The first guest on this interview segment talks about Sailor Moon, getting into the anime industry, Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace, why Cross Ange is worth watching despite the infamous first episode, and her mostly saying she can't talk about X, Y, Z, and ZZ.
Welcome to The Justin Lab Report, this is Justin. I happen to be the co-founder of TheOASG, which is where we try and show people how they can watch anime and read manga legally. This feature is intended to be a mix of an old feature that I did back when we used to be called Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. I decided to let my ego get the best of me and put my name in it. Also it’s intended to be a slightly more relaxed than that was. Just slightly.
The goal of interviewing people that are remotely involved with anime and manga hasn’t changed though, and that’s what leads into what’s happening today. My first The Justin Lab Report guest is the scriptwriter of the show Sentai filmworks released…and was a hit TV show Akame ga Kill, and also the scriptwriter for Monthly Girls Nozaki Kun. She’s also the voice of Liza Landog (Riza Randog) in Sentai’s upcoming release of Cross Ange, Katelyn Barr.
Katelyn Barr: Hi!
Justin: How’s work been like this week Katelyn?
Katelyn: Bussssssyyyy! But so fun! I’m working on a really cool show right now that I can’t wait to talk about!
Justin: Can’t wait? What is it, 2, 3 months, that’s when you can talk about it?
Katelyn: I actually don’t know when this one’s coming out. So “I dunno!”
Justin: I’ve explained you do voice acting and script writing, but I’m gonna be that guy who asks how you got into anime, was it because of Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Sailor Moon—
Justin: That’s usually the answers I get.
Katelyn: Well, you can’t see it but I have a giant Sailor Moon collection in the back…I’m kinda obsessed with Sailor Moon *laughs* That got me into anime. Of course Pokemon because who growing up in the 90’s didn’t know what Pokemon was? It was my dream to work in anime, and here I am.
Justin: What steps did you take to accomplish this dream?
Katelyn: Well I wanted to be an actor in general, really, not just a voice actor, so all through middle school and high school I did theater, took part in plays, and learned my stuff. Then I went to college and majored in Theater, got my degree in acting, and then I moved to Houston, Texas. I’m from North Carolina, but I knew Texas was a great place to get into anime. Also it has an amazing theater scene, Houston does, so I did some professional work as an actor, I networked, I took workshops and I got an opportunity to audition at Sentai, and I made it. And here I am!
Justin: What was the show you auditioned for?
Katelyn: My first audition, my only audition, was a general call. I auditioned for Emily Neves, and they just threw a bunch of random parts for different shows at me. It was really fun and I didn’t know what was coming next. Then the first show I got called for was Log Horizon with Kyle Jones.
Justin: Do you specifically work at Sentai or are you freelance…?
Katelyn: Well, the great thing about being a voice actor, or at least at Sentai, or the companies that do anime, is it’s contract work. I’m not really an employee of the company, so I can work for any company I want to. If I ever got a chance to work at FUNimation, I can do that, I can do both, I just haven’t yet. Hopefully I will in the future.
Justin: How long have you been working in the industry?
Katelyn: Ummmmmmm…September will be two years.
Justin: Oh, so you’re like a year and 6…it’s June now, 6 months, geez.
Katelyn: Something like that!
Justin: *laughs* Can you name one thing you think you’ve learned about the anime industry since you started working in it?
Katelyn: Hmm…putting me on the spot! Ummmmm…I guess I’ve learned that a lot more goes into creating dubs and putting out anime than people realize, especially now that I’m a scriptwriter. That job is hard! *laughs* And I have such an appreciation for scripts for dubs now, it makes a huge difference.
Justin: Well, what actually goes on when you’re doing an English dub for a show?
Katelyn: So the process goes like this: they assign me a show, and it’s probably different in different companies but this is how it works at Sentai: they give me a show, so I take it — I always say “Yes” really *laughs* — and they give me timecoded video of all the episodes. So I get an episode that has a box on the top with a timer, so I know exactly what minute, second, and frame I’m working at, with a translation for each episode that’s timecoded out so I know what’s being said all the time so I don’t have to speak Japanese or anything, which is good. I’m learning Japanese, but I’m not at all fluent so–
Justin: Basic? Just the basics of Japanese so far?
Katelyn: Yeah, I’m in an Intermediate level class, so I can write a little bit and speak a little bit, but definitely not fluent, I definitely can’t translate a whole show.
