Tetsuo Shima
Akira Akira

Tetsuo Shima

Comparision of the voice over actors who have been the voice of Tetsuo Shima with sound clips and images.
Franchise: Akira

Created by Pokejedservo on Jul 18 2009
Akira (1989)
Tetsuo ShimaJoshua Seth
Joshua Seth
Akira (1989)
Tetsuo ShimaJan Rabson
Jan Rabson


Tetsuo Shima, one of the most famed "Tragic Cases" in all of anime history.

In the 1989 dub of the movie we have VA Jan Robson as Tetsuo and it doesn't seem to be THAT bad. (Granted the way he and the others pronounced "Kaneda" in the old dub did feel a bit awkward.)

However in the modern dub we have Joshua Seth as Tetsuo and this is quite possibly his finest performance. (But then again Joshua Seth did mention on how Tetsuo is quite a dream role of his and it showed and its one of the reasons why its a shame Joshua Seth is retired from voice acting.)

But while Jan Robson wasn't that bad I am definitely going with Joshua Seth here.



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said at 7:24 AM on Wed Mar 21 2018
 1 Shout Out!
Joshua Seth is just absolutely chilling in this role and nails the incredibly creepy, demented side of Tetsuo.

Jan Rabson was good... at the time but looking back now he sounds so stilted and unnatural and then doing the more creepier moments he overacts nearly turning the moments into unintentionally hilarious.
said at 9:15 PM on Fri Feb 16 2018
 1 Shout Out!
While I vote for Josh, I gotta say that Jan did a really darn good job all things considering.

While Josh had a younger sounding voice (suitable for the character), Jan really nailed it during the mutation scene!
said at 2:40 PM on Tue Sep 15 2015
 1 Shout Out!
Josh for the win! Honestly I don't hate Jan himself but his acting was just unbearable! Joshua on the other hand owns the role as Tetsuo!
said at 2:35 AM on Sun Feb 15 2015
Both are okay really but I prefer Josh
said at 10:55 PM on Mon May 12 2014
 1 Shout Out!
Jan was fairly good especially for the time. He sounded somewhat like a teenager and he had a somewhat punkish tone and some of his scenes had alot of emotion to them but the script and voice directiooooon severely brought his performance down not to mention it sometimes being far to obvious he was an older male. Maybe in a better dub he could have shined. Seth is flipping perfect, right pitch, subtle with that arrogant punk tone along with nailing it in Tetsuo's more emotional scenes.
said at 7:13 PM on Wed Mar 20 2013
What I dislike about these comparisons is they only give listeners a brief glimpse towards these actors' performances. Most of the voters here have only heard Joshua Seth's rendition of Tetsuo and when they compare it to a second long clip of someone they never heard before, it's pretty obvious who they're going to prefer.

Having seen both performances in their entirety- Joshua Seth cannot compare to Jan Rabson. Whether it be his non-reaction towards Takashi, his scolding of the clowns as they threaten to burn Kaneda's bike, his flat delivery after knocking back the soliders, or his fake screaming during the mutation sequence, Seth failed bring Tetsuo to life. Rabson put far more emotion, far more menace, and far more power into the role. When I hear Seth, I hear an actor. When I hear Rabson, I hear Tetsuo.
said at 4:15 PM on Sat Apr 20 2013
@gsbr What exactly gave you the idea that most of the voters for Seth have heard his voice more than Jan's?
said at 7:53 AM on Sun Apr 21 2013
@Fulgore2005 No. Better question would be: How did you come to that conclusion considering the possibility that some of the voters have seen the old dub first?
said at 12:43 PM on Wed May 8 2013
@Fulgore2005 Because the old dub isn't distributed in the United States anymore. Today, most people have seen the film first on DVD or Blu-ray, both of which only contain the newer version. Very few would even consider tracking down an out of print copy on a dead format, let alone watch it, when the DVD is easily accessible.
said at 10:43 PM on Mon May 13 2013
@gsbr I have seen both dubs in their entirety, the 1989 one first. Yet, even though I wasn't introduced to the character through Joshua, I vastly preferred him. He not only sounded like a real passionate teenager, for Tetsuo's descent into madness, he sounded chillingly real. It was haunting. Jan, while being one of the better voices in an otherwise laughable dub, did sound very forced, and for Tetsuo's crazy side, he sounded too much like a horror movie villain. It was really-over-the top. He completely stopped sounding like a teenager right there. That's my 2 cents. :)
said at 2:04 AM on Fri May 17 2013
@PurpleWarrior13 I'm certain there are people who have seen both dubs here. My concern is the majority of the voters have only heard Seth before, considering how the newer dub is still widely available, while the original only exists on VHS and Laserdisc.

