To continue the recap of Game&Comic’s Anime Boston 2014 panel interviews, next up are some words from Josh Grelle and Matthew Mercer. Josh Grelle is most known for his work as Armin (Attack on Titan), Kuranosuke (Princess Jellyfish), and Kyohei (Wallflower) and Matthew Mercer is most known for his work as Levi (Attack on Titan), Tygra (Thundercats), and Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil video game).
What was it like to have the opportunity to work on Attack on Titan?
Honestly, it was a dream come true. When I started voice acting, I knew that I wanted to work with something big in anime within the first 10 years; Attack on Titan is it. And getting casted as Armin was more than I ever could have hoped. The character of Armin has challenged me and really made me grow as a voice actor. I have always had trouble crying as a voice actor, but Armin has gotten me as close as ever, which was a big accomplishment for me.
Where do you get your inspiration for Armin even though he isn’t a strong character?
Well, to be honest, I consider Armin to be very strong. He may not be as physically tough as other characters, but his only weakness is his self confidence. It was the coolest thing ever as a voice actor to help overcome Armin’s weakness.
For Armin, I drew inspiration upon past experiences. I struggled with depression and esteem issues as a kid, which are pretty prevelant in Armin’s character. Fortunately, I don’t have those problems anymore, but I was able to recall them to help form the character.
How did you prepare for the role of Armin? Manga? Japanese anime?
Regarding the manga, I have not read it. I didn’t want to get ahead of what Armin knows so I have stayed away from it. However, I watched, or rather, marathoned, the Japanese version of the show long before auditions. I was pretty familiar with the story prior to auditions, but I was unsure as to which role I was reading for at the time. I tried to capture the original Japanese Armin as much as possible so the viewer can have the same experience in a different language.
Normally, I watch the Japanese version of a show if the Director allows it. If not, I try to find the manga.
Favorite voice acting moment?
There are two that come to mind. I met some people from the Fort Hood incident, who told me watching Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple helped them overcome some depression issues from the tragedy. That was a really humbling experience. The second one was when I went to dinner with the original Japanese creator of Wallflower. Via a translator, he told me that even though he couldn’t understand what I was saying, he felt that I had captured the essence of my character (Kyohei Takano).
Do you prefer serious or comedic roles?
I love to play the zaney cooky villains because there are no rules with it!
How does it feel to be cast as Levi?
Daunting *laughs*. He has a pretty defined pre-established fanbase so it was daunting to take on the role.
I really fell in love with the show. I tried to capture Levi’s cold, removed, methodical ways as a solo individual. He enjoys the art of titan killing, but he still shows emotion with characters he really cares about.
Levi is a rogue within military structure, so it was really great getting to work with the character.
What were the standout moments of your career?
Probably Resident Evil 6 or Thundercats. Resident Evil has always been a favorite game of mine and I was Tygra in Thundercats! How cool is that!
I also totally geeked out when McFarland (Direct0r) called me to tell me I got the role of Levi. I was pretty excited and think I started yelling in excitement when he told me.
What is it like to work with video games vs. television?
Well, there’s a great dynamic when you get to work with other people. But, voice acting in anime is really solitary and filled with technical elements. It’s usually just me, alone, in a recording studio and the technical elements involve different expressions, matching lip flapping, and stuff like that.
Video games, on the other hand, are really fun to piece together to make the final product. However, the thing with video games is that they can be incredibly strenuous on your voice. In anime, there is usually a natural progression in conversation. If I’m in an argument, then my voice will build up over time. When recording video games, recording sessions can be all over the place. I could be screaming the first minute I am there and whispering the next. It can be really hard to keep up with that kind of voice acting.
Who is your cartoon character crush?
*laughs* Hrmmm, I would have to say Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII…definitely Tifa.