The two long time voice acting vets share what's changed for them in the industry and how US companies are affecting their field.
You also might know that Shino Kakinuma and Toshio Furukawa are married.
From voicing Piccolo in Dragon Ball to Ace in One Piece, Toshio Furukawa has been a prominent actor in the anime industry. Shino Kakinuma, who has voiced Videl in Dragon Ball Kai and Naru in the Sailor Moon series, has also voiced her fair share of characters since she started back in 1980. At Otakon I was able to chat with them about how the voice acting industry has changed for the both of them, and how anime has grown since they started.
TheOASG: You both have been doing voice work for a long time. How has the industry changed from when you started to today?
Toshio Furukawa: I would like to say the recording system, the equipment used for recording, has evolved a lot. So that’s one thing.
Shino Kakinuma: A major difference about that evolution in equipment is how we’ve moved on to the digital era from the analog equipment. Say for example, the reeling in of the film. Back then everything was projected on the wall with film. Every time you would record something in the same scene, you would reel back in the film and go from the start. Now you can with a click of a button, can’t you?
Another thing is timelines. On the screen you could see the timelines, how long it is, how much time has passed. You don’t really need to time yourself as much as you did because back then in the film reels you didn’t see the time on the screen as you do now. Now you can numerically see how much time has lapsed in exact seconds, milliseconds. Back then you didn’t have the luxury of that.
Another difference is how modern equipment has digital surround sound, with multiple channels. Back then we used to believe that if everyone talks in one mic that’s the same as blasting everything from the same speakers. But now since we have multiple channels, if we did everything in a single channel, when it came out it would probably sound weird doesn’t it? Now we need to separate each of the channels when recording so we’ve come a long way, but the recording process became longer *laughs*
What was the best piece of advice you’ve given while voice acting that you still remember today?
Furukawa: At my production this is something I’ve said to the younger people there: Voice acting is a difficult job, you have lots of competition too. So what you need is the strength and mentality.
Kakinuma: In acting, no matter the medium we’re acting a human being. Even in live-action, even in drama, anime, etc, we’re acting as human beings. Even if it’s a tomato talking on the screen, there’s a person inside that tomato. There are all human beings. What’s important is their heart. It’s not the way that you talk or tone you take when you talk, but the important thing is in your heart.
I gotta wrap my head around a tomato being a human being so sorry, just give a moment *laughs*
Furukawa, Kakinuma: *laughs*
Kakinuma: Sorry! (she says this in English)
A lot of anime have been brought over officially from companies like Crunchyroll to Netflix. Did you ever believe that anime would grow into something this popular?
Furukawa: It was a strange feeling at first because it was in Japan, we were voicing for Japanese animation, so we thought our work was going to be strictly Japanese. But now you have conventions and we can go from Japan to the US. So it’s a very weird feeling because we’re here all the way in the US, and back then we thought it’d be something strictly for Japanese audiences because you guys have American voice actors here don’t you?
But I am very grateful that anime is being noticed all over the world like in the US.
Kakinuma: When I was small, I watched a cartoon made in America called Wacky Races. But I never really noticed it was from America, I just took it for what it is. So I guess people now, being able to watch anime through services like Crunchyroll and Netflix through the internet, might be experiencing something similar to that.
Legend of The Galactic Heroes is finally officially being shown in the West. Can you tell me your roles in it and what was it like being involved in the series.
Furukawa: I was Olivier Poplin in the Legend of the Galactic Heroes. He’s a character kind of similar to Ataru Moroboshi from Urusei Yatsura, going after the girls and everything.
Kakinuma: I was more of those mob characters in Galactic Heroes, like for example an announcer, another person from the empire, a person from the republic, etc.
You’re well known for playing Piccolo and Ace, but how’s it like voicing someone like “that” detective in Gunma, Misao Yamamura?
Furukawa: That’s some character you got there! The idea of him was that unlike Conan, who makes the right choices, Misao was about making the choices that didn’t really take off the ground *laughs*. But in that sense I do really like him because he’s a comical character. I like comical characters.
Where do you both see the voice acting industry going in Japan now that you see Hollywood wanting to get into anime and US companies doing co-productions with Japanese companies?
Furukawa: I believe that because this is something — and not just me, all of the anime staff are thinking about it — but now since everything is becoming worldwide, the market for Japanese animation is also becoming worldwide. So we might make things a bit more catered to the entire world as opposed to just Japan. So that might be something that would change in the future.
Kakinuma: I believe that recently, some live-action and CG are becoming indistinguishable, and anime is becoming closer and closer to things like live-action. So one day they might be indistinguishable, but is that really ok? What we strive to do is put anime characteristics and kind of separate ourselves characteristically from live-action. This is something that I’ve heard from the Gundam the Origin staff, but they wanted to make something that would last 50 years. So 50 years from now they would still be able to see that this is anime, but this has characteristics that are not in things like live-action.
So no matter if animation or CG come close to real live action, there is probably a way to be distinguishable from live-action. And I think figuring that out is a big thing for us.