Veronica Taylor is well known to anime fans as the original voice of Ash Ketchum in Pokémon. Taylor voiced the character for nearly ten years including various Pokémon movies. Her other notable anime credits includes Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun from The Slayers TV series and Sailor Pluto in Sailor Moon (Viz Media Dub). She’s also provided the voice for April O’Neil in 2003 verison of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Veronica was one the many guests at October 2018’s MCM Comic Con in London. Bunkazilla took part in the voice actor’s main press conference during the event. So read on to discover how Veronica landed the role of Ash and her thoughts on Pokémon’s endearing appeal today.
Q: So, how’s your weekend been so far at MCM?
Veronica: It’s been fantastic. Huge crowds, I can’t believe how busy it is today. And I’ve seen many people, people I’ve seen at other shows have come back, and then I’ve met a lot of new people as well. It’s been fantastic.
Q: How does it feel, looking around and seeing so much love for Pokémon after all of these years?
Veronica: Yeah, isn’t it extraordinary that it’s lasted this long? I think there’s something about, especially with the show, there’s something that we all … that’s real in the unrealness, that we can all relate to that journey, whether we are ten or still ten somehow inside. But I think that’s a testament to, I guess, the real story behind all the merchandise and all of that, that that’s luckily, I think, what seeped in. But isn’t it … I mean, 20 years on, here we are still talking about it? It’s really great.
Q: How did you actually get the English role of Ash?
Veronica: I was working on another anime called Slayers, and the people who had cast me in that were doing the casting for Pokémon, so I was simply asked to come audition. So it’s like, you know, as an actor you’re just, you’re always auditioning for a million things, and it’s not like you go, “I’ll take that, but I won’t audition for this.” Anything that comes, you go, “Yeah, I’m right for it,” and you just jump in. So Pokémon was just one of those things that, I was lucky to get the audition and then even luckier to get the job.
Q: You’re well known for Ash Ketchum, but is there a character within the Pokémon universe that you would like to have voiced that you didn’t get a chance to?
Veronica: I wish I were still voicing Ash, we didn’t have a choice to leave the show, so I certainly wish I were still on it. It was really joyful and to be working with all the people involved was fantastic. I’ve never really thought about like … Do I wish I were Misty or Brock or someone else? I’ve not really thought about that, actually. I think as an actor you have to deal with what you have, not what you don’t have, so I often don’t dwell on the “I wish I were, I wish I had” type things.
Q: Where does Ash’s voice actually comes from?
Veronica: When we first auditioned for Pokémon, we were basing the voices on the original Japanese actors and actresses. We got to go in and see a tiny clip from Pokémon, and from listening to it on the tiny TV, hearing the voice, and then you just jump in the booth and do your best kind of impression of that. So we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. It was just really listen and go, “Okay, I think I’ve got it,” and then just do it. So it was based on that, and then I think it was allowed to kind of transform into what it eventually became while I was working on it. Even within the first season, it transitioned a bit from a million people kind of directing to just two or three people directing by the end. So it was matching the original’s.
Q: What it is like as a female playing a ten year old boy?
Veronica: Extraordinary! But I’ve played a lot of sports my whole life. I was doing a stunt show before that, and so doing sports and combat and all of that stuff is kind of what I do anyway. I think there’s something about Ash that is part of all of us, so yes, I was playing a boy, but I was playing a character who was exuberant and positive and just kind of naïve, especially in the beginning, and just out on his own. So you can play that … I could have played that if he were a sheep, I think, or something, you know what I mean? You can just … I think when you’re creating a character, you have to figure out what their essence is, and you’re playing that. And then you can add the age or the sex or the animal characteristics or whatever they are on top of it. But it was pretty natural.
Q: What would you say was the most challenging thing about voice acting Ash?
Veronica: Ash’s voice is kind of back in here, and so it’s not the most vocally hygienic, so you can’t … there’s not a lot of air that comes through. So the most challenging is making sure that you are taking care of yourself, that you know how to properly place it, and if you start getting a cold, you know where to put it so that it can move around. If your nose is blocked, how do you get it to come out of that? Instead of, even though most of us resonate up here. So that’s probably the most challenging, is staying healthy for any role that you play, but especially for that.
