Interview: Run Sasaki

by Chris Fey,
Ms. Sasaki is a veteran Japanese VA who now lives in Seattle. Ms. Sasaki came in at the last moment as a guest due to some earlier cancellations. She has performed in many classic anime, including Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Five Star Stories and more. At Sakuracon 2004 Ms. Sasaki made herself available, via a translator, to questions from the press. This was a group interview, so questions are not individually credited.

ANN: It's coming up on the 20th anniversary of Macross, is there anything you would like to say about it?

Sasaki: I felt it was big from the start, as a I said in the panel. Fans were ambushing us at the recording booth where I was a DJ. Radio Macross was very popular.

I: If you don't mind, would you tell us why you are now living in Seattle?

S: My husband wanted to study natural medicine in the US, so I left my work behind. I want to pick it back, so I am starting a voice acting agency [AJ Integration Institute Inc. —Ed]. I also want to direct a musical here next year.

I: Could you tell us about that?

S: Production is in Bellevue [a town outside of Seattle], and the method is stage musical with English and Japanese sound training. Since I love soul music, some of that as well for the musical parts.

I: What will your agency offer?

S: I want productions to raise the standard of the Japanese voice actor.

I: What differences between American and Japanese voice acting are there?

S: The Japanese record after the animation is done, while in the US they record before they animate like Disney. I do think that is the ideal environment to do voice acting in. However, one advantage of the Japanese system is the group cast, which allows you to work off your colleagues. Considering voice acting is still a form of drama, individuals miss having the interaction. I consider it an obligation to have a group cast.

I: What do you feel about the changes in voice acting over the years?

S: After talking with a magazine reporter, some from the video game industry, and some others who feel it is decreasing, I do think that quality voice acting as been in decline over the years. When I was starting off, a young new, actor would be doing bit roles. So there was much acting in voice acting skills. So there would be voice actors my current age doing teenage girls. Starting about fifteen years ago, they [voice actors] had to be idols too. Voice acting ceased to be just behind the scenes, and voice actors had to match the characters. But is this necessarily bad? I am asking you this...

I: It depends if they can show range.

S: But there is one detriment. Often the entire cast is new, everyone is young. The ideal casting is the fresh lead, while the supporting roles are done with experienced actors. What I want to see with over 80 titles of anime a year is the ideal, not mass production of mediocre titles, but a small number of quality titles. So anime could be at the same quality of Miyazaki, while having the same steam as live action. In order for this to happen it needs to be better financed. I hear this is what is preventing what I considering ideal from happening.

I: Would you consider doing voice acting in English?

S: That would be ideal, but the language barrier is too high. I am concentrating on teaching.

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