TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO, the sci-fi mystery anime streaming on Disney+, has been one of the unexpected gems of the Spring 2023 season.
The anime series has surprised people with its twists and turns, as well as interesting storyline and compelling characters. Although the post-apocalyptic genre has been existing since way before we are born, the show truly made a whole new unique aspect to it.
Disney+ has given Anime Pilipinas, as well as other media organizations, the opportunity to send questions to the stars of the popular anime series Gen Sato and Sayaka Senbongi, who voiced lead characters Maru and Kiruko, respectively.
The duo shared their thoughts regarding their roles, as well as their influences in becoming a voice actor and more.
Can you tell us about your role?
Gen: Maru embodies adolescence. His emotions change rather comically—it is really fun to watch how his expression changes a lot. Also, he doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that his past is vague, and tries to live in the moment. Because he lives in the moment, he can keep a grip on himself when he needs to fight or survive.
Sayaka: Kiruko is a very complicated character and maybe not that easy to relate to. But Kiruko has been through a lot, and because of that, she has a big heart. This fact is very crucial in order to advance the story. I personally find Kiruko, who is both male and female, very fascinating.
What is the most rewarding part/moment of your role as Maru?
Gen: The scenes where Maru banters a lot with Kiruko were really great to do. You can’t show that sister-brother-like feeling just by having a normal conversation, so I tried to react to Sembongi’s performance instinctively.
What is most challenging about your role as Kiruko?
Sayaka: Doing the scenes depicting Kiruko’s inner life was really rewarding and a huge responsibility. Because the character is very complicated, I tried not to think too much and just focused on what motivates her.
What aspects of Maru do you most relate to and what parts of Maru do you think are the opposite of your personality?
Gen: He loves Kiruko and so do I. I love the idea of spending my life with someone who is like a good friend, somebody I’d feel very safe and relaxed sleeping next to. His physicality is very different to mine though. I can’t fight elegantly against thugs or monsters. I don’t think I can trust my physicality like he does. He is very brave in that way and I respect him.
You have played various roles over the years with a wide range of voices. How did you find or settle on the voice for Kiruko in Tengoku Daimakyo?
Sayaka: Because Kiruko is a very complicated character, there were so many things I had to think about. But, actually, my personality isn’t that different from Kiruko’s, so I just honestly tried to think about what Kiruko wanted to do without changing my acting style.
If you were to be transported into the world of TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO, would you rather be in the “Heaven” facility where Tokio is or would you rather be in the outside world?
Gen: That’s a very difficult question. Heaven seems to have everything, but, in fact, something is missing. On the other hand, in Hell, you have to protect your own life but you have a kind of freedom. It’s very difficult to choose which, but I’d choose Hell because Maru is there. I know it’s hard to survive there but I’d like to decide my future myself.
Do you have a favorite game that you would like to bring to the no-entertainment world of “TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO”?
Sayaka: Thera are many video games I love, but for the people in TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO, a game everyone can enjoy together might be ideal, so I’d choose Mario Party. You can play alone as well as with a lot of people. It’ll kill two birds with one stone!
Who was the person that influenced you to become a voice actor? Or what animations are inspired you?
Gen: When I was a student, something happened and I lost confidence totally. It was then I discovered an animation called Star Driver. It saved me. The story is passionate, and the protagonist is very honest and refreshing. I started watching other animation and soon began to wonder about becoming a voice actor.
Sayaka: Since I was a child, I’ve always loved manga and anime. The Prince of Tennis made me want to be a voice actor. That was so popular and a lot of friends of mine were into it too. It made me want to be involved in something that excites people that much.
What sets this series apart from all the anime series out there?
Gen: The fact that it defies genre. You can’t really say “this is this!” It’s vague. And that’s why the mysteries just keep coming. I’m sure audiences will feel something they’ve never felt before.
Sayaka: I think the world of TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO is mysterious and really unique. The visuals and music gave the depth to the original story. The script and the direction were both amazing. Hope you enjoy it!
Gen Sato’s message to Filipino fans:
TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO can be seen in many different ways, and you will be moved anyway. It goes beyond conventional genres.
You can watch it again and again, and each time you’ll find something new and you’ll say “Wow! Now I understand why he says that here!”
Hope that’s how you watch it!
I’d really love to see animation fans in the Philippines someday soon!
Sayaka Senbongi’s message to Filipino fans:
Thank you for watching TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO! It’s great you can see current Japanese anime. One day I’d love to visit your country! I hope you carry on enjoying TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO!
TENGOKU-DAIMAKYO is streaming exclusively on Disney+, which is available for as low as ₱159 per month with Special Offers to GCash users via Alipay+. For more details, please visit their website at disneyplus.com.
Questions answered by Gen Sato and Sayaka Senbongi were provided by several media organizations, including Anime Pilipinas, as well as Disney+.