Cutting edge voice actress Brina Palencia spoke to The Natural Aristocrat® about her unforgettable dub performance as Yuno Gasai on The Future Diary. Where love & insanity melt into a lush, colorful coat of paint you can’t look away from.
This Brina Palencia interview contains major spoilers for ‘The Future Diary’ anime series, also known as ‘Mirai Nikki’.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): Your dub performance as Yuno Gasai shows incredible range, seamlessly transitioning between innocent romantic to psychotic screams. What was your approach to encapsulating Yuno’s personality so perfectly?
BRINA PALENCIA: Well first, thank you! You know, it was so long ago, I believe back then I was utilizing the Michael Chekhov technique a lot or just sort of a bastardization of it. It’s a physical technique ironically and very abstract.
One of the aspects of it is that you picture your character’s center and decide what the center is made of. The color, how it feels, all those things.
You decide where in the body that center is, where does their energy emanate from? And if I recall correctly, I had Yuno’s center placed out of my body.
Essentially I was trying to emulate abstractly the feeling of Yuki being her center. Like she’s pulling all of her energy from inside of him rather than from her own self.
So that gave me sort of an off kilter feeling because any other character usually, the center has to be somewhere in the body. And I made a very strange choice of making her center outside.
If I recall correctly, that is what I utilized because there’s a real dichotomy within her. You know, I rewatched the last two episodes recently and it was so crazy.
The imagery of the half moon was so perfect, because I really feel like there’s a split within her.
Yuno has this very cute and sweet side of her and then this truly psychotic side of her. The half moon was such beautiful imagery to portray exactly who I feel she is.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: One of the reasons The Future Diary resonates with so many people, past its brilliant premise, is the thin line between love, obsession & insanity. In Yuno’s own words’ “I’m trapped in a madhouse of a world that never lets me just be with you!” Even Yuki’s love for his parents drives him to madness. What are your thoughts?
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah, I think it is a really fine line and a very slippery slope to go from love to just insanity. Infatuation, love can be really dangerous if it’s not processed properly. And I think that can come from having an abusive childhood or having any other traumas that may have happened to you.
You sort of project all of that onto this person and they become the symbol of stability, In Yuki’s case it’s like the symbol of ‘He’s perfect, he’s normal, He’s the guy. He’s everything that I want in my life!’
It’s not even that Yuki is necessarily those things. It’s just what Yuno decided he was.
I think everyone at some point has caught themselves getting lost in love and doing things that are so out of character. Doing things that are kind of crazy.
I mean some people go so far as to be as crazy as Yuno and that is very sad & unfortunate. But yeah, it’s very relatable because of that. I think everyone has the capacity within them to go crazy in love.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: If you had the option of a “diary of future love” like Yuno’s, where you can see every action & emotion of your lover… Would you take it?
BRINA PALENCIA: No, hell no! (laughs) Absolutely not. I think that is the worst idea. I do not want to know every single action that my husband does every second of the day. We’re pretty autonomous.
We’re basically the opposite of Yuno & Yuki, like we’re not the type to text each other every second of the day.
I’m totally fine with him living his life.
And I think it’s important to feel comfortable with not knowing what your partner is doing every second of the day because that’s what makes for a healthy relationship.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: The Future Diary is mind altering as a series because it makes one actively aware that every single action taken counts. Did dubbing the series change anything, even subconsciously, about your career approach?
BRINA PALENCIA: I mean, Yuno definitely showed me how much depth a character could have. I love Yuno! I mean I’ve played characters where they’re just sort of obsessed with a boy and Yuno is by far my favorite because they give her a backstory.
Which gave her character so much more depth and you can understand why she clings on to Yuki. At least for me as an actor, it just gave me so much more to play off of and helped me understand that psyche a lot more.
And I think as far as Yuno changing my career approach, it stretched me in ways no other character had done before. It really challenged me deeply.
It was such a difficult character to play because of that balance of the light and the dark, the sweet and the psycho. Yuno is so well written though that it made it a lot easier for me to wrap my head around how to even approach it.
So The Future Diary taught me that if I do have characters like that, it’s easier if it’s not already in the script to kind of make it up for myself.
Just create some backstory that may or may not end up being true. But I just need something to hold onto to keep those moments grounded so it doesn’t turn into melodrama.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What did it mean to you to return to record The Future Diary: Redial and give fans that elusive happy ending? Was it difficult to jump right back into character as Yuno Gasai vocally after a couple of years?
