At the inaugural Anime NYC Convention, Funimation brought the two stars of the Mob Psycho 100 English dub to the stage. Kyle McCarley, the voice of Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama and Chris Niosi the voice of Arataka Reigen spoke with fans about the psychic comedy anime and opened up about their experience as voice actors. The actors gave fans a brief look inside what it’s like working in the anime dubbing industry.
From Actors to Characters
Being a voice actor is a dream profession for millions of anime fans. But neither Chris Niosi nor Kyle McCarley set out to become actors in a recording studio. McCarley studied theater in college and only fell into voice work with World of Warcraft fan radio projects.
More accustomed to working on the other side of anime, Niosi is an animator whose works include the web cartoon TOME. (He was even kind enough to hand out his own Mob Psycho 100 sketches during the panel.) He started voicing characters on various projects, including Dragonball Z Abridged.
In real life, McCarley and Niosi say they aren’t too different from their Mob Psycho 100 characters. McCarley is quiet and reserved, just like Mob. The voice actor watched Mob Psycho 100 as it aired in Japanese and specifically modeled his Mob voice off the original Japanese actor, Takahiro Sakurai. Niosi, however, has a natural stage presence. He claims to have talked non-stop during his interview, so playing Reigen lets him be “his natural insane self.”
For each actor, Mob Psycho 100 had its challenges. Playing Mob was easy for McCarley since the character is quiet and there is not a lot of shouting involved. The main challenge was keeping the character’s voice from becoming too high.
For Niosi, voicing Reigen took a lot more work. Niosi put in eight and half hours of recording work just for Episode 1. Whenever his voice became hoarse, he drank Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, a Chinese herbal tea that has become an insider secret within the voice actor industry.
Finding Inspiration in Unusual Places
Unlike many other voice acting roles, McCarley says he was especially pleased that Crunchyroll gave them creative freedom and “let them do their jobs.” Likewise, Niosi believes that a truly great dub doesn’t need to follow the original script perfectly. It’s the director and actor’s own little contributions that can bring unique elements to the characters. An English dub can never copy the Japanese version perfectly, but the voice actors can make the dubbed version just as memorable and funny.
Part of that unique personality in the dub may come from the actor’s surprising place of inspiration for their characters. Niosi worked Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura into Reigen, while McCarley worked himself into character between takes by doing a Michael Jackson impression. So Mob Psycho 100‘s English dub is actually a spiritual crossover between Ace Ventura and Michael Jackson.
Voice Actor “Celebrity”
For both Niosi and McCarley, their voice acting careers have only just started taking off. Mob Psycho 100 gave them a huge boost, leading to Niosi landing roles in shows like Cartoon Network’s OK K.O.! He seemed truly charmed by the fan reaction, especially the positive reception to the Mob Psycho 100 dub.
To be a voice actor is a strange kind of celebrity for these two. There are the occasional conventions with face-to-face meetings with fans. But in typical daily life, they are afforded the anonymity of being just normal people. And although fans occasionally recognize them, their faces are not nearly as famous as their voices.
Niosi and McCarley would love to reward fans with a Season 2. Borrowing a DBZ Abridged line, Niosi said, “please support the official release.” The DVD and BluRay of Mob Psycho 100 will be released by Funimation on December 5th.