Anime North 2013 Con Report (Part 2)

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 🙂

Sailor Moon Events at Anime North

animenorth2013

Anime North 2013 is only a few days away! The main schedule was announced recently on the Anime North website.

Here’s a listing of the Sailor Moon related events that may be of most interest to those of you attending. Most of these are at the Doubletree International Hotel, unless otherwise indicated. Autographs are at the Toronto Congress Centre and the photoshoots are outside, in front of the Congress Centre.

Friday

  • 4pm – 5pm  » Opening Ceremonies (Plaza ballroom)
  • 6pm – 7pm  » Behind the Mic with J. Micheal Tatum, Chris Cason, J. Swasey, and J. Stocker (Toronto panels)
  • 6pm – 7pm  » Autographs: Lynda, Katie, Susan (Autographs Hall F, TCC)
  • 7:30pm – 8:30pm  » Autographs: John Stocker (Autographs Hall F, TCC)
  • 8pm – 9:30pm  » Ask an Anime Character with Lynda, Katie, Trina, Susan (Toronto panels)

Saturday

  • 12pm – 1pm  » Sailor Moon Photoshoot (TCC 2, outside of TCC)
  • 1pm – 2pm  » So Many Voices with John Swasey, Chris Cason, John Stocker (Plaza C)
  • 1pm – 2pm  » Memories of the 80’s (Lynda, Katie, Susan) Toronto panels
  • 1pm – 2pm  » Autographs: John Stocker (Autographs Hall F, TCC)
  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm  » Autographs: Sailor Moon voice actors (Autographs Hall F, TCC)
  • 5pm – 6pm  » Sailor Moon Voice Actors Q&A (Toronto panels)
  • 6pm – 7pm  » Sailor Moon Industry Panel: presented by Moon Chase (Halton panels)
  • 6pm – 7pm  » Sailor Moon R movie (Paris room)
  • 7pm – 8pm  » Sailor Moon S movie (Paris room)
  • 9pm – 10pm  » Sailor Moon Series Discussion (Windsor panels)

Sunday

  • 12pm – 1pm » Canadian Voice Acting Industry (Toronto panels)
  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm  » Autographs: Lynda, Katie, Susan, John (Autographs Hall F, TCC)
  • 3pm – 4pm  » Sailor Moon Photoshoot (TCC 2, outside of TCC)
  • 6pm – 7pm  » Closing Ceremonies (Plaza AB)

There will also be some industry panels that you may want to check out to ask industry reps your questions directly. The Crunchyroll panel will be on Saturday from 1pm – 2pm in International C. Funimation will have two panels (in previous years these are the same aside from fan questions). Funimation will have their first panel on Saturday from 2pm – 3pm in International C, and their second panel will be be on Sunday from 12pm – 1pm in International C.

There are lots of events at this year’s Anime North and we’re looking forward to reporting on the convention. You can find myself (Emily) and our new photographer/writer SixthCrow (Blake) at many of the events listed above as well as others.

If you’re able to make it to Anime North this year, feel free to approach us and ask questions or have your photo taken for Moon Chase. See you there!

A REAL interview with the REAL Linda Ballantyne

Hey Moonies!

We are pleased to finally bring you our best interview this year – a REAL interview with the REAL Sailor Moon! Linda Ballantyne has so many great stories to share, and we can’t wait for you to read them! A special thanks to Linda and her agent for arranging for this interview and this exclusive photo under these special circumstances! Unfortunately, it appears that some mysteries are going to be unsolved. Without further ado, read on, Moonies!

MC: We’d like to extend a warm, warm, welcome to the Real 3rd voice of Sailor Moon, Linda Ballantyne! Thanks so much for doing this – the fans have been really heartbroken since the news of the imposter broke out. How are you today?

LB: I am fantastic! I’m so happy I’ve been given the opportunity to answer all your questions. I have to admit, when I was alerted to the “fake” interview my initial reaction was “Wow! What a great interview… I wish someone had asked me those questions”. Then as I read through the fake answers I started to get a little frustrated. Not only was this impersonator taking credit for my work, but he/she was giving the wrong answers to fantastic questions. The more I thought about it the more enraged I became. I know how passionate Sailor Moon fans are. This was as much an attack on them as it was on me. But in true Sailor Moon style, the villain has been stopped and now I get the chance to answer all your great questions. Incidentally, this is the first Sailor Moon interview I have ever been asked to do.