So I just take the timecoded episodes of the translation and I create a script that has dialogue that matches the lip flaps, the movements of the character’s mouths, sounds like something they would say, and doesn’t sound translatey or robotic or anything. It gets across the original intent and is interesting to listen to.
Justin: I’ve always wondered, like I’m pretty sure you get feedback from not just fans but people in Sentai when dealing with the script, but have you ever gotten feedback from people in Japanese companies?
Katelyn: Not me personally, I am not very high up on the…totem pole, I guess, so that stuff doesn’t usually get to me.
Justin: But that is a thing though? That Japanese companies might give feedback?
Katelyn: Yeah! I’ve heard things about like the Japanese companies will say, “We definitely want this to be done this way/can you make sure that this is like this?” I have gotten emails that say, “Make sure that you call this this thing because that’s what the Japanese company wants us to call it.” But I’ve never directly gotten any feedback.
Justin: I’m pretty sure you know dubs have changed a bunch since the 90’s and even the early 2000s. Can you name me a couple things that you think, compared to back then that have changed since growing up?
Katelyn: Yeah! Like I said, I used to watch Pokemon and Sailor Moon, and both of those dubs, back then there wasn’t a huge presence of like, anime as a genre that a significant number of people are into, it wasn’t, like, a thing as much back then. So stuff was much more localized and more adapted to an English speaking audience whereas now you have so many anime fans — they know what Sentai means, they know about little things in Japanese culture that we don’t always have to adapt — we can keep it close to the original intent. That’s a big difference I think.
Justin: Have you’ve ever been asked, or put in a situation where you had to explain that anime is not all fanservice, it’s not all just for kids?
Katelyn: Ummm….I dunno. Not so much yet because most of the people I talk to about anime are either in the industry or are fans so they know, or are my family, so they don’t know what it is at all, so they wouldn’t know that a lot of it is fanservice, they’re just like, “I guess you’re making cartoons.” My grandma thinks that I created Akame ga Kill. I’ve told her a million times, ‘No I just wrote the English script’ but she’s like, “you wrote the story!” I’m like ‘no, grandma…’ *we both laugh*
Justin: Oh…that’s pretty cool.
Justin: So I mentioned your upcoming role in Cross Ange but you’ve voiced supporting characters in other anime. That means you’ve done a number of voices based on the characters and scenes. What have you enjoyed the most and why: voicing an emotional, touching scene, a funny scene, or a death scene?
Katelyn: Um…I really–erghh, I don’t wanna spoil any death scenes! Uh I will talk about something that isn’t so much a spoiler and that was really fun. So Cross Ange, I wrote the script for that, so I know the show like the back of my hand, I know where all the bit parts are, and there’s an episode, I believe it was Episode 8, that’s like the fun, goofy beach episode because you know you gotta have one of those–
Katelyn: *laughs* I remembered, I knew I was gonna play Liza because they called me and booked me for it, but I didn’t know I was going to get to do this one bit part that I wrote and took a lot of time on and I was so happy I got to do it: there is an announcer in the background that goes on for like 3 minutes straight talking about a pig race and there’s a bunch of like, pig jokes in it but you can barely hear it because it’s in the background, but it’s hilarious and I went in and I’m like, “I’m the announcer in Episode 8, yes!” So if you listen to Episode 8, you can hear me presiding over a long pig race. That was fun, I had a blast from it.
Justin:…Pigs and anime….w-what is this.
Justin: How did you figure out the best ways to support the anime industry? I imagine growing up that, like a lot of people, you liked anime, watched it on TV, and as you kept growing older, you found out it was online, you might have watched it on YouTube, and then you realized that those views you gave it weren’t going to the creators.
Katelyn: Yeah. I definitely, now that I’m in the industry, I’m a lot more aware of like, “Hey, this directly affects me and people I know!” So I’m definitely not going to watch anime illegally. As a kid it wasn’t so much a problem. I grew up in the 90’s when we didn’t go on the internet and watch streaming anime, we watched it on TV and got VHS tapes. So I never really came into contact with a lot of illegal anime but I definitely am a big supporter of please buy it, watch it legally because it’s everywhere, it’s so easy to get legal anime. There’s literally no excuse anymore.
Justin: Yeah, especially if you’re in the U.S.
Let’s talk about a couple of upcoming things. You’ve mentioned Cross Ange, but you’re also working on something involving Bodacious Space Pirates. There’s this girl named Marika, she just so happens to have a crew, and now she’s back in Abyss of Hyperspace. Can you talk about that movie a little bit?
