AnimeNEXT 2013: American Voice Actors panel

Greg Ayres started playing music (as he is wont to do during autograph sessions…which he thought it was) while waiting for the others to arrive. Chris Cason was already there, but since we were waiting for Michele Knotz and Bill Rogers, they decided to have an actual autograph session. I used this chance to ask Greg my questions about No.6….

    Q: I was so happy that you took on the role as Shion. I was surprised since though it is a main character, the series is not that big. You’re a big name voice actor. What made you want to work with this series?
    A: I wanted to work on No.6 the minute I heard about it. I loved this role.

    Q: Did you know about the novels?
    A: No, a friend of mine told me about the show. The premise, idea of the show was so cool. Some people thought it was a yaoi title, but it’s not. I really love it. Even if people are turned off by that weird bromance those guys have, the story is so hardcore.

    Q: How do you think Shion felt about Nezumi?
    Q: I wanted to punch him at the end of the show when he walked away. I think it is really neat relationship that they have. Shion feels very strongly for him to go along with him. He lived with him for so long but Nezumi wants to destroy No.6 even though everything that Shion cares for is in No.6.

After the short impromtu signing, they started the panel. The guests all talked about how they weren’t sure whether it was an autograph session or a panel in the first. (Guest relations?!?) But being the awesome people that they were, they just went with it.

    Chris: My name is Chris. Pause for applause. Thank you! *audience cheers* I do voice acting stuff, directing stuff and writing stuff. I’ve done Fullmetal Alchemist, I’m Roman Empire in Hetalia, Mr. Popo, Tien and other stuff.
    Michele: You didn’t mention the very important role you played.
    Chris: The mega awesome one?
    Michele: The mega awesome one.
    Chris: Oh yeah, in Street Fighter x Tekken, I was Bad Box Art Mega Man.
    Greg: You didn’t tell them who you are in Borderlands 2 right?
    Chris: No….
    Greg: How many Borderlands 2 people in the room? *fans raised hands* How many of you found McShooty Face guy?
    Chris: *waves* Hi! *audience laughs* I’m sure he must be Irish!
    Moderator: Are you going to tell them, ‘Shoot me in the face’?
    Chris: No!
    Michele: *in an Irish accent* ‘Shoot me in the face!’

    Greg: Do you want to go next, Michele?
    Michele: Do you want to go next?
    Greg: It doesn’t matter to me…I’ll go. My name is Greg Ayres. I’m a voice actor for alot of different people, I do alot of different stuff. I’ve been doing this for 14 years now. Probably my most recent project that has been getting alot of attention is a show called Deadman Wonderland. *audience cheers* I play a crybaby, Ganta Igarashi. One of my new projects that I’m most proud of in a long time-I think it’s playing tonight at 6 o’clock-is a film called Colorful. I’m not going to tellyou that’s it’s going to be happy from the beginning, but it’s a great film. Been doing this for a long time so I’ve gotten to work with people that I used to be big fans of: Johnny Yong Bosch. My brother [Christopher Ayres] is the director so I get to be directed by my brother who is the voice of Frieza from Dragon Ball Z Kai. I get to do alot of stuff. Some of my favorite are Sengoku and Saiyuki, little Negi Springfield, Heihachi from Samurai 7…and stuff. One of the Hitachin twins in Ouran Host Club. *audience cheers* And Tomoki from Heaven’s Lost Property: we call it ‘Heaven’s Lost Panties’. *audience laughs* Highschool of the Dead and Clannad. I’m sure I’m leaving out a bunch of stuff but I was a fanboy turned voice actor. I was the guy that used to hate dubs. So it’s funny since that’s what I do for a living now. Once upon a time, it was very cool to hate dubs. Yeah, I was that kid. I also staff for conventions. And I have a prairie dog. Her name is Pico. She’s like the fourth prairie dog that I’ve had. *audience awwws* She is spoiled rotten.

    Chris: You bring some ‘Q’…
    Greg: …and we’ll bring some ‘A’.
    *eyes turns to Michele Knotz…who was not introduced yet* *audience laughs as Chris flails*
    Chris: Oh my god! I did that! Listen! Let’s bring this car around…watch! Everybody, Michele Knotz! *applauds* *starts singing in a high pitched voice* ‘And I-yiai-yiai will always….’

    Michele: I’m Michele Knotz, I voice Jessie in Pokemon. *audience applauds* With Chris Cason, I voice Alisa Bosconovich and Roll in Street Fighter x Tekken. And I voice a bunch of different other anime and stuff. Look in the guidebook, you can see my credits. Lots of Pokemon…. *starts listing pokemon she’s voiced* Um…you can also go to and listen to my demos and look at all the pictures and all the characters that I voiced. I do books and commercials and stuff.
    Chris: Yay!
    Michele: Yay…I do other work besides anime. Telephone prompts: ‘Thank you for calling Mastercard!’
    Chris: That’s you?!? *audience laughs*
    Michele: Yes! That’s totally me! People hate me when I do that! *exasperated* ‘Oh my gosh, I just want to talk to a person and I have to talk to you!’ ‘Please press 1 for-NO!’ *audience laughs*
    Greg: A voice actor friend of mine works in Dallas. I called my friend up and I’m pretty sure that Clarine Harp is the voice of their answering machine. *audience laughs* My alarm is going off….
    Michele: Now? ‘You have to go to a panel.’
    Greg: I have 40 alarms set just in case I sleep through one of the other 30….

