Earlier at Anime Expo 2023, Anime Trending had the opportunity to interview voice actress Non (Rena Nounen) about the upcoming Pokémon Concierge series in a roundtable interview. She will be playing the main character Haru, a brand new concierge working at the Pokémon Resort on a southern island.
The stop-motion animated series will air on December 28, 2023 on Netflix. Anime Trending previously reported the additional cast and staffing members.
Aside from Pokémon Concierge being stop-motion, how will Pokémon Concierge differ from what we’ve seen from Ash and Pikachu in the original anime?
Non: Rather than using 2D or 3D animation, the show will use stop-motion animation. This is different as the movement is created by moving real puppets frame by frame. Since actual puppets are being moved, there is this really heartwarming, cute feeling to the animation and it really makes you smile.
What can you tell us about your character?
The protagonist Haru is a very hardworking person, but she’s basically losing motivation from being overworked. When she starts working at the Pokémon Resort as a concierge, her job is to show hospitality to Pokémon. She does make mistakes, fails, and gets disappointed, but the Pokémon help her learn and grow.
How would you say Haru evolves over the course of the series?
Haru used to work for a company. While she worked there, she told herself that she had to be perfect and neat all the time. This caused a lot of pressure to meet expectations and make everyone happy. When she takes a new job as a concierge at the Pokémon Resort, she finds the job much more rewarding and fun. At her former company, she thought her main goal was to be perfect, but now she learns that it’s okay to enjoy other things and to embrace new happiness. That is how she evolved.
Why was Psyduck the perfect concierge companion for Haru?
Psyduck is a character where you can’t really tell what he thinks and feels. Haru finds him very interesting because of this. Psyduck always watches from a distance, and Haru always tries to figure out what’s on his mind. Having this interaction actually helps her, as she comes to realize it’s okay that she doesn’t always understand how she feels. Haru comes to learn that working hard can be fun, and Psyduck is a character who grows together with her.
What attracted you to the role of Haru and be a part of this new series?
Haru was always a perfectionist and always wanted to be the best she could be. However, when things are not going well and she gets disappointed, she is able to overcome obstacles thanks to Pokémon. The Pokémon she meets help and encourage her to overcome her barriers, and I found it really inspiring to witness Haru’s growth through her interaction with Pokémon.
What do you think is the biggest charm of Pokémon Concierge?
The Pokémon are just so adorable and cute. When you look at the location, the Pokémon Resort, it’s a place that you really wish existed in the real world. You see all these Pokémon relaxing and vacationing, and it is really nice to see. Haru gets to see this everyday, so it’s kind of therapeutic to her. It makes you imagine and want to go to such a charming place.
What was your favorite part of being involved in the stop-motion animation process?
When I voice acted during the show, they also took my face sculpt. They filmed me while I was voice-acting and used my facial expressions as a reference to create Haru-chan. As a result, Haru-chan’s expressions are based on my own, but are in stop-motion animation. It is a really interesting experience to see these expressions both in real life and in animation.
Will Psyduck be Haru’s only companion, or will there be others, sort of like a team, to help Haru?
Psyduck will continue to be her buddy and that won’t change. But you will see lots of other Pokémon in the show.
How are you hoping that audiences react to the series?
Sometimes, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed and pressured, and sometimes it’s easy to want to give up. However, when you see the Pokémon in Pokémon Concierge, you feel a new sense of energy and motivation to try to be the best you can be. I hope the show inspires audiences to keep doing their best.
Can you go over your experience voicing Haru for this unique stop-motion series?
When I first joined Pokémon Concierge, I was told that there would be many scenes where Haru is struggling to figure out what she should do in a situation. They wanted me to express how she was feeling by using my body to make gestures, such as tilting my head. These movements would be photographed and used in the stop-motion animation. That was a really fun thing to be a part of, and once I saw the finished scenes, they were very different from what you usually see in 2D or 3D CG. The stop-motion movements were totally different from 2D animation. I started to think, “Oh, this is [a new way] to also enjoy Pokémon!” I think Haru’s movements are very interesting, and when in action, are actually very convincing and believable.
Was there anything that you did by picking up this project?
I really like Pokémon, and am really excited to be a part of this great Pokémon project. I’ve loved the series since I was young, and in the studio, I was surrounded by lots of Pokémon. It made me really happy and realize that it is a great joy to be surrounded by characters I love so much. I am so happy and grateful for this whole project.
The casting of Haru was heavily kept a secret. Was it difficult to keep it a secret, and how did you feel after finally being able to reveal it to your audience?
Yes, I am very happy! We had to keep this a secret for quite a long time but now I can brag about it to all my friends.
Predominantly in the past, you have worked in real-life acting and voice acting in anime, and I am curious how voice acting in a stop-motion production is different from what you’ve experienced before?
I have experience voice acting in anime productions, but luckily I was able to use my experiences from real-life film acting in those performances. But in this one, however, it was completely different in view and scene. So I had to learn a lot of new acting for this animation, and I had to spend a lot of time practicing how to voice act for it.
Do you have any memories of enjoying Pokémon when you were younger? Were you a Pokémon fan going into this project, and what is your favorite Pokémon and why?
So that’s a tough question. Earlier, when I was playing the Pokémon games, Mewtwo was my favorite Pokémon. I admired Mewtwo a lot. But once I started on Pokémon Concierge, I saw Psyduck in stop motion animation and he’s just too adorable. He’s just too cute, so he is my favorite right now.
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