D.Gray-man’s Todd Haberkorn, voice of Allen Walker, told an entertaining story at Anime NYC 2019 about how the show’s return led to him making good on a bet to get his ears pierced.
D.Gray-man’s English Dub voice actor Todd Haberkorn (Allen Walker/Millennium Earl) reflected on how he was so certain D.Gray-man wouldn’t return after ten years he made a public bet. If the series returned, he’d get his ears pierced… Two months later after that bet was made during a convention panel Q & A, Haberkorn received a Tweet congratulating him about D.Gray-man! As such, Haberkorn proved to be a man of his word and made good on his bet. Actually getting his ears pierced. Just goes to show, you never know what’ll happen in the Entertainment Industry.
Be sure to check out The Natural Aristocrat’s full Anime NYC 2019 interview with Todd Haberkorn where he goes in-depth about the balance between art and the business of voice acting, Sword Art Online, and much more!
Todd Haberkorn comments on D.Gray-man Bet:
“Another example is D.Gray-man. Sh*t, I didn’t know that 10 years later we would come back to that show. I thought for surrrre we wouldn’t. That’s why I made the bet about piercing my ears cause I’m like I guarantee you we’re not doing D.Gray-man. Earlier in that day I’d seen a guy with pierced ears that looked cool, and so it stuck in my head. And so when someone asked about D.Gray-man and I was like that show comes back I’ll pierce my ears because I thought she’d been 10 years.
Two months later! I get a tweet from a fan, he’s like congratulations on D.Gray-man. And I’m like, “Wait a minute….” I went and got my ears pierced, and I made good on the bet. But so who knows? I have no idea what’s going to happen.”
Todd Haberkorn on Social Media:
Be sure to keep up to date with featured guests at next year’s Anime NYC at AnimeNYC.com, tickets for Anime NYC 2020 are on sale now!
Luci Christian spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about FunimationCon 2020, voicing fan favorite Ochaco Uraraka, the strong reception to My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, and the art of voice acting.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: I feel Funimation took one leap forward with FunimationCon, traditional convention panel schedule and all, just virtual. It’s looking more and more like this will be the wave of the future with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. What are your thoughts about FunimationCon 2020 and the possibility that this could be the only way to hold conventions from now on?
Luci Christian: I’m with you I think it’s really cool they’re doing this. To be honest, I think it’s a bittersweet time. Right? I mean, maybe this is the way of the future, it’s definitely the way of the present. I love that companies are having to be creative in figuring out how to engage with fans in ways that we’re used to. Getting to have something of a personal experience with these properties and with the talent. And with each other!
That’s the point of the convention, getting to talk about the thing we all love! So, I love that Funimation thought of this and went online. They really went creative with it, making different rooms simultaneously of fun stuff. But I will say, for all of us, that it’s a little bleak to not be in the room, to not be taking the road trips, to not be getting to hug each other. It’s a lot. It makes the overtures that the various companies and people are taking to put something together virtually that much sweeter… But it’s also sad! (laughs) It’s both!
How did you feel about the overall reception to the cinema debut of My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising?
So, a couple of thoughts about that… I was at the L.A. premiere for the film and it was one of the most magical & special nights of my professional career! And I’ve been around for a while! (laughs) But there was nobody in that room that wasn’t just ecstatic to be there. It was so freaking fun and lovely!
The reception to the film was as awesome as can be. I heard many people say how anime is so much more mainstream now. And it is because of shows like this (My Hero Academia) that are so accessible. Particularly the English dub of the movie gets so much love, it’s such an honor to be part of it.Luci Christian voices Ochaco Uraraka in My Hero Academia [English Dub] – Screenshot Photo via Funimation / VRV / Crunchyroll
How do you compare recording for the film to dubbing the regular series?
It wasn’t totally different. It was a little weird because I hadn’t read the manga and there were things in the movie that I didn’t know yet! And when we were recording the movie I was like, “WHAT?!” It was exciting, I really loved that the movie showed how much stronger they’d become. How their training has really paid off. And not to toot my own horn… But I didn’t even know she (Ochaco) was that strong!
