On the opening Friday of MCM London, star voice actors Dan Green (Yugi) and Eric Stuart (Kaiba) took to the stage to discuss Yu-Gi-Oh! and their careers in general.
Asked if they were familiar with the series prior to working on it, Stuart revealed that he was actually asked to be the voice director prior to being cast with an actual role. He opined that upon seeing the show he felt it would be a hit as big as Pokemon, believing the slightly more mature story would grab audiences who were starting to move away from said series. However, he was surprised yet glad that the franchise has lasted as long as it has and that there’s still demand to see new stories starring the original cast of characters. Dan agreed, saying he didn’t foresee how long the series would continue but that as an actor it touches him deeply when he gets to meet fans who express what an important part of their life the series has been in various ways.
Both enjoyed returning for the recent Dark Side of Dimensions movie, feeling it showed an awareness that the key audience would now be older and thus delivering a deeper story to cater to this fact. They also love the social interaction that a theatrical event like this brings, with fans getting to meet one another in a way they can’t just watching the show on TV or via streaming. Further, while such platforms are generally free to view, it’s an honour to them that fans would consider their performances worth paying to see at the cinema.
Regarding handling themselves while performing voice acting, Eric stated he believes it’s important to keep an eye on your health. Your voice is how a voice actor makes money so if you feel it’s being damaged by a session let the director know and request moving on to quieter takes for now. He also feels it’s a job with a lot of freedom as you get the chance to play any kind of character you can convincingly sound like. Dan stressed the importance of trusting the director as often voice actors will record independent of one another. Thus the director is the one who will be privy to all the independent performances of each actor and know how they are supposed to fit together and thus what each actor needs to deliver.
Concerning reactions to the story, Dan stated he enjoyed the ancient Egyptian theme and that he worked hard to present Kaiba as a rival to Yugi rather than just a villain. For Dan, he enjoyed that the story had an intended any point that audiences got to see. Asked for favourite cards other than their character’s choices of Dark Magician and Blue Eyes White Dragon, Dan chose Kuriboh as he feels it suits the dual nature of his character- the cuteness of Yugi mixed with the power of Atem. Eric asked the young fan who posed the question what he would choose, agreeing with his choice of La Jinn the Mystical Genie of the Lamp. Dan added he also likes Exodia and, at the audience’s prompting, delivered a booming “EXODIA, OBLITERATE!!!”
Asked about voice acting auditions, both stressed that you’ll receive little advanced information and thus the more capable you are at improv the better. Regarding the portrayal of Atem, Dan compares it to Wolverine; both are gruff, confident characters who are suffering with a loss of any memories of their past. Although he acknowledges the dub Atem is different from the portrayal seen in the original Japanese, he was doing with the character what was requested of him and feels as the story developed over the series run so too did his portrayal.
Concerning Season Zero (the first ever Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, made before the series had adopted card games as its focus), Eric commented that he believes one strength of that is it highlights Kaiba’s protective nature of his sibling Mokuba over his rivalry with Yugi, hence showing there is more depth to the character. On a question regarding if they like their takes on the characters or the Abridged Series versions, Eric was quick to jump in to bluntly say he prefers the official versions performed by himself and Dan, dismissing Abridged Series creator LittleKuriboh as ‘a hack’.
Both would be interested in the idea of sequels to The Dark Side of Dimensions, citing where that film leaves off as an intriguing sequel hook with much potential for further films. On favourite lines, Eric enjoyed “You fight me with fruit?” from the movie while Dan chose the line “Trust in your heart and you shall always prevail.”
Asked about balancing his work as a voice actor with that of being a musician, Eric stated he’d been lucky to be able to balance them for so long but had made the choice to move from New York to Nashville to focus more on the music, his first love. He is tremendously thankful for the passion and loyalty animation fans have shown him and whilst still active as a voice actor/director, if he was forced to choose one over the other he’d pick his career as a musician.
Concerning the Yu-Gi-Oh spin offs following the original series, Eric feels the likes of GX softened the concept too much. As a counter to this, Dan commented that as part of the original series he finds it interesting how each spin off goes for a new setting whilst still keeping the heart of the show and he’s surprised that as such a prominent part of the original he was cast in any of them. This led Eric to highlight that when serving as a voice director he submits his selections anonymously to prevent actors being rejected via typecasting.
On funny direction they’ve been given during recording sessions, Eric related the tale of recording for an orange juice commercial and being told to go more ‘orange’ with his delivery. In turn, Dan highlighted a time in roughly season three or four where the direction for the Pharaoh directed him to ‘Yami it up’.
Both Dan and Eric have received a number of gifts from fans over the years including various fan art, rare cards and figurines of their characters. Dan mentioned in particular that a number of Kuriboh plushies have been happily accepted by his currently five year old twins.
The panel ended with the pair showcasing a trailer for their new audio drama, Crossing the GODS. The series will star Dan and Eric alongside many other voice talents they have previously starred alongside and will be bolstered with illustrations. The series came from their desire to create an original piece of fiction rather than simply work on others and to do something partly aimed at viewers who would know many of the cast from childhood but now have more nuanced tastes.
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