Katelyn: Yeah! So that was a super interesting movie to write the script for. I didn’t work on the show at all. I didn’t know the show so I got to take a couple of days at the beginning of the process after they assigned it to me, and I just like binge watched it, and it’s such a cute show! It’s so light-hearted and fun and I just, I love it, so I was really excited to work on the movie because the characters are so colorful and I had a blast with it. I hope everybody enjoys it. The movie’s just a…”barrel” of fun. *laughs*
Justin: Is there a big difference between writing for a movie compared to a TV series or there’s really not much different?
Katelyn: I handled it like I was handling a series in terms of like, how I timed it out, spaced out the amount of work I did per day, but I don’t think there’s really a difference as far as ADR when the content’s already there. The only difference really was that I had to research the show first because I haven’t seen it. But I’ve done second seasons of stuff and had to research season 1’s if I didn’t work on it, so it wasn’t that different as an ADR writer.
Justin: What did you know about Cross Ange before working on the script and being cast on the show?
Katelyn: Oh, I’m glad you asked! I saw the first episode of Cross Ange when it was first coming out, and it kind of got famous on the internet for like, “Oh my god, this shocking thing that happens in the first episode!” I dunno if you’ve seen it or not–
Justin: I’ve heard about it.
Katelyn: Yeah! So a lot of people where like, “Oh my god, ugh!” So then I got assigned to write the show and I was like, “Ugh, it’s that show with that really, really disturbing first episode, ugh!” But I took it anyway, and I’m so glad I did because by the end of the show it’s a completely different universe, different characters, different setting, different feel, and it’s such — a lot of people criticize the first episode because “Wow, this show is horrible to its female characters,” but by the end it really is like a love song to the potential of women, and I’m glad I gave it another chance. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I think that anybody who likes mecha but was maybe a little put off by the first episode should definitely give it another shot.
So yeah, I’m really glad I worked on it. I have the game now. It’s an awesome show.
Justin: I’m sorry, the game?
Katelyn: There is a game!
Katelyn: Yeah. *laughs* It’s for PS Vita and it’s like a dating sim/mecha fighter game *laughs* I haven’t gotten very far into it yet–
Justin: What’s with the Vita always releasing these…yeah, they’re kinda niche, Japanese games!
Katelyn: Yeah! It’s interesting. I’m not fluent in Japanese so it takes me a while to get through it. There’s no English version. But it’s fun, I like it.
Justin: How would you describe the character you’re playing?
Katelyn: So Liza, without spoiling anything, Liza is questionable, and she’s got a lot of secrets, and she has a deep voice, so I was like, “Yeah, deep voice!” That’s like, a niche that I get cast in a lot. But then like everything else in the show, by the end she’s completely different than you thought she was gonna be. It’s full of plot twists and surprises and…it’s great.
Justin: What turned out to be the biggest challenge in playing her?
Katelyn: Ummmm…it’s hard to say without spoiling anything…um, as an actor you know a lot more about your character at the beginning of the story than people watching it do, so you wanna deliver lines in a way that…shows that the character knows this secret thing to be a fact. But you don’t wanna give it away, like you don’t want to be too obvious that this person is not who they appear to be, but you also, as an actor, have to remember that in your delivery. So that was a challenge, but I’ve played characters who are kinda duplicitous like that before, so that was fun.
Justin: Let’s talk about this…I guess I have to say this is a Kickstarter that was based off a visual novel that was already out called Carpe Diem Reboot…this is the second version correct?
Justin: I guess I need to know, what’s this KS all about?
Katelyn: I’m glad you asked that! So I’ve been trying to get into doing a little more work in indie games and visual novels. I was approached by Eyzi, the creator of Carpe Diem, to voice Yume, who is a new character this time around. The first game is called Carpe Diem. It’s free on Steam I believe, real short visual novel, Eyzi created it like totally solo, and a lot of people really liked it. So the creator wanted to do like a reboot and a sequel, sort of, and it luckily got funded on KS a couple days ago, it’s been green-lit on Steam, so I’m suppperr excited to work on it and show it to everyone! It looks like it’s gonna be super cool.
Justin: You’ve basically made it known you play video games, you’ve played visual novels before?
Katelyn: Yeah! I really like VNs. One of my favorite series is probably Shuffle, I really like the Shuffle series. I’ve played the first 3 of those. Let’s see, I guess the Cross Ange one kind of counts as a VN…even though it’s got a fighting element in it.
Justin: If you can date girls and fight at the same time it, it counts I guess–wait–
Katelyn: Yeah, it’s something like–hmm?
