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Taguchi was asked if he had ever done any voice acting work for Japanese film or television. It turns out that he was given the opportunity of dubbing the voice of the Jazz Teacher for the Japanese version of South Park. He found it an interesting experience because it was the first time that he as an actor was not physically engaging in a role. He found working on South Park a fun experience.
Crispin Freeman what skills one needed to succeed as a voice actor. He responded that one needs “really good chops.” That means that one needs not only to have a good voice, but good timing, technique and precision. Then, one has to forget all about those things and put emotion into the character one is performing. That means that you have to be a good actor first, and not just have a good voice. One also needs to understand where the character is coming from. For example, a good voice actor needs to know that a samurai in not a cowboy.
Here Freeman shared an anecdote from when he was brought in to play the role of Prince Turnip (Kakashi no Kabu) in the dub of Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004). The character is a boy who looks like a girl, yet is also a prince. As Freeman knew about bishōnen (美少年/beautiful youths) in Japanese culture, he was able to nail the role. It seems that Freeman often encounters dubbing producers who are ignorant of the cultural context of the anime they are dubbing. In the case of bishōnen, he was able to get a laugh out of the audience by explaining that the closest one comes to a bishōnen type in the States would be Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp. One of the biggest challenges in playing bishōnen in English is not to make them too campy [he gave another example of a cross-dressing priest that he played, but I didn’t catch the reference apart from the fact that he had to avoid making it too much like “Mrs. Doubtfire”].
© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2010