Jack of all trades, Johnny Yong Bosch. Went from actor (one of our favorite Power Rangers!), to voice acting of some of the most well known main characters in anime. He has also been in many bands over the years, recently they now call themselves Where Giants Fall (already a part of my daily music mix). Johnny was kind enough to sit down with me while we were at Sakura-Con 2022 for an interview.
Ali: What is your process for finding the characters, the voices you’ll be doing for new roles? The voice that’s going to fit that character.
Johnny: There’s a lot of different factors. Well, really what’s the story? You know. What’s the story with the person that I’m voicing? What’s their background, where are they coming from, and where are they going? That’s a bunch of questions you ask your director or who’s in there, getting a sense of who they are and then find out what’s their age, then I know where to put the voice and then you just play with it. Really for me it’s finding a place I can really relate to the character, you know. If I can relate to the character, I can believe that I am that character. Then I can be real, at least for me and then hopefully that will translate to you know, to whoever’s watching. But there’s quite a few other things, but generally you know you just try to find out the basic idea. Then what’s the mood really, you know, kind of what’s the overall mood of the film and the series and what not, you know.
A: do you do your own research into the character?
J: I do, yeah. Especially if I know I’m going into it and I kind of … Because I don’t always know the name of the projects and sometimes within the audition, you know, you can gather enough information. Because a lot of times they can keep it pretty top secret, but then there’s some things in there, where “I feel like this” and so you start looking it up and if they have a picture of the character you can use that to try and find it too and I’ve done that sometimes too. Then I sometimes even use that picture, that image to see if I can locate what it’s about and then do the audition or after the audition, if I’ve booked it. You know, then I can gather a little more information from that then to see if I can look up what it’s about. You know, what am I getting into? I like to know what I’m getting into, there have been a few times where I agreed to a project, just because my agent sent it to me. I’m like well I want to make sure my agent is happy too, and then I do the project. I’m like, I really didn’t like that at all. You know the story, the character, but I did it because it came through my agent, you know, and I want to work. But at the same time I’m like, that probably wouldn’t have been something I would have done, had I known more about it. So, I do try to do a lot of my own research, you know? Does that make sense?
A: How did you get started into voice acting?
J: How did I get started? After Power Rangers, I did an action film with the stunt team, the Japanese stunt team, Alpha Stunts, and so they had a camera there that was a Japanese camera and the audio gear was not. Somehow it did not work and I don’t know what went on there, but I basically had to go in there and after the film was done and dub myself throughout the film. And as I was dubbing myself, a producer walked in, heard my voice and thought I had a decent sounding voice and asked me to come audition for some animation and I auditioned for Trigun. I booked that, and that basically opened the doors. So you know, then someone heard me in Trigun and asked me to come audition for this and just kind of became a thing. So total fluke.
A: Are you excited about Bleach coming back and being able to finish the series?
A: yeah? Do you think it’ll be hard coming back into that character after so many years?
J: No, Ichigo is one of those characters I know. I probably know better than most people, you know. And just know him, you know. So, getting into him and getting into that space is not going to be that difficult. I will watch through them, because I’m going to watch quite a bit to get me back into it, just kind of refresher. But, Ichigo is definitely somebody who I know pretty well.
A: Yeah I know a lot of us are very excited!
J: Yeah I can’t wait!
A: So Blue Period is quickly becoming a fan favorite, and more and more fandom is going more towards it. Are you excited to be doing more seasons, seeing where the character and the show goes?
J: I would love to do more Blue Period! Yeah, I mean it’s just ah. First off, I love, and I felt… No, I didn’t read the manga so I don’t know any deviations from the manga that I felt like with what I know of the anime and experience I had and uh Todd Haberkorn directed it. Yeah he actually had to rewrite about 90% of it , just as far as the translation goes. I don’t know, to just make things right. But it was fun, I really enjoyed the character. I love the passion, you know, uh and I could kind of relate to that in a way, you know. So I just thought it was great, I would love to do more. I don’t know if there is more but, I would love to do more.
A: I think there is.
J: I don’t know how far the manga goes.
A: It’s ok, I haven’t read it yet either, but my friends are like you have to read it.
J: I hear the manga is great! You know and I think there might be some people that obviously anytime you take a manga and turn it into an anime. There could be ahh, there’s better things in the manga, whatever. Right? But I don’t know the manga that well, I just really know the anime, which is great.
A: Well when I watched it, it did it justice from what I’ve heard and it has such important messages in it. Especially for young people nowadays.
J: I felt like there was quite a bit in there and I felt I heard both things. But I felt like for me, I understood it. You know, it wasn’t too far, out there. As far as, it makes sense the things that were saying as far as when it comes to art and things like that. You could see that, you know and when you go look at some actual art, you know, I kinda see some of the things you know that were, that were done in there. You know it made sense to me. It was cool, I really enjoyed the character.
A: So you’ve played a lot of characters, is there a certain type you like? You’ve played heroes, you’ve played villains and you’ve played some in between, is there a certain type that you just love to play that has a certain personality?
