Friday, April 27, 2007


Next to creating a manga or an anime, anime fans dream of becoming a seiyuu or voice actor. One such fan is Louis (not his real name), who is living his dream as one of the Animax voice talents. He is a member of the core group chosen to dub the Animax shows following the network's decision to go English. Louis has voiced a wide range of characters, both young and old, starting with Ginji Amano in GetBackers, Ranma Saotome in Ranma ½ and Capt. Shwanhelt Bulge in The Galaxy Railways.

Forum critics (who have no experience in dubbing) have the erroneous belief that voice acting is easy, that the dubbers just march into the studio and record. As Louis explains, this is not true. "People have to receive some special training before they can go into the dubbing career. The basic training is how to synchronize (speak/act) with the characters’ dialogue.

Firstly, you have to adjust your own speaking tempo and response quick enough in order to speak simultaneously as the characters do. Secondly, you must have the same mood as what the characters expressed in the stories and I think this is the hardest part. Thirdly, you have to adjust your own voice in order to match the characters’ age."

Before the voice actors record their parts, they undergo a "rehearsal", which entails watching the episode first. Says Louis, "This is very important. Without rehearsal, we cannot grasp what we need to perform. We do the rehearsal inside the studio together with the script."

Recording is done either individually or together with the team, depending upon the scene and could take from a few hours to a whole day. One difficult aspect of recording is timing their voices with the character's speaking on the screen. "This is the integration of reaction: your understanding the content of the dialogue, the coordination of your brain, eyes, and mouth. The rehearsal itself can make you better adapted to the dubbing situation."

Louis explains that voice acting is a challenging profession. "I have to dub different characters. Each character is new to me. Some of them are very demanding in skills and feeling."

Of course, Louis has his own favorites among the characters he had done. "I enjoyed doing the voice of Albert in The Count of Monte Cristo because it gave me the opportunity to do a serious character who portrayed a lot of emotions. He was innocent, and was forced to grow up quickly as a result of the situation he found himself in. Which of course is quite different from InuYasha, who’s a definite favorite of mine, because he’s more brash and sure of himself even in the face of mortal danger. Doing the voice of InuYasha really allowed me to let loose with my acting, and try to represent his personality through voice alone.

"The most challenging, the most difficult, character I’ve done so far has to be Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho. Like InuYasha, I really had the ability to pour myself into the role, but on the other hand Yusuke had a lot more introspection. Sometimes, especially later in the series, there was a real human side to the character. Quiet and endearing. I found it challenging to portray so many sides of such a complex character."

Among the Animax projects he had been involved with, Louis enjoyed working on Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. "The most memorable project we’ve worked on so far is definitely Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and its sequel 2nd Gig. Unlike most of the anime I’ve worked on, this particular show is more like an animated television drama. This really gave the actors the ability to be a lot more serious about their characters in a dark, gritty show. The other great part about it is that the animation style and background that Shirow Masamune has created has both deep dramatic elements to it, as well as high-octane action. The double dose of drama and action really makes this project stand out in my mind."

The Animax dubbers have been receiving criticisms from certain fans who prefer the anime subtitled. However, for Louis and the Animax voice talents, they do not allow these criticisms to faze them and, instead, they learn from these constructive comments.

"A dubbing talent should be open and should not be afraid to face criticisms especially those constructive opinions," says Louis. "In fact this is good. It helps to improve your dubbing skills. We should be humble. If we think we are excellent and flawless, then we will make no progress. If this is the case, it would be a pity for ourselves."

(Rory would like to thank Animax Asia's Marlene Ee for her assistance in helping secure this interview with Louis. I do hope I'll get to interview the gentleman who dubs Black Jack and The Count of Monte Cristo as well.)

(For those who want to read the complete transcript of Rory's interview with Louis, you may visit her blog at

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