Otakon 2015 – Romi Paku Panel

The panel opened with the interpreter announcing some of her highlighted characters with Romi-san giving a line from each starting with Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist,) Nana (Nana,) Temari (Naruto,) Teresa (Claymore,)Loran (Turn A Gundam,) Hanji (Shingeki no Titan,) and Finn from Adventure Time.) “I love Adventure Time.”

The floor opened for questions immediately.

    Q: Growing up in Japan as a Korean National, were there any challenges breaking into the voice acting industry?
    A: *immediately in English* No. *switching to Japanese* I am a Korean raised in Japan so as one raised in Japan, I’m faced with the normal challenges of being a voice actor and not because of my heritage. Heritage itself has some points to note because of culture. During the week, I go to Japanese school and during the weekend, I go to Korean classes. It’s a cultural mixture so I had a identity crisis during my teenage years. But when I learned how to express my creative freedom, that’s when everything became calm and it became the profession I wanted to pursue. Especially in animation, there are no boundaries. Everyone around the world watches anime. Right now, despite the race or ethnicity, we’re gathered together here.

    Q: One of my favorite roles is Uesugi Kenshin from Sengoku Basara. Are there any interesting stories you can share about the series?
    A: I don’t know…but *in Kenshin’s voice* do you want to die a beautiful death?

    Q: What is your interpretation of Ed in 2003 and in Brotherhood. Fans have found his relationship with Alphonse to be more co-dependent then the previous. What is your interpretation of their relationship in comparison?
    A: I didn’t try to act different to the different series of Fullmetal Alchemist. When I first started acting in the first Fullmetal Alchemist, the other seiyuus were all veterans and I was still young at the time so everyone led me and Kugimiya Rie who was the seyiuu for Alphonse. It was really easy for us since there were veterans helping us. But in the second season, the cast changed except for us. It was more difficult since the seiyuu were younger and we had to lead them. Up until the second cour of Brotherhood, it was more difficult. Up until Miyano Mamoru who also does the voice of the Emperor of Xin… *pause to fangirling responses* Really? I’ve seen him cry! Sorry. Up until more veterans joined in, that was how we were able to take the series until the full end.

    Q: Concerning, Ichijouji Ken in Digimon Adventure 02, in Otakon 2008, Derek Stephan Prince, the American voice actor of Ken talked about voicing Wormmon’s death scene in episode 21, he said that he will never forget voicing it since after that scene, there was not a dry eye in the studio. It moved everybody so much. Did you have a similar experience with that scene? Were there other moments when you saw your work touched others?
    A: It was such a long time ago, when I started out as a voice actor. That scene to me was a big change for me. The line was ‘Thank you for being born.’ and even now, I’m about to cry but I think that part really changed the course of the story at that point, changed the feel of the series.

    Q: For the role of Ragyo there are lots of moaning, were there different instructions from the staff in terms of the recording process?
    A: I was making Satsuki moan. *audience laughs* I was not the one moaning.

    Q: For your role as Loran for Turn A Gundam, was there any pressure in being in that role? Since it was such a big Gundam brand as opposed to your role in 00.
    A: I don’t know. To be honest, before I started the voice of Loran, I didn’t feel any pressure at all. It’s because I worked with Brain Powered before and I still did a female role. In Turn A, it was actually my first male role I ever done for anime. For the audition of Turn A Gundam, I actually went for a female role and they told me I should try out for a boy. I didn’t know how but I tried it out. So it turned out I was going to voice a boy and I was very excited. But for the very first recording, they asked me, ‘It must be a big pressure for you to do a boy, and it’s the first time a female voices a main character in Gundam.’ That’s when I realized that, ‘Oh, I should be feeling pressure.’ *audience laughs*

    Q: You have done alot of male voice roles and nailed down alot of personalities. Were you inspired by anyone in your past or currently, who you reflect off of?
    A: *in English* Exactly! I’m a woman! why? *in Japanese* When I was first asked to do a role in Turn A Gundam, there was so much confusion since I’m a woman acting a boy. One of my friends asked me to watch Evangelion as a reference because Shinji is voiced by Ogata Megumi. I listened to it, ‘Really, a woman is acting this?’ I came to the conclusion that you shouldn’t use someone else a reference. The director of the animation, Yoshiyuki Tomino said to me that ‘Male or female is not the problem here. The words that come out of you is Loran’s voice.’ I thought that’s so true. When I did Digimon, I thought of why he picked on Wormmon and it’s because he is a lonely boy who can’t express his feelings which is why he does that. In Fullmetal Alchemist, it’s how he is straight forward. It’s about the pulling out of the sound that exists.

