Posts Tagged ‘bang zoom’
|In Part II of my interview with Karen Strassman, the conversation moved further away from her past and got more into her present and future. In this final section of the interview, Karen talked with me about some of her favorite roles, Buso Renkin, Lucky Star, When They Cry, being irritating in the voice booth and much more.|
~ But alright, so I want to go ahead and start talking about some of the more specific series that you’ve been in. Last year in particular you were in two series that were never really given their chance: Fate/Stay Night and When They Cry. So, the first one I’d like to ask you about is When They Cry where you play one of the supporting roles Miyo Takano.
Karen: Uh yeah. Creepy, that whole series was so creepy.
~ When you started to get further into the series and you started to see more of the character and what kind of role she really had in everything that was going on. How does that change your performance when the character shifts like that and you have to deal with these new nuances?
K: Um, I think you just have more information to play with. Like, and in a way it’s good that I didn’t know everything. In the beginning because then my performance is real ambiguous, because I wasn’t sure either. So in a way I didn’t have to risk giving anything away because it was more ambiguous because even I didn’t know. And as I got more and more information and everything, I just had more specifics to play with. And I had more information behind me and more kind of subtext. But still my character you never really knew that clearly what her story was. And I have some questions like you know, I was like well… is she a bad guy? Did she do it? Or is she just obsessed with this? Or does she just love freaking people out? Or is she just sick? laughs
~ Alright, with May coming to a close 2008 has been a fairly good year for you so far anime wise. Last month it was Buso Renkin, Code Geass, this month it was Lucky Star. With Buso Renkin, Mahiro Muto is so sweet that she could send someone into diabetic shock. I’m mentioning this to highlight to how many different types of characters that you play. And so, with that many varieties of characters, do you have a different characterization process you go through for your different characters or is it pretty much the same process no matter what you’ve playing?
K: Well, at the beginning of the series when you’re kind of creating the character. Usually for anime, it usually is a combination of what was done in Japanese and there some are series where they us to come as close to the Japanese as possible and there are some series where is some leeway and we kind of work to create the character that works the best in English that doesn’t have to completely match the Japanese.
And that’s just depends on the series, what the client wants. And then it’s just depends on what they look like, depends on the Japanese and we just kind of with the director we just kind of work, usually it takes just the first session and we develop the character together. And then as you move on through the series, I just kind of sink into the character and get to know them better and better and get more and more comfortable with them.
I’ll say something else, for each character there is often kind of a theme to them. Like the scenes for Mahiro, Rene (Veilleux, ADR Director) and I would always joke that when she was just really annoyingly cute then we knew it was right on. When we would play it back and sort of cringe and laugh at the same time, then we’d be like “That’s it! Alright, next loop.”
For example, a character that I’m doing for Lucky Star (Miyuki Takara) right now is so cute but she’s so cute in such a different way. She’s not like annoyingly cute, she’s like, you know, Ooh you just wanna hug her cute. She’s just so sweet and innocent. And you know with her glasses and her pink hair, and that’s just a really different kind of cute. We looked for the most sweetest, endearing kind of cute for her. She would never ever in a million years be annoying. So that’s just a whole different country of cute.
~ Do you have a favorite type of character to play? And is there anything that you’d really like to be able to play but just haven’t had a chance to try it?
K: Sexy and evil characters are really fun. I enjoy those a lot. I had a lot of fun as Shinanora in Gun Frontier.
Have you seen Gun Frontier?
~ Um… no, not yet.
K: Aww, you’re no fun. She was just this sexy dripping character. All the men were just falling all over her. And that’s the show with Tahiro.
~ So there hasn’t been any thing that you haven’t been able to really just challenge yourself with or is it one of those roles that you’ll know when you see it?
K: I guess when I see it I’ll know it. But I will say that one of the things that I love about anime too is that I get the opportunity to do stuff that’s more realistic. Like I just got cast in Monster! And it’s just a really realistic show and I love that. I really love realistic drama. And I love that. I also really loved this show that I did a really long time ago, Habane Renmei.
~ Oh yeah, that’s a classic.
