Nozomu Sasaki Speaks: Album of Yusuke Urameshi (Animage, 12/1993)

The following article was originally printed in the December issue of Animage, 1993. This interview has been translated by Twitter user @rhymeswithguy  © 2017 Wave Motion Cannon

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Dream of Tomorrow’s Victory

Nozomu Sasaki Speaks: Album of Yusuke Urameshi

Now in its second year of broadcast, Yu Yu Hakusho is a series that continues to please. With the Dark Tournament Arc nearing its climax, the one-on-one battle between Yusuke and Toguro is drawing near. Initially a mere juvenile delinquent, the past year has seen Yusuke slowly and steadily grow into manhood. Nozumu Sasaki, whose philosophy is “don’t look back and try to act without preconceived notions,” has too evolved over the past year from a blank slate step in step with Yusuke. We sat down with Sasaki to discuss the role.

Yusuke Attracts People Because He’s Straightforward

Animage: I’ve heard that you really wanted to play Yusuke…

Sasaki: It’s true. For a long time, I’ve wanted to do something that felt like “pure shonen manga,” so when I heard about the audition, I thought, “I’ve got to do this!”

Animage: What was especially attractive about Yusuke?

Sasaki: The art. I hadn’t read the original manga, so it was really the art style that hooked me.

Animage: How did it feel to step into the role?

Sasaki: Well, I liked it! There are things about him I really admire, too. Yusuke is totally open, or to put it another way, he says everything that comes to his mind, right? Actually, thinking back to my middle school days, I might’ve seemed to others like that too (laughs), but there’s no way I can lay myself bare like he does. I’m also not as good at fighting as he is (laughs).

Animage: That quality might be why he attracts people around him in the anime, too.

Sasaki: He’s definitely got that “leader of the pack” attractiveness to him. He’s a good-for-nothing delinquent, but at the same time, his personality is very straightforward, and there’s nothing two-faced about him. He’s a delinquent, but in a good way. Not very smart, though (laughs).

Animage: (laughs) Yusuke says that about himself too.

Sasaki: But that’s exactly why he’s attractive. Smart people can’t help but have ulterior motives. I mean, Kurama’s like that, right? (laughs) Though I suppose Kurama’s complicatedness is attractive too. As for Yusuke, his dumb straightforwardness makes people assemble around him. Definitely a leader of the pack-type character.

Animage: Is there anything difficult about playing a character like Yusuke?

Sasaki: You have to use your whole body (laughs). Yusuke isn’t the type to speak in a quiet voice, and during fight scenes, you have to keep yelling and yelling. So actually, the scenes where I have normal conversations with Keiko make me the most nervous.

Animage: What’s it like working with Yuri Amano as Keiko?

Sasaki: Amano-san and I entered this business at the same time, so we can really read each other’s attitudes, and it makes it easy to work together. They’re in love, so sometimes it’s a little embarrassing, but it’s not like we have to stare into each other’s eyes while we’re acting (laughs).

Animage: For the final question: over the past year, what’s the scene that’s stuck with you the most?

Sasaki: Actually, it’s something relatively recent, but it’s the scene where Genkai dies. For an entire week before the recording, when we learned Genkai was going to die, the mood was quite heavy and sad. The weather on the day of the recording was quite nice, but just thinking, “this is the day when ba-chan dies” just made me feel incredibly sorrowful. At the studio, after I performed my part, I went outside, trying not to listen too much to the other actors’ lines. When delivering my lines, too, I tried to look at anything other than the screen, because if I looked, I’d definitely cry.

I usually watch the series from the detached perspective of a viewer, but at that moment I definitely was feeling just like Yusuke.

Finally, the day when Yusuke and Toguro fight draws near. When Yusuke previously fought Toguro in order to save Yukina, he was rocked to his core at the feeling of Toguro’s limitless power. Since that moment, Yusuke made it his goal to defeat Toguro. Toguro also continued to provoke Yusuke, encouraging his development. Now, the final fight approaches. “Toguro is in prime condition. Tessho Genda’s voice is perfect for the role and just mesmerizing,” said Sasaki. It’s possible Yusuke doesn’t think of Toguro as just an opponent, but might respect his strength as well.

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