[Honey’s Anime Interview] TRUE, prolific anisong singer of Hibike! Euphonium OPs

Miho Karasawa, who also goes by the stage name, TRUE, has just released her second album titled Around the True on February 22nd!. You may know her for her passionate vocal style and her straightforward lyrics on theme songs for anime series like Buddy Complex, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Maria the Virgin Witch, Sound! Euphonium, and many others. Karasawa has been an active artist from 2000, but in 2014 she debuted as TRUE becoming a powerhouse singer interpreting flawlessly several OPs and EDs each anime season.

Next, she will be interpreting Spring Anime Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? ED titled "From (フロム)" which will be released on May 24.

Honey-chan and Bombon had the lovely opportunity to meet TRUE on a cold winter afternoon. She answered confidently some questions about her love for anime, music, hobbies, her plans for the future and what she wishes for.


About writing lyrics for anime theme songs

I’ve heard that you not only sing, but also write your own lyrics. Please tell us about your writing process, from start to finish!

I think it’s different depending on the role of the song. For Hibike! Euphonium, I read the original novel first. Then, I read some of the anime script and looked at storyboards before I started writing. If it’s an original anime without a source, then I start with the script. As for the B-side songs, in my case, I take the image of the main anime collaboration song and develop them from there. I project myself through the work and compose the words that way.

As for the songs on my second album which aren’t collaborations, I really wanted to look back on my own life and my own music. So I kind of repeatedly took a good look at myself, then worked on putting it into words.

When I’m working on an anime collaboration song, even though I write the lyrics once I have a deep understanding of the anime, it’s still my own creation. During the production of this album, I had the feeling that I would be able to take another step forward through facing and putting into words part of myself that I hadn’t shown anyone before - or rather, that I didn’t want to show anyone. When I finally stopped, I thought if I could take those parts of me I didn’t want anyone to see - like my childhood, or when I was trying to make music and filled the page in all black - I might be able to create my very own anisong.

So if there was ever an anime called “Me,” all songs on my second album would just be opening songs! (laughs)

Whether writing songs for anime or not, have you ever had times where you couldn’t think of any words? Have you ever had writer’s block?

Of course, many times!

When you’re a professional, rather than being able to take as much time as you want to write, there’s a time limit. There must be other difficulties too. What do you do when that happens?

I just write anyway. I write and write and write, throw it away, then start writing again. Somewhere along the way when you’re working on a project, your writing starts to become sharper, gradually gets more honed. Then I choose words from there. Also, a change of pace can really have an effect. Like going to the theatre and watching a completely different anime. I always consciously try to change up the pace. I’m not a genius, so it’s not like the words just fall from the heavens!

The OP of Hibike! Euphonium 2, "Soundscape", is on your second album. I love this song a lot, and there’s something I’ve been wondering about the lyrics. I asked my friend who understands Japanese what the song meant, and it seems you change the lyrics over and over again, and use words about being positive and earnestly moving forward. I was really moved by the pure feeling of wanting to improve. How did you feel when you were writing the lyrics?

Rather than purposefully choosing words over and over again about moving forward, I think it just naturally came out that way, because I also feel like I have to keep moving forwards. Hibike! Euphonium itself is a work that taught me to keep trying my best, so seeing that I was moving forwards gave me courage.

I’m sure that some people when they listen to the song will imagine the characters, and others might see themselves in it and turn it into their own song. The way people view the song depends on the individual - I’d be happy if that happened.

About her favorite anime series and characters!

Seeing as we’re on the subject, I’d like to hear about your taste in anime. If you could sing the theme song for any anime from all time, which anime would you choose?

There’s so many anime I want to sing for! However, Tenkuu no Escaflowne (The Vision of Escaflowne) was the anime that made me aware not only of anime, but anisongs. Youko Kanno’s music and Maaya Sakamoto’s presence was huge for me.

(Editor’s note: Maaya Sakamoto is the seiyuu for the heroine Hitomi Kanzaki and also sang the OP “Yakusoku wa Iranai.” This role made her leap to fame, and she went on to regularly make music. Youko Kanno was in charge of the composition and arrangement of “Yakusoku wa Iranai.”)

I was shocked that someone who, until that point, wasn’t very familiar with anime could come in and create that kind of world.

Gundam is another work that I’ve been conscious of throughout my whole life, so I’d like to sing a theme song for Gundam Wing or Seed. That’s something I’ve longed for.

It’s kind of rare for a woman to be a Gundam otaku, don’t you think?

That might be true (laughs). I actually tend to like anime that boys would usually watch.

So, if you could become an anime character, what kind of anime character would you want to be?

I would want to be Lunamaria [Hawke from Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny]! I’d love to be in an anime. I want to fight! Rather than being protected I want to be the one protecting, that’s just my personality. I don’t think I’d suit being a heroine. I mean, in a lot of cases the heroine is protected by someone, right? I secretly look up to girls who support the hero. I want to be someone reliable and strong.

Wow, that’s amazing! I love guys that fight, but I also look up to girls that fight! What does anime mean to you?

I grew up with anime. In the environment that I was raised in, watching anime was a natural thing. Anime was always by my side as I grew up. Anime was the thing that first taught me how painful love could be - I gained that sort of knowledge from anime and manga before I experienced it in real life. Like with friendship, the people around me didn’t have the sort of friendship that is accomplished by people shouldering these great burdens like you see in anime. I really yearned for that kind of thing, and was taught those “feelings” through anime.