K: And I loved that show. There was just something very surreal and real about it at that same time. You know, it wasn’t cartoony and it was kind of dark. I really enjoyed that. I start to look back on the work that I’ve done and I just have so much affection for so many things. So many things that I’ve done. And there’s one show that I can’t remember the name of, and I was a drunk mother. And she took absolutely terrible care of her kid and was just drunk all the time. And she was a drama queen. And I just loved that role. And one of the fans will probably be able to identify the role if you write about this in your interview and will write it up.
~ I really want to ask you about Hitomi in Appleseed. If you look up on my website, my reviews of Appleseed aren’t great but despite that Hitomi was a really interesting character. When it comes to something like this where it’s very futuristic and your character is a bioroid, what kind of thought do you put into your characterization?
K: Hitomi was really moving to me. She was really endearing. She’s one of those characters who wanted to be human. And you know underneath it all, whether or not she talked about it, all she wanted to know was what it would be like to feel. That’s how I played her anyway. I played her as a machine and she is but she’s not supposed to have a soul or be human but she does. And she wants to be human underneath it. And one of the tricks for me playing a character is that I fall in love with them. For who they are.
~ Appleseed was a fairly big project and the sequel was pretty huge. Lucky Star this month has a pretty huge following behind it. Are you still at the point now where being in a project that has a bit more of a following behind it makes it a bit more fun or exciting? Or is every job just a job no matter how big it is?
K: It’s fun when there’s hype around it. Of course it is. And it’s fun when I walk into the studio for Lucky Star and Alex (Von David, ADR Director/Writer) is reporting on what all the fans are saying, it’s added fun. It is fun. But I think what makes me like a show or love a show is more about loving the show, loving my character and loving the people I work with. And I’m so lucky; Alex for Lucky Star is an awesome director. And a lot of the time I’m looking forward to getting to the studio and working with the people I get to work with. But of course! When it’s getting a lot of hype, its fun!
~ So at this point what I’d like to do is ask you about a few of my favorite roles that you’ve done. What I’d like for you to do is tell me not only what you liked most and least about the character but also most and least about performing them in the booth.
~ Miyo Takano from When They Cry:
K: What I liked best about the character was how creepy she was. What I liked least I guess wanted her to have a bigger role. And what I liked best about working with her was working with Kristy (Reed). Kristy an awesome director and awesome human being and it is always a pleasure to work with her.
~ Mahiro Muto from Buso Renkin:
K: What I loved about recording Mahiro Muto was making her as irritatingly cute as possible. And what I disliked the most about Mahiro Muto was how irritiating she was. And what I loved best about working on her in the booth was getting to work Rene Veilleux. Rene is an awesome director. He’s so much fun to work with. And we just had so much fun on that series together. So I was got a call and I got to go yay, I get to play with Rene. And I get to be cute and obnoxious.
~ 1st Lt. Su-Ming from Flag:
K: What I loved about that character and that show was how realistic it was. And whenever Tony (Oliver, ADR Director) was directing me he’d constantly say ‘Play it down, make it more real, make it flatter,’ we were just going for really simple. Makin it real, ya know? And I love that, as I mentioned before I just love the realistic stuff too. It just harkens to features and cinema and I like that a lot. And she was just very very smart. Very smart, very controlled, very… you know she had a mission, she was on target. There was nothing else, she was very single focused my character. I enjoyed the challenge of doing that, ya know?
I think what I like least about it is again I would have liked for her to have been a bigger character. And I would’ve liked to have spent more time recording her. And I know that this might sound redundant but what I liked best about recording her was getting to work with Tony. Tony is just another director that has years and years of experience. And knows his stuff and is a fabulous human being too.
~ Petit Charat from Di Gi Charat:
K: Aww, I think what I liked best about that was… *laughs* it was just so cute and weird. And what I think was sometimes the most challenging for me was that there was a lot that was just surreal and out there. And a lot of it I just really didn’t understand so I guess I just had to really let go of understanding it. You know because I like to understand things and sometimes it was just so out there and abstract and weird. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I’d ask and try to figure it out. And the director, Fusako Shiotani, was someone that I don’t get to work with often. But she is great.
I’ve worked with her on a couple of projects but she loved the show and really got the show. Like in ways that I couldn’t even begin to get it. She was really able to translate to me what she wanted. So that was just super fun.
