I have been fortunate enough to attend a dubbing course with Japanese dubbing professionals: Rikako Yamaguchi, Yui Watanabe and Shunsuke Sakai! These seiyû are talented and really adorable♡
The event took place in a sumptuous room of Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel in Odaiba. But before that, it was the Tokyo Anime Fair that I first met Yui Watanabe. She introduced herself as one of Triple-H in Mawaru penguindrum and the voice of Sorakara-chan, the official mascot of the Tokyo Skytree. These are prestigious roles, I know them all *o* I was very pleased to talk with her, thanks to my currently improving Japanese ^^ She has a really unique, very cute, voice!
Then, We gathered with the other two seiyû. Shunsuke Sakai introduced himself as a kôhai who is teased by her other two sempai ^o^ He is very dynamic, it is impressive to see how quiet he usually is and how passionate he becomes when it begins to overtake a character! His vocation became evident upon hearing “Ka-me-ha-me-haaaaa!” in Dragon ball, a situation he is able to play with a lot of energy! Rikako Yamaguchi mainly cites her roles in GON, Lego Friends and her works as a teacher in a seiyû school. She is the one who led the day’s lesson, with one of the most enjoyable smiles, while being very pedagogical.
The course began with exercises to improve one’s voice. Rikako explained that all these exercises where practiced daily by seiyû, otherwise their potentical would severely diminish. We practised the stretching breath exercises, then rose our voices to 40%, 60%, 80% and finally 100% of their full capacity. The conclusion is that when dubbing, one should always use his voice at 100% capacity. Not so simple!
Then came the script part. We trained on Pata pota Monta, an anime in which they all have a role. While the script in English is of course written horizontally, the Japanese one is written vertically. The script is divided into stages, each stage having a column explaining the context and a column with the text to be spoken. Everyone has to annotate the script, highlight his lines and notice the timecode at which his speech has to begin. This part seems trivial but it determines the success of dubbing!
Recording. I had the opportunity to try dubbing in France at a conference of French professional dubbers. The French method is very intuitive: it consists in reading a text which scrolls on the screen broadcasting the anime to dub. Thanks to this process, the work has already been prepared, time encoding being adressed at the same time the text is written. The Japanese way of dubbing is far different: this preparation must be done by the dubber himself. Oh la la, following the anime on the screen, finding the appropriate text on one’s sheets at the right time, reading and acting while remembering the context specified in the left column, aaaaaah! It is really hard ^^; It is just amazing that the seiyû are able to do it in such a natural and credible way…
I guess it is necessary to learn by heart the text one has to play. I am sure that you need to know perfectly the anime and the characters’ psychology. At least to perform well all the small details of the script, just like freetalk areas. What one has to say at those moments? It is difficult to improvise on the fly, so knowing the universe of the anime is the key. That is probably why Japanese voices can sound so emotional and truthful.
I’m really happy for having the chance of enjoying this experience. The three seiyû were so nice! Shunsuke gave us an appointment in the future in an anime. Eeeh? As a dubber?! Impossible ^^ But in a not so distant field, yes, because all this universe is precious to me, at the time I illustrate the next novel to be published by Univers partagés editions: Blind Spot, whose heroine climbs her way to become a seiyû in Japan! So, see you soon, seiyû world full of passion!
To go further
- Meet the new Japan campaign (for English speaking only)
- Rikako Yamaguchi
- Yui Watanabe
- Shunsuke Sakai