MC: So we have a bit of a Moonie Mystery to solve – the imposter had said that you played Snow Princess Kaguya in the Sailor Moon S movie, however the voice for this character has never officially credited. Did you play this character at all or any other characters in Sailor Moon?

LB: You’re going to find this really hard to believe, but I can’t remember if I played Snow Princess Kaguya. I know, I know. It has been about 10 years since I voiced the series and I honestly can’t recall… and heaven knows I wouldn’t want to take credit for another actor’s work! I did play the odd additional character but we tried to stay away from using my voice as much as possible since I was already voicing so many lines. 4 hours of screaming can really take its toll on your vocal cords.

MC: Were you aware of how big a cultural phenomenon Sailor Moon was before you were cast? Were you shocked with the extent of the popularity of the show once you were involved?

LB: I was definitely aware of Sailor Moon’s popularity but I had no idea it was the cultural phenomenon that it was. I knew that kids really loved it but when I discovered the adult following as well I was blown away.

MC (and Sparkling Blue): How did you get the role of Sailor Moon?

LB: I auditioned for the roll of Sailor Moon, like every other roll. I remember I was really, really sick that day with bronchitis. I almost didn’t go in because I could barely talk. I was so frustrated because my nieces were huge Sailor Moon fans and I so wanted to impress them (for once!). I knew I could do a good impersonation of Serena and I really wanted a fair shot at the part. I didn’t talk the whole time I was in the audition room until it was my time to go in. If you walk into an audition and start giving excuses as to why you’re not “on” that day you give a really bad impression right off the top, so I decided to just do my best… and tell them after I had finished. They had me listen to a sample of Terri’s Sailor Moon and then I had to copy exactly the way she did it. I find mimicking people very easy. They were really happy with the match. They had me come back a couple of times but I think I probably had the part after that first audition. The really tough part was after I was given the part and I had to do lines that Terry had never done before. It’s one thing to copy someone, it’s another to take new material and try to do it they way you think the last person would have done it. It can really mess with your intuitions… and that’s something you have to always rely on.

MC: The actress that played the role before you (Terri Hawkes) was quoted in an interview saying she saw Serena “as a girl as well as an emerging young woman”, still having a “girlish voice” but also going on a kind of emotional roller coaster. How did you come up with your take on the voice of Sailor Moon?

LB: I found Serena to be a girl who loved being a goofy teenager but deep down inside was so much more than that. A teenager who realizes she has responsibilities. I wanted her to be constantly pulled in different directions.

MC: When developing the voice for Serena/Sailor Moon did you try to make it similar to other interpretations of the role, or did you try to take the voice in a different direction? Was it difficult to take on the role of a character played by two other actresses? Did it make you nervous or change your approach to the role?
Chase: Compared to Tracy Moore and Terri Hawkes, how would you say you portrayed Sailor Moon compared to the other two voice actresses?

LB: I started by just trying to imitate Terri as best I could. They wanted an exact match of her voice so I tried to give them that. But as I said earlier, it’s easy to imitate someone but it’s a whole other ballgame to take new material and try to figure out how someone else would do it. I really struggled with the first few episodes. I remember coming home so frustrated saying to my husband that I just felt like I had no say in how this character should be played. It was my husband who said, “You have to make it your own. You’re not Terri Hawkes. Trust your intuition”. That’s when the character made a definite change in a different direction. She was much more playful and there was a lot less screaming. I guess the difference between my Serena/Sailor Moon and the others is that the goofy teenager came out more.

MC: During the recording of the S and SuperS series, Cloverway was under a strict timetable in regards to completing dubbed episodes. As an actor, did you find it challenging knowing that you might have only a couple of opportunities to capture the mood of a particular scene? What was the production schedule like? We know for the first two seasons that the actors worked into the wee hours of the morning to meet the 5 episodes per week deadline. Was it ever like this for you? How long did it take to get through both seasons?

LB: I wouldn’t do more that 4 hours at a time of Sailor Moon. Quite frankly, I couldn’t do more than 4 hours at a time! The part was very hard on my vocal cords. I would wake up each day and clear my throat to see if any sound came out. On my drive to the studio each morning I would warm up my voice, trying to get it higher than it wanted to go. I was doing a lot of voice work aside from Sailor Moon at the time. My days were very full. And to top it all off I had a four year old, a two year old and an 8 month old baby! I was exhausted! But as far as the actual dubbing went, we usually only had to do two takes of most lines. They always do a second take as a safety in case there is something technically wrong with the first. We would save all the screaming and fight scenes for the end of the record day to save my voice for the lines. I really can’t remember how many months it took to record both seasons but it was quite a few. My youngest child couldn’t talk but I remember her imitating the way Serena’s voice would roll up and down. I called her Mini Moon… of course!