You’ve played so many characters throughout the years from My Hero Academia’s Ochaco Uraraka to Yuki Yoshino on Food Wars! How do you craft the personalities and voice inflictions of your roles past what’s on the script?
Well, I’ll tell you… This has all been a happy surprise! I don’t know I’d be in this industry for this long. When I first got into it, I was just an actor. When I approached the characters, I asked the same sort of questions as in traditional acting. “Who are they? How old are they? What are their primary objectives?” And the director will fine tune you. ‘I think he could be played a little older. Or I think we can go a little further with that scene.’
Are there techniques or habits you’ve practiced throughout your career to protect your voice?
There are a couple that I always rely on. One of them, is this sounds like such an old woman thing to say but I try to get enough sleep. It makes a huge difference in how much you can push yourself. When it comes to yelling, there is a way to protect your voice when you yell by kind of making an H sound at the beginning of your scream. It’s kind of a weird thing, a little trick. But it helps protect your voice so you don’t rip it up.Luci Christian voices Ochaco Uraraka in My Hero Academia [English Dub] – Screenshot Photo via Funimation / VRV / Crunchyroll
How much do you enjoy the script writing process in comparison to voicing the character of a preference for one or the other.
I haven’t done anime writing in a while but I loved it! I know how to look at the words now that would best fit the animated mouth flaps and be like ‘Oh, these are the words that could go there.’ I really, really enjoyed it! Obviously, I’m an actor first, and I will always be an actor first. But a lot of us are good at many, many things. I feel I’m lucky to have been blessed with the opportunity to do lots of different things.
Certainly, there’s been times now working from home where they’ll call and tell me, “Hey, I know you know how to change the line a little bit to make it fit!” So, I guess I do still write a little bit. But mostly, we all sort of informally work together to make the best product.Luci Christian voices Ochaco Uraraka in My Hero Academia [English Dub] – Photo Credit: Funimation
Follow Luci Christian on Social Media:
– Check out the panels and highlights of FunimationCon 2020 over at Funimation.com.My Hero One’s Justice 2 Art – Credit: Bandai Namco
Be sure to read The Natural Aristocrat’s ‘FunimationCon 2020’ interviews with AEW’s Kenny Omega on My Hero Academia and fellow My Hero Academia voice actor Christopher Wehkamp on Voice Acting (MHA’s voice of Shota Aizawa)!
Christopher Wehkamp spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about FunimationCon 2020, voicing Fire Force’s Takehisa Hinawa, the reception to My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, dubbing My Hero One’s Justice 2, and fan favorite Miles Edgeworth.
This interview contains mild spoilers for Fire Force.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Funimation took the initiative of making this virtual convention, it could very well be the future of all conventions. How do you feel about the digital concept of FunimationCon 2020 as a blueprint for other conventions moving forward ?
Christopher Wehkamp: Honestly, I’m really excited about it. I like the fact that especially during this time that we’ve got a chance to come together and really just celebrate anime. I think that’s the aspect I’ve missed the most about going to conventions. I think I did about 17 conventions last year, 17 or 18, and this year I’m really missing it. A lot! So, yeah I’m really excited that Funimation is getting involved in that. Especially, bringing a lot of really exciting content experiences.
Do you feel the pandemic has heavily stifled your your vocal work or are you able to work from home?
Yeah, fortunately a lot of the studios have really embraced the idea of working with Actors who have home studios like myself. I’ve been very lucky in that aspect of it. Being able to work at home, kind of brings its own challenges… But getting to continue to work with these characters and still turn in auditions every day.
There’s a memorable scene in Fire Force where Takehisa Hinawa nonchalantly shoots Shinra Kusakabe for ‘idle chatter’. Shinra naturally thinks he’s hurt badly at first and is beside himself. What was it like to record for Hinawa in that moment? It was undoubtedly fun delivering that line.
