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Welcome to the Expo: An interview with Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh
Andy Hanley
Author: Andy Hanley

Andy has been writing for UK Anime since 2006, and was the site's editor-in-chief until August 2017.  Contrary to popular belief, Andy is not actually a robot.

Welcome to the Expo: An interview with Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh

Just as the May 2012 London Expo built up towards its full swing on Friday, May 25th, we found ourselves guided through the seemingly labyrinthine corridors backstage at the ExCel centre with a rather exciting mission in hand - to interview well-known voice artists Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh with a view towards discussing their role in the creation of an English dub of A-1 Pictures' Welcome to the Space Show to prepare for its forthcoming UK release.

Despite prior warning regarding an under-the-weather Michael Sinterniklaas, it was hard to spot any signs of ailing health as our two guests continued their animated conversation while we entered the room before proffering the warmest of welcomes.  A short chat about the interviewer's choice of digital voice recorder later ("I like field recorders!" exclaimed Mr Sinterniklaas), we were ready to get down to business and talk about anime dubbing.

First things first, welcome to the UK - this is normally where we'd ask guests if it's there first time over here but we've seen you guys quite a few times over here so it seems like you're here all the time at the moment!

Michael Sinterniklaas: Really? If only... this is our second time at MCM.

Stephanie Sheh: Yeah, this is our second time.

We saw you both at Ayacon last year...

Stephanie Sheh: Yes, that's true - this is my third time in the UK.

Michael Sinterniklaas: And I used to live here until I was ten.

Stephanie Sheh: But you've been here one other time before?

Michael Sinterniklaas: I went to Scotland Loves Anime.

Yes, we saw you there too, which explains why I mentioned that!

Michael Sinterniklaas: You've seen me all over the place!  I've gotta go to that one in Ireland next...

Obviously you're here largely to talk about your work on the dub of Welcome to the Space Show - as a starting point, can you maybe tell us a little about the film itself, and your roles in the production of its English dub?

Stephanie Sheh: The film is like a whimsical, family space adventure.  It starts off in bucolic Japanese countryside, and then moves to the moon.

Michael Sinterniklaas: It quickly goes off the rails insane.  For the grown-up members of the cast, to sum it up very quickly, I was calling it a "Japanese Yellow Submarine".

Stephanie Sheh: It's really hard to summarise the film because so much happens in it, it changes your expectations.

Michael Sinterniklaas: One of my take-aways about that is that I feel that it doesn't just need to be seen as an anime genre film - from having to describe it today, it's occurred to me more and more that it's really a family film and my hope for it is that it breaks out beyond just anime fandom.  It's one of those shows that is conceptually so far beyond what we typically see outside of Japan, and even within Japan, that I think it could be really, really fascinating for families of various different walks and not just "otaku families".

Stephanie Sheh: I agree, and the two kids who worked on the dub of the movie while watching the film during ADR were totally taken by it and fascinated.  They kept asking us "Rewind to that part" or "I wanna see this again" or "Oh, what's that in the background"; "Look at that guy wearing the...".  They would always comment on aliens in the background to the point that on occasion when we'd play the three beeps to count them in to start speaking I'd hear nothing, and I'd see my little actors just gawping.

Michael Sinterniklaas: They were so totally distracted by the visuals that they forgot to work!  Which is great, because one of these kids had not seen anime before and they loved the show.

Stephanie Sheh: They were both really into it - they're nine and ten and they would laugh at bits of it.

Michael Sinterniklaas: It's already passed the kid test - the American kid test at least.

Stephanie Sheh: In terms of what we did, Michael played Kiyoshi, I played Natsuki - I wrote the script and was one of the directors, and Michael mixed the movie.

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