Friday, September 7, 2012

Interview Piece: Clint Bickham (Part 1)

Back in April, Clint Beckham took the time to have an interview with the blog. You may not have heard of him because he does not provide a voice to a character in the series. Instead, he gives the voices something to say by being an English dub scriptwriter for the series.

Beside being a scriptwriter for Funimation, Clint is a huge One Piece fan. That should be obvious as you read the interview.

Things to note before you read this interview. This interview was done back in April of 2012 so some things are out of date or may have happen already. Still, I hope you find this an interesting and educational read.

Mikey-san: Hello One Piece at a Time Readers, I am with Clint Beckham. I hope I did not mispronounce your last name.

Clint Beckham: No. That is right. Beckham.
MS: He is the writer for One Piece. He is behind all the wonderful lines you get to hear in the DVDs and all the other stuff. Now, what do you like about One Piece?

CB: I think what I like about it, and it probably the same thing that makes it so popular in Japan, is that it is an all-inclusive, all ages sort of thing. I think anyone can enjoy it. Anyone can pick it up and if you look at its fanbase. The age range is nuts. You know, its like five year olds to ninety five year olds. It was so excited, I went to Japan a couple years back, to be on a subway to see all of these salary men after work reading One Piece on the subway. And I was, "Yes!” So, it is a phenomenon. It is something that I think anyone can enjoy.

MS: And it is crazy because the author has said several times that writes a story for young men.

CB: Yeah.

MS: You have kids like ten and twelve and yet, you said, you have salary men who reading it on the subway after work.

CB: Yeah and you know it has been going on for fifteen years, or longer now. So a lot of the people who started with it are growing up with it as well. I think another thing that is really great is that it keeps getting better and better. Oda keeps improving and improving. Maybe one arc will be a little better than another but on a whole I feel that the work keeps getting more and more exciting.

MS: Do you think that is the charm of the series? Because it getting better with each arc and it appeals to a young age, that it is why adults like it as well

CB: Right. The only thing that the downside with that is that it is hard to recommend to people because there is so much. I was going to recommend the manga and I was like, “It really, really really, gets good around volume 30!” It is not like it is bad before that. It is all good but it is like a lot to ask for someone to read. I am always recommending it to people but, how many episodes are out in America? Two hundred and, I don’t know how many- Six hundred in Japan. 

MS: Yeah. Six hundred in Japan.

CB: Yeah. And, I do not know what volume I’m on, 64. So it is a lot to ask someone to read.

MS: Yeah, that is a lot to catch up on. I know the hardcore fans they tried during the whole month last year, no wait, back in 2010. Right before, that whole month before he jumped into the new arc, a lot of the fans tried to read from the beginning to the time skip and I was like, “Really? You are going to read that much? I hope you do not have plans.”

CB: Right. But trust me, once you start reading it then you will be glad there is so much.

MS: Yeah. You are going to be hooked by that time you get to that once touching moment; you will want to read more and more. It is easy to marathon One Piece that way. You just want to see what happens next.

CB: Yeah.

MS: How is One Piece different from the other series you work on for Funimation?”

CB: Well, the big difference is that I jump in on it late. So it was kind of strange because in a way I’m sort of, I don’t want to say this, I am the One Piece expert (because) in that I know the whole series very well and I probably know it better than anyone else working there but I also know the least because I wasn’t familiar with the English work. So for me, I had to listen to the dub very carefully. The English dub is actually very close to the Japanese so it was easy for me to get into. I wasn’t very familiar with the English one and I never had that before. 

When I work for ADVision in the past, I would always be the solo writer for a show. I wouldn’t step in but with One Piece I was stepping in late so I have to get into the stride but the pervious writers and Mike (Mcfarland) have portray the characters very very close to the original. There isn’t a whole lot of strictly American things about it so it was really easy for me to get into the flow. It was still a little strange at first.

MS: You have to work with what you know already and mesh with what you are learning.

CB: Right.

MS: Does knowing so much about One Piece from the Japanese side help you out a lot when writing new script for the series?

CB: Yeah. It does every once in a while because sometimes they will throw out a line that if somebody else was working on, they wouldn’t understand the significance of it. Like…I am trying to think….The first time Robin meets Bluno. All he says is “CP9” and so I wrote a bunch of different variations of that because I don’t remember if it was CP9 or not in the Japanese. The American, the Viz adaptation, was “I’m with CP9.” We were like, “Do we want to make it that straight forward or do we want to make it that vague?” 

And so when it comes things like that means something later, it’s very handy. Certain characters writing them, I am just now about to get to Franky and when Franky is first introduced he was a little bit different. He is wearing the mask and they made him seem like a villain. So you have to play and think in terms of what will the viewer going to feel about this character when they first see him but also knowing Franky what he is really like. 

MS: You are right. You mention that, he is thought as a very serious but later one when you get to Ennis Lobby you are, “Is this? What happen to this serious character?”

CB: Yeah. He gets really goofy. So yeah, you kind of have to think about things like that.

MS: Does reading the manga help you with writing a script for One Piece?

CB: Yeah. I mean, it does because I have an overview of it but one thing I have been doing, just by happy coincidence  I am friends with one of Viz’s editors so he has sent me a lot of their books because like I said I wasn’t very familiar with the English version. So, I even physically have the books open in front of me as I am doing it because there is always that question of “How did they adapt this?” Like, it can be translated multiple ways or whatever. I’ll look at the Funimation translation and I’ll look at the Viz’s final one and I can go, “Oh! You know. Actually, I like the way they did this” or “Oh, I don’t like the way they did this”. Things like that. I try not to mix it up too much because when they have an official something then you want to stick with that.

MS: Yeah. You want to stick with what they have.

CB: Right but that really odd because there are so many things. Then I have to check online that I know the Japanese version like Den Den Mushi is Transponder Snail in English. I had no clue. Little things like that I have to keep looking things up. 

MS: You have to make sure if it is Den Den Mushi or something else.

CB: Right. I have all the volumes in Japanese but that doesn’t do me a lot of good sometimes.

MS: Can you read Japanese?

CB: Yeah. I am not- I do not want to profess I am fluent or anything like that. I am good enough to read One Piece.


MS: That’s good.

CB: Fair enough, I can read Shonen Jump. 

I hope you like this part of the interview with scriptwriter, Clint Beckham. Make sure you keep your eye on the site for the second half of the interview.

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