Lalah Sune Voice Actress

Saori Hayami

As one who guides Char, and as a symbol of Newtypes, Lalah Sune is a character who leaves a strong, lasting impression. The first meeting between Char and Lalah is depicted in "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THE ORIGIN IV Eve of Destiny." How did Ms. Saori Hayami perform the role of Lalah, this mysterious girl who bonds with Char in "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THE ORIGIN" (hereafter referred to as "THE ORIGIN")? We asked her about her approach to her performance, and her back-and-forth with Char Aznable actor Mr. Shuichi Ikeda.
- We know you got the Lalah role through auditioning, but how did you approach the audition?
Hayami: They had me read the original manga as reference, and they also provided me with reference materials and model sheets, and looking at those fleshed out my vision of her. Besides Lalah, I also auditioned for the roles of Fraw Bow and Zenna Mia.
- In the end you won the role of Lalah, but what were your feelings about the audition?
Hayami: In terms of acting, the more usual emotions of Fraw and Zenna were closer to my own experiences and feelings, so I felt an affinity for them, but no matter the role they each have their own unique difficulties. With Lalah, she's a character that's far removed from ordinary life, and there's a mysterious mood and atmosphere about her. I found it difficult figuring out how to express that.
- You've appeared several times in the Gundam series, but did you ever watch Gundam works in your off hours?
Hayami: Because of my age, "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM SEED" was the first Gundam series I watched, and I didn't really know all the details about the very first "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM." Of course, I knew of it, and I'd had the opportunity to see footage of individual scenes on TV programs and so forth, so I used those images as guides through my audition too.
- You've played characters like Yurin Luciel in "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM AGE" and Aila Jyrkiäinen in "GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS," who are extensions of Lalah in some ways. Were you conscious of the differences between those characters?
Hayami: Yurin and Aila both had scenes that resembled Lalah, but this series has a different world view and timeline, so I wasn't conscious of the characters being similar, and I felt like I was being brought into a wholly new project. Of course, the characters may have some common axis, but I never at all considered acting them with the same vibe, or performing them the same way.
- What were your feelings about the "ORIGIN" manga when you read it?
Hayami: As a work, it has a traditional feel, but at the same time, the society and the conditions, environment, and state of the world depicted within it come from a perfectly current perspective, so that makes it feel like it's just been released. The direction of the conflict and the thoughts people have towards it do not feel old-fashioned in the least. For our generation, we've seen lots of anime with machines fighting each other and conflicts between nations, but "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM," which is the foundation of "THE ORIGIN," depicts the root source of that, so it was deeply emotional reading it.
- Based on your feelings from reading the manga, what was your impression of the character of Lalah?
Hayami: Even from reading the manga alone, I felt she was a unique character, and impressive in many ways. As for the fourth episode, even though she doesn't appear in it that much, in those few scenes I think Lalah is portrayed with a prominent sense of presence. When I had my audition, I worried about how I should play the part as I prepared for it, but it wasn't just that – she gave such a strong impression that I felt drawn to her from the moment I became involved with the project.
When performing the part, Mr. (Shuichi) Ikeda also gave me some background details by way of advice as to what kind of a character Lalah was. So it's very much like I created a Lalah myself and then, from talking to everyone else, we built her up even more. It's because she can understand people's hearts that she has such a sense of fear, and that changes her attitude in dealing with people. Mr. (Sadayoshi) Fujino, the sound director, instructed me to play it like I was pulling something out of my closed-off heart, with what you'd call shyness. The way I played Lalah in the very first test, she was more affable and outgoing, so I made a course correction in the studio.
In my case, rather than creating a performance by myself, I often work out the direction of a character through discussions on site. That was particularly true in this case, and I think it was great that I was able to talk over lots of things on site.
In the scene where Lalah first appears, she meets Char in the middle , then her scenes in the latter half give a whole different impression. It was difficult to express that different atmosphere. She's not simply two-faced. The impression you get is of a subtle, slow transformation.
- What were your thoughts on actually working with Mr. Ikeda?
Hayami: It wasn't easy. I felt like I had to grasp subtle emotions and delicately expressed feelings. Char and Lalah aren't very close, but they are mutually impressed by each other, and sometimes they talk through the air. That sense of the unspoken between them, including their natures and humanity, was very difficult. Mr. Ikeda very kindly added the seasoning there, and thanks to that, I feel like maybe we were able to express their relationship.
This is a very famous series, so there was a lot of pressure before I started recording, and I was very nervous. But Mr. Ikeda told me, "This is an amazing project, but it's not that hard. You have to take care with it though." I think I was putting some of the pressure on myself, but after what Mr. Ikeda said, I wasn't stiffer than I needed to be, and I think perhaps I was able to exhibit my own strengths.
- How did others around you respond to you portraying Lalah?
Hayami: The male office managers and actors I worked with on site that are between their 30s and 40s, the so-called Gundam generation, had a huge response. (laughs) Lots of people happily came and talked to me about Gundam. I never really had this kind of fresh reaction on other projects, and it hit me again how much this series has left a lasting impression in everyone's hearts even now.
- What was it like during the post-recording?
Hayami: Of course, I'll never forget shaking Mr. Ikeda's hand right after I arrived on site. I was also invited to sit beside Mr. Ikeda in the studio, and it made me happy too when Mr. (Toru) Furuya said to me, "That's because Lalah is always by Char's side." After recording, we went out for drinks as well, and Mr. Furuya's and Mr. Ikeda's banter was lovely.
During the post-recording, I was so nervous and on edge that I don't really remember it much, but when it was finished everyone spoke to me in a friendly way.
- Are there any scenes that you liked or that left an impression on you?
Hayami: I felt the scene at the end of the story where Lalah is looking at the stars is really beautiful and lovely. She's talking to Char, but he has a sweetness and warmth you can't normally see. It feels like their monologues are in sync with each other in the scene. It's great. During the recording, after Mr. Ikeda delivered his last line, everyone in the studio was in awe. (laughs) It was a wonderful atmosphere.
- Do you have any last words for all the fans?
Hayami: I was honored to be involved in this project as Lalah Sune. I'm still nervous about it even now, but I've considered the importance of the world views of previous Gundam works and, in being involved, I myself wanted to take on the role with new feelings and careful feelings. It's not just for fans of the original manga. It is loaded with spectacular visuals, so I think you should be sure to see it on the big screen for maximum enjoyment.

Next time in our Relay Interview series, we talk to Ms. Hiroko Moriguchi, singer of the "MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THE ORIGIN IV Eve of Destiny" theme song "Sora no Kanata de" .