J: There’s not really a certain one. I do like playing various, you know, I do like Blue Period is very different then Bleach. Same with Trigun, Code Geass or Promare. You know those characters are so different, you are just. The fun thing is, you know we have a lot of things in our head, you know and like things we hold back and things we don’t get to do and can’t be you know. And sometimes when you act you get to be or do those things you know. It’s really kind of great and kind of therapeutic to be able to play various different characters and there’s not one type that I like. I do basically like all types, I just, it’s the story. It’s like what happens in the story: where does, how does the character evolve? And seeing that progression and getting through this place to this place and then just working that way to get there. Super fun.
A: Has there been a character that’s been difficult finding the voice for?
J: Difficult finding the voice for? Yeah there’s certainly been some like that. You know I remember Lelouch in Code Geass, in the beginning was a little tricky for me because perspective I thought, you know, I was seeing things at a different perspective maybe more of a I don’t know and American culture kind of antagonist slash protagonist, but then when I heard the direction for the Japanese director I’m like ok, more Phantom of the Opera. So it took a little more to find that, where I was comfortable with it. There have been quite a few, Renton in Eureka Seven, but sometimes like someone wants it to sound a certain way, whereas I, maybe my instinct is like, I don’t know if that’s right, you know. So I would say something, I think I should be doing this but I’ll do it this way but it feels like for me that I should be doing this and most of the time. Unfortunately I find out later I was correct and maybe I should have just done it that way or forced my way through. But you know, I want to keep working so.. (hahah ) I have to do what I’m told. You know at least in the beginning of things, and then I can kind of say. Alright guys, come on (haha).
A: So you seem to be in hit anime after hit anime, do you just keep working? Or do you ever take time off for a little bit?
J: (Haha) Definitely take time off but it depends, you know. It’s like, I don’t control when things come in, I just see them come in. I like, even this, I had twenty auditions come in this past week or whatever. I used to audition for every single one of them, and now I kind of go through and I look at it and I’m like what’s the story, what is this character? Is it something I would maybe want to get? I would hate to audition for something, get the role and be like I’m not interested. You know, so now I just don’t audition unless I spend the time figuring it out, then there’s a handful of others that I like, I see and I think I want to do this one cause it sounds interesting. You know?
A: Well you’ve picked some really great ones.
J: I’ve been fortunate. But the thing is, like I could audition for 100 things and only get one. So I still audition quite a bit, but I’m a little pickier. But that’s really it. It’s also a lot of the time there are a lot of games that come in and I don’t want to burn out my throat from games you know? The roles are just soldier A or something. So, it’s not anything I think is important and it’d just be a job. I don’t know, yeah.
A- So for my last question I guess, what is some advice you’d give to people aspiring to be voice actors?
J: People that are aspiring to be voice actors? Well, I would say, I mean there’s a lot. You could find a lot of other information. D Bradley Baker has some stuff online that could answer questions.. I think acting is the most important thing? You know, so having some kind of acting class under your belt. It’s super important and it’s, you’ll end up running into the time when you’ll have a director that you don’t see eye to eye on the character and so you have to be able to do what they want and still be natural and sometimes there might be an internal resistance there. So be able to act and switch gears and then sometimes the direction can be completely different then what you thought and so you just have to deal with change on the fly, you know? There’s a lot that goes into that. I would definitely do some acting, I would take some classes or a workshop, you know. Some other actors, like Steve Blum, who does some. I would definitely recommend finding somebody like that, if that’s the space you want to get into. Of course you should listen to see what that person is doing otherwise are you really even serious? Yeah, act and then find somebody who’s doing it and in that space specifically, a voice actor, that’s a professional you know, that is actually working. Then I would 100% look into that, get some advice there and then it. COVID changed a lot of things too, so I don’t know. It’s a little trickier now, I think because you/I don’t know how many are going back into the studio yet. And thankfully, because of my band I had a lot of my own gear, you know microphones and everything. So for me, it was smoother, it wasn’t the smoothest, but it was smoother for me to go because I had my own booth and everything. I don’t know. There’s a lot there I would, I guess that’s all I can say I would also say try to create your own characters and your own thing. If you can find some animators, some jobs here and there, put together a demo if you can. Try and get an agent, cause then you can audition, once you get auditions you get a job and once you get one that can lead to another, you know? As I know at least.
Thank you so much to Johnny Yong Bosch for sitting down with us at con for this interview! If you would like to check out Johnny’s social media and band’s info, we’ve added some links below! Also, please do yourself a favor and catch the all new season of Bleach which is now airing! It’s great to have such an amazing anime back in the line-up and able to finish the series after so many years! You can catch it on Disney+ (and I think maybe Crunchyroll too…?)
VOX ROCKET STUDIO (Independent production house established in 2017 by Johnny Yong Bosch. Polo Yazaki and Jason Narvy)
Johnny’s band: Where Giants Fall