Foreword:

Kari Wahlgren has only been an active voice actress in the anime industry for a few years now. But in this short period of time she has been able to land numerous lead characters for some very high profile titles. Her first major role in an anime was in FLCL, an OVA released on DVD by Synch-Point back in 2002. Kari voiced Haruko Haruhara in the OVA, a character that can best be described as unpredictable, wacky, psychotic and just plain weird. I was really impressed by Kariís performance in FLCL because it really demonstrated her range and versatility as a voice actress. You have to have watched FLCL to understand that Haruko must have been a challenging and at the same time entertaining character for Kari to voice.

The following year in 2003, Kari landed two more lead roles for arguably the two best anime shows to come out that year, Last Exile and Witch Hunter Robin. In Witch Hunter Robin Kari played the protagonist Robin Sena, a gifted witch hunter who joins an elite group of mercenaries tasked with hunting and disposing of people who are suspected to be witches themselves. In Last Exile she voiced Lavie Head, an extremely talented vanship mechanic who runs an aerial courier service with her childhood friend Claus Valca. In both Witch Hunter Robin and Last Exile, Kari delivered sincere and believable performances, and to date they are still some of the best voice acting work that she has ever done.

Things continued to pick up for Kari in 2004 as she got a couple of more lead roles, one in Bandaiís Wolfís Rain as Cher Degre and the other in Geneonís Gad Guard TV series as Arashi Shinozuka. In 2005, Kari really put her stamp on the anime industry by landing the lead role of Fuu in Samurai Champloo, one of the most highly anticipated TV series in the history of Japanese animation. In that same year she also voiced Pacifica Cassul in the fan-favorite series, Scrapped Princess. So by the end of 2005, in just over three years Kari had already landed over five leading roles in various anime shows, very impressive indeed! But at the same time not surprising, considering Kariís undeniable talent as a voice actress.

Kari has also done quite a bit of voice work for video games as well. Some of the titles she has worked on include Tales of Symphonia, Dead or Alive Extreme 2, Rogue Galaxy and Final Fantasy 7: Dirge of Cerberus. In 2006, she was cast as Ashe; the female lead in Square-Enixís Final Fantasy XII. I would go as far as saying that the game is worth picking up just to hear Kari voice Ashe. As I was playing the game, I was constantly blown away by her performance. I have heard Kari in a number anime titles, but I personally feel that her work on Final Fantasy XII is her best to date. Iím not saying this to detract from the performances of the other voice actors in the game, because the dub from an overall perspective was just simply amazing. You have to have played the game to understand what Iím talking about. Ashe was such a strong female lead; she is one of the most poignant characters I have ever encountered in any form of media for that matter, and Kari did such an unbelievable job voicing her.

Since I beat the game recently, I just had to ask Kari some questions about her work on Final Fantasy XII.


Interview:

FFOmake: What were your first impressions of Final Fantasy XII when you got involved with the project?

Kari Wahlgren:
Final Fantasy was one of the franchises I definitely wanted to work on at some point. I had auditioned for various FF projects and not gotten anything before landing roles in both Dirge of Cerberus: FF VII and FF XII. So I was really excited to get a chance to finally work on a couple of these games!

FFOmake: When did production on the FF XII dub start? And how long did it take to finish?

Kari Wahlgren:
Can't remember exactly when we started, but I think they recorded over a period of three or four weeks. I had about 8 sessions between the two FF games.

FFOmake: The character you voiced, Ashe, is a very strong female lead. In the game she carries the future of an entire nation on her shoulders as she attempts to thwart a pending war that threatens to engulf the world of Ivalice. Can you please share some of your thoughts and impressions about Ashe?

Kari Wahlgren:
Ashe has been one of my very favorite video game characters to play. I'm not very big on the "damsel in distress" image we see in the media a lot. I always like to play characters who are good, strong role models for younger women. Ashe is a character I could be proud to show to my 14-year-old niece and I love that! I had a great time playing her.

FFOmake: Final Fantasy XII had a huge diverse cast of characters. One of my personal favorites was Lord Larsa, one of the princeís of Arcadia. Besides Ashe, which one of the other characters in the game did you like or found appealing?

Kari Wahlgren:
Balthier was a real cutie in the game; I liked his character a lot. He managed to be cocky and funny at the same time!

FFOmake: If you can recall, what were some of the most memorable scenes in FF XII while working on the dub?

Kari Wahlgren:
I thought there were so many cool moments in the game...I actually can't pick out a favorite at the moment...

FFOmake: After you finished the voice work for Final Fantasy XII did you get a chance to actually play the game?

Kari Wahlgren:
I'm a terrible gamer!! I've had people send me one or two links to scenes from the game, so I've seen how a couple of those turned out. But as for playing the game, no, I haven't done it...probably better that way!!


Parting Words:

I want to thank Kari Wahlgren for taking the time out of her hectic schedule to answer my questions. She is currently working on the dub for the anime Blood+, which has been licensed by Sony. Kari plays the protagonist Saya Otonashi. Transformers and Kingdom Under Fire, are just a couple of video games that she is currently supplying voices for. Please visit some of the links I have provided for more information about Kari and her voice work.


G4 TV Feature - Will Work For Games:

Adobe Flash Player required.


Official Website: Kari Wahlgren
Crystal Acids: Database of her work
Square Enix: Final Fantasy XII

Interview conducted by: A-run Chey


Final Fantasy XII available at:


- May 31, 2007




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