I actually preferred Seth after my initial viewing of the two dubs. Voice wise, he was spot on as Tetsuo. But once I got past the voices and started hearing the actual performances, it became evident that Seth was lacking in the emotion department. For me, the moment that demonstrated Seth couldn't deliver as Tetsuo was his mutation scene at the end. He was too relaxed, sounding merely surprised over what was happening to Tetsuo's body. With Rabson, he made certain the audience felt Tetsuo's pain; he even admits the mutation was a throat killer.

For those who have seen them, the two Akira dubs are polarizing affairs. Very few feel neutral about them, they both find their way on to best and worst dub lists. It really stems from the version you saw first and what you thought it of it.
said at 3:02 AM on Fri May 17 2013
@gsbr I guess it depends on tastes. Joshua did post below that he was just trying to be more true to the scene as an actor, while I agree that Jan's voice was just way too over-the-top.

Though I think we can agree that just because you see a particular version first, doesn't mean you automatically like it. At the time, I thought it made more sense to watch an 80s film with an 80s dub. Boy, was I wrong. I was enjoying the film itself very much, but it was clear that the voice performances I was hearing weren't very good. English anime dubs, as a whole, have improved tremendously since the 80s/early 90s with new technology, a better understanding of the material, and better voice actors, as well as a wider selection of talent of performers, writers, and directors willing to do this. I think Akira is a great representation of that. The newer dub just feels more "evolved", and so much more true to the source material, I enjoyed the film even more, and certainly had a better understanding of it as well. I think the 80s film COULD'VE been good under better circumstances. They had some great talent on board, and they really could've created a good product. But they didn't. It was a quick product with poor direction, strange casting, and weak writing rushed out the door to Hong Kong (literally). With such a huge film, being marketed as such, you'd think better care would've been put into the voice recording. The Animaze dub was created as a way to "fix" this. Whether the attempt was successful or not is up to you, but I think they ultimately succeeded extremely well. A lot of time and care was put into that dub with better writing, better casting, better direction, and (overall) better voice actors to essentially correct some of the key mistakes made in the previous production. The film deserved better, and I think it got it.

Of course there are those nostalgic for the both productions, and that's understandable. We still have no idea if FUNimation is going to include the original production on their 2014 re-release as a bonus feature, but it certainly would be an interesting feature to have for historical purposes, because like it or not, both English productions are very important pieces to not only the history of this very important film, but to English localizations of anime as a whole.
said at 7:08 PM on Wed May 22 2013
@gsbr I just watched the scene comparison video for that on YouTube, and honestly, they sound pretty similar. Neither of them sound like they are extremely pained and horrified, their screaming sounds more like frightened moaning without much force or terror behind them. Joshua's performance in the scene where he's pleading to Kaneda while in his stomach is more effective in my eyes because he's trying to remain calm but failing to. Jan's moaning "Kaneda, escape!" doesn't sound nearly as natural or emotional, IMO.

Jan does put a little more force into his yell when he's getting sucked into Akira's energy, but Joshua still portrayed the appropriate emotions. In my opinion, the original Japanese got that scene right while the others both have their faults, but that scene is not proof enough for me that Jan had better acting and I still have to give the edge to Joshua for making me care a little more when he was pleading for Kaneda to help him.
said at 10:02 PM on Wed May 22 2013
@PurpleWarrior13 There's a fine line between what people would call subtle acting and emotionless. Likewise, what some would consider a powerful performance; others would say it's over the top. For me, subtle performances are usually preferable, however, a degree of feeling is still needed and there are scenarios where a subdued take on a character does not work. With Tetsuo, he's going through drastic changes. He's gained new powers and his body is mutating grotesquely. We wouldn't have a normal reaction to strange things, especially when they're happening to ourselves, and thus, Jan Rabson's highly emotional rendition of Tetsuo isn't really over the top. It's how someone would react when bizarre things happen to him. Obviously, other people see this differently, but if we all thought the same way, the world would be a very boring place.

Just to clear a few things up: the original Akira dub was not intended for Hong Kong. If it was, it wouldn't have featured LA voice talent. The dubbing was done by the film's producers, but Carl Macek stated Akira Committee only wanted someone with Academy Award recognition to handle the adaptation. That seems to imply they wanted the dub to be a quality effort. Now according to Jan Rabson, the voice director was Wally Burr, who also handled voice direction for Transformers and number of other 80s cartoons. That pretty much sums up the original Akira dub; it's deeply rooted in the 80s. If you're not a fan of the 80s style of voice work, you won't like the first dub of Akira. As for the Animaze dub, it was created only so the DVD could pass THX certification. The idea that it was made due to negative reception of the first dub didn't appear until after its release and it was usually stated by reviewers who didn't enjoy the first effort.

