You have quite a range of characters - do you have any specific preference for the characters you play, from Big G (Doraemon) to Owain?
I really have a fondness for hammy characters, because they touch my heart so much. Characters like Big G or Owain have always been the most fun for me to play, mostly because it takes so little acting from those characters, you know I’m just kind of naturally an exuberant kind of guy, so it’s always pretty fun to just go in and have a pretty good time.
I would like the stoic, badass characters more, but I always feel that there’s this weird disconnect between that archetype in anime and American voice acting? Because the only archetype I can think of for that kind of character is Batman over here? There’s not a huge range of what you can do with that kind of character, right? Mostly just sit here and brood, haha! For characters like Big G and Owain, you’re allowed to just kinda go and bust out whatever you want and have a ton of fun. Yeah. If I had a preference, I would play these characters all day long.
Since Toonami has been around for 20 years, what goes through your mind, especially knowing that your voice has been on the block. Whether it be a prominent role or not so prominent, just being able to hear yourself on such an iconic cartoon block.
I’ve been a Toonami watcher for decades now. I remember growing up watching at home, coming home from school, and the first time I was on Toonami was one of the greatest feelings of my life, because you grow up enjoying something, and then you get to be a part of it. It’s something that you’re going to carry with you for the rest of your life. You know, nostalgia is a powerful thing. And being involved with your nostalgia is something I can’t really describe in words. I was thrilled. Thrilled to be able to be part of anything on Toonami. I remember, you know, school is hard for a lot of kids, and growing up is hard for a lot of kids, and you always had those cartoons to look forward to when you were getting home, you know. I hope that I was able to help out some other kids, even a tiny little wave on Toonami, I hope I gave someone something to look forward to the next day, and it’s been a thrill.
Well for Archer specifically I was already a fan of the Fate series beforehand so I pretty much knew everything to know about the character - I played the visual novel, you know, when I was younger. That dates me, but so for him I came in with like cheat knowledge of the character, but for other characters it’s always a mix of the director, the engineer, you; it’s never just one person in the booth creating these characters. We’ll throw ideas back and forth, like, let’s say you’re the director. “Oh, I was just thinking about this, let’s see what that sounds like (blah blah blah), how does that sound, do you think we can incorporate this?”, and then the director will come back with his notes, and in the end, that’s how the character is formed. So I love being able to pitch ideas back and forth, that’s one of my favorite things about voiceover, you know, you never just walk into the booth and do the exact things you were told all the time because, that’s not what they hired you for. It’s the collober-collober? Collaberation (colloberation’s not a word). It’s the collaboration between the three folks, the engineer, the director and the actor that makes this job so exciting.
I want to ask about a recent anime arc that Toonami fans are starting to see, Hunter x Hunter.
The Chimera ant arc. And we definitely get to hear your voice in this very interesting anime, and I’m curious how you felt when you saw the character, how you feel going in to record for the character…
I had no idea what to expect because until I walked into the booth, I didn’t know he was a koala. I straight up didn’t know. All that I knew was that he was a bad guy, and that he would have a dark, edgy, kind of brooding sort of thing? I’m like, OK, he’ll be an edgy looking guy or something, and this koala in a suit walks up on screen and I’m like, “That’s mah boi right there.” I love him. He was a great role to play, and I think he’s still alive. He doesn’t --
I don’t know, it looks like we gotta wait and see--
Yeah I don’t know if he gets taken out, but we’ll see - I don’t want to spoil anything but I thought, “What a crazy unique character to be able to play”, and he probably is one of the more badass characters I will ever be able to voice, you know, this tiny koala is just messing peoples’ lives up. That was very fun. I’m trying to catch it on Toonami now, but I’ve never been really successful in being able to catch my own episodes. I rely on social media to be like, “Hey, hey, you’re on.” “Oh! Oh, where!?” I’m sure I’ll find clips of it second hand. But was his name--
I actually don’t remember the name, but I think it was probably just a play on Koalas or something.
I remember his name was just, like, “Koala”, haha, or something like that. I can’t wait to see more of that guy if he’s able to come back.
So… Detective Pikachu.
Yeahaha! That’s a crazy thing that happened.
There’s a lot of high expectations behind it. What are some of your thoughts on this process, and the story behind getting Detective Pikachu to an English localization?
Well, I knew that Detective Pikachu was a thing way before I saw the audition because I’m a nerd and I like to keep up with my video games. So, like everyone else, I was like, “Oh, Danny DeVito would be the perfect Detective Pikachu. Oh! I hope they pick him!” And of course they asked him about it, and he’s like, (Danny Devito Impression) “What’s a Pokemon?” So that didn’t happen.
