Recent events from the perspective of SOVA

A response to past and present issues, concerns and criticisms
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  • Thursday, July 27, 2006
  • Opinion by Pie

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This opinion piece has been written by Pie. It expresses the views of the writer, not necessarily those of Bulbagarden networks.

Speaking on behalf of the Save Our Voice Actors campaign, I would like to address some issues which have recently cropped up.

The first and foremost concern is one which you can probably guess. Recently, an article appeared on PokéBeach regarding the voice actor issue. If you think that I or any other SOVA member have not read the article, please be rest assured that we have.

And before you ask, no, we are not planning to end the SOVA campaign based solely on the article. To fully understand why, you may need to know the details of an incident several months earlier in which WaterPokémonMaster contacted me, and a conflict followed.

When he contacted me, he offered some information that he apparently heard straight from the horse's mouth— a Pokémon USA rep who was giving this to him under the table, just to him.

He told me that the situation was that PUSA wanted to keep all the original voice actors, and so set out right away to do such. They negotiated, but 4Kids decided to interfere. It pressured the original voice actors into asking for a higher fee than standard— and the original voice actors did thus. PUSA supposedly could not afford this higher asking price, and so, rather than re-negotiate anything, it had to turn to cheaper replacements. It signed contracts with the new voice actors immediately, were permanent forever and could not be renegotiated no matter what happened— period.

PUSA was not happy that it had to do this, but supposedly it had no other choice in its own affairs but to hire replacements. The rep called up Veronica Taylor and told her about what she had heard, which made Veronica cry. And everything is therefore 4Kids' fault, and we all have to suffer because 4Kids is pure evil.

I was under a considerable amount of emotional stress when he contacted me. So, I believed every word of it when I first heard it, and per his suggestion and badgering, I was ready to call off the campaign, which he told me was the "right thing to do." Then, fewer than 24 hours later, I had calmed down and gotten the chance to think it all over— and as you may have already noticed, things in the story didn't add up.

I didn't want to blame WPM— and I still don't. However, I decided that what I heard from WPM was not concrete enough to end SOVA.

WPM was furious upon hearing about this. He accused me of slandering his Web site when I did no such thing, and declared that I was clinging to false hopes since what he had given me was infallible truth. He demanded I put an end to SOVA, claiming I was causing trouble by continuing it onwards. His goals became very clear— for some reason, he was seeing shutting down SOVA as an equivalent of keeping his website reputation intact, simply because I had doubts about what I had heard. The conflict was only resolved by WPM being banned on Bulbagarden forums for a period of time.

And now we come to recent events, in which two paragraphs in his article— which he again claims to be infallible truth —have spread like wildfire. In these paragraphs, he does not say that he heard any of this from one source— rather, that he heard several things from several very different sources, and this is what he has concluded must be the truth. This implies assumption. And as past events have shown, we know where WPM's bias lies.

From SOVA's perspective, the article just isn't enough for us to call off the campaign. There's still far too many points of uncertainty in this entire issue. And, if even after hearing the situation from our perspective, you feel we are making the wrong choice, I apologize— but I guarantee you that if you were in our shoes, you would understand.

And now, allow me to address some other issues, concerns and misconceptions about SOVA.

Some people seem to believe our goal is to return the dub to 4Kids. Our loyalty lies with the original voice actors, and no one else. Our goal, therefore, is ultimately for PUSA to hire the original voice actors.

And on the same note, we have never viewed PUSA as an enemy of any sort. Yes, some of us do feel resentment towards them because this issue, as well as anger and resentment towards naysayers of our cause— and I apologize for this and any lashing out which resulted because of it. The voice actors matter more to us even more than you may realize, and thus it's been a trying, emotional time for many of us. I'm sure many of you have noticed how many people in the Pokémon fandom have turned against each other simply because of this issue. This is not our intent— our goal from the start was to resolve an issue, not create other issues.

On behalf of SOVA, I would ask that our campaign and those who criticize it bury the hatchet right now. SOVA has known from the start the odds are stacked against the campaign— and if it wasn't going to stop us in the beginning, it's not going to stop us now. Nothing is a greater waste of everyone's emotional energy, for SOVA members and otherwise, than arguing about this.

We have already accepted that the ninth season will almost certainly not have the original voice actors. No, this is also not enough to end the campaign, nor would be the contract issues which supposedly bar the original voice actors from working on the series— for a specified period of time. If we have to keep the campaign running for another year or two, so be it— but as it stands, we're not planning on dropping the campaign until the original voice actors return or the series ends.

To close things off, I'd like to address the effectiveness and goals of the SOVA campaign.

I can recall prior to this issue discussing with my fellow members of the Bulbacast about how unbelievably accepting the Pokémon fandom is. There's a reason Pokémon is ridiculed as a massive marketing scheme, and it's not because making gobs of money was Satoshi Tajiri's original vision. The fandom gives us many great things — and many sub-par ones as well, which we love and accept as much as the rest. How many of you, despite your complaints about the Johto anime season, sat through it and watched every episode? How many of you, despite saying Hey You, Pikachu! was a waste of money, bought the game when it came out and played it through completely? And, just to use an example from the Bulbacast discussion itself— if they spun May off and gave her a cheesy, fluffy, eye-candy filler-stuffed shōjo series, how many of you would watch every episode of it, even if you hated May?

I can guarantee that the numbers are even higher than you might think. We've had a history of being very tolerant as a fandom, putting up with the good and the bad, and only complaining to ourselves about the parts that bothered us. When The Legend of Thunder! aired, eight or so letters were sent to 4Kids in a campaign because fans were upset with Hun being cast as a woman— and in response, quote Maddie Blaustein, 4Kids went out of its way to make sure Harley was cast as successfully as possible. For our fandom, that was a very vocal feedback.

And now, if it hadn't been for us initially speaking out against the change, how many of you would have responded as vocally as you did when The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon first aired? I'm quite certain the response would have been far more minimal— that many of you would have accepted it even if it had been worse —and I'm even more certain that the re-dub would not have occurred.

That is, in a way, one thing SOVA is trying to accomplish. We're simply not satisfied with the dub without the original voice actors, and unlike almost every other instance in the Pokémon fandom, we're going to make sure PUSA is aware of just how dissatisfied we are. If you have a problem with this, I apologize— but we're not planning on changing our feelings.

I can only hope this will aid in settling the conflict between SOVA and a multitude of its critics. Thank you for reading.