June 5th saw in the English dub premiere of Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] THE MOVIE 1.presage flower, and we took the opportunity to sit down with the English dub cast to ask a few questions. Bryce Papenbrook (voice of Shirou Emiya), Tony Oliver (ADR director and voice of Lancer), Cristina Vee (voice of Sakura Matou), Kyle McCarley (voice of Shinji Matou), and Kaiji Tang (voice of Archer) all sat down to share their thoughts on the film and the dubbing process that went into it.
Spoilers for the first movie ahead!
What makes Heaven’s Feel different from the other routes?
Tony Oliver: What makes this a little different is that it’s an expansion of the story. Where we had Unlimited Blade Works that followed Fate/Zero where we set up the story and laid out the characters in this universe, now the universe is getting bigger and starting to corrupt, and the outcomes… the consequences of what’s come before in the previous two iterations are now being fleshed out in this one. Even though we’re only a third of the way through, we’re already seeing where it’s taken some turns. So it’s a little darker in that respect, and that’s hard to believe but it is a little darker in the sense of where it’s going, but also the characters are a little bit more fleshed out and we’re seeing larger aspects of things we’ve seen before – only now we’re seeing more dimensions of it. That’s the difference for me.
Cristina Vee: There’s a lot more Sakura.
Kaiji Tang: So, having previously been acquainted with the story elements of Heaven’s Feel, I think the main difference is the tone and character relationships. In the two previous paths, the character relationships were much different. Like, for example, you saw during the mapo tofu scene that character and Shirou are going to have a bit of a different kind of on-screen relationship going forward. The plot of Heaven’s Feel takes all the established lore and flips it onto its side, gives it a different perspective, and it’s a lot more horror-elemented this time around. It’s a lot darker and a lot creepier. It sort of gets more messed up as time goes along, so I’m really excited to see the next two.
For Tony, you’ve been involved with this since the original anime in 2006 where you voiced Lancer. Has your opinion of the franchise changed over time?
TO: My opinion of the franchise has matured. When I first worked on it in the original, first of all, I didn’t like my character very much. I mean, I loved playing him, but as a person I didn’t think he was… I didn’t like him very much. So I kind of felt a little standoffish and it was also a little more steeped in some of the high school lore, where they come from, which has never been my cup of tea in terms of shows. When I started directing in Fate/Zero, I got to be more intimate with it and got to see it in a larger perspective. And so in that respect, my opinion has changed quite a bit and it’s expanded and it’s grown to be my favorite franchise I’ve ever worked on. Particularly Fate/Zero really affected me a lot. It’s grown and I’ve come to appreciate it more and more, the storytelling.
Do any of you know anything from the other routes or past where the movie covered?
KT: Yes, absolutely, and I can’t say anything without spoiling the rest of it. But on record, yes.
Any favorite characters beyond the ones you all voiced?
TO: Directing it, the character relationships are what I liked the most. I really enjoyed for instance, in Fate/Zero, the relationship between Waver and Rider was the one that gripped my heart the most. In Heaven’s Feel, the relationships are still evolving, so it’s kind of hard to find the right one. Except for kind of the eternal relationship that’s going on between Shirou and Rin, which seems to come up in every iteration in a different way. And I like that each time they’re still trying to find out whether they like each other or not. (laughs) And it’s like, you know, go ahead and date already for crying out loud!
For Cristina, Sakura has had a pretty minor role in the other adaptations. How does it feel having her in the spotlight? Has your impression of her changed?
CV: Yeah, it’s been really awesome to play the character and see her grow from the little girl who was thrown into the pit of worms repeatedly and to now figure out, to see that she kind of has this, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know it’s going to be scary because I just have a feeling that she’s the type of character that has a really scary turn. It’s always the quiet meek ones. She’s very quiet and meek, so she’s going to be very scary.
It’s something alright! Don’t want to spoil anything!
TO: “I know something you don’t know!”
Stay off the wiki! (laughter)
Bryce Papenbrook: I have not been spoiled either.
Kyle McCarley: I just was. About ten minutes ago.
KT: Oh yeah, who spoiled it for you?
KM: A fan. I asked. I was like, “I want to know.”
Any favorite routes out of the three?
KT: Favorite is still Unlimited Blade Works by a very narrow margin because Heaven’s Feel is tremendous.
TO: It’s tough because they’re kind of all my step-children. Zero, right now, is… it’s not really a route… it’s the basis, it’s where it started and I thought the script was extraordinary and the story got to me. So Zero is my favorite out of all of them.
BP: I don’t know the end of this route, so how can I choose?
