Otakon 2017: Interview with Stephanie Sheh

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This year at Otakon, I sat down with veteran voice actress and director Stephanie Sheh to talk about the current state of the industry, the rapidly-evolving world of anime dubbing, and what anime has to offer young women. Sheh has been working in the dubbing industry since debuting as Silky in I’m Gonna Be An Angel in 2001 and has played a number of significant roles including the title character of Eureka Seven, Yui Hirasawa in K-On, and the iconic Usagi Tsukino in Viz’s dub of Sailor Moon.

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CM: What are some changes you’ve seen in anime since you started? You’ve been in the dubbing game for a really long time. Have you noticed any major shifts in genres or character types?

SS: I think the main shift is moving toward the simultaneous type of dub release. The dub releases are much quicker after the Japanese. The other thing is streaming services totally changed the game. In the past, there was a much bigger audience, but that audience was at least paying for their stuff, and then bootlegging and all these free streaming services really changed the shape of the industry and we’ve had to change to adapt. On the dubbing front, you see Japanese companies be more involved, care about American audiences, give their say. Now, sometimes you need approval for casting, for scripts, for things like that. I think that that is… most of the time, a good thing.

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Otakon 2016 Cosplay Gallery

There was a ton of great cosplay at this year’s Otakon! The most popular property I noticed was Pokemon, as well as quite a bit of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. This year, I decided to take the time to interview a few cosplayers when I had a moment. As I write this article, I’m discovering that the quality of photos taken by my note-taking app are somewhat… sub-par, so apologies for that.

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Victoria as Anthy Himemiya from Revolutionary Girl Utena
“What made me want to cosplay as this character was growing up, I never knew how to come out of my shell and be myself. I had friends who said you’re beautiful and great, and that helped me a lot. I was drawn to Anthy because I think in that show, Utena really helped Anthy in that way and you know, that was like my life.”

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Romance and Abuse in Shoujo Manga and Anime Part 2 – Tropes

Part 1

You only hurt the one you love…. (11)

One of the things people brought up as something that made them uncomfortable was age differences. It’s a very common fantasy for young women, which is why it’s so common in shoujo manga. “Oh, this hot teacher… he’s so attractive… What if he fell in love with me?” And people generally mentioned Sailor Moon, because Mamoru is in college and Usagi is in middle school; and this particular couple in Cardcaptor Sakura, because she’s in elementary school and he’s her teacher. [audience groans]

It is a common fantasy, but there’s an inherent power imbalance here, and all the time you see stories about young women who end up sleeping with their teachers and it’s what they thought they wanted – and this is not victim blaming, it is 100% on the adults to not do it with them – but since they see these fantasies, and they find themselves in these situations, they don’t have the tools to get away. Once again, I want to emphasize, it is never the victim’s fault. I don’t want to come across like I’m victim-blaming, ever.

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