Toshiyuki Morikawa Interview – AX 2011 Press Junket

Anime Diet’s exclusive interview with Toshiyuki Morikawa, best known as the voice of Griffith in “Berserk” and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children! He also has been the Japanese dub voice for many famous actors like Tom Cruise, Adam Sandler, Ewan McGregor, and others. We ask him about what it’s like to act for anime/games vs live action dubbing, which roles he likes best, and whether he’s ever wanted to cosplay as Sephiroth before.

Transcript follows after the break.

Q: How did you get started in voice acting?

In Japan, there are schools that train voice actors: I entered one of these, called Katsuya Voice Acting Academy.

Q: I know you went to school with Kotono Mitsuishi and others. Do you still get along with her and other classmates?

A long time ago, Kotone and I were in the same production company, Arts Vision. Now she’s a freelancer. Similarly, I started a company called AXLONE this April, and have been working independently. We’ve met sometimes in the studio and talked. Also, our ages are close so we get along really well.

Q: You’ve also dubbed a lot of Hollywood actors’ voices. Which voices did you enjoy most?

All of them have been fun. Nowadays, when it comes to dubbing…  Well, it used to take a while before a Hollywood movie would be released in Japan. Now movies tend to have world-wide premieres, so I’ve been able to enjoy dubbing the newest movies immediately after release. It’s refereshing. In terms of which one I liked best, I’ve done Tom Cruise for a long time. For example, Knight and Day, which was released last year, and the Mission: Impossible series. Also, I liked doing Ewan McGregor’s voices in Star Wars. I think… I would say I feel close to the stars whose roles I’ve dubbed the longest.

The one I’ve worked with the longest — I don’t know if you know, so this may be surprising — is Adam Sandler. (Rome: Personally?) No, I mean in terms of dubbing. (Rome: Oh, I see!)

Just recently, I worked on the Clone Wars animation.

Q: Have you met any of the actors you dubbed over? What do they think of your work?

I haven’t met them. Actually with Tom Cruise…. I haven’t met him personally, but Tom actually watched the voice over I did for him in Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick, which in turn led to him having me do his roles in Japan. Because of that, I told him I would love to receive him in Japan when he comes, but he’s never in Japan for an entire day since he has to fly out in his jet immediately so we haven’t had the chance to meet.

Hey, you’re in Los Angeles now. Maybe you’ll see him?

Maybe he’s around!

Q: What’s the difference in acting for anime/games as opposed to live action movies?

Animation is, well, 2D. Live actions are 3D, meaning it has depth. Due to this, anime is done a bit over the top. On the other hand, in movies the actors have such rich facial expressions, so the acting doesn’t rely on voice alone. That means I don’t have to exaggerate my acting.

Q: What draws you to acting deep-voiced characters? Did you ever scare your classmates with your deep voice?

No, that’s never happened. You see, my voice actually isn’t that low. I have both a high and low range. But in order to become the some of the characters I’ve been asked to play, I needed to sound deeper. After all, sometimes you want to sound scary or murderous just using your voice, so it’s just this image. If you actually measured my voice, you would notice it’s not that low. People have this image of me. For example, they might think I have a dark personality.

Q: Last questions—have you or have you ever been tempted to cosplay as Sephiroth? And what would you do with all the fangirls who’d come chasing after you?

Well, if I can move swiftly, I would.

(Rome: Ah! And if you were assaulted by fan girls?)

I would run away.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.