The first panel we attended of the weekend was “Ask an Anime Character” featuring Susan Roman, Linda Ballantyne, Katie Griffin, and Trina Nishimura. The ladies were asked a variety of questions about their voice acting careers and some fun questions for their characters to answer.
Videos are at the end, but here’s the text rundown first…(video coverage starts 6 paragraphs down as we had a recording glitch)
One of the first things Susan mentioned about voice acting is how it has changed from the rhythmo-band method to the beep method. She said that the rhythmo-band method was easy enough for anyone to do. Linda commented that there were times it could still be challenging, particularly if you didn’t know how in advance how long your line would be.
On the silly side, a fan asked who would win if the senshi fought the Power Rangers. Katie’s first question in response was “Did they have powers?” A fan replied that they could do gymnastics. Katie’s response was classic Sailor Mars: “Gymnastics?! Did they have FIRE?” all of the other senshi (and even Trina) agreed that the Sailor Senshi would definitely win.
How did Susan, Linda, and Katie get started in their voice acting careers? Susan went to theatre school and one of her first voice roles was playing a Berry Princess on Strawberry Shortcake. Linda studied at Ryerson, where she coincidentally had Susan as a professor. She was inspired by Susan to become a voice actor, and also found it suited her lifestyle very well once she started having children. Katie on the other hand had been dating Rino Romano for a while and he suggested that she audition for a role in Sailor Moon. Sailor Mars was her first role!
When the ladies of Sailor Moon were asked about Sailor Stars, they confirmed that it was never dubbed in English because the rights were never secured.
Next, Susan answered a question in character as Champ Bear from Care Bears and Trina answered a question as Akaza from Maken-ki! (note: I’m not familiar with this character, if this isn’t right, let me know in the comments)
What is it like to have high profile roles? Trina said that it comes with high expectations, but it is also an honour and that you want to do your best to live up to expectations, make the fans happy, and have a positive impact on the franchise.
Most challenging roles for these ladies? For Trina her most challenging was playing two very different roles in the same series – one with a high-pitched voice and one was a baritone frog voice. For Susan, the most challenging role was Snowy in TinTin. For Linda, it was playing Sailor Moon. And for Katie, she finds it challenging to play characters with high-pitched voices such as Alex from Totally Spies (especially since she was taking over the role) and Ruby from Max & Ruby.
The most fun characters to play for Linda are villains and flirty characters. For Susan, it was playing the Berry Princess in Strawberry Shortcake. Trina enjoys screaming roles like Mari as it helps her release her anger! And for Katie, two of her most fun roles were Yoko on Team Galaxy and Alex on Totally Spies.
Was there actually someone who played Max in Max & Ruby? Yes, but he was never in the studio at the same time as Katie.
When it comes to child roles, it is understandably difficult for adult female voice actors to compete with child actors for the same roles. Linda mentioned coming across this at least a few times in her career.
Next Trina answered a question about a character she played with a deadpan voice.
What is the voice acting industry like now as opposed to 10-20 years ago? Susan joked that people expected her to answer first because of her age. Then she segued into the fact that Sailor Moon is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary.
Here’s a little known fact about why Sailor Moon was recorded in Canada from Susan — Nicole Thualt low-bid the series.
What was the auditioning process like for Sailor Moon? Susan said that hundreds of women auditioned for the role of Sailor Moon, and originally they only read for Sailor Moon. Nicole cast the sailors partly based on the sim,ilarities the actors had to the characters, which Susan felt was great for the series.
As Susan continued, she said that the series ended up paving the way for anime in North America and also helped encourage females getting more roles “with power” – which was quite different from the past. Trina also agreed that Sailor Moon paved the way for many voice actresses now and she felt honoured to be sharing a panel with three of the actresses from Sailor Moon.
What does Susan think of the new TinTin movie? She hasn’t seen it yet, and felt resistant about seeing it. However, she did admit that there’s no way to compete with a real dog by imitating a dog.
What would they think of a live action Sailor Moon movie? The general consensus among Linda, Katie, and Susan was that they liked it better animated. Susan had seen some of the musicals and didn’t find them as compelling. She also mentioned that she felt they lost some of the magic (or “je ne sais quois” for those of you who know a little French) in live action. Trina however would like to see a live action Sailor Moon movie. And Linda would like to wear the Sailor Moon costume.
The topic then turned to Unplugged Expo, and Katie and Susan confirmed they would be attending as guests.
Next the ladies were asked about boyfriends for Sailors Mars and Jupiter. Katie made this transition into Batman as a possible boyfriend and each lady on the panel chose their favourite Batman. Katie and Susan were in agreement over Michael Keaton, Linda chose Adam West, and Trina picked Christian Bale. Then they all said “I’m Batman” in their best attempt at a Christian Bale voice.
Here’s a cute memory from Linda: when she was recording for Sailor Moon, she walked around home practicing her warbling sound effects, and her one year old daughter imitated her so Linda took to calling her “Mini Moon.”
Which character have they played that was most like their own personality? For Trina, it was Makise Kurisu. For Susan, it was Sailor Jupiter. Susan also said it was easy to do the characterization in Sailor Moon because they were all similar to their characters in the show. For Linda, it was a sarcastic character she played in Yin Yang Yo. For Katie, it was Sailor Mars and to a lesser extent Hikaru in Beyblade.
Was there ever a time they couldn’t stop laughing while recording Sailor Moon? Yes, but Nicole would find a way to make them stop. Katie also mentioned that on her way home from recording sessions, she would laugh about conversations of the day she’d had with Nicole, particularly ones where she couldn’t understand her. Susan didn’t find there was much time for laughing.
Another fun fact: Nicole would sometimes fall asleep during Linda’s recording sessions! And then that would make Linda laugh sometimes.
Recording ensemble is fun, but sometimes it’s easier to record individually. Susan said there used to be more recordings done in groups, but it’s not as spontaneous as it might seem. She explained you would need to leave a couple beats of quiet between each line so that the recordings were clean. It can be faster to record individually, but Susan has a technique she uses where she reads the previous line before recording her own line if it’s a conversation to make it sound more natural.
If one of the characters they played could be real, which would they like to see? For Linda, it was a witch she had played. For Katie, it was Yoko, for Susan it was Snowy, and for Trina it was Akira from School Rumble.
Susan mentioned she went to an opening party for TinTin years ago and a young fan told her she made Snowy sound exactly the way he had imagined when he read the comics. Susan felt very rewarded upon hearing this.
What’s the one item they would like to take from one of their shows if it were possible? Trina went big with her request for an EVA unit. Susan couldn’t think of anything she’d like to take, but she didn’t like the ponytail that Sailor Jupiter wore! She liked everyone else’s hair better and thought Jupiter’s hair should be changed. Linda would take a sceptre from Sailor Moon. Katie would like the spy gadgets from Totally Spies and Mars’s bow and arrow.
The ladies all agreed that when it comes to voice work, they generally don’t turn down roles. Trina did mention however that she is unwilling to do hentai.
Linda has had some strange auditions, including one where she was auditioining for one role in Beyblade (a kid named Riki), but it turned out to be another (a man named Danny). When she showed up, Julie Lemieux was also there to audtion for the role of Danny and also felt it seemed strange. Then when Linda got into the audition, she was actually supposed to audition for Riki after all. Her most unusual audition was underwater, fully clothed, for an on-camera job. (she did not get the part)
Here’s the video coverage of this panel:
My next post of Anime North convention coverage, will include details from the Cruncyroll panel, the Funimation panel, and the Sailor Moon discussion panel. Until next time! Hope you enjoyed the videos 🙂