At Anime NYC last month, I got the opportunity to sit down with Lisa Ortiz, who has been working on the Pokemon franchise in some capacity – whether voice acting or directing – for a decade.
Lisa Ortiz has been working in the anime industry for over 20 years. And when shows were first being broadcast on American television, it was a little different than how it is now. “You have to remember that 4Kids was putting it on the air for the first time in a way that hadn’t been done before,” she said. “There were broadcast things that had to happen, and there were certain things you couldn’t do. Like famously, you couldn’t say ‘die’. […] Their point of view at that time was that they wanted to introduce this to a mainstream audience, make sure it was out there, and translate what was going on in the original and making it accessible to a place that wasn’t used to seeing it.”
Lisa had a lot to say about her introduction to anime and how the industry has changed in the years since she started in the business. “You cannot go anywhere right now without seeing either Dragonball or Pokemon somewhere,” she said, which is a far cry from when she was a kid and had to sneak into her brother’s room to watch anime on VHS. “Now there’s a ‘nerd cool’ vibe, between this and Marvel, which I’m very happy for, because it’s what we were doing anyway.”
“When we started, we were just sort of like running around,” she added, speaking of her colleague J. Michael Tatum, “and now it’s sort of just blown up. There are so many more people now. So many more people know. The popularity is insane. There’s the ability to tell these stories as close to how they’re told in Japan. There are better teams of actors who are working on them, as far as there are more people coming specifically to do that.”
She continued, “I love that it’s grown into this huge thing – very accepting, very cool, very sort of loving environment.”
Lisa also spoke about the challenges of acting as a Pokemon when the dialogue is only the Pokemon’s name. “You still have your intentions. You still have the ideas of what you’re doing. You still know what you’re saying. In Sun & Moon, we’ve had whole episodes where they go back and forth with just the Pokemon talking in dialogue. […] They still have personalities. They still have attitudes.”
Check out our full interview with Lisa Ortiz below:
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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