Every Monday night this month, in the back room of Meltdown Comics, the team behind radio drama-styled podcast Tales of the Extraordinary has been recording it's latest chapter. Created by actor/writer Michael Coleman (who you might recognize from the interactive theater performance Dungeon Master), Tales of the Extraordinary follows the adventures of explorers, detectives and more in the year 1926. For this chapter, the troupe is performing the podcasts before a live audience, with audience members providing sound effects throughout the recording.
Amongst the cast members for Tales of the Extraordinary is Taliesin Jaffe, who plays Mike Sullivan, a former detective who lives with a chimp called Gatsby. An actor, writer and director, Jaffe is a familiar name to anime and video game fans. His IMDB page lists a host of credits, with some of the highlights being his directorial work for the U.S. dubs of Hellsing, Hellsing Ultimate and Street Fighter IV. He also wrote for the dubs of the Hellsing series, as well as Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad, Romeo X Juliet and Hell Girl. Recently, we asked Jaffe about both Tales and his work in anime.
How did you get involved with Tales of the Extraordinary?
I'm not entirely sure at this point. Michael Coleman, who writes and directs the show, has an uncanny ability to convince people to join him on these mad escapades. Coleman is a good friend and very talented, a combination that pushes you toward saying yes. Also, I may have been drunk a the time.
Is radio drama different from the voice acting work you've done in the past? If so, how?
The technical demands of a radio drama are a lot less stringent. you can play fast and loose on the microphone, you don't have to freak out about mouth sounds. Plus, for a lot of video game and anime productions, it's you alone in a booth. Getting to play with other actors is fantastic! It's like doing theater after being in television for a year. It makes all the bits that were starting to feel like work, feel like fun again.
You've worked as an ADR [dub] director and script writer in some pretty well-known anime series. Generally, what goes into directing and working on scripts for dubs of anime series? What do you have to take into consideration when you're approaching a new project?
I'm not entirely sure how to answer that briefly. From the bigger picture standpoint, it's the directors job to take responsibility for creating an accessible experience. You have to make sure that the script fits the tempo of the animation, yet still flows like natural spoken English. You have to make sure the characters stay true to the intentions of the story, and maintain the feeling of a cohesive ensemble cast, despite recording everyone individually. A single Hellsing OVA eats up about 6 to 10 full weeks of life. Each show is so unique, I wish I could say I had some system for cracking into them. Mostly it boils down to a persistent application of coffee induced insomnia and an anti social life cream.
How did you get involved in anime work? Were you a fan beforehand?
I was a huge fan beforehand. I was at AnimeCon 91, cosplayed, the whole deal. But it was my background in film and television that got me into the industry. I built my own directing demo, shopped it around and eventually landed a contract with New Generation Pictures. Not that I recommend that path to anyone these days, It was much more of a wild west industry back then.
When it comes to your work in anime, is there a project that stands out as a favorite for you?
At this point I really don't. I loved NieA_7 for experimental nature of the project. I love Hellsing for its grand scale. Beck for the rock and roll production style. R.O.D. the TV however, might be the best in terms of expressing everything a dub is supposed to do.
About how many conventions do you think you've attended at this point? Are convention appearances a regular part of your job?
Well over a hundred by this point, I really should keep track. Going to shows to promote is a regular part of the job, although I will admit I've been taking a bit of a break from that aspect of the industry for a little while now.
What's the best part of going to an anime convention for you?
On a certain level, it's one of the few times in this job that your reminded people actually watch the stuff your producing. It invigorates the desire to do better work.
Do you have any other projects that you're working on right now? Can you share any details?
Several, but the only thing I can say at the moment is that we recently put the finishing touches on Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
The final installment of this chapter of Tales of the Extraordinary will be performed January 31 at Meltdown Comics.