another week of our season-long celebration of the works of Naoko Yamada! This week, we go back to Yamada’s award-winning film, Tamako Love Story. Last week we saw the relationship between Yamada and her mentor, Tatsuya Ishihara. This week, we’ll get to see how she acts around the main voice actor in a production she runs. I’m mochi happy to bring you a translation from the movie’s pamphlet featuring a:

Special Conversation with:

Tamako Love Story Director: Naoko Yamada
Tamako Kitashirakawa voice actress: Aya Suzaki


I never imagined a “love story”

Suzaki-san, what did you think when you first heard that it would be a “love story?”
Suzaki: I never thought there would ever be something like a “love story” with Tamako. Honestly, I never ever imagined one. Who would be loving who?

Yamada: Didn’t it feel like it had to involve Mochizou?

Suzaki: Of course it would involve Mochizou, but I never came to a conclusion how he’d pull love out of that somewhat slow Tamako. I thought there would have to be this unknown third party transfer student that would attack Tamako or something like that in order for her to realize he loved her. (laughs)

Yamada: It came surprisingly close to that, wasn’t it? (laughs)

Suzaki: It was close to that!  Though it felt a bit impromptu, the way her troubles were sown by becoming aware of Mochizou won me over story-wise. When I found out it was a love story, I was worried how I could perform a lovestruck Tamako as it would be different than how I performed in the TV series and how that performance could be done well, but in the end, I felt her voice perfectly matched how I imagined it when I read the script.

Yamada: From when we start with Tamako as she usually is and then we go into her slump after Mochizou’s confession~ I’m immensely happy to have had a through performance showing off such detailed emotions.

That “I want to change” feeling, characteristic of 17 year old girls, present in everyone

Why did you choose to portray a love story?
Yamada: I wanted to show how Tamako grows in this film, so I thought about what would be shocking to Tamako or how she could change herself.  Tamako is an impressive girl who stayed strong and didn’t show any weakness even in the TV series tales about her mother’s death. Thus, when it came time to depict her in the movie, I had to find out what kind of weak point would be good to feature for her growth? If we think of Tamako herself as a girl and what she would worry about, then I think her worries would start with love itself.

Suzaki:  Tamako is the type of girl who’s a bit clueless when it comes to romance, so she wouldn’t get asked “what should I do?” by people around her. She’s not the type who’d stress over it or think about it even at the very beginning of the story. That’s why I love her expression when the other girls tell her what she’s feeling. “Ah, so that’s it.”

Yamada: And also her expression when Shiori asks her “do you like him?” The unit director for that part was thoroughly fixated on that scene. That expression came to show Tamako’s simultaneous strength and bewilderment.

Suzaki: The TV series also substantially built this film. Since Tamako was portrayed as this unshaken cutie or having unhesitating strength, I consciously performed like that during the TV series.  But this time Tamako takes a step forward in life. I think there’s an emotion inside her that all 17 year old girls feel where she wants to change. It was similar to how we all feel too as adults. Knowing that emotion, I greatly understood her more this time.

Yamada: That was a wonderful way to say it. Actually, I feel the same way. I wondered if it would be good or not to show Tamako’s weaknesses, but, in the end, I wanted to know more about her.

Tamako’s philosophy and her yearning for her mother

Suzaki: I read your interview that was posted on the official site; the point where you said Tamako wants to be like Hinako-san was immensely true.

Yamada: When I started to write my responses I thought for the first time, “Ah, she does….” For some reason it kept slipping my mind. Tamako’s philosophy also matches Hinako-san’s presence too.

Suzaki: She yearned to be as strong as Hinako-san was.

Yamada: As a woman myself, I feel that Hinako-san is immensely amazing.

Suzaki: She’s so wonderful. Also, I was moved by what she said to Mamedai.

Yamada>: In the same cassette tape too! She’s such a wonderful person.

The lines during the final scene were certainly impressive.
Yamada: It really warmed my heart.

Suzaki: Thank you very much!

Yamada: That feeling when you somewhat angrily said “Wait!” after crying out “Mochizou!” was great.

Suzaki: It was perfect, wasn’t it? (laughs) I thought that scene was truly great since it’s the first time her own feelings come out and she seems so feminine there.

Yamada: It’s immensely selfish to stop Mochizou from boarding the bullet train. That sense of how Tamako is a young lady doing what she honestly feels was communicated very well.

How do you feel about the film now that recording has finished, Suzaki-san?
Suzaki: I think Tamako became a 17 year old girl. Up until this tale, she’s been dependable, though a bit of an airhead, but I worried that she wouldn’t get a chance to enjoy her adolescence. Like Kanna, I thought “Is she going to spend her whole life making mochi?” (laughs) It’s why I was so happy for her when she faced her feelings, returned that same love for Mochizou that he has for her, and looked forward to a happy adolescence after this film.

