Music is a common theme in many anime titles, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on many musical series in a variety of different capacities. I’ve played singing characters, I’ve adapted lyrics into English for opening and closing themes, sung those themes, and more recently, had the immense challenge and pleasure of directing a musical show, one of my favorites, Show By Rock!!.
At conventions, I’m often asked to host a panel on dubbing music for anime, because not many people know how it is done, or just how much work is involved. With the home video release of Show By Rock!! Season 1 coming up next month (shameless plug- pre-order here!) and Season 2 currently streaming in simuldub format (another shameless plug- watch it here!), this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give you all an inside look at the process.
watch Season 2 here cough*
As an ADR director, it’s always been my desire to have the shows I work on be in English, top to bottom; every theme song, every insert song, all of it. But in reality, that isn’t always possible, for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, getting permission from the original record label and artist to dub their songs, acquiring the license for a show’s music, and having available time to do the meticulous work of adapting and recording the song or songs. I mean, what if my show is 13 episodes and each one has a different closing (I’m looking at you, Riddle Story of Devil…)? Also, the Japanese licensors may have many legitimate reasons for not wanting their music dubbed into English, and who am I to argue? Sometimes you can’t win ‘em all.
Episode 2 and 1 Endings of Riddle Story of Devil. It changes every time too!
For the sake of this article, however, let’s say Funimation does get permission, acquire the license, and have the time. What comes next? How does your favorite anime theme get transformed from Japanese to English? Well, over the next few weeks, I’m going to show you! Come back next week for more info about the adaptation process, and the following week to learn how we record and mix the music, complete with a live stream look into an actual music recording session. It’s going to be so much fun- I can’t wait! See you then!
Touken what now? Our newest SimulDub title Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru may have a long, difficult title, but if you’re the type of anime fan who follows what’s big in Japan, then you’ve probably heard of the “swordboy-collecting” phenomenon on that took Japanese fandom by storm!
Welcome to part three of Music & Anime: A Relationship Editorial, where we explore various connections between the two mediums. You can see part one here where we take a look at the soundtracks of Blood Blockade Battlefront and The Boy and The Beast and part two where we explore Yoko Kanno’s legacy as an influential composer. In this part, we’ll be speaking with the Funimation staff members in charge of making the music for the trailers and commercials we put out! The two members speaking with me are Music and Sound Composers Andrew Manson and Andrew Black who took the time to share their backgrounds and inspiration.
Godswill Ugwa (GU)- First question for both of you: How did you get into this industry and how long have you been at Funimation?
I graduated from the UNT Film program in 2008. In 2010, I came back to the country having lived a year abroad and a good friend of mine from school who’d been working at [Funimation] for a couple of years told me about a job opening in an adjacent department. I applied and got that position working for DTO (Digital Uploads), and later video engineering for a couple of years. I had been writing music in my free time for various media projects since 2007 or so, always dreaming of composing full time. I’d done a handful of student films, short films, a zombie feature, web series, etc.
Welcome to part two of Music & Anime: A Relationship Editorial, where we explore various connections between the two mediums. You can see part one here where we take a look at the soundtracks of Blood Blockade Battlefront and The Boy and The Beast. In this part, we’ll be taking a cursory look- and only cursory since her work is so extensive- at the work of the legendary anime and video game music composer, Yoko Kanno.
Hear from the director of a classic anime! For Escaflowne’s 20th anniversary, director Kazuki Akane answered some questions at a special panel at Otakon. Learn about the director’s opinion on the English dub—and yes, the story behind those noses!
Don’t forget to pre-order your copy here—all versions of the TV series and movie feature both the original and new English dubs, as well as the original Japanese audio, set to HD materials that have never been released in North America!
It has been 20 years since The Vision of Escaflowne first launched, yet fans overseas are still so excited about this series. Why do you feel that Escaflowne still remains so popular?
I actually want to know myself why this is still so popular because honestly, back then, in Japan while we made Escaflowne, we definitely put a lot of effort into it, but we didn’t really make it thinking that we were going to market it abroad. So we had no idea it would end up like this and I’m actually really shocked myself, in a good way, how many more fans there are.
Have you ever seen an English dubbed version of an anime that you directed or worked on before?
Actually, no, I must say I think this is pretty much the first time I’ve seen an English dub of my work and in fact, it’s about 10 years since I got to watch Escaflowne in Japanese. The American staff and cast are so incredibly good that honestly, I was thinking, “Wow, when did Hitomi and Van learn English?” It didn’t feel strange at all to be listening to them in English, so I’m really grateful to the cast and to Sonny [Strait, ADR Director]. Thank you.
Escaflowne has a brash, manly hero (Van) and action-packed mecha battles, but it also includes many shoujo romance elements. Was the series created with female audiences in mind as well?
So as you saw from the first two episodes, it falls into the genre of robot action or robot battle anime, and of course that is a genre that is primarily seen, if not entirely seen as a boys’ anime and with a boys focus in Japan. But since we definitely were aware that we wanted girls to enjoy it too, I decided I wanted to develop the female characters emotionally, and to see the girl characters from a girl’s perspective. And then what happened was that I ended up with almost more girl fans than boy fans. So there was a period where I thought, “Oh, what did I do, what do I do?”
So we mentioned this is a classic anime and the art style is very nostalgic as well. It’s one that you don’t see very much anymore, it’s very iconic. I believe the director has a story behind why the characters look the way they do.
So even in Japan, when it first came out, fans responded “why do they have such pointy noses? They all kind of look like Pinocchio…” I want to make sure you all understand that that’s not my preference. It was actually what the character designer Nobuteru Yuki came up with and he came back to me with “Akane-san, I thought you liked shoujo manga. So I tried to make it look like shoujo manga characters.” And when I first got his designs for the characters, I said “Nooooo, I’m not stamping my approval on these. The noses are too long and too pointy.” But he said “Nooooo, I think this is good, I think we should go with this.” And of course, I got the feedback from Japanese fans and I find out that American fans and other fans abroad are like “What’s up with the noses?” and finally after a certain amount of time, Yuki-said got back in touch with me and said “Ohhh, Akane-san, I apologize, I’m sorry… my bad.” It was about a year after the show wrapped that I got the apology.
But it wouldn’t be the same without those noses, right?
I’ve kind of come around and started to feel that way.
Since this is the first release of Escaflowne on Blu-ray in North America, coming this October, could you please give a message to the fans why they should be excited for Escaflowne?
So as I mentioned earlier, this is the first time in 10 years I’ve seen this title. And I was just thinking “wow, this is a really interesting series.” So I think I can say with utmost confidence that I and we are able to deliver to you fans an English dub that the only difference from the original Japanese version is that the language, that the sound is different, that the feel and the emotions that I felt is exactly the same as when I went through the first time with the original. So I really hope that you can enjoy, and I really think that you can enjoy this new product.
Do you want to watch Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School, but need a recap of the first season (and the second game)? Do you want to know who that crazy bear is with the black/white “Two-Face” scheme? Do you want to understand what despair is and why everyone is looking for it? Look no further – we’ve got a quick run-down of some key events from the first season/game and the second game to help prepare you for both the Future Arc & Despair Arc of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School.
(WARNING: There ARE spoilers ahead for Season 1 of the first Danganronpa anime and game, and for the second Danganronpa game, so proceed with caution!)
We’ve saved the best for last. You’ve got the characters and basic idea of the story, so what else is there? Just a handful of fun tidbits, Easter Eggs, and more!