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Being a Brief Discussion of Anime Dubs: Colleen Clinkenbeard Special Edition

By Way Jeng     June 23, 2004

Interviewer: Way Jeng



This column is in the process of being a brief discussion, and one of the greatest treats is being able to discuss anime and dubs with the people who make it happen. Today we've got an interview with the talented Colleen Clinkenbeard, who provides the voice of Eclair in the FUNimation release of "Kiddy Grade." I'd like to thank Ms. Clinkenbeard for appearing in the column and FUNimation for making the interview possible. It's a pleasure to hear her insights into anime and the dubs we enjoy.



First, we'll start with a few simple questions. Everybody wants to know a little more about the people who bring anime to life for us, so let's get that out of the way right up front.



Interviewer (I): So what have you been doing lately? How's that working out for you?



Colleen Clinkenbeard (CC): Lately I've been concentrating my mental and emotional powers, such as they are, on my work at Funimation. I recently closed a play called Naked By the River in Fort Worth which fulfilled my need to perform in a modern romantic comedy quite nicely. Since then I have had nothing to repeatedly impale my creative self on other than Kiddy Grade and Case Closed. My roommate, Laura Bailey, selfishly gobbles up most of my free (and not so free) time by requiring me to perform endless feats of shopping, eating and video game-playing.



I: Any plans for the future?



CC: Several. I fully intend to continue breathing as it has stood me in good stead thus far. I have every intention of eating an average of two meals a day (breakfast being a myth conceived in a time of foodless desperation) and, more to the point, continuing my work as an actress. I have one project in the offing which I cannot reveal but am thrilled to pieces about. How's that for a non-answer? Aren't you glad you stopped to read this interview?



I: So what is it that makes you so cool?



CC: That you feel it necessary to ask saddens me.



I: Currently you're voicing Eclair in "Kiddy Grade," being released by FUNimation. What has been your single most difficult experience with recording this character, and how did you overcome that challenge?



CC: Because this was my first major role, and certainly my first fighting role, the beginning was the toughest. I was desperately certain during my first two sessions that Justin regretted casting this hopeless newbie. I was absolutely wretched at all the foley/fighting work. Poor Justin just kept saying "it starts in the gut." "Feel it in your gut first." "It has to come from somewhere." Until I finally got it somewhere in the second session. I can still hear the difference between the first and second episode and I cringe every time. If it hadn't been for Justin's amazingly intuitive direction I don't think I would have grown past that awkward stage.



I: What was your first reaction to Eclair? What did you think when you read her dialog, saw the first drawing, or saw a bio?



CC: I'm sorry to say that I first thought of Kiddy Grade as a panty-shot fest. It wasn't until later that I learned the word "fanservice," but that about describes my reaction to all of the boob jiggling and jumping around in short skirts. When Justin started talking about the eventual plot line I thought he was just trying to trick himself into believing that he was working on something important. It's incredible to think of what a 180 I've done on that subject. Now Eclair is my baby and Kiddy Grade is the lover I spawned her with. I'll climb through cyberspace and kick the ass of anyone who denigrates my love-child!



I: To what extent do you or do you not worry about the fans' reactions? Do you think about how fans will react while recording?



CC: While recording you don't have much time to think of anything beyond the character in front of you. If you've done your research and paid attention to the growth of the character from episode to episode then you know enough to imbue him/her with the intended personality. Stressing out about whether or not fans will approve of your choices is tantamount to second guessing your instincts, which is never good in the world of acting. I can only hope that my feel for the character is in line with the original intent and that the audience will agree with my assessment.



I: Tell us one thing you don't think anybody would believe about the voice acting process.



CC: SOME OF US REALLY DO CARE ABOUT THE INTEGRITY OF THE ANIME!...No, really! We hear the original voices. We can check on the original script at any given time. We give thought to any changes we make to the product. Only when we know that the feel of a line or character will not be brought across unless we change it to something societally comparable do we make the choice to alter the original.



I: People like to ask about how much of an actor or actress goes into a character. Let's look at the other side of the coin. How much of a character do you think goes into you? Do you ever walk away from a recording session thinking that you've learned something, or grown in some way?



CC: It is difficult to remain unchanged by a character when you spend so much time voicing her ideals. I won't pretend that I walk away from every session a better person; because, due to the fact that we generally voice people with superhuman strength of character, the incremental changes in my personal morality would, by my calculations, eventually make me god. Let's just say they make you think. You can't ask for more than that from anyone.



I: What is the greatest number of meats you have ever eaten in a single sandwich? The sandwich need not have been made by you, but you must have eaten a significant portion of it. For the purposes of this question cheese is not a meat.



CC: Who told you sandwiches were my favorite food??? Let's see... ham, turkey, roast beef and bacon... does Caesar dressing count as meat? It has anchovies in it. Wow. I feel like such a sandwich-ophile failure. *heads for the kitchen to improve herself*



I: Do you ever think about a performance later on and think that if you had to do it all over again you would have done something differently?



CC: All the time. Justin just rolls his eyes at me now when I ask to do something again because I don't like the way it sounds. I'll be recording in one booth and hear my voice from another booth on an episode thats been recorded and mixed already and STILL ask to redo something. He's really great about letting us do something over again if we're not completely happy with it.



I: Is there a such thing as an objective reality?



CC: You mean like does blue look one way to me, but look to you like my color green? Or is there a god? Or does 2+2 =4? I don't think we'll ever know the answer to that question, but it's fun to debate isn't it? If anything, maybe our purpose in life is to perpetuate thought, which means that questions like that are the sole reason we're here. I'd really like to ask Orson Scott Card that question, though. Bet it'd be a doozy.