Yamada: Actually, Mochizou was only going to an open campus tour. (laughs)

Suzaki: He can do that later! Like when he enrolls in a college! (laughs)

Yamada: That would require him to be accepted into one first……

Suzaki: Huh? Are you serious?! (laughs)

Yamada: Just kidding! (laughs)


We showed everyone growing up

Please tell us a bit about each of the characters.
Suzaki: I never thought Mochizou would chase his dreams in Tokyo.  I pictured him taking over the mochi shop from his parents. Tamako had that same feeling as well.

Yamada: Right, that’s why Mochizou is so cool in this movie.  He thought about his future and what he really wanted to do with his life. As a young man, as a person, I respect someone who does that.  He doesn’t think the oldest son has to inherit his parents’ passion and has his own thoughts and opinions. I’ll borrow Mido-chan’s phrase and say “My respect [for him] grew.”

Yamada: Midori became the driving force for this movie.

Suzaki: I want Midori-chan to be happy!

Yamada: I do too! She constantly searches for the entrance for her own path in this film. Up to this point, she’s always gone out the exit door of her story with everyone else, but now there’s a lot of Midori waffling around and trying her best to change to overcome these walls she’s built up which she keeps slamming into.

Suzaki: Does Tamako know that Midori thinks of Tamako as special?

Yamada: She surely hasn’t been the kind of person who’s well-attuned to others, so I feel she simply thinks of her as a childhood friend. Wouldn’t Midori herself begin to see that having been with Tamako for so long? That’s why it was important for her to see Tamako begin to change and figure out what she should do herself in this film.

Suzaki: The conversation with S poles and N poles was great. Kanna is a girl who won’t say anything like Shiori would say but she’ll provide hints from a distance.

Yamada: I feel like things will go well if you go by what Kanna says. (laughs) Perhaps she’s looking at everything long-term.

Suzaki: Even though she’ll be frank with you, she will listen to whatever you have to say. I feel like if you’re upfront like she is, things will work out.

Yamada: Shiori is a girl who has feminine power.

Suzaki: My impression of her has changed since we first started. She’s become a lot more open once you get closer to her.

Yamada: Actually, Shiori is a stubborn woman. I thought “it’d be nice if we could show a girl’s strength as a plus.” She’s immensely charming. I love girls like her. I’m attracted to them and want to help them out.

Suzaki: Definitely a little sister.

Yamada: Her distance with Mochizou is very wonderful. There are a bit of “older sister” points in their relationship too.  They probably are aware of the other as a mutual comrade. Also her interaction when Fuku-san collapsed was great. With her being a grandpa’s girl and a strong younger sister, Anko’s inner character is really strong.

It’s not wild sense, it’s planning! (laughs)

You really wrote a lot on your script, didn’t you Suzaki-san?
Suzaki:  I didn’t know how we would spend time working on the film, so I wrote down where the scenes would fit chronologically so I would understand how I was supposed to feel. Since movie recordings don’t require everyone to participate in a session from beginning until the end, (sound director) Tsuroka-san told me “Pursue the chronology” in relation to how the scene we’d be recording would fit into the story.

Yamada: That proper pursuit of chronology is what Tsuroka-san also calls his “wild sense.”

Suzaki: While that sounds cool, it’s just planning! (laughs)

Didn’t you also say something like that in your interview on the official site, director Yamada? (laughs)

Yamada: I might have said something like that. (laughs)

Were there any memorable moments during the recording?
Suzaki:  When the actress for the lady butcher blew kisses, they felt incredibly realistic. I went “Yikes!” (laughs)

Yamada: I was the same. (laughs) The first time anyone heard her voice in this film, it was a giggle.

Suzaki: When you work with everyone together in the shopping district, it feels so warm and snuggly. Once I heard everyone’s voices again it was like I had returned to the atmosphere of the TV series.

Yamada: You feel it just from that first “Tama-chan!” If that atmosphere from everyone isn’t present, it’d bring you to tears

Suzaki: I’m truly glad I got to meet everyone.

Did the mood change between the TV series and the movie?
Suzaki: The director mentioned that it was important that Tamako’s normal days continued after the TV series ended.  Since I wanted to carefully depict the birth of feelings that Tamako had never felt previously, there wasn’t anything in particular that changed mood-wise between the two.

Yamada: Nothing changed for Tamako when Dera came along, but once Mochizou delivered a shock to Tamako, her previous everyday life changed.

Glad that everyone’s “step forward” was depicted

What is Tamako Love Story to you both?
Suzaki: I think it’s a story about Tamako taking a step forward. She feels like she wants to change, has to change, and so it’s a big growth for her.

Yamada: I’m glad Tamako took a step forward with life-sized feelings. Furthermore I’m happy her partner was Mochizou. It was truly great to be able to show Tamako being able to accept herself as she is.