~ Miyuki Takara from Lucky Star:
K: I love Miyuki. One of the things I love about Miyuki, she is so sweet. And so caring and so… she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. And she is very unpretentious and unassuming and she just wants to help people. And there’s one episode there’s something wrong and she’s lost her glasses and she couldn’t see the board and she had to ask somebody for their homework. And I forget but she asks one of the girls who lent her their homework or notes or something. But their notes were so bad that she couldn’t read them and they weren’t useful. But she pretended that they were useful and she gave them back because she didn’t want to hurt her feelings and then she went and got the notes from somebody else but made that girl promise not to tell anyone that she was using her notes.
She just wants to help people and she doesn’t want to hurt anybody. And she’s just very very sweet. And she never yells. And being an anime voice over actor where we come into the booth a lot and we spend a lot of time yelling or being hysterical. There’s something very relaxing about coming into a session and knowing ‘I probably don’t have to yell’ *laughs*
Um, what I don’t like about Miyuki? It’s really hard not to like Miyuki. I can’t think of anything right now that I don’t like about her. She’s just so likeable and sweet, you can’t not like her. And I gotta go back to answering the same way I’ve answered before; I love working with Alex. Alex is awesome and he’s really knowledgeable about the shows and he really loves the show. And we just have so much fun together, we just laugh and laugh. I just really look forward to working with him.
~ I’d like to jump back just a bit because I forgot to ask this when we talked about it. You mentioned that one of the things you liked least about recording Mahiro is that she’s so irritating.
K: But it’s also the thing I like best about her.
~ This is true. Have you ever had a character that was so irritating to you that recording them was a chore?
K: I’ve never had that. And for Mahiro, recording her was never a chore. You love to be irritating; it’s fun to be irritating. It’s wonderful to be that bratty little sister. But when he would play it back and I’d hear it I’d go ‘Oooh, that’s irritating. I didn’t know I could be that irritating. That’s scary.’ But I loved doing it.
~ If you were stranded on a deserted island with all your basic needs met. What three luxury items would you take with you?
K: I don’t know if this is cheating but I would want to take my computer. I’d want to have the luxury of having wi-fi. To write letters with all my friends since those are the people that fill my life. My most important things to me are my computer and my phone. *laughs* I think that’s all I need and maybe some music.
~ What are you looking forward to most this year that’s anime related?
K: I’m looking forward to continuing to do Lucky Star and just continuing that. I’m looking forward to Monster, I just think that it’s going to be a really interesting series.
~ Speaking of, are there any other projects that you can reveal at the moment?
K: Yes, I’ve just started a new show with Tony Oliver. You’ll have to look it up. It’s with Bang-Zoom. It’s under the name Karen Strassman. But I can’t reveal the title.
~ And finally, the question that I ask in every interview… do you have any parting words that you’d like to leave with your fans?
K: Yeah, first of all I just want to thank them for all of their support. And I guess this is kind of cliché but I just want to put the message out there to everybody to do what you love and to do it with care for all the people you’re working with and integrity and enjoy.
~ Good message to part on.
K: It’s a little cliché but to me it’s true and to me. And if I can add onto those as an addendum, so much of my success has been because of the wonderful human relationships I’ve had with people. And it’s because people have helped me and I’ve helped them. And we really enjoy working together. I mean I know I have a certain amount of talent but I think talent mixed with putting things in perspective. Anime is great but it’s not brain surgery, we’re not saving lives here. It’s just we just want to throw some good energy out at people so that people can take a break and be entertained.
It’s an interview that is a long time in the making. Earlier this year I got an exclusive interview with voice actor Karen Strassman (Rider (Fate/Stay Night), Petit Charat (Digi Charat), Miyuki Takara (Lucky Star), Kallen Stadtfeld (Code Geass) just to name a few) but the interview remained unedited for months due to various life conflicts. But now, part I of this interview has been posted. In part I of the two part interview, Karen talks about her start in voice acting in Europe, her first anime role in the states and more.
Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Karen Strassman. Unfortunately, my life started to take drastic turns almost immediately after the interview was conducted and thus the interview remained unedited and untranscribed until now. So with that in mind, Karen Strassman isn’t a name that anime fans may recognize right away but a quick scan of her resume over the last few years may jog your memory. Rider (Fate/Stay Night), Petit Charat (Digi Charat), Miyuki Takara (Lucky Star), Kallen Stadtfeld (Code Geass), Hitomi (Appleseed), Miyo Takano (When They Cry) and many many more.
In the hour that I got to speak with Karen, we hit on a wide range of topics including her start in France, her new start in anime and some of her most memorable roles. In part I, Karen talks about the early career, some of the differences between recording in Europe and America and her first anime role.
~ So I’ m speaking with voice actress Karen Strassman. Thanks so much for taking time out of your hectic schedule to talk to me today. So before we start, how was skydiving a couple of days ago? Did you have fun?
Karen: It was such a bummer! California, where it’s beautiful everyday, it rained.
~ Oh that sucks!
K: We spent most of the day waiting to jump and they kept saying let’s wait two hours, let’s wait two hours. And we spent the whole day waiting because the weather wasn’t good enough. So I will be going back tomorrow.
~ Oh sounds fun.
K: I’m so excited, I can’t wait.
~ So alright, when did you first discover voice acting?
K: I first discovered voice acting when I was a student living in France. I was working there and I was studying there. I was teaching children how to speak English through acting. And myself and this other guy, we would be teaching classes all day long. And we’d kind of run workshops and animate them. And just help kids learn to speak English through little scenes. And, this was before the CD was born, and people were listening to cassettes. So this dates me a little bit.
But some French magazine editors came into our classroom and said they wanted to watch us work and we said fine. And afterwards they said we have a new French magazine called Hi Kids and it’s going to be for French children learning to speak English and we want to hire you both to do all kinds of characters for this magazine. And we went into the studio, you know, once a week or you know a couple of times a month or whatever. And they had us record all kinds of different types of characters that would go onto the cassette that would be sold with the magazine. And that’s where I first started to do voice over.
~ And so that’s where you got all of your training? Just sort of jumping in head first?
K: Just jumping in head first. And after that, I started dubbing French films into English in France. And I dubbed all kinds of French films into English. All different kinds of French stars I’ve dubbed their voices into English. So very often I would have friends travel on airplanes and watch French films and hear my voice. And then, there’s a tremendous amount of animation in France. And a lot of it they will do in English because it’s easiest to sell in that language.
And I just became a very successful voice over artist in France. And it just sort of happened. I was very lucky and my case is very different from a lot of people I know. But I never trained for it, I just learned while doing it.
~ So when you were first going into the booth with no training and no real idea, was it really intimidating or did you adapt really quickly to doing it in a professional environment?
K: Well, when I started it was just so much fun. It just wasn’t intimidating because it was this magazine that we were recording. And it was just fun! I just got to make up all these different voices. And it wasn’t like I was walking into Warner Bros. It was just a small little company and we were doing all these different voices for them.
The stakes didn’t seem high enough that it should seem intimidating. And then when I started to go into the bigger studios to start dubbing the films and everything, by then I was comfortable enough with everything that I was doing that… I felt a little clumsy with technique sometimes especially when you dub something or when you do ADR, there’s a lot of technique involved. But I was also very young and I think that I’m a very positive person and I tend to be pleasant to be around so people like me and I was young and sweet and so everyone happened to be very patient with me and teach me the technique. I was just a student; I was very young at the time.
~ So you’ve done a lot of work in Europe, you’ve done a lot of work over here in the states. So, besides the language differences, what are the most significant differences between how a project comes together in Europe as opposed to how a project would come together here that you’ve noticed?
K: In terms of ADR, or dubbing, you walk into a studio in America, and there’s a script in front of you. On the stand in front of the mic. And you record very small pieces of dialogue. So in America, you walk into a studio and look at a loop number. And the director will say ‘ok, let’s do loop number 31’ and you find loop number 31 and then they preview it. So you preview it and, say in Japanese if we’re talking about anime, and then you look at your sentence and then you would record it in English. And to record it, you would hear three beeps *beep, beep, beep* and then you start talking on the fourth imaginary beep. And you’re looking at the character’s mouth as you’re talking to make sure that the syllables and the expression and everything you’re doing suits, not only the mouth movements but everything like that.
