Anime Boston 2011: Press Panel with Voice Actress Brina Palencia Part 2
This is the second part of a two part press panel with voice actress Brina Palencia. Don’t forget to check out part 1.
QUESTION: Are you a video gamer yourself?
BRINA PALENCIA: I like indie games. I like very short puzzle games. I really like playing stuff on Kongregate and I’m not just saying that because I’m a GameStop girl, I actually really do like Kongregate.com. “Part of the GameStop Network.” I like stuff like that, Flash player games or whatever that are just real simple. I do appreciate the more epic games like [i]Dragon Age[i] and Final Fantasy and stuff like that and I think they’re beautiful. I make my husband play them all the time so that I can see them. But I can’t let myself do that because they are so time consuming and I do have such a busy schedule that I just feel like if I sit and play a video game for more than thirty minutes I am wasting away. Not that I am too awesome for video games or anything—I know a lot of people who have busy lives and do that but I personally can’t balance both. I either have to do one or the other. But I’m really excited for L.A. Noire. I think it’s amazing, that is groundbreaking that it made the Tribeca Film Festival. That is so cool. We actually did a spot on it at GameStop recently and they said something about that and I was mid-reading it and I was like, “Oh my God really?” It’s so exciting to me. I feel like that’s the thing that’s going to give video games more street cred. It will make them more legit and I feel like it will really help with voice actors because a lot of people don’t see voice actors as real actors, which is ********. So it’s really cool that something like that has made it to a really respected film festival and I can’t wait to see what they do with it.
QUESTION: I believe you’ll be returning to the roles of Tamama, Ciel and Holo in the new seasons of Sgt. Frog, Black Butler and Spice and Wolf. How does it feel to be returning to these old characters?
BRINA PALENCIA: It’s really awesome because those three in particular are some of my favorite characters that I’ve ever voiced. I was so sad when we finished Maho in Beck because I knew that there wasn’t another season. It’s really sad when you get really attached to a character and then it just stops, so it’s really fun to return. I really hope that I return to Chopper soon too. I haven’t heard anything but I really hope that we do.
QUESTION: Any word on new Shin-chan episodes?
BRINA PALENCIA: No, I haven’t heard anything on that. That would actually be really awesome too but we’ll see.
QUESTION: Going off of Shin-chan, how was it playing as Georgie?
BRINA PALENCIA: I really loved Georgie. I thought that was a really good job as casting. All of us originally auditioned for Shin and then from there they just sort of cast people. Everyone auditioned for the family because those had to be approved by the Japanese and the other kids they didn’t care about I guess. So they kind of just picked whoever they wanted. I really wanted to do Shin initially, but then whenever they had me do Georgie I was like, “That’s cool I guess.” Then once I started learning that he was super right wing Republican conservative evil, the complete opposite of every ideology that I hold dear, I was so excited. He has my favorite sense of humor of any of the kids on the show. So I was really happy that I ended up with the political humor and not the gay, molestation or fart jokes.
QUESTION: Speaking of that, I don’t know if you heard from the original Japanese creators and voice actors about the jobs you did for Shin-chan, but what was their reaction was to this R-rated humor to what was originally a kid show.
BRINA PALENCIA: Well they actually have to approve the scripts, so they know what’s going on. Everything that you see was approved by them, stamped and approved. I know that there are things they had to change before we went into record but I don’t really know what all that was. I know that they really didn’t like any sort of religious references but that’s the only thing I can really remember. It didn’t seem like they were all that phased by it.
QUESTION: There’s a lot of new anime coming out, which new series that have been premiering would you be interested in working on?
BRINA PALENCIA: I have no idea because I have no idea what’s coming out. I usually keep up on that stuff but I just haven’t been keeping up on it so I don’t know. [joking] I’ve just been so busy because I’m so important and blah blah blah. I feel lame saying that but I really have. I just don’t have time to research that stuff anymore. So if you guys can tell me what I need to be sure to get in, let me know.
BRINA PALENCIA: Well I know, Baka and Test is coming out and I play Hideyoshi and Yuki, is that her name? His twin sister. She doesn’t talk as much so I don’t really remember her name…Yuuko, I think it’s Yuuko. But that’s a really funny show. I think that’s a really, really fun show. It’s very akin to School Rumble I think, if any of you guys are School Rumble fans, so definitely look out for that. And of course the second seasons of all that other stuff that you mentioned. I think that is all I can talk about. There are others, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
TOONZONE NEWS: Do you have a preference between voice acting or directing? Or do you just like both?
