Bleach English Dub Preview

by Zac Bertschy, Sep 7th 2006

BLEACH (C) Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, dentsu, Pierrot
Unless you've been living under a rock (or haven't attended a convention in 4 years), you've probably heard of a little show called Bleach. Viz's smash hit supernatural action series has become an international phenomenon since its debut in the pages of Shonen Jump back in 2002 (and imported to America with massive success in 2004); the story follows Ichigo, a cranky teenager who has the unique ability to see the souls of the dead. When he encounters Rukia Kuchiki, a "Soul Reaper" who works for the enigmatic Soul Society, his life changes forever; during a battle with a Hollow (an evil spirit who longs to consume innocent souls) that endangers his family, Rukia offers Ichigo the chance to use some of her power... much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs all of Rukia's power, and becomes a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself!

Although the manga is currently burning up the sales charts here in America, the anime series is just now beginning (with the first DVD from Viz Media hitting retailers on November 29th) on Adult Swim at 12:30 pm on Saturday, September 9th. The question undoubtedly on fans' minds is simple: how's the dub? We got an early look at the first episode and are happy to announce that the show's fans have nothing to worry about. Studiopolis has put together an exceedingly professional, well-acted, carefully performed dub that should hold up to even the strictest of scrutinizing fans (they even went out of their way to pronounce the Japanese names correctly!). We sat down with the show's two leads, Johnny Yong Bosch and Michelle Ruff (Ichigo and Rukia, respectively) to provide you with a little insight into what you'll be getting yourself into this Saturday.




Johnny Yong Bosch is a veteran of the voice acting trade, having portrayed classic anime icons like Vash the Stampede, Kaneda and Kiba in Wolf's Rain. His numerous convention appearances and friendliness with the public has made him a fan favorite.

ANN: How did you get involved in this project? Did you audition, or did the director already have you in mind?

BOSCH: I auditioned a couple times with a couple different versions of Ichigo. This is my first lead role with Viz and Studiopolis so it's a new experience for me and I want to make them proud.

How excited were you to be involved in this particular series? Is there a certain level of interest or excitement for you when it comes to something considered a sure-fire hit that gets massive television exposure? How desirable was the role?

I'm both excited and nervous about the show. I'm familiar with it from all the merchandise I saw at conventions and my drummer talks about it a lot...he's a big fan of the series. I've only recently found out that it's airing on ADULT SWIM and I'm really happy about that. Any actor will tell you that simply working is desirable but to be working on a great show well that's...priceless...and also very cheesy that I said that.

What do you like about the Ichigo character? Do you see any similarities between the character and your own personality? How easily do you identify with him, and do you consider that an important part of the roles you take?

I'm learning more about who he is as I go along but I really understand him. He cares but doesn't always show it or at least not the way you'd expect and I can identify with him and yes that definitely helps me to play him with some realism or at least familiarity. It's still very early in the recording process and if you ask me in a month I'll have a deeper understanding of him.

You have a history of playing leading men; is there anything about Ichigo that makes him stand out among your other roles? Anything different about his personality or your approach to the performance that differs from the other characters you've portrayed?

A couple of things that make playing Ichigo different for me is that I have more experience now as a voice actor and I'm very aware of the fans and taking them very seriously. I'm an actor, not an imitator, so I know I won't please everyone but my goal is to make Ichigo believable. I think new viewers will love the show and I want those familiar with the original to have a fresh satisfying experience. Almost like seeing a movie for the second time and discovering something new about it. I think anyone giving it an honest look will enjoy it and I appreciate the support.

Describe a typical recording session for a single episode of Bleach to us. How long does it take to complete one episode?


Usually I get a call that books me for a 4 hour block. I then do some internet research on the episodes I'm about to record to give myself a heads up. I warm up my vocal chords, show up to the studio, the director fills me in, tells a few jokes and we start dubbing. Recording one episode really depends on the amount of dialogue I have but we can usually get through a couple episodes in that block of time.

In the English version of the series, the Japanese phrases - which as you know are numerous in Bleach - are all pronounced impeccably, which is something that's been hit-or-miss in dubs over the years. Was this a special concern when recording this series? Were you coached at all on how to pronounce some of the Japanese phrases, or did it come naturally?