MC: If you could have a role in a possible re-dub of Sailor Moon again would you like to reprise any of your roles?
Florentino Ramirez: If the studios do redo the dub over again, will you PLEASE repriseyour role as Sailor Moon?

LB: I would love to reprise the role of Sailor Moon again… and I’m quite sure it would be a whole new take on it. It would be fun to see how she would emerge now that I have a lot more years under my belt as a voice actor. I wonder what would come out of my mouth now…

Florentino Ramirez: If they only bring back Sailor Stars to dub, could you at LEAST dub yourself in that so that there’s continuity, ending the series with your voice? I hate animes that change voices for characters between seasons (ie; good old Ranma in Ranma 1/2 =p).
L S: If some studio (FUNimation ^^) were to make a dubbed version of the fifth season of Sailor Moon, Sailor Stars, would you be interested in doing Serena/Sailor Moon again?

LB: You guys are great! I would be honored to play the part again… and I’ll bet Terri would be too! Maybe we could arm wrestle for it…. no wait… Terri has twins. She’s probably a lot stronger than me.

MC: What was your favourite aspect of playing each role? Was there something you found particularly interesting about either or both character(s)?

LB: I loved playing the goofy teenager that had all her priorities mixed up. Hanging out with her friends, boys and (of course) food were Serena’s main focus… but then she’d be pulled towards the path of responsibility through Sailor Moon. I especially loved falling in love as a teenager.

MC (and Tpirandsailormoon and Salvatore Maronne): Do you have any memorable experiences from dubbing and/or favorite scenes? What was your favourite episode of the series to work on?

LB: I loved the final few episodes of each series but especially the Super S series. I couldn’t wait to find out how it ended. Recording it was really like watching the show. I was hooked!

Fans can watch this one on YouTube! Part 1, Part 2, Part 3!

Chase: Did your talents to the dub benefit your career? Did the job make you more popular?

LB: I definitely learned a valuable voice skill dubbing all those episodes and I think doing any role people have heard of helps give you an identity as an actor. Sailor Moon is a great thing to have on a resume. Even today I will audition for dubbing shows and the director will say, “Dubbing is not easy. Have you done any dubbing before?” and I’ll say a little. There’s usually someone in the room who will laugh and say, “Linda was the voice of Sailor Moon. She’s done more than “a little” dubbing before”.

MusicallyObsessedBoi: Have you ever dressed up as Sailor Moon?

LB: No, I have never dressed up as Sailor Moon… but my daughter did for Halloween once… her choice. I also had a baby-sitter who screamed when she found out I was Sailor Moon. She was in tears telling me she was Sailor Moon’s biggest fan. She said, “I even ruined my grade three class picture because I dressed up in my Sailor Moon costume for picture day”. Personally I feel she probably enhanced the picture. My kids were too young back when I was dubbing the show to understand that it was only my voice that was used for the part of Sailor Moon. My eldest told me I didn’t look like Sailor Moon because I have brown hair. I would joke with them every now and then by calling out to my husband, “Honey, have you seen my Sailor Moon outfit?” while I was getting ready to leave for a record. Once my daughter asked me if I got dizzy spinning around when I changed from Serena into Sailor Moon. Way too cute!

Musically Obsessed Boi: Was there ever any discussion about dubbing Sailor Stars? If so, where you looking forward to it?

LB: I never heard any discussions about dubbing Sailor Stars.

KaitoMizuno: In the Past, there were some rumors about sailor moon for live action movie. Do you think Sailor Moon would make a great live action film?

LB: I think Sailor Moon is perfect the way it is. I can’t even imagine a live action version. I guess I’m just too old school.

Shinraitenchi – There were quite a few inconsistencies throughout the dubbing of Sailor Moon S and SuperS (mainly with attack names and such) so were you aware of these alterations/inconsistencies done to the English scripts of Sailor Moon S and SuperS when you were recording?
Salvatore Marrone: Were you aware of story changes from the Japanese version – such as Uranus and Neptune’s relationship?

