November 24th 2010 marked the 10th anniversary of the release of the Playstation 2 in Europe. Thinking back through the years, they were many classic games and franchises on PS2. Without the Playstation 2 we simply wouldn’t have the ICO’s, the Devil May Cry’s or the Zone of The Enders of this world. The latter franchise is particularly dear to TGL’s heart. Hideo Kojima’s futuristic mech series saw two games appear on PS2, the first of which famously offered gamers the first opportunity to play Hideo Kojima’s then would be future classic Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in 2001.
In 2003, Z.O.E got a sequel in ‘The 2nd Runner’ a game that eluded most gamers despite the fact that it remains probably one of the best looking games on Playstation 2. It remains one of the rarest PS2 titles to actually get your hands on.
In the last year or so talk of a new Z.O.E has been rife, instigated and propagated by the great Kojima himself. The Z.O.E fan base is strong. A third console Z.O.E game would be a dream come true for many and a perfect excuse for Kojima to flex his creative muscles on a project that doesn’t involving a certain Solid Snake or Katana swindling Raiden.
The first Zone of The Enders game tells the story of Leo Stenbuck, a young boy who unexpectedly gets caught up in an interplanetary 22nd century conflict between Earth and colonized Mars. Mars’ ‘Enders’ rise up against Earth and attempt to derail the harsh sanctions, laws and taxes that define their colonial existence. Leo unsuspectedly becomes a beacon of hope for his colony Antilia, stumbling across an orbital frame mecha called Jehuty. Harnessing the power of Jehuty, Leo stands up against the BAHRAM forces that threaten Antilia. What follows is an epic struggle between BAHRAM and the Enders. Leo would go on to play a pivotal role in the 2nd Runner as the ‘Frame Runner’ of the Vic Viper.
Leo was voiced by one Remy Le Boeuf. Remy was kind enough to answer a few questions for us relating to his work on the Z.O.E games and how he would very much like to be a part of another addition to the franchise if given the chance.
TGL: Hey Remy, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from and what you do?
RLB: I grew up in Santa Cruz, California in a beautiful redwood forest. My twin brother, Pascal and I began an acting career when I we were around 8 or so and that’s what eventually led me to be involved with “Zone of the Enders.” As I got older, music took more of a place of prominence in my life and by the time I graduated from high school I wanted to be a jazz musician. So in 2004, when I was 18, I moved to New York City to study at the Manhattan School of Music and become involved in the Jazz scene. I have since completed my bachelors and masters degrees and I now perform around the city and around the world. Pascal and have a band called “The Le Boeuf Brothers” and we are working on releasing our next album in September of 2011.
TGL: It goes without saying that music plays an incredibly important role in your life. When and how did you first take an interest in music?
RLB: My beginnings in music aren’t terribly glorious, ha-ha. I got my first tape when I was 9 years old; the band was “The Mighty Mighty Bostones.” I had a neighbour who knew how to play a few songs on piano and taught my brother and me how to play a few things. My mother took note of this when she heard my brother practicing and asked if he wanted music lessons. One day he came home with a trophy for practicing, and being that we were both very competitive as twins, I wanted a trophy too. So I started taking recorder lessons. A year later I took up the oboe, and another year later I started saxophone. Pascal and I both craved attention as children so we loved performing music. Only later did we start to really enjoy the music itself. I think I really started enjoying music when I heard my sister listening to the music of Charles Mingus. I borrowed the CD and listened to it for about a year straight.
TGL: What is it about Jazz that appeals to you?
RLB: In terms of listening, Jazz as a genre doesn’t especially appeal to me as much as the creativity and work of certain artists. I listen to just about everything, from Stravinsky to Bjork. There is so much beautiful music out there. In terms of playing music, Jazz is appealing to me because it gives me a lot of freedom and creativity for expression through collective improvisation. Few things are more satisfying than honestly expressing oneself together with several other people in a way that communicates powerful emotions to an audience. All music involves this expression of course, but to me the improvisational aspect of the jazz tradition allows me to be more personal than if I were to use other musical traditions as my medium.
TGL: Who are the biggest influences on your music?
RLB: This is always a difficult question to answer because my influences are always changing. My most obvious influences are probably Brian Blade, Igor Stravinsky, Aldous Huxley, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Lately I have been pretty obsessed with Sufjan Stevens and The Dirty Projectors. I also love Bjork, Iron & Wine, Prefuse 73, Danilo Perez, Yellow then Blue, Bela Bartok, Hobson’s Choice, Jaga Jazzist, and Radiohead.
TGL: How did you first get involved in Zone of The Enders?
RLB: I used to have an agent for acting-related work when I was growing up. I took the audition and got the part. Woohoo!
TGL: Did you know what you were getting into when you signed up to voice Leo Stenbuck?
RLB: Yes. I had done some voiceover work before and was pretty familiar with the routine. I had a lot of fun being a part of the game!
TGL: How old we’re you when you started work on the project?
RLB: I think I must have been around 12 or 13.
TGL: What kind of a character is Leo?
RLB: From what I remember, he is a kid with a strong sense of duty and responsibility. He’s a little scared when called upon to play such an important role, but he puts his heart into everything regardless.
TGL: Did you enjoy working with Konami on the game?
RLB: Very much. I remember meeting the folks from Japan who developed the game. The whole process was very exciting.
TGL: Leo also plays a significant role in the second Zone of the Enders game, The 2nd Runner. Did you enjoy playing an older more confident Leo?
RLB: Yes I did. I was quite glad that they invited me back for the 2nd Runner.
TGL: How close is Leo’s voice to your own?
RLB: It’s the same voice. Though his is a little higher. The reason why is my voice tends to become higher as I yell. Leo, in the process of battling giant robots, is often yelling, therefore his voice is a bit higher.
TGL: How did you prepare for the role?
RLB: I practiced reading the script. I was 12 or so, so my preparations weren’t too drastic. I just imagined myself as if I were in Leo’s position.
TGL: There has been a lot of talk about the possibly of Hideo Kojima and Konami returning to the Zone of The Enders franchise for a third game. Do you think it will ever happen?
RLB: It wouldn’t surprise me. My friends have mentioned to me that this is going to happen. I hope they call me back!
TGL: If ‘Zone of The Enders 3’ did happen, if given the opportunity, would you reprise your role as Leo Stenbuck?
RLB: Absolutely. I would be stoked.
TGL: What’s next for you and the Le Boeuf Brothers?
RLB: We are going to finish the recording of our next CD, “Two Worlds,” in January. It will be released in September 2011 and we are setting up some tours in the US, Canada, and Europe. I am very excited about it. We are using a different process of writing and recording for this CD. It is a Jazz album that is produced like a rock album. I am looking forward to seeing how it is received by the jazz community, and also by audiences that aren’t particularly into jazz. We hope that it will open some ears.
TGL: And finally Remy were interested to know, are you a gamer? Have you ever played through the ZOE games?
RLB: I am terribly embarrassed to say that I haven’t… yet. I never had a Playstation 2 growing up, but I always tried to get my friends to let me play the game on theirs. It just never happened.
TGL want to say a huge thank you to Remy for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. We wish him all the best for the future. Let’s hope he gets that call for Z.O.E 3.