The excitement was as heavy as a Charizard in the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Aisles and booths of various heroes of every true Millennial’s youth littered the convention center with lines extending in every direction. But while all of the celebrities in attendance at GalaxyCon 2022 had some kind of wait at their booth, no one, and I mean absolutely no one, had a consistent line like voice actress Veronica Taylor.
For Pokemon fans young and old, the line to meet the woman who acted as the original voice of the massively popular series’s main character, Ash Ketchum, remained long and daunting. But between her calming presence and her own genuine excitement to meet her fans, Taylor made the wait feel like you were just waiting a few minutes to talk to your new best friend.
While Ash Ketchum of Pokemon is her most well-known role, Taylor voiced several other anime characters that played main roles in every millennial’s childhood, including Sailor Pluto of Sailor Moon fame and Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun of The Slayers. You just heard her voice in her head, didn’t you?
Pokemon remains a massive hit worldwide to this day, but in 1998 you could not take two steps anywhere without hearing about the Pokemon franchise. For many fans it was their entry into anime, and certainly made an impact on their childhood. You will be hard pressed to find a millennial born in the 80s or 90s who doesn’t have at least a handful of memories that somehow involve the megahit series.
“It’s such an honor,” said Taylor. “As an actor I’ve worked on a million things, but the idea that that one thing was able to just touch people and affect them so deeply, it’s incredible I’m even a part of it. But it’s such an honor then to even meet everyone and hear their stories and be a part of their families, as they are a part of mine now. We come together because we have Pokemon in common, and now we move forward on a path with other things we have in common.”
For Taylor, the point being at conventions like GalaxyCon absolutely is meeting the folks who are fans of her work, getting to know them, and hearing their stories. Whether it is your first time meeting her or your twelfth, Taylor takes joy in meeting the people touched by the series she was part of – especially if they have had big life events happen since they last said hello.
“There’s people I see at conventions over and over again, because we’re friends now,” said Taylor. “I see them when they are ten, when they graduate high school, and then they’re getting married and now they’re here with their kids. It’s incredible. It is an absolute honor to be a part of this, which is entirely fan driven. Pokemon is a thing, but it’s a feeling with the people involved. It’s an emotional time, I can’t even explain it – it’s deep.”
As both a Sailor Moon and Pokemon fan and an aforementioned elder millennial myself, I would be remiss to not ask her about her role in my favorite magical girl series. While she was there from the beginning when Pokemon dominated the world, her role as Sailor Pluto came a bit after the sailor-suited heroine broke ground in the United States, as part of the second dubbing of the series into English.
Acting as the voice of Sailor Pluto gave her a strong insight into the character, and the way fans connect with her. “Sailor Pluto is so reserved, she’s the outer outer,” said Taylor. “She doesn’t know how to show her emotions, she doesn’t know how to show how she feels. It’s really interesting that there are so many people who identify with that, and that I can bring some voice to that and we can connect on that level, too. It’s really great.”
In fact, she made sure to mention that she loves the Sailor Moon fan community every bit as much as she loves the Pokemon community. “It’s amazing how the fandom for Sailor Moon is so fierce,” said Taylor. “They’re incredible people, and to be so welcomed has been astonishing. I can’t get over it. I like Sailor Moon, too, but wow. It has been a big warm hug all the time, and it’s been fantastic.”
It should come as no surprise then that her favorite moment of the entire event is always meeting all of you.
“Is it a cop out to say I just love talking to everyone?” Taylor laughed. “I love meeting the parents who are more excited than their kids because they grew up watching it. Being able to hug someone, and say ‘I know! I love it too!’ and just meet on the same level. Pokemon has spoken to so many people in so many ways. I talked to one person who said that when he was little, he was a girl and identified with Ash, and Ash gave him the strength to be who he is. I’ve seen all kinds of stuff, and it really empowers everyone to just be themselves and that’s incredible. We’re humans, and Pokemon is about humanity. There are so many deeper issues that teach us about positively and acceptance, [and] it’s a good reminder that we need community. It’s just fantastic.”
“It’s the people,” she said in conclusion. “That’s what I love so much.”
Based on the reception she received at GalaxyCon, it’s clear that the people love Veronica Taylor too.
All Photos by Ash Griffith