Interview: Ryo Horikawa [Voice Actor, "Dragon Ball Z"]

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by Sam W., staff writer,  Inside AX – Anime Expo

At Anime Expo 2012, I had the honor of interviewing Ryo Horikawa, who was the original Japanese voice of Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z. Since then, the prolific seiyuu has done a number of roles, including that of Captain Falcon in the games Super Smash Brothers… which of course I get to at the end of the interview.

But I also had the opportunity to speak to him about changes in the industry, the meeting of his wife — a fellow voice actress — and the dangers and opportunities of being typecast.

INSIDE AX: Ryo, thank you for joining us here at Anime Expo.

Ryo Horikawa: My pleasure.

IAX: Good to hear it. Currently in your career you mentor a lot of up and coming voice talent. How integral is your influence on the younger generation of Japanese voice actors?

RH: Well, it’s hard to answer myself, I’m not sure if I’m having any influence on any of the other actors. But if I am having an influence and they are able to do better and have a better performance from that, that would make me very happy.

IAXIs there anything that has specifically changed about the voice acting industry in Japan, from when you started to the present day?

RHSo speaking not just as a seiyuu but as an actor, it’s kind of hard to tell on my own, but for the people that are watching, it might be easier for those watching to tell what kind of changes have happened over the years. Just from the way that they’ve been making anime and how they do the recording from analogue to the digital– or the newer technology they have now, where they can– they don’t have to start from the beginning.

IAXThe beginning of the reel…?

RHYeah, the beginning of the reel all the way through. But they can cut in. And not just matching the voices to the pictures. Before, the pictures were the final say, we had to match our voices to the pictures and how they were moving. But now, if– based on the acting– if the pictures need to change, they’ll change them…

[there is a pause, Ryo speaks again to his translator]

Not everything! [laughs]

IAXJust the mouth flaps?


IAXExcellent, that’s great. We also know that your wife is a voice actress… how has that been, working with a loved one?


IAXHow is it different working with someone you’re so close with?

RHWhen we were working… there was nothing going on between us. Afterwards, between a man and woman… you know what happens. That was during Musashi No Ken.

IAXWhat is something that an American anime fan would not be familiar with in the Japanese dubbing process?

RHI believe that in America, one seiyuu records one character, and they just record from beginning to end all the lines that they need. That’s typical for American animation. But in Japan all the voice actors record at once. We all get together in the studio and then we can match our breathing and do the acting together. So to program for about 4 or 5 hours of recording is typical.

IAXIs it typical to just go from character to character as if you were doing a theatrical play?

RHLike getting up and moving?

IAXIn terms of the actual story.

RHSo basically everyone has the same script and they’re looking at that, so basically we’re all in that together taking our turns.

IAXInteresting. So I have one more question. You have played– in video games– two characters both named Falcon. Falcon from the Power Stone series and Captain Falcon from Super Smash Brothers… Are you afraid of being typecast as one kind of animal?

RH[laughs] So, I mean, it can’t be helped if other people see me that way. Like if the director or audience is watching and that’s how they feel.

But for me, as an actor, if I am doing something very often I might try to challenge myself and do something very different. For example, if I was doing someone that had a strong sense of justice, in the next project I might take a villainous role. Or if I was doing a comedy the next thing I would try something serious, try to challenge myself.

But of course if people see me as the same thing then that can’t be helped.

[Ryo speaks again to his translator]

So for me, as an actor, I want to be able to say I can do any kind of role that you can throw at me. That is the spirit of the actor inside of me. Especially if it’s a role where people say “Horikawa can’t do this” then that makes me want to do it even more. [laughs]

IAXYou do it to spite them! [laughs]

RHThat’s right.

IAXIt was very enjoyable speaking to you, thanks!

RHThank you.

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