In France, there have a very different technique. They have what they call a band rthymo. And in France what they do is you’re not really reading a script. So you walk in the studio and not only are you in a group with other actors, because in America you are the only person in the booth. And you record your lines one by one. Alone, without anyone else in the studio, except for the director and the engineer and everything.
In France, they get all the actors who were doing the scenes together and everybody stands up at the mic together and there is a line, which is the band rthymo, that is sequestered in the television or in the screen. So when you look up at the screen, you see a line of scripted text underneath it. And then there is on the screen a bar, and as the movie or the cartoon or the anime, as you’re watching it the words are scrolling along at the bottom of the screen and they pass by the bar.
And so what you need to do is read the word when it hits the bar on the screen. And that will correspond with when the word is in the character’s mouth. So you’re actually just reading the words right off the screen at the same time that you’re checking out the character’s mouth and what they’re doing on the screen. And you don’t memorize it ahead of time like you do in America and there are longer portions. The loops are much longer. And there might be five people standing up at the mic with you. You’re all reading your text off of the screen as you were recording it. So it’s very different. It was a very different technique
~ Did you have a system that was preferable to you or do you find either one perfectly fine?
K: I really enjoyed them both and I think each of them has its pros and cons. For one in Europe, it’s really fun because, first of all it’s like a party. There are four or five other actors in the room with you, and it’s a social event. It’s fun. And you all get to pool off each other in real life. So you’re all standing there and you know if the actor before you is really sad, you know, he reads his life really sad and I’m supposed to be empathetic or sad too I get to play off of him.
Whereas in America, a lot of the times you go to the studio and nobody else has recorded their lines yet. So you have no idea how they’re going to ask you a question. So in your head, you just have to imagine hearing them asking the question and answer it the way you think they might ask it to you. So in America you just have to imagine that they’re there with you. Whereas in France while I was working, they were right there so you get to play off each other. The other thing that’s fun about France while I was working there is you get to do longer portions. So you’re doing a much longer portion of the scene so you really get to play it out a little bit more. Which is just fun.
The advantage to the American ADR system is you can really perfect a line. Because it’s a very short portion, the loops are very small. And you can memorize your text and just really stare into that character and really perfect it because you’re not you trying to read the line off the screen at the same time as you’re trying to look at the character. So it’s a much smaller piece and you can really do much more detailed work in that way.
~ That makes complete sense actually. You are a highly accomplished voice actress and according to my research, you have been in 87 anime titles since 2002.
K: Wow! I’m impressed with that. *laughs* I didn’t even know that.
~ So do you remember back in 2002 when you did your first anime project?
K: Um… do you know what project that was?
~ It was the third season of Rurouni Kenshin.
K: Yes it was! I do remember that! I really liked the character I played (Itsuko Katsu). She was very moving to me. And the series was very moving to me. And all the traditional Japanese culture that was inserted into the series was, that’s what I particularly liked about it.
~ Do you remember what the audition was like for that?
K: I don’t. I don’t remember at all. I remember it was for BangZoom. And I remember I was just so new to everything in Los Angeles. You know, you come here and everyone knows each other and everybody knows the anime world. It’s all kind of a blur to me because I was so new. I just remember he (Eric Sherman) gave me a whole bunch of different things to read and I remember it was fun because I was an unknown quantity here and because in France, I worked so much because there is just such a small pool of voice over actors in France, in English. And so I was hired constantly and I would get all the lead roles and I would get to do all kinds of different roles because there weren’t that many of us. So we really got to cut our teeth on all kinds of different stuff.
Whereas in America they tend to kind of pigeon hole you a little bit because there’s so many people who can do so many things so they don’t ask you to do as much. And I remember I came in to audition and he just kept throwing things at me and I was like “Oh I can do that,”, “Oh I can do that,” and I remember people seemed to be very impressed and I didn’t quite know why because it was normal to me that I would be doing all different kinds of roles. But I guess there are some people here who just specialize in different things. There is a heck of a lot of voice over actors who have an amazing range here. It’s not like I’m rare in that way. I think it just seemed to be that I was a newcomer and they were kind of surprised that a newcomer would be able to do all those things.