I mean it was really good! Takehisa Hinawa is kind of a disciplinarian and that particular scene really showed his disciplinarian side coming out. It was fun I think because the character of Shinra and also the audience don’t quite know what to expect. At that point you don’t know exactly exactly how his powers work. It ends up being a really comedic scene. I loved it.
I got to watch it from the perspective of being ‘in the know’, being the character that knew what was happening. So that was really cool, I love working with Derick [Snow], the English voice of Shinra. I’m super duper excited for the debut of Season 2.Takehisa Hinawa from Fire Force – Photo Credit: Funimation
What did you think of the reception for My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising cinema release as the voice of Shota Aizawa?
Oh wow, I got to go to the to the L.A. premiere in February, before the whole world was shut down. It was incredible. Getting a chance to be there with the cast and a lot of the cosplayers and fans showed up for it… It was just a once in a lifetime thing, one of the coolest nights of my life.
What made it all the better was the movie being fantastic! It’s got great animation. The story is really riveting. Some of the scenes are the best action scenes I’ve ever seen in an anime, period. To get to be a part of that, it’s an incredible honor! A great privilege.Shota Aizawa and Deku Izuku Midoriya in My Hero Academia – Screenshot photo via VRV / Crunchyroll
You’ve voiced a lot of unique personalities throughout the years, my personal favorite being Miles Edgeworth. How do you approach crafting the fine details of a character beyond the script?
Thank you so much! It really does depend on the source material of the character, especially when it comes to dubbing anime. When I when I get to approach a character that already exists, in the case of Miles Edgeworth, I want to be pretty immersed in the context of that world and the game. Fortunately, that one worked out really well because I had originally played Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in 2005 on Nintendo DS. So, I was already pretty familiar with the game, the world, and certainly was already familiar with Miles.Miles Edgeworth [Christopher Wehkamp] in Ace Attorney – Screenshot photo via VRV / Crunchyroll
And from there you’re just you’re trying to craft an experience that entertaining and palatable to a western audience. But still feels very authentic and in the case of Ace Attorney, very comedic. There’s a lot of really funny, goofy moments especially between Phoenix and Miles. Where they’re kind of playing off their rivalry. So really playing that up! Of course, Director Kyle Phillips did a fantastic job of loving the source material and putting us right where we needed to be in any given scene.
When you talk about gaming, you voiced Shota Aizawa in My Hero One’s Justice 2, how do you compare recording lines for it compared to the anime? Is it a lot different day-to-day? I know you have to do all those screams or is that about the same?
No, you’re right. That’s actually one of the big differences! A lot of the reactions that you do as part of a video game are a very different flavor of voice acting than you typically get in a booth, doing like an anime dub. Although anime dubs, English dubs certainly have their fair share of those sorts of reactions. But of course with a video game, you’re really recording two or three takes of every single one. So, that you can sort of have a palette of sounds to work with.My Hero One’s Justice 2 Art – Credit: Bandai Namco
I would say one of the biggest differences with Shota Aizawa, was we struggled sometimes in fight scenes specifically or in high tension moments because he’s so cool and laid back. (laughs) The challenge with him often times is to bring intensity, while also sort of remaining in that place of stoicism or coolness. There’s probably not a better word for it than cool!
The director and I were doing our best to sort of match what was already existing in the Japanese performance but also make sure we were staying true to that ethic of not getting too big with it. Finding the place where Aizawa exists most authentically I think. And that was fun! Doing the video game is a lot of fun. It’s much more high energy than he normally is in any given episode of the show. Getting the chance to do that was just really cool, really special.
How have you protected your voice over the years? I know a lot of voice actors drink tea.
That’s one thing I do for sure, on days when I’ve doing commercial voice over or voice acting. I don’t drink coffee and I try not to eat a lot of heavy foods. I’ve noticed those things can really affect my vocal performance and especially my endurance. I try to get a lot of sleep, drink a lot of water and tea. And you know when you get to the loud stuff, it’s really about support.
