Akiba’s Beat - Localization Blog #1 - Voiceover Special!
All right. So! Guessing you’ve all heard the news by now, but indeed, it’s true: Akiba’s Beat…
(1) …not only is getting a dub, but has already been fully dubbed with English-language voices!
(2) …is going to feature the original Japanese voices too, because choice is always a good thing. (Even though the Vita card can’t fit both language tracks, so we’re going to have to offer the Japanese voices as free DLC – and we’ll be providing more info on just how big a download that’ll be when we find out ourselves!) ((The PS4 version will have the Japanese voices on-disc, though, so no worries there.))
(3) …is going to have a special surprise in store for
those who preorder. More on that below!
So, yes, Akiba’s Beat *will* have an English dub. Believe you me, I’ve been living and breathing this English dub for the last several months. There are nearly 22,000 voice files which have been recorded, spanning over 180 different roles, and they’re still being listened through and processed. (Or they were when this was originally written, anyway; they’re pretty much done now, save for some final tweaking.)
Does that number seem high to you? It probably should – our
biggest voice project prior to Akiba’s Beat (that being Trails of Cold Steel
II) had somewhere in the vicinity of 12,000 voiced lines. Akiba’s Beat very
nearly doubles that, making it the single most massive voiceover undertaking in
the entire history of XSEED Games – an honor which seems to keep getting
passed between the Akiba’s and Trails series, since our biggest voiceover
project prior to Cold Steel II was Cold Steel I, and our biggest voiceover
project prior to that was Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed!
As you might imagine, all that recording was pretty
exhausting, but it turned out beautifully in the end, with one of the most
diverse casts we’ve ever featured in any video game. We actually had numerous
actors fly in from Texas to record for us (which they seemed happy to do, on
account of recording partially taking place during the hottest time of summer!),
resulting in a pretty great mixture of LA and Texas talent that helps keep the
game sounding fresh the whole way through.
Our lead character, Asahi Tachibana, is voiced by the first of our Texas actors: Mr. Anime himself, Chris Patton – a man who’s done only a select few video game voices in his day, but who has now played a lead protagonist with ~5,700 lines, making this among his largest roles to date. Auditioned partially because he voiced a similar role in the anime “Welcome to the NHK,” Chris delivered a knockout performance that exceeded our expectations, adding a touch of snark and a heaping tablespoon of genuine heart to his every read. By the end of his three weeks in the studio with us, he pretty much WAS Asahi Tachibana – he’d gotten the role down so thoroughly pat that he was regularly breaking 120 lines recorded per hour, simply because his reads were so perfect the first time around that retakes were basically redundant.
The game’s female lead, Saki Hoshino, was voiced by the
ever-talented Erica Mendez, whom my coworker Kris kind of wanted to voice her
as if she truly believed she were Batman, whereas I was thinking more along the
lines of Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo. What we got was somewhere in the middle,
and it’s pretty much perfect – as in, not only perfectly matched with the
character’s personality, but also with her Japanese voice, as no other
character in our entire dub cast sounds as much like a 1:1 analogue to her
Japanese counterpart. It’s honestly kind of eerie how close the two voices are
– especially considering we started recording before we’d actually heard the
game’s Japanese voices, so this happened entirely by chance!
The next main cast member on the roster was Riyu Momose,
a.k.a. Mippity-Mop, the 14-year-old bunny-themed idol singer. We once again
called upon Texas for this voice, casting the wonderfully talented Tia Ballard,
who delivered a very sweet, wholesome performance that sounds every bit as
precious as the character she played. The other Texans all told us that Tia is
pretty much renowned for being as close to a real-life Disney princess as you
can get, and… yeah, when we finally met her at the studio, that assessment
proved entirely apt! She was a pleasure to work with, and I can’t imagine
anyone will be disappointed with the results.
