Mariya Ise is a seiyuu beloved by many fans of many different franchises for roles including Killua (Hunter x Hunter), Eureka/Bonnie (Pokemon), F.F. (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), and Ray (The Promised Neverland), among countless others over a nearly 20 year career that began when she was just 13. Not only are these characters fan-favorites, but these particular characters are all from series she’d been a fan of herself long before becoming a part of them. Killua in particular was the actress’s “first love,” and it’s wonderful to see her go from cosplaying him as a child to portraying him in the 2011 anime a decade later!
We were interested in learning more about Ise’s thoughts on being the voice of characters from series so dear to her, and were delighted to have the opportunity to sit down with her for an interview! Ise shares her insights on how her perspective on Killua has matured since becoming his seiyuu, her friendship with Gon’s seiyuu Megumi Han, her favorite moments portraying F.F., and many more wonderful insights on her characters and career!
Thanks so much to Otakon for providing us with the opportunity to interview Ise-san and for interpreter Amanda Waddell’s help in communicating between us. Check out the transcript of our interview below! Portions of this interview have been edited for brevity, clarity, or emphasis.
MM: So, what inspired you to become a voice actress? What were your first roles, how did you break into the industry?
Ise: Well, what first got me interested was that [I] wanted to be a animated feature film director, which was inspired by watching Princess Mononoke. But then after seeing that I felt that I need to learn more about this industry if I wanted to get into animated feature films and also learn more about acting. And so at the age of 14 [I] went to see Hunter x Hunter, the musical version, because it also featured a famous voice actress as well, and after the show she was in the lobby and [I] saw – “Oh my gosh, that’s the producer of the show right there!” So [I] went and introduced [myself] to the producer and he was like “You are really interesting! You know, you should go study acting, and he introduced [me] to the offices of another voice actor by the name of Mitsuya Yuji*, and that’s how [I] got kinda into the industry.
*(best known for portraying Tatsuya in Touch, Virgo Shaka in Saint Seiya, King Kai in DBZ, Dr. Tofu in Ranma ½, and Grinpatch in Toriko, among other roles)
心から 感謝 と 愛 を込めて…
— 伊瀬茉莉也🌼Mariya Ise (@Ma_ri_ya_i) July 7, 2022
MM: Ah, sugoi! On the subject of Hunter x Hunter, you’ve been able to be apart of a lot of franchises that you were a big fan of before becoming a part of it, like JoJo’s, Pokemon, Hunter x Hunter, etc. So I was wondering how often do you find yourself being a fan of the work before auditioning and getting a part in it, and does your relationship to the work change after having worked on it?
Ise: You are totally right. Especially Hunter x Hunter. When I think about it, that piece… my perspective of reading it as a fan of the manga versus when I actually played the role of Killua, which I didn’t even think was, you know, in my wildest dreams wasn’t something that I would be doing as someone who was originally reading the manga where… looking at the world of Hunter x Hunter through Killua’s eyes, it was a totally different feeling as opposed to reading the work of the same in that generally his outlook of the world… it’s a very dark and cold world, to him. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he himself thinks that. I mean, he’s a very kind and sweet person. So he’s not necessarily cold or shut off. It’s just kind of the weight of the world, the world of Hunter x Hunter, kind of his place in it. And as you know, he’s a very, very kind-hearted character and really cares about his friends, and is willing to sacrifice himself for his friends. So, as you mentioned, [it’s] totally different, the experience of reading it just as a fan and then looking at the world of Hunter x Hunter through his eyes.
MM: Wonderful! And, continuing on the subject of Hunter x Hunter, you and Megumi Han-san seem to have like a very close friendship much like your characters Gon and Killua, and you’re both very passionate fans of the series, so I was just wondering – what are your thoughts on your comradery with Ms. Han and the bond you share through your work on the series?
Ise: So yes, as you were mentioning, [I] became friends with Megumi kind of like through the recording of [Hunter x Hunter]. And it’s interesting, because during the period that [we] working together on the piece, it kind of fell into the relationship of the two characters naturally. And then as a result of that close work on the series, [we] became friends in real life. But even so, if feels to a certain extent a little bit like the relationship there is mirrored on [our] relationship in real life in the sense that you know when [I think] of Megumi [I think] of Gon, and kinda think of some of the characters, situations, and things that are a little bit heavy and hard to deal with. But it’s… it’s very interesting because [our] relationship in the real world is as two voice actresses. It’s kinda different from the two boys, young adolescent boys’ relationship. So [we’re]… [we’re] very different but at the same time when [we’re] spending time together [I] will kind of think of/about Gon or about the character while [we’re] hanging out.
MM: Wow, that’s really interesting! Actually, I remember in your interview on Rinshii! Ekoda-chan, you mentioned a fight you had with Ms. Han when you started to kind of imagine yourself as your characters during that. And that got me really interested, like, how often do you find yourself seeing the boundaries between yourself and the roles you play kind of blur like that in any other circumstances or other roles as well? (editor’s note: Ise played Ekoda-chan and was interviewed in episode 8 of the series)
Ise: Not necessarily. [I don’t] really see it with other characters. Part of the reason [why it happened with Ms. Han] was because they spent three years creating Hunter x Hunter so they spent a lot of time together, whereas most other anime [I] work on is usually only three months of recording, so you don’t really have that deep connection and relationship. And as you know, there’s really something special about the relationship between Killua and Gon that kind of is different, so [I] don’t really have that experience with other characters [I’ve] played.
MM: Ah! To speak about another character you spent many years playing… You know, you were part of the generation that grew up with Pokemon, so I was wondering how did it feel to join the main cast of the series during the XY years playing Eureka (Bonnie), and what was your favorite experience being a part of the show and reprising her recently in the current series?
Ise: Yes! So, as you were mentioning, knowing the series so well and then being one of the main characters that gets to go on adventures with Satoshi (Ash) as Eureka was, you know, really… basically I was very happy about it. But also, when you think about Pokemon and its place within the entire anime industry in Japan, it’s actually a huge honor as well to be able to play that role.
MM: Wow! I really liked the character, and Eureka’s running gag of proposing to girls for Citron and adding that little “s’il vous plait!” at the end.
Ise then performed Eureka’s proposal gag in-person for us, which you can hear for yourself on our Otakon 2022 podcast!
MM: Ah! Oh my god, that was awesome!
MM: So, to speak about another franchise I know you’re a huge fan of… You know, I know you were auditioning for a while to get a part on JoJo’s and then you finally landed F.F., so I was wondering, you know, what has been your favorite part about portraying the character of F.F., and what are some moments you were really excited to do going into the show and are hoping fans will look forward to in the next couple batch of episodes?
Ise: So, as you know, I was a huge fan of the series beforehand, but JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a series that all voice actors want to be a part of. Part of the reason is because there’s so much energy that’s needed in the recording process, and to get the role [of F.F.] I was so happy and so honored. And as you know, the second season is coming out in October on Netflix*, and really the second half you see so many famous, like, very famous scenes for the character F.F., particularly with the fight with Kenzo as well. So I really am so excited for fans to finally see all these really famous scenes for F.F. in the second half of the season.
* (editor’s note – it’s out as of 09/01/22!)
MM: Sugoi, awesome! Arigato, Ms. Ise! Have a wonderful day!
Ise: Thank you so much! Bye~!
— LumRanmaYasha (@LumRanmaYasha) July 29, 2022
Thanks again to Mariya Ise for her time and to Otakon and interpreter Amanda Waddell for making this interview possible! For more coverage of Ise’s panels at Otakon, listen to our Otakon 2022 podcast and read our Twitter thread livetweeting her Friday panel!