PlayStation 5 Getting Discord Voice Integration, Other Features

A PlayStation 5 and controller.

Photo: Sony

Sony just announced a ton of new features currently under development. Features such as support for 1440p output have been teased for some time while others, such as the ability to join a Discord voice chat natively, feel like they should have been announced sooner than several years into the console’s life cycle.

You won’t be the first to access these features unless you’ve been selected for the beta, but they seem fairly promising. You’ll finally be able to make Discord calls directly from your PlayStation 5 and display the game that you’re playing to whoever you’re talking to (just like the mobile and desktop versions).

The PS5 will get other notable social features too. You’ll finally be able to request screenshare directly from your friends’ profiles, join gaming sessions through “Party” chats, and see which games that your friends also own on their account. If you’re picky about who gets to join your games (like me), don’t fret: Sony is giving PS5 owners the ability to dictate who does and doesn’t get to join your games.

These additions are potentially huge boons to the multiplayer ecosystem that Sony has been trying to build out ever since it acquired Bungie for $3.6 billion. And according to a financial call from last year, multiplayer was the biggest reason that PlayStation Plus users kept paying to use Sony’s gaming subscription service every month.

Even if you’re not big on multiplayer, Sony is developing features that are applicable to all PlayStation owners. The one I’m most excited about is the ability to use a voice command to capture video. You wouldn’t fiddle with details manually either; you can make presets for how long an average clip should be.

If you upgraded to a current-gen console recently, you probably remember game save transfers being a huge pain point. Currently, the only way to shuffle your PlayStation 4 saves to your new console was to dig into your cloud storage. PlayStation Plus subscribers will eventually be able to transfer save data automatically. Even if you’re not paying for Sony’s gaming subscription service, you’ll soon be able to transfer data between individual PS5s. You know, now that it’s supposedly possible for the average person to secure more than one console.

If you’re lucky enough to receive a beta sign-up email, then you can preview these features before anyone else. So check your inbox carefully.

Genshin Impact Fans Harass Voice Actors Over Gay Anime Tweet

The Genshin Impact community can’t seem to stop harassing its voice actors. A few days ago, a queer Genshin voice actor made a negative tweet about “fujoshi,” a term most commonly attributed to straight women who consume anime media about gay men. The resulting firestorm of online harassment not only ensnared them and another Genshin voice actor. It also showed how perilous it is for queer people to advocate for themselves on the internet—especially as public faces of a video game with millions of players.

“Fujoshi” was first used to refer to young women who interpreted relationships between fictional men through a romantic lens. The term was originally derogatory, but became more neutral as explicitly gay works became more well-known by Japan’s general public. Even the anime industry began catering toward this population because of its high spending power. Anime news site ANN claims that the fanservice was indispensable to Shonen Jump’s success. But there’s always been a fraught tension in the anime community about whether or not reading stories about gay Japanese men is inherently fetishistic.

On January 31, Genshin voice actor Joshua David King tweeted that people who identified as “fujoshi” should “look into therapy.” A ton of anime fans were upset about the characterization of the subculture. The good reason: Many transmasculine and nonbinary people were able to come out of the closet after reading “boys love” media. Many of them were called fujoshis by transphobes who considered their gender-nonconformity to be a fetish.

King acknowledged this trajectory as a valid one and said he mainly took issue with non-queer fans turning BL works into fetish content. As a gay man who is also trans, it’s a perspective that King is perfectly entitled to. Unfortunately, Twitter has a way of flattening any possibility of nuanced discussion. Fans swarmed to his account to accuse him of misogyny and ignorance about East Asian popular culture.

King posted a Twitlonger that apologized for “casting a wide net” on who might be considered a fujoshi. But he also stood his ground on how BL gave some straight fans the leeway to fetishize gay relationships. “I am not a puritan. Queer stories come in all shapes and forms and there is not a “right way” to tell one, but it’s annoying when half of [representation] I hear about is oversexualized nonsense,” he wrote. “As much as spicy stories deserve to exist, we also deserve to have safe spaces for people not interested or not ready for that content.” He also mentioned that the blowback has been disproportionate to what he saw as a sarcastic tweet. Kotaku reached out to King for a comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Another Genshin voice actor was harassed during the fujoshi controversy. Shara Kirby is the English voice actor for Candace, a playable character released late last year. Kirby tweeted in defense of King, only for Genshin fans to turn against her as well.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had so many people harass me, call me so many -isms, and seemingly call for my firing. Did not think I’d be spending the first three days of Black History Month like this!“ Kirby, who is Black, wrote in an email to Kotaku. “I don’t regret coming to my friend’s defense. They are a Black trans and queer individual who rightfully called out a section who uses an umbrella term that, while probably having good intentions, has been tainted by a sub-group who use it to get away with fetishizing BL and MLM content.” She said that she didn’t have strong opinions about fujoshi, but that she saw it was mostly non-Japanese people who were harassing King.

