Maile Flanagan Interview

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Included with the release of Shonen Jump's "Naruto Collector", were interviews with the (English) voice actors for: Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura and Kakashi. Several weeks earlier to promote the book Shonen Jump released an additional question not included in the interview. This interview (including the bonus question) for Maile Flanagan (voice of Naruto), can be found below:

Microphone Masters
We interview the voice actors behind the Naruto anime!

How is the anime different from the manga? That isn’t a riddle to test your psyche, nor is it a trivia question to earn you a copy of the box sets of uncut Naruto DVDs. There are many differences, key among them: sound! And we got a chance to talk with four individuals who have a lot to do with making the anime come alive: the voice actors who portray Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura and their mentor, Kakashi. We asked them about how they relate to their characters – and for career advice, in case any Naruto Collector readers wanna become voice actors themselves one day.

Maile Flanagan
The voice of Naruto

1. How are you most like the character you portray?

I’m pretty determined, but I like to have a lot of fun. I work hard to reach my goals but it doesn’t get in the way of me acting like a total goofball sometimes. I sure don’t freak out as much, though.

2. If we met you for the first time, what would surprise us most about you, given our preconceptions based on the character you portray?

Well, that I’m a woman of course, and that I’m not as quick to display my emotions on my sleeve as Naruto is. I’m actually really sarcastic and I don’t take myself too seriously – I mean, I spend my life playing pigs and geese and little boys and, lately, nurses. I’m probably the same height as he is, unfortunately.

3. What have you learned about the character you play, the deeper you’ve gotten into the role?

That he’s very tough, not as goofy as in the beginning of the series. That he’s capable of going completely nuts in a fight but even as he gets more intense, he still wants reassurance from the people around him.

4. In Japan, the voice actors record together. In America, the voice actors record their lines separately – what do you think of the contrasting formats?

I’ve done both – not for Naruto but for other cartoons. Personally, I like recording with other people so you can play off each other’s timing and energy. But it would be difficult to do because we have to match the lip flaps and that takes many passes sometimes to get it right. So although it would be more fun in some ways to record together, I don’t think it would be very good for the show’s viewers and it would drive the engineers crazy!

5. Is the voice you use in the anime your “real” voice, or is it very different from how you’d sound if you just called a friend to say hi?

It’s different – I pitch it down a little and adjust the tone so it’s a little more full. I mean, for this job, it’s probably a voice that’s most similar to my own of all the jobs I’ve done, but I have to make him sound like a boy. My friends recognize it when they hear it on TV, but I don’t talk to them like Naruto!

6. If one of our readers wants to pursue voice acting, what recommendations would you have for them?

I started off in acting by doing improv, which ultimately helped with doing voices because you have to do so many different characters, accents, ages, etc. I would say take some improv classes, then take some voiceover classes for animation and do some plays so you can learn how to convey lots of different emotions. I also listen to people on the street or in places where I’m hanging out and then try to imitate them – it’s pretty fun and it makes you learn how to make a variety of sounds. Next time you hear an interesting voice, try impersonating them and seeing how close you can come to sounding like them! One of the first people I impersonated was my best friend from high school’s father. It drove him crazy – I still do his voice!


The voice actors who perform the roles of Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura and Kakashi in the Naruto anime bring everything they’ve got to the task. When you hear Naruto say “Believe it” you know it’s Maile Flanagan playing ninja. We asked those four actors who they’d play if they could be any other characters in the anime. For more insight, read the full interview in the Naruto Collector, on sale May 16.

Maile Flanagan, the voice of Naruto: “Probably Choji – he’s pretty funny when he’s hanging out and I know he gets tough when he has to. It’s fun to play going from one extreme to the other.”

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