Interview: Johnny Yong Bosch on Digimon Adventure Tri

by Jacob Chapman,

In anticipation of the last three Digimon Adventure Tri. films being released with an English dub in theaters this year (kicking off with the premiere of Part 4: Loss on February 1st), we spoke to Johnny Yong Bosch about his role as Takeru "T.K." Takaishi and what he hopes to see from the series' conclusion.

So it's been well over a decade since this role was originally played by Doug Erholtz. Is stepping into an established dub role like that something you've had to do before? What's usually your process for when that happens?

Usually when I'm in that position, what I would do is go through and do my own research to try and figure out a little bit about the character, because obviously I'm taking over from what somebody else did. But in this case the character is older now, so I can still do my take on it, I just need to use any kind of lisp or accent or something strange that I might need to have in there. But I didn't hear anything like that for T.K. when I went through the dub. Because the kids who grew up watching Digimon were a generation after me, it's not something I had already watched, and I had to go back through it and figure out what the story was about.

In going back through those old episodes, did you rely on your research to inform the character, did you mostly rely on the director on the project, or is it a little bit of both?

They actually had me audition for all of the characters, and I wasn't really sure at the time if this was a new cast or if they were from the original series, because I wasn't familiar with the show. I didn't know until I got the part of T.K., when I was told that he was an established character. So I went online to check out things on my own. I tried to find some stuff on youtube, wikipedia, wherever else I could find some information on the character. Then obviously when I went in, I got a lot of information from the director and whoever else was in the studio at the time. There's a little bit of freedom in doing the voice because it was a new take on T.K. for the most part. At least he was older, so he could be a little bit different.

Yeah, I think a lot of fans will tell you that T.K. was the most flexible of all the characters in Digimon Adventure, because in the first season, he was just "the baby," so he didn't have a lot of personality to distinguish other than being the kid who needed looking after. And when he grew a little older into the phase where Doug was playing him, it seemed like the writers didn't quite know what to do with him. He had the most sporadic character development, where sometimes the focus was on how angry he could be, but then he was acting as the peacemaker in the group, and it was kind of all over the place. So weirdly, I think you're coming into the role at the point where the writers are most focused on giving him a specific arc. So on that note, what was your take on T.K.'s role, especially in the third movie where he takes the spotlight throughout a very dark and sad story?

Actually, that aspect was the most fun for me. It is kind of my fear in doing any voiceover that I'm gonna get a character that's just kind of a miscellaneous role, and I have to play him flat, because you don't want him to stand out or anything. So it's kind of nice to see scenes like that where he gets emotional, because I got to play around with him more and dig deeper for his range, so that people could really feel it. When I did go back through the scenes that I could find online, I didn't really see anything that stood out to me as "oh I need to do it this way". Most of it left T.K.'s character kind of up in the air, there wasn't anything that I thought locked me into a specific interpretation, so him getting into that emotional stuff was actually my favorite part of playing the character. It's just more fun that way, you know?

Yeah, definitely. A lot of people have had a very emotional response to these movies, so are you planning on seeing the upcoming films in an environment with fans at any point, and what are you hoping for from the dub screenings?

It's really only been this last year, going to cons and stuff, that I got to see people reacting to what I'd been doing with the character. But I am planning on doing a screening here in L.A. fairly soon for sure. It's always scary to go to those things, because you just want people to like it. You don't wanna go and be like "ah, people aren't likin' it." But it's a good series and I do like the character of T.K. I feel like there's so much that they're able to do now with his character and his potential relationships. It's just kind of cool, and I'm curious to see where things are gonna go.

So in terms of new relationships and emotions that T.K. has to deal with, what stood out to you most?

Well first off, with Patamon, I didn't see the part of the original series where they came together and became a unit, so I experienced that as I was working on it, and I began to see how deep his feelings went in that connection. And then of course there's a hint of stuff going on with Kari. But they just kinda tease it a little, which is cool. I'm curious what they're gonna do with that, I don't know myself, I just kinda experience that as I go through the movies. I get to create the character based on what they've already animated, so I just try to pepper in little ideas and emotional things. I don't know how to explain it, but it's things like the level of weakness in the voice when talking to a character versus the strength in another situation. It's kind of a confusing thing to talk about, but that's how I see it sometimes, when I'm getting emotional, my voice is going to come out weaker if that makes any sense.

Well, in the third movie, I would say T.K. spends a lot of time deceiving people he loves, which is uh...


Well, it's not a simple thing to portray exactly, you have to sound convincingly "everything's fine" without going so far into sounding truly sincere about that, I guess?

Well that's how everybody acts naturally too, right? Usually you put up a wall, you don't want people to know. But in voiceover, you kinda still have to color it a little bit with the real feelings, otherwise it just doesn't read right. So you gotta have a little bit of weakness in there.

So in a sense—and playing a teenager maybe this makes more sense—you're being like a less-good actor than you would be in daily life, in terms of the ability to say "I'm fine" when you're not fine at all.

(laughs) Yeah, exactly.

So if you had a Digimon partner, who would they be?

Well I don't know, I've kinda grown attached to Patamon, because of the emotional thing that happened in the third movie. And so there's a lot of love there and the hope that Patamon's gonna be okay and everything's gonna get better. So it's kind of weird, I have to see that relationship as an actor rather than as Patamon being real.

He also turns into a heavy metal angel, so that's reason enough. Do you have any other upcoming projects that you'd like people to look out for in the near future?

I do actually have a personal project if that's alright. My previous band Eyeshine ended things last year, so this year I'm starting up a new music project called Where Giants Fall. That's been a huge focus of the past few months, and I'm planning on releasing something here pretty soon.

So is this a new band collaboration or like a more individual thing?

Well, that's still up in the air. It's a studio album. Polo, who was in my previous band, is with me, so it most likely will be a new band thing, but right now it's just gonna be an album, and we're probably gonna put a few people together to be able to tour on it.

Thanks to Johnny Yong Bosch for the opportunity.

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