BRINA PALENCIA: I like them both equally. I prefer voice acting right now because directing is a lot of responsibility. There are a lot of people counting on you when you are directing and it can be really stressful. I like the more laid back feel of just being to voice act because I really do want to do more on-camera stuff. When you’re directing that is virtually impossible because day-in and day-out you are directing, you are working on your show. Then especially if you voice acting on top of that, then it’s like 10-to-10 everyday of your life is going to be anime. You have no time to do anything else. So, right now in my life I want to do something other than anime. I love anime and I want to continue doing it, but I would like to do something else on top of that. So, yeah, right now definitely prefer voice acting. But, directing, because there is so much riding on you and because it’s such an important job, it can be more rewarding sometimes than voice acting. Once that show is out on a disc, it’s like your baby. You are so proud. I will never be more proud of a show as I am of School Rumble because I directed that front to back and I adore that show and it’s absolutely my baby. No one can ever convince me otherwise, I love it.
QUESTION: Any word on the US release of the last two episodes of School Rumble? If I recall there were two episodes that haven’t aired here in America yet.
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah, I believe people are referring to it as the third season. It’s like OVAs. No, I haven’t heard anything and I really wish that they would do it, but I would imagine that by now they would have done it if they were going to. I think it’s just an issue of maybe it just didn’t sell enough to merit getting the last OVAs because it’s possible the Japanese company just went up on their price or something, I don’t know. It all has to do with money, whatever it is. Best I can say is keep buying it and then maybe they’ll eventually have enough money to do the rest of it.
TOONZONE NEWS: You talked about how directing is rewarding, do you have any voice roles you find most rewarding that you’ve done?
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah, anything that’s really emotionally complicated. I think Ciel is extremely rewarding, because he’s got a lot of layers. Juliet in Romeo x Juliet was extremely rewarding, because that was actually one of the only times, first and only time, that I’ve ever adopted one acting technique throughout every episode and every session that I had. That was whenever I was taking a Michael Chekhov workshop. I only used Michael Chekhov and didn’t use anything else. It was really fun; it was really fun to challenge yourself to do that. Yeah, I have to say those are probably the more rewarding ones. But stuff like Tamama and Chopper are really fun, granted Chopper is really emotional as well. Especially his origin story. Tamama’s just fun, Chopper’s very rewarding as well. Tamama is the one that’s just crazy, and just fun.
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah, absolutely. With Romeo x Juliet I actually did kind of have to toward the end of the series…surprise it’s a sad ending, Romeo and Juliet, I’m sure none of you knew that. When we were recording the last episode I actually kind of had to disconnect from it a little bit because I was getting so emotional to the point where I couldn’t really control my voice. With Summer Wars literally every time that she even tears up, I’m crying, even if it’s just a breath. If she’s crying, I was crying, every single moment of that. That was probably the most crying I’ve ever done in the booth ever and then Juliet would be a close second. With Ciel, anytime that he cries on screen, which is rare, I was crying as well. Since Juliet, I think anytime that I have a character that cries I typically do cry, in the booth. I guess the characters before that, I did cry at Chopper’s origin story, not hardcore or anything. Especially when he’s crying really loud at the end of it and there’s like the cherry blossoms coming down, I was kind of crying and laughing at the same time. It’s so ridiculous, but it’s so sad and cute at the same time. I just didn’t know what to feel.
QUESTION: Have you ever had trouble explaining what anime was to your family or friends?
BRINA PALENCIA: I just tell them it’s cartoons. I don’t get real in depth. Usually I’ll ask them “do you know what anime is?” And then if they say no then I’ll just say “it’s Japanese cartoons, I just do the English version, it’s just cartoons.” I don’t try to do anything more than that because I’m pretty sure it would get really confusing. Though when I took my mother to that convention in the UK, it was her first time ever going to a convention, so I had to explain a lot of awkward things to her. I had to explain to her what yaoi was and hentai, and yuri. So that was fun, but she was really amazed by cosplay. She loved cosplay and she even asked me if I had ever cosplayed as one of my characters when I go to conventions. I was like no, and she was like, “That’s stupid, why haven’t you cosplayed as one of your characters? I don’t understand, that’s really dumb, you need to do that.” I was like…no. And I took her to one of the raves too, which was awesome. I took her to one of the raves and then took her up on stage and the guy spinning showed her what they were doing or whatever, I have pictures of all this actually on my Facebook. That was probably the most I’ve ever had to explain anything to her. Then her watching Evangelion was really funny too. At the end of it she was just like “I don’t get it…this is the Devil’s work.”
QUESTION: What was your funniest moment in the booth?
