Erik Scott Kimerer spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about voicing jittery artist Senpai in the English Dub of hit anime series, ‘Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro’.
This interview contains spoilers for Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): Senpai never answered the Art Club President’s question about loving Hayase. In your opinion, does Senpai love Nagatoro at the end of Season 1?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Love is a strong word. I’m pretty sure at that point, there’s love brewing between both of them. Even if they’re not aware of it, they’re aware of their reactions to certain things.
They’re still channeling it through their bodies. When Nagatoro kisses Senpai at the end of Season 1, he just shuts up, has this deep gasp, and gets really red in the face. So Senpai feels it, even if he’s not aware of it.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: When you were first announced as the dub voice actor for Senpai, a Nagatoro fan on Reddit said he expected you to sound “like a super beta version of Ryuuji’s voice.” How do you respond to that?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: (laughs) I remember seeing that comment! It was so funny. Ryuuji definitely does keep to himself.
I think it’s kind of a strange, coincidental followup to Toradora! in the sense of two people who aren’t aware they like each other… But eventually find out. Yeah, it’s a fun way to put it though, the beta version!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Why do you think Senpai always denies saying Hayase is his girlfriend? Particularly, early on, screaming it in the lunch room in front of Nagatoro’s friends. I bet that was a fun scene to dub.
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: (laughs) So much screaming, there was way too much screaming! I think it’s mostly because it interrupts Senpai’s status quo of just being happy in his own little world. Isolated & painting in his room.
He’s confident in his painting skills enough to want to continue doing it and be satisfied just doing that.
So any notion of a girlfriend… Especially if it’s Nagatoro, who’s only just come into his life, throws a wrench into Senpai’s plans. Like a hurricane coming in. That’s not something Senpai can connect in his head.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Was the turning point of Senpai & Nagatoro’s relationship at the summer festival? Nagatoro’s voice & demeanor completely changes when she says, “If there’s somewhere you wanna go with someone, you could always try asking them… Because they could actually say yes.”
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Yeah, I think it’s definitely at the summer festival episode that Senpai realized it. If they weren’t interrupted by the fireworks and all couples making out, I’m pretty sure he would’ve gone for something. Senpai would’ve stepped up.
But yeah, I’d say that was the big turning point. And also probably when Senpai helped Nagatoro in the park. When she was with her friends and all of those guys were hitting on her.
That was big. Senpai’s first time stepping up and taking action. Saying, ‘Let’s go home.’
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What was your first audition like for Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro? Did you know you were reading for the series?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Oh yeah, I did. I remember getting a few volumes of the manga in a Humble Bundle. Which is website where they usually bundle a bunch of games together for charity. I got the bundle because it had, I think 23 volumes of The Seven Deadly Sins.
So I was looking forward to that and it also came with Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro. So I checked out a couple of chapters of it and thought it was cute.
Sure enough, I got the audition! Both the scenes I read for were from episode one I believe.
I remember one of the scenes was definitely when Nagatoro is asking if he wants to draw her and Senpai has that hair explosion and falls backwards.
So I knew there was gonna be a lot of loud screaming, groaning, and being put upon. So they auditioned me for that outright.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Was Senpai’s voice inspired by your prior work as Haru on Accel World?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: A little bit, yeah. Haru was a little bit more whiny. I wanted to have a little bit more confidence in Senpai’s deliveries.
For Senpai, I kind of knew he was put upon a lot kind of like how Haruyuki was put upon… But with Senpai he had a different reaction to it.
He tends to tune things out. Kind of blank out the faces of those who were bullying him. Rather than lash back or anything like that, he kind of just retreats into his own world.
So I never really saw him as overly wimpy and overly defensive or anything like that. Senpai had confidence in his skills and he was happy in his own little world until the status quo was broken by Nagatoro.
