Interview:Kira Buckland (December 2021)
An interview with Kira Buckland, the English dub voice actress for Reimi Sugimoto and Jolyne Cujoh, and JoJo’s Bizarre Encyclopedia. It was originally posted on the wiki's official news site on December 16, 2021.
About Kira’s Role as Jolyne Cujoh:
You managed to fulfill your long-time dream of being Jolyne. What was your reaction upon hearing the selection?
I was honestly in total disbelief. Even up until my first session it felt like a dream. I kept waking up every day wondering if it was still real. When I first heard my voice played back as her I almost started crying. In this industry we have to get used to dealing with so much disappointment and rejection, so it’s kind of dangerous to get attached to the idea of any one role, but I’m so passionate about JoJo that this was going to be an exception for me no matter what.
On one hand I still can’t believe it actually happened, and on the other hand I’m like “I’ve been trying to shape my destiny for the past eight years for this to happen.” This is literally the best thing career-wise I could have asked for.
What do you like about Jolyne that made you aspire to voice her?
Well, of course I wanted to play a Joestar! But aside from that, I feel like she is a very strong, well-written, nuanced and interesting character.
How did you tackle having to do Jolyne’s “ORA ORA ORA”s?
This was something I practiced for literally years, because I knew I’d have to nail it if I wanted to book the role someday. But one thing that can be difficult is that not only do you have to focus on making the ORAs clear and powerful, but you also have to match the timing of the animation exactly. It’s easy to go a little too long or too short if you’re not careful, and if the timing is off you’ll have to redo it. One trick I use is to watch the timecodes as well as cues in the animation that show me when I need to stop ORAing. Sometimes it’s trial and error!
When practicing your performance, did you take inspiration from Miyuki Sawashiro’s Jolyne voice from All-Star Battle and Eyes of Heaven, or did you use your own approach?
Yes! Since this was the first time we heard Jolyne voiced in any official media, this performance really gave me a great baseline for coming up with ideas on how she might sound in English.
I knew it would likely be a different actor for the anime as opposed to the games, so of course, when I first heard her anime voice I focused on matching that.
Does dubbing in JoJo feel different than voicing in any other series? Some Japanese voice actors have mentioned that it is, because of Araki’s unique dialogue and tendency to elongate characters’ words in Japanese. How is it like in English?
For me it somehow felt very natural to step into the role of Jolyne, but I could understand someone feeling a little surprised if they weren’t already familiar with the series!
Jolyne’s emotions and tone frequently change throughout episodes. Talking cutely to Gwess while mimicking a rat, gently speaking to Emporio, and angrily screaming several times… Was it difficult for you to balance all these different aspects?
It was really challenging but also really fun! A lot of it comes down to acting training and practice, because no well-written character is one-dimensional, so with any character you play, you have to find those nuances and show off all the aspects of their personality.
I have been acting professionally for around a decade now and spent many hours dubbing anime, so I think that helped me level up the skills I needed to be ready for the role. But, I also think it helps a bit that I read the manga and was familiar with the character. A lot of credit goes to the voice directors too for guiding us along the process.
Which moment from the Stone Ocean manga are you most looking forward to voice?
The snail scene from the Heavy Weather arc.
You’ve been a JoJo fan since 2013, right? What made you start reading or watching it?
A couple friends introduced me to the anime (only Phantom Blood & Battle Tendency had been animated fully, and Stardust Crusaders was just starting.) At first I thought it wouldn’t be my thing, but I slowly became addicted, and then I read the manga and there was no going back! When I get really passionate about something, I tend to go all-in—cosplay, panels, events, etc.
We know from your other interviews that you would have your own Stand named 「Insomniac」 that could turn any liquid substance into coffee, but if you could have any existing Stand from the series, what would it be?
This is a tough one because do I choose a Stand that is very powerful, or one that I like the design of? I think Killer Queen covers both of those bases.
You’ve mentioned in tweets before that Diego Brando from Steel Ball Run is your “husbando”. Who would you want to voice act as Diego in either the English or Japanese dubs if we ever get a Part 7 anime?
While I don’t necessarily think he needs to be portrayed by the same actor as DIO, I did really enjoy Takehito Koyasu’s voice and performance as Diego in the games. So if he ended up playing Diego again in the anime, I wouldn’t complain at all.
What are your thoughts about JoJolion now that it’s over? What are you hoping to see in JOJOLANDS (Part 9)? Do you have any songs or bands you would like to see referenced?
JoJolion was such a wild ride and perhaps the most “bizarre” of all the parts so far, in my opinion. I’ve seen people have mixed opinions on the main villain, but I thought his Stand was a really interesting concept and different from the time/space-related powers that a lot of the Big Bads in JoJo tend to have. Plus, the fact that we saw both the user and the Stand but did not immediately connect them at first added interest.
For Part 9, I’d really love to see another female protagonist. While it would be difficult to ever top Jolyne, I’d love to see what design and personality and Stand powers Araki might come up with. In terms of musical references…of course I’d always like more David Bowie.
