Leftovers from Anime Expo 2010 – A Megumi Nakajima and May’n Panel

Last summer, you might have recalled that I was on assignment for Original Sound Version at Anime Expo and that my job was mostly to babble about how much I enjoyed the (mostly) Macross Frontier Concert as well as the performance that MELL put forth. Lost in that shuffle was a panel that I attended which had both May’n and Megumi Nakajima present to answer a few questions about their work, with a focus on their work for Macross Frontier, but also touched upon the latter’s experience as a seiyuu.

What you’ll get here is a brief rundown of the questions that were asked at the panel and the answers they gave. The questions don’t exactly follow the order in which they’re asked (else it’d jump around a whole lot), so without further ado, check out what they had to say after the jump!

On the Anime Expo Concert:
No surprises here; they definitely had a lot of fun and enjoyed every minute of it. Both of them put in a lot of work to prepare themselves for the concert and they felt that doing so contributed a lot to making the experience an enjoyable one for all. May’n did take the time to learn a few English phrases to rouse the audience (that wasn’t necessary since the crowd was plenty excited). Megumi Nakajima didn’t go that far, but she did work on her image a bit so as to match her personality to her performance. From the language standpoint, Nakajima felt that her singing was more than capable of bridging that gap because music is a universal language.

If memory serves, this was also Nakajima’s first international concert, and she was worried about how the fans would react. Those fears evaporated once she took the stage and saw how enthusiastic the fans were.

One interesting point that May’n did raise about the concert was the difference between Japanese and American fans. Fan behavior in Japan tends to fall under a sort of group mold, where the swaying and reveling is done in unison. American fans contrasted themselves by being more individualistic. While there were pockets in the crowd who moved to the music in a same manner, on the whole, Americans did whatever struck them at the moment and so, there’s greater freedom for individual self-expression. Megumi Nakajima chimed in by adding that this had the effect of making her concert experience feel as though she was communicating to each member of the audience rather than to a group, and so, the distance felt much closer and the event was more personal.

On Their Career Trajectory:
Both seemed pretty content with how their careers are coming along. May’n in particular is happy where she is and isn’t looking to explore other musical genres with any urgency aside from spontaneous ventures into stuff like rock music. This characterizes her tendencies in general, so when she moves into different types of musical genres, it’s not consciously planned. More often than not, she just sings whatever she wants to sing. And despite the success of artists such as Nana Mizuki, May’n has no plans to go into voice acting.

Likewise, Nakajima doesn’t have any long-range plans to branch out beyond idol-pop. She’s a big fan of 80s-era idols and wants to sing music that hearkens back to this time period. She particularly admires Kawai Sonoko’s because Sonoko’s music is varied, each with its own character. If given the chance, she’d love to perform a duet with Sonoko someday.

From the voice acting side, there’s no planned movement there either since Nakajima is very much content with the way things are. In her various roles, she always strives to serve as a good role model. This goes back to her childhood where the manga she enjoyed often featured a main character who was a star, and she often looked up to those characters.

No mention of Nakajima’s career is complete without a talk about how successful her GUMI Vocaloid has become. She feels honored to know that people will use that character’s voice to make music for years on down the line.

On How Well Their Characters Represented Themselves:
The conversation slowly turned to their work on Macross Frontier, specifically, how well they were able to relate to their characters. May’n really thought that Sheryl Nome’s personality was a good fit for her because of how she enjoys the stardom that Sheryl experiences. In addition to that, May’n feels that both she and Sheryl take great pride in their music and when they perform, both will express their emotions freely, passionately, and with full confidence.

Nakajima gave a more general response in that her inexperience of being a seiyuu somewhat parallels what Ranka felt like when her stock began to grow. Beyond that, she felt like their lives were too different to make for a worthwhile comparison.

On Working with Yoko Kanno:
This segment was probably the most interesting to me personally because the relationship between composers and performers, I think, plays a major role in determining whether a song will flourish or fail. And Kanno’s ability to get the best performance from her vocalists by composing music that fits their idiom has been shown time and time again with the likes of Maaya Sakamoto being the most prominent example.

With that kind of reputation under Kanno’s belt, May’n was pretty nervous, but through working with Kanno, May’n found her to be a very warm, caring person. Their relationship progressed to the point that May’n was comfortable enough to go to Kanno with thoughts and suggestions with regard to Sheryl’s songs and establish a good rapport.

Nakajima saw Kanno more of a motherly person who was very supportive as the two were quickly able to gain a mutual understanding of one another while they worked.

One thing that they did confirm about Kanno is that she’s quite the lively personality. Nakajima describes times where Kanno will dance around and May’n confirms that this is especially the case when a recording session goes particularly well.

On Visiting America:
May’n’s biggest surprise was in seeing the food portions and how big they were. I actually hear this a lot from friends from Europe who come over to the US and how everything looks and feels super-sized. In May’n case though, she was very pleased with the size of the portions and rates her dining experience rather highly.

For Nakajima, the surprise was in seeing the amount of open space. I guess that in Tokyo, everything feels cramped and so, all this free space that we take for granted was a total revelation to her. She was especially startled at how beautiful the blue sky was as she got off the plane. That event was noteworthy enough for her to enter into her diary.


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

11 thoughts on “Leftovers from Anime Expo 2010 – A Megumi Nakajima and May’n Panel

  • December 20, 2010 at 2:26 am

    The contrast between American and Japanese fan dynamics is really fascinating. It kind of reminded me of this article I read about movie goers in Japan and in the US; the Japanese tend to much quieter in theater with less outbursts of laughter and such.

    So nice to hear that Yoko Kanno has a warm personality. I like her music a lot so I was hoping she’d be a nice person.

