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The final battle: Deem Bristow or Mike Pollock

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The debate over which of the two Eggman voice actors that is truly the best has now been going on for a decade and a half. Oviously, Eggman isn't the only character where different fans have different opinions regarding which specific voice actor is the best. However, what I find so interesting regarding Eggman in particular is how exceptionally praised both of his main voice actors are by the fanbase at large. In discussions regarding the best voice acting in the entire series, you can bet that both Bristow and Pollock are going to be among the most frequently mentioned people.

So who is truly the best? There is no objective answer of course, but let's discuss in anyway.

Personally, I find that there is no contest; Deem Bristow is the winner. Mike Pollock is a great actor, but I just find that his voice doesn't fit the character all that well, and also that he is hard to take seriously. It's to cartoony. Bristow on the other hand did a voice that perfectly fitted a middle ages scientist, and he also made the character sound genuinly threatening in a way that Pollock never did. In technical terms, Bristow did a voice that came from deep in his throat, while Pollock's Eggman voice stems from higher up in the throat. Bristow's voice is basically darker, which fits a villain like Eggman (fun fact; during the voice recording of Sonic Generations, Pollock suggested to Sega that he'd do a Bristow impression for Classic Eggman, and specifically made his voice darker and throatier in order to do so. Sega however sadly turned down his idea).

What's your opinion?

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I think Pollock fits better on the whole; Eggman is a cartoony villain, and his character is less about being threatening and more about his ridiculous ego; he wants to build a giant city called Eggmanland. That Unleashed shows us is basically just a giant amusement park, and Forces... dropped the ball on, granted. You can mention stuff like his big ol' Station Square missile, but even that ultimately wound up just being comic relief at Eggman's expense. 

Not that Bristow's wasn't fitting either, but I don't think it was any better just because it was 'darker'. Eggman's JP voice throughout the years isn't exactly threatening 24/7 to me either, but it suits him fine.

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It's hard not to connect Pollock to Eggman these days. I do appreciate Bristow could transition between funny and legitimately threatening more believably, but Pollock's been in so many memorable roles as Eggman and conveyed such a huge amount of personality effectively.

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Bristol definitely carries a more threatening air with his voice. You hear the guy’s voice for Eggman, and you can feel the evil threats he makes.

Pollock makes Eggman sound more normal, which actually works well for a villain when they start bringing out the mini-nukes. You don’t think the man can be a threat until he cracks the planet open and laughs in your face about it, and I like that kind of juxtaposition between the characters’s voice and and their actions.

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The thing about Eggman is that he's not really an outright comical villain, nor is he a straightforwardly serious one. At his best he doesn't even need to alternate between the two but rather fully embodies both his humorous and menacing aspects simultaneously. That, is why I consider Bristow to be the better Eggman. When he's being silly and throwing a tantrum there's still a sense that Eggman is an evil genius who can, and will, make anyone who pushes him too far pay for it. When he's issuing threats and blowing stuff up he does it with such pomp and maniacal glee you almost want to cackle along with him. Plus it makes the few moments where he drops the bombast and acts totally seriously much more memorable. Pollock is good but he tends to play Eggman as either funny or serious, rather than both at once.

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Bristow felt to me like he had more range. I was listening to some of his dialogue in the Adventure games and I forgot how entertaining he is to listen to, since he captures Eggman's jovial nature incredibly well in a way that doesn't get old or samey like Pollock's take. I was never really into Pollock especially as of late, where it feels his heart isn't as much into it now. I guess I can't really blame him with a script as boring and unimaginative as Forces'; his Japanese voice actor was also strangely lacking in energy in that game.

I think the reason I don't like Pollock has mostly to do with the fact that he was in absolutely everything during the 2000s. When he was cast as Eggman I had a hard time unhearing the Fox Box commercial narrator, and he also had a million other roles in every single 4Kids anime. Even back then I was sort of tired of hearing him and while Eggman is pretty much the only thing I hear from him these days, it's not something I managed to fully unlearn. Pollock has just been in way too many things for me to consider his take on Eggman to be in any way unique.