Even the Genshin community expressed disgust at other fans’ responses. Some pointed out that other voice actors had not received similar vitriol for controversial stances and using slurs. Others were upset that two Black voice actors were harassed on the first day of Black History Month.

Genshin was the number one most tweeted about game of last year, so their voice actors face immense public scrutiny on the platform. Kotaku reached out to Hoyoverse to ask what recourse they provide for voice actors who are targeted by online harassment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

“At the end of the day, a lot of y’all are embarrassing and will jump an actual trans, Black, and queer person because you want to live in a fantasy world,” tweeted King. “Do better.”

Genshin Impact Voice Actor Apologizes Amid Sexual Accusations

The voice actor of a popular Genshin Impact character was recently accused of being in relationships with multiple fans, some who claim to have been underage at the time, and pressuring them for nude photographs. The voice actor, Elliot Gindi, further confirmed in a TwitLonger post Wednesday that he threatened suicide if the victims came forward with their stories but denies purposeful wrongdoing. Multiple Genshin voice actors have condemned Gindi publicly for what they see as exploiting the power imbalance between a celebrity and their fans.

Content warning: The links lead to graphic text descriptions of relationship abuse

On February 7, one of Gindi’s former Twitch and Discord moderators, Matty (who asked not to be identified by her surname), compiled a public Google doc of screenshots that reportedly showed his interactions with three fans over Discord and Instagram. Some of the screenshots are of the fans’ descriptions of Gindi’s behavior to the three moderators who helped to compile testimony. These accusations include “coercion,” “grooming,” and being someone who “threatens suicide to get away with sexual relations with teen fans.” Kotaku spoke with Matty and was able to independently confirm they are still one of Gindi’s Twitch moderators and that they acted as moderator for the voice actor’s Discord as recently as Monday, February 6, though they have since left the latter post following the release of the allegations.

“I stayed simply because I had a plan for when I tweeted the document,” Matty told Kotaku over a phone call. “I was going to [ping] everyone in the server with the link and then leave, which is what I did. I caused a little bit of chaos.”

“What is true: All of the screenshots of the chat logs. Yes, all of the cringy sex talk. Yes, I did threaten suicide if it got out,” Gindi wrote in the TwitLonger post addressing the accusations. “I didn’t think through the severity of that. I’m sorry.” Gindi also rejected the accusation that he had knowingly been in a relationship with any underage fans. “I was not ‘waiting’ for someone 15 to turn 18,” he wrote. “I flatly rejected them.” Kotaku reached out to him for comment, but did not receive one by the time of publication.

The tweet spread across the Genshin community incredibly quickly. As of the time of writing, the above tweet has 9.5 million views. Many fans of Tighnari, the character Gindi voices, seem to believe the accusations, and they’re upset that he voices one of their favorite characters. Many have demanded that the forest ranger’s role should be recast to a different voice actor.

Chris Faiella, a Genshin voice director, publicly promised fans that he would use his influence with HoYoverse to “rectify the situation.”

“Everything Elliot has done has left me so angry and triggered,” tweeted Brianna Knickerbocker, the voice actor for Hu Tao. “There needs to be consequences for his actions. There needs to be support for the victims.”

“Just becoming aware of the situation with Elliot. I’m disgusted and upset to say the least,” wrote Stephanie Southerland, who voices Jean Gunnhildr. “To anyone who has been taken advantage of, my heart hurts for you. Speaking up is so difficult but please know that the rest of the cast stands with you.”

“What Elliot did is awful, vile and I’m sorry to all the victims he affected.” tweeted Alejandro Saab, who was casted to play Cyno. “It’s inexcusable and I’m hurting physically and emotionally! I do not condone any of his disgusting actions.”

