Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke!

Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke!

The Black Butler series Earl Ciel Phantomhive, a young boy in the end of the 19th century in England who signed a contract with demon Sebastian. The manga follows them as they solve terrible incidents behind the scenes in England’s underworld for the queen. It’s still being serialized, and three TV anime series have been released along with an OVA. It’s been eight years since the first anime, and it’s now making its way to the big screen with Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic.

Voice actor Ono Daisuke has played protagonist Sebastian for eight years. Ono, who plays a demon incapable of understanding human emotions, considers playing Sebastian in a film to be a prize. The film’s story is based on the Luxury Liner arc which spanned over four volumes of manga. It is a special arc even within Black Butler, and for Ono, it’s a special chance to see a new side of Sebastian.

■ Sebastian Lets Go of His Restraint

――This is the first animated adaptation of the popular Luxury Liner arc, and the first Black Butler film adaptation.

Ono Daisuke (Ono): I think the Luxury Liner arc is something Black Butler fans have been waiting a long time for. Like the name Luxury Liner implies, the story is on a big scale. Black Butler packs in horror, action, and comedy elements, and I think that this Black Butler story has all of that charm in it, as well. I’m very happy that it’ll be released as a film, both as a performer and as a fan of the work.

――We’ll see a different Sebastian than usual this time who’s caught in a desperate fight that he can’t hold back in. When the anime first started, they had you leave out emotions, but how are you playing Sebastian in this film?

Ono: Director Abe Noriyuki was also the sound director, and when talking about playing Sebastian for the film he told me, “I had you leave out as much emotion as possible until now, but please put everything you want into it this time.” That was what both Abe and Toboso Yana wanted. A powerful enemy called the Undertaker appears, and Sebastian ends up in a pinch. He’s out of breath and his feelings become clear. I was told to let go of what I had been holding back for eight years. That felt like a reward to me. Before now, I had been stopping myself from doing what I wanted to do as an actor. To be told to put emotion into it while basing those on the bonds I have with everyone in the staff and the importance of the work was a really great thing, haha.

――Is there anything that’s changed about you in the eight years you’ve been playing Sebastian since 2008?

Ono: Speaking technically, I’m now able to consistently use a deep voice thanks to Sebastian. When I first started playing him, I was told time and time again to lower my voice, leave out the inflections, and put less feeling into it. I can say now that it was a really hard time. I was really worried about playing him and not being able to express anything, but because of that I had the courage to subtract. I think that this experience has influenced my roles since. By playing Sebastian, my voice range has grown and the types of roles I can play have increased. I can play roles I couldn’t before like older or extremely tough characters. I think it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

――In this film, Sebastian fights with the shinigami Grell and Ronald, as well as the Undertaker. It’s packed with action scenes, right?

Ono: I was told by Toboso to put energy freely into the role this time, and there was so much ad-libbing in the action that it’s a kind of Sebastian we’ve never seen before. The shinigami Grell and Ronald are both lively by nature, so the action scenes with them are naturally energetic, and I thought to myself, “if Sebastian were fighting seriously, he’d breath like this,” (laughs).

――Do you have a favorite scene?

Ono: I think the highlight of this work is that most of the main characters make an appearance, and it’s a return to the series’ origin. There’s a flashback to when Ciel and Sebastian met, and I really liked that. Ciel names Sebastian saying, “As of today, you’re Sebastian.” Sebastian then asks him: “Is that the name of your last butler?” When Ciel says, “No, it’s a dog’s name,” Sebastian thinks bitterly to himself, “I ended up working for a ridiculously ill-natured brat.” I felt like that flow really suits Sebastian and Ciel. It all started from that conversation, so the significance of the past eight years is packed into that.

――It’s the moment their connection as master and butler began.

Ono: The human soul has a sublime part and a part that’s the opposite of that, and those two things are Black Butler. You can see a bit of that in this scene. Sebastian can be seen as perfect, but seeing the scene this time, you’ll watch it knowing how Sebastian didn’t understand anything about aristocratic society, and how Ciel teaches him, and how he gives Ciel the power to change with demon power. Ciel and Sebastian are one thing together. Getting to play that starting point that shows the different sides, and getting to see that made me happy beyond words (laughs), and getting to perform was so much fun.

