The man, the legend, the mover of mountains (and chewer of leaves) himself, Nobutoshi Canna was a guest at Otakon back in August. Friend of the site and podcast contributor Cassie was lucky enough to meet him and talk about what went into playing Basara…
Interview & photos by Cassie Dyson.
Transcript & translation by Gwyn Campbell.
Decultureshock: Hello everyone! This is the SpeakerPODcast at Otakon 2018! I’m Cassie and I’m here with…
Nobutoshi Canna: Hello. I’m Nobutoshi Canna.
DCS: What voice in Macross would you say you’re most famous for?
NC: I played Basara Nekki in Macross 7.
DCS: For anyone who wasn’t aware, Canna-san was the speaking voice for Basara in Macross 7. Yay!
NC: Yay! LISTEN TO MY SONG!
DCS: How did you get the role of Basara? Did you audition?
NC: I auditioned for it.
DCS: Do you remember anything in particular about the audition?
NC: It was quite a long time ago so I don’t remember too much, but there was a picture of the character (Basara) that they showed me when I auditioned. When I saw it, I thought “Wow, this guy looks cool! Oh, he has a guitar so he must be a rock musician!”
I remember thinking that the way he fit into Macross was quite surprising.
I thought they might ask me to sing as well but it turned out that they had someone else lined up. The singing was done by Yoshiki Fukuyama.
DCS: So when you saw this pacifistic rock character, did you feel you could relate to him?
NC: Hmmm. He is a very free-spirited character. The only thing he ever thinks of is music, of his songs. He loves singing. Actually, I first started acting when I debuted on tv as a child. So all I’ve ever done is act. In that way, maybe I’m a bit like Basara.
DCS: What sort of direction did director Tetsuro Amino give you for the role of Basara?
NC: Amino-san is a really open-minded person, so he let me play the role the way I wanted to, to an extent. In other words, I was able to play Basara the way I wanted to. But he did give me advice on some of the more important aspects of the character. Amino-san is a pretty diligent person and when he found out he would be working on Macross 7 he went to rock concerts to study details like how the artists moved on stage. This was reflected in the show so when he had advice to give he’d just come straight out and say it. So I was confident that I’d be fine as long as I kept the advice that he did give me in mind.
DCS: During the initial broadcast of Macross 7, the fact that Basara and Mylene’s speaking and singing voices were different was kept secret. Was there a reason for this?
NC: Not even I know why! I wasn’t involved in that decision, but I did sort of hope that I’d get the chance to sing as well. Ultimately though, I think it turned out for the best that we had separate singing voices for Basara and Mylene. When the show went to air the voices matched really well. I mean, it was obvious that there were two different voices for each but despite this it didn’t feel off. That was what the producers of the show were trying to achieve and they pulled it off well.
DCS: In 1995 however, you did perform with Tomo Sakurai at the Live Fire concert. Do you have any memories from that experience?
NC: I’m so embarrassed (laughs). Well, I was a lot younger back then. I was less experienced… It’s so embarrassing… But I think I did my best so that the fans that came could see Basara and Mylene the best they could be on stage. So yeah, I did my best. There’s nothing much else I can say (laughs).
DCS: Recently for Uta Macross and, before that, Macross 30, you’ve returned to doing Basara for videogames. Was it hard to get back into the role?
NC: I think my voice has gotten deeper than it was back then. But I can get back into Basara quickly so it wasn’t difficult. At first I think I was asked to keep my voice as close as I could to the way it originally sounded, but it wasn’t that difficult. After all, Basara is Basara.
DCS: 24 years on, Basara still has fans, with new fan art and cosplay comping out regularly on twitter. Why do you think the character is so popular as of today?
NC: I think it’s because he is a fascinating character. He pilots a valkyrie using a guitar, right? At the time, that was something really original. And the idea of songs containing a sort of power is not something that exists only within the animated world of Macross 7, it’s something that people feel in real life too. As someone who achieves peace through music as opposed to through fighting, I think he will always be fascinating. Having the opportunity to play the character was nothing short of miraculous and I really appreciate the fans that have continued to support me all this time. I’m really grateful to them.
DCS: Finally, do you have any words for your fans around the world?
NC: I’m really grateful to the fans that have supported Macross for all these years. Their power and passion is greater even than Basra’s and I hope they’ll continue to love Macross and Macross 7 in the future. So I’d like to sincerely say thank you to the fans.