Japan Today

Gundam creator expresses disappointment over current state of anime voice acting

By Casey Baseel

He may have created one of anime’s most successful franchises, but Yoshiyuki Tomino, father of Gundam, hasn’t let his years of success mellow him out any. If anything, just the opposite seems to be happening, as he’s recently dished out harsh condemnations of both mega-hit "Attack on Titan" and listless Japanese youths.

As the debut of his newest series, "Gundam Reconguista in G," draws near, Tomino seems to be staying the acerbic course, with a wide-ranging complaint about the current state of anime voice acting, plus some regrets about his prior collaboration with famed sci-fi designer Sid Mead.

Tomino’s remarks appear in the September issue of Bandai Visual’s Beat Magazine. In speaking to the publication’s reporters, the anime legend looked back on the last Gundam series he personally directed, 1999’s "Turn A Gundam."

“I’ve come to realize that asking Sid Mead [to do mechanical designs for the series] was a mistake,” Tomino admits. “I was already a fan of his preexisting works, so I gave him free rein to do as he wanted. Actually, somewhere along the line I felt like there was something a little off with the designs he’d submitted, but by that time things were too far along to change their trajectory.”

As a result, Tomino says that he’s being more outspoken with his opinions on the mecha designs being proposed by Ippei Gyobu for "Gundam Reconguista" in G (also known as "G-Reco").

But while Tomino still seems to hold Mead, overall, in high regard, he’s less pleased with the current crop of anime voice actors, recalling the struggle the staff went through in casting the new Gundam TV series. “All of the young voice actors had been contaminated by currently trendy anime,” the director grumbled. “All of their voices sounded the same to me, so the first order of business was to break them of those habits.”

The director explained that he was looking for voices that came naturally from the actors’ bodies, without the sort of added theatrics that he feels permeate anime and film-dubbing voice work. “But those are habits they pick up in the normal course of their careers, so it’s something that often they just can’t do.”

That said, Tomino seems confident in the final result, and says he’s proud of the changes in voice actress Yu Shimagura’s performance as character Aida which begin in the series’ second episode.

"G-Reco’s" TV debut is slated for October on broadcaster MBS.

Sources: Jin, Hatena

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Gundam creator has harsh words for manga and anime hit “Attack on Titan” -- Otaku generation gap – Fans in their teens, 20s, and 30s reveal what got them into anime -- GPS-lacking Gundam gets lost on the streets of Taiwan, asks locals for directions

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I can't hardly stomach anime for this same reason. I never realized they spoke different in anime. Then after coming to japan and learning Japanese, oh my god. Not only languge choice, weird trendy conjugations and word formations only used in anime and the way they over dramatized pronunciation of words. Even the newest ghosts in shell, which has always been pretty down to earth had a few cringe worthy efforts here in a there in terms of words choice and pronunciation. I even asked my wife a couple times, why do they keep using this word or that word. She told me it was ridiculous sounding, something you only hear in anime nowadays.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

At least their are still people in the industry who think that the current anime voice acting sounds suck and are willing to change it. I too can't watch some shows due to this very reason and wish that they would go back to the acting in the 80's and 90's.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Old people may not like it but the trends chase the moolah. If the teens with disposable cash like the phraseaology, that's what anime companies are going to go with. Is that's what's going on?


Actually, somewhere along the line I felt like there was something a little off with the designs he’d submitted, but by that time things were too far along to change their trajectory.

... it's really irritating to go through design meetings and have someone, who was at the original meetings and with authority to speak up if they didn't like it, say at the end of process months later: "This Sucks!"

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I don't watch anime anymore, but yes, they all seem to have high squeeky voices. Quite irritating to the ear.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Guessing a lot of those squeaky voices are dudes, run through audio suite post-processing.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Depends on the anime really. Some voices suit characters and some don't. I don't find problems with Japanese voice-acting all that often. I''m learning Japanese right now and the Japanese in anime isn't really all that off. Just think of it as casual Japanese. Casual spoken Japanese usually breaks a few rules here and there (grammatically incorrect but too bad, language is like that. At least it isn't as twisted and utterly stupid as how English is becoming nowadays. Swear words and such...) They need to give characters their own niche, and it's actually quite nice to be able to tell which voice actors are playing a role in an anime series. By the way, old generation voice acting doesn't equal better voice acting. There are some really talented voice actors right now and they've worked harder than anyone complaining ever will so go look in a mirror and ponder over the fact that your life is most likely boring compared to their's.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

they all seem to have high squeeky voices

I'm sure I could name a few dozen characters who don't have high-pitched voices, male and female. Hell, there are some female characters with a deeper voice than mine, which is saying something.

I've never really noticed any problems with voice acting in anime, except in the English Dubs, when you can clearly see that the timing is well out of sync. I have no complaints about the voice acting though. Often times characters sound similar because they're voiced by the same person. That's something I've never understood about anime: twins are always voiced by one voice actor, yet with every twin I've ever met in real life, there is a noticeable difference in their voice. That just seems like laziness on the part of the voice actors. At the very least add a little bass for one twin.

It's not like similar voices are strictly anime only either. I mean, have you ever seen a Sean Connery movie? Whether he's an MI6 agent, an American prisoner, an Egyptian immortal, or a Dragon, each character sounds Scottish. A lot of actors do that, while some manage to provide a wide range of pitches and even accents.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Akkiko "Just think of it as casual Japanese." no this is just wrong. There is special "ben" ONLY used in anime. Yeah you can learn some correct Japanese from anime, of course. But there are things that if you picked up and used them in real Japanese life, causes conversation or not, people will laugh at you and know you are talking like an anime. Anime and manga have an almost total different "ben" of actual Japanese use. Nothing something people use outside of anime and manga.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@inakaRob I'm with you here. Don't ever learn Japanese grammatically from anime or manga because they're not speaking with your basic Japanese used by living mortal (not 2D). You may learn few new words from it, but who the hell are using words like 堕天使(だてんし)=Fallen Angel or 魔眼(まがん)=Magical Eyes (I called this 中二病語) in everyday conversations..... you said that to your normal Japanese, they might think you as an otaku instantly.

But back to the topic, I think what the director wants to point about is not about the voice actors having similar sound, but they all are tend to follow a certain set of characteristic or pattern when producing the voice. Especially, some of the newbies are known for trying to imitate the older generations seiyuus. Although the main problem here is not the seiyuus themself but more to the lack of new or original characters in nowadays animes. You will find a lot of similar set on the rule kinda like characters, such as twin-tails, tsundere, etc etc (overlapping characters=キャラ被り). So even though they get jobs, it's just a bunch of repeating the same thing kinda jobs they got there. And I think Tomino here refers to the newest generation of seiyuu, so Hanazawa Kana or Hayami Saori's generation or older aren't counted in probably.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Most anime are cute high school girl archetypes and must sound what's cute high school girls to otaku ears - there can be only so many different-sounding high school girl voices that picky otaku would find cute. If thousands of seiyuu are all voicing cute high school girls to break into the business, what's to be expected?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Why can't the West get the Gundam online MMO?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think he is right on the money. I watch anime just casually, but a family member watches several shows and usually I either hear the same three voice artists everywhere or they just sound extremely similar. Similarly the characters are condensed into a mere handful of arch types so visually and aurally similar that they might as well just draw them with Kabuki masks. Also the theatric voices bug me to no end in lower cost live action productions and most anime in general. Also I could get on fine without ever watching a dubbed hollywood flick, but you can very easily hear how unnatural the voices are dubbed, compared to a Japanese film of some substance.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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