Time for some ‘Q’! Since there’re no mics, the fans step up to shout their question. The moderator quips, encouraging them to step to the front. “Nobody bites…I think…”

    Fan: …Except for maybe Greg.
    Michele: Oh my….
    Fan: I’ve been to cons with you before and given you lots of crap.
    Greg: Well, awesome. Knowing me, I probably gave it right back. *audience laughs*
    Q: I recently just watched Nerima Daikon Brothers and oh my gosh, you guys are amazing. The process for doing a musical anime like Nerima or Beck, did they give you track in advance so you can practice on? Or did they go, ‘Hey, you’re singing today, good luck!’
    Greg: With both shows we were given advanced scratch tracks to work from. With Nerima Daikon Brothers, it was bit different because there is a studio album with the soundtrack from Japan. But they were longer versions than the show. What we worked with was actual audio ripped from the show within the script. We didn’t get the opening and closing song until the day we recorded it, so that was all from scratch. And the crazy thing is, Chris Patton will tell you I did the whole thing in one take. So all the screaming and everything was all just me goofing around, having a good time. And they were like, ‘I think we have what we want.’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? I was just playing around! I was just being stupid…’ ‘No, that was great. We can keep that.’ The ‘du-du-didu-du’ part in the closing though, we did for hours and hours and hours. Because it was Chris Patton and I singing this weird harmony behind Luci [Christian] so it took forever. With Beck, we actually have the karaoke track so we could actually sing in the shower to practice. And also at the same time, I was working on this show that is sadly will probably never be released in the states called Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. It’s also a musical and the girls on that show was given something similar. It was like a recorded track, a karaoke track with the vocals on it. The neat thing is that every show is done differently. With Mermaid Melody, they did the music first. They thought that that would be the biggest hurdle so they got that out of the way first, and then they did all the dialogue. In Beck, we did the whole show first and we did all the music afterwards. We focused on the show and we spent time recording a soundtrack for Beck that I may or may not have on that *points to his laptop* but we can’t release, but we spent time working on that like an album. It was really cool and I think made it sound more authentic rock’n’roll style. With Daikon Brothers, it was hard because every single episode had an average of 16 songs. In a 27 min. show, there were these 1 minute quick little songs, so we just had to record them when we got to them. If somehing didn’t work, we would have to tweak it. Luckily [director Watanabe Shinichi,] Nabeshin worked with us very closely if something didn’t work. That was when my brother and Nabeshin formed this weirdly strange friendship that they are now. Neither of them speak the other’s language. They were using Google translate which from Nabeshin, turned into alot of very strange, dirty letters. *audience laughs* At least we had hand-to-hand cooperation with the Japanese when we ran across a problem. The longest we ever walked away from a song was a day. The next time, we came back to it. That said, I hope that opens the door for more musical anime. It was so much fun, it was one of the funniest shows-most rewarding shows I ever worked on just because of how much fun we had doing it. Thanks for asking about show! I just saw Nabeshin last weekend.
    Fan: I also love you as Shion in No.6.
    Greg: Oh, we were just talking about No.6.
    Fan: Thank you so much! You guys were great too! *gestures to the other guests* *audience laughs*
    Chris: *pause* Thank you for the shrapnel! *audience laughs*

    Q: I just told my friend that this is a panel with Greg Ayres and voice acting. She is on the other side of the convention so she got pissed. Greg, can you say the line from Deadman Wonderland, ‘Suck my dick’? *audience laughs*
    Greg: I don’t think I can say that in here, I’ll do that afterwards. *audience laughs* I think we’re suppose to stick to 16 [age panel.] It’s really funny because the next day on twitter, one of my really close friends said, “Congratulations! You just said suck my-I’ll say duck-on television.” And I was like “Oh, I did, didn’t I….” I felt better about myself the whole day. *audience laughs*