Other Genshin voice actors have used their platform to condemn voice actors who behave inappropriately towards fans. “Fans trust you with their hearts and to abuse that trust and take advantage of your position is deplorable,” wrote Jackie Lastra, commonly known for her work as Xiangling. “My heart is with the victims. We see you.”

Kotaku emailed HoYoverse to ask if Gindi will be removed from his role, and received the following response. “We deeply regret the harm and damage that happened to our fans, gamers, community, and anyone affected,” wrote a company representative. “Both our internal teams and external partners including our voice acting studio have been working together on an urgent solution. And we will keep you posted on the progress.”

Update at 2/9/2023 at 1:32 P.M. E.T: Removed references to the moderator’s surname at her request.

Big Voice Actors Call Out AI Copying Them Without Consent

Voice actors within the video game, cartoon, and anime industries have come out against the use of AI websites that copy and sell their voices without their permission.

Last Friday, voice actor Steve Blum, known for his role as Spike Spiegel in the English dub of Cowboy Bebop, posted a PSA of sorts to his Twitter followers, warning them not to buy into any AI website that’s copied and sold his voice.

“Hey friends, I know AI technology is exciting, but if you see my voice, or any of the characters that I voice, offered on any of those sites, please know that I have not given my permission, and never will,” Blum tweeted. “This is highly unethical. We all appreciate your support. Thank you.”

Blum wasn’t the only one to share their concerns over AI sites copying and selling their voices for profit without their permission. Actor Sean Schemmel, the English voice for Dragon Ball Z’s Goku, was one of several who came out in solidarity with Blum in a reply saying he’s never given permission for an AI service to use his voice in any way.

“EXACTLY THIS and I’ll go a step further: Anyone who does this without the voice artist’s permission is harming voice actors,” Jennifer Hale, the prolific voice actor who plays the female version of Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series, wrote in a quote retweet. “Please do not do this, and please do not support people who do. Thank you.”

“I concur and am disgusted that our lifetimes & bodies of work are being pirated,” Charlie Adler (Red Guy from Cow and Chicken) wrote. “NO site has been given permission or has been authorized to use my voice AI or otherwise! I was alerted to fakeyou yesterday. I did not EVER consent to my voice being sold ! FRAUD !”

“I’ve been warned by friends that some of my characters’ voices are on these AI sites, I would also like to make it clear that if you see any site that has my ‘voices’ offered, it is without my permission and I am explicitly against it,” SungWon Cho, God of War: Ragnarok’s Ratatoskr wrote in a quote retweet.

Read More: Popular Female Twitch Streamers Targeted In Deepfake Pornography Scandal

In the past, the use case for AI voice sites seemed limited to YouTube parody videos where content creators produce extra lines of dialogue for a famous celebrity to punch up the humor of their videos. However, much like with deepfake porn of Twitch streamers, the upward trajectory of AI-generated voice technology’s improvements combined with legal systems’ slow pace to bring laws up to speed with AI technology, especially those used without consent, has created a massive headache.

AI-generated voice harassment campaigns

In a recent Vice article, four victims of AI-generated voice recounted how the technology was used in harassment campaigns against them. One example of AI-generated voice misuse saw Twitter accounts share actors’ private information like their home addresses using an AI-generated voice of Agent 47 from the Hitman series.

“What was the bigger frustration was how ineffective Twitter’s support system was in removing the post,” Tom Schalk, a voice actor from the horror puzzle game Poppy Playtime told Motherboard. “Regardless of the stolen identity, private information posted publicly and the racist slurs, Twitter’s support system deemed the post and the account as perfectly fine.”

The AI-generated voice site at the center of these controversies is ElevenLabs, an artificial intelligence company that says it has “the most realistic and versatile AI speech software, ever.” According to Vice, ElevenLabs has sent Twitter DMs to the victims of harassment campaigns and acknowledged that the technology used for the Agent 47 voice was their audio, but denied that the voices that doxed them were made using its technology.

In the past, AI voice sites like ElevenLabs have been used to create audio clips of Harry Potter actress Emma Watson’s voice reading Mein Kampf, Ben Shapiro making racist remarks about U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rick and Morty’s Rick Sanchez saying “I’m going to beat my fucking wife Morty,” according to Vice. The last example is particularly uncomfortable considering Rick voice actor Justin Roiland is currently facing two felony domestic abuse charges from 2020.

