Death Stranding Characters Detailled by Hideo Kojima and the Japanese Cast

Akio Otsuka, Kikuko Inoue, Satoshi Mikami, and Akihiko Ishizumi all said Death Stranding has a moving ending. Kojima also revealed Tomokazu Sugita is in.

September 15, 2019

On the fourth and last day of Tokyo Game Show 2019, Hideo Kojima and the seiyuu of Death Stranding shared new details on the game during a talk show. Here’s an extended summary of the event, just like we did last year.

The talk show featured:

  • Akio Otsuka/Die Hardman
  • Kikuko Inoue/Amelie
  • Satoshi Mikami /Higgs
  • Akihiko Ishizumi/Deadman

Note that certain things they said could be considered spoilers.

First off, they started by looking back at the game’s recording.

After releasing the E3 2018 trailer, Hideo Kojima contacted each one of the cast members and made them record the Japanese version of the Tokyo Game Show 2018 trailer. After that, the game’s actual Japanese dubbing started in December 2018 and lasted until August 2019. Seiyuu usually record their roles individually, and it usually doesn’t take nearly as long to dub even the biggest Japanese games or anime. Kojima explained it took that long because he tried to make everyone record together as much as possible, aligning their schedules.


Next, each one of the seiyuu explained how or why they got involved with Death Stranding.

Akio Otsuka is the Japanese voice of Snake, so he’s been working with Kojima for decades now. He mentioned it was once again really fun to be working with him.

Kikuko Inoue appeared in nearly every single Metal Gear Solid game, most notably portraying The Boss. She said she was worried about whether Kojima would offer her a role again or not, and she wasn’t getting her hopes up. So she was really happy to be in Death Stranding.

Akihiko Ishizumi mentioned Death Stranding was the first time he worked with Kojima, and he jokingly said he hopes he’ll give him roles every single time now. Kojima added that he heard Ishizumi in many movies’ Japanese dubs and always wanted him for one of his games.

Satoshi Mikami, who voiced Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 5, jokingly said he felt left out when the E3 2018 trailer released and Kojima still didn’t contact him. He got really happy when he was contacted to record the TGS 2018 trailer, the first time we heard the game in Japanese. Kojima mentioned Mikami often voices good guys, so he wanted him to play a more villainous role for once.

Next, each seiyuu shared some words on their characters.

Akio Otsuka said he’s getting old now and needs to leave main roles to younger seiyuu. So he was happy to voice Die Hardman, a supporting role. Kojima immediately interjected saying that’s not true at all and he’ll always be the “Boss” in his heart. Hence why he made Akio Otsuka voice Die hardman, because he’s Sam’s boss. They also mentioned how Otsuka had a leader-like role during the recording as well and tied everyone together, as the person with the longest relationship with Kojima.

Kikuko Inoue said she really likes Amelie because of how multi-faced and mysterious she is. There’s also the fact that on the Beach, Amelie doesn’t age, so it’s like a meta-joke with her eternal 17 years old joke routine. Kojima also mentioned Amelie is a reference to Space Battleship Yamato 2199‘s Starsha, who was voiced by Kikuko Inoue. In a sense, Amelie is inviting Sam on a trip, just like Starsha invites humanity to travel to Iskandar to save Earth.

Satoshi Mikami jokingly said he doesn’t get why Kojima didn’t reveal Higgs’ name back at Tokyo Game Show 2018 when he got revealed, only calling him “the golden masked man”. Kojima and Mikami said it’s hard to talk about Higgs because anything they say will turn into spoilers, but they added that he’s actually “not that much of a villain”.

Akihiko Ishizumi said he’s the only one not voicing a “cool” character. At the same time that was fine by him, because he didn’t have to try and make a cool voice. Kojima mentioned that Deadman might not look cool, but he’s one of the first characters appearing in the game, so he thinks he’ll definitely be popular. They still can’t explain why Deadman is called “Deadman” because it’ll be big spoilers. Same with “Die Hardman”. Kojima said we’ll be like “aaaaah so that’s what it meant” when finishing the game.

The cast and Hideo Kojima all said you’ll be moved by Death Stranding‘s ending and how “It’s something you can only do with games.”

Akihiko Ishizumi was also asked how it felt working with a group of people who are all already used to each other. He said everything went super well and he also started watching the movies Kojima talks about on Twitter.

Next, they played video messages from the seiyuu who couldn’t attend the talk show.

The first video message was from Kenjiro Tsuda/Sam.
He said that Sam is a really charming character and how Norman Reedus did an awesome job. Sam interacts with many different people, depicting a particularly nice story. When asked how to describe Death Stranding in a single sentence, Tsuda said it’s pretty much impossible. But he’d probably go with “A story which connects people”. Tsuda said Death Stranding is Kojima’s gift to everyone around the world who was waiting for a new game from him. It represents the links between everyone, the old and new generation. like the falling lines on the Death Stranding logo. Tsuda ended saying he hopes we’ll all get to travel together and make some memories with Death Stranding.

