The trip to Pittsburgh, USA was fun. Bee-kun and I have really grown to love our trips to the Steel City. We always make sure to get one of their special sandwiches with meats and cheeses, tart cole slaw, and crispy French fries piled high on Italian bread. You heard that right, the French fries are on the sandwich. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. We had a great time at Tekko, too. I always love the chance to meet all the cosplayers and to sit in on panels like the really good one by Zeke-senpai on Love Live! Sunshine!! We also got the chance to sit down and talk with a great group of voice actors: Monica Rial who voices Sakura from Card Captor Sakura: Clear Card; Bryce Papenbrook, the voice of Erin jaeger from Attack on Titan and Kirito from SAO; Vic Mignogna, the voice of Edward in Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood; and Luci Christian, the voice of the adorable Tenma from School Rumble.
Monica, you are one of the most prolific voice actresses in the industry. Is there a difference in how you approach your roles now from when you began?
I think that it’s still the same approach, but it is on a much faster timeline. We just used to have a lot of time when we were working on a show and there was all this character development. I gave myself all these secrets and tactics to make my performance that much better. I still do those things but I don’t have all that time to think about it because back in the early days it took eight months to record and now we record weekly and we don’t even know where the next episode is going to take us.
Bryce, you don’t just do voice acting you co-founded a company called Unlocked an anime and pop culture streaming network that offers a lot of original programing. What is it like to be behind such a project?
Building a start-up is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done but I’m not afraid of challenges. The whole concept was inspired by conventions. (Co-founder) Dave Vincent and I would go to these conventions and leave with our inboxes online completely full. We knew we couldn’t respond to everyone so we felt there had to be a better way.
We were picked up by this tech incubator called Science Inc., the company that helped build Dollar Shave Club. We find working inside this incubator we are surrounded by amazing business people and we all share ideas. I feel like I’m back in acting school learning something new every day. I find building this company, this community is so exciting. What is great is seeing my colleagues adopt it and it growing every single day.
Vic, you have credits as a singer, composer, and producer. You did opening themes for shows like One Piece and Dragon Ball. Does that mean you’re an idol?
It’s funny you say that because if you’re old enough to remember the show Star Search, I was a male vocalist challenger back in 1993.
Vic, how do you find music represented in anime? Sometimes to me it is just as important to the story, sometimes it’s used to push the story along, or it can be filler like a snappy idol song without contributing to the actual plot?
First, music is one of my longest, most core loves. I’ve been doing music twice as long as voice acting. I think most of the voice actors I came up in the industry with in Houston were singers or performers in musical theater and have a great deal of music background. I find that with anime if you’re a musician there is something you lock into with the rhythm and tempo of the production. I can’t really define it.
Shows I’ve been involved in like Full Metal Alchemist have amazing soundtracks, orchestral sound tracks. I wrote papers in college on music in film and television about how if you turn the sound off all the emotion and energy is just drained from the scene.
Luci, what was it like being a member of the School Rumble cast?
Exhausting [laugh]. It was a blast. I feel with those kinds of characters there is no ceiling. When you’re playing characters that are energetic like Tenma it’s kind of a marathon to sustain. Tenma is so rich and so fun; she is like a floating mind lapse with a lot of energy.
There was an episode that let me play around where Tenma was voicing the other characters in the show. It was super fun for me.
If you had to choose one of your alter egos to swap places with who would it be?
If I’m living in their world, not Eren Jaeger. if I was inside like Sword Art Online, I’d want to be Kirito, because he’s got god mode running and all the ladies in the game love him.
Luci and Monica, have you felt any difference being a woman in the voice acting business?
I think anime wise and video game wise it’s been pretty good place to be as a woman, even though Japan can at times seem behind the times with gender roles. The anime industry does admire strong women in their anime. It’s nice to be able to play those strong female characters over the years.
Sometimes there’s a feeling that there aren’t as many roles for women in the arts except, in anime, that doesn’t seem true. In anime there are a lot of roles and a lot of content for voice actors. In the production and director side more and more women are beginning to fill those roles.
Vic, you’re a member of the cast of RWBY (pronounced RUBY). What is it like being part of a show with such a fantastic fan base?
I love being a part of RWBY. I didn’t even know what it was. I was at an event in Australia and they (the producers) approached me. They said they like my work and we do a thing can we show you? They pulled out an iPad and started showing me some drawings from RWBY and I was like wow, this is really great. I was really impressed with it and they said well would you like to see a fight? They then showed me a video of Ruby fighting and I was like this is great. I didn’t even know it was Rooster Teeth (the production company). They contacted be a few weeks later and were like remember us from Australia and asked would you like to be a part of this thing. I said sure. I didn’t know anything about it or how much it payed, I didn’t care I wanted to be a part of it.
Monica, you’ve played some very strong empowered women like Yona, from Yona of the Dawn. You’ve also played characters like Stocking in Panty, Stocking, Garterbelt and other ecchi shows. Do you feel that there needs to be more of a balance between those two genres?
People often ask me what is my favorite genre and least favorite genre and I’d have to say the typical harem anime is my least favorite. Because if it doesn’t have a great storyline it isn’t good. A show like Shuffle had a great storyline and the characters were interesting so you didn’t really care about some hapless dude that no one would like in real life has all these girls fall all over him. When parents ask me what their girls should watch I say to watch the Yonas, watch The Saga of Tanya the Evil, she may be a horrible person but she is a strong girl.
What are you working on now or in the future that has to be on our watch list?
Dragon Ball Super is awesome! I’m also playing Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card and it’s near and dear to my heart because I’m finally a magical girl after 20 years. The dub of Tanya the Evil is coming out soon and everyone should buy it.
I just finished season two of a show called Miraculous Lady Bug about a strong female super hero; I know season two just hit Netflix last week. And something that was just announced on April 6th, Twin Star Exorcist where I play Rokuro, the male lead, and was lucky enough to be directed by Vic who also plays the villain Yuto Ijika.
I think Twin Star Exorcist is one to watch as well as Bungo Stray Dogs and in the non-anime genre my web series Star Trek Continues that has over eight million views.
What role was the most difficult to find the voice for?
I found early in my career I did a show called Noir, which is one of my most favorite shows that I’ve ever worked on. It was really, really hard because my character wakes up and doesn’t know who she is, where she is, or why she’s there. It was hard because her responses a lot of the times where these monosyllabic noises, and as someone new to voice acting who came from the stage I was told to convey all these emotions in one sound and it was incredibly difficult.
For me it was a game called Fire Emblem Awakening. They didn’t give me the name of the game, they used a code name, all I got was a picture of the character named Henry and that he was insane. I think the ability to grasp the insanity took a little time. The picture they gave me was of him holding a crow and smiling with squinty eyes. My first line was “Yay, blood!” and it was supposed to be delivered as if he was very excited as if he was an evil Elmo.
I find for me it’s boys, I was in a show call Magical Shopping Arcade and my character was a little boy named Sashi and the show was super talkie. It was hard to sustain the voice because it was low and had accents.
I did a character a few months ago and he’s insane. He is literally tied to the bed because he was a danger to himself and others. He thinks he is singing when he is actually screaming, blood curdling screaming and contorting the tone so he thinks he’s communicating. It was crazy.
I want to thank the actors for their time. The hour we had to talk went by so quickly. I know that the readers will love to get to know more about the voices behind their favorite characters. We had a wonderful time and thank Tekko for making our interviews possible.