While at Anime Expo this year, we got a chance to check out the premiere of season 4 of My Hero Academia, presented by Funimation. Right before the screening, though, we were also treated to a panel with several of the voice actors! Kaori Nazuka (Toru Hagakure and Mt. Lady in Japanese) joined some of the English cast; Jason Liebrecht (Dabi), Ricco Fajardo (Mirio Togata), Kellen Goff (Overhaul), Justin Cook (Kirishima), David Matranga (Shoto Todoroki), and Patrick Seitz (Endeavor) as they gave us a glimpse into what it’s like to be a voice actor working on the phenomenon that is My Hero Academia.
Funimation has been licensing anime for 25 years and always have awesome talent, screenings, and premieres at Anime Expo and My Hero Academia was just one of said premieres this year. The actors are a fun and lively bunch so the panel was informative and lots of fun. Check out what the actors had to share!
What Has It Been like Working on a Hit Anime like My Hero Academia?
When asked what it’s been like to work on My Hero Academia, all voice actors had a lot of positive things to say. All were thankful and consider themselves lucky to be part of something so special. Kaori mentioned how different and interesting her experience has been voicing an invisible character in Toru and how incredible it was to see how popular the show was outside of Japan. Ricco (Mirio) gushed—for what would be the first of many times—about how surreal his experience has been seeing the popularity of the show and realizing that they are a part of it. He has SUCH an amazing energy! Kellen (Overhaul) has been a true-blue anime otaku since he was a kid so it’s “transcending” for him to have been chosen to be a part of such a huge anime and to play such a dark character. David (Todoroki) thanked the fans for their dedication, and Patrick (Endeavor) mentioned how you never know how a show is going to do and then the magic happens when it “catches fire”. And no, he wasn’t even trying to be punny, he’s just naturally and effortlessly hilarious! As an actor with decades of experience, Patrick also made notice of how different it is nowadays with simulcasts to see, “in real time”, how a show explodes in Japan and the US practically at the same time since dubbing doesn’t take months like it used to. We have to say, we’re thankful for that as well!
How Do the Actors Prepare?
Kaori probably has the toughest time, as she mentioned, since Toru has no expressions, she has to imagine what she would look like when she does certain things or goes by how her limbs move. Patrick claims to be “kind of method”, referring to his acting style, jokingly adding he prepares for his role as Endeavor by pulling up to schools, picking a child and yelling at them “you suck, you’re weak!”, to which David replied “I just record what he does and play it back over and over on my way to the studio”. The crowd erupted with laughter.
Kellen mentioned that when he was cast as Overhaul, he was recovering from bronchitis and so his voice was really husky so now he has to find that spot every time and keep it there for the entire recording. And he thinks about his hate towards Mirio, of course! Ricco, staying positive as usual, said he just does 100 burpees and approaches life with a positive attitude and that’s basically Mirio! “Take your heart and then add a little more heart and you’ve got Mirio!”, he added with a huge smile. To which the rest of the cast quickly reacted with a “Ricco IS Mirio!”. Which by Ricco’s demeanor and responses was starting to become apparent to everybody in the room. Great casting! But not everyone is playing their anime counterpart. SOme of the actors are actually complete opposites to their characters! Playing the much darker and brooding Dabi, Jason shared that he needs to go to a quiet place, then reaches into the deepest, darkest hurt he can feel, and listens to heavy music before recording his scenes.
David added that Todoroki is also a bit of a challenge because he is naturally more energetic than the character so he usually needs to tone it down until he finds the right spot without going too monotone. Kellen completely agreed with David, as he too is much more of a lighthearted person than his character Overhaul and struggles to find that perfect middle ground. It was cool to see that even though they all work on the same show, they were just then realizing how similar their situations are in the recording studio!
Do You Share Any Similarities With Your Character?
Kaori said that she is similar to Toru in her energy level and how she’s always cheering others on, and similar to Mt. Lady in that she loves money. She was joking, of course! (Though, who doesn’t!?). Ricco shared how humbling it is for him to hear that he IS basically the real-life version of Mirio as he’s such a happy, positive, and peppy guy who loves to exercise, just like him! Another trait he shares with Mirio is that he keeps trying no matter how many times he fails, and now, thanks to that, he’s part of the My Hero Academia phenomenon! Again gushing in a very Mirio-like manner, Ricco told the audience that “someone believing in you and you believing in yourself is everything” and he believes that as well.
