Greetings Bulbagarden members,
It has been quite some time since that fateful year of 2006, when a great uproar was caused due to The Pokemon Company international’s decision to change the voice actors of the American anime dub. Some of you may remember that during the time, a group of bold fans known as Save Our Voice Actors arose to protest TPCi’s action.
SOVA originally formed after fans heard that TPCi was going to switch dubbing companies, taking production away from 4Kids Entertainment and replacing the voice actors starting in "The Mastermind of Mirage Pokemon" special episode. With the goal of stopping the voice change, SOVA was well known throughout large Pokemon communities such as Bulbagarden and Serebii. They carried out their message mainly by writing letters, emails, and petitions to TPCi. In the end though, TPCi used the new voices anyway, despite the protests. No real reasons were given, other than rumors that doing so would save the company a little money in production costs. There was a lot of support for SOVA, but plenty of opposition as well. The movement essentially split the fans into two sides that often fought over the issue of voice acting. It even got to the point where false claims and threats to voice actors and supporters pushed SOVA into the shadows. Altogether, they had a large impact but suffered multiple issues that eventually led to their disbanding.
Since then, Pokemon has undergone further changes beyond the voice acting. New characters travel with Ash now, as both Misty and Brock have left the series (Misty left even before the voices changed). Team Rocket has adopted a more serious nature and the trio has wisened up considerably. In late 2008, Madeline Blaustein (Meowth’s original English voice) died while asleep; an event that was heavy on the hearts of many fans. Truthfully, to some people, many factors that contributed to Pokemon’s success seem to have slipped away. Yet to this day, Pokemon still goes on, with new adventures, characters, and fans coming and going with each season. For some fans, these changes might not be that big of a deal while others are still thirsty for the formula they always knew.
In light of what has passed and what is still to come, I, Bluelatios, would like to begin the renewal of Save Our Voice Actors here at Bulbagarden. For the past several months, me and several other members have been slowly rebuilding and refining SOVA on Facebook. I believe that it’s time we made ourselves known to the rest of the Pokemon fanbase. Before this continues however, I would like to apologize on behalf of the words and actions of some of SOVA’s members. Many of us fans said hurtful things to each other, to new and old VA’s, and to TPCi in the wake of 2006. The unnecessary flame war that ensued is what got SOVA into trouble with Bulbagarden’s authorities and shut us down. Our name was tarnished and our leaders and supporters slowly gave up hope in succeeding. Rest assured we have learned a lot from our actions, good and bad. I believe that we fans can do better while at the same time, become a more vocal fandom towards TPCi. As a new SOVA leader, I’ll do everything I can to ensure we don’t fall into the same pattern again.
Today, SOVA’s primary goal is still to return the original voice actors to the dub, starting with Veronica Taylor as Ash Ketchum. These dedicated, talented actors gave a soul to each of their characters for 8 years. They deserve to once again bring life to the dub. Due to Pokemon's numerous changes however, we'd also like to expand our scope. In addition to supporting the original voices of Ash, Jessie, James, etc. some of you may wish to advocate further restoration of the classic Pokemon anime. Such goals may include;
a: Returning Misty and Brock to the anime, along with their original VA's (Eric Stuart and Rachel Lillis)
b: Changing the Team Rocket trio back to their witty, comical attitude
c: Calling forth improvements in plot and character dialogue to reflect a similar style to the older episodes. Changes in this are sometimes hard to pinpoint over time, but some can agree that Pokemon is lacking quality in these areas.
All of these factors contributed greatly to the overall success of Pokemon. To accomplish these goals, we must grow as a dedicated community so that TPC/TPCi will respond to our plea. You can help us accomplish this by sharing your passion and actively discussing how the voice actors, characters, and episodes in the 4Kids dub were important to you.
Hope exists as long as you believe in it. Despite what happened in the past, the simple fact is there are still people today who love Pokemon the way it used to be, and always will! The Pokemon Company has the ability to make choices regarding Pokemon, and we fans have the ability to speak up in hopes of influencing those choices. These are the the primary reasons why SOVA is being reconstructed.
Ultimately, the grand vision of SOVA is to make a new place in the fandom and bring life, humor, passion, and soul back to Pokemon. Will we succeed in our goal? The answer is uncertain. Regardless, The Pokemon Company will once again hear us. Here at Save Our Voice Actors we have a reason to support the best of Pokemon again, a reason to be proud fans, and a reason to believe in what we feel is right. There is one lesson learned from Pokemon that stands out here; never give up on what’s truly important to you! Together, we really do have the power to make a difference!
Fellow Pokemon fans, with your help we will strive to create a better future for the voice actors, for the fans, and for the entire Pokemon franchise!
Section II: That being said, if you’d like to help SOVA’s cause beyond providing lively discussion, I encourage you to write to The Pokemon Company International. Just as it was in the past, it is the best way to get our opinions directly into the hands of the producers of Pokemon.
