Vocalization

Gabranth is voiced by Otsuka Akio in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy XII and Michael E. Rodgers in the English versions. His Japanese seiyuu and his English voice actors have very different backgrounds in terms of their professional experiences before the role of Gabranth.

Otsuka is a seasoned seiyuu and has voiced many iconic anime and video games characters including Kyouraku Shunsui in Bleach, Marshall D. Teach (Blackbeard) in One Piece, Ansem from the Kingdom Hearts series, and Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series etc. just to name a few, whereas Rodgers is primarily an actor, with experience in film, television and theatre/stage before the role of Gabranth.

In a 2015 US Gamer Interview, Alexander O. Smith (Translator/US Recording Producer), Joseph Reeder (Translator) and Jack Fletcher (Voice & Casting Director) commented that the cutscenes in Final Fantasy XII were critically important to the story of the game as a whole that they were like a movie, and that when casting, they were looking for actors that can provide great acting while putting their own spin on the roles, hence, for the roles of the Judges, they were aiming to cast stage actors rather than typical anime/video games voice actors.17

It was also revealed in the same interview that it didn’t make sense to Smith and Reeder to have every character in the vast world of Ivalice to speak in the same English accent (although everyone speaks the same standard Japanese in the Japanese version of the game), hence characters in Final Fantasy XII were given regional accents, which was an idea the they borrowed from Star Wars. The script of Final Fantasy XII was also written to have a mix of regional-specific dialects, and the Judges were given a Victorian dialect in their speeches.18

In the same note, Smith and Reeder also mentioned that there were several scenes in the Japanese version of the game that would involve overlapping/layering of voices to achieve a dream-like or otherworldly effect, such as in scenes with the Occurians, and in the opening sequence with Gabranth impersonating Basch. For the impersonation sequence in English, Smith and Reeder decided to have Rodgers mimic the voice of Keith Ferguson (voice actor of Basch), instead of layering both characters' voice for the scene like in the Japanese version of the game (possibly so that it would be easier to make out what was being said when the subtitle option is off), which initially raised a lot of eyebrows with the development team, but the team eventually sided with their decision in the end.19

Perhaps due to my familiarity with the English version of the game (although I did play through the opening sequence of the Japanese version), I personally prefer Gabranth’s English voice acting over his Japanese voice acting. I felt that although Otsuka’s voice fits the commanding and authoritative aspects of Gabranth, his voice seemed a bit too deep for me for Gabranth, and the voice acting made Gabranth sound older than he actually is. I felt that Rodgers’ voice brought out the hidden anger and inner frustrations that Gabranth had been harboring all this time after he felt that Basch abandoned him and their mother, which is why I really liked Michael E. Rodgers’ portrayal of Gabranth.

For more information on Otsuka Akio, you can visit his profile on his agency’s website.

For more information on Michael E. Rodgers, you can visit his profile on IMDB.

For comparison of Gabranth’s Japanese and English voices, here are clips of the scene of Gabranth's entrance at Pharos (spoiler warning) in Japanese and in English.