So I never wanted Senpai to come across as just like absolutely put upon, but confident in where he’s at. Even though it’s not what he needs.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I thought the vast difference between Ryuuji (Toradora!) and Senpai’s voice shows your range. Most viewers wouldn’t be able to figure out it’s the same person voicing both without looking it up first. It has an impact immersion wise on a dub. How do you key in on a character to really make each voice sound unique from show to show?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Well, thank you first! Keying in is a collaborative process between the director engineer and I, figuring out the character’s base levels. Usually it’s good to go from there. So Ryuuji had a different base level than Senpai even though he could hit the same kind of frustration or frazzled mess.
In the first session, we’ll try a couple of different things, you know, make him a little younger or make him speak a little faster to key in. Maybe even a stutter. We really try and figure out who he is and where he’s going to.
That’s gonna inform the most in terms of his performance going forward. What’s gonna be recognizable from line to line that’s his character.
It’s easier for me to get into voices that are a little bit further from my natural voice. Ryuuji and Senpai are both really close to my natural registry. We typically have to have vocal references that start off every session.
They’ll record parts of your lines and then play it back for you at the very beginning of the next session. So you have to tune the instrument to the right key.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I asked Kimberly Anne Campbell (Hayase Nagatoro) for her take on this too… Do you think Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro‘s universal appeal comes from what we were taught as kids. That if a girl is being mean to you, they secretly like you?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Yeah, definitely. I mean, in certain times it really lends us out to bullying at first. The first two episodes, I’m just like, ‘Okay, this is getting kind of uncomfortable.’ (laughs)
But afterwards absolutely it becomes more teasing and it’s a lot of fun that way. I feel that’s the growth you see with Nagatoro teasing him just for some fun. She starts to like Senpai and eases up a little bit.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What did it mean to you when you officially got the co-lead role of Senpai? I understand voice actors for the series were informed of the final casting decisions by email.
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: I was ecstatic because I hadn’t done a lead role in a long time and this one just seemed like so much fun!
I consider myself a goofy, very ADHD guy and like kind of outlandish comedy. It’s typically where I live and breathe. Just being able to go absolutely insane sometimes.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you think there’s a chance for a universal dub/subtitled simulcast for Season 2 like Funimation experimented with Akiba’s Trip a few years ago? Or will dubbing for Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro always be done a week after more or less?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: No, it’ll likely always be a week after for Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro. I think Season 1 was almost finished by the time we started dubbing it… And it’s actually kind of a luxury we get nowadays as actors.
When I started out about 10, 12 years ago, we really didn’t have that. We couldn’t watch our own shows ahead of time on things like Crunchyroll or anything like that.
So it’s a luxury you try to take advantage of. I try to go into the booth, watching the series and getting emotional registry prepped. Okay, I’m gonna have to do a crying scene or a kind of loud scream today.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you anticipate the show exploding in popularity when 2nd Attack releases in January? I mean Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is already pretty popular as-is.
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Yeah, I think it should do great but I won’t promise ‘exploding in popularity’. There’s just so much anime out there right now. It’s hard to find that classic anymore that everybody’s watching because you have a hundred anime shows per season nowadays.
I think Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro definitely has lots & lots of fans. It’s got a loyal fan base and I foresee them being very happy with 2nd Attack.
I think things have changed. It used to be that you could have two anime fans meet randomly in the street and they were almost guaranteed to have a show or two in common. A Dragon Ball Z, a Cowboy Bebop, or a classic like that.
Nowadays, you can get two anime fans who’ve watched 50 anime shows each and they may not overlap a single one.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Is there going to be a cast panel at Anime NYC 2022 to promote Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro? Will you attend if there is one?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: I haven’t heard anything yet, but if they want me there, I am there in a heartbeat! I love going to New York and I love conventions. So that would be amazing!
I went to Anime NYC once and I went to New York Comic Con once and it was wild.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Art Club President Sana Sunomiya tells Senpai to follow his muse, which he realizes is Hayase Nagatoro. What do you feel is your muse day-to-day when you go into the booth to record?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Oh, that’s a good question actually. Honestly, if I was gonna have to say a muse like a person of sorts or just kind of a general inspiration, that’s guided me… It would be Robin Williams.
I credit watching him growing up with my love for voice acting and my desire to be a part of it after watching. Especially the Genie in Aladdin but also Mrs. Doubtfire, where he plays a voice actor.
