We were honored for the opportunity to speak with Alan Lee, Californian voice actor known widely for his performance as Makoto “Edamame” Edamura in the newly popular series Great Pretender, along with offering voice talent for roles in One-Punch Man, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and many others. He describes his reason for becoming a voice actor from a unique perspective. He alludes to an experience with his brother, watching the film Office Space and being afraid of becoming one of the film’s troped characters: stuck in a dead end job. “I started off with trying to figure out if it was writing, if it was law, if it was art, video game design, etc. I went through like a whole litany of things for a long time… But [in the] summer of senior year, I talked to my cousin, an editor in Hollywood and I was like ‘I’m stumped, I still have no clue what to do.’ And he was like, ‘well, try to figure out what the common thread is between that stuff and try picking something from there.’ And I realized all the things I had done thus far were linked to one point, which was my childhood… Like everyone played pretend when they were younger and that was the most fun you had in your life… And I was like, okay, what if I play pretend? What if I was a voice actor?”
For inspiration, Alan Lee mentions Johnny Yong Bosch, voice actor of many roles including Ichigo Kurosaki in the popular anime Bleach. “The second person I look up to or someone who inspires me is a person named Xanthe Huynh. If you know [her], she’s in Persona, she’s in FLCL, she’s in Maquia, she’s in like a whole bunch of stuff… I would say just knowing her personally, her story and the way that she [had] to navigate through her career inspires me.”
Lee cites his proudest role as Edamame (The Great Pretender). He cites it as a prominent role to take on during the beginning of 2020, despite the conditions of the pandemic. “I think people will enjoy my performance. I feel like I’ve always had a knack for physical comedy. And you know like Edamame gets the shit kicked out of him throughout every episode; like figuratively and literally. And playing with that and explore that was just so satisfying.”
When asked who he relates to the most in the anime world he laughs and says “Edamame! Getting my butt kicked like that and feeling like a complete loser. Feeling underestimated and trying to prove himself. Getting himself into trouble and you know like developing through life and feeling like a great pretender. Yeah, Edamame all the way!” Despite this, he mentions the victories the character has made him feel confidence in himself and a value to sticking with one’s principles.
When asked about ways he has improved his mental health, he mentions the audition process. Lee has overcome his insecurities of worrying about auditions with focus on his mental health, and positive thinking. “It took a long time. But like I mean you know you make change not drastically in one go. You have to remind yourself that it’s about patience and about consistency..Your brain is not hardwired. It’s all software, right? You can program and deprogram yourself. And sometimes you know it’s okay to get help for that and I know I did. You know, I saw a therapist and there’s nothing shameful about that.“