Read More: The Aftermath Of Twitch’s Deepfake Porn Scandal

Vocal Varients solution

While the misuse of AI-generated voices presents a clear problem for voice actors, it hasn’t stopped the community from rallying together to help solve this new technological crisis. Transformers: Rise of The Beasts voice actor David Sobolov and Sailor Moon voice actress Stephanie Sheh suggest that voice actors send cease and desist emails to the voice generator sites and notify Vocal Variants, an advocacy group of union and non-union voice actors who are concerned about actors signing contracts that ask them to sign the rights to their voices to AI clients.

Vocal Varients is made up of actors like Yuri Lowenthal (Peter Parker in Marvel’s Spider-Man), Cissy Jones (Lilith Clawthorne in The Owl House), and Keythe Farley (Thane Krios in Mass Effect). According to its website, Vocal Varients’ goals include:

  • Creating a standardized definition of this type of work, implementing protections for performers, and doing educational outreach to the creators and users of AI/Synthetic voice technology to foster fair and equitable work for everyone.
  • Actualizing legal preservation of vocal likeness and performance integrity, and identifying the industry-wide risks of AI/Synthetic voice technology around vocal identity misuse and/or malpractice.
  • Educating performers and their representatives about the future implications of AI/Synthetic voice automation, and amending problematic contract terms
  • Creating a standardized contract or set of contract clauses that properly protect against abuse

Kotaku reached out to Vocal Varients and ElevenLabs for comment but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.

“If you find our voices on AI voice apps please let us know. Their databases are often only visable to subscribers or people who have paid for the app,” Sheh tweeted, with the hashtag #protectrealvoices. “Please let us know if our voices are being stolen.”

Genshin Impact Fires Voice Actor Post Alleged Sexual Misconduct

Tighnari greets a friend in the Sumeru forest.

Image: HoYoverse

One week after a Genshin Impact voice actor publicly apologized following accusations of having sexually inappropriate relationships with fans, HoYoverse has finally taken action. The studio announced on Twitter and Reddit that the actor, Elliot Gindi, will no longer voice Tighnari due to a “breach of contract.”

According to HoYoverse, the character Tighnari will be re-cast by the recording agency, and Gindi’s lines will “gradually” be replaced. The company said it intends to issue more official announcements when these changes take place. The announcement did not specify how Gindi breached his contract. Though, if the exuberant replies from content creators and other Genshin voice actors are indicative of anything, it seems like everyone already has an idea.

On February 7, one of Gindi’s Twitch moderators, who previously served as a moderator for this Discord channel as well, dropped a bombshell document that detailed the voice actor’s alleged interactions with fans. That tweet has been viewed more than 13 million times as of the time of this writing. At least three Genshin players claimed to the Discord moderation team he made sexual requests and used his celebrity status to pressure them into relationships. Gindi confirmed that he had relationships with three fans and that he threatened suicide if those fans allowed the news to break. However, he denied any willful wrongdoing or knowingly entering relationships with underage fans.

The document was reported to Google and eventually removed, but not before gaining traction in the Genshin community. The #ElliotGindi hashtag contains multiple fan allegations about misconduct on Twitter, and multiple Genshin voice actors spoke out on the platform against their former colleague. The combination of these factors put a ton of pressure on HoYoverse to make a formal announcement, despite the company’s typical reluctance to publicly comment on community controversies.

HoYoverse previously told Kotaku in an email that it “deeply [regrets] the harm and damage that happened to our fans, gamers, community, and anyone affected.” At the time, it said it intended to take action but did not make mention of any possibility of removing Gindi from the game.

As many redditors said in the comments section have noted, it’s fortunate that his career imploded before he could make contact with even more impressionable young fans. “I’m so glad for the kids who spoke out about this,” wrote one Reddit user. “If left unchecked, this would have gotten so much worse.”

Even God Of War Ragnarök Voice Actor Wants To Turn Off Hints

Kratos and Atreus have a conversation.

Screenshot: Sony

God of War Ragnarök is known for having excellent combat, a simultaneously epic and intimate story, great accessibility features, and a billion puzzles to solve. For many players, it wasn’t the puzzles’ difficulty that frustrated them the most. It was the frequency with which Atreus would provide hints at how to solve them. It turns out, even his own voice actor feels similarly.