    Q: What inspires you to be a voice actor?
    Greg: Great actors inspire me. Everytime I see somebody in a movie or play. Specifically when I see an actor that I hate, do a movie that I love, it moves me. I can walk into a theater with a pretty big chip on my shoulder like Leonardo DiCaprio…and if that person can change my mind, than that’s a pretty amazing thing. Actually, the actors that I look up to are all female. The biggest inspirations as a voice actor are Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin. Both who are extremely gifted character actors. In Whoopi Goldberg’s broadway show, she can play 7 or 8 characters without the assistance of costume and makeup. She changes her voice and posture. Lily Tomlin does shows where she plays 4 or 5 characters where it’s just her on stage. Watching other people turn in ace work really makes me want to do stuff like that. Also, good shows, like the show Colorful. It’ll be a sleeper [hit], the content of the show is so good, the dialogue is so good, the casting is fantastic. Not me, beyond the fact that I’m in, the director cast everyone against type. Brittany Karbowski who normally plays really bossy big boobied girls is playing this super awkward nerd. *breathes irregularly* I like good work where shows are interesting and directors take you where you’re not necessarily think you’re good at. It’s a pretty fun job.
    Michele: I was going to say comedians. I think comedians really make good voice actors. They have really good improv and comedic timing. One of my favorites while growing up is Robin Williams in ‘Mork and Mindy.’
    Greg: He has done a ton of voice over too.
    Michele: He has done a ton of voice over work. All the characters in ‘Shrek’ I think are great.
    Chris: Your question about what motivates you to be a voice actor could also be what motivates you to be an actor. I was an actor before doing any voice work. Actually, besides actors and directors who inspire me, I particularly like actors who disappear into a role, they always look and sound different. If we ask what makes you want to act in general, I guess it would be an escape. I like the idea where you can be someone else and by virtue of doing that and going into someone else’s skin (so to speak,) you also escape and give entertainment to other people. I like that sort of communal feeling. I like that feeling of forgetting your problems for a couple of hours.
    Greg: If you compare what we’re doing now to stage acting, is when you do theater, it’s over when the show closes. The shows that we’ve done, don’t go away. Something that we did twelve years ago, might be someone’s brand new show that they’re watching. It’s really cool.

    Q: If you were all in an anime together, what do you guys think the plot would be? *audience laughs*
    Greg: I think the easiest thing would be we’re at a con.
    Chris: An anime con.
    Greg: It would be a 52 episodes series.
    Chris: It would be ‘The 50 Shades of Con’. *audience laughs* And we have Bill Rogers!

Bill Rogers enters with breakfast lunch.

    Bill: Of the 3 hours of sleep that I got, did anyone watch the new episode of Pokemon this morning? Sorry for the promo…. *inquires about the question*
    Greg: We established that the original anime would be about a con. Bill Rogers and I would be the last ones to go to sleep. What time did you go to bed, Bill?
    Bill: I had to prepare for the workshop, I think I slept between 8am to 11…. ‘You know you have a panel in 15 minutes.’ ‘Let me shower and get down there as quick as I can.’
    Chris: *about the original anime* I know what I will be doing. I’ll be the 30 foot talking dragon.
    Bill: A shapeshifter obviously.
    Michele: *in a deep accent* I will be a robot, you know? With a big head and with really, really big eyes! With really big boots.
    Bill: It’s good to bring the classics back.
    Chris: So there’s your great answer!

    Q: *to Greg* What do you think about twincest?
    Greg: *hesitant* As a guy with a brother, I think it is really gross. But as a guy who plays that character, I don’t think that is what those kids are about. The twins are equivalent of those girls who will make out with each other for free drinks on Bourbon Street. *audience laughs* They’re just fanservice. Their relationship is really much cooler than anything that can be very porno. They have parents that kind of aren’t there. They’re all the other has. They have this weird best friend/enemy/teddy bear/security blanket-type of relationship that especially at their age, is probably very temporary and won’t be there much longer. There is this great clip in ‘Supernatural’, those two guys playing twins? And they ask them what they think of fanfiction about the two of them together? And the guy just goes, ‘how gross that is’. It was pretty funny to me. That said, I think that at the end of the day, they’re not real. You can make them do whatever you want in your mind. *audience laughs* They’re not real. But as for the question, I think their relationship is much deeper than that. Alot of people make them 2-dimensional. And I’m not freaked out by it. I used to freak Todd [Haberkorn] out alot. I make it super gay when we got to those scenes. I know it would make Todd a little squirmy.
    Bill: I’ll release the levity to this so we we can go off from twincest. I have a buddy whose quite a fanboy and can’t get girls. He said, “I’m at the point where I should just clone myself so I could have someone to make love to.” *audience laughs* And when I thought about it, it would technically be considered masturbation.

O.O For a day panel that is NOT 18+, the content was quite risque. I’m glad the guests were so honest. What Greg mentioned about the Ouran twins is a great reflection on their relationship and character. Considering the latter episodes, Kaoru mentioned about how temporary their current ‘family’ is. A fairy tale that is on the verge of ending. But it just shows how precious their time is in highschool and the host club. And Tamaki is the one keeping this facade alive…even if he doesn’t realize it. But first…the ‘sucking’ and ‘masturbation’? ^_^

The panel concluded with the continuation of the signing so I vacated the room after grabbing a few choice pics. ^_^