Chikao Ohtsuka was my favorite Eggman though. That dude was legendary in every single one of his roles. The new guy who replaced him in Forces feels like he's trying to channel Ohtsuka's sound but comes off as too growly and generic-anime-villain for my tastes. Probably not his fault entirely though, since Ohtsuka was just that distinct.

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If I can carefully put it one way, Mr. Bristow ends up being Early Installment Weirdness incarnate for Eggman. I kinda hate that I see that, he was taken too soon both in himself and less importantly for the series, but that's just how it ended up happening.

It's like if Jim Cummings had somehow managed to have both the pilot and Julian be the first cartoon Sonic for a while before AoStH came out to YouTube's future delight with Long John Baldry trilling up the station for 13 more episodes and a special. So we've got him being this comparatively lower growl calmly yet intensely declaring he'd take the Heroes lives before rushing to use WMDs, albeit not without his couple of sillier moments(Dummies x4!). But then right after the game's became more widespread on multiple consoles, we get the loud yet boastful Mike Pollock, who while having range and energy that allows him to do a few darker takes here n there, was mostly either being a fun heel or at least sneaking by being a charming punching bag across the many many games and even other media that we've gotten sense.

Ultimately I've been attached to the latter for a long long time, but recognize and respect the original for he has given. Still, a replay and relisten of those games are roughly in order, so maybe I can jolt that vibe a little one day.

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I mean honestly, it really comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. But Mike Pollock pretty much is Eggman at this point; he's been voicing the character for over 15 years. His voice is so deeply ingrained to this character that I really can't see anyone else besides Bristow in the role. Pollock is to Eggman, what Mark Hamill is to The Joker. Long after he retires from the role, people are going to compare whoever succeeds him. 

 

As for the quality of the voice itself; he pretty much captures the comical egotist that Eggman is, and hams it up like no tomorrow. I feel like though,as a result of that, it's...well basically impossible to ever take Eggman seriously as a villain anymore. Now granted, some people never took him seriously to begin with. But I notice people associate Bristow's take with a more "threatening" interpretation that Pollock simply doesn't measure up to.

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I always preferred Deem Bristow, mostly because I preferred a slightly more serious Eggman, his few comical deliveries were fun, could have used just a bit more though. 

 

Pollock is great too, and given our current timeline I really wouldn't want him to change from the role anytime soon.

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Holy cow, is this the real deal?

We're very flattered you joined us in the SSMB forum, if awkwardly for a thread critiquing your work. :P I don't mean it offensively, every voice actor has different perks, especially when voicing the same character that evolves greatly through different eras but has fans of certain interpretations. You'll still find people who insist Long John Baldry or Jim Cummings were the definitive takes on Robotnik/Eggman for example.

That backstory has my interest, I remember a few very early scenes in the anime you actually sounded a lot more like Bristow in terms of his more menacing snarl. Of course if the call hadn't been made, we may not have got your hilarious evil ham Eggman of today. 

In cases such as Colours, Boom and Lost World, I can't really say that I'd want your Eggman any other way.

If there is one consistency between ALL 'Eggmen' it's that they usually steal the show. :D

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A lot of this isn't just down to the actor. Most of Bristow's lines were interpreted as serious not just because of his acting, it was how it was written, as well as directed in the studio.

Same for Mike Pollock later. If it says it's a comedy, that's how it goes. We see quite a few comedy Eggman games because of the script, not just Mike.

The same went for Baldry, Cummings etc.