Wanting to present your 17 year old self a song

This time, you sang the theme songs for the movie. Please tell us how that felt.
Suzaki: I was surprised to be able to sing 2 songs.  For “Koi no Uta,” I felt a lot of pressure at first. I mean, that’s the song she remembers her father singing, isn’t it? (laughs) It’s such an important song, so it was important for me to sing it as Tamako singing it to Mochizou. Since Mamedai wrote the lyrics, it’s very direct. (laughs)

Yamada: Mamedai is a very clumsy person, so he worked incredibly hard thinking about every line that he would try to convey to Hinako-san.

Suzaki: Tamako sings it, so I thought about what kind of spirit I should use. Perhaps I should imagine it as something like a band performing at a cultural festival.

Yamada: It smells like adolescence, doesn’t it?

Suzaki: Right! It’s a lovely song that feels like an nostalgic sprint, and I felt like Tamako would support that thought, so I was happy to sing it.

You also wrote a lot of notes on the lyrics for “Principal,” didn’t you?
Suzaki: I don’t know what you mean, the lines were completely filled out. (laughs)

Yamada: Were they things like various directions you had been told?

Suzaki: I wrote things like “the first key is immensely high” or “Sing with a mix of your falsetto and natural voice.”  But as they say “if you can do it, give it a try,” so I sang while focusing on what emotions to mix in. In the end, I’m glad I sang with my natural voice.

Yamada: I was emotionally touched with the “my shaking hands” part.

Suzaki: Now I think it’s a song for anyone who needs the courage to take a step forward, not just for people who’ve lost their way or students.  I gave it my all to sing for them, but it wasn’t like I was scolding them. This song depicts a 17 year old girl, so I thought to bring a transparent and vivacious feeling to the forefront.  I was able to sing as “Aya Suzaki” this time, so I sang wanting to make the highlights feel strong.

Yamada: I too was immensely moved when I heard the song! I truly thank you!

Suzaki: Thank you as well! Producer Nakamura said to me as well “the mood is really good when I heard it; this is a good song.”  When I heard that song, I remembered that I was troubled when I was 17 myself about what path I should take, and tears started falling. (laughs) I thought that if I had heard this when I was 17, I would’ve been immensely supported.

You’re awfully charmed with 17 year olds, aren’t you director?
Yamada: 17 is a very special age.

Suzaki: It’s a delicate feeling that’s not there when you’re 16 or 18!

Yamada: Right.  It’s a gap where they’re not children nor adults. I think it’s a very shining point of life. When I was 17, I thought it felt like I would enter a different world I turned 18…..doesn’t that feel like that?

Suzaki: I didn’t feel like that! (laughs)

Yamada: But when you turn 18, you really start to think about your past. That’s why it feels like the most freedom you have is when you’re 17.

Suzaki: It certainly feels like it’s the year you make the most important.

Yamada:  That’s why I want to enjoy that shining moment for all 17 year olds.

So the characters all feel like 17 year olds?
Suzaki: That’s right!

Yamada: I’m truly envious of them! Furthermore, it’d be really cute to go out with Mochizou if I were 17!

It tugged at my heart!

What is your favorite scene of the movie?
Suzaki: There are a lot of them… How about the point where Mochizou confesses? The director had shown me the storyboards for that scene beforehand, so I wanted to make it really important.  But when I saw how pretty the shiny lights were on the riverbed and the scene where Mochizou grabs her wrist, I went “Eek!” (laughs) If I saw that in a theatre, I’d get so embarrassed!

Yamada: You even squealed a bit. (laughs)

Suzaki: It’s bittersweet; my heart gets so tight at that moment.

Yamada: When something grabs a hold of you, you can’t look at it……

How about you director?
Yamada: This time, we didn’t deviate from the main theme in our movie, so there wasn’t anything important that wasn’t stuffed in. It’s tough to choose any scene I have a particular attachment to…

Suzaki: I wondered if the string would work in that final scene with the can phone. Would that even be possible?

Yamada: It would. It’s very important to Mochizou, so he’d take care of it. As long as Tamako caught it as well, I think it’d go alright. That’s why I thought to use the string. It’s a very instinctive feeling.

Suzaki: I get it now.

Yamada: It’s an important item for both Tamako and Mochizou.

I want to hug Tamako tight!

Our time is drawing to a close! If there’s anything you want to say, say it now! (laughs)
Suzaki: I really wanted to take the time and chat with you director. I’m glad I was able to come today to speak with you.

Yamada: I’m also glad I got to talk with you Suzaki-san. The TV series went by so quickly and finished before I knew it, so I’m really glad we got to have this nice chat. After listening today, I want to hug Tamako even more than I did before.

Suzaki: Director!!!!! (laughs)

Finally, please give a message to all the fans who have gone to the theatre.
Suzaki: Tamako Love Story is truly a bittersweet film and yet it was very carefully made. I think if you watch it, you might die from how awkward you’d feel..

Yamada: I’m truly glad that everyone had an interest in the film and that we got to meet through Tamako Love Story. I think there are emotional points piled in so that people who are 17, people who have yet to turn 17, and people who are past 17 will be happy. It’d please me if you’re able to receive that courage from this film.

Thank you for your time!

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Can this be a permanent weekly series. Thank you.