First of all, this is something that I've been tossing around in my head for a while, but everytime I tried to discuss this on other forums that I frequently visit, about 95% of the users never have anything to say about it, positive OR negative! Mostly because, they're never familiar with the voice actors I've chosen for my fantasy cast list! However, I made this thread at Toon Zone and I got a decent handful of responses.
A few months ago, I made this thread at the Kaizoku Fansubs forums and it ended up turning into a dub vs. sub debate. It all happened because of one of the users saying that it would be impossible to make a good dub of One Piece, even if it was in the hands of anyone other than 4Kids. I actually stayed out of it, because I was trying to respect his opinion, but other users decided to turn the thread into a flame war!
This is NOT what I'm trying to start here, either! I'm simply wanting to discuss the possibilities of what would happen if we could choose more suitable voice actors/actresses for the characters, because let's face it… 4Kids really chose some "interesting" VA's to say the least!
So, without further ado, I'm gonna take a page from Wizard magazine and do my own "Casting Call" for One Piece!
Monkey D. Luffy - When I heard that the One Piece anime was coming to the US, I wasn't expecting Luffy to be voiced by a female in the 4Kids dub. At first I was like "whatever" because Erica Schroeder does an okay job as Luffy, but she sometimes makes Luffy sound a little too much like a girl!
Sorry, Erica... but you'd get kicked to the curb.
First of all, we need a guy who's experienced in doing not-too-serious protagonists......
The first time I read the One Piece manga was in an issue of Shonen Jump almost three years ago. I imagined Luffy with a voice similar to SpongeBob's (no, really... I did), but nowhere near as silly and much tougher. In other words, I unwittingly imagined Luffy being voiced by Tom Kenny. As a matter of fact, the way I imagine Luffy's voice is a lot like the voice that Tom uses as Jake Spidermonkey, from My Gym Partner's A Monkey (except not so heavy on the monkey part)!
Long story short, I'd definitely choose Tom Kenny. Partly, because I still read the One Piece manga with Luffy sounding like Raimundo, from Xiaolin Showdown, and because I truly believe he would make an excellent Luffy!
Then again, If I couldn't get Tom, then Billy West would do in a pinch.
Roronoa Zolo - Yes, I said it! Changing "Zoro" to "Zolo" is the most NEGLIGIBLE change made to One Piece. Especially when you compare it to the atrocities 4Kids commited during the Arlong arc (which 4Kids butchered the most)! Besides, I don't hear anyone complaining that they changed "Luffy" to "Ruffy" in the German version!
I'm sorry, but you have no idea how sick I am of hearing "ZOMG tehy changd teh R to teh L die 4kidz lol!!!!!!!!111!" I get a little irritated when I think about this, because I've had quite a few unpleasant experiences dealing with elite anime purists who think they're better than everybody just because they watch ALL their anime subtitled and they think that people who watch any kind of dubs (no matter how good OR bad they are) are the scum of the Earth!
Now that I got THAT out of the way......
If there's ONE thing I gotta give 4Kids credit for, it's casting Mark Diraison as Zolo. He has a great voice for him and he's also one of the better voice-actors on the show. In other words, I wouldn't replace him if I were in charge (the writers need to stop making him say stupid shit, though).
On a sidenote, I usually call him "Zoro" myself, because I've been watching so many One Piece fansubs lately (via Kaizoku Fansubs) that it's become a force of habit. However, variations of his name don't bother me one bit.
Nami - Aye yai yai...... This one's a mixed bag for me. Kerry Williams has a GREAT voice for Nami, but her delivery needs work. She sounds great ONE moment, then she sounds like an annoyed (annoying?) Valley Girl the next! She's gotten much better since the beginning of the series, where she had the most problems, but she still has room for improvement.
Like I said, Kerry has a good voice, but there's a problem with consistency in her performances. I'd like someone who could perform a good job at any given moment.
I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'd snatch up Grey DeLisle in a heartbeat! She could easily give Nami a voice similar to Frankie, from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, or Daphne, from Scooby Doo and I'd be happy! Grey's so good that I'd actually give a pinky just to hear an audio performance of her reinacting that famous scene fron the Arlong arc! From Nami repeatedly screaming out Arlong's name at the top of her lungs, all the way to her whimpering out "Luffy... Help me!" in a faint, saddened voice!
