Vic Mignogna at the MCM Manchester Comic Con


Fast becoming an MCM Comic Con regular, the energetic and ever-busy Vic Mignogna was once again on hand at this month’s event, taking to the stage at Manchester Central to offer insights into the always colourful and often crazy world of anime voice acting to a crowd of enthusiastic convention-goers.

The talk began with a preview of Vic’s new concert DVD, featuring songs from a range of hit shows such as Fullmetal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club and Dragon Ball Z. In addition to the live gig recordings, the DVD also includes Fullmetal Fantasy, a fan production that sees the voice cast of Fullmetal Alchemist cosplay as their anime characters, which was previously very difficult to get hold of.

The floor was then opened up for questions (and requests!) from the audience, beginning with a fan who asked whether there were any characters that Vic had enjoyed playing so much that he now missed them.

vic6“Tamaki!” was his immediate reply. He explained that, some time before Ouran High School had been licenced in outside of Japan, Caitlin Glass – who would later become the show’s director – had called him up and told him about a hilarious anime series she’d found featuring a character that was just like him. When he checked it out for himself, he fell instantly in love with it, and knew he had to play that character.

“You would think,” he said, “that when she was chosen to direct it, it would be a given that I’d get to play Tamaki…….Nope. When I went into the audition, she said to me, ‘Now Vic, I have to make the best decision for the ensemble cast, so even if there’s someone who is great for an individual part, they might not fit in well with everyone else.'”

Vic admitted being so nervous then that it was like experiencing his first ever audition all over again. Having already grown so attached to the character, he was desperate to get the part, but then, after an brilliant audition in which he was convinced he had “nailed it”, the director said something that struck his heart like ice:

“Is there anyone else you wanna audition for?”

Despite the fact that he could not imagine taking on any other character in the show, after thinking it over, he did decide to audition for several of them – “But I sucked,” he said. “And I sucked on purpose because I didn’t want to do it.”

To his delight, he was eventually given the part, and of course, the rest is history.

“Sometimes, you don’t realise how awesome a show is while you’re doing it,” he said. “But I savoured every moment of Ouran.”

Asked about his most embarrassing mess-up, he laughed, wondering, “Why does everyone always want to know about your humiliations?”

vic12He then told a story, already known to many of his fans, about a time when he was working on a really emotional scene and working hard to get into the moment. The studio was very quiet and sombre, and when he was asked to come up and say his lines, he delivered them with as much feeling as he could muster, ending up on the verge of tears.

“I felt so good about it,” he said. “And then the director said to me, ‘That was awesome. But it wasn’t your line.'”

The next question was about reprising his role as Edward in Fullmetal Brotherhood after working on the original Fullmetal Alchemist series.

“I was nervous because Fullmetal Alchemist was so good, and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to make something that good again,” said Vic. “We’ve all seen terrible sequels, right? So I had a lot of mixed feelings….until I found out that Brotherhood was going to follow the manga.”

Vic remembered that during his time playing Ed in the first series, people had often asked him if he’d ever read the manga, and always wanted to tell him about how great it was. He knew from their enthusiasm that if the show were to follow the comics closely enough, it would be sure to be a hit.

vic10Of course, there was a problem with recasting the original voice actors: Aaron Dismuke, who had previously played Edward’s younger brother, Alphonse, had grown up in the interim. Typically, child characters in an animated series will be voiced by adult women, but in the case of Fullmetal Alchemist, they’d opted to cast a young boy, since no one anticipated that there would be any further series. By the time Brotherhood came along, Aaron was “8 feet tall and sounded like The Hulk,” Vic joked. A replacement was found in Maxey Whitehead, who sadly received some unpleasant messages from viewers who didn’t like the changes. “But you’ve seen it – she did an amazing job!” said Vic.

Asked about the job that had been his “big break” into voice acting, Vic explained that he had never really sought out a career in the industry – it was more something that he had stumbled into. Having acted on stage and screen since he was a child, he was recommended to audition for ADV Films, who produce English dubs of Japanese movies. At the time, he didn’t know a lot about anime, though he remembered loving Speed Racer as a kid, but he went along anyway, and was given the part of Vega in Street Fighter. After that, voice acting work just kept coming in, until eventually, he was asked to attend an anime convention – something he hadn’t even known existed at the time. Conventions proved useful in terms of helping him to meet new people – he was eventually introduced to some of the team from Funimation in Dallas, who asked him to work on Dragon Ball Z, and later he was invited out to New York and L.A. So, although his skills undoubtedly improved through practice, he never really planned any of it. “I give credit to God,” he said.

An audience member then asked what Vic described as “the perfect question”: “Your character in Level E is quite off-the-wall. How much free rein did you have with that?”

vic7“Did someone pay you to ask that?” asked Vic, astounded. Although it’s perhaps not amongst his best-known series, Vic explained that he loved working on Level E because the director at Funimation, Joel McDonald, told him he could do anything he wanted with the character.

“I didn’t believe him at first, so I decided to test it by being as crazy as possible,” he said. “I had the most fun doing that show. If you haven’t seen it, please check it out!”

“Are there any anime series that you haven’t been in but would like to do?” was the next question.

“All of them!” he laughed, before mentioning a few specifically. “I’m still hoping to be a part of Fairy Tail,” he said. “I would love to have even a small role in Attack on Titan.” He also explained that a lot of the shows that get licenced in Canada aren’t allowed to use US actors for tax reasons, so that had prevented him from being in series like Death Note.

“I love what I do,” he went on. “I don’t even care if they pay me or not: as long as I have food and can pay my bills, I would do it for nothing….If I could wish anything for all of you, it would be that you do something that brings you joy – not to be a millionaire, because if you hate your job, in the end, the money won’t count for very much. When I was a kid, I watched my dad get up every day to go to a job he hated, and it didn’t just ruin his life – it made my mom and me miserable too. Do something that brings you joy. It doesn’t even have to be something big or creative. You know what I love to do? I love to vacuum the floor and mow the lawn and make designs on the ground…..It could be anything!”

The final question returned nicely to the subject that had opened the panel – anime music: “Of all the anime openings and endings that you sing, what’s your favourite?”

“That’s so hard!” Vic replied. “‘Brothers’ is so beautiful. But then, I love the Ouran songs too. But then, One Piece….I don’t know, what’s your favourite?”

The answer – One Piece opening ‘We Are’, resulted in brief rendition of part of the song by Vic – though he forgot a few of the words, and was prompted by another audience member.

“Get this guy to sing it for you later,” said Vic. “He knows it!”

And so, with an opening, the talk ended.



Photographs by Caitlin Jenkins.

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