Commenting on the video message, Kojima said Kenjiro Tsuda did an amazing job with the dub, even down to Sam’s screams and groans. They spent tons of time together during the recording and it was always a pleasure. Kojima also mentioned how Tsuda would often ask to redo a scene, even when he gave the OK and said it was already perfect. Kikuko Inoue was the same as well. The two of them would redo their lines over and over,  improving them every single time. Inoue mentioned that Tsuda was really into the recording, and whenever she heard him say “Amelie”, it was so powerful she always felt like she could do an even better job. She wouldn’t stop until she felt she properly portrayed the “real Amelie” that Tsuda was talking with.

Kojima also mentioned how Norman Reedus is extremely popular worldwide, so it was quite hard deciding who to pick to portray him in Japanese. He hesitated a lot, rewatching Japanese dubs of movies. He made his choice when rewatching Lethal Weapon, and being awed by Kenjiro Tsuda’s performance in it. He immediately followed Tsuda on Twitter, Tsuda followed him back, and then he offered him the role via DM. At first, they just kept chatting about movies though as they’re both movie otaku.

They also mentioned how they organized birthday parties for each of the seiyuu’s whose birthday was during the recording period, from December 2018 to August 2019. Akihiko Ishizumi jokingly said the recording ended before they got to do his birthday though, so Kojima told him they’ll definitely celebrate it all together next month (It’s on October 25).

The next video message was from Hochu Otsuka/Heartman and Kazuhiro Yamaji/Cliff

Hochu Otsuka mentioned how Heartman is a great character and he was really happy to voice him. He was then joined in the video by Kazuhiro Yamaji. They’ve been friends since forever and consider each other brothers. They mentioned how seeing how old they both are now, Death Stranding might have been the last time they got to work on something together, so they’re really grateful to Kojima. They also mentioned Kojima was a great mood-maker during the recordings. However, Yamaji said at that some point Kojima was completely exhausted.

Akio mentioned Hochu Otsuka and Kazuhiko Yamaji are the same age (65 years old) hence why they’ve always been friends. Kojima said Hochu Otsuka often voiced characters who end up dying, so whether Heartman dies or not is one of the things you should look forward to. Kojima also mentioned Hochu Otsuka is one of the seiyuu who are extremely talented at fast-speech, something he made Heartman do.

Kazuhiro Yamaji was picked because he really feels like Mads Mikkelsen in Japanese. Kojima said it was to the point where some of the game’s staff initially thought Kojima was actually recording Mads speaking in Japanese. Kojima couldn’t say anything about Cliff because everything is spoilers, but ended up saying “there’s something huge that happens about him at the end”. He added that “you’ll definitely become a fan of Mads Mikkelsen if you weren’t already”.

As for Yamaji’s comment about Kojima being tired, Kojima answered that he’s feeling better now. While he’s still working on the game, and you might think he’ll exhaust himself working as there are only 2 months left before release, he said he’ll fine, and that the game will be over before release.

Next, Kikuko Inoue read a letter from Maaya Sakamoto/Mama 

In the message, Maaya Sakamoto said she never really played games, so she actually didn’t know about Kojima before. So the first time she went to the recording, they pretty much talked about games and Death Stranding all day long. Sakamoto mentioned that in February 2019, when Kojima publicly announced she’s in the game,  everyone she knows praised her about it.  Be it her friends, her old classmates, or her seiyuu colleagues, they all contacted her to congratulate her and say “Wow you’re in a Kojima game? That’s awesome!”. This is when she realized how popular Kojima’s games are and how much they’re loved around the world. She added that voicing Mama was fun and how she’s a great and deep character, who can’t be easily described. Maaya Sakamoto ended her message saying Death Stranding will be the first game she’ll play in a very long while, and that even if you’re not into games, you’ll definitely enjoy it.

Akio Otsuka was taking glances at the letter while Kikuko Inoue was reading it. He funnily pointed out how for some reason “shuurokuchuu/during the recording” was written with hiragana instead of kanji. Kojima said while Maaya Sakamoto didn’t know about him, he did knew her, since she’s a veteran seiyuu who appeared in tons of anime, and she dubbed Natalie Portman in movies’ Japanese dubs. He added that she was awesome during Death Stranding‘s recording and would pretty much nail all of her lines on the first try. To the point that Kojima felt it wasn’t very professional of him to end up OK-ing all her lines right away all the time.

The next and final video message was from Nana Mizuki/Fragile.

Nana Mizuki apologized about how she couldn’t attend and joked on how she could literally appear on stage dashing (She was right besides Makuhari Messe doing a live). She mentioned that Fragile is a really good character and multifaced, so voicing her was quite complicated. At the same time, it was a particularly nice experience because she didn’t do that type of characters that much in the past.
When asked to describe Death Stranding in a single sentence, Nana Mizuki said it’s impossible. Her best explanation would be that “Death Stranding realistically reflects human society”. She said it’s a dramatic story with a lot of baggage behind it. And it could also be compared to “a tree which grows branches, then grows leaves, and then fruit, and then gives birth to life again”.  She ended by saying “Death Stranding is a reflection of human society and it made me think about myself and my own way of doing things, and I feel like challenging myself again now”.

