Garma Zabi Voice Actor

Tetsuya Kakihara

In "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THE ORIGIN" (hereafter referred to as "THE ORIGIN"), Char swears revenge on the Zabi family, and Garma Zabi, the fourth son of the Zabi family, is a crucial part of that. His role is played by Mr. Tetsuya Kakihara. He is referred to as a "spoiled kid," but Garma still strives to do his best as the heir to a distinguished family, and we talked to Mr. Kakihara with a focus on the thought process of creating his performance as Garma.
- How did you feel about it when you actually watched it?
Kakihara: While watching it, I thought, "The dialogue feels like conversations between my classmates," and that seems obvious, but it was the first thing. I was surprised how deeply it had permeated everyone. Further, I came to understand the influence that the dialogue and shots had had on all the other anime I'd seen, and my first impression was that it was just amazing. Only, because I was watching it later, rather than falling head over heels for it, it was like something I used for reference in various ways. I saw more of the Gundam series after that too, but I'm glad I was able to watch the original "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM" first.
- Were there any aspects of "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM" that left a deep impression?
Kakihara: Well, the rival character Char, of course. His voice was so cool too. As a rival, he's so laid back, and his adult charm in contrast to the hero Amuro was impressive. I hope I can play a role like Char someday, but it hasn't come yet. Maybe that's why, for some reason, I only get roles that are to the side of Char. (laughs) But I think I'm lucky. I'm the person closest to Char, and I'm been allowed to take on the most interesting role. As an actor it's extremely fortunate.
- Did you read the manga of "THE ORIGIN"?
Kakihara: I have every volume. It depends on your perception, but from my point of view it felt like Char was the central depiction. It's like the complete handbook on Char. You come to understand how he grew up, and how he rose through the Zeon forces to seek revenge. And the nature of his relationships with the characters around him is clearly portrayed too. You know the end result that's waiting, but it was extremely interesting to see the journey there. After I started doing voice work, I stopped reading manga for pleasure, maybe because reading manga became part of my job too. But I got really drawn in by "THE ORIGIN," and was just enthralled reading it.
- Did you get the role of Garma in THE ORIGIN by auditioning?
Kakihara: Yes, I auditioned and then won the role. I had read the manga, so I was desperate to play Garma. During the audition, I said the line from the loaded march where he slips and falls and says, "Don't lay a finger on me! Touch me and I'll kill you!" I remember putting a lot of spirit into it. I think you don't want to fail in an audition for anything, but I was really hoping not to fail the audition for the role of Garma, and when I heard that I'd gotten the role, it made me truly happy.
- How did you go about creating your performance for Garma?
Kakihara: This time around it was only the Chronicle of Char and Sayla, but I thought it through from the beginning of the One Year War up to Garma's death. From the sense of his childishness in the scene where he enters the military academy and takes his oath, through the "Dawn Rebellion," to the point where he goes to Earth, is reunited with Char, and dies is a period of maybe about four or five years, I think. A lot gets packed into people's lives at around that age. If Garma has become an adult at the point where he is betrayed by Char and killed, how is the childish "spoiled kid" of that period going to become an adult? In that respect, I tried to portray him maturing into an adult in Episode 3 itself. I don't know if it will come out in the footage, but I played Garma having planned that far ahead.
One other thing I couldn't leave out in the performance of Garma was the influence of the lines spoken by Mr. Shuichi (Ikeda). Most of my scenes were with Mr. Shuichi, so I thought about how to perform in response to his performance and words.
- In our separate interview with Mr. Shuichi Ikeda, he said, "He was more mischievous than I expected, and his approach was different than I anticipated." What did you consider in playing Garma?
Kakihara: Garma's lines in "THE ORIGIN" feel slightly different than they do in the original "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM" TV series. If I ended up portraying Garma as that epitome of a "spoiled kid," he'd end up a truly saccharine character. So I figured if he didn't have a bit of mischievousness in him, he wouldn't be manipulated by Char's words and participate in that crazy operation. But if he were flattered and pampered, he'd probably have hangers-on and be a bit over-confident, and I figure that's exactly why Char thinks, "He'll go along with what I say" as well. In that sense, he has great pride, and if his pride in the Zabi family weren't made strong, he probably wouldn't come together. I felt if I didn't do that, it would be a waste.