If anisongs - my songs - were to eventually get heard by children from all over the world, I want to give them even just a little bit of hope through the OP or ED, no matter how depressing the anime. For example with Orphans (“STEEL: Tekketsu no Kizuna” from TRUE’s second album is Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans’ ED), I wanted to sing about hope in the ending song. I wanted people to have the courage to continue watching every episode until the end.

About her free time and hobbies

Waa, I totally get that. We also learn all sorts of new things from anime… TRUE, what do you do in your free time?

I usually go to the theatre and watch anime! The showing times at theatres are short, so I often go to there on my days off, or watch stuff I’ve recorded - I really do only watch anime… Another reason I go to the theatre is to buy merch (laughs). Merch often sells out in central Tokyo so I sometimes go to cinemas that are far away. I’m a sucker for commemorative and limited edition goods… Also, even if a certain anime has stopped showing in central Tokyo, it will sometimes still be showing in cinemas outside the metropolitan area.

Your hobby often becomes tied to your work. Do you ever find yourself hating anime?

Not at all! I don’t end up hating anime, and the same goes for people! Both 2D and 3D!

About her true self

Thank you for your wonderful display of chuunibyou.

You’re one to talk, Bombon! You’re like the queen of chuunibyou. Umm, I’d like to ask about your live performances. What sort of preparation do you do before a concert, TRUE?

I try my best not to think too much. If I don’t practice everyday I get uneasy and start to feel sick, so I do my best not to let myself get swept away by the concert. I always end up feeling like I could be doing more, you know? You can’t move forwards just by imagining something inside your head, so I rent studio space and perform by myself. I practice over and over again, but I tend to get really get into it and end up hurting my throat by singing… That’s why I make a conscious effort to take breaks.

You said that you end up feeling like you could be doing more. Have you always been such a forward-thinking person?

Not at all. There was a time when I pursued music as a singer for Pops, but it might be because I was given the opportunity to sing once more as TRUE that I became so determined. That and the fact that there are fans who come to see me, and knowing that I can give back to them became a source of joy for me. The more expectations that are put on me, the more I want to aim higher and higher. After my first and second solo concert, it really hit home that I was growing and moving forwards - I think that’s why I can think this way now.

Do you ever get depressed?

I can’t say that I don’t… But I can sleep it off! I never used to tell anyone when I was feeling low. I would do nothing but write - it was a totally unconscious thing. I would write so much that when I looked back at it I’d be shocked. Now I can get through it pretty quickly by talking about it. I don’t really write so much anymore (laughs).

I don’t think there are many people out there who can stay positive in the face of adversity like anime protagonists can. I think there are lots of people out there who are feeling depressed and want to be positive, but just can’t. If you were face to face with someone who was feeling depressed, what advice would you give them?

My life has been pretty full of ups and downs. Quite a lot of time has passed since I decided I wanted to do music and lots of things happened up until now. I had to take a lot of necessary detours to finally get to the place where I am at present - a place where I feel like I belong. During that process, I overcame a lot of difficulties; things that I thought I wouldn’t be able to overcome. It’s because I know I can overcome these difficulties that I’m able to face forwards, even when I want to run away. Even when I’m in distress, I’m confident that I will get through it. So if there was someone here who was feeling depressed, I would talk to them using myself as an example. I’d say, “I got through these things, so you can surely get through this, too.” I think that’s probably the best way to encourage someone. I’d be happy if I could encourage someone through my songs and the words weaved into them. That’s my goal and what I’m working hard to achieve.

We asked an extra question

Because your fans overseas would like to know a little bit more about you, they came up with this question: If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?

  • I want to meet my favourite seiyuu!
  • I’m in the middle of remodelling my body, I want a good body! (laughs) I’d like to be a little bigger. I’m no Motoko from Ghost in the Shell, but I want to become a woman who’s flexible and has all the right stuff in all the right places! So, I’m currently training for that. If I could, I’d wish for an artificial body to make my dream come true right now.
  • I want to live in a big house! With a huge garden!

Thank you so much. Finally, please give us a message for all your fans abroad!

I think that anime will start to become something that isn’t about being from Japan or elsewhere, you know? One of the reasons I wanted to work in the anime industry was because anime taught me so much, and because I learned so much from it I wanted to give something back - not that I feel like I’ve managed that. But that’s one of the reasons why I was inspired to become an anisong lyricist and why I wanted to sing anisongs. I want to go and directly reach out to those who are really watching, who really love anime, without creating that border between Japan and abroad. That’s why I’d love to get out there and do lots of concerts abroad! Please welcome me when I do!


honeys anime character
Five out of the fourteen songs of this album are anime collaborations, but with or without anime songs I was able to project myself through different genres of music - I got to sing jazz and rock and classical songs. It may not be a tour of the world, but in a wider sense of the word I thought it would be amazing to go on a musical journey of sorts, a big journey through music with the characters from each of the anime connected to this album. That’s the kind of album I think this is. That’s why I made full use of my strengths - freely, without restriction.
honey's anime character
I like how much thought you put into the whole album concept to make it diverse and enjoyable by people with very different musical taste. It's been so much fun interviewing a “true” anime fan. We can tell your love for anime is one of the reasons you're very active in the anisong industry.