LB: I wasn’t aware of any inconsistencies at the time but it makes sense that there would be. There are bound to be differences simply because literal translations from Japanese to English may or may not make sense. The show was also (supposedly) playing to younger demographic in North America. I think they had to alter story lines to make them more “acceptable”. I would have loved the Uranus and Neptune relationship to be in its original form. I guess at the time the powers that be felt North American audiences weren’t ready for it. Too bad.

ChibiGinger: Have you ever read the manga (comics)?

LB: I have read some of the manga comics. My eldest daughter loves them!

L S: Did you ever feel that there were silly or strange lines on the script?

LB: Are you kidding me? Every episode we would find silly or strange lines in the script. Some we would change on the spot because they were just so grammatically incorrect. Others we couldn’t change for timing issues. And some made us laugh so hard we didn’t want to change them.

ChibiGinger: Have you ever watched the Japanese dub?

LB: Every single line I ever recorded I watched the Japanese version first. That’s the way you do dubbing. You watch the original to get the timing and then you dub over it by fallowing along with “the bouncing ball”. But I have never watched a whole episode from start to finish just for the sake of watching it. The internet wasn’t around back then like it is today. Maybe I would have at the time if YouTube existed.

MC: How long have you been acting for and what got you started in it?

LB: I started acting on stage and film in my early twenties. I went back to theatre school in my late twenties to find more direction in my career. One of the courses they offered was a voice-over course. I fell in love with voice right there and then. When I graduated I found an agent who did both on-camera and voice. I was really lucky because I got a part in my very first voice audition (a butter commercial). After that, my voice agent really believed in me and he sent me out for everything. Having someone believe in you is one of the most important things you can ever hope to have. My family believing in me has been my most important strength throughout my career. To answer your question, I’ve been voice acting for about 15 years.

MC: Do you prefer acting for live-action productions or animation? Why?

LB: I much prefer acting in animation over live action. I can’t stand seeing myself on TV. I am way too hard on myself that way. I notice every fault I have. I also love the variety of roles I get to play in animation. I have been everything from a baby to a teenage boy to an insane witch to a common housefly. Come on! Who would love to play a common housefly? You name it I’ll play it.

MC: The Rhythmoband technique is not used very much in cartoon dubbing anymore, and now there is a “beep method” that is more commonly used. Which method did you prefer and why?

LB: The initial preparation for the Rhythmoband was very time consuming. Every line had to be hand written and matched up to sync with the character’s mouth movements. I think the person who did it must have just about gone blind trying to do it. Not only did they have to sync up the mouth movements but they also had to make the English words match up with the original Japanese. You can’t even begin to understand how hard that would be. Today they use computers to do it and if a line is too long or isn’t worded properly they can just type in the new words and it’s fixed on the screen right there and then. It’s a lot like karaoke. You see the picture and the words are under it. Just follow along with the bouncing ball. With the “beep method” the lines are on a page in front of you and you just listen for the beep and start reading. It’s a bit harder than the computer method because you can’t really read and watch the mouth movements at the same time. You just have to hope you’re reading in sync and then you go back and fix the lines that don’t match. After doing this method for a while, I find I almost memorize the lines as I do them so I can watch the screen to make the words fit. It’s definitely a learned skill.


MC: You voiced several humorous enemies in the Disney Cartoon, Yin Yang Yo! Many fans don’t know that some Disney cartoons are actually dubbed in Toronto. What was it like when you found out you had gotten a role in cartoon from such a legend in animation? We also loved the voices you came up with for the enemies (especially Saranoia!) in Yin Yang Yo! How did you come up with the right voice for them?

LB: Getting a part on Yin Yang Yo was definitely a high point of my career. To be able to say “I work for Disney” is pretty cool. And they really trust their actors which made it all the better. There is a very big difference between dubbing and regular animation. Disney cartoons are all original animation. No dubbing is done with them. What that means is that you do the voice first and then animate it after… which is the complete opposite of dubbing. It’s a lot more fun to do because the actor is able to create a character and give it a lot of subtle or not so subtle characteristics. Working on Yin Yang Yo was like a dream come true. I was thrown a lot of different characters and told to go for it. I usually start by looking at the concept drawings for the character. I get a feel for what the character looks like and then I read the script with that in mind. I try to figure out what I think this character will sound like but I keep a very open mind because sometimes the director will want to go in a completely different direction. If you get too set in your ways it’s hard to break away from them. With Yin Yang Yo they pretty much let us do anything we wanted. They really trusted us and that made it a lot more fun. We could change lines if we thought of something better or just add quirky characteristics to our characters and they would stick. The writers really got on board with that and they’d incorporate our choices in their writing. Playing villains like Saranoia is always fun because they have so many faults and they take themselves so seriously. They are always so full of themselves and that makes it even more rewarding when they finally fail at whatever it is they are trying to get… because, let’s face it, bad guys usually don’t win. The crash and burn is just so much fun to play. When I was asked to do Smoke I realized right away that it could easily be played like a bad version of Sailor Moon. I really wanted to stay away from making her sound like Sailor Moon. It just didn’t seem right. I actually thought they had asked me to do that part because they knew I had done Sailor Moon… and I was surprised when they went with the character I chose. It wasn’t until after we had finished the series that I found out the director, producers and writers had no idea I had been Sailor Moon. One of them was a bit freaked out because he was a huge Sailor Moon fan. He said that’s what inspired the character in the first place. Then they were kicking themselves for not getting me to do it like that. For the record, I wouldn’t have!