Next in the male cast was the role of Yamato Hongo, the
party’s whipping boy. His whole deal is that he’s “secretly” an emo
anime otaku – by which I mean, it’s plainly obvious for everyone to see, but
he firmly denies it, so every other character just CONSTANTLY rips into him.
Robbie Daymond took up the mantle, and brought the perfect amount of pure
smuggy assness to his performance, bringing Yamato to life in ways we never
thought possible. You can look forward to an excellent card-game battle scene
with him that was basically played (expertly) as the nerdiest Yu-Gi-Oh match imaginable.
An amazing performance all around from a very talented actor!
Moving right along, the role of the tsundere Gothic lolita
girl (if you don’t know Japanese cultural archetypes, I’m sorry for the
terminology dump, but it really is the most succinct way of describing her!)
Kotomi Sanada is played by the one and only Cherami Leigh, who brought a
certain… raw violence to the role that really sells every line. We auditioned
numerous characters for this game, and Cherami is one of the few for whom we
heard the audition and pretty much just chose her on the spot – there simply
couldn’t be a more perfect Kotomi.
And in what is perhaps the biggest deviation from the
original Japanese voice, we cast Ed Bosco as Reiji Shinomiya, the 28-year-old
reclusive computer whiz with a perpetual “it’s complicated” relationship status
and a general sense of world-weariness about him. As mentioned above, we began
recording before we even had a chance to hear the Japanese voices (one of the
travails of working on a game that’s still in development!), so we based all of
our casting decisions solely on each character’s personality. In Reiji’s case,
the character constantly regards himself as an “old man,” and comes
across as a battle-hardened badass who’s ready to take on the world if he has
to, but would rather just laze around and build himself a new PC if he had any
say in it. So, naturally, we went full-on growly badass with his English voice,
utilizing Ed’s low end with liberal use of gravel. The Japanese, on the other
hand, went full-on bishounen (pretty-boy). Different takes, but both sound
great, if you ask me!
Flash over to the final main party member, Mizuki Aihara –
Asahi’s childhood friend, who sort of serves as a general foil for Asahi’s
boundless apathy. Constantly even-tempered and fastidious, Mizuki is everything
Asahi isn’t, yet the two of them couldn’t get along much better… at least, at
first! But as the game progresses, their relationship is strained a bit
(DRAMA!), so we needed someone capable of very subtle and precise emotional
turns to play this role. The man we tasked with that job was Ray Chase, and Ray
absolutely delivered, giving a true tear-jerker performance. His dog, Milo, was
in attendance during recording as well, and really, really wanted to get in the
booth with him!
(Ray IS in this photo, we swear! It’s just kind of hard to see him due to the reflection of our director in the window. Hi, Kirk!)
On the antagonist side of things, we cast Mick Wingert as
“Boss,” the mysterious swagger-fueled punk who leads the Akihabara
Freedom Fighters (which have no relation to the Akiba Freedom Fighters of
Akiba’s Trip fame) in their struggle against any and all things delusion. Funny
story here: I did the initial translation for this game, with Kris on editing.
Boss was very clearly written as a classic Japanese street punk in the original
text, so I did my best to convey that in the English… but the fact is, I
*suck* at writing punks. So when Kris got ahold of my files, he saw what I’d
written and immediately interpreted it as “cowboy.” We had a good
laugh about that at first, but then realized… it actually works! So Mick’s
take on Boss is basically a scrawny-nerd-turned-cowboy-street-punk in Japan. Which
is, as you might imagine, pretty magical to hear!
The enigmatic “man in pink,” Kanon, was given to
the one and only Todd Haberkorn to bring to life… and bring him to life, he
did! Kanon needed to sound threatening, but also soothing… mysterious, but
also approachable. And Todd immediately stepped up to the plate, delivering a
performance that I swear is inadvertently a near-perfect voice match for the
Cardassian tailor-come-spy, Garak, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Which, if
you’re familiar with Garak, is basically everything we could possibly have
hoped for (because Garak rules!).
