Tatsuki Fujimoto blew away the world in 2018 with his writing and illustrations in a shōnen manga immortalized as “Chainsaw Man.” As this season’s most popular anime and easily the most highly anticipated show of the year, “Chainsaw Man” has been cutting down the competition with brutal gore, raunchy humor and bittersweet themes. The anime follows protagonist Denji — portrayed by Ryan Colt Levy in the English dub — and his demon dog Pochita — played by Lindsay Seidel in the English dub. Along the way, they meet devil hunter Makima — played by Suzie Yeung — and blood fiend Power — played by Sarah Wiedenheft. Along with the dubbing director, Mike McFarland, who is separately famous for his English voice acting of Master Roshi from Dragon Ball Z Kai, The Mercury was invited to a private press panel to meet and interview these five rising talents.
Is there added pressure when it comes to portraying characters that people are highly anticipating for an anime adaptation?
Ryan Colt Levy:
“Exactly, everything Ryan said, he describes it perfectly.”
“Yeah, even though I’m not acting in this show, it’s the same for me, like it’s the responsibility … I have to take the information and then trust in my experience, in the way that I process things that I think, y’know, this is what I would do. This is how I would work with this material. This is how I would work with the show in order to get the fun and zaniness and heart and everything in the manga. This is how I think all the pieces should fit to make that path. I mean, work based off of all the materials that are presented to me and the one path to have to work with and wonderful animation that will provide the art or do our best with what we have.”
Ryan Colt Levy:
“I’ll take a moment and say that we are all incredibly lucky.”
“Oh my god, yeah we are.”
“Oh yeah, one hundred percent.”
Ryan Colt Levy:
“There’s so much heart and nuance and it’s not just ‘go for an easy laugh.’ It’s about really getting the moments right and there’ll be times it will take a few days on the tiniest of reactions because it’s like, still gotta get that one layer to it … and as someone who loves this so much, and he [Mike McFarland] knows that I feel so safe with him. And I feel so grateful that we have someone who cares as much as we do about making this special. So we’re really lucky for this team.”
How did y’all get your career started in voiceover? Is there any advice you can give for for hiring or getting themselves into professional work auditions for voice actors who are attending college?
“The only thing I’ll throw out as far as a really quick non esoteric answer is D Bradley Baker’s website. It has tons of information, which is just https://iwanttobeavoiceactor.com/. Some people think it’s like a cop-out answer, but it’s like, it’s something you could take with you, you can look it up and he can research it and look through it. And he updates it all the time. And it’s all correct. It’s from multiple perspectives, plus ZONE as the spearhead guide on the whiteboard.”
“It’s literally like the encyclopedia for us.”
“Yeah it doesn’t matter if you’re newer or if you’re professional. There’s so much, if I had discovered that when I was like 16 or 17 I would have been like ‘What is this? How does this exist? This is free?’”
Ryan Colt Levy:
“It’s funny because I will recommend it to a lot of people and I get a look because of just how it’s phrased and, I’m just like, trust me, just look at it.”
“Yeah, I swear to you, it’s just the best tool.”
“We’ve put out the tools for y’all.”
Ryan Colt Levy:
“But Mike is right. It’s very much like we all have a different story. I was a musician. I mean, where I came from, I was obsessed with film as a kid. I wanted to be a director and actor and on camera or theater, all this stuff. I never thought voiceover was even a route for me. I was a musician in bands for almost 20 years, and I thought that was my life, and then I moved to LA and things shifted around. I was able to rekindle my love with acting and just took classes again and literally shot short films on camera. The director was a voice actor and just said ‘hey kid you’re so good at this job.’ And I said I don’t have a reel yet, you know, I know there are certain avenues to be a professional, so he was like, here’s a producer reel. So in that and, then like Mike said, I literally just started emailing different places knocking on doors. Being like ‘Hi, here’s my stuff, I’m new, maybe like you put me on a roster or maybe an audition, y’know no biggie,’ like it was kind of expecting I’ve never hear from them or anything. And now I voice for them yeah. It’s also like you know, respecting also that it’s not just you showing up it’s all of these other people. With different jobs and things that need to be respected of their time and energy and all that and you know, just kind of going in and not expecting anything but wanting to give everything and just hoping for the best. But there’s room for new people all the time.
So something we think is part of the beauty of “Chainsaw Man,” is how flawed characters are portrayed throughout the series. We want to ask, what’s the difference between portraying these flawed characters compared to portraying a character who’s meant to be by design, maybe more instantly likable?
Ryan Colt Levy
“It’s so much more fun playing characters that are a mess because they can be like you in real life. You can ask [the cast], I’m a mess. Y’know, living life is messy. For all of us, it is a messy experience. We have every kind of emotion raging in us, we have relationships left and right in every direction. It is a constant flux and feelings and changing and becoming a new version of yourself and growth and discovery and loss, anger and all the things. There’s no such thing as a clean existence, so getting to play and exist in a world of characters like this feels so much more genuine.”
“Yeah, I think it’s a chance to be more honest and more open. It’s the difference between hanging out with someone 24/7 and seeing what they’re like, or I only know this person from their five seconds on Instagram. Only living the best life and they’re never had any problems and always the best. Yeah, like we’re just shine, shine, shine constantly. That is not interesting to me. I would rather know everybody’s everything and it makes them more worth knowing.”