Atreus is the son to the war god Kratos, and he often accompanies his father during lengthy segments of the main quest. Normally, this is fine. He’s a good kid, and Sunny Suljic puts on a solid performance as one of the co-protagonists of Ragnarök. The problem is that I don’t want puzzle hints shoved into my face while I’m trying to solve them. Atreus often gives you advice if you don’t solve a given puzzle almost immediately, which I found obnoxious. So many players felt similarly frustrated, and gaming websites even posted guides on whether or not you could turn off these hints. Unfortunately, you can’t. Everyone who played through this action-adventure game is forced to endure unsolicited nudges from Atreus telling you exactly how to progress.

And as it happens, not even Suljic appreciates the mechanic. When IGN asked him whether he enjoyed giving hints to himself, the voice actor started smiling awkwardly. “Actually, for me, no!” Suljic told his interviewer. “Because I’m trying to do the puzzles, and then I hear myself giving myself the hints and I just…I get so sick of hearing my own voice sometimes.” Poor dude. I imagine it must feel like he’s talking to himself while solving these puzzles.

The hint system wouldn’t be so frustrating if it was optional or togglable. Horizon Forbidden West had a similar system where Aloy could voice thoughts to herself that might be helpful, but the timing was a little more forgiving Atreus is much chattier, which may make you wonder if bringing him along is really worth the toll his “help” can take on your goodwill towards him. In most cases, yes—but barely.

Chris Pratt’s First Super Mario Bros. Voice Was Too New Jersey

Whether you’ve seen The Super Mario Bros. Movie or not, you’ve undoubtedly heard Chris Pratt’s fairly normal-sounding voice as the titular plumber. Initially derided for sounding nothing like the Mario we’ve come to know from the games, Pratt has put his own spin on the character. But in his quest to find the perfect voice for this iteration of Nintendo’s iconic Jumpman, Chris Pratt, at one point, apparently made Mario sound something like a Sopranos extra.

Read More: The Super Mario Bros. Movie Has Original Voice Actor Pass Torch To Chris Pratt

The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which was produced by Illumination, Nintendo, and Universal Pictures and stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, and Seth Rogan, landed in theaters on April 5. Despite a poor critical reception, the film has garnered many eyeballs and positive reviews from theater-goers. It’s raked in nearly $205 million since its opening weekend, which is better than both Sonic the Hedgehog films.

In some respects, the film feels like it was designed in a lab with copious fan-service-y references to Nintendo’s games and seemingly little else. Regardless of what critics thought about The Super Mario Bros. Movie, though, Chris Pratt and the gang got a lot of folks into the theater. Even if people were initially peeved at the way Mario sounds in the film, it clearly didn’t affect the movie’s ability to get butts in seats. And that controversial accent apparently took Pratt several tires to get right—it was worked on so much that, at one point, it resembled James Gandolfini’s voice from the HBO series The Sopranos.

Chris Pratt was doing a Tony Soprano thing

In a recent Variety interview, Pratt said the film’s directors, Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, rejected his first few attempts at Mario’s voice because it was “a little New Jersey.” Pratt explained that all we know about Mario’s voice was Charles Martinet’s contributions to the character in games over the years, which was almost always just a few short, oft-repeated lines.” So the challenge, as Pratt put it, was to craft a voice across a 90-minute narrative that breathed life into a mostly static character with “an emotional through-line” you’ll actually care about.

“For a minute, I walked in and they were like, ‘That’s a little New Jersey. You’re doing a Tony Soprano thing,’” Pratt said. “[The voice] was a really exciting and daunting challenge. Talking to these guys, they say, ‘You wanna do the Mario movie?’ I think both [Charlie Day and I] said yes. [We] didn’t even ask, ‘What’s the deal? What’s the story?’ [Just,] ‘Yes, I’m in.’ And then we had to really dig in and figure out…Are they Italian? Are they American? We know a little bit about Charles Martinet’s voice that he’s sprinkled in there with the ‘Wahoo!’ and ‘It’s-a me!’ and these Mario things, but how do you craft a 90-minute narrative with an emotional through-line and create a living, breathing person about who you’ll care?”

Actual Italians Tell Us What They Think About Super Mario

Actual Italians Tell Us What They Think About Super Mario

Charlie Day, who voiced Luigi, told Variety that he was also given some notes on his accent, saying the directors told him to sound “a little less Goodfellas.”

“We tried different things, different voices,” Day said. “Every now and then they would say, ‘Charlie, maybe a little less Goodfellas in this one’—I’m like, ‘Alright! I think you’re wrong, but fine!’—until they landed on something they liked.”