- Was there anything difficult about playing Garma?
Kakihara: It was quite difficult working out how weak to make him. He's a boy who's spoiled, but trying to become a soldier and attending a military academy. How fragile should I make him? He's the son of a distinguished family, but he probably has his own pride and doesn't want to just be a spoiled kid. Finding that balance was the most difficult part. Mr. Shuichi played Char, so even though it was when he was young, he's still grown up, and he has an overwhelming presence. If Garma were too lured by that, it would make him really childlike. So I thought I should perform with the impression that he had a somewhat stiff back.
In terms of scenes, the scene where Char asks him, "Don't you want to turn the gears of history?" was difficult to perform, just for the breathing. As you'd expect, when your heart's beating fast, your breathing gets rougher. I had to decide in which moment to insert the resolution of "I'll do it" into the breathing. That said, there are no lines, so I have to think about how the audience will look at it too. That means a tendency to put in easy-to-understand breaths, but in this work that wouldn't be acceptable, so it was very educational for me.
Also, I put a huge amount of care into the performance of the scene of the speech when he heads out for the "Dawn Rebellion." Starting with the "Sir, you should pick up his visor and admit your error!" scene, timid Garma stands defiant against a high-ranking officer of the Federation Forces. He does that to protect Char and so he will be accepted by Char, but in the end, in a very short time, he develops enough to give a speech in front of a large group. Here too, if I overdid it, Garma would come across as simply a can-do guy, and no one would buy into him as being weak. Portraying Garma with that sense of balance was difficult overall.
- Even in "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM UC" (hereafter referred to as "UC"), you performed with Mr. Shuichi Ikeda in the Full Frontal – Angelo relationship. After that, what was your impression of working with him this time?
Kakihara: The point of view was different in this than in "UC." In "UC," Frontal couldn't care less about Angelo, and it was like he was angry that Banagher was getting the attention. But this time around, they were always together in the military academy. Also, by playing Garma as being looked down on by Char, I thought he overlapped with Angelo. If I made him more adult, and lowered my voice, they'd become more and more similar. So I left Garma with a little more of his youth. On the other hand, when I think, "Char is my classmate," it gives me kind of a strange feeling.
I wasn't able to speak to Mr. Shuichi much in the recording studio, but when I was with Mr. Shuichi and Miss Megumi Han recording the audio commentary the other day, he said, "Kakihara, it's fine if you create a Kakihara Garma, and Miss Megumi, it's fine if you create a Megumi Sayla." That made me glad.
- Did you get any sort of instructions from Mr. Yasuhiko, or the sound director Mr. Sadayoshi Fujino?
Kakihara: They didn't say anything in particular with regards to my performance. I suppose it was a situation where you understand what kind of character Garma is without having to say it. The only thing Mr. Yasuhiko said to me was, "We'll be recording Garma today, and so I look forward to working with you."
- Is "THE ORIGIN" as a work one that strongly impresses you, Mr. Kakihara?
Kakihara: Yes, it is. Even when it's unpleasant, I have deep feelings for it. "THE ORIGIN" is a sly work, and each and every line in it is well said. When I think about my lines being preserved for posterity on the internet and in other forms, I have deep feelings about being involved in such a project. And that's exactly why I contemplated the importance of every word as I delivered the dialogue. But when you deliver every line with importance, it can make it heavy and tedious. In the dialogue, there are always "parting shots," but they aren't meaningless lines. They're there to make the other lines of dialogue stand out. But to me it felt like "THE ORIGIN" was so captivating, I wanted to make every line stand out.
- Finally, do you have a message for the fans who are looking forward to Episode 3, or any highlights to watch out for?
Kakihara: Any highlights...? Well, all of it! "THE ORIGIN" is like a new wind blowing through the world of Gundam. I feel it's the symbol of a new age in animation. 37 years ago, "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM" was broadcast, and that world view survives and continues to be loved by so many people. It gives me great joy to be involved with such a project. After all, we are all alive in the time when "THE ORIGIN" is being produced, so I hope everyone watches it, and we all turn the gears of history together.

In our next Relay Interview, following on from Garma, we talk to Mr. Tomoaki Maeno who played the role of Lino Fernandez.