This is the fifth in my series of staff highlight posts. My sources include various written and video interviews, audio commentaries, and individual research.
Romi Park is a actress, voice actress, and singer born as a South Korean national but a citizen of Japan. She voices the protagonist, Loran Cehack.
Below is a highlight of info pertaining to her time on Turn A Gundam.
- Voiced Kanan Gimms in Brain Powerd, so she had prior experience working with director Yoshiyuki Tomino, albeit in a minor role.
- Romi Park’s role as Loran was her major breakthrough as a voice actress. It was also her first time voicing a male character, and she attributes her success in Turn A Gundam to why she’s often cast as males in anime.
- Initially auditioned for Dianna and Kihel but was instead cast as Loran, much to her surprise.
- In the mid-90s, Tomino’s daughter was a director at a theater company, which allowed her to scout for voice acting talent. This is how Romi Park and Rieko Takahashi were scouted. They were invited to audition for Tomino’s anime.
- Views Turn A Gundam as a significant learning and growth experience. She was voicing the protagonist to a Gundam anime and felt overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility. She was very worn down but never gave up. Her peers saw her as frantic and irregular, yet lovable.
- Tomino saw through her insecurities in early recording sessions and ensured her she’s doing a great job and that she’s now the voice of Loran. He told her to speak normally rather than in a forced tone. His philosophy was that voice actors and actresses are an extension of the characters themselves, so he advised them to avoid overthinking their roles. This had a profound impact on her and gave her confidence to perform.
- Did a lot of ad-lib in Turn A Gundam, such as running and panting or acting out drowning in a river in the first episode.
- Her singing of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in the first episode was done in a single take. Tomino instructed her to sing naturally and felt she’d done well enough on her first try.
- Would playfully refer to Tomino “Dad”, but in retrospect thinks he acted more like a mother. She often sat on his lap so he could pet her.
- Viewed Tomino as a sensitive director who tried to get to know all the actors to make them feel comfortable. Never viewed him as high-tempered or easily angered, despite his reputation or what others would say.
- Felt comfortable approaching Tomino with questions and did not hesitate to argue if she felt the need, in stark contrast to many of her peers.
- Cried when she first heard “Moon’s Cocoon” (ED2). She has also sung a cover of the song!
- Respects Kihel Heim as a character for being able to adapt to such a rapidly changing world.
- Thinks Sochie’s voice actress (Akino Murata) and Kihel/Dianna’s voice actress (Rieko Takahashi) look just like their respective characters.
- Romi Park and Rieko Takahashi shared a special bond and friendship in the studio. They were both new faces playing important roles and weren’t sure of their futures in the industry. Both also admired Gavane Goonny and his voice actor, Houchuu Ootsuka. Park, in particular, considers him her “type”.
- Had a rivalry with Takehito Koyasu (the voice of Gym Ghingham), which often led to shouting matches in the studio. Park felt that he looked down at her. During one intense recording session she lost her voice and had to be rushed to the hospital to see a throat specialist. After the final episode, Koyasu jokingly remarked that they would never cross paths again — how very wrong he was, as Romi Park has gone on to be a prolific actress in the industry.
- Owns an Excellent Model Series RAH.DX Loran Cehack figure. It’s the first thing you see when you enter her house.
- Continues to be involved in the Gundam franchise, having voiced major and minor characters in various series.