The Hub’s newest animated series is Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters, related to the card game issued by Wizards of the Coast. In Kaijudo, 14-year-old Ray (voiced by former V star Scott Wolf) trains and battles with fantastical creatures against evil forces who’d rather enslave them. It’s an action-packed property that has kids buzzing.
To get the inside scoop on Kaijudo, I sat down with two of the show’s notable voice actors, David Sobolov (who provides the voice for the main creature, Tatsurion the Unchained or as he’s better known, “Bob”) and Andrew Kishino (who voices numerous secondary characters including one of the Duel Masters, one of the villains, and Ray’s grandfather).
“I got involved with the show by auditioning at the last minute for a character called Grandpa. Being of half-Japanese descent I drew on my genetics to pour on the vaguely Japanese accent and made him sound quite a bit like my own grandfather,” explained Andrew of how he became involved with the property. Added David, “I had a bit longer of a process. I think it was almost a month and a half to two months before I found out I was cast.”
Neither actor was familiar with the game before signing onto the show, though David got a glimpse of it when he attended San Diego Comic-Con for the Kaijudo panel earlier this month. “I had to do a little bit of research on it,” said Andrew. “One of the things that came up was there was a code of fair conduct, of just treating everybody equally when playing the game, and that has obviously been integrated fully into the show [with] the addressing of issues like bullying and so on and so forth.”
Both actors believe it’s that willingness to teach, not just entertain, that sets the show apart from most children’s programming (the show’s target audience is boys ages 9-12). Said David of his massive protagonist (pictured above), “If this was any other show, he’d just be this screaming monster and that’s where they’d leave it. There are so many levels [like] the ideas of friendship and loyalty. My creature is partnered with the hero of the story, Ray, and we form a partnership. My character learns in a sense how to be human.”
And it’s not just for the boys. “Allie is absolutely unbelievably brilliant,” said Andrew of the show’s female lead character, who is voiced by Kari Wahlgren. “She is ruthlessly funny and she’s a great role model. She’s a strong, outspoken, confident young woman. You can see that she’s going to become a great girl.”
They’re not only voice actors but they’re also genuinely fans of Kaijudo as well. “Here’s the unusual thing about this show. I forget that I was in this because I’m enjoying the show so much,” David told me. As far as favorite episodes, “There’s two that I like and I don’t know if Bob had a huge part in either one of these. The ‘Om Nom Nom’ episode, and there’s another one with a creature called Razorkinder Puppet, and he’s especially creepy.”
Andrew agreed, “The Razorkinder episode was one that I liked it because I got so freaked out by the character. It was so wonderfully creepy and nightmarish. It drew me in immediately.”
As far as what’s ahead for the rest of this season, David added that the show will actually be going backward in order to move forward. “The backstory is huge about [the characters’] families and their lives and things that have happened in their past and [it] lets you know why they are the way they are. There’s some really interesting things coming up. It’s almost like a soap opera in a sense. There’s a continuing story going on.”Both actors have extensive voice-acting resumes, including the likes of Teen Titans, Young Justice, G.I. Joe: Renegades and Beast Wars, just to name a few other properties. “I usually play a lot of really heavy, scary characters,” said David, “but one I would recommend is Beast Wars: Transformers. I played a character called Depth Charge.”
As far as Andrew’s resume, his favorite selections skew slightly older. “I played Storm Shadow on G.I. Joe: Renegades. I was in Spectacular Spider-Man. I don’t know if [those shows are] quite as age appropriate [for the Kaijudo audience], but I loved being in those series. Those were great.”
Both actors were also incredibly complimentary of Kaijudo‘s extensive voice cast, which includes voice-acting veterans such as John DiMaggio (Futurama, Dan Vs.), Phil LaMarr (Futurama) and Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad).
“There’s some enormously talented people on this show. David is one of my favorite people. He’s one of the kindest guys I know and he’s so much fun to watch. Bob is this massive creature that also has to have this incredible caring touch. He has to go through these extremes of emotion and he does it absolutely perfectly,” said Andrew. “Phil LaMarr, Dee Bradley Baker, John DiMaggio, Grey DeLisle…dverybody on this series is immensely talented and they’re so, so kind and just really cool to work with.”
Agreed David, “I don’t know how they found this group of people, but we became kind of a family and I think the people at home can hear that we’re having a really good time. Andrew is kind of the Zen master of this show. You feel a sense of peace when he’s performing and there’s things that happen with this character later on. And we haven’t mentioned Scott Wolf. He jumps in there with a huge amount of enthusiasm.”
He also made clear that voice acting is not as easy as fans watching at home might believe. Just because they’re not physically acting doesn’t mean they’re not putting in just as much effort as anyone else. “When you’re doing animation, I think people think you’re just putting on a funny voice and you’re done with it,” he said. “I will sometimes see on message boards where they don’t really get the concept that we love what we do. We are so fortunate to be able to do this for a living and I feel so grateful to be able to make a living doing this. I do feel very devoted to this project in particular and we all want it to be great. No one out there should ever think that we’re just showing up for work and phoning in our performance. We’re there one hundred percent.”
And according to Andrew, that’s in part because they’re closer to their characters than you might think. “One of the things all of us have in common – that is thematically in common with the show – is we were all kind of awkward kids. We all realized that the most important thing was cherishing that which was different about ourselves. It’s never an easy path to walk but it’s a far more rewarding path to walk,” he explained. “The diligence and the dedication that we all have is a direct result of that. [The main characters] Gabe, Ray and Allie are kids that are invested in being exactly who they are. They’re just trying to be who they are.” And that’s a lesson all kids and parents can support, even if you don’t have fantastic battle creatures in your life.
Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters airs Saturdays at 11 AM PT/2 PM ET on The Hub. For more on the show, visit the official website.
For more from Brittany Frederick, follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.