Last year in 2021, ANIPLUS Café held an online meet-and-greet “ANIPLUS Online Café” with two charming members from the “BanG Dream!” franchise. Joining the event was bassist Rimi Nishimoto who voices the character Rimi Ushigome from the band Poppin’Party, and guitarist Haruka Kudo who voices Sayo Hikawa from Roselia.
Not only were we lucky enough to experience the wonderful fan event, but also the second part which involved an interview session with the two stars of the show.
Although the interview took place back on June 16, 2021, it’s still a very interesting read where we learn about the impact BanG Dream! had on Rimi and Haruka’s lives. We hope you will enjoy the ride and also discover a new side of the members!
The chemistry between Rimi Nishimoto and Haruka Kudo
It seems rare to have only Nishimoto-san and Kudo-san together in the same event or program. Have your impressions of each other changed since you first started working with each other?
Rimi: I felt like we knew each other before we worked on BanG Dream! together. I was wondering what kind of person is Kudo-san? She had a very cool vibe to her. When we actually met, it turned out she was a very nice and kind onee-san.
Haruka: You’re making me blush on screen right now [laughs].
We actually first met on a live stage where I saw Rimi-rin playing her bass intensely and I thought “She’s so cool!”. It turned out that she was a very nice, warm-hearted person when I actually met her and talked with her. The contrast was really big between what I thought first and what I actually felt after meeting her [laughs].
And on top of that, is there anyone from the BanG Dream! cast that you would like to work closer with?
Rimi: Within Roselia, I worked with [vocalist] Aiba-san a lot, we worked at the same agency. I have worked with [guitarist] Yuki before but I haven’t spoken much with [keyboardist] Kanon Shizaki yet, so I very much want to work more with her going forward.
Haruka: I actually worked with guitarist Hina Suguta-chan from Morfonica, but I actually haven’t talked much with the other members of Morfonica. I would like to work together with this group more going forward.
Interaction between Rimi Ushigome and Sayo Hikawa is also quite rare in the game. What kind of development can you imagine or wish to see between the characters going forward?
Rimi: Rimi [the character] is also the composer of the group Poppin’Party, so receiving relentless training from Sayo-san would be great.
Haruka: Rimi-chan [the character] really likes chocolate cornets, and Sayo is really into making sweets, so I’d like her to ask Rimi-chan to make lots of delicious chocolates together.
Concerts and events during a pandemic
Is there anything you would like to take on or challenge that you haven’t done so yet? For example, doing a concert or a new event?
Rimi: The opportunities for online concerts have been increasing, so when we have done online concerts as Poppin’Party, we’ve had the chance to read the comments in real-time while performing. Being able to receive the fans’ responses immediately through words as we perform has been really fresh. To make use of the current situation, I’d really like to do more of these online concerts where we can directly communicate with fans like this.
Haruka: It was my first time doing an online fan event [ANIPLUS Online Café] and I particularly liked that I could see everyone’s faces on the screen and talk. I feel like going forward, I’d like to do a similar online talk event but with all the members of Roselia together.
Due to the pandemic, we know it has been difficult to meet fans in person and most events have been turning into online events like this today [ANIPLUS Online Café]. So despite that, are there any unique differences you have noticed or felt from online events?
Rimi: I’m really glad that in these online events I get to see our fans’ faces directly on the screen, and see each and every individual’s reactions in real-time.
Haruka: Normally people might be unable to participate in person due to work-related circumstances so due to the current situation, where we are all staying at home, it’s actually really convenient because you can enjoy events like this.
The concerts you’ve held recently have been out of the ordinary. For example, in-person live shows have a different atmosphere due to the cheering restriction, and you also held shows that were stream-only. Can you tell us about the challenges and the experience itself from these events?
Rimi: Even so, the BanG Dream! fans have invented really fun ways to cheer us on, like clapping a lot or using their glowsticks to make circles or X-shapes. So even in these different ways, I really feel that our hearts are still one through other forms of communication.
Haruka: Our fans can’t use their voices due to the current restrictions, however, they are really cheering us on in other ways, like the clapping motions, and changing the color of their glowsticks to the characters’ colors. Even though they are wearing masks, I can tell that they are smiling. It feels lonely that everyone can’t use their voices, but because everyone is smiling, we can really feel it from the stage.