    Q: My favorite character from you is Hyuuga Natsume from Gakuen Alice. Since we’ll never get a second season, what would Natsume say to Mikan?
    A: *in Natsume’s voice* Let’s return home together. *blushes* So embarassing!

    Q: Director Tomino whom you worked with in Brain Powered and Turn A has a reputation of being an eccentric creator. Do you have any interesting stories while interacting with him while working on those shows?
    A: Eccentric…yes. Interesting stories….. I was doing his famous line of ‘Everyone, come back to Earth’ and Tomino-san bangs open the door *in a deep voice* ‘No, like this! Like this!’ *audience laughs* Right before the last episode in Gundam, there is this scene where I shoot someone, ‘I’m not going to shoot’ and I actually shoots. Tomino-san was not there for the recording and everyone thought the line was suppose to be ‘I’m going to shoot.’ So I was recording the line as ‘I’m going to shoot.” and he bangs open the door again and said *in a loud voice* ‘Who the hell made that cheap line?’ *audience laughs* Plenty more, it’s not going to end.

    Q: What happens if you woke up one morning and was dropped into an anime universe? What kind of character would you be and what would you do?
    A: Ah…. *thinks* *makes faces* *audience laughs and applause* Something like that. *audience laughs*

    Q: *in Japanese* You acted two different roles in Jojo Bizarre Adventures, in one of the arcs, you were Hirose Koichi and in another you were Giorno Giovana. Since you were from a sub character to a main character, do you feel that you were mistreated?
    A: Actors can’t decide their own roles since someone else decides for them. If you get attached to one particular role, it will affect your acting as well. Of course, saying that, when I’m acting that character, I’m doing my best to act that character out. I did my best in both Koichi and Giorno and Koichi was very difficult one to act.

The fan asked Romi-san to say Giorno’s famous line and attack, but she can’t remember the enter line. Romi-san did the part she remembered. *audience applauds*

    Q: *in Japanese* Each character has a different personality, how do you differentiate that?
    A: I don’t know…. *audience laughs* I never really thought it through.
    Fan: Have you gone to voice acting school?
    A: I never have. I am actually not part of a voice acting agency but part of a stage play agency. I’m sorry.
    Fan: That’s okay. You’re so cute!
    Romi: *in English* I know!

    Q: You mentioned that you traveled between Korea and Japan when you were younger. Was there anything that irritated you besides the traveling time and going back and forth of time? Was there anything that bothered you like the food or traveling?
    A: Culturally, there were alot of things that bothered me, but not the travel. Most of the Japanese bento boxes were simple with rice, grilled salmon, steamed egg, carrots and other things. But coming from a Korean culture, my bento box was bulgogi (Korean bbq) rice and scrambled eggs. All my classmates were like ‘Bulgogi! It’s so delicious looking!’ and they would just take it and I would end up with a bento just like a Japanese bento. *audience awws and laugh* But it was iteresting. I got to eat alot of things.
    Fan: I love bulgogi too.
    Romi: Let’s eat it together!

    Q: How well do you identify with the character, Shirogane Naoto because of her difficulty?
    A: How do you mean? I’m just a woman. *audience laughs* I do have some imagination that if I was born a boy and I had 20 girlfriends at once…. *audience laughs* I have great confidence that I would have been a great boy. When I’m acting Naoto, I think that helps alot.

    Q: In addition to your anime work, you also dub Hollywood action movies. Is there a different approach then with animation?
    A: I’m actually trying to sync my breath with the actors.