I got the audition, and after nerding out a little bit, I sent them a couple of takes. I sent them a take of him sounding more closer to what I sound like naturally, and then I gave them the DeVito take, and they ended up wanting the DeVito take. Not because they’ve been envisioning Danny DeVito, but because they always wanted Detective Pikachu to have this kind of New Yorker, street, gritty tough thing going on, and DeVito naturally sounds like that. So it wasn’t really based on the fact that fans wanted DeVito, it was more based on the fact that Nintendo has always wanted that voice print for the character. It was set in stone before the meme even happened. So I know a lot of people who were like, “Oh yeah, I know they chose that kind of voice because of the Danny DeVito meme.” It was set in stone before that even happened. And it’s just the cutest game.
I really like it. It’s adorable. For little kids, there are great logic puzzles to go through, for adults it may be a little easy, but it’s made for kids, and it’s really darling, and it’s got a lot of heart in it, and if you guys want to have a really cute time, please pick it up. I think it’s one of my more favorite things that I’ve done. That, and I’ve just a big Pikachu fan, and he looks adorable in that little deerstalker hat. Detective Pikachu… is awesome.
I’m not sure if my colleagues have talked to you about this, but I’m not sure if we’ve talked to you about Kill la Kill. I’m curious how you feel, considering that it’s still widely popular. I know former cast mates still get the “Don’t lose Your Way” kind of deal. I’m curious how you feel being part of the project, given how it was well received. How much i you enjoy being able to be a part of it, in the show that has such a broad audience, including the television audience?
Before Kill la Kill, I was a huge fan of Gurren Lagann. And when I saw that there was another show kind of stylized in that way I was super excited. I watched through the entire thing before I realized that the studio I worked with was going to dub it. Just a huge anime fan. And when I got Tsumugu, I actually auditioned for two characters - Tsumugu and the character Matt Mercer ended up voicing, the glowing nipples man. And I didn’t know this show was going to make it on Toonami, only because this show is so sort of like out there, and so sort of like raunchy but not raunchy. It’s a lot of things, the show, but it all sort of comes together at the end, and I’m so glad that they picked it up. It’s one of the more spectacular shows that you’ll see. Just visually, the music is amazing, the action scenes are amazing. At first I was like, “Wow, this is a lot of fanservice.” But it sort of explains and pulls it together, which I think is a great boon to the show. It emphasizes storytelling over the fanservicey parts, and I thought, “What a great follow-up to Gurren Lagann.” I can only hope that more shows come out more over-the-top, as extra as that.
A lot of fans are looking forward to the next Owain in Fire Emblem--
Yeah! The DLC just got released in Fire Emblem Warriors!
They were super excited about that. They were wondering if you had any recent work with Nintendo? Like what are your recent projects with them right now?
I have, unfortunately I cannot say anything.
That’s always something to look forward to.
There’s definitely something to look forward to. And Fire Emblem is a tremendous franchise. And I’m sure there’s going to be more stuff coming out in the future. Fingers crossed more Owain, not only Fire Emblem Heroes, but whatever other Fire Emblem game they choose to come out with. I’d like to pitch this right now for any Fire Emblem fans, if you’re playing Fire Emblem Warriors, the Awakening DLC has just dropped, so all these voiced cutscenes with Owain are out, and they’re super cute and super great. Owain is - I don’t have a-- If I had a favorite character, because I love all the characters I play, Owain has a real special place in my heart. I think we’re just very close, as people. I love the dude. Like you, I wait with bated breath for every sort of Fire Emblem game to come out. I play through them all, too.
Now this may be quick, but the people who did make Kill la Kill have a recent animation on Funimation that’s streaming, they’re dubbing it - Darling in the Franxx. I was curious since you keep up with stuff--
Darling in the Franxx!! I’ve been meaning to watch Darling in the Franxx for a while. I know almost nothing about it except that people love it.
And you know, like obviously, it’s like, “Oh yeah, I’m in it by the way,” you could say. They’re still dubbing it. But since you said you like the visuals of Kill la Kill, Darling in the Franxx does look like it. I think they add a little more fanservice to it--
It’s in a sense that the main characters are prepubescent, that they’re going through puberty, so they’re having that kind of couple thing.
My thing is, if you’ve been watching anime for a number of years, at some point you’re going to be like, you barely see the fanservice anymore. It’s like, “OK, here’s the fanservice that must be in every show, let’s get past that and OK!” For example, you know Food Wars, have you seen Food Wars?
I love Food Wars.
Dude Food Wars is the best. You know, if you haven’t seen Food Wars, please do yourself the favor of doing so. I know it’s a little bit fanservicey in the beginning, but it turns into this amazing shounen cooking battle show, and they teach you how to make the stuff they serve on the show, so it’s like a great lesson in cooking, too. And the animation for the food porn is gorgeous. I can’t get over how pretty it is. It’s one of those shows you can just have on in the background, and you turn around and there’s this beautiful pot roast and you’re like, “ahhhhhh~” It’s amazing. I definitely recommend Food Wars, and I will absolutely be watching Darling in the Franxx.
People have been requesting it for Toonami, so maybe.
