The Journey Into Anime Voice Performance
Anime! Anime voiceover! Anime voice acting! How does that even work if you are a Northern voiceover artist like me? This is something I’ve been asking myself since the age of 8 years old. Even today, I do not have a one-fit-for-all answer. What I do have is my anime voiceover journey which I am excited to share with you. In 2014 I saw an ad for a Pokémon contest that was endorsed by Nintendo. I investigated it, and the spec asked for a confident Nintendo DS Pokémon X and Y player to audition, so I did and was successfully invited to be a part of the team. This introduced me to the world of conventions where I began networking with different convention hosts.
In 2016 I met a group of Anime voice actors including Eric Stuart, Dan Green, Jason Douglas, Chris Rager, Josh Martin, Eric Vale, Sonny Strait, and Monica Reel. Recognise any of these folks? Dragonball, Yu-Gi-Oh! Pokémon and many more massive Anime hit shows are the platforms for these amazing actors. It was great getting to know some of these guys and I was able to chat to them about the industry, the magazine I work on, and some of the other things I was involved with. I invited a few of them to work closely with me in a more formal setting and from there via The VoiceOver Network we hosted a range of workshops and webinars.
One of the actors I met had previously directed a production that needed British actors, he turned to me and said ‘’Where were you 6 months ago when I needed Brits?’’ It certainly did remind me that networking is so important.
Training in Anime Voiceover
These workshops were phenomenal, as a participant, I got so much value out of each workshop I attended. I was able to hear some exceptional content that helped me to understand where anime fits in voiceover, and learn about how it is similar to or different from videogames and animation. Even at conventions, I was able to share and present my material to some of the actors for feedback, and what I noticed is that these formal relationships I had started with these inspiring anime voiceover artists, had soon become friendships that remain today.
Networking is essential in any voiceover platform and being a Northern British voiceover artist, I have such a unique niche that I can enjoy and use. As time went on, I was being introduced to more actors. I had moved away from the Pokémon role and began supporting event organisers and guest appearance agencies in the convention setting. I continued to meet more people and in 2019 several people introduced me to Chris Sabat, a very well-established anime voice actor in his own right as well as the owner of Okratron5000. Chris, one of the people I now call a dear friend, was so generous with his time, going on to teach several workshops for us and collaborating with us on a few different projects.
Voice Actors Booking the Job!
In 2020, Chris had a project demanding British accents and asked me if I could support him with this. I was happy to support in any way I could, so we sent the audition scripts out to our base, receiving more auditions than I could count! I of course threw my own hat in the ring and auditioned too. They hired three male talents and one female talent which for them was phenomenal. As someone watching the process, I was so pleased for all four of these voiceover artists and though I wanted to book the job myself, I did not let it dishearten me as I have been in the industry long enough to know that it just sometimes is not the right fit. So how do you book work in anime voiceover? Well these four actors, joined a networking organisation, trained, and auditioned. That is such a simple route and kind of what you would expect, but my journey is much longer and bigger than that.
Anime Voice Talent for the Northern Artist
So how did it happen for me? Well after supporting the initial project I watched the animation, and the work was amazing. What I learnt is that the characters were all over the country and on the back of advice from Sean Schemmel (one of the biggest anime voiceover artists on Earth!) I decided to reach out to the Okratron5000 team to offer my insight on the different accents required in each part of the country.
Shortly after this the show producer and director Rawly Pickens reached out to me telling me they were recording season two and would love to audition our audience again. We followed the same process and the Okraton5000 team narrowed it down to around fifteen voice actors. We discussed their needs, I listened to the material, we covered the spec, and narrowed down a new cast of three. At the end of that process, Rawly invited me to join him for a 2-hour session as there was a police officer and a member of parliament who were both perfect for my voice type – the Northern British anime voice actor.
Voicing the Anime Projects
A lot of the show was based in Durham, which is hard Yorkshire, some of it was based in York which is only twenty miles away from where I lived. So, though the series started off with a lot of London-based accents the more the story developed the more characters that came in the show and the more accents required. For me, the journey took me to a place of support, and really, my outlook on everything in voiceover is to look at how I can help, not how I can be helped.
It was in that second season an opening for my voice type came up and this time they did not need to look for an actor, they had someone right in front of them. I was very blessed and am incredibly grateful for the process, the training, the friends I’ve made, the faith invested into me for my role both in casting and for recording, and knowing that the journey is just at the beginning not at the end. I look forward to the next project and I am excited to help and support more as the years go by as and when I am needed.