In a larger Variety cover story, Pratt said he took accent inspiration from Italian and New York lineages, hoping that folks watch the film with an open mind.

“To develop the voice, I sampled various Italian and New York accents,” Pratt said. “As the directors and I developed the character, we came to land on a voice that is different than Charles Martinet’s version of Mario, but also different from my own voice…My hope is that people will come into the movie with an open mind and that once they see the film, any criticism around Mario’s accent will disappear.”

Read More: The Super Mario Bros. Movie Feels Like It Was Designed In A Lab

I still haven’t seen The Super Mario Bros. Movie and I’m not from New Jersey, so I can’t say for certain if Mario in the film sounds like a Brooklynite or a Jersey resident. What I can say, though, is that Chris Pratt sounds nothing like Charles Martinet and that’s fine with me as long as the film is somewhat enjoyable to watch. Pratt himself may be a problematic celebrity, but I’ll keep an open mind.

 

Genshin Impact Has A New Voice Actor After Harassment Claims

A Genshin Impact voice actor recently came under public fire after several fans came forward to accuse him of sexually inappropriate behaviors towards them. Even fellow members of the cast came forward to support the alleged victims. A week later, Genshin developer HoYoverse announced that Elliot Gindi would no longer be the voice actor for the forest ranger Tighnari, and that his existing lines would be replaced. HoYoverse just announced today that Zachary Gordon would be the new voice of Tighnari in Genshin Impact.

On February 7, Elliot Gindi’s Twitch moderators released a document they’d compiled which listed a number of allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior against the voice actor. These included “coercion,” “grooming,” and “threatening suicide” in an apparent attempt to prevent the disclosure of his having had relationships with underage fans. Gindi later came forward to confess that while he had made inappropriate sexual comments and used threats of suicide to coerce, he denied knowingly dating underage fans. Nevertheless, a number of other Genshin voice actors and staff voiced how appalled they were at how he had seemingly taken advantage of his role to approach vulnerable fans. A week later, HoYoverse announced that Gindi would no longer be voicing the playable character Tighnari, and that the role would be recast. Fans applauded the decision and waited patiently for a new voice actor.

This morning, HoYoverse announced that Zachary Gordon will become the new voice actor for Tighnari, starting from the 3.6 update.

Zachary Gordon is an experienced voice actor who has previously performed in Kingdom Hearts III, Mafia, Star Wars Rebels, and Final Fantasy XV. “Honored and proud to be a part of the Genshin family,” Gordon tweeted.

HoYoverse sent Kotaku a statement in an email chain about their commitment to recasting Tighnari’s role in response to the Gindi controversy. “We’re pleased to have Zachary Gordon as the new English voice artist for Tighnari. With the newly released Version 3.6, Tighnari’s voice lines have been fully updated with Zachary’s performance,” a spokesperson wrote. “And we hope fans and gamers can continue enjoying Genshin Impact with the latest event and story taking place at the Sumeru Akademiya.”

Aside from a new voice actor for the forest ranger, version 3.6 also brings significant amounts of gameplay content to Genshin. Players who missed Nahida and Nilou during their original runs will finally be able to roll for them again during the gacha. (Hint: Nahida is an incredibly versatile support for anyone who wants to explore Dendro teams.) Baizhu and Kaveh will be playable for the first time in a limited-time event next month.

While you’ll have to wait a bit for Baizhu and Kaveh, the Nahida and Baizhu story quest should occupy you in the meantime. And if you’re excited about new gameplay, new dungeons and monster types will be available in two new areas located in the Sumeru region. The patch will be available later today.

Update 4/13/2023 at 10:15 a.m. ET: Added a comment from HoYoverse.

Beloved Pokémon Anime Voice Actor Is Retiring Due To Cancer

James Carter Cathcart—the voice actor behind iconic Pokémon characters such as Professor Oak, his grandson Gary, and Team Rocket’s James and Meowth—is retiring from the anime after 25 years due to an advanced form of cancer.

