The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles shows the main characters Ryunosuke Naruhodo and Susato Mikotoba disembarking at a train station in London. Rina Takasaki, the voice behind Susato in the game’s English language track, says she can relate her character’s journey through this moment. “I was also a teenager when I first landed in the UK, full of ambition, determination and admiration for the foreign culture,” she recalls via email.
Takasaki still vividly remembers the moment she arrived in the UK, although for her it happened through Heathrow Airport rather than Victorian-era King’s Cross Station. After getting ecstatically into her shiny black cab, she saw the vast capital as it was being driven through town, much like Susato in the game drove a horse-drawn cart to the Whitehall Supreme Court.
“I immediately loved the music and images that have the feel of the 19th century and represent a beautiful collaboration between the Japanese and Western worlds of that era,” says Takasaki of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. She was excited when she was offered the role; she says she could almost smell the fumes from the steamboat, the leathery smell of old furniture, and the burning candles.
Image: Capcom over polygon
Mark Takeshi Ota, Ryunosuke’s English voice actor, refers to his character by being a foreigner. Ota is Japanese-German and has lived in Great Britain for nine years. In an email he said to me, “Before I came to the UK, I lived in the US for a year, six years in the Netherlands and one year in Japan.” Similar to Ryunosuke’s character, Ota thinks there is a lot of excitement to discover new things and meet different people. He remembers that this was how he felt every time he moved to a new place.
“Every little thing is exciting because it’s so different from what you’re used to,” he says. “It has a certain innocence that will probably leave you after a while, but I think I had the chance to rediscover it a bit through Ryunosuke.”
Both voice actors were new to the Ace Attorney series. Ota played a few games in the series to get an idea of what kind of game it was. He also watched the Japanese cutscenes of The Great Ace Attorney before recording so he could listen to his Japanese counterpart, Hiro Shimono. Since the two games in Chronicles have been available for Nintendo 3DS in Japan for several years, he was able to research Ryunosuke’s character to help him portray it.
“He’s a little younger than me, a little more insecure at first,” says Ota. “He’s making a little trip during the game to get more confident in what he’s doing, especially because he’s just moved to a new country.” Ota has lived in five different countries and through his experiences, he has easily connected with Ryunosuke.
Image: Capcom over polygon
Takasaki, on the other hand, never played any of the series’ games but knew about the franchise and how popular it was. After booking her role as Susato, she looked up the Japanese version of the game. She tried not to look up too much information about Susato; She wanted to go into the recording with a fresh mind to receive directions and bring in a little of her own personality.
Both actors shared similarities with their characters. In addition to living in England, they both share the Japanese heritage and language, which they, publisher Capcom and audio services company SIDE UK thought were important to convey the English voices of the game’s main characters.
Martin Vaughan, SIDE UK Casting Director Photo: Capcom
“I think it was a conscious decision to cast and record the game in London, given the setting,” SIDE UK casting director Martin Vaughan explained via email. He believes Capcom wanted the London of the game to feel as authentic as possible, so it made sense to record the English voice-over in London as well.
Takasaki had already worked with SIDE on several other productions. She was recording something else for the company when she received a call from her agent on The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. “When I was working with my assistant Jessica to work out options for the presentation at Capcom, I knew Rina should be there,” says Vaughan. He previously cast Takasaki as the character named Noda in the first-person shooter game Warface. When he saw the description for Susato, he immediately thought of Takasaki.
“To be able to understand [Susato’s] In my personality and thought process, it is very helpful that I fully understand the Japanese language and culture, ”says Takasaki. She was born and raised in Japan, so she not only understands the language, but also knows a lot about Japanese culture, mannerisms and ways of speaking that allow her to give nuances to her role.
Image: Capcom over polygon
In the game, Susato is an extremely polite, humble and well-educated Japanese woman. She has a strong demeanor and takes care to show respect to others by adding certain words, such as the suffix “-sama” which is the Japanese equivalent for “sir” or “madame”.
Additionally, in the game, Susato wears traditional Japanese clothes, which Takasaki says she loves for work and for real occasions. She feels that when she does this, she represents the culture, and the same is true when the character portraying Takasaki is wearing traditional clothing.
“I actually like all the traditional outfits in the world. I find them all beautiful in a special way. It corrects my posture when I put on traditional Japanese clothing, ”she says.
During last year’s lockdown, Ota hosted a Zoom meeting where he answered questions about getting started with motion capture work. This brought him into contact with Chris Hopkins, a producer at SIDE UK. A few months later, Hopkins asked him to submit a voice sample for a job that at the time had only a code name.
The job was specifically looking for voice actors of Japanese origin. Vaughan explains: “Although we are not with [Ota] before that his voice sounded so natural that it matched Ryunosuke that it was clear once again that he would be a great option for Capcom. “
Watching the Japanese versions of the scenes from The Great Ace Attorney was helpful in giving Ota an idea of the mood of the game and the nature of Ryunosuke. Ota says there is a lot that can be learned by just listening to another voice actor’s voice, even if you don’t speak the same language. In his case, it certainly didn’t hurt that he spoke Japanese, which meant he was confident to speak to Localization Director Janet Hsu and Language Director Matthew Delemere about how to pronounce Japanese names.
“When I speak English, I automatically change my Japanese first and last name,” explains Ota. He and Hsu agreed that the same approach of Anglicizing characters’ names would be appropriate for the game. Instead of pronouncing “Ryunosuke Naruhodo” or other names with a Japanese accent, he pronounced them as a primarily English-speaking person would.
Ota adds, “I was also very keen not to have a heavy Japanese accent for [Ryunosuke]and I was really glad that wasn’t expected of me. ”He says that people whose second language is English are often expected to speak with a heavy accent. Sometimes that’s true and sometimes not. Neither is right nor wrong; it’s just that people are different.
“I was very keen not to have a heavy Japanese accent for [Ryunosuke]”
“[Ryunosuke] came to London and wanted to be able to speak “real” English and speak it very well in order to be considered an equal. At least that’s how I approached it, ”says Ota. When he thinks about it, he loves that his natural accent reflects all the places he’s been, with a bit of German here, an Americanism there and a touch of Dutch along with a touch of Japanese. Now there is also a bit of British because he is currently alive.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is one of the notable projects that both Ota and Takasaki have been involved in. “It was an honor to play the role of Susato. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to play tough female characters, which I especially enjoy, ”says Takasaki. While Susato may not seem harsh given her cute and feminine looks, she is an incredibly independent, determined woman. Susato is definitely one of Takasaki’s favorite characters so far.
“I’ve done hundreds of auditions in the past and I know exactly how hard it is to get a job, so I felt incredibly grateful and grateful,” she continues. “I have always enjoyed working with SIDE, so I am very happy that I was able to work with them again!”
Ota was unlucky enough to tear his meniscus the same day he was asked to submit his sample for the game. The next day he took his sample, which was lying in bed under his covers and could not walk. Due to his injury, he had to refuse the motion capture work, but was thrilled when he received the email that he had booked Ryunosuke’s voice.
“The timing was spot on though, as I was walking pretty well at the time of recording,” says Ota. “I would like to think that I had a bit of good karma because I offered to help people with that initial zoom and ended up getting work that I wasn’t expecting.”
Ota says it’s great that Capcom was trying to find Japanese actors for the main characters in the English dubbing of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. Says Vaughan, “Games have come a long way in this regard over the past few years, and it’s great to give opportunities to talents like Rina and Mark when characters like this come up. Each of them brings something special into their roles, which I think would not be there if we didn’t cast the roles authentically. ”