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Van Ness, the voice

His long, floppy rebonded hair sparked a trend among Asian guys who couldn’t carry off the look. Best known for being one-quarter of once phenomenally popular Taiwanese boyband F4 (which has since been renamed JVKV), Van Ness Wu — he’s changed his name from Vanness to Van Ness, the road in his hometown of Los Angeles he was named after — has long since shed his flower-power Meteor Garden image in favour of an edgier style.

The 31-year-old, who has dabbled in diverse ventures including music, film and, most recently, jewellery design, stars in LaMB, Animax Asia’s first original animation production. Or at least his voice does.

LaMB explores the futuristic world of a harsh desert planet where the inhabitants have perfected “lamination”, a system by which criminals are imprisoned in laminated suits to ensure that they remain productive members of society in a system of virtual slavery.

“I’m very excited about this project,” said Wu over the phone from Taipei. “I’ve been a very big animation buff since I was a kid... I love the way they’re able to create a different world with so much imagination.”

Also starring the voices of Josie Ho and Tanaka Chie, the ambitious project includes music videos, web manga, mobile graphic novels and mobisodes, as well as online and mobile games. In addition, it features songs from The Click Five and Simple Plan, as well as costumes designed by Vivienne Tam.

Wu, who counts Ninja Scroll, Appleseed, Akira, Samurai Champloo, Naruto and Finding Nemo among his favourite animations, voices protagonist Dr Jack Griswold, a visiting scientist who debates the ethical implications of lamination and falls in love with a woman serving her sentence in the laminated suit.

“I have a lot of inner demons I’m trying to resolve on my own, and I’m trying to get through life living in the past and wondering what the future’s going to hold; trying to find a purpose,” he said of his character. “It was really difficult, but it was fun to try to connect with those emotions. It’s too bad I wasn’t able to do it in front of the camera.”

In fact, the Kung Fu Chefs star may have found his new calling. “I’d definitely love to try new characters and different types of voiceovers. I love doing crazy voices,” he said. “And funny voices and high voices and low voices and monster voices.”

Catch Part 1 of LaMB on Tuesday and Part 2 on March 31 at 8pm on Animax (StarHub TV Channel 84). Visit for more online content. - TODAY/yb

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