His energy just was always infectious to me. I always tried to match it, especially with my own, like I said, ADHD. He’s always been my biggest inspiration for voiceover and I consider him my spirit animal.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I recall on your Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), 8 years ago, you said “I wouldn’t say dubbing is ever considered a full time job. If you’re lucky and versatile enough, you can make it so, perhaps.” Do you still believe that, 8 years later?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: It’s still a struggle. I believe the reason I originally said that has gotten even more prevalent today. There’s a huge influx of people who have access to home equipment and can start practicing out of their basements if they want.
What used to be $300 microphones, 10 years ago, are now a hundred dollars USB microphones. So you’re getting a lot more people wanting to enter the market. And that means a lot more competition, especially in anime, which has not been historically the best paying format. But a lot of us have been banding together.
A lot of voice actors have been banding together and negotiating new union contracts and trying to make it more sustainable for us.
We’ve seen some really good success on that, raising the standard rates and standard hourly rates. I’m starting to think that it is possible. But especially since there’s a lot more anime out on the market. Back then we didn’t have Netflix syncing millions into anime or we didn’t have really as much coming out every year as we do now.
So I’m not really sure. I mean, it is possible to do it full time in terms of 40 hours a week, making that your job. Whether it’s putting out auditions or sending out emails, getting 40 hours a week of anime work is a little difficult, especially in today’s day and age.
The pay for anime has remained kind of the same for the past 10 years since I started working. And with a lot of the competition, there’s sometimes moments of scarcity in terms of jobs available. Sometimes they go into production cycles. Sometimes they go into marketing cycles and you can really feel them as an actor because the auditions start slowing down a bit.
So just with the randomness of the job, you’re not in control of which jobs you get. You’re just in control of which jobs you put yourself out for. That’s what makes it difficult to really make a living off of is just the chaos of it. Of course you want to be working the full 40 hours a week.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I know in the dubbing industry, you primarily record alone. I was wondering if you get to see the rest of the cast members for Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro or if you keep in touch with them?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Oh no, I mean, I’m following all of them on Twitter and we interact as much as we can there. But I don’t think I’ve ever actually met the show’s other cast members in real life.
I would definitely like to do some conventions with them! I was aware of a couple names before going in. But it’s also because of the lockdowns. I really wasn’t going out and keeping in touch with a lot of the community, a lot of the industry during that time.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Kimberly Anne Campbell (Hayase Nagatoro) told me she wants more Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro merchandise out, especially Nendoroids. That there isn’t enough Nagatoro merch out there. Thoughts?
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Oh, come on Kimberly! (laughs) You’re going to get a bunch of it. I’m still looking for anything for Senpai.
It’s like with Toradora! I’ve seen so many Taiga Aisaka figures… So many!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Maybe they’ll throw in Senpai for a double pack. Thanks Erik, looking forward to Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro: 2nd Attack in January.
ERIK SCOTT KIMERER: Thank you! I was really happy to be a part of this show and I’m really excited for the second season. We have so many laughs just recording it.
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Erik Scott Kimerer’s thoughts on a Toradora! Season 2
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Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro Dub Cast: Main Characters
Kimberley Anne Campbell as Hayase Nagatoro
Erik Kimerer as Senpai (Naoto Hachiouji)
Brittany Cox as Maki Gamou (Gamo-Chan)
Lily Ki (LilyPichu) as Yoshi
Kimberly Woods as Sakura
Justine Lee as Art Club President, Sana Sunomiya
Where to watch Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro English Dubbed
You can watch Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro Season 1 on Crunchyroll right now!
Season 2 will release under the name Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro: 2nd Attack in January 2023.
How many episodes of Dont Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro are there?
There’s currently 12 episodes total, subbed and dubbed, of the anime series available to watch on Crunchyroll.
Where can I read Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro?
You can get ahead of most by reading the latest Nagatoro chapters before Season 2 arrives.
There’s 13 volumes confirmed already. Volume 13 of the manga is due to release on November 1, 2022.
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