This is Donna Burke. You may not know her name, but if you’ve played the recent Metal Gear Solid games, you know her voice. If you’ve ridden the bullet train, you know it too.
The Australian packs a one-two-three punch of being a talented voice actress and singer, as well as writing her own lyrics. Burke also has voice credits in games like Silent Hill 3 and Bloody Roar 4 as well as soundtrack credits on games like The Last Remanent and God Eater.
She’s sung and done voice work in anime like Tokyo Ghoul 2 and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and has lent her talents to a wide variety of Japanese commercials, such as for Nissan, Panasonic and Sony. Burke performed the English version of the Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker theme, while Nana Mizuki sang the Japanese one.
Yes, that’s Burke singing that doozy of a track “Sins of the Father” for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
“I think if I didn’t live in Japan I wouldn’t have ever ended up recording so many awesome songs and getting to be in games and anime,” she tells Kotaku via email.
In Japan, her versatile voice is heard by most on the Tokaido bullet train, reading out station names in English. Burke has been a Japan resident since 1996, and since 2003, she’s done the English language announcements on the Tokaido bullet train that runs between Tokyo and Osaka, which is one of the most heavily-traveled rail routes in the world. Burke’s announcements have been heard by millions and are familiar to pretty much anyone in Japan.
“I did an audition and had to imitate the woman who had done it before,” Burke says. Japan Rail wanted an English-language announcer who was staying in Japan, because the previous announcer had moved back to Canada.
“Every year, I have to do a small update,” Burke explains, such recently adding that people are welcome to put their suitcases in the racks above their seats.
But what’s it like hearing yourself giving announcements on the bullet train? “Weird. Proud. Shy. Funny,” says Burke.
“Actually, I really want bring a little sunshine to someone’s day and do tell conductors, the trolley people, or anyone who works on the the bullet train that ‘Hey! Er..um...did you know that is me doing the voice?!’ But due to my crap Japanese, the times I’ve tried haven’t come out right. At best they think I’m doing a really, really good imitation of the voice of the bullet train and not the actual voice.”
It was a bit of sunshine for Burke’s mother when she heard her daughter’s bullet train announcement for the first time.
The clip has gone viral in Japan, leading to a TV appearance with mom.
If you live in Japan, check out Burke’s official site for details on when she’s performing live.
This story was originally published on May 23, 2011. It has since been updated.