One of the great Amine voice actors to come to Anime Festival Orlando 2011 was John Swasey, who had a very interesting Q&A. He started out as an actor in 1987 doing movies, TV shows, and commercials. John enjoyed doing that, but he mostly enjoys voice work. It wasn’t until the mid 90s when John started doing Anime. He mentioned that most voice actors usually use their own voices for a role, but John voices characters that push his voice to a different level. John has auditioned for roles with own voice, but it never works out. However, he has done more roles than any other voice actor and was labeled as the most prolific voice actor in North America, according to Anime News Network.
The process of doing Anime is tricky. All that the voice actors do in Anime is dub the dialogue in English
while matching what was already made. They can bring a little something to the table, but the emotions of the character have to be exactly the same, otherwise it changes the story completely. The example John gave was an argument scene from A Few Good Men, which features the line, “You can’t handle the truth!” Then if it was dubbed in Spanish with a different emotion, that changes the scene altogether. You can’t do that.
Another major difference with Anime is that none of the voice actors get to work together. In fact, the only times they ever see each other is at conventions like this one.
Although the roles are all recorded separately, the scenes are recorded from the beginning as opposed to recording them out of sequence. That way it’s easier for the voice actor to follow the story arc of the character. However, there are times when they start at “juicer” scenes that have more lines in order to establish the character better.
The voice actors also don’t get to watch the Anime beforehand to familiarize themselves with the different characters. All they’re provided with is a picture of the character(s) and a director to guide them.
One of my most favorite John Swasey characters is Lord Death from Soul Eater. Lord Death is real comedic, but can also be a badass when he wants to be.
This was an excellent Q&A. Jon Swasey is a great character actor and I’m glad to have met him.