With it being one of my favourite genres I am super excited and pleased to be writing this article as conveniently it is also with a dear friend of mine. I first met Josh Martin at an anime convention in Yorkshire many years ago. At the time I was collaborating with my client’s magazine and shared it with him, fortunately, it went down a treat and from there we did a couple of collaborations online with workshops and webinars. Just before the pandemic hit in late 2019 there was another anime convention that Josh was attending and I was supporting the guests. At this convention, I was still working with the Magazine, and this time I thought it would be great fun to do an interview with Josh Martin!
Something I always ask myself when creating content, reaching out to and meeting new clients, and building positive relationships is, ‘How am I adding value?’ in this instance Josh is one of the most prominent anime voiceover artists in the world. This article would add a lot of value to voiceover artists worldwide.
Voicing Thousands of Characters
Having worked in anime myself, I understand the need to diversify the number of characters a voiceover actor needs in this genre. Typically, a session will range from 2 to 4 hours, and it isn’t uncommon for the actor to have to do fodder too. What is Fodder? Fodder is the one-off line here and there that appears throughout an episode. Imagine a huge fight scene with loads of spectators, a fodder line might come from a random crowd member saying something like ‘wow, that looked like it hurt!’
It is not time- or cost-effective to hire a sole voiceover artist to do this one single line so typically booked voice actors within the cast will share all the fodder lines amongst each other. Josh has voiced A LOT of significant characters, but he is remarkably familiar with spending ten minutes at the end of the session going on a range of random fodder lines too. It is vital for an anime voiceover artist to be able to jump in and out of these characters quickly and with ease.
A Voice Actor Doing a Bit of Everything
Between our branding, social media, website, and networking, it feels a bit busy right? Oh, and that is only the tip of the iceberg, right? Josh works in video games and commercials as well as anime. Still, the thing is, anime requires a triangular skillset that requires the performer to watch the animation, follow the rhythm band, read the text AND deliver a performance at the same time. I refer to it as triangular because they will visually see the lines, the animation with the lip syncs, and the rhythm band. It’s worth noting at this point that not all companies use a rhythm band, many of them will use the three-beeps technique. The reason I am referencing both is that typically for on-screen dubbing, it is the rythmo band typically used, and in dubbing, it is the three beeps. But listening to them as well as performing and fitting the words into the mouth of the character is a fundamental skill to acquire!
Agents in Anime
I find typically across the board that voiceover agents are constantly in demand. Be it for video games, narration, anime, or commercials, everyone wants an agent. The thing is agents are vitally important! They have a trusted reputation with a vast list of clients and typically have better quality and higher paying roles than that of a pay-to-play website or what Google might give you. Typically speaking an agent is required to book stuff in anime, it isn’t essential mind you, but it will massively help you. I booked an anime role through a long string of networking, but the easiest way into anime is via the agents. The thing is, as a voiceover artist, you should have an agent anyway. It is a fundamental step to moving forward with your career and establishing a strong place and reputation for yourself in the industry.
Top Tips From the Interview with Josh Martin
My first tip is to make sure you know what tech you need. Neumann TLM 103 and Neumann U87 are massively popular in anime. The Sennheiser 416 is also another popular microphone. I am not saying ‘buy an expensive mic, and you’ll book work’ but what I am saying is the production companies are used to a particular sound, and they have trust in those products. I want to record on equipment that they are used to, it is what they use in their studios, so I want to be parallel with that standard. My next tip is to make sure you are keeping it fresh; always be thinking and making notes of new characters. I frequently record snippets of cool voices I might fall into, or I’ll make a note of interesting voices I hear whilst out and about.
The next top tip is to network! Make friends with everyone! I met Josh via a friend, Josh and I have introduced each other to a range of people, and we have both made work through our networking. Next, watch anime! You will learn a lot about the style, the character archetypes, the vocal and physical expectations, and the concepts. Anime is typically the age-old battle of good vs evil, and good often wins, but in a format where there is little to no hope. That last shred of hope often comes off good and they win.
Finally, begin practising the emotions and the intensity levels now, do not wait to get the auditions. Practise now so you are ready for the auditions. As a British actor and voiceover artist, I once questioned if my accent was a good fit for anime, but the truth is all accents are a good fit for anime. Ok, in English, typically, it is the American neutral accent, but I have seen Australian, Russian, British, and African accents in anime. I have performed in an anime with my own accent, I have ‘poshed’ it up a bit too, and I have just made some sounds and emotes too. Anime really is the voice actors’ space to go wild and have fun.