    Q: Aside from Adventure Time, are there any other American series that you like whether it is live action or animated?
    A: I can’t remember the title that I voiced that I can’t remember.

    Q: Ken reveals that he likes Wormmon at the end. Do you like Wormmon?
    A: *laughs* I love Wormmon
    Fan: Which digimon is your favorite?
    A: *in Ken’s voice* Wormmon.

    Q: If you’ve seen Reconguista in G, some fans have said that Bellri is alot like Loran. What do you think? If you haven’t seen the series, do you have any more Tomino stories that are less screaming?
    A: I have not seen the series. A Tomino-san story? I have so many! There is this scene in Turn A Gundum where Loran jumps onto a train and hits his crotch very hard. I acted it one way, but all the male actors were saying ‘No, that’s not the way. You don’t understand our pain.’. *audience laughs* Tomino-san comes in again and *demonstrates*. ‘That’s how the pain is.’ I acted it out and he saids, ‘Okay!’ What do you mean okay?!? It’s like the 15th year anniversary for Turn A Gundam so if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it.

    Q: For many voice actors, you may have failed to get a part and feel very bad. How did you feel and how did you get over it? If there was a part you didn’t get and there was a remake which you can voice, which part would that be?
    A: I just say it can’t be helped. There are tons of auditions I didn’t get and I just go karaoke afterwards. *audience laughs* If I see a part that I lost an audition to, it doesn’t really hurt me. Sometimes I click my tongue. When I watch tv and sometimes see a show I didn’t get on, I wonder who it is. But then I go, ‘This guy?’ *audience laughs*

    Q: Across both series of Fullmetal Alchemist, what was the most difficult sequence of scenes to act in. Which as the most enjoyable?
    A: There was the scene of Nina being transmuted into a chimera but how we prepare for the voice acting is that they give us the script beforehand. I was watching the video and the script before the recording and I was sobbing and tears were just falling. I’m not going to be able to act like this! I go to the recording studio and Koorgi Satomi who does Nina’s voice was there. Of course you hear Satomi’s voice postprocessed as a chimera but I hear it at the recording, her voice raw. ‘Onnichan’-
    Romi: *interrupts* *to the interpreter* More cuter.
    Interpreter: ‘Onnichan.’ *audience laughs and applauds*
    A: Between her voice, I was covered in tears again. I’m not going to act like this! I’m a tough character *drops to a deep loud voice* but the character and my voice is not fitting. I just stop thinking and release everything that built up. And that was the point when my character and the acting fit. That was the moment when I thought it was the best acting I ever done in my career. I cannot beat this. The recording director is a harsh person. He said, ‘Let’s take it again.’ Huuuuuuh? I can’t! It’s impossible. He is really strict and even for a simple ‘huh?’ he can ask for 30 retakes. For the first take, it’s usually a run through but I was hoping he’ll say, ‘that was fine.’ I couldn’t accept that and asked the recording director about it. His comeback was that there was an audience listening to the voice. He said it was probably the best acting you ever done, but it’s too emotional, too raw. The scene was already a touching scene and if you add more to it, it would have been too much so I accepted it.

    Q: *in Japanese* For the new Digimon Adventures Tri, the entire cast was replaced. There have been new characters and so far, Ken has not been shown to be in the show yet. Would you want to voice Ken?
    A: I don’t know.
    Fan: If it’s not you, who would you want to voice him?
    Romi: Huuuuuuuh?!? Me! *audience applauds*

At Romi-san’s request, an Edward Elric cosplayer got to ask the last question. His was request to for one of Ed’s ‘I’m not small’ lines to which Romi-san happily obliged.

    Romi: It’s my last event. I’m sorry, it’s the last one. At Otakon, I feel that anime as a whole filled the entire earth. Seeing everyone here at Otakon, is an experience that I will remember. Through the mic, on the otherside of the mic, I will try to relay that animation is something that really touches inside your heart. It feels you and moves you and does many things inside your heart. So through the mic, I’m going to relay that message and get it through to you. Ja ne!