Comments can be sent to them at support.pokemon.com (you need to make an account there) and clicking on “ask a question”. They often use automated responses, but they do read the emails. Another effective method would be to send them real letters at;
The Pokemon Company International
333 108th Ave NE Suite 1900
Bellevue, WA 98004
We still have a petition that you can sign to bring Veronica back as Ash at:
Veronica Taylor as Ash Ketchum Petition
It's a little bit dated, but its core purpose remains the same: to record the number of Veronica Taylor supporters. As of this post, it already has over 1,500 signatures! Remember to sign with both your first and last name. If you leave a comment, please don't curse, vent your anger at TPCi, or emphasize hatred of the new voice actors. Instead, write a sound and thoughtful message detailing your opinion.
Finally, perhaps one of the best things you can do is to spread the word! Tell your friends on Facebook, Youtube, fan sites etc.! We want everyone who is a long-time Pokemon fan to know who we are and what we’re about. Please don’t rub it in their faces, just calmly explain our goals and philosophy, and let every fan decide for themselves if they want to take action.
Section III: I’d also like to establish some rules & guidelines regarding SOVA’s presence on Bulbagarden and in the fandom.
#1; As listed in Bulbagarden’s own rules & guidelines, The first and foremost key to remember is to treat all others with respect. Not everybody will agree with us, and it’s wrong to attempt to make them bend to your viewpoint. Even though everyone is entitled to their opinion, there are bound to be a few haters and trolls. Just remember, “don’t feed the trolls”. If someone attempts to harass or “flame bait” you, simply walk away and notify the forum staff immediately.
#2 ties in with the first rule; Please don’t bash any characters, production companies, or voice actors. Nobody is perfect, and it certainly isn’t right to insult the new VA’s for signing on to their career, even if you don’t think their performance is any good.
#3: This is not a debate thread, therefore there will be no comparison between new and old voice actors/characters. Allowing debate could run the risk of things turning ugly, and we cannot afford that. This is also no place for discussion relating to any of the newer voice actors and characters past season 8(except in brief mention), so please use a different thread.
#4: Let me reemphasize that discussion here should be about:
a: SOVA and why you support our goals and doctrines.
b: The characters, voices, and episodes in the 4Kids dub and why they were important to you.
This is a great way to provide TPCi with an in depth view of their fans opinions. Keep in mind that our primary focus is supporting Veronica Taylor and the other original English VA’s that were replaced. Posts like “I miss the old voices!”, or “They should bring back Misty!” have little substance, and are perceived as whining to some, so please be more thoughtful and give reasons/examples whenever possible. If you have any questions, ideas, or concerns, you may post those as well or message me in private (also see the FAQs at the bottom).
#5: While this isn’t listed in Bulbagarden’s main rules, I’d recommend keeping swearing to a minimum. Some people just aren’t comfortable with that and besides, there’s really no reason to.
Sorry for the long post, but I believe that I have thoroughly and professionally presented SOVA’s case. If any staff members here are concerned about this movement, please notify me in private and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you and work out an agreement. I request that SOVA is not moved to the social groups section, as it is way too crowded for an important subject like this. Even though I don’t have a forum staff position, I’m going to do my best to maintain a peaceful and mature campaign here. For Pokemon’s sake, please give us this chance. If all goes well, I’ll personally handle reforming SOVA branches at Serebii and Pokecommunity when the time comes and they are ready to accept us.
Thank you everyone for your time! I really believe that if we work together, we’ll see a better and brighter Pokemon very soon! Best of luck to us all!
FAQs: Common questions not covered above can be found here. Again, contact me or post in the thread if you need any information about SOVA. Thanks!
Q: Do the voices matter that much? Isn't it good enough if the new voices sound a little bit like the old ones?
A: Yes they do, and no it's not. Many fans have identified the original voices with their respective characters for eight years (1998-2006). They are not just lines synched to the animations, they are a part of the characters' identities. That goes for the script writing as well. Even small changes can amount to a noticeable difference in the way the characters behave and interact with each other.
Q: Do any of the voice actors even care about getting their roles back anymore?
A: Currently we can confirm for a fact that Veronica Taylor is still doing voice acting and is definitely interested in voicing Ash Ketchum again. She's stated at numerous anime conventions that if given the chance, she'd accept without a doubt. Rachael Lillis is also in the voice acting business and she and Veronica are both still in New York City (where they dub the Pokemon series). As for Eric Stuart, he now lives in Nashville, TN and spends most of his time and energy on his band. He too still attends and speaks at anime cons, showing continued interest in voice acting. If TPCi gave him the chance, he would be likely to consider accepting. Regardless of where those three and everybody else is in life, we encourage TPCi to at least ask them if they'd be interested in any role on Pokemon and go upward from there.