(Interested fans can watch an episode of Yin Yang Yo here.)

MC: How did you get involved with the Rubber Chicken Farmers? Some fans have seen the hilarious Oh Baby! How did that project come to be?

LB: I have a friend I went to theatre school with who lived in Vancouver and was part of the Rubber Chicken Farmers. We were really missing each other and sad we weren’t working together. We wrote the script for Oh Baby! together by email as a simple writing exercise… but when I flew out to visit her she insisted we film it. It was purely for fun and not meant for anything other than that… And then YouTube came along…

MC: When coming up with the voice of Percy in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, how much did the old series on PBS influence how you portrayed the voice? Or did you come up with something completely different?

LB: I think the original Thomas and the Magic Railroad series was narrated by Ringo Starr and there were no actual voices for the trains at that point. Percy was the first ‘boy’ voice I had ever done. I got to meet Britt Allcroft after I was cast and I was so nervous because I had never done a boy voice or an accent on a show before. I asked if my English accent was OK and she said “Oh ya. It’s such an easy accent to do. There’s no right or wrong. You’re fine.” And that was that.

MC: You were also the voice of Janet van Dyne/The Wasp in the Avengers: United They Stand cartoon. Having played a female superhero in an American cartoon and in a Japanese anime cartoon, what do you think makes these two interpretations of female superheroes different?

LB: The Avengers and Sailor Moon are two totally different cartoon styles. There is no comparing the two. I suppose Wasp was a lot more serious than Sailor Moon but again it was a completely different cartoon. I’m not sure that the difference was between American and Japanese, just different styles. I always enjoy finding the fun in characters and it was harder to do that with Wasp. But in the end, they were both on the side of virtue.

MC: Did you know about the Avengers comic before you got the role as the Wasp? Did this have any influence on how you came up with the right voice for the character? If not, how did you come up with the right voice?

LB: Wasp was the very first cartoon character I had ever auditioned for. I was excited just to get the audition let alone the part. But what made it all the more sweet was my older brother was a huge comic book fan and loved the Avengers. I had read a few Avengers comics growing up but I didn’t know a lot about Wasp. I listened to what the director wanted and just went for it. He was a great guy and really worked with me to bring the character out. There were also a bunch of other actors on the show who really helped show me the ropes. It was a great learning experience. In truth, Wasp sounds pretty much like me. It’s what my real voice sounds like… only more dramatic.

(Interested fans can watch an episode of The Avengers here.)

MC: This year marks the 15th anniversary of Sailor Moon in North America. Did you ever think that the fandom would continue to stick by this show through the good and the bad for so long?

LB: It really is amazing. Sailor Moon has become a cult classic. The fans are so strong in their beliefs and their love of the show. I am in awe of their commitment.

MC: Some industry sites are reporting that you are going to play the reindeer Vixen in an upcoming Christmas movie called Rudolph and His New Friend Frosty. This is also slated to feature Sailor Jupiter (Susan Roman) as Cupid, the original voice of Rudolph Billie Mae Richards, and a Beatle himself, Ringo Starr! What can you tell us about this project? Are you excited to work on it and are you going to get the chance meet any of the other stars involved at all?

LB: I would be very excited to work on this project but unfortunately I’m not… at least, not to my knowledge. I haven’t heard anything about it. But to meet Billie Mae Richards would be really cool. She was a voice I grew up with—a real inspiration. And Ringo Starr! Come on!

MC: Do you think you or your character would want to eat Sailor Moon Character-Themed Bento for Lunch? What do you think of this very different event in Japan to promote the return of Sailor Moon?

