Johnny Yong Bosch is a long-time voice actor in anime, video games, and other animated series. But before he landed his first voice role as Vash the Stampede in Trigun, he made a name for himself in the role of Adam Park, the second Black Ranger in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. He has since enjoyed a storied career with major roles across numerous anime franchises, such as Ichigo Kurasaki in Bleach, Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass, Artemis in Sailor Moon, Jonathan Joestar in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Orga Itsuka in Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, and many more.
We caught up with Bosch during Otakon 2018 to look back on his career so far and discuss how the industry has evolved during his time in it.
Scoop: How has Otakon treated you this year? How does it compare to previous events?
Johnny Yong Bosch (JYB): It’s been good. Certainly, it’s much more organized than when I was here last time. It felt chaotic. The first time I was here, I was signing autographs for hours, and I was just dumped in a room with another voice actor, and I didn’t have anyone to help run us around. But now that’s all corrected. It feels like a tight ship now.
Scoop: Let’s talk Power Rangers – we celebrated 25 years of Mighty Morphin’ earlier this year. Could you reflect on your time with that franchise, and tell us a little about what it was like back then versus what it is today?
JYB: Then, we shot in California. It was my first role of any kind, so it was an awesome experience for me. It was kind of like a dream come true to be able to work on a show with action like that. It’s changed hands a few times since Saban had it. Our show was pretty hokey and cheesy. It was a kids show; it had a formula they’d stick to. I think they started to get away from that – they got a little more serious for a few seasons. Then Disney had it for a while, and then Saban came back in and tried to go back to the old formula. I don’t really watch it a whole lot now – I know a ton of the people who have been in it. It’s a giant family, and we all see each other at other cons.
It’s just nice to be a part of something like that, especially having been a part of it at the beginning. Now they change out the actors [regularly]. Back then, we were there until they were just done with us. It’s very different now.
Scoop: Your first anime role was in Trigun. So now, 18 years after recording that, we still see Vash cosplayers at conventions like that. What did that series mean to you? Are you surprised it’s still as popular now as it was then?
JYB: I am surprised it’s still popular. That people that see it now still enjoy it – there’s something to it. It’s a great story, with great characters. Vash was a really fun character to play. He had a good message. For me, it opened the doors for me. Voiceover wasn’t something that I thought was really a thing. It wasn’t even on my radar, for this to be a career. I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to even be asked to come audition for the role.
Scoop: During the late 1990s and early 2000s we experienced such a boom in the anime and manga industry here. Can you discuss what it was like to be involved in dubbing during that time?
JYB: It was great. There was a lot there, and there were a lot of companies. Obviously now, a few of them have gone under. I wouldn’t say that there’s less care now, but we had a little more time, I feel. I felt like everyone kind of cared about the stuff we were doing – and I don’t want to say that people don’t care now. But I do feel like now, because companies have gone under, you had all sorts of people stealing the anime, there’s more of a race to get the stuff out in order to compete.
Now, you can see it anywhere. Back then you had to search a little more. I remember going to Suncoast, and I’d go buy a $50 DVD or something just to watch something. You kind of cherished it a bit more. Now, you can just click a link and find it on a stream. You didn’t really have to search hard to do that.
Scoop: Obviously you’re still heavily involved in the industry today, and even recently you’ve gotten involved in some of these legendary long-running franchises like Sailor Moon, Digimon, and Gundam. What has it been like to come into these series a little later in your career?
JYB: It’s been huge. For me, Sailor Moon was something that I had always heard of. I just knew it, even though it wasn’t something I grew up watching – maybe my sister watched it. But it was a show I was familiar with. Gundam was another one, one of those legendary series. But I thought that opportunity had passed by me. So, to be able to be a part of something that’s got that giant legacy is scary, because there’s a lot more weighing on your shoulders. At least that’s how I felt – just, wow, this is pretty heavy. I have to get it right. So there’s that responsibility in there. But it’s been pretty awesome.
Scoop: Anything coming out that you can tell us about today?
JYB: The only things that I can talk about right now would be the Digimon Tri films that are still coming out, and also Big Fish and Begonia, which is a Chinese film. Two artists took like 15 years to animate the thing themselves, and it’s just beautiful. It’s got a very Miyazaki feel to it. The other thing I can talk about is Devil May Cry 5… well, I can’t really talk about it! But it’s coming!