Otakon 2013: Q&A With Voice Actor Tomokazu Seki
Renowned Japanese voice actor Tomokazu Seki returned to Otakon 2013 to participate in a Q&A session Friday afternoon. Among his many roles are Domon Kasshu from Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Kenichi from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, and Kyo from Fruits Basket. He got his start in the voice acting industry in 1993 and has risen to become one of the most popular voice actors in Japan, as well as the head of the Atomic Monkey talent agency. He spent one hour taking questions from the audience.
The most common question from the audience was actually requests for doing various lines in a character’s voice. These included a full force God Finger attack call from G Gundam, the line “mongrels” in the voice of Gilgamesh from Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero and a long Japanese tongue twister using the voice of Souske Sagara from Full Metal Panic!. He also reenacted a little bit of his singing from Lucky Star, despite not being a big fan of doing a lot of signing. While he was a part of the Weiss Kreutz project he had to both voice act and play the part of a pop idol and was very embarrassed to have to sing. Having to attach “mepple” at the end of every line in reference to his role in the children’s anime Pretty Cure was also somewhat embarrassing. Incidentally his full force “God Finger!” line was very loud, even without amplification.
Quite often during casting for characters, he sees a picture of a character before being told much else about them and he gives his first interpretation of the voice he thinks the character has, which often isn’t quite what the producers are looking for. He also likes to know what the fate of the characters he plays will be, but frequently the producers will not tell him. There was one time, though, that he was told the performance he gave for a character ended up factoring into the producers deciding to keep the character around longer. Originally when he was cast as Yzak Joule in Gundam SEED the character was originally going to be a short-lived bad guy, but the producers decided to change things to make him a more conflicted character. Tomokazu was told that he was responsible for the change, as his performance wasn’t really “bad guy” enough.
Given the length of Seki’s career he has worked with quite a number of other voice actors as well, and one of his favorite crews was from the show Psycho Pass. He also said that he maintains his voice by smoking a lot and possibly through lecherous activities, though he wasn’t particularly sure about the last one. Seki’s smoking habit did end up playing a role in the formation of the character he played in Psycho Pass though, as he convinced the producers that the character needed more smoking time for it to seem like he really was a smoker. He was, however, quite sure that he had no idea what any of the military jargon was in the Full Metal Panic! productions. It was also a bit difficult to make Sosuke sound 17 years old, as he was in his 30’s during the recording of the show.
When asked about how his approach to being a voice actor has changed over the years, Seki said that obviously he has aged quite a bit so he understands how adults think. He started his career at the age of 16 by doing five years of voice acting school before getting his first role at 21, so he has been in the industry for quite a while now. He said that he thinks his acting has gotten much better over the years. The acting also gives him a great way to vent his daily frustrations as he gets paid to scream a lot, whereas if any of us tried that at work we’d probably be arrested. His time in the industry has also allowed him to see a lot of voice acting talent come up through the system and he is very encouraged by the quality of a lot of the new actors in the last few seasons.
When asked about his favorite and least favorite roles Seki said that he isn’t a big fan of playing characters with a really high voice, like Mepple from Pretty Cure, but otherwise he doesn’t really have any least favorites. Of the many characters he has never gotten to voice, he said that he would love to play Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z sometime. He would also like to play a character that is closer to his own age, rather than always playing young men or teenagers. When asked about his Gundam models that he is known for building, Seki said that the last one he had built was a God Gundam model from G Gundam.
As an actor, Seki is often called upon to portray roles that he doesn’t have real-life experience with. When he was cast in Cardcaptor Sakura to play an older brother character he had to figure it out as he went, as he did not have siblings of his own to base his performance on. When asked about a particularly challenging recording for Gokaiger, he said that he gets paid for things like Gokaiger by the character. So when he has to voice a lot of characters in a row his voice takes a beating, but his wallet loves it. He is also occasionally cast to take over a role that someone else has already had, and when that happens he said he tries to be respectful to the original portrayal while still giving it his own interpretation.
Finally, Tomokazu Seki stated for the record that he was not the person supposedly jumping around yelling in the background during a phone call to a voice agency agent about one of the Super Robot Wars productions.