The fall 2010 VA Draft has just concluded with The Great Bear winning the draft. So a big congrats to those who made the podium. As for my journey of playing this game, I started to write about everything that went through my mind and my strategy in this blog
up to the Super Gals draft in Fall 2009.
So now, I begin to take a look back at my most recent draft classes. These will be examined in greater depth than the other drafts and because these posts are going to be quite lengthy that I decided to put each in separate posts. This year's draft were Ah My Goddess for the blind draft in the spring and Aria for the fall draft whose title was known ahead of time, being the first ever draft for a series that has never been dubbed. This blog is for the spring draft and the entry for the fall draft is coming tomorrow.
For this blog, I will make a pick-by-pick assessment and explain what was going through my mind when making these picks, as well as give assessments about what I did right and stuff that I wished that I could have thought of doing back during the draft.
Ah My Goddess (Blind, Spring 2010)
Keiichi Morisato - Yuri Lowenthal
Belldandy - Veronica Taylor
Urd - Clarine Harp
Skuld - Melissa Fahn
Marller - Kayzie Rogers
Lind - Anna Cummer
Senbei - Jason Douglas
Otaki - Quinton Flynn
Megumi Morisato - Luci Christian
Toshiyuki Aoshima - Dave Wittenberg
Satoko Yamano - Hynden Walch
Sentaro Kawashima - Cathy Weseluck
I pretty much followed the same strategy that I have been using in previous blind drafts, what I call the SFB, which means spread, fill, balance. That is start out by drafting for versatility and spreading the character coverage as much as possible, then fill in areas that I was lacking in, and then finally balancing out the generations, and doing it without drafting any one-dimensional VA's. I did that the last time, though I sort of dropped the ball on the balance part since I had too many young males for a show that turned out to be heavy on older males. Since we drafters were informed about the moderate female lean as opposed to balanced-out genders in the other drafts, I had to make some adjustments. First of all, an 8:4 gender ratio was planned (rather than 6:6 as was the case with the previous blind drafts) and in order to cover the wide range of possible male characters, I wanted to make sure that my male VA's can cover characters from all ages.
So with the gender imbalance, I went with two females first, and Luci Christian and Veronica Taylor were the most versatile VA's available with my first two picks, and with vocal profiles that are quite different from each other. Then to balance things out, I went with Yuri Lowenthal to cover the kid to young adult generation of males. I was anticipating using him as the one mandatory male character, and that's just what happened. Seeing how I was anticipating a femme fatale somewhere in the cast list that I needed a mature adult woman voice. So I went with Clarine Harp in round 4. Then I went male in round 5 seeing that lots of great male VA's have slipped due to the gender imbalance. I ended up with Jason Douglas because he can voice a wide range of characters from young adults to elder men, although after hearing John Swasey's lights out performance as Gozaburo Seto that I probably would have been better off with Swasey. Then round 6 was for someone who can do those young boys plus other female characters in Cathy Weseluck. Every year in the blind draft, I make it a priority to take either Philece Sampler, Barbara Goodson, or Weseluck since they are young boy specialists that can voice a wider range of female characters from young to the elderly. Since old women are rare in anime that I do not want to take an old woman specialist, so I rather get mine through one of these three.
In round 7, I wanted another hotheaded young voice so that I have more freedom to move Christian around, so I ended up with Melissa Fahn. Round 8, I went with Dave Wittenberg to cover the generation gap between Lowenthal and Douglas. Then I saw that I was lacking someone who specializes in quiet and emotionless girls, hence the pick of Anna Cummer in round 9. As for round 10, I had not decided who I wanted for my mandatory rookie that I need to include in every draft, so I opted to take Flynn for the fifth time, which is a record for male VA's. By the time my next pick arrived in round 11, I had finally decided that Kayzie Rogers would be my newcomer seeing how she has the most versatility among rookies that I had listed. My final pick was Hynden Walch since my cast list was unbalanced lacking in little girl voices. Walch does that while having a good stable for other types of females, but is a specialist for little girls.