It'd be so awesome that I'd give my OTHER pinky to hear Tom Kenny follow up by screaming "DAMN RIGHT, I WILL!!!" at the top of HIS lungs!
Usopp - Jason Anthony Griffith could be a decent Usopp if he didn't do that "broken voiced teenager" stuff in his performances. At least he's got a decent voice for Sonic the Hedgehog (but he's no Ryan Drummond). Then again, I wouldn't even mind the broken voice because Jason isn't the problem...... The problem is 4Kids, who neutered poor Usopp in the first place!
On to my pick......
When I read my One Piece fan-scanlations to the Kuro arc for the first time, I tried to imagine Usopp with a voice similar to another overly-hysterical, big-talking, yet, at the same time...... well-meaning kid.
What I came up with was the voice of Invader Zim's Dib.
Andy Berman, who actually hasn't done voiceover work since Invader Zim ended, would be PERFECT for the Straw Hat Crew's lying sharpshooter! In fact, the more I think about it, the more it hurts knowing how much it would OWN to have Andy as Usopp!
Sanji - You can talk and talk and talk about how badly David Moo is butchering Sanji, but you really shouldn't be so hard on him (I know what you're thinking, but hear me out). Somehow, I actually imagine David Moo having the potential for being a decent Sanji. Don't believe me? Then listen to some of his performances during the Baratie arc. David's delivery is actually excellent in some scenes (like Sanji's speech about feeding the hungry) and if anything, he does retain Sanji's trademark attitude.
There's honestly someone on the 4Kids cast, who is WORSE than David (more on that later)!
So yeah...... Flame me all you want, but I believe that David Moo has tremendous potential. But seriously......... WTF is up with the Sylvester Stallone/Marlon Brando/Dr. Girlfriend hybrid voice, Dave?!
I have a solution for this, however......
STEVEN JAY BLUM!!!
Too cool for words as it is, Steve would instantly get a phone call from me! Sure, he's pretty much the Samuel L. Jackson of voice-acting, because he's in almost every currently-airing cartoon/anime on TV today, but let's face it...... he's one bad muthafucka (just like Samuel L. Jackson)! Besides, he has a good voice AND he has tremendous experience when it comes to playing cool guys with attitude (Just like Samuel L. Jackson)!
Tony Tony Chopper - Lisa Ortiz is a good voice actress with whom, I really have no problem...... except for the fact that I'm pretty much tired of hearing that SAME squeaky little girl voice in EVERY one of 4Kids' shows! Yu-Gi-Oh!, Ultimate Muscle, Sonic X, and some other 4Kids shows I can't think of right now, but I'm sure Lisa's in those too!
Instead, I'd pick Wendee Lee to do the voice of Chopper! She can do a pretty good child's voice. I'm thinking that the voice of Digimon's TK would do nicely in Chopper's case.
Actually, I'd either pick Wendee, or the lady who does the voice of Shippo in Inuyasha.
EDIT After a Google search, I learned that Jillian Michaels voices Shippo in Inuyasha.
Other characters that come to mind......
Shanks - "Take me bloomin' hat...... An' lose whoever's doin' me exaggerated accent!"
This one is still puzzling to me, because everytime I try to imagine how Shanks would sound, that ridiculous accent always pops into my head! I wouldn't mind hearing him with a English accent, but only if it sounded like a REAL English accent!
Buggy - I actually like his current voice actor, but as much as I'd like to hear Chris Latta doing Buggy's trademark high-pitched freakout voice, he's dead (R.I.P.)
Alvida (both Fattie AND Hottie versions) - Don't like the Texas accent. It especially doesn't sound right coming out of her post-Slip Slip Fruit form.
Tress McNeille who does voices in The Simpsons, Futurama, and various Disney cartoons, could probably bring Alvida to life in a way no one could ever imagine!
Kuro - Kuro's a jerkface (to say the very least) and a totally incurable psychopath! Also, I kinda liked the snooty butler voice that he had, so I'd hang on to whoever did his voice.
Mihawk - Antonio Banderas...... 'nuff said.