Now one for Bryce. What do you think of Shirou in Heaven’s Feel compared to Unlimited Blade Works?
BP: Well, again, I’ll still be diplomatic with my question. We haven’t seen how this plays out, and at the end of the movie I was shocked. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the second one, so how can I answer that question yet? But so far, what we’ve seen of Shirou, I mean, he’s kind of shown in his relationship with Sakura, sort of like a very protective side, and I’m very interested to see where it goes.
One more for you, has there been any scene voicing Shirou in this or Unlimited Blade Works that you found particularly difficult to do?
BP: I think one thing that’s been very demanding is playing it very real. In the directing, Tony has always asked me to give him something that has a lot of emotion without a lot of volume. It’s lines that are deep with a lot of feeling, without doing much. So it’s challenging, it’s playing the role almost as a real person in there, and it’s kind of a different vibe than most anime have, so trying to play it that way has been challenging. And I’ve found that just technically, I’ve been a little quiet, and especially in Heaven’s Feel I’ve found that I had to increase my volume without increasing it too much, so to say. So he could hear what I was doing, but not let it disappear.
TO: Let me jump in on that, since these guys won’t tell you this because they’re humble, well kind of. (laughter) We’re actors! But all of the parts they played are difficult in this. This is not your typical show where we’re looking for a particular sound or a funny feel or something that’s kind of surface for entertainment. The story calls for a lot of depth and a lot of depth of character, depth of the feeling. These characters are feeling nine things at once all in conflict, and we spend a lot of time what I call nuance chasing, just looking for that one little nugget that touches your heart. And it’s really, really hard to do. What these guys do is really difficult. It’s not just walking up and reading. So I’m gonna give them the props on that, because I do demand a lot, and the story demands a lot, and these guys are all up to it, and it’s hard what they do, it really is.
Another one for you, actually. How do you feel about how Lancer is treated in each route?
TO: How is Lancer treated? Well, he dies early. In the game he does not; it’s impossible to kill him in the game.
In Grand Order, he’s immortal.
TO: It’s amazing. But in the show, except for that one iteration, Grand Order, where I actually got to kill Archer and last more than two episodes… (laughs) He’s a character that’s about chivalry and posturing and grand ideas, and those are always the most fun to kill early. So I think he gets treated fine, it’s what he needs to be. Somebody’s got to be that character, so it has to be him.
KT: It’s so weird that it’s him, though, he’s literally Irish Hercules. You’d think he’d be one of the last ones in every route.
Yeah, he’s one of the strongest, but…
TO: But everyone who’s been morally pure have kind of been the ones who get messed up the most. Look what’s happening to Saber.
By the way, I loved seeing Saber Alter at the end of this one.
KT: Oh, Saber Alter, my favorite.
TO: I love the fact that we have an actor who can handle that, so well.
It’s playing the same character in two different roles.
TO: Another thing that’s hard to do.
Which you’ve done for Lancer in Grand Order as a Caster, right?
TO: Yes. Well, he was a Caster, he’s still the same character, he just had a different skill. And got to win.
Is there anything you kept in mind, especially when you were directing? Anything from the original, anything that you really kept in mind through the whole thing?
TO: It’s been important to all of us to maintain a consistency from story to story, so we do go back and revisit the characters. We go back to the original voice files and rematch. We remind ourselves what these characters are up to and what they’ve done before and do pay attention very much to the individual attributes that each character has. They do change a little from incarnation to incarnation, but the basis is very much the same, and it’s just a matter of point of view, so we’re very careful about that, remaining consistent across all of these various incarnations we see, and hopefully we didn’t make any mistakes. And if we did, don’t notice – please, thank you!
One for Kaiji, what do you do to get into character as Archer?
KT: I guess my answer is a little weird because I’m very familiar with this character from the years prior of not only being familiar with character himself, but having played through a lot of the Fate stuff. I played through the original visual novel, all the way through, all three paths. I watched the original Studio DEEN anime. I’ve been an anime fan my whole life, so I’ve been very, very familiar with this character in particular. So when I got to read for him for the first time, it’s a weird experience trying to come up with a character that you already know the foundation for. So it’s like you don’t want to lean too heavily on what’s been done in the past, and at the same time you don’t want to change so much that people are like “wait, that’s a complete 180 from the character we’re familiar with.” So I guess it was a challenge in that I wanted to make something new with the old.
Skyler has been an anime fan since he first saw Naruto on Toonami in 2005. He loves action shows and strong character writing, and finds writing about himself in the third person awkward. Read more of his work at his blog apieceofanime.com and follow him on Twitter at Videogamep3.