Having a background in singing and knowing how to use the diaphragm. How to support vocals for shouting during fight scenes and exerting yourself really goes a long way. But there are those days, when it’s just like you know what? This is maybe just going to hurt a little bit. And I think it can hurt and not damage you if you’re conscientious and do it in the right way. But it’s something I try to be very conscious of and careful about. You have to protect your career!Shota Aizawa and Deku in My Hero Academia – Screenshot photo via VRV / Crunchyroll
Was voice acting something you always wanted to do?
Well acting really was, I was always an actor. I started off in elementary school as an actor and I acted all the way through school and through college as well. I kind of became an anime fan during college, when I started watching Adult Swim and Toonami. That really introduced me to a lot of really classic shows, I remember watching Cowboy Bebop for the first time. It just blew my mind!
So yeah, I always had it in the back of my head, I thought it would be amazing to be able to get it to do that. I think it was 2011 when I got a shot at auditioning at Funimation. That was kind of the beginning of it, and I realized pretty quickly that the work that I do in the booth was some of my favorite work.
There’s something about it, the reach is so huge now, anime has become this really mainstream thing. It wasn’t when I was younger. It was much more of a niche, sort of entertainment category and now it’s exploded into the mainstream in a big way!
I feel the same way, when I saw the Dragon Ball Super: Broly voice cast filled up the Theater at MSG, it was pretty impressive.
Yeah, it’s amazing to see because it was not like this, 20 years ago. So yeah, I think it’s really rewarding the reach that you get from doing these shows. And video games too! It’s a worldwide phenomenon. I love it, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Learn more about FunimationCon 2020:FunimationCon 2020 Logo – Convention Schedule – Art Credit: Funimation
– Get the English Dubbed Fire Force Season 1 Blu-ray at Amazon and catch up with Takehisa Hinawa!
Kenny Omega spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about FunimationCon 2020 as the future of conventions, his passion for My Hero Academia, hosting the My Hero One’s Justice 2 tournament, Dave Meltzer’s original 6-star match rating, AEW, and wanting to perform at NJPW & ROH’s G1 Supercard show at Madison Square Garden.
This interview contains spoilers for My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Funimation is ahead of the game doing a virtual ‘FunimationCon’ because this could indeed be the future. Maybe there won’t be mass in-person conventions anymore. You’ve experienced the changes firsthand in AEW, having talent-only shows due to the Coronavirus pandemic. How do you feel about FunimationCon 2020 and the future of conventions in general?
Kenny Omega: I mean you always have to consider that, this may be just the way things are from here on in. I sort of count my blessings that when this pandemic happened, which is a terrible thing, that at the very least, we’ve reached an age where everything can be done digitally. How we can still stay in contact with people from across the world, how we can still stay in touch with people even a few blocks away! If we can’t be live and in-person with people, if we can’t be live in a crowd… At the very least, we have a number of platforms where our voices can be heard, our faces can be seen. Worst case scenario things are going to be like this, for a long time, possibly forever. Who knows?
The silver lining to it all is that we as human beings have reached an age in technology where we can stay in touch. We can still communicate with each other and find ways to entertain one another. I think that’s at least one positive coming out all this is that there is hope.
You’re known to be a passionate fan of My Hero Academia, I was wondering about your feelings on My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising? I felt Nine wasn’t a traditional villain, he was more akin to X-Men’s Magneto, considering the wolf-faced man, Chojuro Kon, remarks he didn’t treat him like a monster for his looks. Quite reminiscent of Magneto & Mystique.
Exactly! I do believe in a lot of cases, If you can level with the villain, if there’s a human side to them, if you can see their perspective… They’re effectively more interesting of a character. You brought up Magneto, another one is Thanos. I think one thing that My Hero Academia does better than any other series, that’s including Marvel, DC, everything is they provide emotional strength to their characters. I think it was a pretty good idea to always give the human side, and give perspective to both the heels and the villains.
