By The Editor
Jun 19, 2008 - 6:07
|Image from "Lucky Star"|
BANG ZOOM! ENTERTAINMENT HELPS LUCKY STAR MAKE NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT
Studio Provides English Dub For Highly Anticipated New Anime Comedy From Bandai Entertainment And Kadokawa Pictures
Bang Zoom! Entertainment, a leading full-service audio post production company and producer of original entertainment content, recently helped prepare Lucky Star, the latest new anime series from Bandai Entertainment, Inc. and Kadokawa Pictures USA, for its North American release. Bang Zoom! provided critical Japanese-to-English translation, voice casting, scriptwriting, ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), and final mixing for the 24 episode series which made its North American debut on May 6th.
Lucky Star is based on a popular manga comic by Kagami Yoshimizu and was turned into an anime series by Kyoto Animation, the renowned studio that created the widely acclaimed series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which was also dubbed by Bang Zoom!. Lucky Star focuses on the lives of four girls attending a Japanese high school. The series’ main character is Konata Izumi, a lazy high school girl who isn’t interested in anything besides anime and video games. The zany comedic situations that ensue evoke comparisons to Seinfeld. The series is often described as the ultimate “otaku anime,” and is notable for a variety of references to popular past and present manga and anime series, which has made its debut highly anticipated by legions of domestic fans.
Having provided the English dubs for Bandai Entertainment’s "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya," Bang Zoom! was immediately prepared to ready Lucky Star for its domestic debut. Casting included several well-known anime voice talents including Wendee Lee, who played the lead in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and portrays Konata. She is joined by other veteran anime voice talents such as Kari Wahlgren (Kagami Hiiragi), Michelle Ruff (Tsukasa Hiiragi), and Karen Strassman (Miyuki Takara).
A vast amount of work went into Lucky Star before the first word was ever uttered in the recording booth. Bang Zoom! Casting Director Kaeko Sakamoto explains, “For example if Konata is pouty or being petulant, these subtleties must translate accurately from Japanese to English. The series is a comedy but there are a lot of jokes that don’t necessarily translate literally into English so we had to pay careful attention to ensure the puns remained faithful to the original Japanese intent but were still intelligible to English viewers.”
Bandai Producer Taku Otsuka delivered the Japanese stereo music and effects tracks that would serve as the basis for the English mix. Once the translation was complete and approved, the script was “spotted,” or assigned a time code, to help ensure that the new English dialogue synced exactly to the movements of each character’s mouth without changing the meaning or context of the original Japanese.
Audio elements were digitized by Bang Zoom’s Chief Engineer Pat Rodman from digibeta into ProTools/HD and recording commenced using Avalon VT-737SP vocal channels paired with Neumann U87 microphones.
Sessions ran three weeks for the first volume of Lucky Star alone, and it would prove to be a daunting project as each episode contained nearly 600 lines of dialogue. Pressure was on as Recording Engineer Marco Bustos recalls, “There were three almost four weeks of recording with a bunch of weekends and late nights. There was a lot of material.” Accurately translating and representing a variety of subtle Japanese vocal nuances would be essential. Bandai Producer Otsuka worked closely with Bang Zoom! to make sure every reference would meet both requirements as much as possible and remain true to the artistic integrity of the series.
For many die-hard fans, Lucky Star’s numerous jokes and references about a variety of loved anime and video game titles make it fun to watch. The first four episodes alone contain references to Full Metal Panic!, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Shuffle!, in addition to To Heart, Gunbuster, Sgt. Frog, Getter Robo, Wedding Peach, Case Closed, Cromartie High School, Pani Poni Dash!, Crayon Shin-chan, Galaxy Angel Rune, Star Blazers, Blade of the Immortal, and The Girl Who Leapt through Time. Bang Zoom! writers further screened many of these titles to fully understand the references and make sure they were communicated properly.
Another especially challenging aspect of dubbing Lucky Star proved to be dubbing the ending sequence, which is a karaoke scene that features a different character singing the closing theme with each episode. The song is in Japanese but characters often speak over the music playing in the background and Bandai wanted to have the dialogue in English while the song remained in Japanese. “It was critical to have the English dialogue remain coherent and intelligible but not have the music sound too muffled or too overstated, but I think we got the balance right in the mix.” Rodman remembers.
“Lucky Star offers a variety of challenges,” says Bang Zoom! Entertainment President Eric P. Sherman. “The sheer amount of dialogue in each episode, combined with a variety of cultural and emotional nuances portrayed by the characters and the many inside jokes about other anime series demands a thorough understanding of not only the anime genre, but Japanese culture in general. Our knowledge of both make this an ideal project for Bang Zoom! and we look forward to fans discovering this fun series.”
ABOUT BANG ZOOM! ENTERTAINMENT
Headquartered in Burbank, California, Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Inc. is a leading full-service audio post production studio for feature films, television, interactive gaming, anime and direct to home entertainment content. Founded in 1993, the company offers a range of specialized services including a critically acclaimed staff of recognized voice talent, ADR,/Foley recording, sound design, and 2.0, 5.1 and 7.1 Dolby Digital and Pro Logic II mixing and encoding. Bang Zoom! Entertainment is also committed to developing a range of independent projects that contribute to the promotion of innovative cultural awareness internationally. For more information, visit www.bangzoomentertainment.com