My Hero Academia interview with Justin Briner and Christopher Sabat

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Anime Expo is a great place to meet and interact with the voice actors and creators behind many of your favorite anime series. As one of my favorite new anime so far this year, I was excited for the chance to sit down and talk to the English voice actors for My Hero Academia, Justin Briner (Izuku Midoriya) and Christopher Sabat (All Might), about their experience working on season one.

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NR: So, how did both of you get involved with the series?

Justin: For me, it was a pretty simple audition and then, sort of a callback that I had. And then I was able to fall into the part.

Chris: For me, it was an audition, and then another audition, and then another audition. Colleen [Clinkenbeard] was really trying to get exactly the voice she was looking for. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the audition call at first, so I was sending mine in as opposed to auditioning in person, which is why this happened, otherwise she would have done it on the spot. I was really nervous because by that third audition I was actually starting to wonder if I wasn’t going to get this role, because there are very few roles in anime that my voice is pretty good for. So, when those come up I’m really excited because I know not too many other people can even make the sounds much less have any experience doing it. The last case was probably Garterbelt in Panty & Stocking, so I was kind of sweating bullets that I wasn’t going to get the role and it was going to go to someone like Patrick Seitz.

NR: Having done so many iconic voices in anime for years, how different was it voicing All Might?

Chris: Well, the cool thing about All Might is that juxtaposition between All Might and basically No Might (a.k.a. true form). What’s funny is the character is most notable for his giant kind of hero form. Colleen and I have discussed in great length exactly what that voice is and that is a voice that, yes, he beefs up because of his quirk. But I also believe that voice is artificial, that it’s a voice he puts on to make people feel happy. As opposed to No Might, which to us is his more natural speaking voice. So, to me that duality of his character is special, and the other thing I have to get used to because I usually get cast as people who don’t want to be part of the group, like Vegeta or Piccolo (Dragon Ball Z), Kurogane (Tsubasa Chronicle), or Zoro (One Piece). All of these guys that are in the group but aren’t at the same time. All Might is really a genuinely nice character. In his tired form, I have to work really hard to not make him sound bored or disinterested; I have to work real hard to keep his positivity levels up. It really differs from any other role for those reasons.

NR: Was Izuku, a.k.a. Deku, the character you know you wanted to voice, or was there another character that you may have wanted to be?

Justin: Pretty much instantly, as soon as I started researching and checking out the resources, Deku jumped out immediately. I think he is such an amazing character, I think his arc is incredible and how right off the bat you know what he is about, what he wants to do, and how he is going to get there no matter what. Like Chris [Sabat] just mentioned, this is a role I thought fell into my particular wheelhouse. So, a combination of, “I love this character” and “I think I can do this character,” led me to bring that energy into the audition.

Chris: This might not have been one of your questions, but I did want to mention it to someone today because I mentioned this to Paul [Fruge´II], the brand manager for this show, early this morning. He [Justin] is amazing as Izuku, Justin really is excellent as the character, he is so good. If there is one thing that I’ve heard, and the director has told me that your Achilles’ heel [looking to Justin], the thing you are really having to work hard on is the screaming. I mean the really intense high-level stuff. I think the irony that he [Justin] is really, really having to work on that, where it’s something that comes so naturally to me. I think that is super ironic to me and interested to see how after doing this show [Dragon Ball Z] for seven, eight, or ten years or however long you end up doing a show; where you are going to be at the end of it and end up meeting guys who have never done a convention like Justin, who has never done Anime Expo, or signed an autograph before. It will be interesting to see where he will be ten years from now.

NR: When you mention screams, things like Dakota Smash?

Justin: Any Smash, any scream, and Izuku is loud. He gets loud all the time, for various reasons. It does usually take a couple of takes to get the energy where it needs to be.

NR: If you had your choice of quirk, which would you like to have?

Chris: The last person who asked us, asked what quirk do we currently have, which blew my mind. [Justin laughing] I would love the quirk to be able to stop time. Even before the movie Groundhog Day came out with Bill Murray, I’ve always obsessed about the idea to stop time and wander around and do things, and see things that I am not supposed to. For me now, it’s using that time to learn another language, or have time to make more music. As I am getting older and busier, I’m having less time to do the things that I would love to do.

Justin: If I had any quirk, gosh. I think I’d love a teleportation power. Just this weekend, I had so much travel anxiety. Let me just get there, once I reach point B I will be totally fine, but between getting stuck in the plane or having to wait 30 minutes to get picked up or something. Just let me be where I need to go right now. [Laughing] And then I have time to prepare myself at home and snap I’m there.

Chris: Justin has never been to Los Angeles before, never been to Anime Expo before. This is blowing my mind.

Justin: It’s pretty overwhelming. [Laughing]

Chris: It’s actually fun for me, to see you witness this for the first time. I am so jaded by it. Like earlier, we were downstairs doing something for Funimation, where they were taking us around the convention hall and I had to do everything in my power not to sound like some negative Nancy having done this so many times. While Justin was like, “This is Amazing, there is so much stuff everywhere!” [Everyone laughing]

NR: Since both of you get to see the character from a different aspect, what is the message you feel that My Hero Academia gives off?

Justin: For me, it’s probably the message that Izuku is learning, never give up, keep trying. If you really want something, work hard and devote yourself to it, and you never know what is going to happen.

Chris: All Might is in a different category because he is the one passing his torch on, and I really think it represents to be able to see the good and potential that somebody has, even if it may not be completely obvious. What’s interesting is I have a weird, now that I am thinking about it, I have a weird quirk of being able to assess people very quickly. Like I have a pretty good EQ about knowing if it’s a good person or bad person, or what they like pretty quickly for some odd reason. As I am getting older and I’m a dad now, I am starting to think about passing things on and passing things down and giving up roles. I audition for things far less now.

If you haven’t watched My Hero Academia yet, you can catch the series on Funimation in Japanese or broadcast dub.

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.

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