BRINA PALENCIA: I wish I had better stories for that question, I don’t really have any. There was one time whenever we were recording School Rumble that I was directing Leah Clark. She’s one of my best friends and so I decided to mess with her. The way that we record is a three beat system where you hear beep, beep, beep and then where the fourth imaginary beat would be that’s where you start talking. There was one line that was just one word and it was whenever they are taking a picture and Eri says “cheese.” So I decided that I didn’t like that and I asked her to just, I had the engineer put it on a loop and I was like “okay, we’re just going to put this on a loop and then you just keep coming up with stuff, just improv, just do whatever.” And so she just heard beep-beep-beep, then she’d talk, beep-beep-beep, hi, beep-beep-beep, heh, beep-beep-beep. So I had her do that nonstop for like five minutes, but in this five minute the engineer and I left the room. It was in one of the older booths where there wasn’t a window so she could see us. The second that he put it on the loop I was like, “Yeah, yeah, just keep going.” Then we left and went on a break essentially and then five minutes later I hear her yelling down the hallway, just like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you did that to me!” That’s probably my best story. Oh, and then I chased Tatum around the studio in a clown mask one time.
QUESTION: Does he hate clowns?
BRINA PALENCIA: Yes. Which is hilarious because he is such a big guy, he could totally take a clown.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite line that you’ve ever said in a series?
BRINA PALENCIA: My favorite Tamama line is the only one that I ever remember and it would be [in character], “Hey everybody, guess what? I think I have diabetes.”
TOONZONE NEWS: How is it working opposite Michael Sinterniklaas in Summer Wars?
BRINA PALENCIA: Well, he recorded after me, so really he got to work opposite me. He’s a really talented guy and really awesome. I didn’t hear him at all until I watched it, but I’ve watched it like five times now, and I think it turned out really well. I think he’s really, really, really talented. I’m really proud to say that I got to work opposite of him cause I mean he’s Dean Venture, come on.
QUESTION: Do you prefer it when you are first to record or do you prefer hearing everyone else?
BRINA PALENCIA: Oh I absolutely prefer hearing everyone. Definitely prefer hearing everyone, because when you are the first to record you’re just kind of like in a vacuum just listening to yourself. It’s hard to imagine what the other person is going to sound like, which is why I like working opposite Tatum. But with Sinterniklaas it was good because I actually did a live action dub out at his studio at NYAV Post called Machine Girl. He played my brother in that, so I was familiar with his voice work and I’ve seen Venture Bros. Granted this was kind of a different style than Venture Bros., but I was familiar with his work as well. It’s always good to have someone that you know to voice opposite from because that way you can make predictions on how they’re going to sound.
QUESTION: Anime seemed to be going more towards fanservice rather than actual plots and I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on that. Why do you think people are focusing more on fanservice and moe plotlines? What do you think they should be doing to fix it really?
BRINA PALENCIA: Man, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know that it is necessarily an issue with the actual production companies; I think it’s more an issue with the fans. The reason they are making that panty service crap is because people buy it and people like it. I mean I voice on a lot of that crap so I can’t really judge or anything. I mean I’ll take the paycheck but it’s not good. You can argue some of it has sweet stories, and some of them really do, but it’s totally debunked by all of the panty shots and all the titty shots and all that. It’s just silly. And it’s fun, I’ll give it that, it is fun, but it’s silly and it’s ridiculous that more stories like Summer Wars aren’t getting told. There are those stories and there is the talent out there to do that, but if no one is going to buy it then they are not going to make it. So it really comes down to the fans and just having better taste to be honest. Of course, there are a lot of us out there that do prefer to watch stuff like Summer Wars and One Piece and Evangelion and stuff like that. That have better storylines and story arcs and are really in depth and character driven and all that. Unfortunately, we’re starting to be in the minority. So hopefully, I really don’t know what that is; I would have to talk to a sociologist or something to figure out why that is. I personally don’t understand it. I mean, I will totally voice on it and then get the paycheck. But I would rather never have to watch that stuff.
QUESTION: A good example of something fanservice really killed would be Queen’s Blade, which had a good storyline but then the fanservice after fanservice after fanservice basically killed it.
BRINA PALENCIA: Well, and another thing that’s odd is that it makes it harder for stuff like that to get mainstream. When people think of anime they think of fanservice, and they think of panty shows, and they think of bouncy boobs and all that. That’s what they think of and so it gives this stigma against something that is actually a really beautiful art form and it can tell amazing stories, if you let it. So I really can’t answer that, I really have no idea and I hope that it is remedied soon.
QUESTION: This is about Spice and Wolf. What were your first impressions of Holo as a character?
BRINA PALENCIA: I loved her. I thought she was so much fun and I loved her attitude. I loved what Tatum said to me because he recorded on that before I did. He was like, this was before I got to know her, and he was like, “Yeah I can’t wait for you to work on it, it really reminds me of how you treat me.” And I was like, “I wonder what that means/’ Then I watched it and I was like [laughing] “ohh, okay.” So I constantly manipulate and mess with you, alright, got it. I can’t really argue that though. He’s right.
