For a long time, I only knew about my uncle’s formal acting career. My uncle had previously preformed on Broadway and had spent a few years working stage plays at Disney Land (a job which came with the perk of free Disney Land tickets for close relatives. My older brothers got to reap the benefits of this, but my uncle left that job before I was old enough to go myself. Still jealous about that). I had also attended a performance of Steven Sondheim’s A Little Night Music my uncle starred in with a small acting trope in North Carolina one summer. It was a summer tradition for him for many years and I wish I had been able to see more than one performance, but North Carolina is quite the drive from where I live.
At 16 my uncle told me that when you’re a starving artist on the streets of Manhattan you take whatever gigs you can get to make ends meet. Just holding out for that one “big break” wasn’t an option if you wanted to eat. It was then that he disclosed to me the first Japanese animation he had a hand in dubbing for an English speaking audience: Yoshiyuki Tomino’s 1996 cult classic Garzey’s Wing.
Some of you may recognize Yoshiyuki Tomino as the father of the mech anime powerhouse known as Mobile Suit Gundam, but he was also the creator of many other popular and successful works. Garzey’s Wing, however, is an absolute mess. A muddled narrative, constant unnecessary dialogue and an ending that comes out of no where right when things are getting interesting are just a few of the OVA’s problems. Justin Sevakis put it best in his 2007 article about Garzey’s Wing as part of his regular column series “Buried Garbage”:
“…Garzey's Wing is a mess, in a way only a failed epic can be. It desperately tries to tell a story, but is so incompetent that it never seems to even have a story to tell in the first place. It's like getting a ten-year-old to try to summarize Atlas Shrugged for you -- you're gonna get a lot of words, and one or two of them might almost make sense here and there, but any point in telling the story at all is completely defeated.”
That Buried Garbage article (which I will link to at the bottom of this blog) is crucial to understanding why Garzey’s Wing became a cult classic. A lot of people didn’t know why Garzey’s Wing was worth revisiting until that article came out. The original Japanese product was simply a subpar anime, certainly nothing to write home about. But as Mr. Sevakis notes, its English dub is horrendous in a way only a truly inexperienced American voice cast in the 90s can create. ADR Director Kip Kaplan, my uncle, and the rest of the cast at Audioworks Producers Group managed to create a legendarily bad dubbing job that must be heard to be believed:
My uncle only has a small part in this delightful dumpster fire as the stoic warrior with a badass mustache Hendock. Hendock primarily appears at the tail end of the OVA during a tense battle inside a cave. He’s mainly just yelling out battle commands, but this allows him to have one of the more solid voice performances in the cast. You can hear him at 23:52 in the video above (also completely unrelated but go to 15:57 for my favorite quote from the whole thing). It should be noted that Hendock’s Japanese voice actor was Hidenari Ugaki, who would later go on to be the voice of Yakuza’s resident one-eyed madman Goro Majima.
The fact that my uncle was never even considered for the role of Majima in the English dub of Yakuza for the Playstation 2 is a travesty. A TRAVESTY I SAY!
This was the extent of what I knew of my uncle’s anime voice acting career for another 5 years and to be quite honest, this role alone would have been enough to satisfy me. I mean, it’s not every day you find out your uncle was part of one of the worst voice performances in anime history. Not only that, but he voiced the same character as the voice actor of Goro Majima, one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite game series of all time! It doesn’t get a whole lot more “cool uncle” than that. Oh, how naive I was.
Fast-forward to Christmas 2017. My uncle is reminiscing about his early acting career to me and my brothers. My older brother is a 2D animation major, so he tells my uncle about his latest work and asks him if he’d like a voice role in it. It’s then my uncle tells us how he had a few roles in what he referred to as, “blue anime”. I’ve done some searching and to this day I can’t find a single instance where the term “blue anime” appears, but I have to assume it was how his employers referred to Japanese adult animation in the 90s. He decided to take my older brother up on his offer to redeem himself following his last two roles in adult animation more than 2 decades ago, but not before I managed to pry the names of the 2 hentai he had dubbed out of him. Let’s start with his role as the villainous Space Pirate Lord Shiunk (pronounced Shunk) in Masaki Kajishima’s 1998 4 Part OVA series Spaceship Agga Ruter.
