If you’ve ever watched Teen Titans, Scrapped Princess or Rave Master you’ve heard Yuri’s voice before. He’s no stranger to the voice acting world, in fact his work as Haru in Rave Master set the stage for his role as Sasuke. “The director at the time, Marc Handler, had worked with me on Rave Master. That’s where it all began, anyway. After I auditioned – I actually read for a few characters including Naruto and Iruka Sensei – I got called back for the role of Sasuke. That’s, of course, when I started getting nervous about it. But fortune favored me that day, I guess. It’s a little tough, because I knew it was down to me and a few people I knew, including one of my best friends, Doug Erholtz. (editors note: Doug Erholtz does the voice of the
Hokage Asuma) Maybe I got it because I introduced myself in Japanese right before I auditioned.” Anyone who has seen Naruto knows Sasuke is no small role in the 170+ episode series. Sasuke’s an expert ninja in Konoha, the same village where Naruto. Instead of goofing around like his other teammates, Sasuke prides himself on mastering ninjitsu so one day he can “destroy a certain someone.”
Sasuke’s certainly got a dark side to him and Yuri likes that. “It certainly allows me to go to some dark places as the series continues. And it makes Sasuke that much more interesting as a character. And that much more fun to play.” Eventually Sasuke comes in contact with Orichimaru who promises to give Sasuke the power he craves. Since Orichimaru hasn’t been featured in the US dub fans have been wondering who is going to take on the role. Yuri leaves us a little tidbit about this, “I think the hunt for Orochimaru’s voice was the hardest they’ve had yet. I think everybody’s gonna like it. You’ll know the actor – we all love him – but I’m not telling you who…” Any guesses?
Besides Yuri’s work in the anime world he’s done a lot of voiceovers for games. He’s featured in Radiata Stories as Daniel, Dandelion in Steambot Chronicles and of course Sasuke in the Naruto games. When he spoke about Clash of Ninja, the upcoming Gamecube fighter he said “it was fun recording the voice and the game looks really good.” Switching gears for a second to Steambot Chronicles, which is a unique open ended RPG with Victorian style robots. We asked if Yuri got a chance to play the game and he responded with “I haven’t really gotten much of a chance to check it out. We never get to play them before we dub them, unless we already knew about it. Usually we’re shown some artwork on a character and we’re off. Sometimes not even that. But I did get to play a character named ‘Dandelion,’ in SC and the director allowed me to get a little wacky with it, so I can’t wait to see it.” But Yuri still plays some video games in his spare time, “I’m not the hardcore gamer I used to be – too busy, but I still play. At least the ones that I worked on. That’s extra fun. I do honestly love the Prince of Persia series and I’m an RPG gamer from way back.”
Since Yuri is fluent in English and Japanese we wanted to hear his thoughts about Viz Media’s US dub. “The translation always leaves something to be desired, it’s inevitable, but they’ve been doing a pretty good job so far. Of course, the show being for broadcast makes it difficult. I mean, the show’s a little more hardcore than Cartoon Network’s allowed to air so things get cut, things that make the show cool. Luckily, they’ll be releasing an uncut version to DVD.” Naruto’s uncut DVDs are looking good since the cast has been recording two different sets of dialogue simultaneously. “We’re actually doing it as we go, recording "TV safe" and "Uncut" versions of lines. I can’t remember a lot of specific ones, but a lot of them deal with avoiding the word "kill," and such. I have a feeling it’ll sound cooler when Sasuke talks about "Killing a certain someone," rather than "Destroying a certain someone," you know?" And some of the blood that’s painted out will be back in the uncut version, as I understand it. They have weird rules about what kind of blood they can show and what kind they have to paint out.” Of course there’s still a community that prefers to watch Naruto in Japanese. In response to the sub versus dub Yuri said, “Being that I prefer to watch the subs over the dubs, it’s hard to come down on the pro-sub/anti-dub community. On the other hand, this is my work, and I know how much love and care we put into creating the best, most engaging dub possible while still respecting the original Japanese. Luckily, I’ve seen a lot of people who were originally against the CN dub become quite fond of it. Some people will always have gripes with the dub, that’s fine. Some people prefer to hear the original Japanese. Fine. I’m one of those people. And some people just want to remind you that they were there first, before the dub, and that means they’re cooler than people who just learned about it. That’s okay, I’m one of those people too, sometimes… In a show and that’s fine by me.”
We’d like to thank Yuri for doing this interview with us. You can check out the US dub on Cartoon Network at 9:00 PM on Saturdays and while you’re at it check out Yuri’s independent works at MonkeyKingdom productions.