Anime Expo 2012 Guest of Honor: Steve Blum
Spike Spiegel, Roger Smith, Guilmon, Orochimaru, Mugen, Wolverine, Vincent Valentine: these are just a few names that have been voiced by one of the most well-known voice actors in the industry, Anime Expo’s guest of honor, Steve Blum. Steve Blum has voiced so many characters in both the anime and video game industries that even Guinness World Record recently awarded him for being the most prolific voice actor with 261 credited appearances as of May tenth of this year. Most recently, he can be heard as the voice of Amon in Avatar: Legend of Korra as well as the role that has defined him for a generation of fans: T.O.M. of Toonami.
Despite all of the success Steve has achieved as a voice actor, he has remained humble and thankful for the support of family, friends and fans. Spending a part of his life working within the Hollywood film industry, Steve fell into voice acting as a fun hobby and soon decided to pursue it full-time after growing tired of “the constant backstabbing” within Hollywood. Finding inspiration from fellow voice actors, particularly Frank Welker, Steve continued to work hard and audition for whatever role he could land. Due to him being a part of the anime industry from the beginning, Steve found himself unwittingly caught in the middle of the war between subbers and dubbers; the hostilities he faced from some particular fans had lead to Steve changing his contact information due to death threats and had caused him to avoid conventions for a decade.
Though he was not seen, Steve was definitely heard as he began building a body of work for a generation that was growing up during the anime boom of the nineties. Ranging from kid-friendly anime such as Digimon, Zatch Bell! and Naruto to more adult roles inCowboy Bebop, Code Geass, Gurren Lagann and The Big O, Steve definitely was a part of the growing generation, but it wasn’t until Toonami that he felt that he had a hand in raising said generation. As T.O.M., the robotic host of Toonami, Steve felt personally invested in trying to impart words of encouragement and empowerment to viewers, especially since Toonami was watched by school-aged children and he felt as if he was helping “raise” them as his own. When Toonami ended in 2008, fans who had grown up with the series lamented the loss of the beloved character and had since been clamoring for the return of Toonami as well as T.O.M., due to feeling that the new generation of anime fans had missed out on something special. Even after Toonami had been off the air, Steve still kept busy by voicing many more characters in various games and anime.
On April 1st, 2012, Cartoon Network had begun their annual April Fool's tradition of showing The Room, but something strange and wonderful had happened mere moments after the film began to roll. Viewers were treated to the familiar presence of not only the Absolution, but the return of their beloved T.O.M., who seemed edgier than his previous outing. At the same time, the Internet, the blogosphere and all sources of social media were buzzing with the triumphant return of Toonami. When all was said and done, longtime Toonami fans as well as those who became fans during that special presentation took up Steve's request to let Cartoon Network know that they demanded Toonami back. This became a successful endeavor as Cartoon Network recently announced Toonami’s return. Though the idea had been brewing in the heads at Cartoon Network higher ups, Steve was still unsure if Toonami would be as well-received now as it had been originally, but just as before, he's determined to make it the very best that he can. It is with this vision that Steve moves forward and feels he has more control over the project, and is vested in ensuring that the quality is just as good, if not better, than before. He and the team are "building from the ground up" this time around, and Steve's main wish for this incarnation of Toonami is that both new and old generations of anime fans feel at home with it and that good parenting will help foster even stronger bonds.
With as many roles that he has voiced over the years, one would think that Steve may feel like he has missed out on a coveted role to someone else. On the contrary, Steve has many friends within the industry and feels that if he's lost a role to someone else, chances are it's a good friend of his regardless and he supports them to his fullest. For example, Steve lost the role of Batman to longtime friend Troy Baker, but after hearing Baker's rendition of the iconic character, he knew that Baker was a better fit than himself. It is this thinking that pushes Steve to keep pursuing role after role and if he feels he's not a good fit, he'll often recommend someone he feels is better.
Regarding voice acting, Steve's only advice is to "just go." For him, as well as many others, voice acting is not something you can truly ever prepare for as it is acting in every sense of the word. Being able to think on one's feet and getting a bit 'schizophrenic' to handle whatever characters need to be voiced is a strength. Remaining grounded and having a great support net is also a big plus because for as many successes, there will be failures, though there is no sense in feeling sorry for oneself. Auditioning as much as possible and submitting demo reels is all part of the business, no matter if you are just starting out or are established in the industry. After all, if the man who's voiced 261 characters has to keep auditioning for roles every day, then everyone else has an equal shot of getting the job as well.