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|Title:||Welcome To The Space Show Interview with Stephenie Sheh & Michael Sinterniklaas|
|Published:||Thu, 7 Jun 2012|
There have been some awesome looking anime movie releases in the past few years like Summer Wars and Redline. Welcome To The Space Show certainly is another one of those films that really push the boundaries when it comes to imagination and creativity. I got the chance to have a friendly chat with voice actors Stephenie Sheh and Michael Sinterniklaas about the movie and the roles they play.
Nice to meet you both, my first question is, I went into Welcome to The Space Show with no prior knowledge of the film, how would you describe the film to others?
Michael Sinterniklaas: When I first saw it, I was at least warned that it was really out there and wild. While I was working on it, I was sort of calling it like ‘anime yellow submarine’ (in reference to The Beatles - Yellow Submarine video).
Stephenie Sheh: So much happens in it, but ultimately, it’s a family movie, it does get a little wacky and it does have this space element, if you went into it knowing nothing and you start watching it, you think it’s a quiet drama in the Japanese countryside, then all of the sudden you’re like “Whoa, what’s going on!” and it goes onto this other thing but, I think it’s adventurous and whimsical.
Michael Sinterniklaas: I don’t think it’s necessarily just an anime, I do hope it reaches beyond just anime fandom, because I think it could be one of those breakthrough titles, unlike anything anyone has seen outside of anime and even within anime, I don’t think it’s that common to see quite what goes on in the show.
Stephenie Sheh: The kids that we used to record it were really taken with all the visuals and what was going on, they kept on getting distracted saying “Go back, rewind” you know, because it’s ADR, they have to record to the picture and there “I saw this thing, play that part back” and they laugh.
Michael Sinterniklaas: The kids loved it, even stuff that I was worried that would be weird and creepy, they were fascinated by it.
Stephenie Sheh: Like the train was kind of weird but they thought it was so cool, they were like “So that looks like the insides, whoa!” and then when the train is docked, it’s like attached to this tank type of thing, they are asking all these questions like “Is that food or gas?”, I was like “I don’t know” (laughs).
What was it like playing your characters? It sounded like you were having a lot of fun.
Stephenie Sheh: Yes, it was a lot of fun. I think that for me, my main concern when I knew that I was playing Natsuki was that the Japanese version, she is so wacky and independently, unique and quirky and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to capture that essence of her, but I think I allowed myself as I was recording, more freedom, to do more takes and more weirder takes to see if it worked or not worked and to just have more fun with it and I think that’s really the key when it comes to fun, like if I were having fun, then I would have more unique, fun moments and I think that’s what worked. Also I adore Michaela, who voices Amane.
Michael Sinterniklaas: Yeah, we worked together on Care Bears, which is how we found her and thought “Oh, you’re wonderful; we have to bring you in for Space Show”.
Stephenie Sheh: We totally adore her, and then I recorded her first, so she was all done before I started recording myself, that helped because Natsuki and Amane relationship is really important in the film, so every single time I was acting opposite her, it was Michaela, and she’s actually nine years old, so it helped I think.
Leading up from that question, would you like to describe the characters you play, what did you like most about them?
Michael Sinterniklaas: So, my character, he is a very nice boy, there is a lot about me that relates to this character, I had to learn to be cool in my adult life, I was never very cool and I was always very nice, polite to a fault. I grew up in the UK until I was ten and I was so soft spoken and polite about things that people didn’t know what I meant sometimes.
I can relate to being a soft spoken nice boy, but, also being responsible for these kids, who I know, again Dean Michaela, Matthew Wayne (who voices Koiji) is a great kid too. All that stuff, I really felt like I was responsible for a family, in a way that I have only experience twice before. Once in Ninja Turtles, where six years I felt like I had brothers, I grew up without brothers and when I did a production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, we all felt like we were bros together. So this is the third experience in my life, of doing this work were I felt like I had a family and as the responsible party, I was in charge of taking care of them.
As a character that I think can be easily be thrown away, because his so soft about everything, he doesn’t have any like ‘I not gonna take it anymore, dammit’ moments, not really.
Stephenie Sheh: What I appreciate about in terms of your character development, is that Michael’s right, the good, nice boy is often boring and overlooked, however towards the end, there is this whole bit, where the stress of being responsible or being the leader or being the nice responsible one, you take for granted all the things that his actually doing, until something goes wrong and everyone looks at him.
Michael Sinterniklaas: There is a moment were they have to decide, risking everyone’s life to go after one person or saving everyone else’s life, it’s a horrible situation to be put in, ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ but his in the position to decide those things. I think it’s actually a lot of work to be that calm, responsible and even to be that nice, I think his a strong character in terms of that.
Stephenie Sheh: I think there might be a cultural thing, it’s like for us, him being the leader and really sweet, it’s more generic and so we don’t appreciate as much but I think for like Japanese culture, it’s much more respected and you are more of a hero, it’s much more protagonist. When we recorded it, it’s not entirely obvious but for Noriko character, I told Cassandra “Were going to play this, like you have a crush on Kiyoshi”, not like it’s overtly, we didn’t really change any lines but that kind of helped justify why she was always in agreement and it just gave a little more something with the dynamic.
