kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
From PsGels' summer preview post:

OH GOD NO! The new season of Kuroshitsuji has a completely new staff behind it. Noriyuki Abe is actually a very skilled director: before directing Bleach he gave us Great Teacher Onizuka, and that was no fluke even with a very strong source material. Kuroshitsuji is exactly the kind of series that can get something great out of him again. The first two seasons were adapted by Mari Okada, and this actually fitted her very well as a series with the craziness that went on. For season three though… we have to deal with Uber-troll Hiroyuki Yoshino. If you don’t know him, be glad. This is the guy who wrote the original story for Seikon no Qwaser, Guilty Crown, Code Geass, Mai Otome. This guy writes grandiose stories which are often so grandiose and convoluted that they collapse in on themselves. His stories are hardly ever complete, even when well written. You’re almost guaranteed to get a completely botched up ending here, even though the endings are what I loved about the first two seasons of Kuroshitsuji. And to make things even worse, Ichiro Okouchi, the original creator of Code Geass and the writer of Valvrave is joining in for the scripts!

I'll probably watch it anyway, even if I spend 90% of that time cringing, because holy crap, who let the Guilty Crown guy in here? ...and I thought the second season was trollish.
kaigou: pino does not approve of where the script is going. (2 pino does not approve)
[Edited/consolidated to reduce where I rambled. Wow, those cold meds are something.]

For a little background, read [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist's A perhaps-obvious point about shipping and voice work, and don't skip the comments, which are equally insightful.

The TL;DR version is that voicework can completely alter our impression of a work, which is (as Phoebe says), probably completely obvious. I think there's a side-issue at work, though, which is that the voicework can also tell us how the voice-actors, themselves, approached the work—and our impression of the work, therefore, is informed by the actors' interpretation. That is, interpretation as the output (the voice recordings) and interpretation as the input (their own view of a character, a story, the conflict, and so on). I'll refrain from quoting too much of the original post & replies, since you can read it there, but I do want to call out this example, from [personal profile] aquila_black:
...my first introduction to Naruto was one of the movies, dubbed into English and shown once at our local theater... The movie had interviews with several of the American voice actors, the Japanese voice actors, and the manga-ka himself. The middle-aged American lady voicing Naruto was embarrassingly informal and unprofessional, and had nothing interesting to say about her character. The Japanese voice actress gave the camera a serious, well-thought out response about the responsibility she felt, at portraying the emotional complexities of an orphan who projects a relentlessly cheerful exterior, while often feeling desperately alienated and alone. Needless to say, it was a night and day difference. The Japanese actress convinced me that her character was worth my time.

In short, I see the output-interpretation as hampered or stifled by the lack of input-interpretation. Or, in the instance of the Japanese voice actress, the output is significantly enhanced by the amount of input she gave it.

This is not that unusual for Japanese seiyuu, from the interviews I've seen. It's the English-speaking VA who spends considerable time watching the original, thinking about the character, that's the unusual one (and they do exist, but there's plenty more who don't know of the original or seem to care). A similar case in point, for me, was watching the VA interviews that came with the US release of the Cowboy Bebop movie. Spike's VA (from the series) didn't do the movie-Spike [See comments in re this statement.] Faye's VA... well, I recall the question was something about playing Faye, and the answer was mostly about how awesome it was to hang out with the gang, and we all get along well, and blah blah blah.

(Not saying VAs are the only ones who do this; I've seen many actors/actresses asked about their character and answer with how hard the filming was, or doing their own stunts, or how close the entire cast got to be. Okay, some actors/actresses just don't like to analyze a character, and insist it should be left to the audience. Except I'm not asking for the definitive meaning; I just want to know the actor/actress or VA actually gave characterization as much thought as I'm going to give it while ripping it apart.)

The reason the other VA non-responses stood out was because Edward's VA spent no little time explaining how much thought she'd put into trying to communicate Edward's utterly-Japanese wacky dialogue into an English equivalent (IIRC, the VA doesn't know Japanese). She put time and effort not just into understanding Edward, but into crafting the translated dialogue with the director and scriptwriter, to "find" Edward's English voice. That's a lot of extra work, though, for a job where you're probably only making a pittance, anyway. Not everyone can, or will, or even is allowed to, go beyond like that.

But criticisms like mine do put a lot of weight on VA shoulders, and I think we need to shift some of that to where it belongs: the director. If you're in a play, and you don't know or haven't yet seen where the story's going, it's the director who says, "read the line like this," or "the character is actually feeling like ___ but showing an expression of ____ because s/he is thinking ___." There's a reason for the old joke about the actor asking, "what's my motivation!?" When all else fails, the one who can best answer that is the director... and I think we may have a substantial lack of directors in US VA work, from the results I'm seeing. Either that, or the English-speaking VAs are so incredibly bad that no amount of directing would save 'em. Hard to tell from the final product.

Now that's out of the way, time for the main course: Kuroshitsuji, and some side-by-side comparisons. )

This took all day on benedryl, so I think I'll turn the mic over to the rest of you, now.

