It was mid-January in the Green Room at Ohayocon’s 20th-anniversary convention in Columbus, Ohio, and Michael Sinterniklaas—veteran voice actor, ADR Director and scriptwriter for many anime, video games and cartoons—was in a state of panic. He’s usually an easy-going, jovial guy so his tension provoked both my concern and curiosity.
When queried, he explained that he was directing the first-ever English dub (produced by GKIDS and his own company, NYAV Post) of the iconic, critically-acclaimed 2003 anime feature by Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers. But he was still missing the voice of one of the three stars—the endearing and extraordinary character of Hana, a homeless trans woman with a heart of gold who is arguably the most significant role in the film.
Casting Hana was not only complex in terms of vocal ability and emotional range, but there was respect for the LGBTQIA community to consider. Sinterniklaas was at a loss.eedless to say, soon after that she got the part and the rest is history. The film was screened at theaters on March 9 and 11, right before the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic made such social gatherings all but impossible. During these uncertain times, Shakina Nayfack and Michael Sinterniklaas shared some insights about their participation on the whirlwind journey of Tokyo Godfathers—a story about hope and humanity, perhaps even more relevant now than its original release date—in a candid interview for Anime News Network.
As an actress, Shakina Nayfack is interested in storytelling that moves audiences. As a trans rights activist, she’s focused on achieving true freedom. As an actress who’s trans, her life and career goals are about searching for truth.