Voice Actor Todd Haberkorn – SakuraCon 2008 Exclusive

Over the weekend at SakuraCon, I was lucky enough to get to sit down for an exclusive interview with rising star voice actor with Funimation, Todd Haberkorn. Already landing his first lead role at Funimation (xxxHolic), Todd was nice enough to answer all my questions about his upcoming roles, taking over the ADR chair on Shuffle and much more.  

~ So I’m sitting down with Todd Haberkorn from Funimation. It’s nice to sit down and to have a chance to chat with you. Thanks so much for taking the time to do the interview.

Todd: Thanks for having me.

~ So, the weekend has been going well so far?

Todd: It’s been going great. I love Seattle, I got family out here so it’s been fun to come back and see all the action and everybody, like I said it’s been fantastic to see how many people are here. And the cosplay is amazing.

~ Any interesting events happen so far that you want to set the record straight on now before they become internet legends?

Todd: Let’s see… [Pauses]… this is PG…

~ [Laughs] My site is more PG-13.

Todd: Then no, everything’s fine. Everything’s great. [Laughs]

~ So, this is only your second con?

Todd:  Second con. Anime Boston (2008) was my first. I’ve got more scheduled this year. I’m going to be at Anime Vegas, Tora Con, a couple of others. So it’s exciting, I’m really enjoying the con circuit. It’s a lot of fun.

~ Did you ever get a chance to hit any of the cons before you started getting into voice acting even just to hang out?

Todd:  Before getting into the anime industry, I really had watched, I think, ‘Blood’ and ‘Vampire Hunter D’, both the old and the new version, other than that I really didn’t watch too much anime. I’ve been in the entertainment industry in different capacities but getting into this (the anime) has been a lot of fun. Thankfully so I’ve been able to stay in it, kind of progress through the food chain there I guess you could say a little bit and I’m really happy to be where I’m at now and just keep shooting for the top.

~ Alright, according to my research you have a really impressive theater resume and your anime resume goes back a little bit so how did you get into the Funimation booth?

Todd: I had done, I think, one or two things at Funimation as in ‘Black Cat’; I did something in ‘Peach Girl’ and really didn’t hear much about it. Then I was at Illumitoon and I was Giku in ‘Giku Warriors’, I was in ‘Beet the Vandal Buster’ over there and also the lead in ‘AM Driver’ which those are two shows which we probably won’t see I guess. I wish we could. And Caitlin Glass heard my voice there when she was recording one of the characters. And from that she called me in and the rest is history as they say.

~ Ah, so it’s Caitlin Glass that we have to thank.

Todd: Caitlin Glass! Yes, she is.

~ So making the jump from theater to the booth, what was the biggest thing to learn or obstacle to get over there?

Todd: It’s making sure that in the booth I have a clear voice, watching my diction and my enunciation. I remember Barry Watson gave me some advice and he said ‘You need to be clear, you need to have high energy and you need to be different.’ So when I was doing all my stuff at Illumitoon, this was my mantra going through my head. Keeping those things in mind.

The biggest jump besides that is kind of adjusting to the fact that you don’t have a full week rehearsal process to create a character. But you develop it another way and you adapt, you grow. It’s a whole different set of skills. The theater background, the film background and such really helps to have that and I think working this anime muscle is just another aspect of that.

~ Speaking of; now that you’re starting to get into it a little bit more, you’re getting to cons as a rep now, are you starting to get a bigger interest in anime? Are you starting to check out series on your own?

Todd: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah… man, it is amazing the imagination in these series and that’s just a small little pocket of what I’ve seen! And I know that there’s stuff out there that’s amazing. And we sit there, something like… a couple of shows coming that I can’t say right now but the stuff that goes on in those episodes is stuff that we in the American culture have not yet touched as far as imagination goes. And I sit there and sometimes I pause it, like Vampire Hunter D (the newer one) really blew me away. It was fantastic. And I paused it sometimes and I just sat there and I’m like ‘how are they coming up with this?’ And it’s just amazing, what little I’ve discovered, and it does make me want to watch more for sure.

~ Alright, talking a little bit of business, we have the premiere of xxxHolic happening this weekend…

Todd: The premiere of xxxHolic, yes. First three episodes.

~ So, how do you think the crowd is going to react to it tomorrow?

Todd: You know, I hope they enjoy it. I’m gonna be thankful if they show up. From what I hear from the people selling the DVD, it’s selling very well. It’s selling out. It sold out at Anime Boston and it’s selling out here. It’s the number 1 seller, I’m really excited to be a part of it and I have high hopes for it. I hope we get season two, I hope we get the second OVA and continue from there. I really love the character in that show.

~ Ok, so now it’s time to put you on the spot. [Todd laughs] Sell me on this series. Why should I invest my next paycheck in it?