But I don’t remember reading for the specific role. I just remember going in there and getting to read all these different types of roles and saying I can try that, I can try that.
~ So it was just mostly an open call audition that you remember?
K: It wasn’t an open call. I remember Mona Marshall is just such a generous wonderful human being. And she barely knew me but she got a sense of I guess my talent and a sense of who I am and she was the one who gave my name to Eric at BangZoom and she also gave me quite a number of other contacts. And she, you know, said tell them I sent you. And because of Mona Marshall I started working a lot in anime and in the voice over world she’s not just a talented actor but she’s also the most generous and wise human being. And if I may just sort of branch off to another subject if that’s ok.
~ Oh yeah, go for it.
K: But I wanted to say one thing about the circle of actors who do anime and the circle of voice over artists at least in Los Angeles that I know, is that people are just generally such lovely people. Because people love what they do, but they don’t necessarily feel the need to take themselves too seriously. And there’s generally just this sense of comradely and a sense of family and community and caring about each other and helping each other that exists in this community. And it’s one of the things that needs to be said and one of the things I love about it and it’s one of the things that I’m very grateful for. And Mona Marshall is part of that!
~ Maybe it’s just our inner geeks calling out to each other.
K: *laughs* Yeah yeah. So it wasn’t an open call, Mona Marshall had gotten me in there. I’ll tell you when I started walking in the door; people were right away so nice to me. There just isn’t that type of cutthroat competition that you might expect to find in other show biz so I feel so very lucky to be part of the community.
~ So you hit on this earlier and this time I’m actually going to ask you the question. So, you haven’t attended any conventions yet despite all the credits on your resume. Have you thought about putting out some feelings to see about being a con guest sometime?
K: Um… I might be, maybe. I don’t know I might start showing up occasionally. I don’t know.
Part II of the interview with Karen will cover much more including her current anime roles, some of her favorites, being annoying in the booth, a series that personally creeped her out and much more.
|Recently I had the chance to exchange a few emails with the talented and yet under rated voice actress from LA, Jennifer Sekiguchi.
Over our conversations I had the chance to ask her about breaking into the LA market of VAs, her past and her future.
~ Hey Jennifer, Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. I really appriciate it. Now, for those fans who might not already be aware of you please summerize your life in five sentences.
Jennifer: Life is hard. I try to have fun. I’m lucky and grateful for what I have. Sometimes I fear I am not good enough. And I constantly want to be better, at everything.
~ Let me rephrase that question, please summerize your life story in five sentences.
Jennifer: Jennifer was a nice girl with a nice childhood. But still she wanted to be different people. She got her wish when she started doing voices for anime. Now she wants to do it for other things as well. To be continued…
~ Every actor has a moment in their life when it just dawns on them that acting is the right path for them. What was that epiphany like for you?
Jennifer: I’ve never been sure that acting is/was the right path for me. It was just the path that I wanted to take. And it was only after a few years of VO work that I felt comfortable telling people that I’m an actor.
~ What has been keeping you busy lately? Any exciting new projects that you’d like to (and can) reveal here?
Jennifer: I’m currently recording Eureka 7 (Eureka), Naruto (Hintata), Gunsword (Wendy), Kamichu (Matsuri). There are a few other things, but I’m afraid to leak info.
~ Did anime fandom come before your jump into voice acting or did it come afterwards?
Jennifer: Acting came first. Anime fandom came second. Voice acting for anime came third.
~ What animes really caught your attention first?
Jennifer: To be technical, I was into things like Robotech and Voltron. They were like my favorite shows when I was a kid. But then again they weren’t entirely anime. But the shows that got me back into it were Neon Genesis: Evangelion, Vison of Escaflowne, and Ranma 1/2.
~ Did listening to English dubs inspire you to pursue voice acting or was it something that you had already thought about?
Jennifer: I was already an actor and most of the anime I watched was Japanese. I checked out a few dubs, and I thought most of them were bad. So in an essence yes the dubs did inspire me to pursue voice acting.
~ Living in California, you had a very wide medium of acting opportunities to choose from. What made you decide that voice acting was right for you to pursue?