Commenting on the video message, Kojima said Fragile has a great story and that her name is a hint about it and how she’s “broken”. And how despite that, she’s an extremely strong character. And Nana Mizuki was the best choice to portray such a strong character. He often goes to her concerts and is always amazed at how she seems like a delicate person and yet is ultra-powerful. He added that her previous character in his games, (Paz in Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker and MGS 5) had shocking developments, and this time as well something surprising will happen.

Kikuko Inoue was then asked to comment on Death Stranding‘s female characters and how the recordings went. She said that sadly their schedules never matched so she didn’t get to record with “Maaya chan” once, but she was always impressed with her acting when listening to it later on. Kojima and everyone else added similar comments. As for “Nana chan”, Kikuko said they recorded together all the time. They’re friends with each other too so they were always hyped meeting each other at the recording studio. However, she mentioned there’s a certain scene in Death Stranding where their characters are kinda at odds. That scene took them a while to do, probably because they’re usually so friendly with each other. Kojima and Kikuko added that in that scene, there’s basically a “love triangle”-like relationship between Amelie and Fragile. They can’t say more because it’s spoilers.

Lastly, Kojima mentioned how there’s a certain seiyuu he often worked with in the past. Sadly, none of the characters in Death Stranding fit him, so he initially gave up on making him appear in the game. However, after he started including cameos,  Kojima realized he could make him appear that way as well, in one of the side stories.

(Timestamp) Following that, they revealed that particular seiyuu as Tomokazu Sugita (who voiced Kaz), revealing he’s in Death Stranding‘s Japanese cast with a short voiced message. In the message, Sugita imitates Akio Otsuka’s voice, and both the cast on stage and some of the public actually didn’t realize it was Sugita. Akio Otsuka himself thought it was pretty weird at first since he didn’t remember recording these lines. Kojima mentioned that the character voiced by Sugita is someone who regularly imitates Akio Otsuka’s voice/Die Hardman in the game. Kojima also kept Sugita’s inclusion in the cast a secret to Akio Otsuka and the rest of the cast, making him record separately.

As the stage event reached its conclusion, Kojima and the seiyuu shared a few last words on Death Stranding:

Akio Otsuka mentioned how some might say conflict is part of humanity’s nature. Nowadays, however, we live in civilized societies, so you can’t just go out and hit anyone and everyone needs to get along.  Death Stranding might be a pioneer in how it tries to explain that through a game.

Kikuko Inoue said the Death Stranding‘s story is particularly deep. The cast and herself were moved many times during the recording. And thanks to the Very Easy mode, even people who aren’t accustomed to playing games can finish the game and enjoy the story, She wishes to share the story and what moved her about it with as many people as possible.

Satoshi Mikami mentioned there’s a scene where his character Higgs goes: “I finally figured out the truth of Death Stranding!!”. He jokingly said he himself didn’t figure out anything at all. So he hopes a lot of people will play the game and understand it.

Akihiko Ishizumi started by saying he doesn’t play games, and got funnily interrupted by Akio Otsuka saying “Can’t believe there are still people like that nowadays”. He said Death Stranding will be the first game he’ll ever play. And the Very Easy mode, made for people who never even held a controller, is an idea Kojima got after he talked with him about it.

Akio Otsuka added it’d be nice if you could play Death Stranding together with your family. Because it will make people in your family who don’t play games interested in them and make them realize games are good. Kikuko Inoue added that Death Stranding is also a game which makes you realize you’re not alone. There are many people in the world who feel lonely, or that they’re carrying a heavy burden alone, and Death Stranding can make you realize you can connect with others or that there are others already with you. Kojima also added he himself felt alone many times through his life, and you shouldn’t give up at those times and keep hoping for the future.

Hideo Kojima ended the talk show with the following message:

You know, human communication has changed as technology evolved. In the past, we only had letters. Then we had phones, radios and TVs. And now on the net, we can communicate in real-time with anyone anywhere. The world is now directly connected. At the same time, with everyone hidden behind their keyboards, this made it much easier for negativity to spread. With Death Stranding’s game system, I wish to indirectly connect the world. That way people will start thinking about each other’s feelings again. I hope people who experience Death Stranding will try to understand more about others and the society we live in, ultimately making the world a better place.

You can watch the Death Stranding gameplay revealed at Tokyo Game Show 2019 here and here.

Death Stranding launches on PS4 on November 8. You can preorder it on Amazon.

Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane (He/Him) is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been loving anime and Japanese games for over 25 years and plays Genshin Impact for its story and exploration. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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