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One Punch Man And Final Fantasy VII's Max Mittelman Compares Anime Voice Work To Western Animation - Exclusive

If you're an animation fan, you know Max Mittelman's voice. With over 225 credits on IMDb, spanning everything from Saitama in "One Punch Man" to Tim Templeton in "The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib," he's done it all. Mittelman boasts a stunningly massive set of credentials, including major Western animation entries for Netflix, Marvel, DC, and more, as well as anime vocal performances for a variety of fan-favorite series like "Sword Art Online" and "Hunter x Hunter." 

In a wide-ranging interview, we spoke with Mittelman and "The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib" co-star JP Karliak about the new Netflix show and their considerable experience with very different kinds of series. In the interview, Mittelman gave insight into the unique workflow that makes his voice work in anime diverge significantly from vocal performances in Western animation. To give an English-language performance of anime characters, it's not as simple as merely reading from a translated script.

Anime voice work is a wildly different process

Max Mittelman revealed that the two forms of work are substantially different, and the differences largely stem from wildly divergent workflows and purposes. "For one," he explained, "Western animation is a completely original performance. You can't rely on the animation because it happens after the fact." It's a performer in a booth with a script, trying to bring as much complexity to the character as possible with only the written word to rely on.

Doing English-language performances from existing anime is a much more complex process. "In anime, you are literally watching someone else's performance in another language," he clarified, "and then, not copying, but doing your version of their performance." In a sense, it's adapting an existing performance of an existing character for a new audience — not so much building a character from scratch as a reinterpretation of it.

He explained further that "It's kind of like voice matches, in a way ... but it's more technical for sure. You don't get to go outside the box as much as, say, I do in 'Boss Baby' as Tim."

It's certainly a novel set of challenges that vocal performers have to navigate through, and it's surprising how different working conditions can dramatically alter the vocal performances themselves (much like the difference between voicing video games and series). You can see Mittelman's latest work, "The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib,'" on Netflix.