Gabbin’ with Genji: A Gaku Space Interview

Being Genji Shimada of Overwatch

Every time, it started with an empty chair. Then, Gaku Space waltzed to the center of the stage. Overwatch hero Genji was in Asia Pacific Comicon Manila 2017 in the flesh. Many wouldn’t be shocked if he was the real Genji. In fact, even Gaku Space himself shared that he’s a lot like the Shimada brother. They were both raised in Japan and heavily valued honor and discipline. Gaku Space wouldn’t be surprised if Genji also trained in martial arts and kendo, just like he did.

He also felt a great kinship to Genji as it was among his most Japanese role, next to Gouki/Akuma from Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist.  Gaku Space loved all of Genij’s skins, especially the new upcoming ones! Sadly, he couldn’t share with us what they were since he’s never seen them, though he knows what their themes. Out of the many Genji voicelines he’s recorded, there was one that was Gaku Space’s favorite.

Although Gaku Space looks like he was born to play Genji Shimada, the role didn’t simply land on the Japanese actor’s lap. Blizzard first looked to Gaku Space’s homeland for their Genji seiyuu, este voice actor. They later spread their search across the world, before returning to American shores. Blizzard’s tryouts were tough. Crispin Freeman, a veteran voice actor, had to audition thrice for his Winston role. Gaku Space only found out about the role through a friend of his who was looking for anyone who had a background in action as well as spoke Japanese and English. Gaku Space knew he was perfect for the role. He was so perfect that he only had to audition a grand total of once.

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Voice-acting and Blizzard

Much to everyone’s shock, Gaku Space and many other Overwatch voice actors don’t go to Blizzard offices. He traveled to the recording studios in Los Angeles rather than the much farther Blizzard offices in Burbank. Many of them only receive their scripts the day before recording. Gaku Space recalled one his most enjoyable experiences recording Genji voice lines. One day, during a three-hour stint at the recording studio, his script contained the words “Orisa” and “Doomfist.” He had absolutely no clue what these meant and contacted his best friend Johnny Cruz, the voice actor of Lucio, about it. Johnny was supremely disappointed because he had a 45-minute recording session with zero indications of these future heroes. They don’t really get to interact with the Overwatch cast or developers, except for Jeff Kaplan and Michael Chu, Overwatch’s Lead Designer, and Lead Writer, respectively.

Although he doesn’t get to contribute any lines for his character, Gaku Space does try to make sure the game’s Japanese voice lines were accurate. Gaku Space couldn’t really share more juicy details other than to expect a lot more cool stuff to come. He said there was already THREE more cinematics being developed, but don’t expect any more Shimada brother specific content.

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Overall, Gaku Space enjoyed working for Blizzard and acknowledged they’re one of the video companies that pay well. However, they don’t get residual pay, like they would from movies or tv shows. He laughed that he’s going to need more TV and movie roles if he wants to build his own house. Gaku Space felt incredibly overwhelmed and grateful for being part of the Overwatch family. He’s honestly very surprised about being recognized in many places, despite “only being in a video game.” He does have high hopes and trust in Blizzard regarding handling a possible Overwatch live action tv series or movie, citing the impressive visuals of the Warcraft movie. He’ll need a lot more training though if he manages to play Genji again. He’s definitely got the voice for it!

@Gakuspace has a special message for #overwatch fans at #apccph2017 #asiapopcomicon

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“Genji is a cat person,” declared Gaku Space. Sorry dog lovers, that came straight from the heroic cyborg’s mouth.

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Emile Josef
Emile Josef
Jack of All Trades, Master of None,
I'll write about anything under the sun.
Anime, Games, Comics, or Food,
I'll give it a looksie, as long as it's good.
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