An Interview with Anime Voice Actor Bryce Papenbrook
This year’s Auckland Armageddon Expo was an incredible delight, not only because of the show itself, but because of the amazing guests that was in attendance. One of the guests that I was thrilled to see was Bryce Papenbrook, the voice actor of so many well known and much loved characters in many video game and anime series. Not only does he play Eren Jaegar in the incredible anime that is Attack On Titan, but he also voices the lead characters in the equally popular series, Sword Art Online and Blue Exorcist, playing Kirito and Rin respectively.
Beyond Reality Media and Armageddon Expo really did me a solid by providing me the opportunity to not only meet Papenbrook, but also interview him, which I was just so excited to do. Not only was he friendly and an incredible delight to speak with, but he was also very forthcoming with all his answers to our questions and made the entire experience just so special. What a lovely guy!
Below is a transcript of the enjoyable chat I had with him.
What’s it like lending your voice to an anime character? Are there any aspects that you find challenging?
Bryce Papenbrook: “You’re always dealing with sync. You’re actually watching the show as your record and you have to work line by line. The goal is to speak while your character is talking so that you don’t end up with a weird delay like Godzilla (laughs). It’s always a challenge to fit the gaps and make it convincing. It’s also my goal not to copy the Japanese performance and to make the role my own.”
You play the male lead in some very popular anime shows like Sword Art Online, Attack On Titan and Blue Exorcist. Do you have a particular preference on the kind of roles you take?
Bryce Papenbrook: “It’s always nice to play a lead because you can really learn about the character on a much deeper level. I’ve been very lucky to have played a few lead roles and it’s been incredible to really get a sense for the character and follow them on their journey. That being said, it’s equally nice to play a lesser known character and be able to bring something unique to them as well.
I always like to leave a recording with something from my character and with Blue Exorcist in particular, I always leave with a smile on my face after playing Rin because he’s such a fun character to play. With season two being announced five years after the first season, it was just such a thrill, knowing I get to reprise the role again and learn so much more about Rin.”
What does the ‘dubbing’ process entail with anime shows and films? Are you expected to watch the Japanese version beforehand to get an idea of the show?
Bryce Papenbrook: “Most of the time you have no idea what show you’re working on and you only really find out on the day. I was a fan of Attack On Titan even before I was attached to the show, so I had watched the series and knew what I was getting into but even though I had watched the entire series, I’d never seen the words I was going to say before recording because there is a long process beforehand. It’s all translated from Japanese and then it’s adapted so that the sync does fit. So even though you know the story, you only really find out what you’re going to be saying on the day and it’s all about going with your gut and being in the moment as much as you can be.”
Who do you think would win in a fight, Kirito or Eren?
Bryce Papenbrook: “That’s a good question. Outside of a video game, I’d have to say Eren. He’s just got the skills to survive and he’s turns into a Titan. You can’t really beat that (laughs). Outside of a game, Kirito doesn’t quite have the same gusto as he does in game. If we’re taking in game, Kirito wins hands down.”
Do you have any parting words for your fans before we conclude our session?
Bryce Papenbrook: “You know, most anime shows, they end after season one without any kind of inkling whether it’ll return for a second season and the important thing to always look for is the after credits. Always wait till the after credits because there’s always going to be something major and important in there that you don’t want to miss. Like with Attack On Titan, Eren dies in episode five and I originally didn’t watch the after credits and when I talked with Josh Grelle, who voices Armin, he asked “Did you watch the after credits scene?” and I said “no” and he was like “okay, I’m not going to tell you anything more then.” So I went back and rewatched that episode and watched the after credits scene five times and was just so hyped up for the next episode after that. It was a lot of fun. So yeah, make sure to wait till after the credits before you turn the TV off (laughs).”