Building the Cast List:
In my previous blind drafts, I had several characters locked into their roles from the start with 8 for the Utena draft (Foster, Ruff, Terrell, Auten, Patton, Blum, Regal, and Flynn), and 6 for the Tsukuyomi Moon Phase draft (Wahlgren, Martinez, Inoue-Harte, Weseluck, Shepard, and Douglas). But for this draft, only three such VA's were locked into their roles from the start: Lowenthal as Keiichi, Taylor as Belldandy, and Cummer as Lind. Several of my undecideds were either-or decisions. With the VA's I drafted, putting together this cast list was going to be a huge challenge considering the number of decisions involved.
Starting with the males, I could have used either Wittenberg or Flynn as Aoshima. I preferred Wittenberg, but I needed to think about where Flynn would go or else I would have to cast Flynn as Aoshima and Wittenberg as Senbei, who I preferred having Douglas cast as. How Douglas was used depended on who is cast as Aoshima. Then I remember listening to Flynn as Kon and then it hit me that he talks like Otaki, and thus the problem was solved. What made it more appealing was that I was not anticipating many other Otakis given who everybody else drafted (Chris Cason would have made the best Otaki of those drafted, was not cast as him) and that he is an important character.
Now for the females, it was trickier to figure out what to do. There was that rule that I needed to follow and not cast for many one-shot characters. Basically, most of my casting decisions hinged on how I wanted to use Luci Christian as the possibilities were infinite. For Skuld, it was between her and Melissa Fahn, but the problem was that I had a hard time trying to find another place for Fahn without having to resort to using her for a one-shot character since as things stood, I probably already have one too many of those. I could use her as Urd, but I like Harp better for the role. I didn't think she would work out well as Hild, so I stuck with Harp as Urd. She could be Marller, Sayoko, Megumi, or Sora. I would hold that thought while trying to figure out the rest of my cast list.
In the meantime, I was trying to figure out how to use Kayzie Rogers as she is known for doing little boys and there were two such characters. But since both were minor characters and my first option was to go with Weseluck that I was in a bind. But then the picture cleared up considerably after I read her Wiki profile and it then became clear that she has to be Marller. Kayzie is all about being wacky and that is what Marller is all about. With Kayzie out of the picture for the little boy, that opened up the opportunity to use Weseluck for Sentaro.
Next, I needed to make sure at least one of the humans between Sayoko, Megumi, and Sora was cast, and I had Christian, Walch, and Fahn left to cast with Skuld either being Chrsitian or Fahn. I didn't see Fahn or Walch working for either of them at the time I was casting, so I put Fahn as Skuld, while casting Walch as Satoko seeing how having her paired up with Otaki would be nice. With that, Christian was cast as Megumi seeing how much she reminded me of Yukari-sensei, which is one of her greatest performances. And so with that, the cast list was finally ready.
How it Fared:
In the opening round, I was placed in a division where there were no weak cast lists and each had a legitimate argument for advancing. While there were no super cast lists (like TAA and SOTS), at the same time I felt that none were miles ahead of the rest. I moved on as the runner-up to Ancar. In the semis I was in the same division as the eventual champion The Alaskan Assassin, and there was no way I was going to beat him seeing how I knew from the start that this draft was his to win.
How I Could Have Done Better:
Two things really hurt this cast list. First is the large amount of safe casting, most notably casting Christian as Megumi rather than as Skuld or Urd. Mostly due to the fact that I was quite busy during the week we were casting and that I had trouble finding a place for Fahn (there were some restrictions that I can't discuss) that I went with that decision. If I was thinking more clearly then, I would have Christian as Skuld, then cast Fahn as Sayoko (I didn't think about her role as Vessa until after the draft), Weseluck as Megumi, and Walch as Sora. This leads to the second point of emphasis and that is the fact that I did not cast for Sora and Sayoko was the other big thing that hurt my chances as they were too important to be left off. It was then I realize that they may be optional characters, but not all optional characters are created equal. Also, I should have explored the possibility of casting Douglas as Tamiya as the only Tamiya-Otaki pairing would have looked very good in the eyes of voters even if it did not utilize the voice we are used to hearing from Douglas. It didn't occur to me to do this until after the draft. Then after watching My Bride is a Mermaid, it then hit me that Swasey would have made an excellent Tamiya and taking him instead of Douglas in round 5 and casting him as Tamiya would have been a huge opportunity.