Voice actors breathe life into AI animated film

©YASUHIRO YOSHIURA BNArts, SBH Production Committee
Satomi, left, and Shion, an AI

“Ai no utagoe o kikasete” (Sing a Bit of Harmony), an animated film centered around a girl who is an AI and her human friends, is currently in theaters nationwide.

The three popular voice actors who portrayed the film’s main characters spoke to The Yomiuri Shimbun about the flim’s most appealing aspects.

The actors include Kazuyuki Okitsu, also known as the voice of Jonathan Joestar in “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure,” Mikako Komatsu, who voiced the popular Maki Zenin in “Jujutsu Kaisen,” and Satoshi Hino, Kyojuro Rengoku in “Kimetsu no Yaiba” (Demon Slayer).

The film directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura is set in a world in which AIs are part of everyday life. One day, Satomi’s high school welcomes a new student, a mysterious and pretty girl named Shion, who poses the question: “Satomi, are you happy right now?” In fact, Shion is an AI in the midst of a test run.

©YASUHIRO YOSHIURA BNArts, SBH Production Committee
Thunder, far left, Gotchan, center, and Aya, second from right

“It’s not a sci-fi story set in the future,” Okitsu said. “It gives us the sense that AI is starting to integrate into the everyday life in today’s Japan.”

Said Komatsu: “At first glance, it looks like an ordinary rural area, but there is technology sprinkled here and there and a sense of excitement.”

Hino praised the setting and concept, saying, “Take, for example, rice-planting robots. The AI depicted is not something entirely futuristic, and that’s what makes it interesting.”

The three voice actors portray classmates who learn Shion’s secret and gets caught up in the lead characters’ antics.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: Satoshi Hino, Mikako Komatsu and Kazuyuki Okitsu

Okitsu plays the handsome Gotchan, Komatsu plays his girlfriend, the headstrong Aya, and Hino is Thunder, a member of the school’s judo team with a tendency to underachieve at competitions.

As can be deduced from the title, Shion’s singing voice, the highlight of the film, is brilliantly provided by popular film and TV actress Tao Tsuchiya.

Komatsu praised Tsuchiya’s work.

“There’s a subtle AI feel to it, and I found it impressive that she sang beautifully, while not making the songs sound too emotional,” she said.

Okitsu agreed.

“I could feel the gradual change [in her voice] that increasingly brought out emotional tones,” he said.

There is also a scene in which three of them sing together.

“Thunder sings off-key, but he’s not aware of it and just has fun singing, which was difficult to express,” Hino recalled with an anxious smile.

There are many must-see aspects of the film, such as the natural backdrops in rural surroundings, scenes with soaring skyscrapers and the expressions of the AI and the movement of lights that begin when Shion sings.

Komatsu recommends the musical-like scenes. “It fantastically represents the film’s overarching concept,” she said.

“There are scenes in which you get a sense of how great families are,” Hino said. “I hope people will go see the film with their families.”

Said Okitsu: “There’s nothing but must-see scenes! Even though it’s a story about high school students, I hope adults will also watch it. The movie is packed with parts that cannot be put into words, but that people can appreciate.”