15 years ago Digimon: Digital Monsters made its debut on television, and since then it has spanned a total of six seasons. Joshua Seth voiced the lead character Tai Kamiya, during the first two seasons of Digimon:Digital Monsters, along with its featured film Digimon Digital Monsters:The Movie.
Seth grew up in the small college town of Kent, Ohio and had started performing at an early age. He spent a lot of his childhood performing in touring broadway shows at the Carousel Dinner Theater, and by the time he was a teenager it became the largest dinner theater in America. Seth said he would do eight shows a week.
Seth studied Film, Television, and Radio at New York University and this prepared him to launch his voice acting career.
“My background in live performing translated well to being able to be on the mic, and the role of Tai Kamiya on Digimon: Digital Monsters is the cartoon people most know me for. That was the main one that gave me the ability to do all the rest.”
Throughout his extensive career as a voice actor Seth lent his voice to movies, animation, video games, and commercials. Seth was also the promo announcer on Saturday mornings for Fox Kids, and Kids WB.
While at New York University, Seth was hit with inspiration to get involved with animation. It began when he watched the anime Akira.“Akira came in its original form to a little art house theater and I sat there, watched it, and was blown away because this is before anime came to the United States. I remember coming out of that theater thinking: ‘Wow this is the future of animation, and I want to be involved in this.’ Of course a few years later after I had become an established voice over actor in Hollywood I was offered to do Tetsuo when they re-dubbed it, re-mastered it, and everything just came full circle. It was amazing”
Tai Kamiya has become an iconic role of Seth’s and he shared how he approached the character.
“Because Tai is an adventurous spirit as it were I always think of every person as being a multifaceted diamond. Everybody has different aspects of personality and depending on what you hold up to the light that’s how it’s gonna reflect, and that’s how it’s gonna look. So whether you hold up a part of the diamond that’s a flaw or a perfect cut, however you turn that personality that’s what’s gonna form that characterization.”
“So for Tai I just used a part of my personality that I thought was reflected in him. I wasn’t putting a characterization on top of Tai, and pretending to be somebody. I was just taking the part of me that I thought matched his personality. I think that’s always where the best acting comes from. From that authenticity,” he said.
As Seth was voicing Tai, he experienced a few memorable moments, and it was when they were recording Digimon Digital Monsters:The Movie.
“It was such a different process from the TV show. It had a bigger budget, we had more time and could slow down and have conversations with the director (Jeff Nimoy) he was such a great director. I remember one moment in the movie and I so wanted it to not have music behind it, and we went back and fourth in the studio and decided that there was music, as I guess in the original version they wanted to keep the music in it, but I wanted it silent in the background when we did the line. Just being able to have the freedom and flexibility to even have those creative discussions for the movie was great.”
In the first season of Digimon: Digital Monsters the ‘Digi destined’ each have a crest that suits their personality. Tai Kamiya has the crest of courage, and Seth explains how he is courageous in his life.
“I think my willingness to do what scares me, creatively. I have always embraced the unknown, and that’s why I have been able to move to different places in the country and have different careers within this field of performing. That’s the direction of my life. Instead of putting up a barricade against the unknown. Just whole heartily embrace it and go after it.”
On a more personal level Seth chose to make up his own crest that he could identify with, and apply to his own life.
“For me personally the crest that I would have is authenticity. I think that’s what makes an actor, performer, creative person get better. It’s becoming more honest and true to yourself and more authentic in your responses to other people and everything that you do.”
Cartoons are a part of pop culture, and Seth explains how Digimon: Digital Monsters has made an impact.
“It was still pretty early on in the evolution of anime, and before shows like that went on the air, cartoons were thought of in a different way. They were still coming from like The Flintstones. Hanna Barbara had an era where everything was just kind of cute and silly. In the 80s’ you had your silly shows, and your adventure shows, but I don’t think you had the kind of show that talked about the internet, or relationships.”
Most notable relationships in Digimon: Digital Monsters include: Sora and Matt, Agumon and Tai, and Tai’s bond with his sister Kari.
“To explore those relationships more in order to have deeper plots, and to talk about things that were currently happening like the evolution of the internet— I think that was fairly new in cartoons at the time, but now it’s common,” Seth said.
After 15 years, Seth still can’t believe how huge Digimon: Digital Monsters has become.
“I still can’t believe it. Back then we didn’t have streaming media. There was no YouTube, or Netflix. Now it’s obvious it’s just gonna keep going, but back then things kinda ran on Saturday morning, but if it got cancelled then they were gone. So it didn’t occur to me that when I was voicing Tai that we’d still be talking about this.”
In being a part of the Digimon franchise, Seth had a heartfelt experience with his son who is almost four.
“I started showing him a little bit of Digimon: Digital Monsters on Netflix. And he put it together right away saying: ‘That’s you Da-da!’ So that’s been great,” he said.
Seth also said that the best thing about being a performer is that it makes you aware of impacting other people’s lives., and even years later Digimon:Digital Monsters is still meaningful to many.
In 2006 Seth retired from voice acting and is now focusing on performing in live shows as an Psychological Illusionist, and he does 100 shows a year.
“After a while what happened was voice over became too much of a good thing and I was going stir- crazy sitting inside little windowless, sound-proof rooms all day and as fun as it is to do that, my background is in theater, my background is on the stage. I want to get on the stage and perform in front of live audiences. So I went on tour in 2006 and have continued to tour to this day.”
However Seth said if he was ever asked to voice Tai again, he would be glad to do so.
For those interested in connecting with Joshua Seth, you may reach him at the following links below:
Joshua Seth’s official website: www.joshuaseth.com
Joshua Seth’s Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/officialjoshuaseth
Joshua Seth’s Official Twitter: twitter.com/joshuaseth
Joshua Seth’s new book (to be released April 21): www.findingfocusbook.com