Written by Jonny Lobo
On August 24, 2016 I was granted the opportunity to take part in a teleconference along with several other journalists wherein Joshua Seth answered questions concerning his role in the upcoming Digimon Adventure tri. – Chapter 1: Reunion (2015). As you likely know by now, Joshua Seth, who played main character Tai Kamiya in the English adaptation of Digimon Adventure (1999 – 2000), will be joining the rest of the cast in the aforementioned film sequel to the beloved series (for more information on these developments, check out my previous article on the matter).
Joshua was more than willing to field our many questions—and many there were indeed, considering he has effectively come out of retirement from voice-over work to reprise a role for which he is well known to an entire generation. In the years since Digimon Adventure 02 (2000 – 2001), Joshua has pursued his passion for entertaining by travelling all over the world on tour as a performing mentalist. He is also the author of Finding Focus In A Busy World: How To Tune Out The Noise and Work Well Under Pressure which acts as a helpful guide for increasing productivity while balancing time spent between reality and the ‘Digital World’ of the internet in which we often find ourselves entrenched.
When asked about how difficult he found it to return to a role from so many years ago, Joshua explained that he found it relatively easy to get back into character as Tai not only because Tai’s voice is basically his own albeit higher pitched, but also because Tai has grown so much as a character due to the DigiDestined now being in high school. In fact, Joshua mentioned that he had at one point discussed with the production team whether or not Tai’s voice should sound as it did in Digimon Adventure or if it should be comparatively lower due to his age.
Questions were also asked about the creative decision to return to the original cast from the first anime series (as opposed to any number of other incarnations), in terms of the current trend of marketing to consumers’ nostalgia. When asked if he ever thought that such a long-running franchise would one day return to the original cast, Joshua used this as a springboard to comment on how everything came together, particularly for the English version of Digimon, to make these current developments possible:
“I think, probably, they almost didn’t come back to the original cast! And I’ve got the fans to thank for that, because I wouldn’t have even known this was happening if it weren’t for people letting me know (on Facebook and Twitter, mostly), saying, ‘hey, did you hear about’ or, ‘did you see this announcement, did you hear about that’ and I literally would not have known…”
Joshua continued to emphasize the positive involvement of fans, along with the willingness of producers to handle such a project with the fans in mind:
“I definitely have the fans to thank for getting reconnected with this project and the producers were very much on board with seeing that happen. And it gives more integrity to it, as well. Digimon is not just about the storyline or the animation, it’s also those now-iconic voices that gave rise to those characters.”
Fortunately, the crew behind Digimon Adventure tri. seems to have competently harnessed the full potential of the interconnectivity between fans, performers, and producers in a positive way. As unbelievable as it may sound, some companies in the modern era are mind-bogglingly clueless when it comes to knowing what fans want and why (e.g. Funimation Entertainment cutting corners by purposefully not bringing back Jeff Nimoy as Nicholas D. Wolfwood for Trigun: Badlands Rumble (2010) or Petrea Burchard as Ryoko for the third installment of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (2003 – 2005) despite their willingness to return). As Joshua said, people become attached to fictional characters because of the real human beings who brought them to life in the first place; and thankfully, I (along with countless other fans) get to relive the Digimon experience—my unique experience with the franchise, and you readers with yours—all over again.
But, as Joshua also stated, Digimon or any other reboot is not just about reliving—it’s also about providing new experiences to old-school fans while bringing new fans into the fold. When asked to share his thoughts on how the Digimon franchise has evolved (or ‘digivolved’ if you prefer) over the years, Joshua replied using sentiments with which I wholeheartedly agree:
“Look at what’s happening with Pokémon Go. Why shouldn’t Digimon come back into the broader public consciousness in the same way, carving out its own space? These old shows don’t need to die anymore. They can just find new life as they find new audiences and new formats.”
What’s that, market-savvy people? Digimon Go, you say? If and when that happens, sign me up! Until then folks, don’t forget to try and grab tickets from a cinema near you to catch the one-day-only theatrical screening of Digimon Adventure tri. – Chapter 1: Reunion on Thursday, September 15, 2016. If it does well enough in terms of sales, there just might be a chance for more Digimon theatrical events in North America someday soon.