Todd: In xxxHolic? When you watch this show, there are numerous levels of imagination all going on at the same time. For example, the main characters are full color, full animation, the ones that aren’t important are grayed out. That sounds like a simple concept but you think about that, I mean they really pay attention to every little detail of this show. It’s got your comedy, it’s got some scary moments, there are sweet moments and tender moments and from my perspective doing the character, this is a character that goes through a full range of emotions that can happen in one episode! And that’s what I love about doing this character is that I do get to experience at the beginning of an episode manic crazy energy and then there’s depression and then there’s happiness and then there’s anger then there’s love and all in one episode. That’s one episode!

            And what’s also great about it is that there’s not truly a set formula like some shows where you know ‘ok, now this has gotta happen then we’re gonna see this happening’ it’s different every time. A lot of colorful characters and each character has enough strength on its own to stand as a character that fans will latch onto like Moekena. People will like Moekena, people will like just Yuko, people will like just Watanugi and that’s rare to find a show where each character has its own loveable traits that can pull people into their own little camps. And also there are crossovers to Tsubasa. The animation is great, the music and effects are great, dialogue is strong and of course everyone around me that’s in it does a fantastic job.

~ What else can you tell me about your character in this series?

Todd: Watanugi is… it’s just really interesting to see how clear my character’s arc is from the very first episode to where I am now. Right now I’m recording episode nineteen. And there are similarities, there are formulas to the character of course, but watching him go from not knowing anything about the world that he’s immersed in and kind of learning along the way, and the audience is learning with him the different layers of this mystical world that he’s involved in with Yuko and Moekena and Moru and Maru and such. So it’s a show that you can get immersed in and grow with the character.

~ What were your favorite and least favorite parts of playing this character?

Todd: Favorite parts are getting to explore the different levels of emotion and kind of showing that I can do other things. The least favorite part I guess is losing my voice ‘cause there are times when I’ll go in the session for ten hours, eleven hours, and half of that will be yelling. So full on volume and more than one take. So then I gotta come in the next day and do that and eventually you just lose the voice and you gotta shut down for a couple of days so that would be the only least favorite part but everything else has been a blast. My job is a blast, I love it. Every bit of it.

~ Well I imagine that the good points outweigh the bad.

Todd: Oh, of course, yes, yes, yes.

~ So another series that you were cast in that I’ve been wild about since I saw it. The first season is ending soon and the OVA is coming out soon… so what were you favorite and least favorite parts about playing Kentaro Nara from School Rumble?

Todd: Ahhhh… the favorite part is just being surrounded by such talented voice actors that really are truly hilarious because I know them personally and professionally and it’s great to just watch them do their thing out there. Brina (Palencia) is a great director. Least favorite was that I just wasn’t able to experience more of it. I come in for my role here and there and I just get little pockets of exposure to ‘School Rumble’ but I guess the least favorite would be to not get more exposure there to kind of see everyone in action.

~ So any little teasers you wanna give your fans about the School Rumble OVA coming out?

Todd: Um… let’s see… see I get in trouble when I hint at stuff so I’ll just say action packed, check it out. [laughs]

~ Alright, sounds good [laughs]. Any other new projects coming out that you’d like to…

Todd: ‘Shuffle’! I play Ichi in ‘Shuffle’. I took over directing from episode nine on to finish out the series. I’m excited about the growth of the actors.

That’s my first show to take on fully as director. I also did some assistant directing on ‘Glass Fleet’ but this was more fully my project at that point, day in and day out from episode nine on. And I’m excited about seeing how everyone responds to that, especially since there will be three directors on that show by the time it ends. Carrie Savage had the first volume, Leah Clark had the second and then I took over after that. So I’m really interested in what people think about that.

As far as other stuff that I’m allowed to tease… I can’t. But I will say please keep supporting Funimation and us ‘cause in the future we’ll get some more stuff coming.

~ Was it always the original intention to have you take over at episode nine (of Shuffle) or did it just kind of happen that way?

Todd: It just happened that way. I had expressed interest in directing and I found out what kind of were the necessary steps to do that and it was a lot of luck, a lot of blessing and a lot of hoping. And then I was just in the right place at the right time.

~ Did you pick up any hints from the directors before you or are you blazing your own directing style with this?

Todd: I do look to other people who have been doing it a lot longer, I always ask for tips and if you have any for me, please I always ask for help. I’m always willing to learn more because I feel like if I get to a point where I’m like ‘you know what, I don’t have anything else to learn’ then what am I doing?

~ Yeah, it would seem to me that there’s always something new to learn otherwise…

Todd: Yeah, I just want to keep getting better and better. That’s my goal.

~ Excellent, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me tonight. Are there any final words of wisdom you’d like to leave with your fans in Seattle?

Todd: You know, maybe not words of wisdom but words of appreciation. Thank you everyone for your support of the anime industry, and this art form. It’s very touching to see the effort and everyone taking the time out of their schedule to attend this event and to support the industry and to kind of come along with us on this journey. It really is special and I want everyone to be aware that we notice it and thank you.

I’d like to once again thank Todd for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat with me. Fans who are interested in hearing more from him should check out the series xxxHolic, School Rumble and Shuffle all available now from Funimation.

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