Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

Toonami’s Anniversary and A&G Ohio

March 17, 2009

Twelve years ago today Toonami was first broadcast. Today it is no longer on. So for this anniversary I’m bringing another Toonami panel review. This time from this past weekend at A & G Ohio. This panel was scheduled at 11pm on Saturday at the same time as the Radical Audio Visual Experience Dance Party (which it if you make into an acronym spells out ‘rave’, I wonder if the con realized that) so I wasn’t sure how attendance was going to be, but turned out well. Wasn’t a packed room, but there were plenty of people.

We had a small room that served our needs. I had a project and some sound system which is always great to have. I also set out some DVDs of different show that had been on Toonami, plus some other props of stuff I didn’t have DVDs of, at the front of the table. I also had remebered to bring some candy to throw to the audience members who asked questions. I didn’t hurt anyone or break anything while tossing them out, but there is always next time. One guy even said “I don’t have a question but can I just have some candy.” I said no.

I started this panel a bit different than past ones. Usually I open with the original Moltar opening, but this time I played the fifth episode of the TIE Intruder, which is the first appearance of TOM 2. This was actualy the first time I had seen this, having missed it when it first premiered and I hadn’t watched it after downloading it.

After playing it and doing a little introduction, Steve Blum made it to the panel. Steve Blum the voice of TOM 2 through TOM 4.

I must admit I was a little nervous about doing a panel with one of my favorite voice actors. Steve was really the first VA’s name I learned and was able to start identifying when I watched anime. I decided that of starting with my own opinions about Toonami or take any questions from the audience, I went with asking Steve some questions about his involvement with Toonami.

(the following is as close to the wording as I can remember)

THF: How did you get the job with Toonami.

Steve Blum: I was at a con….. San Diego Comic Con I think and the Toonami guys came up to me about doing the voice. At this time I didn’t even know what Toonami was. They were wanting to take TOM into a different direction. They had asked me to do the part cause they were big fans of Cowboy Beebop. After accepting the role starting study the part and what Sonny Straight had done.

They described the attitude of TOM to me like this. ‘Imagine that after every line you said… (he stops and turns to the audience) No one here’s under eighteen are they?

THF: (I looked around.) I don’t think so. I hope not, cause I’m not watching my language.

Steve: They said to act as if each line ended with the line ‘you f@*%.’ (laughter from the audience) That was the kind of attitude they wanted. And even as he changed we kept that little smart alec attitude. From a little one to a cute one.

THF: So did you have any input into what TOM got to say or did you have to read straight from a script?

Steve: Really I just read what they had. I few times I got to add a little to it.

THF: Did you ever get to play any of the video games that got reviewed?

Steve: No, the Toonami guys did all that. I always felt we did a lot of main stream stuff and stuff that got like 7’s or 8’s, but I think that’s because these guys really didn’t want to have to play through a game that they didn’t enjoy. And there was the fact that they had to create new animations for each one.

THF: Who was your favorite host of Toonami?

Steve: (Thinks about it for a second) I’d have to say the second TOM.

THF: I find that everyone finds him to be their favorite. (I ask the audience if anyone has a different favorite; no one does) But a lot of the reason I think TOM 2 was so great was we had TOM 1 before him. His big head and little gut.

Steve: I love his big gut. I just want to rub it.

THF: Personally I’d like a bobble head of him.

We started to take questions from the audience then. Most centered around Cartoon Network and their choices about Toonami and anime in general. We talked about how Adult Swim moved their anime so late in the evening. One of the audience members, a dealer from the vendors room who had joined us, brought up how he had heard that there were parents who saw Shin Chan at 11 and got upset about the vulgarity of it. They then just lumped all anime together, declared it inappropriate, and Cartoon Network moved the anime back in the night. Steve didn’t really have contact with any of the people who made these decisions so he couldn’t answer them directly, but he stated that he that what happened with Toonami and Cartoon Network in general was that people who didn’t really care as much about the product had taken over and they didn’t know what to really do with it.

While we talked I cycled through a few different pictures I had about Toonami and projected them onto the wall. When I came to the picture of the death of TOM we all took a moment to mourn him. Steve even went ‘I feel sad for him.’