Don Krieg - He had a decent voice in the 4Kids version, but I'd probably pick Jim Cummings for the part. Jim is another veteran and he can do burly tough guys pretty easily (besides, there aren't enough mainstream VA's doing work in anime).
Arlong - I like his English voice, but I'd choose Dameon Clarke, since Arlong's Japanese voice sounds exactly like Dameon's Perfect Cell voice in DBZ! All he has to do is a couple of good "SHA-HA-HA" laughs and I'm sold!
Smoker - Kevin Conroy would be a perfect choice for this guy! Sure, he's best known for being the voice of Batman for almost 14 years, but his current, less-brooding Batman voice (as heard in Justice League Unlimited) would sound great coming out of Smoker's mouth!
Tashigi - I don't know who does her voice, but I do know that it's not the voice of a nerdy swordswoman. As a matter of fact, it's too deep and her voice actress isn't very good. Gwendolyn Lau, who voices Sciezka in Fullmetal Alchemist, would be a better voice actress for her IMO.
Miss Wednesday/Princess Nefertari Vivi - Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought "Team Rocket" when I saw Mr. 9 and Miss Wednesday for the first time! Rachel Lillis--who voices Misty and Jesse in Pokemon--would be PERFECT as Vivi and Eric Stuart--who does Brock and James in Pokemon--would be equally perfect as Mr. 9!
Besides, Rachel is a great voice-actress, which is more than I can say for Kayzie Rogers! That woman is the most ATROCIOUS voice-actress I've heard on One Piece! Not since Thundercats, have I ever heard voice acting so terrible! I actually despise her even more than David Moo...... and I actually like David now! Kayzie may be the Princess, but she really needs to be DETHRONED! Vivi plays such a crucial role in this arc, but IMO, it's because of Kayzie, that the phrase, "Alabasta Disasta" makes much more sense!
Portgas D. Ace (Unlike "Zolo", I think "Trace" is a stupid name-change) - I recently heard his Japanese voice for the first time, and discovered that it's the same guy who voiced Piccolo in the Japanese version of DB/Z/GT! I used to imagine Teen Titans voice actor, Scott Menville being able to do this role in his sleep (using a more mature, Nightwing voice), but ever since I heard his awesome 4Kids voice, I've been debating pretty hard on which one I would want to keep around!
Mr. 2 Bon Clay - His "Little Richard" voice is waaaaay different from the loud and obnoxious voice he had in the Japanese version, but I actually like it. Tom Kenny has done homosexual-esque voices before, but if he doubled as Bon Clay, he would have the perfect chance to cut loose with the zanyness!
Mr. 1 - Kevin Michael Richardson...... 'nuff said
Miss All-Sunday/Nico Robin - Veronica Taylor could stay, but on one condition...... There wouldn't be anymore Southern Belle stuff! All I ask for is a calm, sexy voice with a hint of mystery sprinkled in there!
Crocodile - I still can't believe that 4Kids re-used the same guy who did Axe-Hand Morgan (and he still sounded like Morgan)! I'd be happy with this voice if I hadn't already heard it from another character in the show!
I really think that Clancy Brown would be awesome as the head of Baroque Works! I mean, he's already experienced in playing another power-hungry madman! All I'd have to do is tell Clancy to pretend he's doing Lex Luthor and watch him go to work!
BTW, I was prompted to start this thread here when Anime Master mentioned Clancy in the 4Kids dub thread.
There, finished! I know it's long, but I put a great deal of thought into this. This is just something I came up with for fun and thought that people would be interested in reading and commenting on it. Oh, and if you want, don't hesitate to share your own ideas for a cast list (if you have any)!
However, before anybody thinks about being snide and telling me that this thread is pointless just because I can't change the cast for real, don't bother! I know I can't change the voice actors, and if I could, I wouldn't be sitting around talking about it, that's for sure! And another thing, just because I mentioned that I liked some of the 4Kids VA's, don't be petty and flame me about it!
sigh If only the voice actors/actresses didn't suck, then all that'd be left is getting better writers to refine a translated script, no skipping/splicing episodes, better background music (the original, preferably), and much more lenient censors (or none at all)! Hell, I'm pretty much saying that FUNimation or Viz should've dubbed One Piece!
It's fun to dream......