The former English dub voice actress for Ramlethal has revealed she away from the role in Guilty Gear -Strive- so a black actress could voice her.
A few days prior to the new story trailer for the game (with the curious statement that the Story Mode can be enjoyed “like you would a movie, No input from your controller is required.”), the game’s English dub voice actors began to post to Twitter to reveal who they were voicing. They also thanked Arc System Works as PCB Productions.
- David Forseth as Sol Badguy
- Sean Chiplock as Ky Kiske
- Jamieson Price as Leo Whitefang
- Evan Michael Lee as Nagoriyuki
- Eden Riegel as May
- Alexander Gross (a.k.a. Octopimp) as Axl Low
- Ed Bosco as Chipp Zanuff
- Armen Taylor Potemkin
- Kaiji Tang as Faust
- Tara Platt as Millia Rage
- Mathew Mercer as Zato-1
- Lilimar Hernandez as Giovanna
- Kae Min as Anji Mito
- Amber Lee Connors as I-No
- Laura Stahl as Ramlethal Valentine
Of the above; Forseth, Price, Riegel, and Tang reprise their roles from prior games. However, one unique case is with Ramlethal Valentine. She had previously been voiced by Erin Fitzgerald (Chie Satonaka in Persona 4, Parasoul in Skullgirls) in Guilty Gear Xrd; who announced why she was stepping back from the role.
“Yes. To those messaging me, I happily stepped away so they could cast more appropriately,” Fitzgerald tweeted. Replying to other Twitter users, Fitzgerald elaborated “The character is black I am not black. I support more work for black actresses behind the mic.” “It’s just about doing the right thing it has nothing to do with kindness. It’s about keeping my ego out of the situation and lifting others up.”
As another user praised Fitzgerald’s decision and hoped she would voice another roll soon, Fitzgerald explained a little more about how it came about. “Oh I definitely feel the universe showed me an open window to bring me some more work because I’ve been busy… proving that when you open doors for others .. doors are opened for you”.
Since 2016 there has been discussion over whether voice actors should match the race of the characters they play. This began with comedian Hari Kondabolu claiming The Simpson‘s Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was a racist Indian stereotype, and that his Indian accent being delivered by a non-Indian voice actor was also racist. Other alleged stereotypes include him owning a convince store, and attempting to scam customers with poor quality and past sell-by date food.
Defenders of the character, such as the video essay by Brain Dump (which has been viewed over 3 million times), argues is Apu one of the more positively portrayed characters on the show. This includes being more kind and level-headed than other characters (nigh-all who are flawed in some manner for the sake of comedy), along with being a desirable bachelor while he was single.
He and other defenders also argued that any negative traits on the character are for the sake of comedy; and not a mockery on the Indian race, and that the race of a voice actor should not matter as long as the performance was good, and portrayal was not a harmful racist stereotype.
In the April 2018 Simpsons episode No Good Read Goes Unpunished; Marge’s attempts to re-write her favorite childhood book to be less offensives leads to Lisa finding it boring.
When Mage asks what she should do, Lisa states “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” They both then look over to a picture of Apu and state that issue will be dealt with later, if at all.
Nonetheless, Hank Azaria said in 2018 that he would be “perfectly willing to step aside” from the role during an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In January 2020, Azaria stated he would be leaving the role, with creator Matt Groening stating Apu would remain on the show.
Since then, discussions over a voice actor or actress’ race have intensified. In late 2020 it was discovered Skunkape Games censored several jokes in Sam & Max Save the World and recast the voice actor for Bosco (a black character) with an African American voice actor.
Guilty Gear -Strive- launches June 11th, 2021 on Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. The Deluxe and Ultimate edition launches June 8th.
Image: Guilty Gear -Strive- official website