  • December 20, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Kanno is old enough to be mums for these two :3

    They do otagei at may’n and mamegu’s shows in Japan, so it’s clearly a different ball game than their shows outside of Japan.

    • December 21, 2010 at 12:22 am

      I remember reading something to the effect of that too. The caveat was that it only occurred in a group scenario. When the Japanese watch something on their own, they’ll be reacting to it verbally and emotively too. I guess they don’t want to spoil the mood of those around them.

      I’m not too surprised that they found Kanno easy to work with. Kanno’s done a lot of good work with other performers and has a knack for bringing the best out of them. It must take a lot of empathy and intuition to get that nailed down pat.

      Maaaaan you just had to make me look up some of these seiyuu’s ages and doing so makes me feel as old as all hell.

      As for the second point, I’ll have to keep an eye on the audience once I watch those concert videos. Or actually go to Japan and see some superstar live…

      Haha, I was wondering whether or not you had the opportunity to go to AFA. I heard the tickets were pretty darn expensive, but the lineup of artists looked kinda promising. Well, there’s always next time (reminds me of the time I missed Yuki Kajiura coming over to the states).

      Maybe Europeans are slowly adapting to American-sized portions. I don’t know since I haven’t really sampled European portions yet. I just know that everything in America is BIIIIGGGG even for me to eat in one sitting.

      @Arianna Sterling
      AX is pretty exciting and they’ve gotten better with the organization and logistics in recent years, so it’s definitely been a blast. Oregon gets Kumoricon or something if I recall and that’s not too bad. It’s worth making the trip once, especially if they had a particularly great year like 2010. Maybe we can petition Kalafina to come or something! Save up for that!

      But yes, on my drive through Oregon last spring, the scenery was utterly gorgeous with plenty of open sky and wonderful wilderness. As for LA, well, LA’s actually not as cramped, sky-wise as say… San Francisco’s Financial district. It’s almost as clear as Portland (well, slightly more taller buildings, but not obscenely so).

  • December 20, 2010 at 7:39 am

    This made me wish I paid the $200+ to watch May’n and some other artistes at the Anime Expo here…

    And reading that Europeans find American portions big is kinda scary. When I went to UK, i felt that even their meals were too big…

  • December 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I wish I had the money to attend AX, like…ever. Maybe someday. They get so many awesome guests at that one.

    It’s interesting for me to think that Nakajima thought there was a lot of open space. Considering where AX takes place, I would never view that as much space. I wonder what she’d think of a place like Beaverton, Oregon!

  • December 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I remember reading a transcript of the interview you refer to and I think you have nicely summarized every important point. Thanks for that!

    I recently obtained and immediately fell in love with the latest Macross Frontier album “Cosmic Cuune”. It seems that the relationship between May’n and Kanno-san continues to be developing in the direction of one of musician-to-musician on equal terms. (Formally, it was more like the relation of teacher and student.)

    According to what she writes in her blog, May’n told Kanno-san what kind of emotions she wanted to express and Kanno-san composed “Liebe–the illusory light” according to the request. For the recording, Kanno-san let May’n think about how to express the emotions instead of telling her to do this or that (Well, this is still an educational attitude, but it’s for a more advanced “student”).

    The other song, “Sailor”, written for May’n in the album is also interesting. It was a recording session where all musicians including Kanno-san (on piano) and May’n played together at the same time, a rare way of recording for a pop song. As a result, you can hear May’n and the other musicians resonate to create an intimate atmosphere and flexible and deep expressions and May’n sounding even more emotional than usual. The very best and most sublime recording of May’n’s, I would say.

    . . . well, I’m drifting off-topic, but all I want to say is that the collaboration of those two remarkable musicians seems to continue to be fruitful.

    Before signing off, I’d like to add that Mamegu has been improving a lot lately. Her performance of “Songbird” from the album is excellent, some (including me) regarding it as her best recording and others saying it’s un-Ranka-like (presumably) because she sings too well for Ranka 🙂

    • December 22, 2010 at 1:53 am

      I should dig around for that… most of this was taken from a notebook that I had carried into the room. Glad you enjoyed the summary!

      Specific points:
      I’ve really been meaning to give Cosmic Cunne a whirl, not in the least because I hear that it’s got a Christmas-y theme to it. Well, OK, I have listened to Seikan Hikou and thought it was an interesting take in that it sounded a bit melancholy, but with Christmas-y instruments. Beyond that, I haven’t tried any of the other tracks. I’m also assuming you follow May’n and Mamegu much closer than I do, but the point you raised about them continually improving and evolving in their relationship with Kanno is something I’ll definitely keep an ear out for when I do get the chance to listen to Cosmic.

      Also, curse me for not being able to read Japanese blogs. Would love to be able to read May’n’s and Mamegu’s thoughts on the latest music stuff they’re doing so directly rather than have to rely on the shakiness of Google Translate to do that for me. But glad to see there’s much to look forward to in their latest collaboration with Kanno!

      “Songbird”? Maybe that’s a reflection that Ranka too is improving and isn’t content to be static in her growth as an artist. At least, that’s how I’d try to explain Mamegu’s improvement :p

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! Guess that’s a push for me to give the album its deserved attention.

  • December 24, 2010 at 5:32 pm


    Thank you for listening to my rant! As a fan of May’n (and of Kanno-san), I couldn’t resist the least opportunity to talk about her and her songs.


    • December 27, 2010 at 12:04 am

      No problem. I’ll hopefully get the opportunity to be able to talk about Kanno in greater depth later on. She’s done a lot of good work that it’s about time she gets a chance under the spotlight.

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