Jennifer: I didn’t decide to pursue voice acting. I never considered myself as someone with a nice sounding voice. I just thought I have an okay voice. I never thought I was that versatile either. I do pursue other forms of acting, however there are obstacles such as 1)I am an ethnic minority 2)I am only 4 foot 9 inches. I also don’t have a slammin’ body so it makes on-camera gigs more challenging. I don’t have to worry about those things with voiceover. I do think through working I’ve gotten more versatile though.
~ The first anime role that I can find for you was the Synch Point’s 2001 release of ‘I’m Gonna Be An Angel’, what do you remember about your audition for this show?
Jennifer: I was working in Production at Synch-Point at the time. The director said to me that even though I was an actress she preferred that I didn’t act in the series. However, during casting she didn’t find anybody she was happy with for that role. So she said that I could audition for it, but that she wasn’t promising anything. The only role I auditioned for was Silky. I thought to myself “Don’t get your hopes up.” and “Don’t screw this up.”
~ How long did it take you to adjust to the voice booth and really relax?
Jennifer: I’d taken a few voiceover classes before so recording in a booth wasn’t completely foreign, but you do have to get accustomed to hearing everything. You can hear your every breath, every sniff, every movement. Nowadays, I just automatically tune all that stuff out. But for the first few sessions all those noises sounded soooo loud.
~ So, describe for us what passes as a typical day for Jennifer Sekiguchi.
Jennifer: It really varies depending on if I have a VO session or not. Sometimes I have several sometimes I have none. I wake up. Go to a session if there is one. If there isn’t I’m on the internet lots or getting errands done. In the evenings I sometimes try to catch a dance class. Not exactly the exciting luxurious life one pictures.
~ Sticking with the past but changing gears a bit, it certainly didn’t take you long to get into the con circuit. Your first credited role was in 2001 and your first con was in 2002. Was there any kind of suprise to get a special guest invite so quickly?
Jennifer: You know, I don’t really remember my first con as a guest. I’d been to AX several times as a fan and then a bunch of times as an industry rep. So by the time I went as I guest I was very familiar with going to cons. I may have even emailed a con asking if they needed guests cuz I was gonna be in the area. I think that’s what happened. I wasn’t even invited!
~ What do you remember most about that con?
Jennifer: The first couple cons I went to as guest, I hadn’t done that many roles. The biggest show was FLCL. So I became “that girl from FLCL.” Lots of times I felt out of place, thinking, “Nobody knows who I am.” I felt bad if someone flew me out cuz they spent money on me.
~ How did it feel the first time someone asked you for an autograph?
Jennifer: I don’t remember the exact first moment. But I think there was a lot of that. Gee, okay. Sometimes I thought people were asking me for an autograph out of pity. I wasn’t really sure that they knew who I was. Wow, I make it sound so depressing.
~ You’ve had the chance to meet and hang out with VAs from all over the country, do you find that there is a difference in attitudes between the different regions (not nessacarily more positive or negative, just different) or is the VA community just one big nationwide community?
Jennifer: I have friends from NY and TX. There are definitely differences, but I would be hard pressed to be able to put my finger on what makes them different. I love seeing them though. It’s like Summer Camp.
~ You’ve been in a couple of series that just have some very addicting music (Girls Bravo and Grenadier are great examples), you ever find yourself getting theme songs stuck in your head after you’ve left the studio?
Jennifer: Alas, I don’t have soundtracks to either one of those. However, I do remember while recording Girls Bravo, we’d say things like “that song sounds like MORE THAN WORDS meets FIELDS OF GOLD” and stuff like that. The ADR director Patrick was really into the music.
~ Along with anime, you’ve done a few video game roles. Is there a different atmosphere when doing VA work for a game as opposed to an anime?
Jennifer: When you do anime, there’s pretty much a standard way to do it. Videogames are all across the board. There are so many different ways to record a game. Lots of time it’s wild, which means you don’t get any picture. And also lots of times you only have your lines in the script so it can be more challenging to bring the character to life.
~ What is your process when getting into character? Can you walk into a booth and just instantly be back in character with maybe a keyphrase that you say?