Especially, if you’re gonna go for like a movie type feeling to something, you want to make your evil, an incredible evil. But I don’t think that’s going to the last cinematic release for My Hero Academia. I think that’s going to be here for a long time. Whether it be featured in a season within the series or whether it’s featured in the movie, I think you’re gonna get those purely evil people that don’t even need-
Like for example, The Nomu in the first season. They had no real motivation. They’re just killing machines, right? So, they sort of already had went with that angle. This very powerful, almost indestructible killing machine that only thinks about death, destruction, and killing.
That’s almost like The Terminator approach. It has one mission. It has one thing it needs to fulfill, and that’s death and destruction. I think that the writers are so talented for the series that they can take a numerous amount of approaches to their villains and their heroes and keep it interesting. They could even have heroes that appear to have a dark side to them like Bakugo, for example.
I sort of still feel that maybe down the road, he made just drift over to the dark world for a while. He may he may become the ultimate villain at the end of it. Who knows?! But they’ve given ideas and character layers. These characters can sometimes drift more into one zone than another and I think that’s fantastic. it’s a lot of food for thought after processing you know a gigantic arc within a story.
You’ve been connected to gaming professionally since your New Japan Pro Wrestling days. Even integrating the Final Fantasy 7 inspired “One Winged Angel” into your day-to-day wrestling move set. What started the journey to anime & gaming that led you to connecting with Bandai Namco and hosting the My Hero One’s Justice 2 voice actor tournament at FunimationCon 2020?.
That’s a very good question, I’ve always wanted to get as involved as possible with my passions and my hobbies outside of wrestling. You know, I love wrestling. It’s a great sport and been a fantastic job to me. It’s allowed me to travel the world and meet a lot of new friends. And it turns out that a lot of people that watch wrestling, a lot of people that wrestling have very similar interests to me. Which is video games, anime, things like that. With how the current climate of the world is… If you have an interest in something, if you have a hobby, there’s always a deeper level to it.
So, if I like video games for example, there’s competitions for video games, there’s people that collect retro games, and try to try to amass entire libraries of games. The same with anime. If you watch anime that was released in the States and in Japan & you enjoy anime, then you can take that as deep as you want to go. You can delve back into the annals of time, into the archives, and there’s hundreds of thousands of anime shows and movies. Especially working in Japan, I was living in Japan for about 11 years. It allowed me to really take my hobby and one of my passions, which is both anime and video games to a really deep level.
Pumped to take part in #FunimationCon tomorrow and call some of my favorite #BokuNoHeroAcademia fights in the PS4 fighting game, (My Hero One’s Justice 2).The real English voice actors are repping their characters so there’s a ton of pride on the line! https://t.co/ltaEE4gB4G pic.twitter.com/4tXrT6DeMD
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) July 2, 2020
I found first and foremost that I really love sports anime. And so that that took me down one path to really find and hone what my favorite sports animes were and get really into it. Read the mangas and all that stuff. Being a comic book collector as a child and a fan of Saturday morning cartoons and all that, of course, I was a huge fan of superhero stuff. Once My Hero Academia came out, I felt, ‘Okay I can give it a shot.’ And within the first 30 minutes, or I guess I could say twenty one with commercials of the first episode… I was more connected to that story in that world than anything that I had seen or read in the past decade, probably.
I knew that they were a winner and I’m just so glad that it has seen the success that it has because now we can continue that story. The journey continues. One thing that’s really sad is when you love something, you support it, and you follow something along & can’t wait for the next book or the next season or the next movie to release… And there’s no fan support, so it just kind of dies off.
Luckily, we’re already, four or five seasons in. I don’t know if I’d consider it the halfway point but we’ve seen a lot of material for Boku no Hīrō Akademia, My Hero Academia,. I’m just thrilled that we’re still continuing on this journey and it seems that, a lot of people are with me on this, that we’re going to see even more. And that’s really exciting for me.
