Interview with Tiffany Grant - SMASH 2010

The following is the first in a set of interviews conducted last August with the special guests of the Sydney Anime and Manga Show 2010. With Tiffany Grant, Yūko Miyamura and Matt Greenfield in attendance for Brisbane and Melbourne Supanova 2011 we felt that you might enjoy these interviews. Remember that you can see Tiffany Grant and Yūko Miyamura and Mike McFarland at the Australian premiere of the English dub on Friday evening. So to begin with we have Tiffany Grant! Thanks for letting us talk with you today.
You've done just about everything, from what I can tell. You've done Sister Princess, Becky from Gunsmith Cats, and other interesting roles... You've also done script work for various shows such as Princess Princess, Tears to Tiara and Angelic Layer.
So, the first question everyone wants to know... Have you gotten Yuko's autograph for your Asuka collection yet?
Tiffany Grant: I had Yuko sign something for me back when we first met... there was a great little essay that she wrote that's in the back of one of the Evangelion manga. I think it's brilliant.
It was wonderful and very touching for me so I wanted her to sign that for me, because it meant a lot to me, her essay that she wrote about her relationship with Asuka, because I feel the same way. For people who haven't seen the 1995 Evangelion series, it was mid nineties wasn't it?
Tiffany Grant: It started airing in Japan late 1995 and then we started dubbing it in late 96. How would you describe Asuka to someone who's never seen the original Evangelion series?
Tiffany Grant: At first glance obviously she comes across rather brash and pushy and loud, and I understand that, but the more you get to know her the more you come across her motivations behind this, and you always have to keep in mind that she's still only fourteen, so no matter how terribly educated or clever she might be she's only a fourteen-year-old girl.
So I think in the end her heart is in the right place but she has a hard time communicating that with her emotions and everything, how she really feels. I mean, she wants to have friends and she wants to be liked. Because, I think her mother died?
Tiffany Grant: Like most of the other characters in Evangelion, they don't have a mother. She does want to have friends but she doesn't want anyone to know she wants friends, so that makes it a little difficult to actually make friends. Have you heard anything about being involved in the Rebuild of Evangelion?
Tiffany Grant: Well, it was recently announced as I guess you probably know that Funimation have said they're going to be distributing that. I don't expect anything to happen with recording for quite a while yet. There's not anything for me to be attached to at this point.
Considering I've worked with them an awful lot in the past I think there's a fairly good chance I'll be asked to do it, but there's not really anything that's in production or anything right now. I think it was 2007 or 2008 I remember you mentioning your Asuka collection on one of the commentaries. Has it grown since the last time we've seen it?
Tiffany Grant: Yes, it's gotten a lot larger since that video footage. So has anyone tried challenging you for the size of your Asuka collection?
Tiffany Grant: I'll tell you who would give me a run for my money on that, my friend Jeremy Barber in Houston who has quite an extensive Asuka collection, and we quite enjoy one-upping each other, like, "I just got this figure!" "Argh, I don't have that one yet!" So we go back and forth with that. Curiously, have you seen the fan translation of the Evangelion game Girlfriend of Steel?
Tiffany Grant: I know what it is, but no, I haven't seen it.
None of the Evangelion games have been translated into English, from what I understand it's extremely difficult and expensive to translate those games into English. Considering that in the US Evangelion wasn't shown as widely on TV as it was in Australia, until something like that happens to warrant it, where they could guarantee that they're going to have a massive amount of sales, I don't think it's going to happen.
But I wish it would because I'd love to do those games. You also speak a bit of German, don't you?
Tiffany Grant: Yeah, that came in very handy with Asuka. So, has anyone actually ever figured out what Asuka says in German in the Japanese version of Evangelion?
Tiffany Grant: It was years ago that I listened to it but I did listen to Miyamu's dialogue in the Japanese while I was working on the English dialogue. Some of it I did use that I understood, and some of it I really didn't understand, which is not necessarily her fault because she didn't really speak German and probably the people who were writing the dialogue for her didn't either, like they were looking it up in a dictionary or something.
Most of the German I put into the English version was stuff that I wrote myself, but I knew what I was saying at the time. It was a long time ago so I couldn't quote what I was saying in any of that.
We came up with this idea of what we call the Ricky Ricardo syndrome.
In the old TV show 'I Love Lucy' every time Lucy does something ridiculous, her husband, who's from Cuba, gets upset with her and he starts exploding and yelling everything at her in Spanish which she doesn't understand.
So that's kind of the idea with Asuka, I call it the Ricky Ricardo principle, when she gets upset she starts yelling at people in German.
I didn't really change anything she was saying except that I would say it in German instead of in Japanese or in English. I liked doing that a lot and it all got approved through Gainax. We know what happened in the End of Evangelion - so do you think Asuka will do better this time around?
Tiffany Grant: I really hope so. I mean, who knows what Anno (the director for Evangelion) has up his sleeve for these next couple of movies?
I'm waiting for the manga to end, Sadamoto's (the artist of the Evangelion manga) been working on it for fifteen years. It takes forever for the next volume to come out. I'm going to be geriatric by the time he ends with it. A lot of people haven't figured out what the End of Evangelion was really like. People who looked at the last two episodes and think that was a trip, then you look at the End of Evangelion and that was worse. Do you have any explanations for us?
Tiffany Grant: I think I may be as clueless as everyone else about that. It seemed very dismal and depressing to me, like no-one achieved enlightenment or something. I wanted my eyes stabbed out, so it was that bad. What would you like to see Asuka do in Rebuild?
Tiffany Grant: I haven't seen the second Rebuild movie yet with Asuka in it. Yuko told me she had a lot of fun working on it so I'm just looking forward to hearing her and seeing what the performance is like.
I'm hoping that what will not happen in the Rebuild movies is that Asuka's Eva gets eaten by production units. You've done a lot of other voice acting. Is there anything you've ever looked back on and thought "Maybe I shouldn't have done that..."?
