From March 30-April 1, I was in Evansville, Indiana, attending EvilleCon. As I mentioned on a blog before the event, I was slated to interview Eric Vale, most famously known for his roles as Trunks in Dragonball Z and as America and Canada in Hetalia. Eric Vale had also done some voice acting for One Piece, Fruits Basket, Fullmetal Alchemist, and many other anime shows. He’s voiced several video games as well, including Borderlands, the Dragonball Z series, and Age of Empires. For a full résumé of Eric’s, as well as a demo of his work, you can check out his personal web site.
I met Eric at the convention, and he was everything I had expect him to be: well-spoken, funny, and approachable. At one point, I asked a small favor of him: I asked if he’d be willing to call my friend in New York who was also a huge Trunks fan. She didn’t answer the phone as it didn’t ring on her end, so he proceeded to leave her the best voicemail Trunks could have ever left anyone, ever. (That’s me starting to laugh at the end.)
He also signed a DVD of The History of Trunks for me and we had a brief conversation about stage names, among other things. All in all, I was really impressed with the way he handled himself, especially when a couple of overeager fans came around.
Due to planning issues beyond my control, I was unable to conduct an interview with Vale on site. We were forced to move our interview to an e-mail medium, which took time because, frankly, Vale is a man in high demand. He graciously answered my questions, however, and expanded on any answers that needed clarification.
Let’s start with the typical questions. For those who didn’t hear this question answered the three or four times it was asked at EvilleCon, how did you get into voice acting?
I’ve been acting since I was twelve. I got into voice acting by getting a contact phone number from a friend who was already voicing Bulma on DBZ. She thought I would make a good voice actor.
How did you get into video game voice acting?
I got into video game voice acting by simply auditioning. The first video game I did was a DBZ game, but I don’t know which one because it was about twelve years ago. My memory degrades as I age, haha. And there was no process for the audition since I already had the role of Trunks and the tournament announcer.
Is voice acting for video games different than voice acting for anime?
Yes. Video games are different because you don’t have any animation to concern yourself with. Specifically, with anime you have to watch video and match your acting with what is happening on screen. With video games, there is no video to match, so you can just go off of instinct and act in a vacuum, so to speak.
Which video games have you voiced?
I’ve voiced the video games for Borderlands 1 & 2, all the Dragonball games as the tournament announcer and Trunks, One Piece, Yu Yu Hakusho, and many more.
You mentioned that you don’t watch the anime you’ve voiced. Do you play any of the video games that you’ve voiced?
I do play video games, but not the ones I’ve voiced. My favorite video games are the Battlefield games.
To prepare for voice acting sessions, I simply warm up with vocal exercises.
What’s the longest voice acting session you’ve done?
The longest voice acting session never goes more than seven hours.
How do you wind down from a session? In other words, what do you do to relax after work?
I usually cook. I like to cook one pot meals these days. Something that requires inventiveness but very little clean up.
Who is the favorite character you’ve voiced in an anime and/or video game?
My favorite character that I’ve voiced is Desert Punk. Desert Punk allowed me to explore my filthy side and no one told me that I couldn’t. In fact, I was encouraged to be disgusting.
Are there any lines that have cracked you up as you read them? If so, do you remember any in particular?
No particular lines that have cracked me up. But the whole show of Desert Punk did a good job of making me laugh.
Do you ever voice multiple animes/video games at once?
I always voice multiple games and anime at once.
Do you ever have conversations with other voice actors and slip into character, or work with the same actors on multiple projects and have trouble keeping roles apart?
I never slip into character while talking to others or have trouble keeping roles apart. It’s pretty easy keeping roles apart.
Do you watch the Japanese anime or play similar video games before auditioning for a role?
To audition for a role, I only take into consideration the role and story. I don’t pull from other similar genres or entries.
Was it weird going back to Trunks to revoice anything—assuming you did revoice anything—for DragonBall Z Kai?
It wasn’t weird revoicing Trunks. It was actually nice to get to redo things that I thought maybe I didn’t do great the first time around.
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you to do?
Fans have asked me to sign body parts and go home with them. Yeah, weird stuff.
Have you ever considered live acting?
I do all kinds of acting all of the time. People who enjoy my anime work just don’t get to see my on-camera work too often. Hopefully in the future, they will see more of it.
You mentioned at the con that your daughter has autism and that April was Autism Awareness Month. Is there anything you’d like to say about that? (I like to give people a chance to talk about stuff they really care about, and you seem passionate on this subject.)
I think that Autism Awareness is a very important subject. April was Autism Awareness month, and I would like to challenge everyone to seek out those they might see as “weird” or “strange” and see if maybe they are in fact great people who just might see the world a little bit differently from how you see it. I’ve learned that autistic people are often wonderful and inspiring people who just have a unique viewpoint. It just takes a little bit of effort to know what they see and how they see it.
Do you have any advice for people getting into voice acting?
If you want to get into voice acting, the key word to it is acting. You don’t get into voice acting without being a good actor. You should seek out acting in all of its forms. Find a community theatre. Go to your college theatre department. Go to your high school theatre department. Start your own theatre troupe. As long as your acting, that’s what matters. That is the starting point.