[Honey’s Anime Interview] Sally Amaki (voice of Sakura Fujima), Kanae Shirosawa (voice of Akane Maruyama) and Ruri Umino (voice of Jun Toda) of Nanabun no Nijyuuni (22/7) from Crunchyroll Expo 2019

Who says anime girls aren’t real? 22/7 is a Japanese girl idol group that transcends dimensions. The members are voice actresses who provide not only the voice for their characters but their movements as well via motion capture. The seiyuu also perform live as 22/7 in their not virtual form. The group have their own variety show and will have an anime scheduled to premiere in January 2020. The idols, Sally Amaki (voice of Sakura Fujima), Kanae Shirosawa (voice of Akane Maruyama) and Ruri Umino (voice of Jun Toda) took the time to speak with Honey’s Anime at the Crunchyroll Expo in San Jose to tells us what it’s like being an idol and what their fans have to look forward to in the future.

Sally Amaki, Kanae Shirosawa and Ruri Umino

Honey's Anime Exclusive Interview with Sally Amaki, Kanae Shirosawa and Ruri Umino

Honey-Chan: Your music seems to have a lot of sentimentality to it. Do you personally have any strong motivations behind your performances?

Sally Amaki: The lyrics, in general, are very relatable and a lot of people can connect to it. We are the voice actor’s but we also take acting lessons and that relates to how we perform on stage. We have a group meeting before every time we perform and talk about the lyrics and the meaning behind them. We each share what we think about the songs, so we have a shared experience and perspective before performing.

Ruri Umino: A lot of the time we perform our songs through choreography, and they start resonating with the lyrics as we sing. I sometimes get so caught up in the lyrics I want to cry.

Kanae Shirosawa: It depends on each person. I think we all interpret the lyrics differently; some think it’s a sad lyric and some view it as a happy lyric. I think it’s very interesting to see how each of us interpret the songs.

Honey-Chan: How much of your character reflects your personality? Did you have to grow into your character?

Sally Amaki: I think the only part I have similar to Sakura Fujima is that we are both from Los Angeles and she knows how to figure skate too. The other part of her personality like she is a really bright girl and makes friends really easily and she is energetic 24-7 is the opposite of my own personality. I actually have a hard time personally making friends. I have trouble talking to new people and tend to be really shy backstage. I actually look up to her engaging personality.

Ruri Umino: We have a tv show called Keisanchū. We perform the show a lot of times without a script. We kind of have to perform the character as we imagine how they will react. We sometimes simply channel the character in our daily lives.

Kanae Shirosawa: My character Akane is very well mannered and postured. So even in my daily life, I find myself maintain better posture and be more well-mannered as a way to connect with my character.

Honey-Chan: When the project first started the idea of live streaming virtual YouTubers was pretty new. What did you think when you found out that being virtual YouTubers would be part of the job?

Sally Amaki: When we first started being virtual YouTubers there were not a lot of channels, so we didn’t have anything to compare ourselves too. So, we would just have discussions with the staff about the characters we were portraying so we wouldn’t go off the character setting. We’ve found the most virtual YouTubers only work from a light script. We had to figure out together what the characters wouldn’t say and what they would say.

Kanae Shirosawa: When I found out I was going to be a virtual Youtuber, I felt that I had to grow and become the character

Ruri Umino: I had to go from thinking I was the audience to being the character and for me that was shocking.

Honey-Chan: 22/7 is getting an anime. Are you excited?

Sally Amaki: From the beginning, it was our goal to have our anime aired. It’s been close to three years and we’ve really wanted to see our anime air. I think a lot of people think that anime is our endpoint. But, for us, it is really a new starting point. I think it would give us good exposure and for a voice acting idol group, it could be a big turning point.

Ruri Umino: I hope that once the anime is released people will learn a lot more about the characters. I also think right now we are currently just known as an idol group. I think that once the anime is released people will recognize us as a voice acting group.

Kanae Shirosawa: We all auditioned for particular characters. The project is truly focused around the personalities of the characters so when we found out the characters were going to be animated, we were really happy about it. We also want to be the best idol anime in the idol anime genre.

Honey-Chan: Were you an anime and idol fan before you became a member of 22/7?

Sally Amaki: A lot of our members were either idol fans, anime fans, or both. I’ve always been a fan of anime and the ones that inspired me to become a voice actor were shows like Gintama.

Ruri Umino: I liked both anime and idols before joining and really liked SKE48. I really like Inuyasha. I also really love Maki from Love Live!

Kanae Shirosawa: I like the idol group Keyakizaka46. I like the Jump titles, the action ones and right now I really like JoJo.

Honey-Chan: When you see your character dancing and hear their voice singing do you feel disconnected from your character or do you know it’s you?

Sally Amaki: I don’t look at Sakura as myself. I really look at her as if she is my daughter. I want what is best for her. It’s like when we shoot a video, we wear motion capture suits so if I’m slouching, Sakura would be slouching, and I don’t want my daughter to be slouching. So, I make sure to walk around the set with the best posture ever and practice the dance, so people think Sakura is good at dancing. It really is an out of body experience watching yourself on screen in a different fictional form and as an anime lover, it's exciting.

Ruri Umino: I too think of my character as my cute daughter and when I see her on the stage, I’m like, “my daughter is on the stage”. I also carefully listen to the voice to see if I sound like the character or not like the character in an effort to always be in character when performing.

Kanae Shirosawa: I also think like Sally and Ruri that the character on the screen isn’t myself but my very cute daughter.

Final Thoughts

The girls of 22/7 are very adorable and have an infectious enthusiasm about them. You simply want to see them perform and succeed. The 22/7 idol project is also intriguing in its cross-medium approach to production as they blend reality with the virtual world. We know that the performances they have in the motion capture are something and can’t wait to see them on stage and in anime form in the near future. We thank them for taking the time to speak with us on their west coast swing.

22-7-Crunchyroll-Expo-560x315 [Honey’s Anime Interview] Sally Amaki (voice of Sakura Fujima), Kanae Shirosawa (voice of Akane Maruyama) and Ruri Umino (voice of Jun Toda) of Nanabun no Nijyuuni (22/7) from Crunchyroll Expo 2019


Author: Zeke Changuris

I’m a journalist, writer, photographer, video producer, social media manager and above all a storyteller. I’m located on the east coast of the United States but travel the world with the love of my life. I’ve been a nerd since birth with a love of history and science. I fell in love with anime, watching ROBOTECH and Venus Wars in the 80s when our only source was secondhand VHS dubs. A crazy new thing called the internet changed that, giving me access to new and amazing anime every day. I love to write for work and pleasure. I’m living the dream of every kid, getting paid to watch anime and loving every subtitled line.

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