The Art of Abridging: Inside ‘Digimon Adventure Tri Abridged’ with Logan Laidlaw
Do you like Digimon? How about parody? If you answered yes to either of those questions, there’s a pretty high chance that you’ll love Project Mouthwash’s Digimon Adventure Tri: Abridged. This latest YouTube series by the Vancouver based production company pays tribute and pokes fun at the entire Digimon franchise while putting its own spin on the newly released six part Adventure Tri movies.
We spoke with Logan Laidlaw, Project Mouthwash’s co-founder, for a deep dive into the world of Digimon, voice acting, and abridged parody. Logan is the lead writer of the Abridged show and voices its versions of Tai, Izzy, Daigo, Alphamon, and a bunch of others. Here, he talks about all of those things and more!
Geekpr0n: Walk me through the origins of Project Mouthwash and your whole YouTube channel. You’ve been at it for a while now, right?
Logan Laidlaw: Yeah, okay so there’s kind of two answers. One is my personal origins and one is where project mouthwash comes from. personally, I picked up voice acting ten years ago back at the advent of abridging. So i came from Prince Edward Island and I did voice things way back for about 5 years… do you know Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged?
GP: Yeah yeah, Little Kuriboh!
LL: yeah, the most notable thing I did during that time was voice Yusei for him in the Bonds Beyond Time movie. But I quit doing that in a big self exploration thing because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life around the time I was twenty. So I stopped that, became a chef for a while – as you do – and eventually found myself flying to the other side of the country to train to become an actor, like a proper actor.
I got involved in a full time, five day a week, twelve hour a day program that only twelve people from across the country were allowed to be in. And during that program I met Aaron Robert Parnell who would be the co-founder of Project Mouthwash. and to summarize a lot of complicated events, I became part of an improv group And we decided to reach out and do little side things, one if which was me saying, ‘well I know how to do anime parody,’ which is an audience that improv groups don’t usually get. I took a chunk of people from this twelve person group and tried to do that, which is what the early Bleach: Abridged series was.
Our channel kind of expanded rapidly after Digimon Tri Abridged Episode 1 – as you would know! I would say Digimon Tri Abridged was the real start of Project Mouthwash because we didn’t really come into the sense of a company or small community until then, and ever since we’ve been very efficient, very forward motivated.
GP: How did Digimon Tri Abridged come about?
LL: For Digimon, the reason I did it was actually I was working on Bleach at the time and had no interest in working on anything else. Tri came out, and my girlfriend at the time – I had just introduced her to watching all of Digimon and we’d spent two weeks marathon the first two seasons – was hyped as fuck. I was talking to her about Tri and then she went off and came back and she’s like, “did you know it’s already out?”
And I go, “I did not, actually! what?!” I looked it up and watched it with three or four different groups of time and each time I watched it I ended up going, “you know, if I did a parody of this, this is what I would probably do right here.” Then slowly i realized I wanted to do something with it. but Digimon is like Dragon Ball Z its like Sailor Moon, its one of those things so ingrained in our childhood that if you do a parody everyone is going to be hyper critical. So I was like, I can’t stop myself from doing it at this point because I became too passionate about doing it, but I was like if we do it, we’re going to do it differently and really well.
GP: And you have this awesome turnaround time with the production. was that important for you guys to get Digimon Tri out while the hype was still there?
LL: Yeah, one of the strengths is that we all live in the city. most abridging groups are people scattered around the country if not the world, and its easy to lose motivation online. so the fact we all live here, we’re all industry actors who are self motivating and want to do the work makes it so that I can call people up and be like “hey do you want to come hang out and record next Tuesday?”
And they’re like, “yes.”
And I’m like, “cool, I might have pizza or something.”
It’s a great motivator as oppossed to checking in on online voice actors. It’s also much more personal, we all know each other so directly. So I think that’s responsible for how we get things out so quickly
GP: Tri has got to be different than working on Adventure 01, or Yu-Gi-Oh, or Bleach, because it’s not out yet! So have there been any major challenges with that, in terms of planting roadmaps?
LL: Well I have like a modest writing background and because of that I’m pretty good at breaking down the story. I’m not amazing, but one of the biggest challenges is I had to look – especially in the first episode – and go “where is this GOING?” What assumptions can I make? Like Alphamon doesn’t talk at all in the first movie which left me with lots I could do with him, but also lots of ways I could fail with him. I kept having to be like, “what does Alphamon WANT?”
GP: Yeah. And that’s something people in the community are still theorizing, right? So you would have to take a leap of faith in a way?
LL: I talked about it at length but my assumption about Tri’s plot based on what’s happening with Meicoomon and Alphamon is that it’s all based around some variant of the x virus plotline that we’ve seen in a few other Digimon media.But the biggest challenges were figuring out what Tai’s character arc was going to be, because it’s obvious he’s going through a transformation. And Hackmon – or Huckmon, depending on what you want to use – figuring out what’s going on with him. I have a running theory with him, the most interesting but less likely is that he’s Meiko’s actual partner.
GP: Another thing that really caught me about YOUR abridged series is the use of the North American music. Your Abridged series was almost serving as an English dub in a way. I know now they’re producing one, but what was the thought process behind including the English music?