Q: Was there a favourite Pokémon generation, was it Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh?
Veronica: I love the very beginning when they were in the Orange Islands. It was the most simple, and we were all figuring out what this journey was gonna be about and, I don’t know, there was something for me like, roaming along on a beach and just getting fruit off the tree, I was like, “This … what a great world this is!” And it’s so, that’s not what my life in New York City was like, unless I went to my community garden. So I don’t know, I loved that. And then it got more complicated and everything as it went on, but the beginning was, it was just simple, and I think it allows you as the viewer and as the actor to really, I don’t know, connect with your imagination and be on the journey, because it wasn’t all done for you. So I think that’s why I like that the best.
Q: In your opinion, why do you think Pokémon has resonated for so long into popular culture?
Veronica: Yeah, there’s something about it that we all kind of glom onto. When kids are younger, there’s all that to learn, and your parents have no idea what you’re talking about. And I think there’s something wonderful about that and being able to teach your parents about it. And that so many parents just were like, “I don’t know anything about it,” and then they were able to share that. I think as we get older and then you learn how to use your own skill, with playing the games. But then, after a certain time … this is 20 years on now, so a lot of kids are in their 30s who started watching it when they were ten, and to be able to kind of pop back to when you were ten, when you didn’t have all that responsibility, when you were just kind of dreaming about what you wanted to be, to be able to take a moment and revisit who you were at ten? I think Pokémon kind of allows you to do that. In an odd way, it’s not marketable, but I think it does. There’s something about it that I think that’s why we all still love it. So it’s multi-layered, I think. Genius, right?
Q: Have you ever actually sat down to play any of the Pokémon games yourself?
Veronica: I’ve played a little bit of Pokémon Red because I have a DS, but we don’t really have any video game consoles or anything at home. And then I have Pokémon Go, of course, on my phone. I don’t play it that often cause I’m not on my phone so much, but the fact that I have it and I could is pretty much all I need. I’m really the worst trainer on that. I think I’m level 8 and have been for like a year or so. I don’t know, I’m terrible.
Q: Speaking of trainers, have you put thought into what your Pokémon team would be?
Veronica: No, I never have actually. Ash was determined to get something and he had to take what he got, so I think I would be the same. Just be lucky to get what I’d gotten. But I’ve never thought about choosing a Pokémon. Yeah, so no, I haven’t put any thought other than that. I chose Valor for Pokémon Go and that’s pretty much the biggest choice I’ve ever made, so, you know.
Q: What Pokémon do you think you are the most like?
Veronica: Gosh, I wish I were more like a Lapras, because Lapras just floats along and is so calm. But I think ultimately, I might be more like Pikachu who can get along and then could also just like … when frustrated, can kind of … I hope my anger isn’t like a lightning bolt, but you know, I think Pikachu does let out emotion like that. And so I think I’m temperamental, a bit. Yeah, let’s go with that and more explanations later.
Q: Other than Pikachu, what is your favourite Pokémon?
Veronica: Pikachu’s definitely my favourite. My daughter and I always joked that if we had a Charizard, we could fly around New York City and Los Angeles, so it seems like it would be a better thing. We do go camping, and we’re not very good at building the fire, so having a Charizard would be pretty handy.
Q: What’s been your favourite part of Comic Con?
Veronica: Coming here and talking to people. I love hearing everyone’s stories. To feel a part of your families is amazing. And my daughter and I travel so much together to Comic Cons, and so for my family to be part of your family, it’s such an honour. That never gets old, and it’s the same all around the world. And to be part of that is great. And I think MCM is such a lovely, lovely show, and the people who are on the crew here are extraordinary, so I love coming here and being part of that.
Bunkazilla UK would like to thank Veronica Taylor for her time during the event and thank the press team at MCM Comic Con for arranging the press conference. Check out other interviews from Bunkazilla here.
To find out when the next MCM Comic Con event is taking place, visit their website for more information.
You can listen to Veronica as Ash in a selection of Pokemon DVD and Blu-Ray releases – such as Indigo League, Pokemon: The First Movie and more from Manga Entertainment.