That’s what I guess I’m going to do, when I get home. Watch Darling in the Franxx.
Kind of building on that, what are some anime that are currently undubbed that you would like to dub, or see dubbed, or the like.
Let’s see. They just announced this cute show where there’s this detective who’s a butt. I don’t know if you’ve seen anything about this yet - Crunchyroll just tweeted about it a couple of hours ago. But he’s this butt. With a face, and he’s got a detective hat on, and he solves mysteries. And it reminds me of Assy McGee, from like that old sitcom. It seems like a more PC version of that. So I would love to be able to be involved with that. Also, there is a magical boy show coming out, you know the one I’m talking about? He’s like got this pink frilly thing on, I don’t know the title, but that looks like a lot of fun. There needs to be more magical boy shows, so I can be involved in that. Man, I want to have a magical girl transformation. That’s on my bucket list. Those are the two shows right now that I would absolutely love to be in. Can’t be in Food Wars because it’s already dubbed, so it’s the next best thing.
What I want to ask is about the dub for Dragon Ball Super. With Toonami Asia shutting down, and I know a lot of projects have been canned - you don’t need to talk about them. I did want to hear your thoughts voicing Vegeta, the prince of all Saiyans or course, with the legacy that another actor had with the Funimation dub in America, I can only imagine how much you thought of the pressure and being nervous?
It was a lot. I know it’s for a more remote audience in South East Asia, but just having to have the experience of walking into the booth, hearing the beeps and countdown, and you having to deliver the first line as Vegeta, for anime fans, or at least for me, being a huge anime fan, Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z were some of the first shows I’ve ever seen. So there’s a certain legacy to uphold for this character, and you know, I feel like nowadays having done this for 11 years I don’t really get nervous anymore when starting to do a character, but for Vegeta I absolutely was. I don’t see how anyone could be. It’s Vegeta. And it was one of the greatest, biggest, wish fulfillment moments, of my life. I can only hope that there are some kids in South East Asia who saw it, who had a really great time, who were introduced to the show. Because this is a show that deserves to be in peoples’ hearts. It’s a classic. And Vegeta is such a classic character. And I had huge, great respect for him walking into the booth. Which made it, ironically enough, much harder to voice the character because you start second-guessing yourself. Like, “Oh no, how would Vegeta go about this?” There’s a lot of pressure, this character has so much weight to him, I feel like halfway through the season the entire cast just sort of gelled and synced together with their characters, and I feel like our latter half of the season was very, very good. It was just an amazing experience. It was just such an amazing experience - an experience I’ll never forget. Even if Toonami Asia is cancelled I’ll always have the memories.
I wish I could see some of it too-
There’s a couple of clips online, but I wish there were DVDs.
Would you mind doing a few of your quotes for the Fire Emblem Fans?
Oh sure, sure!
Considering that you were just talking about voicing Vegeta and all those pressures. There are other roles that other people have voiced, that you have stepped up to voice. Archer is one of them, Guts in the new Beserk is another. And you say you don’t necessarily feel pressure, but do you at least feel not so much uncomfortable, but like , “Oh, I’m doing something people already know. How are they going to take me for these?” Especially if it’s something that US fans can see. Like in Dragonball Super.
Yeah. That’s a great question. I feel like every voice actor comes to that moment, where something that’s established is placed on them, and they have to step up. I first had that experience with a game called, “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage”, where I had to play Kenshiro. And I was a huge fan of Fist of the North Star. So yeah, that was my first experience of like, “Oh my god, how am I going to take it, are people going to hate me?” Fortunately I’ve had the luck to be able to be in that situation a number of times now, and it’s gotten easier with each iteration. For Berserk I also knew basically everything about the character going in because I’m a huge anime fan. So that wasn’t as difficult as say, studying into Archer for the first time. When I booked Archer for the first time I freaked out. Like straight up freaked out. Because I was like, “Oh! Oh no! Liam O’Brien, he was so good! And the first few episodes of Fate: Unlimited Bladeworks, the director and I really needed to crunch down and decided like, “We need to come up with something that’s not Liam,” because we can’t really replicate Liam’s performance. And it’s sort of just working through the steps like that, it calms your nerves. Because at some point you have to trust in yourself as a performer, trust in your director that they have the best interest at heart, and they care about the products. And once you’re in there doing the work, I feel like a lot of that nervousness fades away, until of course it comes out, and then you’re like, “Oh, was I trash?” We’ll see! Well, I think Vegeta is the most nervous I have ever been doing a character, only because how I feel about the character itself. And I’ve been very lucky to be able to play these characters. For the nervousness thing. It’s about being able to do i over and over again. Your brain can adapt to so much. So even if it’s a very established character, you already have a gameplan going in. So at first, yes. Absolutely.
I can imagine with the Berserk series, too. The ‘97 series was really good.
It was so good! If you guys haven’t seen the original Berserk, great story. And if you’re young, have a grown-up.