When you received that 6-star rating from Dave Meltzer for your match against Kazuchika Okada in NJPW… Did you feel that put more pressure on you to have to deliver every time? Does it serve as motivation? I remember Steve Austin commenting on his podcast that he went to check out your match because of that Meltzer rating.
Yeah, I mean it’s a double edged sword really because when you set that standard, that precedent that you can have a six star match… For some people there’s an expectation that, ‘Oh, if I see Kenny Omega, this is what I expect and hope to see!’ And there’s a lot of variables that go into making a 6-star match. Now, I’ve had I think four or five matches that have went over 6-stars or 6 and over. I’ve had more than that go over 5 stars. But I never feel the pressure to have to deliver what one critic deems over a 5-star match.
What I’m trying to do is just diversify my resume, I never want to have to give what in one person’s mind is a 6-star match. That 6-star match to him isn’t necessarily what I think is a 6-star match. It isn’t necessarily what my neighbor that was beside me thinks is a 6-star match. It’s not what little Jimmy who lives across the world and generally likes watching Sailor Moon, maybe he doesn’t consider that a 6-star match. I’m trying to always have performances that can appeal to all sorts of different people, from all walks of life.
I think as long as there is somebody in the world, that looks at one of my performances and considers it time not wasted. Or one of the best things that they’ve seen, I feel like my job is complete. So, yes there’s pressure to always give a performance that I think merits somebody’s interest and high praise. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that one person’s praise.
Do you have a personal 6-star match, one that’s your favorite?
That’s a very good question. Of course, I’m very proud of the match that was the only one that’s ever been rated 7-stars (NJPW Dominion). That was the culmination of a year’s worth of storytelling and I felt like it was a great way to end the story. It not only gave something brand new for fans but fully implementing storyline elements from all the matches that came before it. So, that match I’m very proud of. My most recent 6-star match that I had in AEW was one that I was extremely proud of because I could get it with my friends.
That I had RTW was one I was extremely proud of because I could do with my friends. Generally speaking, it’s very difficult to obtain a 6-star rating. At least by the Meltzer system, in America. I think for us to pull it off is just a real feather in the cap for all four of us to do something that no one really in North America has ever done. Not only that but again like I said, one person’s opinion is fantastic, someone who’s very studied and knowledgeable in wrestling. But the general feedback from anyone that’s seen the match and other critics alike really enjoyed it.
That for me is the ultimate payoff, when you start to see almost universal praise. Of course, you might find someone who will vilify it which is fine. But when you see generally incredibly positive feedback from sometimes even people who don’t like your stuff. It’s a real good feeling that kind of lets you know, you did a good night’s worth of work.
I actually bought a ticket to the NJPW/ROH G1 Supercard Show at Madison Square Garden last year because I thought you were going to be performing there to be honest.
Oh, we all thought I was going to be there! Even though I’d already been involved with the AEW project at that point and everyone knew my intentions of going there… It was always my hope that I could still be a part of that show. But you know, things happen. It was just a preference that there was no one from AEW to represent on that card.
But I was always ready, willing, and able. I still feel that it’s a shame that it couldn’t have happened because there was nothing on my end that had caused that to happen. But I understand there’s not just a service to the fans but there’s a very unknown business side to everything we do. I’d call about to happen. Whether it be in wrestling or fear of working any kind of job. There’s a hierarchy and there’s stuff that happens behind closed doors that no one ever hears about or talks about. And those decisions were made without my involvement, and it was decided I wouldn’t be on the show.
Again, I still apologize to fans because of that and it is a shame because I would have loved to show people something special from New Japan in one of the world’s most famous arenas.
I hope to see AEW arrive in MSG someday if and when the pandemic ends! Thanks Kenny!
Thank you so much man, I really hope to be back in arenas again someday soon!
Learn More About FunimationCon 2020:FunimationCon 2020 Logo – Convention Schedule – Art Credit: Funimation
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