And the reason isn’t because it’s too long.

“You gotta read the manga!”

Mention that you’re a fan of just about any anime that’s an adaptation of a serialized manga series, and it won’t be long until someone gives you that advice/command. It doesn’t matter how long the manga is, either. Tell a group of fellow fans that you’ve been watching One Piece, and at least one of them is sure to say you need to stop what you’re doing and go read all 1,056 manga chapters right now.

And yet, there’s one person who no one can accuse of lacking passion for One Piece, someone who’s never missed an episode of the anime, and yet doesn’t read creator Eiichiro Oda’s original manga: Mayumi Tanaka, the voice actress for One Piece protagonist Luffy.

Tanaka was interviewed last week by Kansai Television program 7 Rules, which, as its name implies, distills its guests values and philosophies down to seven key points. For Tanaka, the one that’s attracted the most attention is:

“I don’t read the One Piece manga.”

The topic came up during the interview when Tanaka explained “I don’t read the manga [source material]. It might actually be better if I did, but my style is to do my performances while still holding onto that fresh feeling of surprise and going “Whoa, so this is what happens!” that comes from reading about it in the script for the first time and seeing the artwork [for the anime] for the first time too.”

There’s definitely a logical argument to be made that Tanaka’s technique produces the more authentic-sounding dialogue. After all, the characters in a story themselves don’t have any advance warning of what’s going to happen, and so if a voice actor has too much prior knowledge, it could subconsciously start to seep into their voice and result in a performance that’s not genuine to the character’s mental and emotional state. The potential danger is giving a performance that turns out to be contradictory to the character’s thoughts or actions in later episodes, but seeing as how Tanaka has been voicing Luffy for 25 years, odds are she’s developed some pretty solid instincts regarding the aspiring pirate king’s personality. She’s probably also comfortable with the role and has honed her acting skills enough that she can arrive at the right way to approach the lines in the time between when she gets her script and her day in the recording studio, without needing the extra weeks or months to mull it over that reading the source material would provide, and ostensibly there are people on the anime’s directing/producing staff who do keep up with the One Piece manga and could steer Tanaka’s performance back on course in the unlikely scenario that her take is completely off.

▼ A lot of people have read this volume of One Piece, but Tanaka isn’t one of them.

Twitter users have reacted to Tanaka’s no-reading-the-manga personal policy with:

“What an awesome philosophy. It’s like she’s having the adventure together with Luffy!”
“I’ve heard the same thing about Masako Nozawa [voice of Dragon Ball’s Goku] and Rika Matsumoto [voice of Pokémon’s Satoshi/Ash]. They don’t read the manga or play the games for their series.”
“Yeah, I think if you read the manga, your feelings about what’s going to happen later on will start mixing into how you’re speaking the lines now.”
“If she’d read the manga, she’d have already known that Luffy was going to defeat [redacted].”

As for the rest of Tanaka’s “seven rules,” they’re:
● She brings something with her to eat when she goes to the recording studio.
● She keeps a stockpile of anime merchandise at her home.
● She makes her own special drink with black tea and throat lozenges.
● She keeps medicine in her dressing room as a good-luck charm.
● Aside from cooking, she leaves the housework for her husband to do.
● She always keeps the spirit of a young boy in her heart.

Considering that Tanaka, a 67-year-old woman, has been voicing the poster boy for shonen anime for a quarter century now, she seems to be doing just fine on that last one, and once the One Piece anime does come to an end, she’ll have thousands and thousands of pages waiting for her if she decides she finally wants to read the manga.

Source: J-Cast, Twitter/@7rules_ktv (1, 2)
Photos ©SoraNews24
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