Interview: Scott Carlson

by Ryan Mathews,
At Anime Expo 2003, AnimEigo will premiere a new English dub of the classic Urusei Yatsura movie, Only You. Anime News Network recently had a chance to talk with Scott Carlson, the man behind the new dub.
ANN: After all these years, what inspired AnimEigo to take another shot at dubbing Urusei Yatsura?
Shannon Settlemyre (Lum)

SC: We all love UY! This show is such a favorite among the staff and management that we just want to share it with everyone. We knew that this was going to go retail eventually, which meant that a dub track might help attract more interest. We also knew that a new dub track would generate interest in the existing anime community.

ANN: Previously, all your dubs have been through Coastal Studios. Who are you working with this time?

SC: We'll be working with a company called SWIRL. While Coastal does a great job, we knew that we needed a different base of voice actors, and Swirl met that constraint.

ANN: How difficult was casting? The wide range of tone in UY, from crazy slapstick to solemn drama, makes the characters tricky to portray. What qualities were you looking for in your actors?

SC: Wow - very tough! The Japanese VAs not only did a great job acting, but they were so well cast that it set the bar pretty high. So we decided early on that we needed the English VAs to have 2 key attributes. First, be relatively unknown. The reason we wanted 'unknowns' is to help give this dub its own identity. We wanted the viewer to get absorbed by the dub. This can't be done when you get sidetracked due to recognizing a VA's voice. Second, be willing to accept a great deal of suggestions and criticisms. Urusei Yatsura's characters have such a wide range of emotions, attitudes and styles, that the VAs really needed to be directed. Both Steve and Shannon have been great about taking direction.

Steve Rassin (Ataru)

ANN: I'm sure you don't like to be reminded of the disastrous "Those Obnoxious Aliens" dub. But I'm curious if there is anything you think tripped up the first dub that you've improved this time around. For example, I noticed that you made no attempt to carry over Lum's odd speech patterns into English. In the old dub, that was done via a strange accent that made the character hard to understand.

SC: First of all, I don't mind reminiscing about the original UY dub. The casting was so out of character, and the accents so strange that the dub is just funny. It's great.

You've also got to remember that dubs have come a long way in the past 8-10 years, in both quality of facilities and quality of actors. When AnimEigo first dubbed UY, we wanted to carry over every aspect of the Japanese performance. This meant that we tried accents and dialects to depict the various characters. So between poor direction, and a dub industry in its infancy, there were several factors putting 'Those Obnoxious Aliens' at risk.

Since we didn't want to relive the UY dub, we cast actors who could truly depict the characters. We wanted them to act the character, instead of acting like the character. Yes, this meant abandoning accents and speech patterns. The end result is a solid dub.

ANN: One of the things about Urusei Yatsura that many fans feel make it "undubbable" is the copious use of complex puns and cultural references. Heck, even the name of the series is a complicated pun. AnimEigo was famous, and much-loved, for the extensive liner notes which explained all of this. How are you handling this in the dub?

SC: That's a tough one. We will, of course, still include the infamous DVD liner notes with this release, which will hopefully identify all the jokes and references. These will be updated a bit to encompass the subtle differences within the dub itself. While the puns and cultural references will be adjusted, slightly, from text (subtitle) form to English (dub) dialogue, we will do our best to maintain the original direction.

ANN: If this dub does well, will we see the other movies dubbed? How about the series? And how about Beautiful Dreamer (owned by CPM)?

SC: That's a lot of "if"s. Once "Only You" gets released, we'll wait for some fan reactions, as well as getting reaction from the retail markets. If the dub is accepted, we will move onto the other movies, then the OVAs. We have discussed the television series, but as of yet have not made any decisions. The sheer volume of work, and money, that would be needed to dub the TV shows is why they will have to wait. As far as CPM's release... I can't say. You never know what another company will do.

ANN: When will we see the Only You dub on the shelves?

SC: This year for sure. The dub itself is nearly complete. It's slated to be finished by the end of June. After that, we will need to author and replicate all the discs. Until authoring actually begins, its a bit tough to predict a completion date. But, if everything stays on track we should be ready to release this DVD around October. Keep your fingers crossed.

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