The shape of music
Rimi, if Poppin’Party were to cover a song from Roselia—and vice versa for Haruka—which song would you choose and why?
Rimi: For me, it would definitely have to be “FIRE BIRD” because we actually performed a short version of it for a concert. Maybe if there is an opportunity next time I would definitely love to cover the song properly.
Haruka: I really like “STAR BEAT! ~Hoshi no Kodou~”, and I really want to play the chorus with “RANDOM STAR” [the guitar which Poppin’Party’s vocalist Kasumi plays on]. [In an ecstatic voice] I really hope I can do that next time!
Rimi: I really want to hear it too!
What other songs do you want to cover for your band?
Rimi: Poppin’Party does a lot of covers for Vocaloid songs as you already know, so I feel like maybe next time we could do covers from male rock bands, it would be really cool because it would fit really well with the main vocalist’s Kasumi-chan’s singing abilities.
Haruka: Roselia sings a great number of cool songs, but in the opposite sense, what if we were to do a super kawaii song for a change? I think it would be like an idol-style song.
Haruka, Roselia has some incredibly difficult songs. What is your motto to keep you motivated in improving your guitar skills?
Haruka: If I feel like a song is difficult to play, even if I force myself, I won’t improve. That’s why I’ll take a break to refresh by drinking a coffee or something. By taking breaks like these, I will be able to play the guitar better than before.
You’ve started playing guitar from a young age but didn’t pick it back up again until you started your activities in “BanG Dream!”. Back then, what kind of ambitions did you have and how has it changed now that you’re in Roselia?
Haruka: I actually picked up the guitar just purely as a hobby during high school, maybe around 16-17 years old. I could only really play simple chords, but now that I am in Roselia, I can now play a full guitar solo.
Rimi, besides bass, you also sing, play the piano, guitar, and more, but what would you personally say makes bass stand out?
Rimi: At its core, I think that bass isn’t really such a conspicuous instrument. So, because it’s not at the forefront, it doesn’t stand out so much, but it’s for that reason that the bass is really important. I take a lot of joy in refining my skills and weaving in all of the phrases. The joy of the bassist is really improving their skill precisely because they don’t stand out.
Are there any BanG Dream! songs you would like to play on either instrument?
Has your perception of music changed after joining “BanG Dream!”?
Rimi: Originally, I was playing in a band in my hometown as a hobby, but ever since working in BanG Dream!, I’m receiving people’s time, money, and support. It really helped to rethink my perception of music from the ground up.
Haruka: I loved listening to music even before I was a member of BanG Dream!—and I listened to a lot of different bands—but since joining BanG Dream!, when I listen to bands now, I can’t focus on anything else except the guitars [laughs].
How have your activities in BanG Dream! affected you as a person?
Rimi: Without the existence of BanG Dream! I wouldn’t be able to continue my career as a voice actress. BanG Dream! changed my entire life.
Haruka: I’ve done a lot of work in the past but thanks to BanG Dream!, I’m able to experience playing an instrument on stage and singing at the same time. Thanks to this, for the first time, my ways of expression have really broadened.
Being a voice actress
We think that your voice acting experience is very unique as you actually voice your respective BanG Dream! characters in both the anime and the game. So is there anything you pay attention to in voicing in the anime and the games?
Rimi: My character is a very calm and collected kind of character. Aside from that, I want to try my best to portray how much passion Rimi has for music to the fans. I want to express it all the way, you know, top to bottom. I really want to do my best.
Haruka: When I voice Sayo-chan, she is a very serious and stoic character, so I speak in a very calm and collected way in front of most of the characters in the game. When I’m talking with Hina-chan [Sayo’s younger sister] as well as the members of Roselia, I try to express this calm and collected serious face, but at the same time, add a little more warm and gentle touch to my character.
While voicing your characters, have there been any profound lines that you still remember to this day?
Rimi: That would probably have to be “Chau” (ちゃう) [laughs]. Normally when you say “Chigau” (No), in Kansai dialect it comes out as “Chau”, but because Ushigome-chan is actually from Kansai, one of her traits is that her Kansai accent sometimes slips out when she’s nervous. There aren’t actually that many opportunities for showing Kansai dialect in the anime, so when Ushigome-chan speaks, it has to be “Chau”. [Laughs]
Haruka: “Practice like you play, play like you practice”.
Aside from your character, which of the girls did you want to lend your voice to?
