While at Crunchyroll Expo 2018 we got the chance to chat with Clifford Chapin, voice of Conney Springer (Attack on Titan) and also Bakugo (My Hero Academia).
Interviewer: William Lever
Toonami Squad: Hello, this is William Lever with the Toonami Squad. Here we have Clifford Chapin, voice of Conney Springer (Attack on Titan) and also Bakugo (My Hero Academia).
Clifford Chapin: Mhm.
TS: How are you doing today, sir?
CC: I’m doing great, how are you?
TS: I’m doing well, thank you for being here.
CC: No problem, anytime!
TS: Let’s see, we’ll start right away. First question, who or what inspired you to choose these careers in the Anime Industry?
CC: What really inspired me, it’s kind of a funny story, I wanted to be a Director since I was about five years old. Actually, I decided that after watching Power Rangers for the first time.
I remember the first episode of Power Rangers, debuting afterschool when I was very little, I was only about five. I was really into it, I kept thinking, “I want to make stuff like this!” Then when you get old, you start to learn about that’s Japanese, and this is how it’s done and the adaptation process. Along the way, I’ve always had an interest in cartoons. There were some Cartoons that were very important to my life such as, Beast Force Transformers was one of them, a big favorite of mine still to this day. A lot of stuff like that probably stuck with me. Dragon Ball Z, tons of franchises. And as I got older, I started recognizing voices from show-to-show. I would realize, “Oh, this is Garry Chalk! Garry Chalk voices Optimus Prime and Optimus Primal and all these different characters.” Then, “Oh, this is Scott McNeil! And Scott McNeil voiced all these guys and he’s in Inuyasha, and Inuyasha is voiced by Richard Ian Cox.” I started realizing, “Oh, there’s people doing this!” and I also started realizing that when certain actors were in certain shows, then I could start to anticipate other certain actors. So I was starting to recognize there was a regional difference. I was recognizing, “Oh, this is the Canadian group, this is the California group, this is the Texas group.” If I’m hearing Steve Blum in something, then odds are I’m going to hear Yuri Lowenthal. Those sorts of actors that are out there. If Chris Sabat’s in something then maybe I’m going to hear Justin Cook. So I had this really analytical process to it, as I got older, it just became more and more refined. And sort of all those things kind of led to the same place. After I graduated from College with a Film degree, I really wanted to go into voice over because some of the film opportunities that were available to me at the time, they weren’t great where I lived. I worked on a lot of Reality TV, which was not super fun. So I ended up pursing voice over, over it.
TS: Very nice! Let’s see, second question. You’ve been working for and/or with Funimation for about five years now, correct?
CC: Yeah! Five in a half, almost six.
CC: Thank you so much!
TS: Where do you see yourself in another five?
CC: I have no idea! Hopefully, if anything, it’s expanding into other markets. I’d like to maybe start getting to do VO for other regions a little bit. Here or there, such as, Katilin Glass is a good friend of mine and she will travel around, as well as some of the other actors and directors involved with Funimation. They’ll travel to other areas and get to be in some other projects. I’d really like to be doing that at some point. Right now, I’m an ADR Director for Funimation and I hope to still be an ADR Director for Funimation and maybe getting to voice other great characters!
TS: Right on! Very good! This really bridges us to the next question. How much more involved are you when you’re either ADR Director and/or Script Writing compared to Voice Acting?
CC: The most involved is Directing, for sure. I use to Script write, I don’t do it anymore because I didn’t have any free time. When I did acting, writing, and directing, I had no free time. In fact, there was a period in my life where I had a day job that I would get up at 6’o clock in the morning. Then go to Funimation to act for any show that I was in. From there, direct until 10’o clock at night, then come home and script write for two hours and go to bed at midnight. Then get up at 6’o clock the next morning and do it again. So for a very brief period of time, I had so little bit of a life. ADR Directing is definitely the most involved because you have to oversee the whole project. You are crafting with the actors, their performances, and depending on the show, you might need to oversee the script a little bit more. Such as, I directed Darling in the FranXX earlier this year, one of my favorite shows, probably my favorite project that I’ve worked on thus far. Every single week, because we had multiple writers on that show, I was very concerned with the content and making sure that the dialogue was true to the Japanese. I could tell that any line that was said at any point in the show, could turn out to be the most important line in the show. Every week, I would also oversee the script and revise it and make sure it was very true to the Japanese translation so that we were getting this very authentic product from the dub. So ADR Directing has the most extensive process of the bunch.
