Today at Tokyo Game Show 2018, Hideo Kojima appeared on stage, sharing tons of new information on his upcoming PS4 exclusive game Death Stranding.
Kojima-san revealed two new characters during the event and showed a brand new video of the game.
I had a blast watching the event and it went by in a flash, so I’d love to watch some bits of it again. Sadly, Sony completely removed the stream from Youtube right as it ended. Luckily, we’ve got a full summary of the event ready for you. The video should be made available again later today.
The event started up with Kojima-san getting on stage, answering a few questions from the event’s MC, Yuki Iwai. He mentioned it’s been two years since Kojima-san’s last time on a Tokyo Game Show stage, to which he answered he was very busy these past years, with building up Kojima Productions and working on the game.
Kojima-san and Iwai-san mentioned that this Stage Event was decided as they’re in Tokyo Game Show, they should do a Japanese-like event with the game’s Japanese voice actors. They add how you rarely get to see so many veteran seiyuu together, and usually, people would be very happy with even one of them at their event.
Kojima-san and Iwai-san then moved on to introducing each seiyuu as they got on the stage, starting with Kenjiro Tsuda, the Japanese voice of Norman Reedus’ character Sam. Kojima-san searched for a whole two years for a Japanese actor which would fit Norman Reedus’ “peculiar and very sexy” voice. He watched the Japanese dubbed versions of many different movies and series, until finally deciding on Kenjiro Tsuda. He’s really happy he was able to get him for Sam.
As Kenjiro Tsuda got on stage, he greeted everyone in the audience and every one of us watching the stream. He was surprised by the incredible amount of people in the audience. Apparently, the crowd was so big it reached other booths. Tsuda-san mentioned it’s his first time voicing a character on a Kojima-san related work, and he’s really happy to be there.
Following him, Akio Otsuka, Kikuko Inoue, Nana Mizuki, and Satoshi Mikami all got on stage. Otsuka-san hyped the audience with his powerful voice as he got on stage. While he’s a veteran of Kojima-produced games, being the Japanese voice of Solid Snake, Otsuka-san mentioned this is his first time participating in a Tokyo Game Show event together with Kojima-san, and he’s really happy to see how loved games directed by Kojima-san are.
Kikuko Inoue introduced herself, and did her usual “I’m 17 years old” joke. It was really funny how she even apologized for forcing it so much and how some people watching may not get it.
Nana Mizuki introduced herself as well, saying she’d like to get into the eternal 17 years-old club of Inoue-san.
Lastly, Satoshi Mikami introduced himself, with Iwai-san and Kojima-san teasing the character he voices hasn’t been revealed yet, and would be revealed in this event.
Moving on, each seiyuu shared their impressions on their character along with small tidbits on the dubbing and how they were hired. As of now, the Japanese cast only dubbed the trailers, and haven’t worked on the actual game’s dubbing yet.
Tsuda-san says he got hired in a very unexpected way. One day, while checking his Twitter, he suddenly realized a notification saying “Hideo Kojima has followed you”. He was really shocked, double-checking many times if it was indeed the real Hideo Kojima. He followed him back and sent him a business-like DM introducing himself. Kojima-san answered him back, but with a job offer for dubbing Norman Reedus in Death Stranding. This is pretty unusual as normally game companies and the like would first contact the agencies the seiyuu are associated with, rather than the seiyuu themselves.
Kojima-san mentioned how he’s a fan Tsuda-san and especially thought he does an amazing job when working on Japanese dubs for non-Japanese productions. He specifically mentioned Tsuda-san’s work with Kylo Ren in the Japanese dub of Star Wars and Martin Riggs in the 2016 TV version of Lethal Weapon. Kojima-san mentioned he’s also a huge fan of Steve McQueen and Japanese actor Akio Miyabe, who would handle Steve McQueen’s Japanese dubs. Kojima-san thinks Steve McQueen and Norman Reedus are very similar actors and that Tsuda Kenjiro has a similar voice to Akio Miyabe, hence why he decided on Tsuda-san to voice Sam.