LB: Are you kidding me?!!!!? Serena would eat anything… and love it! And so would I! I love Japanese food. Sailor Moon Japanese food would definitely taste even better! I think the event is a great– very fresh and different. I’m not so sure I’d have the patience or the skill to make it but I sure would love to eat it.

MC: You’ve played a lot of different kinds of voices for early childrens’ cartoons (I’ve caught Gerald McBoingBoing a few times myself!) When coming up with the right voice for these characters, how does it differ from action shows or other cartoons you do for older age groups? Do you think about the kinds of shows you used to watch when you were that age too?

LB: You definitely have to change your read according to the age group you are playing to. A younger audience needs love and innocence, caring and compassion. An older audience needs more a more clever kind of humor and read. I don’t think the sound of the voice is what makes the difference but the way in which the lines are delivered. I could use the same voice for a character in a preschool show as I did in a teen show but because the attitude is different they will sound like completely different characters. I was a Flintstones and Jetsons fan when I was younger. I loved those shows. Also Bugs Bunny. Anything Mel Blank did was pure gold. Carol Burnett was also my idol. She has been a great source of inspiration throughout my career. I still watch cartoons all the time. There are a lot of really great shows out there.

MC: Thanks again so much for your time Linda and we wish you the best of luck in the future! And we promise, in the name of the Moon we won’t ever let impostors bother the fans again – they will be moondusted! Are there any other upcoming productions that we can hear your voice in?

LB: Currently I’m working on a few new shows. I’m Lily’s Mom in My Big Big Friend, Queen Mayla in Yoko, Mo and Me and Kazarena in Bakugan. I’ve been “the voice of” the Comedy Network for the past 13 years as well as being in a bunch of radio and TV commercials. I also have a Lucky Charms on-line game that should be coming out soon. I’m the cute little Magical Creature. I’m also putting together a talk radio show with two other women. We are just in the beginning stages of it but I think it’s going to be great– really fun!

Thank you so much for letting me answer all your fantastic questions. You are all so inspirational to me. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to throw them my way. It’s been a blast!

Sincerely,
Linda Ballantyne

PS – Thanks for all your kind words and support. This is a great site. It is for the true fans.

Once again, thank you to Linda Ballantyne and her agent for this opportunity!

Voice Actor Impostor Saga Has an Almost Happy Ending

Do you know who this woman is? Read below for the final chapter in what has become one of the biggest scandals to rock the Sailor Moon fandom this year!

EDIT (May 29th): The Impostor has finally come forward, and has notified the woman in the false images. We have removed the images now that this mystery is solved, and we will have more to share with you later.


I promised you a bombshell last week
, and here it comes. Last year, when I was trying to put things together for the Operation Moonrise campaign and asking Roland Parliament about specific companies involved, he told me that I’d make a great Detective or Investigative Journalist. I kind of agreed with the journalist part, but not so much the detective part as I couldn’t see myself solving any real mysteries. Little did I know less than a year later, I’d be filling that Detective role.

You all probably know most of the story by now. Tuesday, March 30th – I get home after a long day at school, only to find that there’s an e-mail waiting for me from the representatives of Sarah Lafleur asking me to take down a reference to an upcoming interview from an impostor. I write up something quick for the website and leave it to my staff to clear up anything related to this impostor, as I head off to an event feeling a little paralyzed. After years of earning the trust of the other actors I do know, I wondered how I fell for this. But, I am only human, and I will do my best to help fix this situation. I sent every email I had from the impostor to the reps in an effort to help their investigation. I felt for her, Sarah had worked really hard to come up in entertainment, and she has had a string of appearances on big productions in the last few years. It can be difficult for Canadian stars to make it big in Hollywood, but she managed to do it. When I heard that she was going to be on multiple episodes of Ugly Betty last year, I was so glad that an actor who worked on Sailor Moon had come so far! Never mind our reputation with the fans, companies, and other important people involved, but her reputation was also becoming just as damaged (if not more) with these false stories going around.

A week later, a comment on the site frustrates me. A fan says that the blonde we had featured on the site was not Linda Ballantyne at all. At this point, after all of the stuff we had to deal with, I was ready to just chalk this up to a fan just being mean and questioning our accuracy. Though, I did have a hunch go through my mind that maybe I should go back and check the emails I got from Linda. Comparing these headers to the ones on the Sarah Lafleur emails, one very crucial piece of information was common between the two. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, that I would call up Linda’s agent in the morning and get a few things on the site verified oficially. I didn’t want to remove it just yet because I wanted her representatives to see it first.