While Kellen doesn’t share Overhaul’s dark, evil personality, he does identify with his persistence in pursuing his goals, though their goals differ *greatly*… Justin shares Kirishima’s desire to do right by everybody and claims to also have a best friend that he needs to constantly explain to the rest of the world. (We all have that Bakugo in our lives!) David talked about Todorki’s two sides (pun, again, definitely NOT intended but greatly appreciated by the audience who exploded in laughter once more); the ambitious side and his self-deprecating side as David too has lofty goals but is his own worst critic and puts himself under a lot of pressure like Todoroki does.
Patrick, being the sweet teddy bear that he is, had some difficulty finding a similarity with Endeavor other than wanting to do his very best, but then again… it is called acting! And Patrick is a veteran so it’s no surprise he can play such a polar opposite of himself so well.
Jason shared that, when he was cast, he was a little troubled when told he was the obvious choice for Dabi. Though, Dabi’s been through the wringer emotionally and physically and Jason says he has too, and he has a metal implant in his leg to prove it! Oh, and he also loves fire.
What Has Been Your Most Memorable Moment While Working on My Hero Academia?
Kaoru shared a story about Kenta Miyagi, who plays All Might in Japanese. When they were recording, All Might had to shout loudly and energetically, and after saying his line with a lot of power and energy, Miyagi he collapsed! He gave it his all, so much so that he literally lost consciousness for a little bit He got up afterward and he was fine, but it was amazing and inspiring for Kaoru to see how far these actors go for their roles. Kaoru also shared that when they do the wallop (background conversations between the students), they completely ad-lib, which is really fun and can get a little intense during improvisation.
Ricco’s most memorable moment was when, after being told he WAS Mirio by their casting director, he went out and got the My Hero Academia manga to do research on his character. And to his surprise, it was like reading a mirror!
Kellen, having been working as a voice actor since he was 13 to get to play Overhaul in My Hero Academia, finds just this experience memorable in itself. But he also shared that when he auditioned for Overhaul, he was asked to try out for another character as well, Tamaki. Since he was still recovering from bronchitis, he struggled to prepare something and his original Overhaul was too raspy and too older sounding and it wouldn’t have worked, but his Tamaki voice was perfect for Overhaul so they went with that instead.
David Matranga and Patrick Seitz—Todoroki and Endeavor respectively—have actually been friends since their school days! So, it’s no surprise that David considers simply working with his school buddy a memorable experience. On top of that, and all the actors agreed, David believes that Colleen, their casting director, put such a good team together that they all truly care about their characters and are invested in their roles which makes the whole experience a dream come true. He also shared an anecdote about one day when the actors were recording different scenes of an episode and Colleen said “let’s just watch the whole episode”, and after doing so, they all had such a better understanding of their characters and the context (which is rare when recording voiceovers since scenes are skipped because of time constraints) and it made their work so much better because it pushed them to do it justice.
What Are You Most Excited for This Season?
When asked what they’re most excited about in the 4th season, the answers varied depending on each role as not everyone is allowed to know what’s going to come next and then others just couldn’t share much so as to avoid spoilers. Jason really just wants to know who hurt Dabi so badly that it made him the way he is. Kellen is a fan of My Hero Academia and is up to date with the manga so he’s not only looking forward to all the intense battles Overhaul will be involved in—which he couldn’t say too much about, obviously—but also, as a fan, he wants to know why Tamaki is so shy and why Mirio is so happy all the time—prompting laughter from the audience.
Justin, as opposed to other actors, was asked NOT to stay up to date with the manga because they need him not to know something that is happening with his character, Kirishima, so he’s just looking forward to the whole thing! David agreed and said he can’t pick one thing he’s looking forward to and is just really hoping Todoroki will finally feel accomplished and loved by his dad. As for Patrick, easy. All he wants is 1000% more Froppy! And don’t we all!? Kero.
After a fun and insightful panel, we all cheered as the premiere of My Hero Academia Season 4 was about to start! Find a link to our impressions of the premiere below!) It was such a treat to see the English voices of some of our current and future favorite characters. It was also inspiring to hear their stories and experiences. It makes us feel closer not only to the characters but to the industry that makes the anime that fuels our days! Huge thanks as always to Funimation for setting this opportunity up for all us BokuAca fans!
Were you at the panel? Did you see the premiere? Who’s your favorite BokuAca character/voice actor? Talk to us in the comments below and remember to check the rest of our Anime Expo coverage!