Spaceship Agga Ruter carries a similar silly vibe to that of creator Masaki Kajishima’s more famous OVA Tenchi Muyo. Both involve space pirates, wacky adventures and harems, though only Agga Ruter actually involves the main protagonist getting it on with his female companions. The plot’s pretty simple: Protagonist Taiyo was abandoned as an orphan and adopted by Kei, the avatar of a huge butterfly-like spaceship known as the Agga Ruter. There she taught him everything she knew about how to get along with people, which mainly means sex. Lots and lots of sex. (Which is only made more uncomfortable by the fact that Taiyo views Kei as a maternal figure in his life). However, the training has turned Taiyo into a powerful (though intellectually challenged) sex master. When the perpetually peeved Space Pirate Jannis is hired by Pirate Lord Shiunk to capture and deliver the Agga Ruter, she isn’t prepared for the asinine antics of our mother and son duo. From deleting her save file on her favorite Super Famicom dating sim to reading her private diary of poetry, Kei and Taiyo run Jannis ragged until eventually (Surprise!) Taiyo uses his sharply honed sex powers to have passionate sex with Jannis. Suddenly everything is hunky dory between the three and they set off on an adventure through space.
The wild space pirate Jannis is taught the ways of domestic life for Taiyo's sexual education (I swear that sentence makes sense in the context of the show)
What surprised me the most about Spaceship Agga Ruter is how it manages to avoid much of the typical harem anime fare. Regular harem tropes are largely ignored, giving us a bevy of working ladies with unusual personalities: Soldier Captain Claire has a part time job making paper flowers since her actual salary is spent paying off debts, Pirate Hunter Yvonne has an ancestry of small breasts that gives her a complex, Ship Captain Martha just wants to go on an adventure, but fears the lack of stability it will bring to her life are just a few of the women Taiyo seduces throughout the series. By the end Taiyo, Claire and Martha are fulfilled only when they’ve all found stable employment working for pirate hunter Yvonne as maids, singing as they clean the spaceship together. Other scenes such as having the penetration of a security laser grid equated to sex and Claire explaining that military benefits aren’t all they’re cracked up to be prove the direction of this animation was given more thought than it probably needed or deserved.
The Security Laser Vagina must be dealt with delicately. It requires a woman's touch.
The highlight of the show (oddly enough for a hentai) is not the sex, but the humor. Bizarrely delivered lines during sex such as, “Oh no, he’s a technician!” and, “Quotas! My quotas!” alone were enough to have me rolling on the floor. While many of the laughs come from the poor voice work of the dub cast, the actual OVA itself is full of hilarious scenes, making it worth a watch for any fan of humorous 90s anime series’ similar to Slayers or Gokudo. The sex scenes are nice, but you won’t be seeing anything other than bouncing breasts. This is about as softcore vanilla as it gets.
My uncle’s role as the babbling blue-skinned baddie Shiunk is not a particularly dynamic one. He’s always either yelling orders to his pirate crew, scheming up ways to obtain the Agga Ruter, or cursing his enemies and swearing revenge. You know, typical mustache twirling evil stuff. Thankfully, unlike a lot of more unsavory hentai, the villain in this series does not engage in non-consensual sex scenes of any kind. In fact, Shiunk doesn’t have any sex at all! Even when he does manage to get his dastardly hands on a naked Ship Captain Martha, he just moves her to a different location on the ship to be discovered later. The show never even explains why he moved her in the first place instead of just letting her sleep on the couch! Moving a sleeping naked lady just for kicks? Now that’s pure evil right there.
Don't let the afro disguise fool you. Shiunk is one baaaaad mamma jamma.
It’s not like I wanted to hear my uncle panting and moaning over a cheap microphone for a few dollars an hour, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed he didn’t have a bigger role in what managed to be a unexpectedly entertaining 4 part series. He’d get a bigger role in his last feature however, as the main character. After supporting roles in two previous animations it was time for Tony Medlin (the pseudonym my uncle voice acted under) to step up to the plate and assume the role of the dashing lady killer this time around. It’s time to talk about my uncle’s first (and last) lead voice acting role as Gen Hiraga in Yusuke Yamamoto’s 1998 4 Part OVA series Masquerade (or Gosenzo San’e).