ETA: forgot to mention this, but at least one member of the English Kuroshitsuji cast does deserve some mention: the VA for Meiran did a remarkable job of matching the Japanese VA's peculiarly hoarse-raspy-funny delivery. It's not a total match-up, but the VA gets points from me for not only mimicking the Japanese Meiran-style, but doing it with a low-class Brit accent as well. Well done, that.
kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
Been watching Fate/Zero, which seemed (so far) intriguing, so I thought I'd watch some Fate/Stay_Night, just so I'm not completely lost.

TL;DR: just read the wiki entry and save yourself the pain.

Let's see. Where to begin, and yes, here there be spoilers. Technically. Me, I think the premise's treatment already stinks, so hard to spoil it any further.

Well, for starters, the hero -- Shirou -- is a textbook case of TSTL. I mean, we could teach entire semesters just on his stupidity alone, he's that textbook. Granted, it's not entirely valorized in that other characters voice their annoyance with his stupidity, but at the same time, the instant he tries to lift even his teeniest finger he's praised as being very good, a natural at something. Someone mentions spell-casting spots, and he identifies one immediately. He gets attacked by a champion, picks up a baton, and changes it into a weapon, first try ever. He tries sparring and he's a natural with powerful moves and assurance! It just makes his stupidity the rest of the time even more painful. I mean, if he at least struggled with what he can't do, then I'd be less likely to see his TSTL traits as, well, so damn stupid. Instead, he just comes across as naively unthinking, and I don't mean that in a cute way.

In the wiki entry, one of the antagonists -- Shinji -- is characterized as narcissistic (he is, definitely) and chauvinistic. Not sure about the latter, but I can say that Shirou is without a doubt one of the most sexist characters I've come across in awhile. He's facing the spiritual embodiment of King Freaking Arthur (aka Saber), and because (in what could've been a cool twist) King Arthur is more like a Joan of Arc character -- being female -- Shirou is adamant that she, uhm, shouldn't fight. Because girls are to be protected. And it's not like she's even facing death; as a non-corporeal entity, if she loses a battle, she just fades back into oblivion until the next time someone summons her. I'm not seeing a major issue here, in terms of the final cost of omg-death kind of cost.

But no, Shirou's got to jump in the way of a major baddie and get himself almost killed, because he's that adamant that girls should be protected. If Saber just hauled off and smacked him, I'd be all for it, but this story is more of the transitional same: the writers gave the girls guns, but took away all the ammo. Makes for a female character, like Saber, being a lot of talk but nothing to back it up. She tells him she's trained for combat, but caves almost immediately and agrees to let him (the untrained TSTL twit) fight; she hares into battle but the script makes sure to trip her up. Either it's her opponent calling a halt (like you didn't see that coming), or it's the script's setup that Shirou doesn't have enough "energy" to feed her spiritual needs. She's rendered helpless because the hero is a loser, but the result's the same: presented as a great hero, King/Queen Arthur is a lot of flash and not much kicking ass.

My reader-writer-analysis brain finds it all so frustrating... )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (1 Sebastian smile)
First, for context: read [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist's The Second of our Reign at AO3 (Ciel/Sebastian, rated M for adult situations), or for gen, read Anorexia (the catfood overdub). For gen, read Phoebe's gleefully geek-law draft for The Phantomhive Cases: CERTIORARI TO THE HIGH COURT OF MINOS, or a bit of her comment!fic, both of which I really hope don't end there (and can see end up being intertwined, come to think of it).

And then, the discussion, gacked from PZ's post/replies, but repeated here in case anyone else can think of additional examples, counter-arguments, or other insights. It starts with Phoebe's reply to my review (posted on her journal, since AO3 doesn't give that option to non-members). Trimmed some where we regressed into flailing fandomness. (You can read the original on Phoebe's journal, if you want it unedited.)

Phoebe: They have so much fun being Ciel and Sebastian! Their official authors gave them multiple canons that are essentially curtain!fic, and these are characters who never get curtain!fic, not even from fans, let alone from canon. And so many glorious hints that can be extrapolated from, and what have to be deliberate inconsistencies to allow for getting around any bits of canon one doesn't find desirable! I still can barely believe the source even exists, it's such a match for all my private weirdnesses.

...is this actually a perfectly ordinary, stereotypical pair of characters in the broader anime/manga universe? I've seen and read just enough now to be used to some of the more common tropes: the beautiful villains with tragic pasts; the hot sociopath paired with, or obsessed with, the beautiful idealist who loves humanity; the nice, faintly ineffectual-on-the-surface guys who're brilliant and deadly in pursuit of their true agendas, but without ever losing their sweetness and awkwardness in any other situation. I haven't seen Ciel and Sebastian anywhere else, or at least, not in ways that are right upfront in the text, and don't need to be constructed from implications in canon; but that could be because I haven't seen or read very much. Have I missed dozens of instances of the same dynamic, do you think? Or is Kuroshitsuji genuinely doing something one doesn't see in every other work for this slice of the audience?

Kaigou: I don't veer [much] into shoujo and [never into] Clamptastic worlds, so there may be corners where you could find another Ciel or a Sebastian. But I can't think of too many where you'd find *both*. )