Tsuda-san mentions the dubbing for the trailer was really fun, they recorded it will all of the seiyuu together(something unusual in Japanese dubbing) except for Mikami-san who recorded alone. He jokingly sulked about it and brought it up multiple times. Otsuka mentioned how most works including Tsuda Kenjiro play it safe and never pushes him to his limits, but Kojima-san did, so you should really look forward to how the Japanese dub will turn out.
Next up is Kikuko Inoue, who dubs the character acted by Lindsay Wagner. She shared how it’s been quite a few years since her last appearance in a Hideo Kojima game. She was the Japanese voice of The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3. Inoue-san really likes The Bionic Woman, which Lindsay Wagner starred in, so this job is an incredible honor for her. Seeing Lindsay Wagner was modeled as younger, Inoue-san felt as if she traveled in time and was able to work with her younger self. In the Japanese dub of The Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner was dubbed by Reiko Tajima, an actress Kojima-san considers a goddess. He jokingly said the only person which would fit her is Kikuko Inoue, as a reference to her role as Ah My Goddess‘ Belldandy.
Léa Seydoux’s character is dubbed by Nana Mizuki. She’s a huge fan of Hideo Kojima and joked she’d go anywhere for him. Truth is, she actually had a huge concert planned at Tokyo Dome on September 24th, so she should be rehearsing now, but decided she should definitely join this event. When dubbing the trailer, Kojima-san gave them little to no info and they didn’t know any more than us about Death Stranding. The script they had only featured the different lines, with no information on the game’s world or the personalities of each character. Mizuki-san was especially stressed because her character is the first one speaking in the trailer, but in the end, everything went well.
She was extremely hyped when the trailer released, discovering alongside everyone else how her character looks like. She was a bit shocked by the scene at the end with Léa Seydoux eating the small… thingie and jokingly said Kojima-san always makes her characters end up in gory situations.
Kojima-san mentioned how Léa Seydoux’s character has a Mary Poppins vibe, and how she’s a woman with a strong heart, a perfect match for Mizuki-san. He added the game will expand on her backstory, so you should look forward to it.
Mizuki-san shares a particularly funny anecdote. When voicing the part where Léa Seydoux asks Norman Reedus: “won’t you come work for me?” and he declines, Kojima-san would always go “If it was me, I’d definitely say yes”. All of them mentioned how great of a director Kojima-san is and how he would always crack up jokes to relax the atmosphere. The food he got for them was great too. He mentioned that Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen obviously don’t speak Japanese, so while it’s extremely fun working with them too, working with the Japanese voices actors is a different kind of fun.
Next, they moved on to Otsuka-san and Mikami-san. Both of them are used to working with Hideo Kojima, with Otsuka-san knowing him for more than 21 years now.
Otsuka-san said as soon as it was decided he would work on Death Stranding, he wanted to announce his role right away, saying it was like “really wanting to take a dump but holding it in for a long time.” The character Otsuka-san dubs is revealed for the first time, a masked man who’s the boss of Sam’s company. Kojima-san said his name is still a secret and he can’t explain either why he wears a mask. Kojima mentioned there are many other characters working in the same company as Sam as well. Otsuka-san said he’d like to play the game right away, with Kojima-san reminding him they didn’t even start the Japanese voice acting yet.
Moving on, the video revealing the new gold mask-wearing character was shown in both English and Japanese versions. The Japanese track has Satoshi Mikami voicing him.
Iwai-san cracked up a pretty good joke, saying this is the first time Death Stranding actually looked like a game, showing us a typical pre-boss battle scene. The man with the gold mask is played by Troy Baker who also voiced Revolver Ocelot. Mikami-san was Ocelot as well in Japanese, however, it’s a pure coincidence according to Kojima-san. He simply thought he was the best fit for the character.
Everyone mentioned how strong the golden masked character seems to be. Otsuka-san remarked how he has the same implement on his shoulder as others like Sam, so he may not be a villain, but simply acting with different interests. According to Kojima-san it’s an important detail how even after removing his golden mask, the man was still wearing another mask underneath. He also added that you can either fight the monster or run away. When recording for this video, he asked Mikami-san to use a more villainous sounding voice at first, but Mikami-san is so cool they decided to go with a cool-sounding voice.
