Hello everyone and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! Time for another interview from Omni Expo and this time it’s from a name I haven’t heard of myself until this convention. Matthew Mercer is the name and is a Florida Boy himself! Being from the Palm Beach area, he has done voices for Resident Evil Game Series as Leon Kennedy and now in the newest anime to hit Toonami Attack On Titan as Levi! I was glad to interview him and this is how it went!
Mari Blue Cat: I know you came from Anime Boston to Omni Expo, how does it feel to be here in Orlando?
Matthew Mercer: For one thing, I am originally from Florida. I was born in West Palm Beach, more like the West Palm Beach area, it’s more of a homecoming to come back to my home state. Secondly, I’ve been a fan of first year conventions because they’re generally smaller and intimate and give time for the fans and gives the chance to enjoy hanging out with the people that brought you there. For larger events, it is more sterile and more separated and today’s been very chilly and usually the first day of the convention is very slow and it’s been fun to be able to hang with the people have met and get to have lounging conversation and hanging with the staff, so far it has been fun.
MBC: How does it feel to meet people who love your work and cosplay as your characters?
MM: ::laughs:: It is very flattering! It’s also for me also being fan of the genre I’m in. I grew up playing video games and watching anime so I am a fan. From going into a professional realm from that and connect with people that have the equally passionate interests that I do ::in a gruff voice:: when I was their age ::back into regular:: you can say!
MM: You know it’s exciting and it’s cool to know that I in some shape or form inspired people a little better that enjoyed my work, it’s fulfilling in them. It validation and it’s our money and income so we have to feel validated! So meet the people that do appreciate it and hearing that positive feedback is tremendous to us because it makes us feel that we’re doing something that’s worth to somebody and I had people tell me stories about anime and video game characters that we’ve done have helped them with hardship through their life for…help them change for the better in life and you realize that you know you say they’re cartoons too and video games, they’re disposable media, I completely disagree! I think they’re extremely important to people, there are lessons and there are and any kind of form of storytelling the reason is to learn from these stories is to not only feel for these characters but their experience teaches you something about life, teaches you about how to progress in your own life and to me it reminds me as actors we are storytellers at a certain extent and really cool to meet people who are into it and so inspired to create these costumes by taking these characters as their own and you feel like, you feel like you make a difference in their life.
MBC: Right! Now that Attack On Titan is becoming huge, you are seeing people as a titan or a human character!
MM: Exactly! Teaching people how to run away from big people!
MM: Teaching them how to run from very big people is a very good lesson to teach!
MBC: Now that you’re appearing in anime, how does it feel to get the transition from anime to video games? Do you find it easier or…
MM: It’s different! It’s definitely more technical. My very first things I recorded were anime, started in that technical realm and then and pushed forward into video games as a career and then recently pushed back into anime. For video games and western animation, it’s definitely more of a free form for an actor give any performance you like; take time it’s really guided by you. For anime, because the animation is already created it’s more technical process, it’s more stringent, you have to work and as an actor you have to interpret the characters and the scene and do the normal process of building a character and then pair it, pinch it, and squeeze it into this preexisting performance piece and to me I find it to be a pretty interesting challenge. It’s a cool different way of challenging yourself as an actor, just working within those confines and deliver an enthralling performance of a character, which I enjoy thoroughly! I enjoy them all for different reasons, for anime the difficulty and technical aspects I have a lot of fun!
MBC: For some people it’s the flaps! Flap matching is pretty hard!
MM: It’s pretty difficult, if you’re lucky to have a director there to interpret some of the dialogue on the fly, when you’re recording and you’re realize that some translated dialogue doesn’t fit, it’s too long, it’s too short,…
MBC: Or fit with the cultural context!
MM: Exactly! Where most Americana won’t understand it to interpret it where the joke is still there, even if the even it it’s changed a little bit and some people get frustrated! It’s different from the track, the original Japanese but we have to kind of do that for the nature of American audience to do our best to keep it in the original idea, so it’s done with love and appreciation you know, there is no disregard for the original media, we’re doing our best to translate it!
MBC: Do you prefer recording video games or anime more?
MM: It’s hard to choose a preference! I love them both for different reasons. Most of my work is video game based and I was a hardcore video gamer growing up anyways, that has a special place in my heart! Especially since I had the opportunity to work on video game franchises I loved growing up, being a part of Street Fighter, being a part of Mortal Kombat, being a part of the Final Fantasy series, being a part of Star Ocean, all these things I loved…you know ThunderCats, these are all things I grew up around so its my upbringing with video games tend to lean toward that way for nostalgic purposes. But I also grew up on anime too, especially with all the new anime coming out it’s great, Attack On Titan, Kill La Kill, the new Hellsing…there is so much new things coming out that is gearing towards this cinematic intensity. While I lean towards video games which is where my work is in, I love anime for different reasons. I kind of research anime myself for my love of anime for these projects as well!