――When playing Sebastian, what kind of mood do you create?

Ono: In the beginning, I always felt like I was performing alone. There was no emotion, and in a literal sense, I thought I was creating this part by myself. Halfway through the first season, though, I realized that it wouldn’t be perfect even if I did it alone. That’s why this time, performing in Black Butler for the first time in a long time, I’ve been listening to other voices more closely, and especially to Ciel. When you make something alone, it becomes something that doesn’t exist outside of yourself. It gets blurred. This might even resemble the relationships between the characters. Sebastian was alone as a demon, but when he met Ciel, that’s where he was. He wouldn’t be there without Ciel. Sebastian and Ciel are two people, and one thing. By listening to Sakamoto Maaya’s voice, Sebastian comes out.

――Listening to you talk about Black Butler, your love for the series and characters comes through. What does it feel like to play the same character for eight years?

Ono: I’ve done things for radio and events for 10 years, but working on a single anime for eight years is like nothing else. It’s the longest amount of time I’ve spent working on an anime, and I get to be right in the middle as the chairman. But Toboso and all of the staff connected to the series really like Black Butler, and that won’t change. Each time a new series is planned, and each time I play Sebastian, my joy towards Black Butler grows. It’s a happy thing.

――And by it continuing, the number of fans also grows.

Ono: After eight years of working on it, I’ve heard a lot of young people say, “I like Black Butler.” A work that’s this popular, and that continues to be serialized, will continue to get anime adaptations. It’s great. Instead of being something that was great back then, it’s something that continues.

――It hasn’t weakened despite continuing for a long time, either. The series’ world has grown deeper, as have its mysteries. You’ve said before that you’re a fan of the series, but as a fan, what do you think the appeal of Black Butler is?

Ono: I said how the Luxury Liner arc has all of the charm of Black Butler, but it has all of the elements of the Black Butler franchise. This film has both horror and suspense. There’s also action and elements of a serious character drama, and it wouldn’t be Black Butler without humor. It’s all packed into an entertaining film. Both the beautiful and unrefined parts of mankind are captured. There’s also something I want Toboso to hear. I’d like Sebastian to respond, “You just wanted to say that, right?” to someone saying the “one hell of a Butler” line, haha. That line has all of Black Butler in it…both the pun and the style.

――That line really does capture Black Butler.

Ono: Not many series have a catchphrase like that nowadays, but Black Butler definitely uses them. I think they’re really entertaining. We can’t let the fans down, and it’s like Mito Komon’s pill case, haha. I think it’ll always be like that.

――It also captures how Sebastian wants Ciel’s soul.

Ono: This is just my guess, but I think Toboso wrote the first chapter because she wanted to use the line “I’m one hell of a butler.” When you see the budding romance between Ciel and Sebastian in this film, though, it’s really brought into action. The story has been fleshed out around that line I think, taking it in different directions. On the surface, Ciel and Sebastian have a beautiful master and servant relationship, but that line also reminds you that he’s a demon, and not to make light of him. It’s the first line that comes to mind, even for people who don’t know Black Butler well. Toboso has continued to write a beautiful and dark story since that first chapter, and I truly admire that.

――Is there anything else you’d like to say to Black Butler fans and everyone going to see the film Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic?

Ono: This Black Butler compilation is sure to please the fans who have been cheering us on. It has all of the charm of the series, so I think that even people who haven’t seen Black Butler before will enjoy it. I think people who like Black Butler always will. It’s the work of a lifetime for me, and I’d like to keep working on it for a long time.

Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic official site

Interview written by Omaga Tomoko

Source: AnimeAnime

Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke! 1
Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke! 2
Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke! 3
Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke! 4
Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke! 5
Interview with Black Butler Voice Actor Ono Daisuke! 6

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