TS: Alright, cool! Let’s see, next, regarding voice acting, how do you normally prepare for one of your roles?
CC: I wish it was a little bit more involved but it’s actually pretty simple because a lot of the times I get called in for something and I don’t know what it’s going to be. So there’s very little preparations for me on the front end, outside of just doing warm-ups, scales, and tongue twisters and such to try and warm up my mouth in order to do the job. But going into it, I never know what’s going to happen. Maybe in the old days, I would try to watch the show ahead of time, but now, with the simuldubs, there’s almost no window for us to do that. I can’t even watch the show ahead of time to know what’s going to happen. A lot of that relies on the Director to lead you the right way.
TS: Wow, so you really- definitely do need a well-grounded team!
CC: That’s exactly right!
TS: That’s very nice! Let’s see, fifth question. What is one of your favorite genres in the Anime Industry that you enjoy working on?
CC: Man, my favorite genre? I really like comedy, I like getting to do something crazy. I’m kind of known for being a “yeller”, I get cast in a lot of yelling roles. Which can lend itself well with comedy sometimes for more bombastic things. I really like drama though, to be honest! Like I said, my favorite project that I worked on thus far, is probably Darling in the FranXX. That was such a heart-felt and emotional series. Getting to bring that to life in English, was amazing. To work with the actors on their performances, that was an incredible experience. I tend to really like Drama personally. Comedy is great, people like it, have a great time with it but the stuff that really resonates with people it the stuff that comes from the heart.
TS: Ok. Let’s see, we’ll be going into a little of My Hero Academia questions now.
TS: How is your relationship with your colleague, Justin Briner? Given you’re character rivalry.
CC: Given the character rivalry! Justin and I are surprisingly, are pretty good friends! We get along really well. We have a lot of common interest. We joke around a ton! It’s really funny, this year, we’ve been to a whole bunch of conventions together. We just kind of lean into the character rivalry, we have fun with it and joke around. I’ve worked with him as an actor, as a director. He’s and immensely talented individual, and just an all-around great guy! Way better than Deku and Bakugo.
TS: That’s certainly great to hear!
CC: Yeah! You would hope so! Everyone can rest easy.
TS: What has been the most challenging part of voicing Bakugo?
CC: I feel like the most challenging part is something everybody expects, is how much he yells. The rage that is within Bakugo is very tasking on my voice. Especially early in the show. There were very few sessions where I would walk out of the booth and not have lost my voice along the way. A lot of the screaming, especially the Sports Festival arc. Lots and lots of screaming, recording the movie, lots and lots of screaming. Typically, that’s the hardest part, honestly. Sometimes trying to exhibit Bakugo’s more subtle emotions because there’s a lot of intricacies to his yelling. Sometimes when he’s yelling, it’s a happier yell but he still sounds angry. So walking that line for Bakugo is typically the greater challenge.
TS: So you did say there was some differences with the movie compared to the episodic series.
TS: Can you elaborate more on those differences?
CC: Without giving too much away. Bakugo screams a lot in that movie. The first two hours of recording for that movie, the first hour was broken up into two, half-hour sessions and at the end of each of them, I had lost my voice because Bakugo’s screaming at the beginning when he first enters the scene in the movie is so harsh and loud. It is full tilt Bakugo, right at the beginning. Man, it was rough! I was actually kind of worried, “I hope the whole movie’s not like this because we’ll never get through this.” It’s real funny actually, as a side tangent, a few years ago, I was at another convention, where I met the Seiyu for Boruto, and she is friends with the Seiyu for Bakugo. When she found out that I was Bakugo, she said to me, “How is your throat?” I was like, “Ah! He must have similar problems with how much he has to scream!” It was pretty funny, I felt the bond for a moment.
