Podcast comment thought to have originated in is suspiciously shorter than others in series.

Alcohol is a time-tested social lubricant in Japan, and that goes for both private and professional occasions. One of the go-to ways to score points with bosses and clients is by going out for drinks together, with many people believing there’s a direct relationship between downing cold ones and moving up the corporate ladder.

However, anime voice actor Kaito Ishikawa recently found himself booted from a job, and part of the reason seems to be that he told fans he doesn’t like to drink sake. This week, the website for anime/multimedia franchise Miki no Mikoto, in which the 26-year-old Ishikawa played Koshino Kanbei (the silver-haired, kimono-clad young man pictured above), posted the following statement.

“Kaito Ishikawa, who was cast as Koshino Kanbei, made inconsiderate remarks on a radio program expressing an inappropriate opinion, and in accordance with our request, has stepped down from the role.”

▼ Miki no Mikoto

So why would not liking sake be a problem for the producers of Miki no Mikoto? Because Miki no Mikoto is a project that anthropomorphizes famous brands of real-world sake as handsome anime boys.

As is often the case in Japanese show business scandals, the involved parties aren’t speaking in specifics, but the source of the trouble seems to be an episode of a radio program/podcast Ishikawa has with fellow voice actor Yoshiki Nakajima, which is distributed through the Manga Park mobile app. The episode, which was originally released on October 15, was titled “Drinks that are Dangerous!?” and began with the two hosts discussing tapioca bubble tea, which has exploded in popularity in Japan over the past year, and how it’s higher in carbohydrates than many people realize.

However, there are some strange things about the episode. First, when it was initially released, it was promoted on Manga Park’s official Twitter account with a tweet asking “Sake is dangerous?” However, in the currently available version of the episode, Ishikawa and Nakajima never once discuss Japan’s indigenous alcoholic beverage, and the Manga Park tweet has now been deleted. Even more suspicious is that the podcast itself is titled Kaito Ishikawa and Yoshiki Nakajima: 10 Minutes to Eat?, since each episode is 10 minutes long…except for the currently available version of the October 15 episode, which is just 6 minutes and 35 seconds, making it seem like a significant portion was subsequently cut.

So what’s missing? Social media users who claim to have heard the original version say that during the voice actors’ chat, Ishikawa said that he doesn’t drink sake, because he wants to limit his carbohydrate intake. That’s probably not something Miki no Mikoto’s producers would have been happy about, but they might still have let it slide. What could be the bigger issue, though, is Ishikawa’s alleged comment of “Sake is high in carbs, so women shouldn’t drink it, because it’ll make you fat.”

▼ In this clip, a young woman can be heard asking “Hey, do you have our sake yet?” as Koshino Kanbei rushes to her table with several bottles of the drink.

While some might consider “women shouldn’t do things that make them fat” an offensive stance to take, Japanese society in general is pretty accepting of the philosophy that being slim is better than being heavyset (especially for women, but for men as well). The feathers that would really get ruffled by Ishikawa saying that women shouldn’t drink sake, though, would be those of the producers of Miki no Mikoto.

As mentioned above, each of the male characters in the series is a personification of an actual brand of sake that’s being made today in Japan, with their names being used with their breweries’ blessings. It’s obvious that Miki no Mikoto is targeting female fans, hoping for the same sort of success that samurai-swords-as-beautiful-boys franchise Touken Ranbu has achieved. A voice actor, especially one playing one of the franchise’s principal characters, saying that women shouldn’t drink sake is going to at the very least dampen enthusiasm for the subject material among the target audience, and could even be seen as detrimental to sales of the characters’ namesake sake, eventually causing breweries to pull their support for the project.

With Ishikawa booted from the series, Koshino Kanbei wil be played by voice actor Hiroki Takahashi from now on. Meanwhile, Ishikawa can at least take solace in the fact that some of his biggest roles are for stoic cyborgs (One Punch Man’s Genos) or teen athletes (Haikyu!!’s Tobio Kageyama), characters for whom not drinking is not a problem.

Sources: Miki no Mikoto official website via Hachima Kiko, Tokyo Sports Web via Anime News Network/Kim Morrissy, Hachima Kiko (2)
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