Both Bryce Papenbrook and Trina Nishimura were in attendance at MCM Birmingham Comic Con. The two voice the lead characters on the hit anime series Attack on Titan, with Bryce as Eren Jaeger, and Trina as Mikasa Ackerman, two teenagers that enlist in the Survey Corps to take on the giant Titans. With the anime still as popular as when it aired, and the second season due later this year, the Saturday of the convention saw a packed MCM Theatre as the duo answered questions from fans of the show.
Asked on how they felt about the news that Funimation would be doing live simulcasts for the second season of Attack on Titan, Trina described it as good and bad, citing how she doesn’t get to know the characters more intimately, since she doesn’t get to spend as many hours with them. “For example, with Attack on Titan, when Bryce would come in from California, he would record for… how many hours a day?”
“It was like eight hours a day,” answered Bryce.
“But I think you get to know your character more that way, right?” asked Trina.
Bryce responded that he was “living and breathing” Eren Jaeger.
“I would leave the studio, fly back home and still be angry, then scream at people in traffic,” said Bryce of the experience.
Given the numerous twists and turns in Attack on Titan, the two were then asked about the moments in the anime that made them go, “Oh my God!” Trina warned the audience that they will be discussing spoilers, as she went on to discuss the moment when Eren gets eaten. She turned to Bryce and said, “In the next episode, you don’t come back! I was like ‘Oh no, I have no job security at all! They just Game of Thronsed you!’”
“Getting eaten at the very beginning of the show, there’s just this shock value,” explained Bryce as he recounted the moment Eren’s mother dies. “It’s just raining blood on his face and screaming, ‘MUM!’ It’s terrifying.”
“That’s awful,” added Trina. She then asked the audience how they would describe the show in a sentence, starting with, “Attack on Titan is…”
At this point someone in the audience shouted out, “MESSED UP!”
“That’s a good one,” laughed Bryce.
Using the same principle, Bryce was then asked how he would describe Sword Art Online (in which he voices Kirito). “So, Sword Art Online is epic,” said Bryce.
Trina was asked to describe Tokyo Ghoul (in which she voices Misato Gori). She said, “So, Tokyo Ghoul is dope.”
A question from the audience had the duo being asked if they were any closer to a release date for the second season of Attack on Titan. “Here’s the thing,” said Bryce. “They don’t tell voice actors anything! Because we talk for a living, we’ll probably say the wrong thing.”
“All the time,” added Trina.
“So they just don’t tell us,” said Bryce. He then explained how they normally come across news about the shows they are working on via social media.
“Sometimes the companies will announce things, before they even tell us,” added Trina. Of Attack on Titan‘s second season she said, “I’m optimistic that it’s going to be epic.”
When asked on what made them want to get into voice acting, Trina began by saying how she had been acting in theatre since she was nine years old. She then went to college with aspirations to be a lawyer. “That didn’t work out at all,” she said. “A friend of mine who knew that I used to act told me about an audition for animation.
It was like, ‘Hey Trina, do you want to do this audition?’
I was like, ‘No. I’m going to be a grown up now. I’m very important. I’m going to be a lawyer. I’m going to be very serious.’
She was like, ‘It pays.’
I was like, ‘When is it?’
So I auditioned and the acting bug bit me again. Ten years later, here I am.”
Bryce explained that he was brought up around voice acting since both his parents were voice actors. His first foray into voice acting came when he was eight years old, during which time his father was working on the TV show Power Rangers, voicing Rito Revolto.
“On this particular day when he was working, at the end of the session, the director’s like, ‘Hey, we need a kid’s voice,’” recalled Bryce. “My dad said, ‘He’s a kid. Go in the booth.’” Bryce went on to say that he never thought voice acting would become a profession, as he went to college, hoping to study law in the future. “As I was graduating college, I booked a job. Then I booked another one, I booked another one. I thought, ‘Law school can wait, I’ll make funny voices in the booth.’ And I’ve never looked back.”
They were then asked who their favourite characters were on Attack on Titan. Without any hesitation, Trina chose Sasha (which also prompted one person in the audience to shout out, “YES!”).
Bryce was split between two characters. “I really like Levi,” he said. “But I also really like Derpy Titan.” For those unfamiliar, he then started imitating the movements of the Derpy Titan. “He’s a great character too.”
“I think it’s different for every actor,” said Bryce. “For me, I try to take inspiration from the original. It’s almost like a guideline. Like, this is what someone else’s take of the character was, and then I create my own character.”
Trina agreed with Bryce, highlighting Yui Ishikawa’s performance of Mikasa in the original Japanese. “She had a rather different portrayal on Mikasa than I did, which is totally cool,” said Trina. “Our job as dub actors is to pick the heart of the character, the soul of the show, the original intent of what the creators wanted to bring across.” She then explained how in achieving this they were guided very well by their adr director, Mike McFarland. “It’s a lot of inspiration from the Japanese actors, and it’s also a lot of direction from the director, and then what we bring to it.”
Asked on what the weirdest thing was that happened to them while recording Attack on Titan, Bryce recounted a story on how recording a scream for Eren didn’t sound quite like it should. “This pole goes through Eren’s shoulder, and of course he doesn’t pull it out, he goes the other direction. As he does it, he lets out this big nasty scream.” Before recording this moment Bryce went out for lunch at the restaurant Mooyah. “I ordered a burger and I also ordered large sweet potato fries, which I split with Mike. It was literally a tray of sweet potato fries in a mountain. So I ate the burger and the mountain of sweet potato fries.”
When Bryce got back in the booth, he had to record Eren’s scream. “Here’s what the scream sounded like when I tried it first, after eating this mountain of sweet potato fries,” he said, at which point he gave a weak scream which sounded more like a yawn. Trina commented on how it sounded more like a cow dying. Bryce said, “[Mike] looks at me through the glass and goes, ‘Yeah… let’s try that again.’ I physically could not get enough oxygen into my body to scream like Eren Jaeger.”
Trina noted how her weird experience came from how emotionally draining it was voicing Mikasa. “She feels so much, she’s so dedicated and she is so loving, but she doesn’t show it,” said Trina of the character. “Feeling all those feelings, keeping them in, then performing, a lot of the time it was really draining on me. I’d just get into this really sad, dark place, because she is, at her core, super traumatised. So every once in a while when I get in this really dark place, the director Mike McFarland would say, ‘Trina, look at the screen.’ I’d look up and he’d drag over a video of kittens… just playing. Or puppies. Or little bunnies, or baby tigers rolling around. And I’d be like, ‘This is so much better! Everyone’s okay. No one is going to die.’”
A question for Bryce had him being asked if it was him who also voices Eren after he transforms into a Titan. Bryce confirmed that he voiced all iterations of Eren in the anime. “I made some really interesting noises as Titan Eren,” he said. “It was like a morbid spirit, he’s just so angry. He’s hurling himself forward like a gorilla.” Bryce gave an example of the gorilla-style noises, and said, “That was really fun.”
When asked how old they thought the characters Eren and Mikasa are, they both felt that they were in their mid-teens in the majority of the anime. “I find that I play a lot of characters right in that age range,” said Bryce. “I think it’s because my voice hasn’t changed since middle school.” This caused Trina to laugh so much that she very nearly dropped her microphone.
Before the panel closed, Trina asked her friend Annie to come to the stage. Since it was Annie’s 19th birthday, Trina asked the audience to sing Happy Birthday to her… which they did! Annie also received a few goodies from stage host Stuart Claw.
By Shalimar Sahota