TS: Now let’s switch gears for a minute.
TS: How was your overall experience with the first episode of Pop Team Epic?
CC: Pop Team Epic, it’s so fleeting! The very beginning of Pop Team Epic starts off with the sequence of Hoshiiro Girldrop, where I seem to play the main character of this non anime.
It was just so funny to come in and do this thing and I even tweeted afterwards, “I’m so excited to be playing the main character of Hoshiiro Girldrop!” A lot of people knew that it was not a real thing but some people got really excited and thought it was going to be real and it’s not. So it’s real funny, it’s just such a great joke to mislead like that. Then all of a sudden at episode 11,
I had to do the episode preview because each episode preview for the next episode is about Hoshiiro Girldrop instead of Pop Team Epic. I had to come in and do this, “This time on Hoshiiro Girldrop!” That was really hard because I’m talking about all these emotional experiences and things that character has gone through that we have not gone through. There were very convoluted and confusing sentences, trying to explain this is what had happened and I learned these things, they were so involved. Making sense of the sentences was difficult but it was really funny, I thought it was a great joke. The only thing I think could’ve been funnier is if episode 11 of Pop Team Epic had really been a Hoshiiro Girldrop episode. The second to last episode of an anime that we’ve never seen, like all the first ten episodes were Pop Team, 11 was Hoshiiro Girldrop, and then 12 was Pop Team again. So you just have this one random episode of plot in the middle of a show. I think that would’ve been hysterical, that’s the only thing I think Pop Team Epic could’ve considered doing differently. Just for another joke, “And then Horshiiro Girldrop!” It was very funny joke that they play.
TS: Let’s see, when you’re not working on any series. What are some of your hobbies?
CC: Hobbies? Outside of working… I like gaming a lot. I just played through all eight Megaman X games, for the new collection. I Platinum’d both collections!
CC: Yeah! It was good! It felt good! But I like gaming alot, that’s pretty much my biggest thing. Trying to catch up on movies and shows a little bit but generally the common stuff. I like reading
Comics. I bring comics when I travel and such, because when I’m on planes, that’s kind of a bigger opportunity for me to read too. Mostly that stuff.
TS: Okay, right on! Let’s see, let’s get into, not so much NDA but upcoming. With A Certain Magical Index III in the works, are you hoping to reprise your role as Shiage –
CC: Hamazura. I am hoping to. That’s an interesting one, we don’t- at least as far as I know right on, I have no idea if we’re going to do this third season. I’m hoping we do! It was really funny because Hamazura is apparently a very important character to the franchise but he doesn’t show up until the last episode of season two. So when I came in to record, “Okay, cool, this guy is just in this one episode.” When it was announced that I was playing this character, people just freaked out and were really excited. I was like, “Oh, people really like this one-episode guy.” Then it just turns out he’s really important to the overall story. He’s even on the DVD box of season two and everything. Oh man, I had no idea! So I am excited, if we do get to do the third season, which I finally get to experience this character that people have been excited about for a long time, which I’ve barely spent any time with. So I’m hoping, here’s hoping!
TS: Very nice! To just kind of wrap everything up, any final words of advice or encouragement that you can give to viewers?
CC: Generally? I just say go for it! When you go into artist careers, there’s a lot of people that are going to tell you that this is hard, and that you might not make it. Maybe you won’t, but there’s no reason you can’t try for it. You just got to have determination, you got to be ready for it too. I really think that everybody can make it! So if you guys want to do it, go for it!
TS: Thank you very much for those words, I’m sure everybody’s going to appreciate those. Other than that, thank you so much again for this interview and opportunity!
CC: Thanks for having me, man!
TS: And I hope you enjoy the rest of Crunchyroll Expo!
CC: Alright, thanks so much!
*Disclaimer: These are Toonami Squad transcripts of an interview that took place at Crunchyroll Expo 2018 at the San Jose Convention Center, with voice actor Clifford Chapin. These are not official transcripts and were produced by Toonami Squad as accurately as possible. Any mistakes are unintentional and are no means of misrepresentation and/or slander.
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