Meet the Original Voice of Digimon’s Tai Kamiya, Joshua Seth
In the words of the one and only Joshua Seth, “I think it has a great balance between nostalgia and edginess with the new version.” The pronoun in question is none other than Digimon‘s first feature-length film to hit American and Canadian shelves since the very dawn of the 21st century. In case you may not know, Joshua Seth voiced Tai Kamiya, the lead protagonist, on the original Digimon animated series.
The bridge between the digital world and our own is open yet again. This time it’s spawned a new film series that’s sure to inflict upon you the cold burn of the entity we call our friend, nostalgia. Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion is just the first in a five film series to add to the Digimon continuity.
In our exclusive interview, we got the chance to pick Joshua Seth’s brain on the film, his book and his experiences in the world of voice-acting. Don’t fret, there’ll be plenty of fan fodder for all you damn zombies.
Peruse the interview’s transcript. If you’d prefer, listen instead to the interview at the bottom of the page.
On his book
Joshua: My book’s called Finding Focus in a Busy World and especially as creative people, we have a lot of great ideas, but it doesn’t do anyone any good unless we’re able to put them out into the world. So that’s what the book shows you how to do, is how to lock in and focus on getting your talents in a way that is going to be most effective and least distracting.
Shakeal: And in your book you’ve also mentioned that there’s a significant correlation between the physical world and the digital world, correct?
Joshua: Well yeah, I believe that’s the main distraction now, the computers in our pockets, these little phones pull us away from being able to do hard work or deep work or creative work because it’s so much easier to just scroll through emails and social media posts. So what I suggest in the book is that you use social media as a reward break after you finish whatever project you’re involved in.
On the real world and the digital world
Joshua: In fact, I believe it’s one of the primary reasons that relationships break up now, is people become more engaged with the virtual world, the digital world, through their phone and through their apps. They become more engaged with that than with people in the real world, the people that they’re actually sitting across a table from or sharing a bed with.
So we have to find a way to rescue our real lives from this fantasy of the digital world that we carry around with us in the form of smartphones, tablets and virtual reality. It’s kind of the same journey the digi-destined go on in the series and I’d like to save the real world from all of the chaos in the digital world. It’s the struggle that we all deal with on a daily basis now in our own lives.
On leaving the world of voice-acting
Shakeal: You mentioned voice acting, I feel compelled to ask, why did you leave the world of voice acting?
Joshua: I had an opportunity to tour with my live show and I always wanted to see the world and I always wanted to have that kind of experience and my commitments in Hollywood to all the series I was working on at the time wouldn’t allow me to do that. So I made the decision to finish up all of the series I was currently working on at the time, sold my house, I actually moved about 100 miles up the road to the beach in Santa Barbara for a couple of the years there just to have one foot in Hollywood and one foot out. And then eventually I fully committed to this touring lifestyle and I’ve loved every minute of it.
On entering the world of voice-acting
Shakeal: On the other end of the spectrum, how did you find yourself in the world of voice-acting originally?
Joshua: Well, my father was a radio psychologist while I was growing up and I was very comfortable around recording studios as a result, then I went to a performing arts college called Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and naturally gravitated toward the radio station there. So by the time I graduated college I had a pretty good demo tape as a result of the radio show that I did and I did lots of call in pranks and skits, playing all the parts myself.
I used that demo tape to get an agent in Hollywood and over time was able to amass a resume of lots of little parts on commercials and video games and tv series until I walked into a studio one day to audition and came out as Tai on Digimon, a project that continues to exist even to this day.
On returning to the Digimon series
Shakeal: So returning to the Digimon series, how did it feel?
Joshua: It felt awesome, if you’ve had a great experience in your life in your past and you think it’s something you’re never going to do again and then suddenly you’re presented with an opportunity to do it again, you’re much more grateful for it. The first time you do something you don’t realize how amazing it is until in retrospect you reflect on it.
But now every time I go in and record something Digimon-related, I think how amazing it is to have this opportunity. And honestly, I wouldn’t even have this opportunity if it wasn’t for fans telling me about it on Facebook and Twitter. That’s the whole reason that I even knew “Digimon Tri” was even being recorded and then got in touch with the producers to offer to be a part of it again.
On collaborating with actors from the voice acting community several times
Shakeal: I notice it’s very common in the world of voice acting for different stars to work together multiple times and you’ve also worked with other actors of the Digimon series on other projects. How has that experience been, working with the same actors multiple times?
Joshua: It’s great because there’s a community of voice actors and friendships that grow between us as a result. In fact, the last time I was in town, I had lunch with Lara Jill Miller, who was the original voice of Kari, my little sister in Digimon. And we continued to connect as people even today… And of course that opens possibilities on a professional level as well because we all know that we can trust each other and look forward to working with each other when given the opportunity.
The Fan Questions
Joshua Seth’s favorite Digimon Digi-destined Pair
Shakeal: Who were your favorite Digimon and alternatively, digi-destined pair from the series?
Joshua: Well of course Agumon, in fact I’m playing with a little Agumon toy on the desk right now, because Agumon and Tai are inextricably linked and best of friends. But I’ll also say that Motimon is one of my favorite Digimon because I actually voiced Motimon in the original series, he sounded like this: “Motimon!!” *in Motimon’s voice*.
I know, he’s not a character that shows up often. And then in terms of the other digi-destined characters, of course Matt because it’s always good to have a foil in drama. You have to have somebody to do the dance of the push pull against in order to bring some drama out, so if not for Matt, Tai would not be as interesting.
How Tai’s character development has affected Seth’s portrayal of the role
Shakeal: How would you say Tai’s character development throughout the Digimon continuity including Adventure Tri has affected your portrayal of the role?
Joshua: Well I think that’s one of the best things about Digimon is that Tai is such a pure representation of courage. I mean, he uses the crest of courage and it’s good to see reflections of that personality trait so that we can model them ourselves because courage is one of the things that it takes to go through life being your own person and overcoming any obstacles that may be in our way.
So I think that Tai is an inspirational character and I think that his development in the series from the original portrayal as a reckless youth to the way he is now in Digimon Tri as more of a reluctant warrior is a good one and something we should all strive for ourselves. To both be courageous and also considerate of the ramifications of our actions on others.
How the Digimon Adventure Tri Reunion Feature fits into the film series
Shakeal: Could you tell me how the Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion feature fits into the series as a whole?
Joshua: Well they’ve grown up now and so the issues that they face with one another and whether or not to take action on the threats now facing the world and the ways in which to do them are more adult in their themes. And I think that’s appropriate because the audiences have grown up as well so instead of being stuck in the past, all the digi-destined now have matured in their own outlooks and their own relationships with each other…The way that they’ve chosen to draw and write and even score Digimon Adventure Tri is much modern and edgy while still retaining the charm of the original.
Well, there it is. Tai has spoken. If you’re interested in listening to the interview, check it out below. I’d highly recommend it.
If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the rest of Joshua Seth’s work or his more recent going ons, then visit his website here. He’s built a career as a mentalist following his depart from Hollywood, as evidenced by his website, but the website still houses copious amounts of content from the olden days.