Apparently, a licensing issue has prevented the original dub from being on the American DVDs. So for the time being, the dub is only distributed in Australia. Fortunately, given the fact that the older dubs of Dirty Pair and Mystery of Mamo have appeared on the new DVD releases, there's a chance the first dub of Akira will finally make it to DVD in the United States.
said at 10:49 PM on Wed May 22 2013
@PsychicVoiceSpy In my honest opinion, there are several moments where Rabson was far more effective than Seth in that scene. The first is Tetsuo getting shot in the arm. While Rabson reacts with a pained yell, Seth lets out a soft groan, like he just bumped into something. Then there's the initial transformation, where Rabson sounds panicked over what's happening to him. Seth comes off as indifferent due him moaning and speaking slowly. Seth simply speaks too much, he appears to be more interested in explaining things to Kaneda than the fact that he just transformed into a gigantic mass. Rabson keeps his dialogue brief as fear overtakes him. Finally, there's Tetsuo's scream after Kaneda frees himself. Rabson really appears to be in pain, Seth's scream just sounds fake. It's hard to describe, but it does not sound like a real scream.

Granted, part of the problem (for me at least) stems from the new dub's script, which called for Tetsuo be more descriptive. Yeah, it's probably more accurate to the Japanese dialogue, but that doesn't make it better. For instance, the line "Kaori's dying," is redundant, we already saw her die. Also, Rabson was benefited by Cam Clarke's Kaneda, who was actually going up an octave with his screams. Johnny Yong Bosch was just yelling loudly. With an unenthusiastic partner, there wasn't a whole lot Seth could have done to help the scene.
said at 12:16 AM on Thu May 23 2013
@gsbr I still don't think either of them sound very close to real screams. They both sound like they're moaning loudly. And no, I disagree with Seth speaking too much in that scene. Jan Rabson sounds like he's losing his mind more quickly, but Seth's approach is that Tetsuo he's trying to stay in control by talking to Kaneda, but he's failing.

If you don't like this approach to the scene, that's your opinion and I say it's a good one, but I feel Seth's Tetsuo concentrating on his best friend since childhood, trying to stay somewhat calm and failing to while his body and mind is being warped makes his transformation much more horrifying and sympathetic than just him screaming like Rabson did. Heck, you even misquoted Seth. He said "Kaori's gonna die," before she's squished and he sounds horrified by what he knows his body is doing to her. Then he says "Kaori's pain is coming into me," after she's killed because (I assume) he can feel his body absorbing her.

And in my opinion we should stop acting like either of us know which is the more "logical" or "realistic" reaction for Tetsuo in this scene anyway. When you think about it, Tetsuo can't even really use his mouth at this point and he's essentially using a psychic megaphone to communicate with Kaneda. It's silly when you think about it.

I will give you that Jan Rabson put a bit more force in a few of his screams, especially the very first one, but honestly, I still think neither of them sound that great. I also highly disagree on JYB being unenthusiastic and I would argue that Cam Clarke is more deserving of that claim, but this will go on far too long if I keep this up.

If you respond I'll give my brief thoughts in return, but I will stop discussing after this simply because I don't like cluttering up a comment page with a discussion of this length that would be more suited for the forum.
said at 9:27 PM on Sun Jul 21 2013
@PsychicVoiceSpy I do agree the majority of Rabson's and Seth's performance in that scene is moaning. One part that does have screaming is after Kaneda frees himself from Tetsuo. Or at least it's supposed to be a scream considering Tetuso's facial expression.

And I get what you're saying with your interpretation. But that's not a misquote, Seth does say "Kaori's dying" right after she gets crushed. It's 3:31 in the mutation comparison video.

As for the issue of whether Tetuso can to use his mouth, well, that's also debatable. Although his face doesn't change as he speaks to Kaori, his mouth matches up with his voice in the aforementioned bit where Kaneda finally escapes.

Ultimately, I can see where you're coming from with Rabson and Seth. However, I firmly disagree with your allegation of Cam Clarke being more deserving of the claim of being unenthusiastic. Clarke was actually straining his voice and you can hear him go up an octave right before Kaneda frees himself. All Bosch did was yell loudly.