BRINA PALENCIA: Was it difficult to jump into character in that version of her? It was kinda, it was a little bit jarring I guess to do something so positive with her. I remember feeling kind of confused the whole time.
I appreciated it on one hand to see Yuno be happy. But Yuno being happy felt kind of unnatural.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: The non-OVA ending after Yuki escapes his perfect dream life ‘jail’ only to have Yuno eliminate herself in his arms is one of the most depressing scenes in any show, anime or live action. How did you feel dubbing this moment?
BRINA PALENCIA: I love that ending! Because I am a glutton for punishment. It is incredibly depressing.
I just don’t know how else you could have ended it and still been true to the feel of the show. I think it had to be that tragic. There’s just no other way.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: There’s a scene close to the end of The Future Diary where Yuno is wounded on the ground screaming at Yuki on the phone “Please, you have to believe me!”
Your vocal delivery there is so raw and intense, you lose yourself in it. What do you draw on to deliver that kind of performance? Those are my favorite in acting.
BRINA PALENCIA: Thank you! I mean for me it really is just as simple as believing fully in the circumstances that are given. I truly don’t think it needs to be more complicated than that. It’s a life or death situation for Yuno.
And I mean in a life or death situation, that’s how I would sound, you know? So yeah, there’s not much more to it than just genuinely believing your circumstances.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: According to Adoption.com, Child Protection Services (CPS) reports that 78.3% of victims suffer neglect and 18.3% suffer physical abuse. Knowing this, what do you make of Yuno lashing out against her abusive parents?
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah, I mean it’s heartbreaking to think of any child being abused like that. It gave me a lot to play off of as an actor because I really understood where she was coming from.
I can’t imagine going through that kind of abuse as a kid. It would mess anybody up, you know? And so it was easier for me to have some really deep empathy for Yuno and for her search for love.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What was it like dubbing the infamous scene in which Yuno Gasai kidnaps Yuki and tries to force feed him? I feel it’s some of your best and most surreal work on The Future Diary.
BRINA PALENCIA: Thank you! It was so awkward. Honestly, there was something about that moment that really creeped me out.
I mean, I know it was supposed to and I had a pretty high tolerance for what Yuno could do. Even so I got creeped out. And that one in particular was very unnerving to me. It was a really tough one for me to be on her side.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: The revelation on The Future Diary that you can never bring back those that have died even as God, and that Yuno found out the hard way, was one of the biggest twists in anime. Was it mind blowing for you?
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah, it’s pretty huge! I knew the twist when we started, like I was told the twist when we started recording in the beginning… Just because there are moments in the beginning where technically Yuno already knows.
Zach Bolton was the ADR Director and he felt it was important that I knew what the character knew. So it was exciting to see everybody else find out, like the other actors.
I didn’t get to see their reactions in the booth because we recorded separately, but talking with them after the fact was pretty fun!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: The Future Diary was way, way ahead of its time, in many ways the precursor to shows like Squid Game. While Yuno Gasai is fondly remembered like Zero Two, do you feel the series would gain an even bigger following if released today?
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah! I think it’s actually getting a second life with streaming.
I’ve gotten a lot more love for that show online as of recently. Which makes me really happy because Yuno is one of the most challenging characters I’ve ever played!
So it’s nice to get some love for it. And I do think if The Future Diary would’ve premiered nowadays it probably would’ve been pretty big because it is such a good anime.
I think it could have gone mainstream because I have a lot of friends who don’t watch anime who ended up watching The Future Diary and they love it!
It’s so well written and so creative, so weird and interesting and has all those plot twists and turns.
So yeah, now that anime is becoming more mainstream, I think it’s a really great show for people who are watching anime for the first time.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thanks Brina!
BRINA PALENCIA: Thank you!
– Watch all 26 episodes of The Future Diary English Dub right now on Crunchyroll! Then pick up The Future Diary Complete Series Collection Blu-ray to watch the Redial OVA finale.
Follow Brina Palencia on Social Media
Listen to Brina Palencia singing in new ‘One Piece Film Red’ single
More Exclusive Anime Interviews on The Natural Aristocrat®
Be sure to read:
– Visit the Anime Interview section for more exclusive chats with the top voice acting talents in the English dubbing industry.