Rimi: I wanted to voice Kokoro Tsurumaki-chan [from Hello, Happy World!] because I want to play a bright and cheerful character. Unlike my character in the game who is very relaxed and a calm character, Kokoro-chan is the exact opposite with a bright and cheerful character. So, I definitely want to give that character a try.
Haruka: My character, Sayo Hikawa, is a very cool type of person, so I would just like to play something a little more of the opposite, a cheerful character, like the younger sister, Hina-chan.
What is your favorite in-game event?
Rimi: Rimi Ushigome’s “Valentine’s Day is Not Just A Single Day”, the long-awaited valentine’s event, because I was wondering how it would turn out and I was very excited to see it in the game. I love it!
Haruka: I really like the interaction between Sayo and Hina in the Determination Symphony event: “Umbrella For The Autumn Rain”.
Pushing BanG Dream! overseas
Haruka, Roselia is screening the movie “Episode of Roselia”. Remarkably, it’s a film that is shown not only in Japan but overseas as well! How do you feel about it and what would you like to tell the overseas fans?
Haruka: Due to the fact that it’s become difficult to perform concerts in person or go overseas at the moment, we’re extremely grateful that instead, fans are able to meet Roselia and hear our music via the movie screens. One day, when we are able to perform concerts again, I really want to perform those songs from the movie to the overseas audience.
Haruka, what was your favorite scene to record and watch? And also, are there any in-game events or conversations you wish made it to the movie?
Haruka: Regarding the scenes in the movie, I really like the concert parts where we are performing songs, as the camera angles are really amazing. But also, a lot of the character interactions, like when Sayo-chan asked Yukina-chan to join Roselia at the start. I really like their very first exchanges. They’re so innocent, and they didn’t have a close relationship yet, they were still just acquaintances at that point. I really like that sense of distance.
As for my favorite game events, it would definitely be the umbrella scene with Sayo and Hina, and the event for Sunkissed Rhodonite with Lisa. I really want to do it in the anime!
Rimi, what can you tell us about Poppin’Party’s movie?
Rimi: We successfully performed at Budokan, and after that, we were like “Are we really able to advance into the overseas territory?”. We have actually performed overseas as Poppin’Party, and as we reminisced on all of our memories from that time, we discovered what kind of situations the Poppin’Party from the anime will get tangled in this time as they travel overseas. I’d be really happy if you could look forward to seeing it!
Poppin’Party has released their mini-album “Live Beyond!!”. What kind of reaction are you hoping from fans with this release?
Rimi: For this album, there are a lot of very emotional songs and a lot of very cool songs in the style of Poppin’Party, so please look forward to all kinds of Poppin’Party songs!
Which side do you start with when you eat a choco cornet? Why? And other than choco cornet, what are your favorite cafe snacks?
Rimi: I normally squeeze the thinner end until all the cream would come out from the top part, and then I’ll add it to the top of the thinner end. This is the correct way of eating it!
Haruka: Me too! I completely agree with you [laughs].
Rimi: Other than the choco cornet, I also love anything with chocolate, and maple syrup too. I put maple syrup on pancakes, or practically anything.
Haruka: I eat the choco cornet the same way as Rimi-rin. As for my favorite snack, it would be ice cream because it’s going to get really hot in Japan. So I think I will be eating ice cream practically every day.
Please give a message to encourage the fans during this difficult COVID-19 moment.
Rimi: It’s a very lonely time as it’s so difficult for us to meet the fans right now, but through our voices and our characters, we’re working hard with all of our effort in order to bring even just a glimpse of a smile to our fans. We’re able to meet everyone online, so we’d be really happy to have all of your support going forward. Thank you very much.
Haruka: With the world having turned into a place where we can’t really meet each other anymore, I’ve been worrying a lot about whether our fans are doing okay? It’s lonely, isn’t it? But, when society returns to how it used to be where we can see everyone’s smiles and meet again, we at BanG Dream! will resume our work. We will keep practicing so we can meet all our fans with a smile!
We were incredibly happy and thankful to see Rimi Nishimoto and Haruka Kudo connecting with fans at the ANIPLUS Online Café, making the best out of the situation we’re currently in.
We would like to also give our thanks to ANIPLUS Café for hosting such a lovely event, allowing not only the fans to cheer on two of their favorite artists, but also allowing Rimi Nishimoto and Haruka Kudo to share their strength with the fans!