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Voice Actor Justin Cook Interview

Justin Cook, voice actor for the popular show Yu Yu Hakusho, stopped by Kidzworld.
Courtesy of FUNimation

He's the voice of some of your fave anime characters and he dropped by to chat with you in Kidzworld's Chat! Find out what voice actor Justin Cook had to say about his fave roles, Yu Yu Hakusho and a whole lot more!

Kelvin: How did you become a voice actor?
Justin: I became a voice actor when I started up with FUNimation Productions as an ADR engineer, which is actually not the voice actor but it's the guy who records the voice actors. And for about a year and a half I worked with Chris Sabbat, who was our voice director, and he kind of trained me on everything I needed to know and he eventually asked if I'd audition for a role and I did. The first role I got was the role of Dende on Dragon Ball Z and then from there I just kept putting in my auditions and keeping my fingers crossed.

Gerry: How are you able to change your voice to do different characters?
Justin: I think it's an immense pychotic behavior. Lol. No. I guess I look at it and say, 'Oh, it's easy.' But it's probably upon getting into the character. A character like Yusuke I can kind of get into his excitement and his charisma and where he wants to go and that kind of indicates where the voice is going to be. His voice of course if very close to my own, but then with a character on Dragon Ball Z like Raditz or Super Buu where we've got more of a villainous character, I can just kind of draw on, well I hate to say that I have a whole bunch of evil inside of me, but you know, I can just draw on some of the more barbaric mannerisms if you will.

Rayreilee: How did you get interested in Yu Yu Hakusho?
Justin: This is kind of funny... Cuz there really wasn't anything else to get intersted in. The honest truth of it is, at the time, FUNimation was really mainly just producing as far as anime was concerned, Dragon Ball Z. But we got two new shows in about the same time, one was called Blue Gender, which was a 26-episode sci-fi story, and Yu Yu Hakusho. I had kind of been given a bit of a promotion to test the water and see how I would do on directing a show and Yu Yu was the show that I was asked to work on. And so that being the first thing I ever got to work on I really gave it the extra effort if you will and I kind of just fell into the show upon trying to do some simple research and I just kind of ended up obsessing over it.

Rayreilee: Did you know that you would play Yusuke when you started producing the show?
Justin: No, I didn't have a single clue. As a matter of fact, in my mind it wasn't even an option. It just kind of fell in my lap the next day during auditions. My producer, Barry Watson, was in the room with us and upon having a long day of auditions with having nothing really jump out and grab us as the character voice for Yusuke, Barry had asked me to jump in the booth and so I did and then he sent me out of the room for about three hours or so and after a couple more auditions he came out and let me know that he wanted me to play the role as well as direct the series.

goku2: Is it hard to balance directing and acting on the same show?
Justin: Well, any time you're putting on multiple hats it's going to be a little bit more difficult that doing just one. To say that it was an ultimate challenge or super hard or anything like that would be most certainly an overstatement. It's just important to keep your wits about you and know what you're getting into and be prepared when you hop into the session. Otherwise, you're just wasting time.

mechie: What other voices do you do other than Yusuke?
Justin: Uhh, well it's kind of a list. In Yu Yu Hakusho I'm the voice of Yusuke Uremeshi, I'm the voice of Chu, I'm the voice of Kuro Momotaro. On Fruits Basket, I'm the voice of Hatushara Sohma "Haru". On Dragon Ball Z, I'm the voice of Raditz and Super Buu and Teenage Dende. On Kiddy Grade, I'm the voice of Cesario, and I guess that about it.

jade: Do you have a favorite of all the characters you do?
Justin: Yusuke by far! With Haru from Fruits Basket running a close second.

Phia: Do you like directing and writing or voice acting better?
Justin: To try and say I like something better, would also imply that I like something worse, and not just that I'm trying to be politically correct but also just that it would be really hard for me to try and... It would be like trying to look at two kids and saying you like one more than the other. And parents can joke around with their kids, but they love their kids just the same. Does that make sense? So there are thrills that I get out of directing that I don't get out of acting but there are also thrills that I get out of acting that I don't get out of directing. So between the both of them they are kind of equal children.

Matt: How did you get the role of Raditz for the Dragonball Z Budokai games?
Justin; By default actually. Raditz was originally recorded in Canada where the original dub of DBZ was first made back in the late '90s, and upon bringing it to the States, around episode 67 of Dragon Ball Z, they would run into flash back scenes where they would have to come up with a voice. And if I'm not mistaken, Sonny Strait, who was the voice of Krillin, was the first Raditz flashback character. And eventually through time, Sonny was given the role of Bradock, who is Goku's father in the storyline and just to diversify and keep the voices a little different they put me into the Raditz role.

Marissa: What was your favorite ending theme song on Yu Yu Hakusho?
Justin: Daydream Generation. I think that's the fifth closing theme song.

Elizabeth: What channel can you see the show on?
Justin: Cartoon Network! You have to wait for it to come back on the air, but I'm not sure when that's going to be. But they most certainly are on DVD.

Kenusuke: When you learned that you were going to voice Yusuke, what was your first impression of him? Did you already know that you were going to have a blast voicing him or did you think he was a boring character?
Justin: My first impression of Yusuke came when I was reviewing the show. I would watch probably 25-40 episodes a night - which is a pretty long evening. And as a director and having worked with a lot of the actors prior in the series Dragon Ball, I would see characters and have ideas of at least four to five people who I would think would be really good at that character and who I wanted to give it a shot at. The one character who I just didn't have a clue of what actor should play it was Yusuke. So my first impression of Yusuke was this is going to be a real pain to cast.

  • Click Here for the second half of Justin Cook's interview!
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