Voice of Harry Potter in Japan

Kensho Ono sees himself first as an actor, then a singer.
Kensho Ono sees himself first as an actor, then a singer.PHOTO: ANIMAX

Japanese voice actor Kensho Ono's "role" in the Hollywood movies is his biggest so far, yet no one recognises him, he says

In Japan, the boy wizard, Harry Potter, has the face of Daniel Radcliffe, but the voice of Kensho Ono.

The hit films are dubbed into Japanese and the seiyu (voice actor) who landed the plum assignment is none other than Ono, 26.

Despite the high-profile gig, he is "not recognised at all" on the streets and says with a laugh that it would be nice if that happened. "I'm always listening to music on the go, so maybe I create this do-not-disturb aura."

The other hat he wears is that of singer and he is speaking to Asian media backstage at Animax Musix 2015 Yokohama after an energetic stage performance. The concert will be broadcast on Animax channel in April.

  • VIEW IT / FAFNER EXODUS

  • Airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 10pm on Animax (StarHub TV Channel 532).

    ANIMAX MUSIX 2015 YOKOHAMA

    Airs in April on Animax.

The former child actor auditioned for Harry Potter and has been doing voice acting ever since. His credits include Fafner Exodus, the sequel to 2004's Fafner In The Azure, about children piloting the titular Fafners in a war against giant aliens. It airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 10pm on Animax channel.

While regular actors have the luxury of using body language, that option is not available to seiyu.

Ono says: "It was difficult at first when I was making the transition. I was not trained as a voice actor, so I'm still learning along the way."

In addition to coming up with new voices for different characters, seiyu also have to vocally express the whole gamut of emotions.

"I don't cry during emotional scenes, but I do feel sad, not from digging into my experiences, but by going into character."

Given that his voice is his livelihood, he takes good care of it. "I would set the level to 60 per cent on the humidifier where possible."

After all, he is a highly sought-after artist, given his turns in popular titles such as action adventure Pokemon XY: Mega Evolution (2014) and three seasons of Kuroko's Basketball (2012, 2013 and 2015). He also does theatre, live action TV series and voice-overs for video games.

At this point, the bachelor sees himself first as an actor, then a singer and tries to split his time equally between voice and stage acting.

When it comes to dubbing versus anime work, he says there is greater freedom with anime.

"When you're doing an adaptation of a Hollywood movie, there is a whole set of instructions you have to follow.

"But when it comes to anime, it's all from my expressions and what I think is best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Voice of Harry Potter in Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe