Blurb:

Stephanie Sheh has established her self as one of the premiere voice actresses in the anime industry. She has worked on a slew of titles throughout her career including Eureka 7, GunXSword, Bleach and Koikaze. For her work on Paradise Kiss, Stephanie left the comforts of the recording booth and stepped into the role of ADR director for the first time. She was kind enough to take sometime out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her work on the show.


Interview:

FFOmake: I have always thought that voice talent in the anime industry doesnít get enough credit and praise for their performances. So that would lead me to assume that ADR directors get even less shine. Although I think that dubs have come a long way and are finally getting the dues they have always deserved. Paradise Kiss was the first anime you worked on as an ADR director. Can you please explain to us the responsibilities of an ADR director?

Stephanie Sheh:
The ADR Director's duties can vary from studio to studio, but basically they are responsible for the way the English Language performances turn out. For Paradise Kiss, I sat in on a casting meeting, but I did not really cast the show. I was asked my opinion about certain people, but the studio and producers really had more say in who ended up getting the parts.

In terms of Paradise Kiss, I wrote the ADR scripts so that helped familarize me with the show even more. Then of course there is the part where you guide the actors' performances. After all that is done, I sometimes sat in on the mix sessions and made changes that I wanted. I didn't attend a mix review for every episode though. I wasn't always available.

FFOmake: I have watched countless anime dubs over the last four or five years. Some of the most memorable dubs that I have ever watched include Cowboy Bebop and Gunslinger Girl. Although after hearing the dub for Paradise Kiss I have to say that not only is it one of the best that I have heard in recent memory, it is one of the strongest overall dubs I have ever heard. I found that every character in Paradise Kiss was cast so well and the performances were so genuine and realistic, I was truly impressed! Can you please share with us some of your thoughts about working on the dub for Paradise Kiss? Did you think the dub would turn out as well as it did?

Stephanie Sheh:
I, of course, wanted it to turn out well. Plus, it was a highly anticipated title. I also, of course, was worried how it would actually turn out. But as for my 1st time out as an anime director I wasn't too too worried. Everyone was coming up to me making a big deal about me being a 1st time director, but that was the least of my concerns. I wanted to focus all my energy on the show and less on me.

In terms of Paradise Kiss, I basically had a few goals. I wanted the performances to be more naturalistic than most dubs. The show does have its cartoony moments, but in general it's more real to life than most stories. Also I needed it to be clear to the audience that 1)the Yukari/George relationship was not a good match and 2)these are two people who truly love each other a lot. I also needed the audience to love George and also realize that he's an asshole.

FFOmake: Paradise Kiss is at its core, the story of Yukari trying to find her place and identity in the world, while dealing with her muddled adolescent existence. I thought that the human drama in Paradise Kiss was portrayed so poignantly that I found myself forgetting that I was watching a cartoon. The show felt so real, so human so to speak, as a viewer it was easy to relate to a lot of the issues and problems that the characters in the show encountered. Considering the content of the show, as the ADR director, what kind of advice and direction did you give the vocal cast throughout the dubbing process? Like for example, did you tell the voice actors and actresses to just act naturally?

Stephanie Sheh:
Voiceover for animation is usually more heightened because the characters are doing wacky/dramatic things. So I had to really pay attention to the actors when they were speaking to make sure they didn't sound like they were acting. I would ask myself that if I were to say that to someone, would it really sound like that? Would I really put that much emphasis on those words. I would flatten a lot of the lines out.

Also I discovered that sometimes when the dialogue was extremely harsh, the acting did not need to be. If someone you care about is saying something mean to you, it's far more hurtful if they say it like matter of fact, because then it sounds like it is the truth, it is what they actually think of you. If they say it like they are being mean, then it sounds like they are just being immature so the actual words don't sting as much. In real life, we don't always sound the way we feel. Sometimes we feel one way and "act" another way because of our insecurities or how we want others to perceive us. For each line, I spent a lot of time asking myself in this moment, why is the character really saying this, what are they feeling, and what is their agenda in terms of what do they want from the person they're speaking to, and are they successful in getting it.

FFOmake: The cast of characters in Paradise Kiss is a colorful bunch indeed. I found them all so unique and appealing. Miwako in particular stood out as one of my personal favorites. Her super cute appearance and personality lead to me to believe that she was the most pure and innocent character. But as the show progresses you find out that Miwako is probably the most sexually liberal of the entire cast. Can you please talk about some of the characters from Paradise Kiss that you found the most appealing?

Stephanie Sheh:
I found every character appealing, but since you bring up Miwako I'll talk a bit about her.

She is a very interesting character with a lot of backstory that you don't really get. In a way she was one of the most difficult to direct. She was the only character who I cut some slack on, in terms of the cartoony-ness. It was a fine balance because she needed to sound cute, but I still wanted her to be realistic and come across genuine and pure and not hammy.

I also wanted her to be someone who tries so hard to embrace all the good in life, because what she is really trying to do is recapture innocence lost. I didn't want her voice to be too pure/cutesy because she's actually darker than that. The fight between Tokumori and Arashi happened when she was still quite young. Ask yourself why she seems to be stuck in a childlike state when she is clearly much older? There was an end of an innocence when she had to choose between her two best friends. A part of her was never able to develop as an adult beyond that age.

Also, when Arashi and Miwako first got together, he might have forced himself on her, because he was too eager. It is alluded to in the anime, but not really developed. So when Arashi finally confronts her about Tokumori and brings that up and she lets out this cry. She starts wailing like a baby, because it takes her back to this stage in her life that she wasn't every really able to develop beyond.

FFOmake: Fashion is an integral part of the Paradise Kiss universe. The animation staff even when as far as getting fashion designers to create original clothing designs for the characters; now thatís what I call commitment. Did the elements of fashion prevalent throughout the show influence the way you approached directing the English dub?

Stephanie Sheh:
Well, to be honest, the fashion didn't really effect the way I directed the dub. I might have made a conscious effort to dress better when I was doing it though.

FFOmake: How was your first experience as an ADR director? And is it something that you would like to do more of in the future?

Stephanie Sheh:
It was challenging and rewarding. I learned a lot as a director, actor, and human being. My first love will always be performing though. I feel that I have so much more to learn as an actor before I can start telling other actors what to do as a director on a more full-time basis. But basically directing cuts into acting time A LOT. And I loooovvve acting soooo much that I don't plan on doing a whole lot more directing in the future. But if the right show comes along...you never know. When BangZoom first asked me to direct for them I said "Sorry, I don't have the time." But then they said, "It's Paradise Kiss." And I changed my mind.


Parting Words:

If you are a fan of English dubs picking up Paradise Kiss from Geneon Entertainment is a no brainer. Stephanie Sheh put an insane amount of work into making sure the show got a proper English language treatment. All three volumes of Paradise Kiss are now available on DVD. Stephanie is currently working on the dub for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, in which she plays Mikuru Asahina. For more information on Stephanie Sheh please visit some of the links I have provided.


Official Website: Stephanie Sheh
Crystal Acids: Database of her work
Geneon Entertainment: Paradise Kiss

Interview conducted by: A-run Chey


Paradise Kiss DVD available at:



- May 23, 2007





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