QUESTION: In Japan they usually record everybody together, have you ever had to do that or has it always been one person?
BRINA PALENCIA: For me it’s always been one person, there’s only one time that I actually got to record with someone. That was the last episode of Beck with Greg Ayres when we are looking at the slide show. We were actually in the booth together. Which was really complicated because we only had one mic and so…yeah, this is going to sound like a double entendre. I was in front and he was in back and we had to be just right up against each other. Thank God he’s gay right? He just kind of, he was practically having to rest his chin on my shoulder so we could get good mic placement. When they do stuff like prelay in Japan, whenever they all record together, they each have their own mics so it’s not usually that complicated. Because we are doing dubs and we have to worry about matching flaps and mouth movements, it’s too complicated to be able to do it. But I would love to do that because I feel like there is a lot of chemistry that can get lost, when you’re dubbing an anime and you are just going in one by one. One thing that was difficult whenever Greg and I were doing that scene, and the reason we got to do that scene was because it was just a slideshow, you didn’t see any of our mouth movements or anything and so Taliesin was like, “Well, there’s no reason to not do this with you guys both in the booth together.” What was really hard, was because we were in the booth together I wanted to act with him so I kept turning around and being like, “Oh yeah dude,” and Taliesin is just like, “Brina! You can’t do that, you have to stay on mic!” So it’s really hard when you are talking to another actor and you aren’t allowed to make eye contact, it’s weird. It’d be nice if we got to do more of it, but that would only be if FUNimation started doing original content. Which I hope that they do one day, but who knows.
QUESTION: You’ve mentioned that you’ve done some stage work, I was wondering if you were going to be working on anything new?
BRINA PALENCIA: Oh, stage? I haven’t done stage in years. I primarily just do voice acting and on camera right now. As far as on camera I’m actually working on a film with Chuck Huber, and a lot of other voice actors are in it as well. Chuck Huber is the director and writer of it, it’s called Harbor Day. It’s a musical, essentially, and I get to use my Honduran accent in it, which I’m excited about because I’m half-Honduran and it essentially came about from years of me making fun of my father. We made a trailer but we’re not actually finished filming on it yet, we still have a couple of weeks or at least a week worth of filming to do. And there’s a web-series that I have finished called Throwing Stones that I am in for a very short while. You guys can look it up on Facebook or just Google Throwing Stones web-series but right now we’re in the process of trying to get a second season for that one, or getting a sponsor for the second season. Which would be awesome, because, if there’s a second season then I’ll be a much bigger part. So hopefully that happens. There’s another film that I was cast in that we will probably start working on in the fall called Archaic Redemption. It’s based on the necroville portion of Second Life, I think it’s Second Life, I can’t remember. It’s one of those online role playing things and there’s a whole section of the world called CoLA, I think it’s Coalition Los Angeles or something, and it’s made up of vampires and zombies and monsters and stuff like that and humans all trying to coexist. I’m one of the zombies, but it’s not brainless, “I want to eat brains”. Yes, we want to eat your brains but, we are intelligent. It’s more like how vampires are typically portrayed except that my body is rotting, that’s all.
BRINA PALENCIA: Stephanie Young, who is another voice actress, she is an amazing jazz singer. Her and her husband have a jazz band together and I sing back up for them. They are available on iTunes; I sing all of the harmonies on their album. They do a lot of shows around the Dallas, Fort Worth area. They also, whenever they do conventions, they’ll actually perform some of their stuff. So if you are ever at a convention with Stephanie Young and her husband’s there with her, make sure to go check out their show cause it’s really good. If we are all there together, then I’ll be there doing harmonies. It’s really fun; they’re a really great team to work with. They’re just really sweet and very open to whatever harmonies I have in store, which is fun.
TOONZONE NEWS: So you’re really close to Tatum, would you say there’s a lot of camaraderie in the voice acting world, are you guys all really close?
BRINA PALENCIA: Yeah, definitely. It’s surprising how much of a family it kind of is. My wedding, for example, for my bridesmaids I had Leah Clark and Colleen Clinkenbeard and Trina Nishimura and Kristi Bingham, who has done very small roles here and there, and my friend Lacey Hill who is a make-up artist, she has nothing to do with voice acting. And then the guy who married us, my husband and I, was our best friend since High School, I was the one who got him the job at FUNimation, was Brandon Potter aka Harima of School Rumble. In attendance were of course Tatum, and Clarene, and Bevins and Sabat and Monica and a lot of FUNimation people. Like half the people there to some capacity have worked for FUNimation. So, yeah, yeah, a lot of us are very, very close and it’s pretty awesome. I like it, a lot.
Toonzone would like to thank Brina Palencia for taking the time to speak with us and also thank the staff of Anime Boston for arranging the press panels. This interview has been edited and condensed.