A good actor doesn't merely read the script in a voice that he or she thinks sounds like the character. A good actor, in a sense, becomes the character they are playing, and thus it is very easy for an actor to become very attached to his or her character. The original Pokemon voice actors brought life to their characters for eight years, so regaining their roles would certainly mean a lot to them.
Q: What happens when the new voice actors have been around longer and have more experience than the originals? Would it be too late to change then?
A: The amount of time each actor has been on the show does not necessarily define which ones are "better", because that is a matter of opinion. If there was enough demand for the originals, TPCi could still consider asking some or all of them to return. Regardless of how many years passed since they changed the voices, we should continue to support the voices and characters we love.
Q: Will TPCi actually consider rehiring the VA's? Do the writers care enough to reuse previously starring characters?
That depends whether or not they value the respect and loyalty of their fans. If there is enough demand, it will likely be profitable for TPCi to consider returning the original cast. The same goes for any changes regarding characters and script; If enough people are in support of TPC producing Pokemon in the manner it used to be, it would be wise and beneficial for them to do so.
Honestly, we don't know what TPCi is planning right now. They haven't said anything to the public about the VA's since the 2006 recasting. Additionally, because the writing and animation is produced in Japan, we have little information or means of contacting the home company other than relaying through the international branch. From time to time, you may have heard various rumors about the writers or dubbers intentions. For example, someone once claimed that they don't intend to bring Misty back as a starring character. But please remember, even if they aren't considering anything now doesn't mean they can't change their minds later. Times and priorities do change and its not too late to do reverse changes to the series, nor is it likely to be that expensive for a multi-billion dollar company. They just need to see enough response from their customers to realize what actions they need to take. The more people are raising their voices, the less likely they are to ignore what we have to say.
Q: But why fight The Pokemon Company over this?
A: First of all, we'd like to emphasize the fact that we're not fighting them. They are not our enemies, nor are the new voice actors and the fans that support them. We don't want to 'beat' anyone, but rather express our opinions and hope for a better future. Likewise we aren't here to convince every Pokemon fan to join us either, but to inform them who we are and what we're about.
Q: A lot of the fans who are speaking out seem to be in the oldest part of the fandom. Aren't kids the target audience of Pokemon? Will they care about the voices or quality of the series?
A: First of all, the fandom is not as children-focused as many seem to think. To quote an interview with one of the original Pokémon developers;
"But to answer your question about the maturity level of Pokemon games, I counter with this - are hide-and-seek and jump rope just for kids? The answer is no - kids love those games, but adults learn more complicated and intensive games, and soon lose sight of the fun and joy of simple games. Even though concepts and ideas behind Pokemon seem complicated, the game is designed so that any gamer can pick it up and enjoy it. People tend to think that the anything that appeals to all ages is somewhat immature - fairy tales, for instance. Pokemon has become ageless and that is why many assume that it seems to be aimed at children." (interview found in the book "Pokemon pokedex: collectors edition")
This idea resonates through all aspects of Pokemon, including the anime. Young children are much more aware of these details than our society gives them credit for. Even if they don't know why, or haven't seen enough of the anime yet to really mind the difference, the changes and impact of the series can certainly be noticed by even the youngest of fans. In fact, due to the extreme length of the franchise, there are possibly more older fans. Indeed, there is a multitude of Pokemon fans who are in high school, college, or even in the working world. Pokemon's target audience is clearly not limited to kids. Regardless of whoever is in the minority or majority of the total fanbase, we all deserve to have our say in what we want from Pokemon.
Q:You do realize that not everyone can be satisfied, right? What about those who actually prefer Pokemon the way it is now? Or suppose your fan movement sparks opposition like it did before?
A: Oh yes, its definitely true that either way, not everybody will be satisfied. Some people will always prefer new characters, new voices, and welcome new changes to Pokemon. Even the priorities of SOVA members may differ somewhat from person to person. But that doesn't constitute reason to never stand up and strive for what you believe is right. If another group dedicated to the "new" Pokemon arises, so be it. There won't be any unfriendliness or rivalry towards anyone coming from us this time. We can only do our best to mend the relationship between Pokemon fans and hope Pokemon will be better off in the future.
Q: Why are fans of the Advanced series (seasons 6-8) included in SOVA? Didn't May & Max replace Misty?
A: While May & Max were in no way able to take the place of Misty in terms of originality, the Advanced series still falls under the category of the 4Kids dub. The original VA's were still working in the series, Brock was still travelling with Ash, and Team Rocket was still everyone's favorite trio of bumbling baddies. Therefore we leaders felt it was beneficial to encourage fans of that era to join as well.
Q: I still have my doubts. SOVA collapsed once and a lot of these campaigns have failed before.
A: And a lot have succeeded. Still, if you don't want to spend your energy on this campaign, that's understandable. But if you do want to see this campaign achieve its goal, even if you don't think it can, take a moment to consider; would it really hurt you to write a letter or email telling TPCi how you feel? The worst thing any of us can do is nothing, because you never know until you try.