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Hmmm, it's not really fair to compared what we got from Deem Bristow to Mike Pollock as Deem sadly didn't get to keep his role for too long, as opposed to Mike's years of experience. If the series still progressed with Deem at the helm of Eggman, I'm sure he'd easily adapt to the comedic role too, heck he was already on the way as seen by his extra hammy performance in Heroes, which went even beyond his hamminess in Adventure. To me, they are both equals and both legends. Heck, not just them either, but pretty much every single actor and voice actor affiliated with Eggman, from Long John Baldry to Jim Cummings to Chikao Ohtsuka to Jim Carrey, have ALL done exceptionally well with their roles as Dr Ivo Robotnik, which is a testament both to the character itself and his portrayers. So I say instead of picking a favorite, why not just enjoy the magnificent performance they've all given us?

Also, it's amazing to see @itsamike himself here! Massive respect and thanks to you, Mr. Pollock for giving such an amazing voice to an amazing character!

 

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I wonder if that was true for all of the actors. They all sounded very differently from what their later performances would become.

Compare Jason Griffith in episode 1 to Jason Griffith in Sonic & the Black Knight

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4 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

I wonder if that was true for all of the actors. They all sounded very differently from what their later performances would become.

Compare Jason Griffith in episode 1 to Jason Griffith in Sonic & the Black Knight

Heck, even the current voice actors seem to change or evolve their voices to suit the tone. Compare Kirk Thornton's Boom Shadow to his Forces Shadow or even his TSR Cutscene Shadow and TSR Gameplay Shadow.

Kind of wonder where the Twitter Takeovers fall though. Do the voice actors adlib or at least write the dialogue or are there separate writers for those skits?

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28 minutes ago, Sonario said:

Kind of wonder where the Twitter Takeovers fall though. Do the voice actors adlib or at least write the dialogue or are there separate writers for those skits?

They're 99% scripted by the Social Media team, and completely self-directed by the talent.

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4 minutes ago, itsamike said:

They're 99% scripted by the Social Media team, and completely self-directed by the talent.

I can tell that level of freedom allowed you guys to feel more relaxed in your roles. If you're able to, can you tell us how the voice directing processes goes for the games? Does it differ depending the game's script and story?

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4 minutes ago, Pelvic WOO! engine said:

Mr. Pollock sir, I love your work.

Thanks!

Just now, Kuzu said:

I can tell that level of freedom allowed you guys to feel more relaxed in your roles. If you're able to, can you tell us how the voice directing processes goes for the games? Does it differ depending the game's script and story?

In a perfect world, the actors trust the talent to be able to do their job, and vice versa. It's much better when we collaborate. They're directors, not dictators, after all.

The games are generally recorded separately (more separately with me, as I record remotely from New York while the production team remains in Los Angeles). There are handful of people behind the glass, including the director, and various localizers, writers and/or producers. I'll get a spreadsheet with my dialog in one column, and line numbers, audio file numbers and notes in the other columns. If I don't get full scenes, I rely on the production team to make sure I sound like I'm delivering in the proper context. They're there to fill in the blanks if I have questions. I'll get briefed on the story of the game, and of each scene as we go. I'll give to or three reads on each line. They deliberate, and if they have notes, I'll make adjustments and go again. We do it 'til we get it right. I'm generally done in a couple of hours, and am off to find the next gig.

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Even after 17 years of Mike, Deem comes to mind first when I think of Eggman. The way he could transition from smooth and sinster to larger than life whenever Eggman got excited, emotional or impatient just embodies the character to me.  The hammy direction of the Sonic Adventure acting came with it's own problems but at least they always sounded completely into whatever bullshit they were on about. That made those dubs really entertaining to me. 

Mike is consistently the best actor of both the 4kids cast and the new guard and he brings a lot of life to the character but it never matched just how much range Eggman had before, especially in SA2. Lately it feels like he's kinda flat-lining too but I feel that way about the cast overall in the newer releases. 

Chikao Ohtsuka is of course the king but that goes without saying.

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@itsamike

Hello, sir and welcome to the Sonic Stadium. Hope you're keeping well through all of the virus stuff. Love your work. 

To respond to the OP. Mike is who I think of when I think of Eggman. I also think Jim Carrey did an amazing job taking on the role too. 

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