Someone asked about why episodes were cut from Tenchi’s run. Now I didn’t know what episodes he was talking about cause I thought everything was shown. No one disagreed with me about that. While we talked I pulled up a slide for a power point presentation had worked on for my Toonami panels once on Tenchi. The line ‘original pimp of anime’ brought another burst of laughter from the audience. Skipping that for the moment I focused on the part about ‘digital bikinis and tea’; I talked about the editing they had done to the show and how was actually pretty well done for the most part. The stuff with the ‘tea’ was pretty easy to figure out they were really drinking sake, but that how if you didn’t really pay close attention to the bikinis you wouldn’t have noticed they weren’t digital. I admitted that I did pay close attention to them. I also listed a few of the other shows that they would use the digital bikinis in.

Finally we got the videos. Someone in the audience brought up about having seen one of Harvey Birdman’s enemies in an old bump. I knew just what he was talking about. I played Failed Experiment. People grooved to the nice beat in it, which I pointed out, and the old animation in it. I stopped the video when it got to the point about where to write in your letters. I pointed out how old this was; it had an actual physical address and not an e-mail address. While it played Steve kind of asked, ‘did they really do this?’

I was asked who did the voice for Moltar, having already covered the two voices of TOM. I told them C. Martin Croker who they would know best as Zorak. I had met him at this past Dragon*Con and got his autograph there. That only leaves Sonny Straight’s now to get.

I had a request from a young lady in the audience for some Zoids. She asked for one of the openings, but instead I played the long promo for Chaotic Century. I asked the question about which Zoids was peoples’ favorite and someone wanted to know why Fuzors wasn’t on Toonami. I told her I didn’t know, but I hadn’t heard goo thing about it.

I asked all in attendance if they would take part in an experiment . They said yes so I asked them to closer their eyes. And if they weren’t going to close their eyes at least stay quite. I began to play the long Hamtaro promo. I played for about a minute then stopped. I then asked ‘who wants to watch Hamtaro now’ nearly everyone raised their hands. This is the power of Toonami’s old promos. They were that cool. I had a question about the change in Hamtaro’s opening. I’m still not sure what he was talking about, but I did end up playing the Toonami opening for the show. Which I still feel expresses my feelings on having Hamtaro on Toonami. While it’s the least appropriate show I think they’ve had on their, not being an action show really, it’s still not my least favorite one on there. (cough yugiohpokemon cough)

Steve made a comment about Cullen’s great work announcing on the promos. I said ‘you did some too right?’ and he said yes, but Peter did most of them. I then turned to the audience and asked if they know who the usual announcer for Toonami was, they didn’t so I told them. Peter Cullen, the voice of the original Optimus Prime; the ‘True Prime’ as I put it.

I can’t remember how Megas XLR was brought up but it was the next topic. I played the only thing I had of it. It wasn’t a Toonami one, it was the one Cartoon Network did having Scooby-doo and the gang meet Coup and Jamie. Everyone, including Steve Blum who hadn’t seen it, thought it was great. Someone pointed out how this was the kind of stuff that made Cartoon Network great, stuff made by those who cared.


It was asked by the audience if Toonami UK was still around. Sadly it is not, nor is Toonami Japan, or most other Toonami spots around the world. The only I knew that wass still going is Toonami Spain and in the Philippines. It was mentioned that someelse had heard that Australia still had one, though no one in the room could confirm that.

We talked a little bit about IGPX and it’s place in Toonami. Not many people had seen it when it aired, myself including so I played the long promo for them. Talked about it being a coproduced project between Williams Street and Production I.G. I told the story of how when I first heard the idea of the show I thought it was stupid, but then I saw one of those commercials they would do for what’s coming up on Toonami that Saturday. The part about IGPX made me go ‘hey that actual sounds like a cool show, wish I didn’t have t work Saturday nights.’ Steve refereed to the show as “William’s Street’s baby.”

While the long promo ran, I mentioned how while it contained all the usual VAs (motioned to Steve) it also has several surprising VAs. Mark Hamill who did the Joker in Batman: TAS and a little sci-fi series of movies in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Michelle Rodriguez as one of the leads and does a surprisingly good job. The star of Kingdom Hearts, Haley Joel Osment as the lead. Also, the coach of the main team was voiced by Lance Henriksen who was the Bishop in the Alien Movies and the star of the tv show Millinum. I related my story of having met him at Dragon*Con this past year. Like most sci-fi guests at such cons who charges a small fee for an autograph; he was $20 which I find fair at these things, but when he saw that I wanted him to sign one of my IGPX DVD covers who stopped me and said to his assistant “we can’t charge this guy.”