What kinds of things have you done or talked about in your JoJo convention panels before the pandemic? In one video, you talked about having a table full of napkins and the person who picks the first napkin gets a prize, which sounds like a neat idea.
I try to make my panels both informative and fun, so there is always a lot of audience participation involved. I will share a bit about Araki’s influences as well as JoJo’s influence on popular culture in general, and would usually give audience members the chance to answer obscure trivia questions about the manga in exchange for prizes.
Sometimes at bigger cons, the tasks to get prizes would get more creative, like having them do the Torture Dance or sing the Pizza Mozzarella song. At the end we have a posing contest, where the winners are decided based on crowd engagement. I hand-make some of the prizes but I’ve also bought bigger prizes from the dealers’ room to give out, like figurines. We have a lot of fun!
We noticed that there can be a lot of fake info spreading around on news sites or public databases regarding voice actors and celebrities, such as CBR publishing a wrong list of the English dub cast for Stone Ocean that they got from somebody’s wish list post on the old JoJo wiki. Is there anything you would like to say about this?
I think people need to take care to check their sources when sharing information. If you don’t hear something from either:
- The actors themselves on their official accounts
- The clients/studio/distributor publishing an official cast list
- The actual credits
Then assume it’s just speculation. It’s also important to note that many times, cast and crew are under strict non-disclosure agreements until a project is released, so they cannot confirm or deny anything even if you tag or message them asking about it. I know it can be frustrating to wait, but spreading unconfirmed information can cause a lot of problems. Once actors are allowed to share their involvement in something, you’ll definitely know.
The following are questions that we compiled from members in our Discord server.
What was your favorite scene to record and what was the weirdest? It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I really enjoyed recording the scene where Jotaro visits Jolyne in prison for the first time, because I think that’s such an important moment between them and shows off how complicated Jolyne’s relationship to her father is.
As for weirdest? Well…all of JoJo is “weird”, so that’s difficult to narrow down.
I wonder what it’s like to switch from playing a sweet girl like Reimi to a hardcore tough girl like Jolyne. Do you think Reimi and Jolyne would be friends?
I feel like one of my biggest strengths as an actor is my range. I’m fortunate to not really have a “typecast”—-I’ve been able to play all sorts of characters, and that’s part of what makes my job fun.
It’s hard to imagine Reimi and Jolyne interacting, as the settings and circumstances between parts 4 and 6 are so different.
Since you’re familiar with the manga’s events, does it feel perplexing to see the differences in the anime? Are there scenes you’re hoping will get to stay in as is?
I think it’s fairly common for there to be slight differences between the manga and anime adaptation in any series. As long as it stays true to the story and characters, I don’t really have an issue with it. I’ve been quite happy with the anime adaptation of all the parts so far, although I would still encourage everyone to read the manga for the full [gold] experience.
Do you want to voice any of the characters from Part 7 or 8?
I feel really fortunate to have already gotten to play two great JoJo girls, so at this point I think I’d just want a few lines as a random background character to continue the meme of having appeared somewhere in every part since the part 3 dub. And I’m excited to see what new actors will eventually appear in the series.
But if I had to pick a named character, I’d say Hato Higashikata.
What are your thoughts on having to say the localized names of characters and Stands because they come from copyrighted song titles, album titles, bands, and so forth?
As a big classic rock fan (whose music taste was actually largely influenced by JoJo!) it still feels a little “wrong” to me, because I am so used to the original names. But, I completely understand why it has to be that way for copyright reasons. At least the funnier ones have given us some great meme material!
★ (For example, Limp Bizkit‘s localized name in the video games is “Flaccid Pancake”)
As the last in a long line of Joestars in the original JoJo series, do you feel like you have a responsibility to live up to the legacies of the ones that came before you?
Absolutely. A lot of it was just wanting to make sure I did the character justice in general, but I’m friends with the dub actors for several of the other Joestars, and I think they did a really great job—for example, Phillip Reich’s 7-page “muda” was phenomenal. I knew that especially with the Stand cries, it was important to get it right.
What’s the most difficult part about voicing your character(s)? Were there any times where you had to repeat certain lines to the point of exhaustion?
One challenging thing about playing Jolyne is that Fairouz Ai is absolutely perfect for this character, so the bar is set EXTREMELY high in the original Japanese performance. She really goes all out with all the screaming, and I want to match it the best I can, but it does mean that I can lose my voice if I’m not careful.
During my time recording for the show, I would look up techniques meant for rock singers so that I could try to learn to scream more safely. I would say that there is a lot of vocal stress involved in playing this role, but it is 100% worth it to me because this is what I want more than anything.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share for aspiring voice actors or for others pursuing their dreams?
I wrote a long thread on Twitter related to this, but basically, pursuing dreams must go hand-in-hand with taking actionable steps. The absolute most important thing is that you must learn to be a good actor – there are no real “shortcuts” to being bookable if you don’t have the basic foundations down for how to play a character in a way that is believable and compelling.
Some great ways to hone your acting instincts include taking acting classes, studying the work of performers you look up to, practicing reading and recording on your own, and getting involved in online projects even just as a hobby. I help admin a site called Voice Acting Club with resources that people may find helpful.