Production I.G> WORK LIST> Le Chevalier D'Eon> SPECIAL FEATURE> Les 24 Chevaliers Part XIV: Hozumi Goda (Sound Director)

Les 24 Chevaliers Part XIV: Hozumi Goda (Sound Director)

Voice recording in Japanese animation is a challenging job. Due to tight production schedules, voice actors often have to cope with unfinished pictures, sometimes with a mere indication "dialogue" on an almost white screen. Hozumi Goda, the sound director of Le Chevalier D'Eon and an experienced voice actor himself, talks about this rarely featured and yet crucial aspect of the production process of a TV show. For those of you who also enjoy the original with subtitles.

Hozumi Goda's In principio erat Verbum: "Morning 10"!

Hozumi Goda
Sound director. Born in Tokyo in 1957. In addition to working extensively as an actor and narrator, Goda is active as a voice artist and sound director for TV animes. His major voice acting work in animation includes Armored Trooper Votoms (leading part Chirico), Hunter x Hunter and Blue Submarine No. 6, but also contributed his voice in Hollywood productions such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Major works as a sound director include Vampirians: The Veggie Vampires, Zettai Shonen, Twin Spica, and Medarot. He also runs Shonan Actors School, which focuses on training young artists.

What was your impression when you heard about the project?
I was excited since this was going be an anime even adults could enjoy. I believe those who are not particularly keen about anime as well as movie fans would like it too.

What are your actual production procedures?
Voice actors usually read the script beforehand and work out their own acting plans. On the actual recording day, they would carry out their acting plans to the animation. When there is a great gap between the acting and the animation, then the plan has to be altered.

In the post-recording for Le Chevalier D'Eon, we tried different voice tones until we came up with a clear picture of each character. It really took quite a while for the voice actors for all four main characters to get the right images. Voice actors are only given the scripts prepared for recording and they don't usually know the story lines, so when we are not pleased with the characterization, we give the actors some extra information of the past history and the future of the character. Adding to that, particularly since Michiru Oshima's theme music for Le Chevalier D'Eon has that grandeur period drama feel to it and the picture is so stunning, I made sure that the voices blended in well. We recorded the dialogues, then I discussed the music with the director. During the dubbing process, I readjusted the recorded sound. This is what you might call the process of converting the images into sound.

Is there any one character that you fell in love with in this series?
Everyone was as I imagined, but I'd pick Teillagory first. The voice actor includes ad libs and we always make use of them. I think that broadens the image of the character. Lia started as a sort of spirit seeking vengeance, but gradually her generousness and intelligence surfaced, which was good. The portrayal of Pyotr II was creative as well.

You once said at a fan event that "the post-recording studio for Le Chevalier D'Eon is like a fiesta of the middle-aged guys." How was it like actually?
We were lucky to have all the veterans in the field. I could relax and let them do their job. They all have distinctive personalities, that in the end had a positive influence on the outcome. It's better for the staff to be enjoying the job rather than being tense. I want to enjoy my job too.

This is a period drama. It must have been hard, for instance, to make sure about using the right language. Is there anything you devised for dealing with these challenges?
The language used here is not what we commonly use, so the actors did have slight difficulty. But I didn't want to spoil the essence of Le Chevalier D'Eon, so I was not especially keen on making the dialogue simple for children to understand. My job is to transform the director's intended images into sound. When the actors can't get the right nuances and tones that the director has in mind, then I'm there to explain it to the actors, so that we get the right result.

What did you think when you saw the episodes airing on TV?
Astonishing! Personally, since my niece is married to a Frenchman and lives in France, I visited her two years ago and visited a lot of places where historic cityscapes are preserved. I also visited Versailles. So when I saw the finished animation, it felt a bit familiar. (lol)

You are also an accomplished actor and voice actor, what was your intention to become a sound director as well?
I started as an actor with a small theatre company. Actors did not just follow the stage director's instructions, but rather we all contribute ideas to produce our craft. Through these experiences, I began to get fascinated about directing. Actually, I later organized a theatre company called Shonan Actors, where I direct the stage myself. With my background in animation voice acting and stage directing, I was asked to do sound directing work as well. I was all for it.

Your experience as a voice actor must be useful in your work as a sound director.
I do understand the sense of the actors to some extent, so when we have to do a retake, I try to explain to the actors in plain words what should be modified. In my past experience, I sometimes wasn't quite sure where I had to modify when I was asked to do a retake. There is also a situation where the acting is on the borderline of needing a retake. That is to say, the present recording would be acceptable, but we might get a better one if we did a retake. And depending on the type of actor, there are some that get hung up on some perceived deficiency in their acting, or nuance and flow of speech. Rather than have these tricky parts stand as is, I'd ask for another take and get a better result. It would take more time, but I feel the actors often wish to do that as well and are willing to take the chance. I'd say this is from my own experience as a voice actor.

What is the difference between stage directing and animation post-recording?
In the process of theatrical production, we spend a month to a month and a half for rehearsals before the opening. If I see something off track, then I can ask the actor to reflect on it and I'd bring that up in the next rehearsal. You are allowed to have a preparation phase, but once it is done on stage in front of the audience, we can't do a retake. In post-recording work, we have to judge the actor's acting right on the spot. That said, I believe the process of materializing the director’s ideas in post-recording is similar to the process of materializing the stage director's ideas on stage. Basically, both deal with expressing feelings - you try to communicate the feelings of the characters to the audience. In that sense, I think both are practically the same.

Is there anything you experienced as the sound director of Le Chevalier that you feel you could utilize in your future work?
I would say one major merit was the fact that I was in Director Kazuhiro Furuhashi's staff list. The director had a clear picture of the emotional feelings of his characters, so his explanation was thorough and clear. I think watching him work close at hand has given me a positive influence for my future work.

Lastly, please leave a message to the audience who are enjoying Le Chevalier D'Eon, or are going to enjoy it soon.
I used to commute to the recording studio from Shonan (NOTE: south of Tokyo) to attend the post-recording sessions starting at 10 am on Mondays. In our trade, this is the earliest shift of the day, so we call it "a Morning 10." I have been working early in the morning every Monday. The reason why I was compelled to do that is because I felt that the staff as well as Ubukata-san and the scriptwriters had a strong sentiment towards this project. I hope you will see that for yourself.

© Tow Ubukata · Production I.G/Project Chevalier 2006