Jennifer: With certain characters it’s very easy to get into character. Certain studios will play you a reference which is REALLY helpful. But the animation really helps a lot too. It’s much easier to get into character when it’s really distinctive and you’ve been doing it awhile.
~ If you had to choose a performance (that wasn’t yours) from any anime that you just thought was absolutely spot on, which one would you choose?
Jennifer: David Lucas as Spike in Cowboy Bebop.
~ What would be your favorite type of character to play? What is your least favorite type?
Jennifer: I don’t have a favorite type to play. I love playing lots of characters. However, if I’m playing a lot of tomboys then I’ll want to play an innocent young girl. And if I’m playing lots of little girls, I’ll want to play a kick butt villain. You always want what you don’t got.
~ What is the one type of character that you haven’t gotten to play yet but you’re dying to try?
Jennifer: I haven’t gotten to play sultry or really baddie villain. The closest is Bella in IGPX, but she doesn’t have very many lines.
~ Your career in the voice booth has been going strong, where do you see your career headed within the next year or two? Any interest in getting into ADR writing or directing?
Jennifer: My first love is acting. I want to do more of that and all types of that. I know I will do more writing and directing in the future, but I am in no rush to pursue it. Writing and directing can take up a lot of time, acting time.
~ So now I’d like to choose five of my favorite roles that you’ve played and I’d like for you to tell me not only what you liked and disliked about the character, but also the high and low points of performing them in the booth…
~ Kirie Kojima in Girls Bravo:
Jennifer: I love Kirie cuz she was such a strong character and so funny too. I never realized that I could really yell until I played that character. However, it could be vocally straining. I had to voice her when I was sick once. That was NOT fun.
~ Koto in Grenadier:
Jennifer: Koto is one of those that I don’t remember that much of because she was such a small character. It was nice to be directed by Wendee Lee. I don’t get to work with her that much and I think she’s super talented.
~ Coco in Melody Of Oblivion:
Jennifer: Coco was fun. Reiko Matsuo set her up so that she kind of had different voices. And plus I had to sorta sing. I liked that she played innocent but was really dark inside. She was also flirty.
~ Ayu Tateishi in Ultramaniac:
Jennifer: I absolutely loved Ayu. Carrie Savage and I have good vocal chemistry I think. We’re always getting cast as friends. I always say that we’re Peanut Butter and Jelly. I think I’m Peanut Butter cuz I’m nutty. Ayu was who I wanted to be when I was in high school. And she was who I could’ve been if I wasn’t so neurotic and nutty. The sucky thing about that show was it was a night record. I would have sessions from 8pm to midnight. Ezra the director did a good job of making things fun. Sometimes we’d bring snacks.
~ Misuzu Itsukushima in Aquarian Age The Movie:
Jennifer: Ah, another Carrie/Jen combo. We played sisters this time. I loved the way Misuzu sounded in the Japanese. Her voice was so soothing and gentle. And yet she was so strong. I also got to work with Michael Sinterniklaas from NY which was a joy. He’s such an actor’s director.
~ I’d like to close this interview with a couple of questions that might require you to think a little… If you were any fruit OR vegtable, what would you be and why?
Jennifer: I’m like an avocado. The outer layer is kind of difficult to penetrate, but the bulk of me is all soft with a hard core.
~ If you were stranded on a deserted island with all basic life needs provided (food, water, shelter, heat) what three luxury items would you want to bring with you?
Jennifer: I think you would consider this cheating but I’d bring a laptop, a cell phone, and Sara. I have to have my cell that way I could call someone to get me off the island! Just kidding. But I need to be able to talk to my friends. And I’d use my laptop to listen to music, watch videos online. I have to be able to get online! And Sara’s my teddy bear. I’ve had her since I was born.
~ And finally, the obligatory question that I must end every interview with… do you have any final words or thoughts for your fans who might be reading this?
Jennifer: Thank you. Thank you for watching, thank you for being critical, thank you for being supportive. Without you I wouldn’t be able to do what I love for a living. So, thank you.
Thank you again to Jennifer for taking time out of her schedule to talk with me and answer my questions. If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer to keep up to date with what’s going on with her, check out her official website.