Kojima-san mentioned that Mads Mikkelsen has no Japanese voice yet, though he already decided on someone and will see if they’re available.
Next, they moved on to Guillermo del Toro’s character. Kojima-san mentioned how the character’s motion capture and voice actually weren’t by del Toro himself, as he was too busy. The Japanese voice of the character is by Akihiko Ishizumi. They all joked how Ishizumi-san is the kind of person who has a really scary face but is actually very nice. Kikuko-san added he can be really scary when voicing fear-inducing characters. Kojima-san said this won’t be the case at all in Death Stranding, as Guillermo del Toro’s character is quite funny, and may be the character with the most lines in the game, followed by Otsuka’s. There are also many other comedic characters they haven’t revealed yet.
Kojima-san added that the deciding factor when choosing the Japanese cast was to select people with distinct personalities, so he could “squeeze” them and imbibe their personalities into their characters’ voices. This is also why he followed each one of them on social media, to regularly check their everyday lives. He said that when acting as a director and handling the voice work, it’s important to work alongside the actors and share ideas with them instead of simply ordering them around.
Otsuka-san furthermore added that Hideo Kojima really has something others don’t, which lets him bring out the best out of people he directs. Kikuko-san added that it’s incredible how he considers things from his viewpoint as the director, from the players’ viewpoint, and from the actors’ viewpoint as well. Otsuka-san always found it quite draining to dub a game, but with Hideo Kojima’s games, it’s always fun. Whenever he sees on his schedule that he’ll work with Kojima-san, it makes him look forward to it. Everyone else agreed with Otsuka-san, so Kojima-san ended up joking about how he should add even more dialogues in the game. Mikami-san said he was alone when recording for the video about the man in the gold mask, but as someone who worked with Kojima-san in the past, he definitely relates to their feelings.
Kojima-san also added he constantly tries to “balance” things out when working on the game. For example, Otsuka-san has a leadership-like role for the Japanese cast team, so he should be careful to not give him too much importance. He also mentioned how Norman Reedus is an excellent actor and someone very used to motion-capture work, so as the director he needs to make sure to take it into consideration too.
When asked by Iwaii-san the differences between voice acting in Japan and outside Japan, Kojima-san said the biggest difference is how for big non-Japanese games using motion-capture, they do everything at the same time: they register the actor’s voice, along with his facial movement, his gestures, etc.
Lastly, Kojima-san said another seiyuu will join the cast later, and it’s someone who’s a fan of all the already revealed seiyuu. “Seiyuu” is genderless, so we don’t know if he meant a man or woman, but personally I’m betting on Yuichi Nakamura, as right after that, Mizuki-san mentioned how she hoped for Tomokazu Sugita to join the cast. Kojima-san said he really wanted to make him voice a character, but sadly none of them fits him. (Yuichi Nakamura and Tomokazu Sugita are best friends and often appear in the same works together).
After that, the event was reaching its conclusion, each one of them shared a few last words. Tsuda-san said it’s rare to see so many popular seiyuu at the same event, so it was a really fun occasion.
Kikuko-san said she always feels like crying when watching the trailer, as it reflects perfectly how harsh life can be, necessitating to carry heavy weights sometimes.
Kojima-san mentioned near the end that the game is still on track to release when planned, which is the year in which Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira is set. If that’s the case, it would be 2019. He concluded by bringing up the “links” of Death Stranding and how sometimes people can feel like they’re carrying links. He mentioned how important links between people are, like his own links with his studio Kojima Productions and all of the game’s staff, his links with all the actors, the Japanese cast and his links with all of us.
If you want to see more about Death Stranding, you can enjoy some great screenshots from E3 2018, and the impressive gameplay trailer that inspired the theme. At the moment the game is coming for PS4. No other platforms have been announced.
Update: PlayStation Japan uploaded the event a few hours after its end. You can watch it below.