Veteran voice actor Toshio Furukawa, who is known for voicing Piccolo from Dragon Ball series, Ataru from Urusei Yatsura etc., and his wife and fellow voice actress Shino Kakinuma, were talking at an Otakon panel on July 29, 2022, when they touched upon challenges posed by the COVID -19 pandemic to the voice acting industry.
While talking about the changes that had to be made in the voice recording practices due to the onset of the pandemic, Furukawa said that the industry shifted to recording sessions individually, like the American style, instead of recording in groups as before.
This freed up the schedule of the voice actors a lot.
“Some jobs were done in one minute, so when I did an episode of One Piece, I just had to go in there and record a character doing an evil laugh for a minute and then I’d go home,” Furukawa said.
However, according to the voice actor, this wasn’t always for the best.
The voice acting methods prior to pandemic involved actors huddling up in a recording room at the studio and acting out a scene. The actors would try to match the energy and rely on the expressions of the fellow voice actors, adding more bandwidth to their performance.
The American style of voice acting essentially made it impossible to have such recording sessions and Furukawa can’t wait for the new style to go away.
“The big thing is that when it changed to the American style of recording your lines, that really knocked a lot of time spent doing work because you can just do your lines and then leave. But then there was working alone and not working with my friends, which I hope goes away as soon as possible,” the actor said.
“When we do voice acting, we really rely on each others reaction, so not having those is pretty big,” he added.
Furukawa added that there are however some scenes, where it is imperative to have two actors in the same room, to ensure that the performance is powerful.
He gave an example from the recent Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero movie, where he had work together with Gohan’s voice actress Masako Nozawa, as their characters were the main characters in the movie.
“There were some scenes where it’s important that the two VAs be in the same room, otherwise it’s not as powerful, so we had to ensure that. Especially in the case of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. Piccolo and Gohan are the featured characters, so there was no way to record that without the two being in the same room,” Furukawa said.
The shortcomings of the ‘American Style’ voice recording was also pointed out previously by Sound Director and Music Producer Yukio Nagasaki, who is known for his work in One Piece Film Z, Dragon Ball Z Kai, Yona of the Dawn and other series.
According to him, with the advent of individual recording sessions, the session’s length went down to 1-2 hours, giving each voice actors more time to attend even more sites.
This meant that even veteran voice actors, whose schedules were initially packed, now had more time on their hands to voice even more characters, including side characters and making guest appearances.
This drastically reduced the chances that rookie voice actors would get in the industry, making it hard for them to land roles, especially a debut.
Furukawa and Kakinuma also talked about their history in the anime industry, their favorite characters, and other interesting things in the Otakon panel. You can read the entire story here!