Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Spike Spencer is a seasoned voice actor at both ends of the scale. He's voiced Shinji Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hanataro Yamada in Bleach, Papillion in Buso Renkin and is the voice of Arakune in the upcoming BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. At Supanova Pop Culture Expo 2009 in Perth we got to spend five minutes to ask him a few questions.
ANN|AU: "Spike Spencer: Frickin' Genius", is that a description, a philosophy?
Spike Spencer: Well, 'super genius' was taken by Wile. E. Coyote, so I went with 'frickin'.
ANN|AU: So what does it mean to you?
Spike Spencer: Well to me, number one it's marketing. You know, "I'm a frickin' genius"; and when you do something stupid you go "I'm a frickin genius". It works in pretty much all capabilities.
ANN|AU: Multiple purpose sort of escape mechanism
Spike Spencer: Yep, you can do it when you're super cool or a complete moron.
ANN|AU: In terms of your work you claim to be, and I quote, "a bit of a whore"
Spike Spencer: Not a 'bit'!
ANN|AU: Ok, a lot of a whore?
Spike Spencer: I'm a actor! It's what we do! If there's a job we do it, that's what actors do. I've done a lot of stuff and I don't really pick or choose.
ANN|AU: So there's nothing you have ever turned down?
Spike Spencer: So far, no.
ANN|AU: Is there anything you have ever regretted doing?
Spike Spencer: No, absolutely not, I love working! It's fun!
ANN|AU: Are there any roles you would particularly like to do, or any you have lined up that you're looking forward to?
Spike Spencer: Well really my goal is, I'm an on camera actor as well and I want to get back on screen. I've recently moved to Hollywood (and had a bit of a dry spell in that arena) and I want to do mainstream, not just anime. I want to do Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, South Park, those kind of things. That's iconic stuff, that's what I really want to do.
ANN|AU: Western cartoons seem to be putting out much more stuff than they used to be.
Spike Spencer: It's great work, there's a lot of fun characters and I want to work with them. Absolutely.
ANN|AU: It's a very different style to anime voice acting isn't it?
Spike Spencer: Anime is definitely what everyone in the industry considers some of the hardest voice over work to do, and it also pays the least. Because it's really dubbing, it's called ADR -- automated dialogue replacement -- or looping. So what we are doing is going over something that has already been done, we're just changing the voice. Whereas if you're doing original stuff, if you're doing a video game or original animation, you're doing it clean and clear so you just have the script and you get to do whatever you want and add whatever you want.
ANN|AU: A little different to Japanese voice acting then, as I'm fairly sure they already have the voices animated and they speak over it, but it's animated to what they are supposed to be saying.
Spike Spencer: You know, I have not been over there to do that, but I understand they all do it in a room together which is exactly opposite to what we do. You're one person in a room and they run the screen, you say the lines and they say 'you've got it, ok we'll do the next scene, we'll do the next scene'. When we go into the booth we've never seen this stuff before.
ANN|AU: Which would you prefer, would you prefer doing it in a large group like they do it in Japan?
Spike Spencer: Well not anime, because it's too hard to match the mouth flaps and we do it very specifically, we go in and make sure the flaps match what we're doing, that's what makes it so hard as we have to match all of that. But no, I would love to do a ensemble thing. I think The Simpsons do that, they're all in the room together and can bounce off each other. That would be awesome, I don't know if that's exactly how they do it but I understand that it's... I let you know when I'm on set.
ANN|AU: All right, report back to me.
Spike Spencer: I'll call you.
ANN|AU: I hear you like psychopaths.
Spike Spencer: Well lets not take that out of context. I like playing psychopaths, it's fun for me, yes it is, in regular film and in anime. It's a lot more fun.
ANN|AU: But often you end up playing....
Spike Spencer: Effeminately little girly boys who end up saving the world in a giant biomechanical robot, yes.
ANN|AU: It's a terrible thing to be typecast in a entire genre of anime.
Spike Spencer: I've played those roles a lot and I'm good at it and hey, if people like it I'm glad to do it. But I like branching out and doing the crazier stuff and the deeper stuff that they don't realise I can do. Right now I'm a little sick so my voice is a little deeper than normal, but when someone comes up and goes "Hiya, can you do Shinji?" I go "Yeah" in a deep voice and they're all "Holy crap!"
ANN|AU: So you're trying broaden the world's horizons.
Spike Spencer: Exactly, let them know I do deep voices.
ANN|AU: I see you're also doing video game work, so how does that differ from anime voice work, western voice work...
Spike Spencer: Well the video game is very similar to the original animation, you go in, you got your lines, you read your lines a couple of times and the director goes "go on" or just "next line, next line" and that's it. You get a picture of the character and the director says he likes this voice or that voice. You go in, you do it, lay it all down and you're out of there in fifteen - twenty minutes.
ANN|AU: So it's a lot easier than anime voice work
Spike Spencer: Yeah!
ANN|AU: I guess you don't have to worry so much about the lip flaps
Spike Spencer: And it pays better too, it's amazing. I've done some video games like Star Ocean 2 that took a long, long time. I would do those all the time, those are great. But it still didn't have mouth flaps. Well, a couple of times during it I did, but most of the time I just had to go at it.
ANN|AU: Why do you like Australia?
Spike Spencer: Because it rocks.
ANN|AU: I'm down with that, but a little more specific?
Spike Spencer: Well I've always loved the Australian attitude, my father used to tell me they're like we used to be in the fifties. They're rowdy, you know they still have their rowdy stuff and I love it. You know kangaroos, wombats, wallabies and koalas and stuff. Oh, and good beer! I love traveling and I've been all over the world. Australia is one of my absolute favourite places to be.
ANN|AU: I guess voice acting would give you that opportunity
Spike Spencer: Unfortunately, yes.
ANN|AU: Oh, so tragic to go everywhere.
Spike Spencer: Horrible, I hate it, yeah sure. *laughs*
Spike Spencer: Well I have to go do a panel now, it's been a pleasure talking to you guys.
ANN|AU would like to thank Madman Entertainment and Supanova Pop Culture Expo for the opportunity to spend five minutes with Spike Spencer. Most importantly we would like to thank Shasta Calvo for coming onboard to conduct the interview and prepare this article for publication. Let us know what you think on the forums! - Ed
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history