I had a window of about an hour of free time to make the call, and I was nervous. Thankfully, it wasn’t as nerve wracking as some of the first phone calls I had made before sending out the reports for Operation Moonrise. Her agent was super friendly, and did verify that we were dealing with an impostor. We exchanged emails, and I sent everything I had and started to take the Linda posts off the site. I felt for Linda too, because the images we got from the impostor weren’t very professional looking at all. She was shown with a beer at a party, and bowling, and actors rarely ever share personal images like this. And the story about her yelling at a grocery store cashier was probably fake. It was while I was sorting through these emails, that I had a sudden rush of adrenaline come through me and in my mind I thought “NO ONE @#$%! WITH SAILOR MOON ON MY WATCH!” I halted everything, and thought I’d try to solve this mystery of who this impostor might be with all the evidence I had – the one common thread between the two emails, and another tiny piece on what the document properties of the fake Linda Ballantyne interview told me. A couple hours later, I had nailed it. I figured out who it was (with the assistance of some others to verify my hunch was correct – thank you for your help). As soon as I shot off the emails, I called up Linda’s agent again to tell her I had figured out who it was, and it was then that I got the best surprise – Linda was willing to do the interview! I was relieved, that finally I could bring some good news to the fans after a rough couple of weeks. An hour later, I went and I called up Sarah Lafleur’s agent to share that I had figured this out. Sometimes, it takes a lot of convincing to these people that you aren’t a deranged fan but someone who has a legitimate concern, and I really hope that they don’t look down on us or the rest of their actress’ fans because of this. The vast majority of fans aren’t crazy like this person was at all.

I have since told every VA that I know to contact Twitter and get a couple names reserved to prevent this from happening, and I sincerely apologized that this happened at all. I have since decided that for every new interview that we are offered, I am going to take extra measures to make sure I am dealing with the real person. For any one else involved with the show that reads this site (I do know of a few of you!) that has not contacted us, please have you, your agents, or other representatives reserve your names on Twitter, you can do this without having to sign up for an account. I don’t want to see this person do it again (and I do think this person would try to do this again some time from now).

Now, as for the impostor, I am sure word of this post will get to you somehow. And don’t try to deny that it wasn’t you (or come up with some other crazy excuse), we have a lot of solid proof that it was you that did this, so don’t try to hide. No, I’m not going to name you on this site. But, I will say this to you. This act of yours was pretty low. And, we thought that you couldn’t stoop any lower especially given how you continued to label us as liars all over the internet after we had officially debunked a rumor you had started years ago. You fought hell and high water to convince all the fans that you were the one that was telling the truth, in spite of our many phone calls and other investigations to prove that your little rumor was not true at all. No, I’m not going to link users to those posts on this subject or they will instantly know who you are. I believe that you should be the one that reveals yourself to the fans, and everyone else involved in this scandal for what you have done. Don’t dismiss what we are about to tell you as rubbish.

And, here’s what you need to do (and you have to do this because you’ve caused too much damage):

1. Apologize to me, and the rest of the staff of Moon Chase for what you did. We’ll probably never know the reason why you picked these stars to impersonate, but given our reputation with a lot of movers and shakers involved with Sailor Moon, we had to work very hard to fix the damage you caused us. We were lucky enough that with a lot of hard work everyone was sympathetic this time, but the next time we have to clean up your mess, you could ruin it not just for us but for every other fan of Sailor Moon.

2. Apologize to the two stars you victimized. Do this publicly, or contact us and we will forward your apologies to the relevant parties. And be sincere about it, no simple sorries. You hurt the reputation of two stars, and maybe you don’t understand what this means in the entertainment industry. And you stole their identities. How would you feel if someone pretended to be you for a few months and started to write fake stories about you all over? A lot of important people use our site as a measure of fan buzz around certain projects or an actor, so try putting yourself in this position. How would you feel if a potential employer based their professional image of you on phony stories posted on the internet?

You also owe an apology to the other stars of Sailor Moon that you interacted with and pretended to be these people to. You took the camaraderie between the cast for granted. Not even I try to pretend to be “part of the cast” when I communicate with any of them. It is very likely that you are making them think twice about the kinds of fans that they communicate and interact with. Again, when you are ready with your words, forward them to us and we will send them to their representatives.