MBC: What was the first anime you’ve ever seen?
MM: Ever seen?
MM: Probably Unico! That’s old school! A tiny little unicorn with the red hair and the stuffy horn! I watched that as a little kid! Kimba the White Lion as well, I was four! Really acknowledging anime, Dragonball Z in Japanese with Korean subtitles, which my friend would get them at a bootleg Korean store and tells me what happens when the episode is over! ::laughs::
MBC: How did you get the role as Levi on Attack On Titan?
MM: The auditions came through Mike McFarland, the director, who I worked with him on one other project at Funimation and that was the FullMetal Alchemist movie, The Sacred Star of Milos and so that was fun and haven’t worked with them for a few years and it’s difficult to work with them when living in Los Angeles unless you have a history with them!
MBC: Yeah, it’s hard for Todd Haberkorn as well since he moved out to Los Angeles recently or a year ago according to the commentaries. (Fairy Tail commentaries, Todd mentioned that he moved out there and same with Cheramie Leigh as a note!)
MM: Yeah, Todd’s awesome! Mike contacted me and said “Hey! I have a new project I’m working on Attack On Titan, I want you to read for it!” He gave me a few characters to read on. I I heard of the series but haven’t watched it yet.
MBC: Oh! That was going to be my next question but you can continue!
MM: No worries! I never watched the series but heard about it! A lot of my friends who weren’t even anime fans have came up to me at parties and events and went “Have you watched this series Attack On Titan?” I was like, “Okay there is something to this series apparently!” After I auditioned for some of the characters, I decided to go back and actually start watching a few episodes of the series since everyone saw it on NetFlix and Hulu, and I was watching some episodes and eight or nine hours later I’ve marathoned the entire first season of the series on my couch and was like “This is AMAZING!” So I got really invested in it so I already read for the characters and I was already double excited at the possibility of being a part of it and when Mike McFarland called me up and wanted to cast me as Levi, I was like “Okay, no cool! That would be great! We will set up a schedule! All right! See you later man!” I hung up and pulled over in my car and sat in my car and fist pumping the air and going “Yeahaha! I am so awesome! I am so excited about this!” So that is how I got in!
Have you seen Team FourStar’s abridged version of Attack On Titan, well episode 1?
MM: I have actually, it’s been sent to me!
MBC: Oh really?
MM: ::laughing:: It’s totally awesome! All of their abridged stuff is fantastic!
MM: I’ve seen most of all their stuff they’ve done, the original Dragonball Abridged, all their series are great! I went back and watched their Attack On Titan Abridged and now going back after hanging out with them at this convention and go back to get caught up with that!
MBC: Are there any new projects you can talk about without any violation?
MM: That is the good question! I have a bunch of NDAs I’m excited about but over the summer there will be more announcements! There will be a lot of new video games and new anime projects coming out and would love to talk about but can’t!
MBC: You have to keep it shut!
MM: Yep! It’s so frustrating! They announced so much but can’t talk about!
Girl Volunteer: They did announce some things!
MM: They did announce the cast but I can’t talk about it but I have friends that are like “I am so excited about this game!” And I’m like ::says in nervous tone:: “Yeah me toooo!”
MBC: It’s like “I can’t say anything!”
MM: Exactly! So frustrating! I can say that Atlas announced that they are doing more Persona 4 stuff! They’re doing the new Arena release and there are Persona 3 tie-ins in it. I am working on that which I am so excited about! Other than that, there are more video games coming out at the end of the year so look out for those! For my fans out there, keep tabs on my Facebook and Twitter for more announcements when they are announce-able!
That is my interview with Matthew Mercer! So, if you are on Facebook and Twitter, follow him! I will like so many people out there! The good news is if you haven’t gone to Omni Expo and haven’t gotten to meet Matthew, you get your chance next year since Omni did announce their guest list for 2015 and he won’t be alone! Along with him from Attack On Titan, Trina Nishimura, Josh Grell, and Mike McFarland, which I am happy that he will finally return to Orlando in 2015! Will there be any interviews? Well, wait and see!
What is next up on the interview block? Carrie Savage is next! I may also include a very short interview I did with two of the cosplay guests since I feel my interview with Carrie was short as well! So, stay tuned for those! And