Tiffany Grant: No, I love all of it, I don't care.
Every opportunity is really wonderful to have these chances. It doesn't matter how strange, even Puni Puni Poemi which was a terrifically fun show - Oh, and it was banned in New Zealand. I'm really proud of that. I even signed four of them while I was there. If you had to define the moment of your career, what would it be?
Tiffany Grant: A few years ago I worked on the second season of a show called 'Those Who Hunt Elves'. There's this little creature in there, a little white bear sort of thing with a big red bow tie, it's called a Pichi Bear, and it makes this sound just kind of like 'mew mew mew'.
The special thing about this little creature is that it poops out rolls of toilet paper. I remember being in the studio recording this and making these 'mew' noises and then I have to make the sound as if he's going to the toilet... and excreting a roll of toilet paper.
I said to the director. "This is the pinnacle of my voice acting career. I am playing a little tiny bear pooping out a roll of toilet paper. I have finally arrived!" You've done a lot of animals, like Jonathan from Kaleido Star and Bonta-Kun from Full Metal Panic... do you like doing them more than speaking characters?
Tiffany Grant: I love doing any of the little animals, even if they have to poop out a roll of toilet paper.
It's fantastic - for one thing, with a lot of the little animals, you might not necessarily have to match the mouth movements. They also usually don't have lines, it's just these little funny sounds.
Any kind of little critter, I love doing critters and I will go and beg the directors, "Oh, there's a hamster in this episode, can I please be the hamster?" Well, you heard a little earlier when we interviewed Matt Greenfield about how he doesn't like doing panels with you. Out of curiosity, do you just drive him insane at times? Just for the fun of it?
Tiffany Grant: Oh yes, always for the fun of it. I don't try to torture him so much in the booth, because that makes my life miserable, but at home I torture him as much as possible. So, what do you think of where the industry's going in Japan at the moment?
Tiffany Grant: I'm just hoping it can hang on. The industry's so contracted from where it was... Back in the nineties?
Tiffany Grant: Well even in the early 2000s, it was still going quite strong, up until about 2004, before it started completely collapsing in on itself, and I just hope that there can still be some people hanging on and not everyone doesn't totally move over into video games where they can actually make money. Like the artists and directors and so forth.
For one thing, it's just a lot harder to make illegal copies of a video game than it is for anime, because it's just on the air and you just download it and put it right up on the computer. It's right there on your internet.
It's not as easy to pirate a game. I'm not saying they aren't pirated, but it's not as easy to pirate and distribute as it is with anime. Just out of curiosity, how's the fan base in the US?
Tiffany Grant: The fan base seems to still be there, it seems to still be growing, the number of people who are interested in anime, maybe there's hope for it yet. Are you disinclined to work on anything in particular?
Tiffany Grant: No, I never turn anything down.
I mean, I have to wait to be asked to audition for something, so if I get asked there's nothing that I ever turn down. If somebody is asking me to audition for something I'll always take the chance, I'll always say yes.
There's no guarantee at that point that I'd get cast in it, but I'm certainly going to take every audition. You've been in some video games before, Unlimited Saga and Deus Ex: Invisible War. Would you give gaming another try if you were offered?
Tiffany Grant: Yes, because it pays more. The city where I live, Houston, there's not a lot of that work going on there, but yes, any of the voiceover for video games, I would love to do that again. Considering that you've done a fair bit of scriptwriting as well, but you know the whole debate about dubs and subs... how do you approach it from an ADR perspective? What's the most important?
Tiffany Grant: First of all, ADR, what you may not understand is that's the whole process. That's just dialogue replacement.
For the scriptwriting, what I always keep in the front of my mind is, "What is the intent? What was the creator's intent with this show, with this episode, with this scene, with this dialogue?"
That's the overriding concept that I always keep in mind, and the first thing that I always do before I'm working on a show is to watch the whole thing. I'll watch the whole show, with the translation, to get an idea of where it's going, what the show's about.
So once I've got a handle on where the show is going, then I can start working on the script. I also like to keep in very close contact with the translator, keeping in mind that I'm doing this for an English-speaking audience and to make it something that's understandable.
And to always remember "What was the intent? Is this a drama, is this a comedy, or whatever else?" and keeping this in context. If you had to choose between a literal translation and a more fun one, which would it be?
Tiffany Grant: I don't think there's any such thing as a literal translation between English and Japanese. The languages are too dissimilar, the syntax is too dissimilar, and if you had ten different people translate the same episode you'd have ten different translations.
It's just not correct that you're going to have a better translation because it's subtitled, it's intended to be watched with the dialogue spoken aloud.
As a friend of mine said, who's worked in animation in Japan for a while, "We didn't leave space for subtitles. We don't want subtitles. It's graffiti on our artwork. We want you to listen to the dialogue and to hear it and to watch the show without words on the screen." Just for some fun, if Karou from Evangelion showed up from wherever he came from and offered to change one thing in the fan base or the industry, what would it be?
Tiffany Grant: I have to say that I already heard what Matt said and my answer would be pretty similar, just that I wish people had a better understanding of what intellectual property is and more respect for that concept. Have you any advice for anyone who wants to try voice acting?
Tiffany Grant: I don't know, that's a really hard one... especially for anime. Unfortunately the work has dried up a lot in the last few years.
So first you buy a time machine, and then you go back in time to when there were jobs... Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

We would like to take time to thank the Sydney Anime and Manga Show for arranging this interview, Tiffany Grant for participating in the interview and Megan Rocke for transcribing and editing.


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