Justin: Would that…w-would Fire Emblem count as a dating sim?
Katelyn: In a way…I guess?
Katelyn: It has dating sim elements!
Justin: You mentioned you’d like to do more indie stuff. Is it something where you want to focus on indie stuff or it’s just something you want to do?
Katelyn: Well as a voice actor, even if you’re one of the people who’s like, really big and you’re doing it all the time, it doesn’t take up all day every day. For me, I’ve really only worked at Sentai so far and have done little indie things here and there, so it’s not full time work. So really, you’re always looking for more work, you’re looking for more outlets and more opportunities, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m kind of trying to expand and work for other directors and other companies and other media. So I figured that was a good place to start because that’s a long line. I can do that from home, I do that right here in my booth, that I’m sitting on the floor — *laughs*
Justin: Sitting on the…floor? Wait, what? Um…why? *laughs*
Katelyn: *laughs* Because my booth is really like, narrow. So my mic is up there (points to her ceiling) Like I stand, but my computer’s down here (on the floor), so I can’t be on webcam and my mic at the same time *laughs* I’m still figuring it out!
Justin: And yet I can hear you pretty well. So I think your booth is pretty well set up.
Katelyn: YAYYYYYY! I’m glad to hear that.
Justin: Do you have any other upcoming projects, anime or non-anime related, that you might want to talk about?
Katelyn: Hrm! I mean you covered Cross Ange and Carpe Diem…really with anime, if it hasn’t been announced I can’t talk about iiitttt! Butttt, aw man, there’s nothing that has been announced that we haven’t talked about. Um….yeah. That’s pretty much it! I do have a lot going on, I don’t wanna sound boring *laughs* but it’s like, all secrets. I’m sorry!
Justin: All those NDAs saying, “Nope, can’t say this, can’t say that!” Yeah. *laughs*
Katelyn: “Those darn NDAs!”
Justin: Well, I guess this will be my final question: As a sorta…big but kind of more average The World God Only Knows fan, I just wanted to know — who were you actually voicing in the OVAs–
Justin: And I’m curious — do you think any of the dating methods Keima actually did in the series, do you think they would work in real life?
Katelyn: I dunno, some girls like…that kind of guy. Kind of a jerk, but *laughs* It’s funny. Anytime anyone interviews me they always ask me about The World God Only Knows because it’s a popular show, a lot of people like it–
Katelyn: I’m only in the OVAs, and I only have like 3 lines, two of which are “THE GAPPPPPP!” *laughs* so I was a little girl in the Kanon episode, like I think I said, “Wow! She really looks like Kanon!” or something, and then I was a bunch of Loose Souls in the Tenri arc, and just random…bits, that’s all I remember doing. I didn’t do a lot in that show.
I did watch Season 3. I still haven’t seen Seasons 1 and 2. I really really like Yui, she’s my favorite. Do you have a favorite?
Justin: Well Chihiro is the favorite, I was really going for Kanon, but I guess she’s too famous, I dunno.
Justin: It, it is what it is. I..I kind of have to admit, I’m surprised you remembered the voices you did — you recorded this last year right?
Katelyn: It was a while ago, it was the second show I did for Chris Ayres after Little Busters Refrain, so that would’ve been…winter 2014? I don’t remember!
Justin: Oh that’s right — it came out last year but you had to do recording earlier than that, right! *laughs*
Katelyn: Yeah. It was a while ago.
Justin: And you actually still remembered! I have to admit, I’m surprised *laughs*
Katelyn: Well, I’m kinda new, so I still remember almost everything I’ve done. Like people who’ve been in the industry forever they’re like, “Ah, I didn’t know I was in that show!” But I still remember pretty much everything I’ve done.
Justin: Makes me wonder about that first audition or show, do you write down the character you’ve voiced *laughs*
Katelyn: Oh man, I know everywhere I am in Log Horizon! I know which episodes I’m in, like I’m that background girl, you see that, that tiny, tiny head? That’s me. Yeah *laughs*
Justin: Katelyn, was a pleasure talking to you today.
Katelyn Barr: It was a pleasure talking to you too! Thank you!
Ok, that’s it the interview. Hope you guys enjoyed my chat with Katelyn Barr. Please feel free to comment, share, etc so I know how I did, what can be improved, and if you have suggestions on who to interview, feel free to send suggestions to contact at theoasg dot com. See you all next week at 9pm!
June 14: Lauren Orsini
June 21: Ajani Oloye