I know it's been awhile, but I've been busy with personal stuff. Anyways, why even turn this into discussion in the first place? You already expressed your opinion and now I'm expressing mine.
said at 11:49 PM on Sun Jul 21 2013
@gsbr I apologize, what I meant by that was that if you were to respond I would rather continue the conversation through private messages so it wouldn't clutter up the comment page here with conversation which is getting getting might seem a little tedious to people reading. I'm fine with you expressing your opinion, I just feel it would be better to continue to the conversation through PMs.

Anyway, yeah, I you got me on that first one, but I typed my last reply pretty late, and even though I was watching the comparison at the same time, I somehow managed to miss that.

Anyway, my point was that it seemed to me like he could have been communicating telepathically in some way with Kaneda. In this scene, it's a bit hard to tell how much pain he's going through, and how much of what's happening to him he can even comprehend. My overall point is that the technicals of what's happening to Tetsuo in this scene are a bit on the abstract side. So whether you like Rabson's version of the scene or Seth's, which seems more appropriate is pretty subjective.

Anyway, really, PM me. Typing for this long in the small comment box gets a little tiring for me and I can offer you better conversation through PMs.
said at 11:58 PM on Sun Jul 21 2013
@PsychicVoiceSpy I started off three of my response parts with "Anyway" and butchered my first sentence. Yeah. PMs are good if you want coherency from me.
said at 7:16 PM on Mon Jan 6 2014
@PsychicVoiceSpy Man, I have to remember to check this site more often. Anyways, I'm all for a PM conversation, though I think it would be ultimately pointless. You have your views, I have mine, and I doubt either is going to change, no matter what arguments are raised. But if you still want PM me about Tetsuo's English VAs, I'm in.
said at 7:38 PM on Mon Jan 6 2014
@gsbr I just felt it would be a more effective way for me to express my thoughts without coming across as an ignorant dolt with sloppy grammar, seeing how I would have better tools to construct long replies. I tell you what though, I haven't bought Funimation's new release of AKIRA yet, but when I do and I get the chance to see the Streamline dub in it's entirety and I have more robust experience with it, then I'll be sure to send you a PM. Who knows, I may change my view on some aspects of each dub for better or worse.
said at 11:17 AM on Thu Jan 9 2014
@PsychicVoiceSpy Aiight. Lemme know when you see it.
said at 3:55 PM on Thu Feb 28 2013
 6 Shout Outs!
Joshua Seth still impresses me when I watch this movie, and I've seen it about six times! He got everything right, the awkwardness, the sadness, anger, and the pain he went through at the climax. I think he was absolutely stunning and his Tetsuo is one of my favorite voice performances. I just hope that FUNimation keeps the Animaze dub and just remixes the music and sound effects on their upcoming re-release of the film. It would be tragic for Joshua Seth's best work to be lost to out of print copies of the film. I would love to meet this man someday.
said at 11:01 PM on Sun Jul 21 2013
@PsychicVoiceSpy Seth was indeed terrific as Tetsuo. I thought he was far more convincing than Rabson. The biggest problem I had with Rabson was that he came across as rather over exaggerated on Tetsuo's crazy side, making him mono-dimensionally evil instead of a kid gone crazy while failing to make him sympathetic during his "neediness" moments. Seth handled both flawlessly and sold the character a lot more for me than Rabson ever could.
said at 1:28 AM on Mon Jul 22 2013
@JTurner You pretty much spelled out my problems with Jan perfectly. He has a few enjoyable moments, but I just can't consider his performance true to the character.
said at 5:28 AM on Sat Jan 19 2013
 5 Shout Outs!
I could easily understand why people think Tetsuo is one of Joshua Seth's best roles. I thought he did a great job IMO.
EPA Deane
said at 4:50 AM on Sun Oct 9 2016
@Fulgore2005 As Controversial as This sounds, I actually prefer Seth's performance as Tesuo to his Tai Kazama voice....
said at 4:23 PM on Sat May 19 2012
 5 Shout Outs!
Rabson's line readings are stilted and unnatural.

Seth is WAY more natural and believable.
said at 7:26 PM on Sat May 8 2010
 2 Shout Outs!
A bit mixed on this one. Jan completely fails at doing a wimpy kid like Tetsuo imo. However... that all changes when Tetsuo goes completely psycho during the second half of the movie, and Jan's overacting is so sinister, and fits so perfectly... Joshua on the other hand does a good job at being regular old Tetsuo, but he just wasn't convincing enough as a psychotic killer. So I'll have to give this to Jan
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Who do you think has been the best from these Tetsuo Shima voice actors?
Jan Rabson
Joshua Seth