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  • Iris Chu

Voice Actor Stepping Down from Her Role as Yuki Setsuna

Voice actors are very important for us, with movies, ads, cartoons, anime, and more unable to exist without them, but they are not really well known in the western world. However, this is not the case in Japan, as in Japan voice actors (where they are called seiyuu) are very well respected, and most Japanese people will know at least one or two, as other than doing voice acting work, many of them release songs, have radio shows and live streams, or go on TV shows.

Such a voice actress is Kusunoki Tomori (楠木ともり), nicknamed Tomoriru, who is very talented and is also a singer who writes and composes most of her songs herself. She has a very wide acting range, and has had many main roles, such as the cold and manipulative Makima from Chainsaw Man, the quiet and cool Misha Necron from The Misfit of Demon King Academy, the cheerful and serious Llenn from GGO Alternative (where you can really see her range), the wild inventor Annete from Spy Classroom, and the energetic and otaku Yuki Setsuna from Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club.

The character she voiced, Yuki Setsuna, is a second-year student in Nijigasaki High School, loves anime, manga, light novels, video games, and school idols, and is a huge otaku. She belongs to the Dengeki team, one of the three teams along with the Famitsu and School Idol Festival teams, where there are three members each from the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. She did different activities before the game and anime release. She is in the team along with Karin and Kasumi, and is also in the sub unit A・ ZU・NA along with Ayumu and Shizuku. She grew up in a strict household so she hides her hobbies, which is why Yuki Setsuna is not her real name, but instead one taken from characters in her favorite light novel, a girl called Setsuna and a boy called Yuki.

But sadly, Tomoriru will be stepping down from her role as Yuki Setsuna at the end of this March, as was announced at the start of November, because of a type of genetic joint disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Since the spring of 2021 she has started to feel pain in her joints when she moved, so the Lovelive staff did their best to lessen her burden, such as changing her choreography in her songs, and having her stay out of the formations and dance by the side (in the video she is the one on the right, the left one is Yano Hinaki whose character is not a school idol). On the website of her agency they stated that she was diagnosed with EDS, which has no known cure, in September of 2022, and that the doctors have informed them the disease may progress depending on physical strain. Therefore doctors have told her that she is unlikely to get better and that she should continue to refrain from any strenuous physical activities. After her condition was confirmed, Lovelive had given her the offer to step down from the role of Setsuna, and after much thought she decided to take the offer, as she said that as she had seen her groupmates dance, she thought that while they were so dazzling, cute, and cool, she could only watch from the side. She had also not been at the dance rehearsals with everyone else, but kept trying to do as much of the choreography as she could, trying more moves even at the live performance. However, she feels sad as she wants to be able to do the same things as the other members and be with them, and she also thinks that if she keeps acting as Setsuna, it might give people the impression that Setsuna cannot dance, and she wants Setsuna to keep growing as a character.

Tomoriru joined Nijigasaki in 2018, at the age of 18, and is currently 23, so she still has a long way to go. She has a great voice, and her songs in Lovelive are some of my favorites, like “Melody” with its upbeat tempo, or the shout in “Chase”. Her own songs are also great, with songs like “Hamidashimono”(the first ending for The Misfit of Demon King Academy) or “Okibi”, and her style is somewhat similar to that of ReoNa. And so please continue to keep an eye on the very talented Kusunoki Tomori and support her on her future endeavors.

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