And our final main cast member, Pinkun – the floating pink
puff-ball who has a thing for maids and idol singers, constantly calls Asahi
“dingus,” and seems to address everyone but Saki with a certain level
of smug superiority – was played by yet another Texas actor in her first ever
video game role: Brittney Karbowski. Known for 11 years’ worth of stellar anime
performances, this was her doorway into the realm of video game voice-acting,
and as director Kirk Thornton put it, “You said this is your first video
game? Yeah… It won’t be your last.” Brittney’s performance was nothing
short of wonderful, giving Pinkun a real sense of gleeful obnoxiousness that’s
hard to balance just right so it’s actually entertaining and endearing as
opposed to grating. But she did it, and she did it in such a way that it seemed
almost effortless! We hope to work with her again in the future – along with
everyone else we’ve named above, for that matter!
…But wait just a moment. What is that in Brittney’s hand?
That… would be Pinkun.
Which players who preorder Akiba’s Beat at select retailers (we’ll provide you guys a list soon, we promise!) will be getting as a preorder bonus.
PREORDER PLUSHIE, Y'ALL!! Isn’t he cuuuuuuute?!?!
…Whew! OK, this is getting kind of long now. But before signing off, I just wanted to share two more photos of voice actors we took during recording, to round out the Texas constituency. These aren’t actors who played primary characters, but they are actors who flew in from Texas to record for us, so it seems only right to give them a shout-out and let them know how much we appreciate their efforts!
First up, we have the incredibly talented Alexis Tipton, who
played the dual roles of Hazuki Aihara (Mizuki’s proactive and generally filterless
sister) and Moé Suzumori (the perfect ideal of an Akihabara maid who struggles
to maintain her own impossibly high standards). Alexis was able to play these
two roles with aplomb, distinctly separating the two voices and giving them
both the attention they deserved to elevate each respective character. Some of
my personal favorite lines in the game come from Hazuki Aihara, and I couldn’t
be more pleased with Alexis’ sterling performance!
Finally, we have Justin Briner, who flew in to record the
role of Megane Taro. Megane Taro is essentially idol singer Riyu Momose’s
biggest fan, and a genuinely nice person amidst a sea of relatively creepy
otaku – and Justin’s own inherent niceness definitely flavored the character,
making all of Mr. Taro’s appeals to his fellow otaku come across as wholly
genuine and rather moving. This was our first time working with Justin, but
hopefully won’t be our last, because he was an absolute pleasure to record.
There were many, many other talented actors who also passed through the studio during our two months of recording (the game has over 180 voiced roles, after all!), but we only got photos of the main cast + Texas actors, so those have been our main focus thus far. We’d like to stress, however, that everyone we worked with was a delight, and while we don’t plan on revealing any other actors at this time, we know a few have already talked about their involvement with Akiba’s Beat on Twitter and other social media outlets, and others will likely follow suit in the future. And we want to thank each and every one of you for your hard work, as well as the good people at Cup of Tea Studios, the wonderful directors we worked with, and our gracious hosts Michelle and Eddie (as well as little Eddie and the dogs!).
It’s been a whirlwind, but a wonderful experience overall, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. Hope you guys are ready for an awesome dub once the game is released in Q1 2017 (not to mention a SUPAH-CUTE pre-order plushie!).
Also, hey, if you’re reading this in time, why not head on over to our Twitch channel at https://www.twitch.tv/xseed_games? We’ll be streaming the game at 3:30 PST / 6:30 EST today (though if you miss it, don’t worry: we’ll post a recording of it to our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4jtViMLgZ1GY-_jCmImWIg sometime next week), showing off some of the voices in action and, for many of you, providing your very first look at this upcoming Akiba experience.
And if you came here FROM our Twitch stream… welcome! Why not read some of our other blogs? We talk about a lot of cool stuff on here! ;)
Take care, everyone!