LL: Well first I want to go on record on saying that I love the fact the English dub is happening. never did we intend to fill the E nglish dub niche. As much as I love and am honoured by that, a bunch of people have come up to me being like, “hey are you upset that it’s getting dubbed?” And I’m like, “no, that’s how the industry works. I’m a working voice actor myself, why would I be upset about that?” So everyone should support both. If you like ours you can still support those, because we’re not replacing them!
The thought process [with music] is that we love both versions. Digimon is pretty divided in that there’s the people who love the American and then there’s the fans of the Japanese who consider American fans to be childish and think the English script is dumbed down and watered down – which in some cases it is. But the actual acting in the English dub is a lot more charming, I think. So it just came from this place of we don’t prefer either, we respect the music choices in both. I think an English dub of Digimon should be written straight but should have those humorous moments. it should have characters saying silly names and Digimon related puns. it shouldn’t be played off as this super serious, ‘look at how dark everything is,’ because that’s not what Digimon is. at all.
So we made a conscious effort in the first episode to include music from both versions.
GP: Were there any issues with using “One Week?”
LL: No, the Barenaked Ladies don’t care. they are one of the chillest bands I’ve ever seen regarding legal issues. And with “Kick it up” I don’t think anyone even knows who performed Kick it up, let alone who’s coming after them legally. The Digimon soundtrack in general appears to be pretty untouched.
GP: So how does finance work for abridged series? Are you making money off of your videos or is it purely a labour of love type thing?
LL: So like most things involving us there’s two answers. Answer one: Mouthwash Studios which Project Mouthawash is part of, which Aaron Robert Parnell and I run, we also offer coaching for local actors, we offer voice lessons, and we offer booth engineering and make money that way, but that’s completely unrelated to the voicover stuff.
Regarding Project Mouthwash, we don’t make money through our youtube channel at all, and all of the actors that are involved, including me – and I do all the scripting – we don’t take any money away from it. None of us touch any of the money that comes in from Patreon. For now. if it ever becomes really successful we might start to divide up the money. If one person is paid everyone’s paid, and right now the money coming in doesn’t facilitate ten plus people. The money that does come through Patreon is set aside and me, Aaron, and Cassandra Smith, we decide how to use that money and it’s always used to upgrade our equipment or studio space or some way that improves our studio. So Project Mouthwash in that way is making money in upgrades, but no one personally is taking any money away.
GP: How about a lightning round before we split?
GP: Favourite character to voice in Digimon Adventure Tri?
LL: Oh no! It’s not Tai, I’ll tell you that much. I wasn’t supposed to voice Tai. A friend who worked in the industry couldn’t do it because of union reasons. So every time I voice Tai I’m like “I wasn’t supposed to BE you…”
But it’s going to come down to Izzy or Daigo. I love Daigo because he’s such an honest voice. his characterization is he’s as fed up with the world as the rest of us are. He’s the outward expression of “I really just don’t want to do much today.” And Izzy is just fun.
GP: Who is a character you’re hoping to appear in Digimon Tri that you’d love to put your own spin on voice wise or writing wise?
LL: I want to see Davis come back, I guess. The problem with Davis, Yolei, and Cody as Digidestined is they’re useless, actually. I like them, but if you look at their accomplishments, almost anything important they did was with the original cast holding their hands. I also think if there’s a big conspiracy in the works, Davis is going to be totally useless, and Cody is notoriously useless, and Yolei is scared of everything she’s not crushing on.
I want to see Jesmon. He’s debatably mt favourite Digimon – he’s Jesus Mon.
GP: Can you give us a teaser for where your versions of the character might be going? Kind of a tough question since the original show is not finished yet.
LL: It is, and anything I say is still kind of up in the air. But in this upcoming movie we’re going to be dealing with TK and Izzy. Izzy’s arc is probably going to involve the reason he’s trying to take over the world is to impress Mimi and she’s not noticing. In that arc Izzy is taking over countries, he’s buying things, but he’s never talking to Mimi. So we hope to address that. A lot of problems people have in real relationships are like, “I’ll make myself look so appealing that they’ll have to come to me,” when the actual solution is just being like “do you want to go see a movie maybe?”
GP: And TK?
LL: And TK, our TK is not a hipster, his deal is that everyday he assumes a different identity. People complain that his identity changed between our first two movies, but in the first movie you see that he’s got this white thug thing going on, and at the end he’s British for some reason. It’s because every day he wakes up he says, “what am I going to do today to annoy people? And we have that as a defense mechanism against getting attached to people like his separated parents, like Angemon in 01 when he lost him.
Because TK has lost people repeatedly, and if you watch Japanese 02 he has been scarred by it, because he has a knee jerk reaction against anything that could take people away from him. So he invents new identities every day to try and put distance between himself ans someone else. And we want to bring that out and have him drop it. So we hope that with Patamon infected and possibly disappearing, e can drag that emotional core out of TK, while also highlighting his tendency to be different people and try and make it funny and sad at the same time, cuz that’s kind of our jam.
So yeah, Izzy, try to establish that nerds don’t know how to talk to girls, and with TK try to tackle the very real issue that he’s dealing with a lot of separation trauma and has lived through the death of a loved one at one point and it’s left marks on him.
Listen to the podcast version of this interview for the full conversation!