3. Apologize to the blonde woman whose photo you used mercilessly to portray Linda Ballantyne. We don’t know who she is, but we’re betting she’s someone close that you know based on the photos we have seen of her at a birthday party and bowling. Perhaps, you are alright with having your own photo plastered around as a celebrity to give you more attention, but others are most definitely not, in an industry where image is VERY important. You have hurt her identity as well, because now it is possible that she will be recognized as Linda Ballantyne, and not for her real identity. There are still some images of this blonde woman being passed around the internet as the real Linda Ballantyne, and it will be very difficult to remove all of them given the nature of the internet. This damage that you have caused is a lot more severe than you will ever understand. Tell her that the photos you posted of her are going to be displayed as official images on several sites for Linda Ballantyne, so that when you or her see it, you can get them removed. Because, this person could also be charged with identity theft even though it was you that posted the image (still want to hide and let people that don’t even know you did this suffer?). We’re not going to clean up this mess for you. It’s about time you took some responsibility for your actions. In case you have forgotten whose image you used, we’ve amalgamated all of them into one for you below. Likewise, if any of our readers know the identity (and also contact information) of this woman please let us know so that we can tell her what this impostor has done. We will remove these images once this woman has been identified and notified of what has happened (As of May 29th, we have been notified that she has been notified).

4. This, you must do too. Apologize to all of the fans you have led for a ride with the various rumors about Sailor Moon you have started, and maintained were true even in the face of legitimate evidence that you were the one who was lying. Of course though, you’ve been doing this for years, and we don’t know if you will ever stop. Know now, that we are watching everything that you are saying and we will always be there to get official statements from relevant parties debunking your rumors. The next time we hear of a sensational rumor, you will be at the top of our list of people who we think started it.

5. Never do anything like this EVER again. All parties from all sides are watching what is going on. The situation is very serious, and if you pull anything like this, you will not be the only one that has to pay, but the fans as well. You will ruin the reputation of this site and others, and actors will think twice about interacting with fans because of the damage you have caused. If you want respect from Sailor Moon fans, try being nice for once and not craving attention constantly by posting fake rumors or being “the first” to notice an actor’s presence on the internet. You may get more than you ever expected by just being a nice fan.

I can’t report on what action is being taken, but that all of the evidence I have has been passed on to representatives of both actresses. The happy ending that I can share with you, is that two weeks ago I received a couple signed photos from Sarah Lafleur in the mail, and a note that simply said “Thanks for all your help!” I have scanned one of the photos for you all to see below. Also through every step of the investigation, Linda as well as her agent have thanked and told me how they appreciated all my sleuthing. This all means a lot to me and my staff, and once again we promise that the next time an opportunity like this rolls around again with an actor we have not previously encountered, we will take measures to ensure we have the real one and not an impostor. I have always felt that I have had a lot to prove when it comes to writing, and I am thankful for everyone who has not lost faith in me, our staff, and our site in the face of what has happened. And Roland, a special thanks to you for encouraging me that I’d make a great detective and investigative journalist. This experience has made me believe it, too.



Please do not repost this image in any form anywhere else.

Smile Moonies, We’re Bringing You The REAL Sailor Moon!

So yesterday afternoon, I spoke with Linda Ballantyne’s agent again, and the agent told me that she is interested in doing an interview! This was a wonderful surprise among all the terrible news from the last two weeks. We promise you (Senshi/Scout’s Honor!) that this is not an impostor. So, here’s what we have decided…

We’re going to redo the last interview, but we’re going to let the fans get involved as well. We have room for a few questions from fans – but in order to keep things fair for everyone involved, fans are only allowed to submit a maximum of 2 questions each. We had people submitting too many questions for the phony Sarah Lafleur interview and we had an interview that was 7 pages long – it was just too much to handle. Fans can send us an email (moonchasers@NOSPAMWITHSPRINKLESANDACHERRYONTOPPLZKTHXBYEgmail.com), comment here, or post questions in our forums (we’ve posted it under the campaigns subforum). For those of you who want to see what questions we’ll be asking, we have posted them in the same thread. For fans who just want to send comments to Linda, we will allow those as well and send along those too. Fans only have until Sunday APRIL 11th at Midnight to send in all of their submissions. (Sorry I got the months mixed up, it was a crazy day yesterday!)

Smile Moonies, we told you some good was going to come out of this! If there is one thing we have all learned since becoming Sailor Moon fans, it is to never give up. We haven’t given up on the show, and we will never, ever, give up on the fandom.