Okay, that should do it for the bio, trivia, and metaphysics portion of our interview. Let's move on to a little game I like to call "Highs and lows."



I: What is the one thing you like most about voice acting? The least?



CC: Most: I get to play characters I never would in live action shows. Least: Feeling crippled by my inability to play certain parts. I want to have the range of Chris Sabat.



I: What is it about anime that is the most socially valuable? The least?



CC: I think it is amazing how culturally encompassing anime is. It's far under appreciated by the general public. Very few bridges are made between western and eastern cultures, but art is the most traversable, in my opinion. Anime has the added benefit of including the very young, the very hip, and the very philosophical in an art-form that doesn't flatten the eastern influence. Modern ideas about Asian inclusion are Chinese symbol tattoos, a newfound lust for sushi, and Oriental rugs or decorative screens. While all of these can be beautiful in their own right, when taken as a pop-culture additive the meaning is lost. Anime bridges the gap without losing the intention behind the art-form because the story transfers along with the images.



I: What has been your absolute most favorite line to say in anime so far? The line you hope you never have to wrestle with again?



CC: When Eclair dresses up in her pizza delivery outfit and the papers get blasted out of her hand she says, "Orrrrr not." At the time that was soooo much fun. Couldn't tell you why now. But, honestly, the line "Tenchi Muyo GXP. You know you want it" which appears at the end of the Tenchi trailers was the most fun. It was a late night impulse of Chris Sabat's. I was there for another reason and he yanked me into the booth and said, "here.. say this really sexy." We giggled through six or seven takes of me pretending to be a sex kitten. As far as difficult lines go, there's a scene that hasn't been released yet where Eclair questions the purpose behind the GOTT. Very emotional and difficult timing. Thankfully I'm happy with how it turned out because I'd hate to have to do it again.



I: What character have you performed that you found most like you? The least? You need not answer with anime characters.



CC: The character I felt most in tune with was Peggy Ryerson in Naked By the River (a play). She's the first modern woman I've played who was close to my age. Her dialogue suited my sense of humor and her insecurities played right into my personal experience. I love insulting banter, but tend to use it to cover my discomfort with myself. Elma in Bus Stop was least like me. Her naivety made me physically ill when I first read the script.





And now it's time for the Lightning Round! You're going to be asked six questions. Find a timer or a stopwatch, preferably one accurate to the second. Begin timing as soon as you are ready to read the first question, and stop timing when you answer the final question. The speed at which you type is a factor, but you may find somebody else to type for you if you like. Alternately, you may write the answers longhand and transcribe them later (count only the time to write longhand in this case). You may not simply read the answers aloud and time the audio. You may not have somebody read you the questions; you must read them yourself.



Answers and the time to complete the round will be posted, and our audience will judge the answers on a combined basis of speed and content. Remember, don't just speed through and say whatever is fastest. Nor should you take your time to think of a perfect answer. Content and speed are each judged for fifty percent of the score.



Ready to begin? Questions start after this. Good luck!



1) Name one object you can reach with your arm from where you are at this exact moment that you're pretty sure you can live without if you had to, but you're glad you don't have to try. The following answers are prohibited: Computer, pen, pencil.



CC: OK. The time is 1:37am. I have a diet coke in grabbing distance, which is good, because I'd hate to have to wake Laura up with my bloodcurdling screams of terror when my body doesn't get its fix in the next two minutes. I guess since this is the lightning round I shouldn't waste time wondering when Coca-cola will finally start listing crack-cocaine among the ingredients of their products.



2) Alice brings muffins to class with her. She brings twenty (20) muffins, but the class has only fifteen (15) students. What is the most fair way for Alice to distribute the muffins?



CC: Smash all the muffins into goo and smear the bodies of all fifteen students with the residue. They can lick their fill of the treat from their neighbors and get to know each other better in the process. I think this would be an excellent tactic for furthering friendships between classmates.



3) In ten words or less, tell us why somebody with no prior interest in "Kiddy Grade" should watch the show.



CC: Ta-daaa!



4) Eclair has been magically transformed into a woodchuck. How much wood would she chuck if she could chuck wood? Assume Eclair is well rested, and has fifteen minutes.



CC: The real question here is how cool would it be to see a woodchuck with big boobs wearing lipstick? Huh? Huh?



5) Are there things that don't exist?



CC: I haven't seen any.



6) How long did it take you to finish the Lightning Round?



CC: It is now 1:45. By my calculations that's negative 2 minutes. But then, I was never that good at math.



Okay, that's all the time we have. Ms. Clinkenbeard, let me say that your work on "Kiddy Grade" has been a lot of fun to listen to. It's an excellent performance, and one I've enjoyed immensely. I'm looking forward to any future roles you may have. So far I've been the one asking all the questions, but is there anything you'd like to say? Anything you'd like to ask the fans?



CC: I would just like to add here that I love this site and all of its inhabitants. Laura and I go online every now and again and look for other informative anime sites, but none that we've found are as respectful to our business as this one. We appreciate the care you take with your posts and the thought you put into your responses. I hope to meet ALL of you someday at a convention... or at Bingo night. That'd be cool.



Thanks for being here in the column today. It's been a lot of fun. I'm sure all of your fans appreciate it, and I hope you'll come back and let us interview you again sometime.







Are you part of the anime dubbing industry, and do you think you have what it takes to take on the Lightning Round? If you'd like to be interviewed, e-mail me at BitRMann@aol.com



You can also e-mail Colleen Clinkenbeard at colleenclinkenbeard@yahoo.com with any feedback, good or bad.





Copyright 2004 Way Jeng



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