Read More: As First Anime Ends, Ash Ketchum’s Pokémon Voice Actor Takes Her Victory Lap

You’ve likely heard Cathcart’s voice, even if you weren’t watching the Pokémon anime since its 1998 introduction. While he’s portrayed Professor Samuel Oak’s grandson Gary since day one (as well as Oak himself and Team Rocket’s James and Meowth since 2006), Cathcart’s voice can be heard in a number of classic anime. He’s performed in shows like Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters as the bowl-cut duelist Weevil Underwood, Kirby: Right Back at Ya! as the senile knight Sir Gallant, Sonic X as the music-loving Vector the Crocodile, and even One Piece as the Black Cats Pirates officer Butchie. Cathcart’s voice has appeared in a few games, too, including Pokémon Snap, Valkyrie Profile, Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum, Shadow the Hedgehog, and—get this—Super Smash Bros. Brawl as the Pokémon Munchlax. In short, Cathcart is prolific when it comes to his craft and talent. It’s saddening to hear that cancer is plaguing him right now.

Cathcart has an advanced form of throat cancer

The news comes from CaringBridge, a website that acts as a personal journal for families to communicate health updates with folks online. A page for Cathcart appeared in January, where his wife Martha announced the advanced cancer started in his tongue and spread into his neck. She said that the cancer was treatable, and that was Cathcart receiving chemotherapy treatments to shrink the tumor. Sadly, according to a new post on April 17, the two learned that Cathcart’s tumor “didn’t respond to the induction chemotherapy,” and that doctors believed a more aggressive chemotherapy approach was necessary. This is set to start around May 1, with “seven weeks of five-day per week radiation therapy [and] simultaneous chemotherapy in weeks one, four, and seven.”

Likely because of the arduous medical treatments ahead of him, Cathcart decided to retire from Pokémon.

“[Cathcart] has decided to retire from script adapting and voice dubbing for Pokémon USA, effective at the conclusion of Season 25,” Martha wrote. “He has been with the series since the 1st episode, so it is a timely decision as the series transitions to new characters and storylines. […] We remain eternally grateful for your love, thoughts, comments, ‘hearts,’ prayers, and well-wishes.”

Called “Ultimate Journeys,” Season 25 of the Pokémon anime wrapped up on March 24 in Japan and saw Ash Ketchum walk off into the sunset. Meanwhile, Season 26’s “Horizons” kicked off on April 14. Based on Scarlet and Violet, this season introduces new trainers and side characters like Professor Friede and Captain Pikachu. It’ll be a while before Horizons makes its English dub debut, though, as The Pokémon Company finalizes its new licensing deal with Netflix.

Read More: The Pokémon Anime Is Leaving Ash And Pikachu Behind After 25 Years

I hope treatment goes well and Cathcart returns to the industry in good health.

 

Witcher Voice Actor Fans Rush To Support After Cancer Diagnosis

Geralt draws his sword.

Image: CD Projekt Red

Doug Cockle, the man who provides Geralt of Rivia’s distinctive voice for CD Projekt Red’s Witcher games (not to mention staunch trans ally), has recently shared that he’s been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Fans and developers of the games have since come together to show their support in the wake of this upsetting news.

Starting with CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher in 2007, the series has starred a wonderful cast of voice actors, and chief among them was the man who took on the role of Geralt himself, Doug Cockle. Cockle would go on to voice Geralt for the next two sequels, as well as in 2018’s Soulcalibur VI. In a series of role-playing games beloved for its characters and dialogue, Cockle’s signature gruff-yet-emotional performance as Geralt is instantly recognizable, and has become closely associated with the character for fans over the years. He’s also acted in a variety of other games such as Quantum Break, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Smite, among many others. In a tweet on June 6, Cockle publicly revealed that he’s recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“I had no idea,” Cockle’s tweet opens. “Random check and Boom…I have full blown prostate cancer. Treatment ongoing but looking good so far.”

The official Witcher twitter account replied with a show of support.

Countless fans have poured into the tweet’s replies to show their love and support, praising him for coming forward to encourage others to get checked and sending him “positive Witcher vibes and love” and encouragement that there’s “no doubt a Witcher can beat this.”

Cockle revealed the diagnosis in response to Prostate Cancer UK’s tweet promoting awareness of the disease during Men’s Health Week and emphasizing that there are many misconceptions about it, especially that one would likely have symptoms early enough to detect the cancer before it becomes serious.

And while cis men are very much at risk for prostate cancer, it’s also important to recognize that the disease can affect many trans and non-binary people as well.

Kotaku has reached out to CD Projekt Red for comment, and we wish Cockle a speedy recovery.

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