Kenji Nojima (野島 健児 Nojima Kenji, born March 16, 1976 in Tokyo) is a Japanese voice actor and singer affiliated with the voice talent agency Aoni Production. His first major role in voice-over was Spark in the Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight TV series. He voiced Hikaru Ichijyo in a number of Macross-related video games in the 2000s. Other major roles include Yuto Kiba in High School DxD, Jade in Ultimate Muscle, Nobuchika Ginoza in Psycho-Pass, Keisaku Sato in Shakugan no Shana, Taihei Doma in Himouto! Umaru-chan, and Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon Crystal. In anime films he voices Fumito Nanahara in Blood-C, Masaki in Time of Eve. He is the son of Akio Nojima and is the younger brother of Hirofumi Nojima. He is married to Chie Sawaguchi since 2004 and they have two children together.
Nojima roles his voice as Eiji Okumura.
TV anime ‘BANANA FISH’ Kenji Nojima interview. The theme of “Ubiquitous Love” between Eiji & Ash Edit
── First things first, please tell your unfiltered opinions on the times when you read the original work
Nojima: Because I was told that it’s a ‘Shoujo manga’, When I opened and read the manga my initial thought is “Where is the shoujo part of this manga…!?” (laughs) The other thought that arises is the question of what is ‘BANANA FISH,’ for it left such a huge impression to me every time when the characters question about it. I heard and was told that it is a relatively an old work, and it definitely felt that way when you read some parts of the manga.
But I felt that it is a story that you could still understand and relate with, something that you can depict as “Ubiquitous” of sort, I really think it’s a work that people of every age could accept. By making the animation set on the modern era, I can now vividly feel what Ash feels for I’m somehow living on the same world as him, it really showed through on the drawings, and I’m looking forward more and more how this will hook me the same way as the manga did to me.
── To you Nojima-san, what is the main theme that makes people drawn on this work?
Nojima: The main theme I perceive, is the “Ubiquitous Love” between Eiji and Ash. By the moment they met, they are instantly yet unconsciously attracted with each other. They mutually respect and care for each other, while at the same time invigorate their well-being. For they formed such bond filled with affection, is why I think that everyone who’ll come across with their relationship would definitely yearn to feel that ubiquitous feelings of love. The original work showed it really well. But this opinion, to be honest, isn’t something the majority thinks when they talk about the manga.
But at least for me, this manga is a glimpse of this enjoyable love and familial bond between two people, it’s passionate, to the point that it exceeds the label of being just close friends…In the first place, the word “Friend” feels a really odd label, for everyone could agree that it’s more of a relationship filled with ‘longing’. But in real life, meeting someone where you could feel such feelings is difficult and rare. That’s why I’m so envious about Ash and Eiji’s relationship, for they have this special bond that helps them support one another. It makes me wish that they won’t break on hardships. Their beautiful trust with one another is something I hope they’ll continue to brush up, for watching over their bond somehow motivates me to believe that love like theirs exist.
── Please talk about again what kind of image did you gave to character, Eiji Okumura
Nojima: Initially, I thought that he’s only an ordinary 19 y/o boy. Although he’s somewhat afraid on how he’ll live his future, his experience is something pretty usual to his age so in many ways, he’s still more of a cheerful boy. However, if we’re going to differentiate this one point that makes him deviate from the normal, is that he’s superbly pure. Very pure to the point that even though we don’t know explicitly that much about his life, you can vividly visualize what kind of childhood and school life he had. He plays a mother-like role full of wisdom in the story.
Even though his character description sounds awfully plain, there’s more than meets the eye. The role he plays is larger than the story itself for it aged together with him, not to mention that he acts more than just a driving force to the main character. When I witnessed Eiji’s purity, it made long and strive to be a person like him for I find it so amazing, aside from that, it also made me realize why Ash fell in love with him. Eiji is that person when you have this man by your side, there’s no question that you’ll feel safe with his presence for he’s overflowing with comforting love.
── Please tell us about Ash’s character next
Nojima: Ash too, as the matter of fact, when I read the original work, is a character that I find to have a really pure heart. Ash is a gang boss, so he lives his life as if he’s going to die to tomorrow and is barely surviving doing it, that is until he met Eiji and got to be touched by his purity. That’s the reason why he allowed him to touch his precious gun for he knows in one look that Eiji won’t abuse that power he gave to him unlike the others.
In other words, that approach he did also oozes with this similar innocence to Eiji in my opinion. At least for Eiji, that’s the first time he connected with Ash which he somewhat feels shares the same wavelength as him. That’s why even though they’re born from a different country and lives on a totally opposite worlds, they became so attracted with each other. Ash struggles to strive on living even though he’s only 17 years of age, which makes his character really raw for you can feel that humanity flowing.
Also, Eiji before all of the happenings is an Eiji without a clear future and goals, the same thing with Ash for he doesn’t even think about his own personal goals and so, that minute and second first encounter, changed them for they finally start thinking about living. I don’t even contemplate about my beliefs on how should I live my life and its meaning at all. That’s why, meeting these two made me think deeply about the “Meaning of life” and hope that people that will come across this work would think thoroughly and view the world with open yet various perspectives.
── Lastly, please leave us a message for the fans!
Nojima: Ash and Eiji runs straight while taking NY by storm. Witness these two pure people slowly transform into adults in the near future, as they get involved through the means of engaging to various people, whether they’re good or not. I also have my own expectations with the anime, that’s why I would like you to watch over me if you can. I really think that because the anime is set on the current age, it got this chance to materialize on its own beautiful way, and so I hope you can support this anime and at the same time please also support my work. Thank you.
（※ Extracted from PASH! August 2018 issue）