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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with the American Naruto team
In the August issue of Shonen Jump magazine (not yet for sale) there will be an interview with the team that is producing the Naruto anime series for VIZ Media that will be airing on Cartoon Network this September. According to the producers the series has been fully cast, the first season of 52 episodes has been completely written, and they are currently working on the music for the series, which will remain mostly from the original Japanese version. Interestingly they sound like they are taking great care in making the series as close as possible to what we are used to, however that looks to not include the original technique names. You can read this interview as part of our new section brilliantly entitled Americanized Naruto that will be popping up when the first episode finally airs.
Naruto - Behind the Scenes
Like us, you're salivating for the English-language debut of Naruto, your favorite ninja anime. What in the world can you do to bide your time? Well, you can check in with SHONEN JUMP, which has been bringing you the Naruto manga from the beginning, for details about the anime's production process. This month, we interview the team that's bringing Naruto to our shores.
Q: What's the latest milestone the production has hit?
A: The show has been cast, and the scripts for the first season, all 52 episodes, are being written, and of course we're adapting the scripts so they stay in line with the flavor of the original Japanese anime.
Q: What was the casting like?
A: The process is we go through a bunch of voice actors who have experience in dubbing, some of whom may not have any prior anime experience but have great voices and rich acting experience. We want to keep it fresh. The studio we're working with brings in actors for a variety of roles, so someone might try out for Iruka and Kakashi, or for Naruto and Sakura. That might sound weird, but some of these actors can really switch between roles.
Q: Which character was the hardest to cast?
A: Naruto, plain and simple. He's the number one character, the star. You want to pin it down just right. The voice of the person we selected has Naruto down, from the michievous side, that precious 12-year-old we learn to love, to the serious side. Our Naruto can make you laugh, and hit you with a jutsu, right on a dime.
Q: How many people did you audition for that role?
A: A whole bunch- we tried to find actors of various voices and styles.
Q: Who was the easiest to cast?
A: No one was easy. You had to go back and forth, trying to decide who is best for which role. You can talk about it for hours on end. It made for a lively debate.
Q: In the end, was anyone cast to do more than one voice?
A: No. It wasn't a conscious decision, and had an actor been able to make that leap, we would have done it, but we wanted to create a contrast between characters, like between Naruto and Sasuke, who are rivales and brothers in arms. Those two voices, for example, had to contrast well. When you have two characters contrasting strengths but the same age, it's important their voices differ in sound and attitude, so the differences come through and the characters come to life.
Q: Did you learn anything about the characters during the course of the auditions?
A: Yes, listening to the Japanese actors and, later, to the English-language ones shed light on the characters' motivations. From the onset, these heroes and villains have motivation. We don't have to wait until episode 10 to find out what they're all about. We know Sakura wants to impress Sasuke, and that Naruto wants to be the Hokage, and their drive comes through their voices.
Q: What's ahead for the production?
A: We're still working on music production, but for the most part we'll be using the original music from Japan, becasue that helps make the series great. We're going to start recording the first four episodes of Naruto and get them ready to air in September.
Q: Will all the actors work together in the studio?
A: Unlike in Japan, each actor comes to the studio individually. When you're dubbing anime, dubbing to flap - that is, matching the shape of the characters' mouths - that's the best way to do it. It's so precise, in terms of matching flap, that each actor needs to have their individual attention on the screen. Even though the actors play off each other, it would be very hard to have them in the sound booth together. The way we do it, each character's individuality can shine through the best.
Q: Are there any surprises in the early episodes?
A: If there are surprises, I'm not telling.
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