I felt at this point that there had been a lot of talk about anime, so I decided to bring up the non-anime shows of Toonami. I played a Reboot promo and asked they audience what their favorites were. Someone said Pirates of the Dark Water, but I corrected him about how while it was on Cartoon Network it wasn’t on Toonami. I asked if anyone remember the Real Adventures of Johny Quest and there was actually a little cheer for it which kind of surprised me that so many of them remembered it. I told them all that it would be out of DVD later this year, which several of them were happy about.

The vendor in the room (who is a really fun guy to meet he owns a store in Toldeo Ohio called Anigames; check it out if you’re ever in the area) talked about how he still sells stuff like Outlaw Star and .hack/sign. He felt that getting the exposure on Toonami really helped these shows to create fan base they wouldn’t have gotten other wise.

I finally got to talking about the music of Toonami. I took them through the history of it. Talking about John Boyd Vigil, his work, and the album he put out. DJ Clarknova, his mixes, and Black Hole Megamix. I asked Steve if he remembered having to record anything for that but he didn’t. I made mention of Cullen’s going “fo’ shizle” one of the tracks. This both stunned and amazed the audience. Then a quick mention of Ninja Tunes. Even brought up how they had a lot of their stuff put into the American version of IGPX while the Japanese version didn’t have the time to have stuff like that added in. I even brought up DJ Calus’s Rare, Restored, and Recut and how it was a reaction to the Black Hole Megamix; wanting to hear the music without audio samples over it.

Earlier someone had seen that I had something Naruto in my videos and had asked about it. I finally played it as an example of the last really good promo of Toonami. It had a great music to it and gave you a good feel for the series. During the parts with Zabuza Steve would point to the screen. He does the voice of him.

At about 12:02 the head of the panels came in and told us we had to pack up for the next one. I gave him a hard time about cause we know each other. I think he had thought that I would have ended the panel earlier so the next one could get ready, but I would have talked till dawn if he had let me. So we ended and I put my stuff away. I was still getting people coming up to me as I put stuff up with questions and comments. Man I love these panels.

I’d like thank everyone who can to the panel, everyone who asked questions, the girl who turned down the lights when I played a video, Steve Blum, the con for letting me do the panel, and all who are reading this.

Ah why not…….. Bang!


Interveiw with the Prince

December 25, 2008

Author’s note: This piece and the the previous one were both originaly ment for a the Toonami Fan site but the site creator never put them up so I decided to post them here.

Derek Stephen Prince is an American voice actor from California. Some of the roles he is know for are Ken, Veemon, Impmon and DemiDevimon from Digimon, George Tatsunami in S-CRY-ed, Ichiro/Kikaider in Kikaider, Keitaro from Love Hina, Suguru from Mahoromatic, and Uryu in Bleach.

In the world of Toonami he has been in several of animes: Phantom in MAR, Dr. Root and Multi-Card Monty in Dual Masters 2.0, Yoichi Hiruma in Eyeshield 21, Shino in Naruto, Beshimi and Cho Sawegejou in Kenshin, and Dr. Gaia in Cyborg 009.

I was able to meet him at an anime con a few months back now. I was able to get a hold of him recently through his website to do a little interview about the Toonami shows he’s been on and anime in general.

Could you tell me about about the Eyeshield 21 dub and what happened with it?
DSP: Okay, here’s the lowdown on EyeShield. It was NOT a cost effective way to do a show. Normally when Viz does a show, they’ll collaborate with a productions company like Bang Zoom or Studiopolis and commit to X number of episodes. On this one, because NFL Entertainment wanted to start getting into the mix, they decided to commit to do only the first 8 episodes. 8, I say? Well, yeah, technically it was supposed to be 8, but NFL thought that parts of the show could be cut out due to violence and football expository that most Americans already know about. So they made 8 into 5. Well, that’s time consuming right there. But what’s even more so is now splitting up each episode into 5 minute webisodes. And when you have someone like Tony Oliver at the helm directing and organizing it, Tony is extremely good at what he does and does not come cheap.  So they wound up losing way to much money for it to continue. Viz tried something and it just didn’t work.