Yusuke Yamamoto has a lot of storyboard and episode director credits on a myriad of shows but hasn’t directed a lot of well-known anime features. His most easily recognized work as director would probably be the first two seasons (Episodes 1-103) of Sgt. Frog (also known as Keroro Gunso). You would never guess that from his work on Masquerade though. It’s a supernatural mystery hentai of all things. The main character Gen Hiraga arrives at his grandmother’s mansion, which has been in the Hiraga family for generations. Gen hasn’t spent much time with his strange, mask wearing grandmother before, but he gets the feeling that something is off, especially when the family maid keeps fainting when exposed to sunlight. Transferring to the local college his grandmother is the chancellor of, Gen must uncover the mysteries of his bloodline and cure his family of a curse that has plagued them for centuries.
There's more to this masked granny than meets the eye.
Warning: I’m going to spoil everything about the story, so if for some ungodly reason you don’t want the mystery ruined for you and must see it yourself then by all means, wait to read this until after finishing the series. For everyone else, continue on.
Gen has the “Aqua Permanence”, a curse that causes his eyes to glow gold and gives him an insatiable libido. Because of the metabolic imbalance in his body caused by the “Aqua Permanence” he won’t live long, which is why his genes cry out to be sown into every woman available, thereby securing a progeny before his death. Also, it makes his semen golden (which at first seems like it’s going to be an important plot point, but is actually a completely harmless side effect of the curse). My uncle recalled reading the script and laughing at how stupid the whole thing was and I can’t blame him. The mystery is silly, and the stakes are incredibly low. Gen’s not going to die any time soon, so there’s no real rush to cure him.
His overactive libido might be an issue but considering every woman he’s ever come on to has willingly had sex with him it shouldn’t be that big of a problem (except a non-consensual scene between Gen and the family maid which has much more fluid animation than every other scene in the entirety of the show. Why choose this one moment to empty the animation budget into I have no idea). Also, when effected by the “Aqua Permanence” Gen turns into a complete alpha male. From having sex with the school’s bisexual nurse and then her daughter to feeling up and fingering the family maid in front of his grandmother, the sex machine known as Gen Hiraga cannot be stopped. These “absolute madman” moments are probably the only entertaining portions of the animation, as the show is slow, boring and very forgettable.
Gen's had his way with her mother, but right now he wants to be her daddy in a different way.
As far as my uncle’s voice acting goes, it’s pretty damn terrible. If you heard his previous work in Garzey’s Wing I linked to or even Agga Ruter, then you’ve heard about the only voice my uncle knows how to do. That’d be fine if Gen wasn’t supposed to by a spry young 20 something year old college student. My uncle tries to lighten his voice to sound younger, but sometimes he messes up and his deep baritone slips through the cracks. And don’t even get me started on his sex moaning. Gen’s sex cries sound more like he’s stubbed his toe than he’s having wild animalistic sex with his grandmother (yes, that’s a thing and thankfully it’s not what you’re thinking). The first sex scene involving Gen getting a sensual blowjob from the family maid is particularly hilarious in that Gen’s protestations are so unenthusiastic and clearly being read directly off a script you can’t help but laugh. If I had to pick one scene to clown on my uncle about, it would have to be that one.
There's nowhere to run, Gen. She knows where you've hidden the gold.
My uncle quit the voice acting business after Masquerade and the acting business in general a decade later. Now he edits legal documents for a living and makes fat stacks doing it. You find him selling duct tape wallets in his favorite bar on the weekends apparently. Of course, you can also always find him at my house on Thanksgiving stacking his plate high with turkey and stuffing.
So that ends the untold story of Tony Medlin and his “blue anime” career. Although incredibly short, it certainly wasn’t without its highlights. Have you seen any of these works before? Did you look up the hentai I mentioned in this post? Did you find my uncle’s voice arousing? Lemme know in the comments, but scratch that last question.
Hope you enjoyed this unusual true story!
Link to full ANN article referenced in this work: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/buried-treasure/2007-09-20