DFTG Sits Down With Lisle Wilkerson and Mike McFarland at NekoCon

During my time at NekoCon, I had the pleasure of sitting through panels with Mike McFarland (Directing and Dubbing With Mike MacFarland) and Lisle Wilkerson (Memoirs of a 6FT Tall Blonde Geisha) which provided insight on the world of dubbing, direction, and living as a “gaijin” or outsider in Japan. Overall NekoCon proved to be entertaining, full of life, acceptance and knowledge.

NekoCon ’16 Panel Highlights 

Mike McFarland

Mike McFarland, who is known for his amazing work as Master Roshi (Dragonball Z), Jean Kirstein (Attack On Titan) and Jean Havoc (Fullmetal Alchemist), sat down with avid fans in his Directing and Dubbing panel.


As I sat down and listened to the information McFarland was giving, he opened my eyes to the real world of voice acting and what it takes to create the dubbed versions of popular anime series. According to McFarland some of the casted actors will require a full blown audition, whereas other voices are cast based on prior work that was done and if their schedules suit the demands of the voice acting position. One episode of anime will take around 17-25 hours to record, and the typical recording week is about 40 hours, given no unforeseen circumstances come to pass.

When asked about the challenges of this field, McFarland mentioned that voice acting can be just as physically demanding, especially with shows like Attack on Titan and the entire Dragonball series. He said that one of his broadcast dubs was Tokyo Ghoul. Upon accepting that job, he was asked to direct the broadcast of season 2 as well as dub the first season since it hadn’t been done prior.

I asked him what was one trial or tribulation that he had gone through in his career that made the most impact, and he said this:

Um.. I don’t know. I feel like I learn new things all the time, and if not every day then at least every week. I try to expand my knowledge of the world, universe and what it is that I do as an actor or as just a human being that exists on this place of existence… Wow, that sounds so hippy dippy *laughs*. I’ve had close family members pass away and that has had a huge impact on you as a person and it also allows you to further empathize with characters you’re playing when they’re going through something similar. I mentioned it before about substitution before, I still haven’t used that, but it allows the knowledge of if I’ve never had that happen, I have now had that happen. I can approach it as a first hand perspective rather than a “I’ve experienced loss before” or “I’ve experience anger before”, now I know specifically to what level or what degree. So there’s that aspect of it…

McFarland also spoke about setting a hard goal for himself as he was getting his career started. He said that goal consisted of only doing career focused things as a certain age, which was just a mental push to get him going in the right direction. It was evident by his body language and tone of voice that he was a man passionate about his career and continually pushed himself to be better with each and every moment he could.

Lisle Wilkerson

Lisle Wilkerson is known for her work as Gena (Crazy Taxi) and Christie Monteiro, Zafina and Nina Williams (Tekken). During her panel, Wilkerson recounted many a tale of being raised in Japan as an outsider and how that effect her growing up, as well as her re-acclimation to the United States.


Her story started off with her parents telling her that they were going on a trip to “Candyland” which happened to be her favorite game as a child. Little did she know, Candyland actually meant Japan (though I suppose it kind of rhymes). According to Wilkerson, she noticed after the 11 hour flight that had not been the case. While she was in Japan, she was able to attend an international school which housed children from all backgrounds (including native Japanese children) and she enjoyed the cultural diversity.

Upon growing up and entering high school, Wilkerson was inspired to play volleyball by Attack No. 1, which was one of the first female sport series (anime) that was televised. With that, she came back over to the States for a volleyball scholarship, to a small college in Tennessee. She said:

I immediately felt the culture shock of Downtown Tokyo [I lived in the Harajuku area, that was my hood]. I went from that to a city that I think had three hundred people. I was like “Oh my gosh! What am I doing here?!” Needless to say, it was very much of a learning experience for me… It was definitely an eye opening experience. Then after a year, I said I need to figure out where I fit in. I don’t know where I fit in. I’m American, obviously. I am an american citizen (both my parents are american) however I haven’t really lived in this country and I don’t know anything about this country. So I went back to Japan, I told myself I’ll give myself about a year, two years, kind of figure out where I fit in on this whole thing. But just by fate I got into radio by the age of 19, and through radio I got into voice work.”

Wilkerson then delved into her achievements with voice acting, touching on her role in Crazy Taxi as well as Tekken and telling us about the few pieces of anime she did do, but most of it happened to be for teaching. Ultimately, she moved back to the United States in 2008.

She shared some stories about her move and first experiences. One that stuck out had to do with a Starbucks in which she had went to. She had ordered her drink and counted exact change and people had gotten slightly frustrated with her. After she had paid she was mesmerized by the ability to swipe a credit card as the man after her had done.  In Japan, it’s common courtesy to give the attendee/employee exact change since it’s more of a cash flow society.

I also learned more about the Japanese culture. For instance, it’s rude to tip your waitress. There are only a few occasions in which tipping isn’t offensive, one instance is when your cab driver as dropped you at the location you requested.

Ultimately, Wilkerson reminisced about what she missed most about Japan. Convenience stores, bakeries and public transportation. The convenience stores offer a multitude of healthy food options and often act as a grocery store, all while being able to pay bills (including rent), and buy tickets for air travel, concerts and the like. The bakeries are often by European bakeries and offer quite a few different pastries by the bakers, who often spend time in Europe learning recipes native to those countries.

She also let us in on a secret, the Japanese consider talking loudly on the phone while using public transportation as rude! If you do visit Japan, remember this, or you will end up getting quite the dirty looks!

NekoCon ’16 Final Thoughts

NekoCon as a whole was really quite enjoyable. There was much to see and do, it was family friendly and at night the raves were absolutely fantastic. The music pulsed through the building and friends were made while sharing a large space and rocking to the beat. I made some friends and had some laughs and admired many different cosplays. I do wish, however, there was more in terms of a panel dedicated for press to really explore the great talents behind some of the voices that we love to watch on Crunchyroll. Outside of that, the experience was phenomenal.

If you are ever in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia in the beginning of November, check it out! According to the dates on the NekoCon site, you can attend November 3-5!


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