Michael Sinterniklaas: My mom was born in Japan; there are cultural things that I get, and also as fan and Stephenie is also fan, that we understand, make characters like that not weak, they are actually strong, I remember talking to Japanese people about this, that in the US, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a big strong man, in Japan his fat. (laughs)
What was it like when you first watched Welcome to the Space Show?
Michael Sinterniklaas: I have a client that actually bought the film over for a New York Children Film Festival and I heard about it, tried to see it, couldn’t see it then and didn’t get to watch it until, Manga had assigned it to us.
That was the first time I saw it and for me, my experience was ‘Ohhh, wow this is huge, wonderful’ the very beginning I loved how everything was rendered, when your character is like asleep and is waking up, just the subtle sounds, the way the lighting is rendered, it’s beautiful and I was like “It’s going to be one of those really good ones, isn’t it” and then as it went to lovely, bucolic countryside to – oh my gosh, what is happening? I started thinking; this is going to be really hard, there is going to be so many characters, I started to have a bit of a panic attack on how I’m going to find all these characters but I get sucked out of my panic and back into “What just happened, oh they can understand the language, that’s really cool”.
Stephenie Sheh: The movie was so long that I had to watch it in pieces, I remember liking a lot of cute moments but I was like “Wait, were is this going, it ending now?”, “Wait, oh my god, there is a new plot point?” and I felt like “Goodness, it’s so long”, but, working on it, it doesn’t seem as long and it seems to flow much better. I don’t know if it’s because we added things and try to bridge all of that in the English version or if it was because it wasn’t the first time I watch it, it was in pieces, and it didn’t quite all gel for me.
Michael Sinterniklaas: I think what we have done with it, is really help to make it more cohesive, people don’t know that we’ve seen it originally sub-titled; even grown-ups had seen it there like “I don’t quite understand what’s going on”, I think we’ve absolutely served the original, we’ve not added a bunch of stuff, we have really connected all the moments emotionally, it’s going to flow much better, it’s like watching Shakespeare you get and Shakespeare you don’t get , the language can be a barrier but if everyone knows what’s going on, who’s performing it, then it all flows together.
The film oozes Sci-fi, making references to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, are you both fans of Science Fiction, any favourites shows of the genre?
Michael Sinterniklaas: Today, I can’t stop talking about Prometheus, it’s all over the place, I’m freaking out about that, Aliens came out when I lived in the UK, so I’d love to see it here, it would be really cool. There are a lot more references, there is a huge metal mouth on Pet Star, I personally believe that’s from Dune, I’m sure of it, there’s stuff all over the place, yeah, I love Sci-Fi.
I think Sci-Fi is even very useful, socially not just as an escape, as another context to explore things that are too personal for us to understand.
Stephenie Sheh: It is I wrote a paper on that.
Michael Sinterniklaas: Did you?
Stephenie Sheh: Yeah in college, it was my mid-term paper, I was taking a sociology class and basically it was, my paper was on how media images of the future reflect on what we think about society and in today’s world, and the movie that I chose was Blade Runner. The weird thing about that is when I watched Blade Runner, that I had watched the director’s cut and so when I talked to somebody about Blade Runner, they were complaining about the ending, I didn’t know what they were talking about, because I saw the Directors cut ending and not the actual ending that was released in theatres, so nothing they said made sense to me.
I totally agree, I love Sci-Fi as well but I don’t think I can say that I’m as well versed as some of my peers are, like my favourite shows are all Sci-fi, I take an acting class one a week and we bring scenes, I’m kind of known as the science fiction person because I’m always doing scenes from Sci-Fi shows, there are like two people in class who are fans and they get it, everybody else is like “What is going on with your scene?” (laughs)
Michael Sinterniklaas: What a cylon?
Stephenie Sheh: Exactly! Battlestar, Dr.Who and that other stuff.
Michael Sinterniklaas: I totally grew up with Dr.Who, Tom Baker’s my Dr.Who.
I’m almost not passed this yet but I almost watch anything Sci-Fi for years and years, it took me a long time to realise that not everything is great, I just love being in this other world, it’s great to take all the problems today into another context, where it is easier to look at, I think Star Trek did incredible things for racism, not just the first interracial kiss on TV, like we relate to the crew of the enterprise, now there on this primitive world where they have to pretend not to be aliens because the local perditious people would probably kill them, wait a minute, we would do that.
I think that’s it, Thank you very much.
Stephenie Sheh & Michael Sinterniklaas: Thank you!
I would like to thank Stephenie Sheh & Michael Sinterniklaas again for their time!
Welcome to the Space Show will be release by MangaUK on both DVD and Blu-ray on 2nd July 2012.
Type the characters you see in the picture above.