Can you tell us a little about working on Naruto as Shino and your thoughts on the show?
DSP: I’ve always been a little on edge with the times they chose to show it. I’m really not certain that it’s meant to be seen before 10 or 11 at night. Yet I’ve seen it air as early as 8 or earlier, like when they have a Naruto marathon. Well, I have two boys-10 and 5-and they saw one episode that was really violent. My youngest had some nightmares. I think it’s a great show for anime viewers, however, and they do well at combining a lot of themes-love, hate, finding yourself, trusting teammates, etc. It’s also different from some other animes I’ve seen . It can have one mood then swing 360 degrees around and have a completely different mood. Like when characters start on a mission and it’s really slow paced. Then they get into a fight and it’s action-action-action.

As for the Shino-man, I LOVE him. I love his mystery and body chemistry being made up with bugs. One director-Sam Reigel-once told me during a recording that if Shino were real, he’d never want to meet him in a dark alley. I agree. He’s cool, collected and slightly spooky. Next time he’s on an episode, try closing your eyes and picturing who I may have modeled the voice after. If you’re thinking a cop from the 70’s played by Clint Eastwood, you’re on the right track.

Many people feel that American dubs of anime do horrible hack jobs on them. From changing the plot, cutting stuff, bad dubbing, and all kind things. What are your feelings on this and how do you feel dubs match up to the original works?
DSP: Okay NOW you’ve hit a nerve! I’m gonna stand on my soapbox a second here. First and foremost, people have GOT to understand that the Americans are NOT entirely responsible for the product that is aired here! Guys, this is anime. This is coming from Japan. Do you honestly think that they relinquish all control of the project once it’s shipped here? If you answered yes, then you truly don’t know how this industry works. They are not only responsible for the episodes that they ship to us, they have final say on who gets cast and what gets cut! Shocked, well then it’s about time you wake up and smell the coffee if you thought otherwise.  Now, it’s true that in the translation of dialog, we may change the meaning of some words, but that’s only because sometimes you have to do that so that the audience as a whole understand what’s going on in the plot. Do we do horrible “hack jobs” on projects? Only if the Japanese LET us, because an idea a director had they thought might work. Not everything that is anime is awesome, but where we can, we try and help so it may gain a following out here.

Talk about bad dubbing- one thing I HATE are fan-subs. I’m sorry guys but if any of you out there are doing this and think you’re awesome then consider this: If you dub your own version of a show and it gets a lot of attention, then who the HELL is gonna watch it when the professionals do it? If you want to be in anime so bad, then come out to one of the established cities that specializes in it and get into it legitimately. Think of all the people out there that are NOT anime fans but just catch a glimpse of one of your pieces of “masterful work” on YouTube, or some other free download. Most of the time, the humor is fan humor that a lot of regular joes don’t get, your writing sucks because the words don’t match the mouth flaps which makes it look like a bad English-dubbed Chinese movie, and you do your OWN cutting so content is lost there as well. Yes, sometimes we professionals can screw up a project, when it’s shipped here, we’re given limited time to get the sound and voices recorded and dubbed and have to throw it back out there because we’re trying to meet a schedule. Does it suck then? Absolutely. Should they have taken more time? Of course. Do the Japanese always have a budget to hire the best actors out there? Well…they probably would if people would stop downloading the original Japanese, or recently dubbed English that hasn’t even aired yet (and how the THAT happens, I don’t know, but there have got to be moles in companies for that to happen). But because there are so many that are taking advantage of those downloads without paying for them, the Japanese are LOSING money so they have to hire non-union dubbers that often don’t know how to sync or make a character truly believable. Also in regards to the fan-subs, I don’t know if you guys realize this, but by watching a non-professional version of a show, it greatly decreases a production company’s chances of getting a project in the future. People only make money when you buy the DVDs legitimately, go to a site that has downloads but is full of commercial advertising, or you WAIT for it to come on TV, because it’s the advertisers that keep the show alive. Low viewer ship=shows canceled or not being picked up for another season, even though more episodes exist in Japanese. Okay, I know I’ve probably pissed a lot of people off, but hopefully you guys who think we do terrible renditions of shows will remember two things: The end project is ONLY as good as the fans who watch it, and how they watch it. I really hope you guys walk away with this knowing that as corny as it may sound, the fate of anime is in your hands. How you chose to be a fan of it, can change the fate of future anime being shipped here as well as keeping all of us (who work really hard to make it good for you) employed.

