Roughly two months ago, the voice actor Mitsuhiro Ichiki was called to an audition to play an original character for the anime, Kokoro Connect. Shortly after the audition, Ichiki received word that he had been chosen and was asked to come to an event as a secret guest. Sadly, the audition, and even the original character that Ichiki was supposedly supposed to play were all a lie. Ichiki was forced to watch video of himself auditioning for a role that didn’t exist. He was then told he had been chosen as the “Publicity Leader” and his job would be to garner public interest in the anime (essentially a PR monkey). The whole joke seemed mean-spirited and when details of the whole event were uncovered, the internet hate machine quickly went to work. Profiles of all those involved and their individual responses to the practical joke were documented, leading to massive flaming on twitter, message boards, and on the video stream of the actual anime. Sadly, at this point, no matter the quality of the anime itself, the damage may already be irreversible.
On the second episode of the Kokoro Connect radio show, Terashima Takumu and Kanemoto Hisako, who play roles in Kokoro Connect as Aoki and Kiriyama, were conversing with one another. The following is an excerpt of their conversation.
(K = Kanemoto, T = Terashima)
T: Publicity Chief Ichiki's prank was really exciting (lol)
K: I wanted to see it (lol)
T: That was probably a really historic moment.
K: I kept thinking about the event, wondering what Terashima, Takahiro, Kame-chan, were doing. Ichiki... Ichiki... he isn't in the anime (lol)
T: *laughs hard*
K: Oh so I heard he's the Publicity Chief
T: It was a prank shown live on niconico and ustream, but I also did the narration for the prank video clip. Ichiki didn't go to rehearsal and just came right in on the real thing.
K: Eeeh (lol)
T: (explains prank in detail)
K: Poor thing (lol)
T: It was a big impact, I didn't think seeing the moment a person crumbles would be so beautiful (lol) We used many people to pull it off, it's amazing right? (lol)
K: will Ichiki's character actually appear?
T: *laughs* How the hell would I know?!
During the publicity and promotional campaign for the anime in Osaka, a video was posted on ustream of Ichiki along side Kanemoto Hisako. During this video Ichiki is made to play a "punishment game" and the punishment is being electrocuted. During this video Kanemoto makes the following remarks:
K: You're really busy this summer! Isn't that great? Going from Kyuushu to Hokkaido (lol)
I: As the Publicity Chief of this project, well after various things, I have to do it...
K: Wait, you "have" to do it? But didn't you want to do it? I mean what with that-
I: No, didn't you see it?!
K: At the audition you yourself said "I want to do it!" so passionately, didn't you?
I: [Turning away from her] How can you say that when you know exactly what happened?!
A few moments later;
I: The people I just cannot stand are Terashima Takuma and- (low frequency shock) ooowwww
K: (laughing) Chief! Chief, come back! (he fell to the side out of pain)
On a more recent radio show, this is the conversation that flowed between Terashima and Kanemoto:
T: "I still want them coming here."
K: "Me too."
T: "I want to bring those who couldn't come."
T: "Did't Daichuu-san and Toyosaki-san already came?"
K: "They haven't"
T: "I want them to come. The Publicity Chief doesn't need to, though. (laughs)"
K: "(laughs) I see him at many places. We meet a lot. That's why seeing him has lost it's "appeal". (laughs)" (Probably compared to the other guests)
T: "Appeal... (laughs)"
K: It's like, the first time I saw him (while he was doing the PR work) I thought "So this is the Publicity Chief, huh" (laughs)
T: "At first you're like "Do your best!", but then when you meet him (again, while he's doing PR stuff) all you can think is "Oh, I guess he's working hard then"
K: "Getting used to the things is scary." (laughs)
T: "This is bad, huh." (laughs)
As most of those in the industry understand and acknowledge, voice acting is not an easy career. Years of hard work are required to establish oneself in the industry, as well as being able to making a living off voice acting. This kind of incident is simply unacceptable in all aspects, but especially in regards to Ichiki, who has not had many roles in many shows. One would think that there would be a mutual level of respect between voice actors working in the same field, but unfortunately it was not present during this disturbing event.
Highly prolific voice actor Kitamura Eri's official Twitter account has also been closed down, as rumours of her having previous romantic relationships with the producer behind the Kokoro Connect scandal spread across the internet. As a precautionary measure, and to prevent additional inappropriate comments to be posted on her Twitter, she will no longer be active on Twitter until further notice.
The following video was taken during the prank event. The video has since been removed.