I've had to come back in to redo some pronunciations of names. They do have a tape that they play with all the pronunciations on it.

What other projects do you have coming up?

I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you before you posted it on the internet and we don't want that, do we? Thanks for the questions, I hope you enjoy the show.



Sporting a massive resume and a long history working with anime, Michelle Ruff brings sincerity and professionalism to every one of her roles; fans undoubtedly remember her from roles like Rabi-en-Rose in Di Gi Charat and Aoi Sakuraba in the Ai Yori Aoshi series.

ANN: How did you get involved in this project? Did you audition, or did the director already have you in mind?


RUFF: I auditioned for the project.  I initially auditioned for all of the female characters in the series.

How excited were you to be involved in this particular series?


Extremely excited and honored to be chosen for such a great role.  Especially given the huge fan base from the original Japanese series and the amount of exposure the show has already had.

 Is there a certain level of interest or excitement for you when it comes to something considered a sure-fire hit that gets massive television exposure?


Heck yeah.  I'm definitely feeling the buzz...from the fans of the show and from the producers and director and fellow voice over peeps.  I'm actually a bit nervous since I know the show is so huge and I think there is already a great deal of expectation on how the show should sound and how well the characters will be portrayed in the English dub.
We took painstaking measures and were extremely careful when developing the English Rukia.  Lots of blood, sweat and tears.  When I work that hard on a character, the level of anxiety and excitement to hear how it all comes together is a bit higher than normal.

How desirable was the role?

Extremely!  Except I didn't know it till I booked the role.  Which was probably a good thing.  That way I wasn't thinking about how bad I wanted to play her, I was just thinking about how good I could make my audition.

What do you like about the Rukia character?

She's hot. Haha!  I like the fact that she's so extremely intelligent.  She takes her work very seriously and behind that tough edge is a really special caring soul.  Plus the fact that she believes in ghosts is pretty cool too. 

Do you see any similarities between the character and your own personality?

Yes.  Actually when I first started doing the role of Rukia I was like, oh man this is PERFECT for me.  I think we're both smart girls.  I totally believe in the paranormal.  I would probably be a soul reaper in another life.  And maybe she's a little bit of a control freak...but I'm working on that! She kind of has to be to stay alive.  I Don't.

How easily do you identify with her, and do you consider that an important part of the roles you take?


Part of the fun of acting is getting to play characters that are nothing like me.  I don't consider it important that I identify with the character.  I do think it's important that I understand the character I'm portraying.  It's also important that the character is well rounded and I know what motivates me and what makes me feel vulnerable.

What's different about voicing a character in a long-running action series like Bleach, versus something like Last Exile, or Marmalade Boy?

I think the longer the series, the more character arc there is. 

Do you find voicing Rukia to be a challenge, compared to your other roles?

Yes!  It's sooo intense.  She's sooo intense.  She takes a lot of energy and brain space.  Rukia has a lot of levels and I'm still finding them with each episode.  The director, Michael Sorich, and myself are really trying to find places to shade a bit of emotion into her personality.  To break up some of that intelligence and toughness with vulnerability. (only a little though, don't worry!)

Describe a typical recording session for a single episode of Bleach to us. How long does it take to complete one episode?

Recording sessions for an episode depend on how much dialogue each character has.  We all record individually.  It's done by line count.  So, if I have 100 lines for example it will probably take about 5 hours to complete.  But that's just 1 character.  Add on the line count from all the other characters as well.  Sometimes shows will record faster, but as I said we are being extra careful with Bleach. 

In the English version of the series, the Japanese phrases - which as you know are numerous in Bleach - are all pronounced impeccably, which is something that's been hit-or-miss in dubs over the years. Was this a special concern when recording this series? Were you coached at all on how to pronounce some of the Japanese phrases?

Yes.  One of the Japanese producers was in the studio with us for the first few episodes and she coached me on pronunciation.  I've had to do pick-ups on a few names that were pronounced incorrectly the first time recording. 

What other projects do you have coming up?

I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you... haha. I actually have some video game stuff coming out. Rogue Galaxy, Eureka Seven.  And I just booked another show but you'll have to wait and see about that one!


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