One of the articles on Toonami Fan concerns a show you worked on, Rurouni Kenshin and it’s place on the block and what kind of show it was. Do you have thoughts on why theory didn’t do well after the Tokyo arc and do you think with the rise in ratings allowed for programing do you think it could make a revival?
DSP: I think that Makenzie really covered why Kensihin failed-the switch in storylines cut out the main target audience that became the followers in the first 27 episode. By the way, same thing happened in Bleach for Season 2, when it switched from it’s slightly casual, laid back tone to one of much more serious quality. But the show has managed to survive BECAUSE of the huge following. So in hindsight, would Kenshin do well after the Tokyo arc, given the chance with the rise in ratings? Probably.

Here’s something interesting about that show too: In the original-Samurai X-the tone of the show was non stop humor, to get the younger audience interested in it. Some of the more violent scenes were trimmed down, but had it aired instead of Kenshin, the audience that it was intended for when Kenshin aired may still have continued watching it. Very few if any fans saw it, and if you have a copy I’m gonna have to kick your but cuz you shouldn’t have it, but I have a feeling, quite honestly (given the audiences that kept it alive) that the show would have done better with that version and last longer. But when the Japanese saw what we did to it (which honestly was NOT the feel of the original), they pulled it and re-recorded everything when it became Kenshin. I was involved in both productions, playing Sano originally, and even though it wasn’t the original feel, was a better show. You die-hard Kenshin fans will probably want to throw tomatoes at me,and that fine, but that’s my opinion. This is one case where one person’s view of quality and potential viewership is also viewed as butchering the original because it did not stay 100% true.

Can you say a few words on working on both Dual Masters and Cyborg 009?
DSP: Dual Masters was the most messed up production I think I’ve ever been on. I don’t even know what happened, but that show must have gone through 2 or 3 different companies. And different casts every time. I’m not even sure why it all happened. That must have been very confusing for the fans. As fro the recording of it, it was very scattered for me. I’m not quite sure I connected with Dr. Root, but both he and Monty were fun to voice.

As for Cyborg 009, that is one show where production really plays a role in solidifying the direction they want to go. It was also the ONLY time I played a sole lead in a show. I was originally cast as 009, but after 2 or 3 episodes in the can, the production company felt I wasn’t the right voice for the show. Hey, it sucks, but it happens. Whatcha gona do?

Anything you would like to add or say to the readers?
DSP: I hope the readers don’t view me as a mean person, or harsh person, from some of my previous comments on dubbing. I’m just really passionate about my work doing dubbing. I love what I do, and I hope I get to do it for many more years to come. I just hope that enough people realize that as far as anime goes and your favorite shows coming out (either in English or Japanese) that you have the patience to wait for it to come out legitimately, rather than illegally trying to obtain it because you just can’t wait and you feel like it’s your right to do so. I’ve heard that comment from a lot of fans on this subject. Well, peeps, it isn’t your right if you didn’t put your blood, sweat, tears and hours away from your families working on it to make it what it is. You all waited for Wall*E to come out didn’t you? You all waited for Iron Man to come out, right? If you don’t have the money to buy a box set of something cuz it’s expensive but you just have to see it, then split the cost with friends and watch it together! Let’s keep this industry going for as long as we can, by funneling that money back to the Japanese so we CAN continue to see our favorite shows brought to life by many of the companies that would like to do so. It’s up to the very people who made anime popular today, to determine it’s outcome of either flourishment or demise. The power, quite literally, is in your hands. Will you accept the responsibility that goes along with it?

If you’re intereted in Derek and his work join his fan club Knights of the Dubbing Prince.

Also you can catch him each week in Bleach on Adult Swim, Naruto on Jetstream, and Gurren Lagann on Sci-Fi Channel.