A lot of people will remember watching Yu-Gi-Oh! on TV ten or so years ago but, for those of us who haven’t entirely grown up, there’s still a lot of hype around the series. It’s certainly considered a ‘nostalgic children’s anime’ in the same way that Pokemon and Sailor Moon are.
MCM Comic Con has a reputation for drawing big-name ‘geek guests’ and the last London convention was no different, with Yu-Gi-Oh‘s Dan Green (the voice of Yugi/Atem) and Eric Stuart (the voice of Seto Kaiba) in attendance. I was fortunate enough to catch 10 minutes with them just before closing time to chat all things Yu-Gi-Oh!, voice acting, fans and a new original series in the works – Crossing the G.O.D.S.
Not that you probably need a reminder – but here’s a picture of Kaiba (left) and Atem (right).
And the actual Eric Stuart and Dan Green (plus yours truly)!
A big thanks to Dan and Eric for taking the time to talk, and MCM for organising!
Yu-Gi-Oh! was a big part of children’s TV viewing for a lot of people. Did you expect the hype to last this long?
Eric: No, not at all. I’m always surprised anyone wants to hang out with us!
Dan: Definitely not. To have the show popular at the time of release was maybe not as surprising, but the fact that it meant something and continues to mean something to people who became fans at such a young age is remarkable.
Eric: We worked on a bunch of shows and Yu-Gi-Oh! felt like one that had something to it at the time we were working on it. Then once we’d heard the response and heard from the fans that seemed to prove we were right. But we always think that what we’re working on might end up being popular!
Dan: Yeah, when you’re performing you have to commit to what you’re doing and convince yourself that it’s worthwhile. We’ve heard a lot of stories from fans, over the years but also just in the last few days, about how much the show meant to them. I met an autistic young man who told me he wasn’t able to speak clearly but his participation in the show motivated him to face that challenge, and now he’s a speech therapist. When he was telling me this story you would never have had any idea that there had been any issue for him. Another young woman shared that, when she was bullied when she was younger, the show helped her to find strength. Another woman shared that she was so depressed she even attempted to commit suicide while she was in school, yet for some reason her response to that show helped her through it. Not that we’re taking any credit of course, but it’s great to be part of a show that has meant so much to a lot of people in ways we didn’t anticipate.
I’m guessing you two are good friends in real life, outside of work?
Dan: More so now than when we were recording. Not that we didn’t like each other at the time!
Eric: I also directed the original series as well as voiced Kaiba, so I got to work very closely with Dan. Actors in the same show usually don’t see each other very much because they’re recording at different times. Over the years we’ve become closer and I consider Dan a dear friend.
So what is the best thing about being a voice actor?
Eric: I can wear whatever I want to go to work. I don’t ever have to look in the mirror! OK, honestly, for me the freedom to play any character I can sound like is the best thing. If I were just a ‘face actor’, as we like to call them, I would be limited to the roles that I would be cast for – unless I was using some sort of special effects. It’s theatre of the mind – I can play different ages, different sexes, different ethnic roles as long as I can do the voice. It’s a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work because your instrument is your voice. We’re constantly talking as we’re doing now. That to me is the most fun – I can play anything I can sound like.
Dan: I pretty much second that. I was originally doing stage acting and I just happened to be lucky enough to fall into voice acting. It’s about being able to take your imagination to wherever you can go and also, compared to a theatre or camera experience, you can do multiple takes. There’s also something about the immediacy of the production that really helps you develop your improvisational impulses, which is a lot of fun.
If you hadn’t gone into acting or voice acting, what do you think you might have ended up doing?
Eric: I’m a musician and singer-songwriter, so that’s what I started off doing. That’s an easy answer!
Dan: I have other creative interests; drawing, writing and directing. So those are things I would have done creatively but, outside of the creative field, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had got into something like psychology.
What’s the best or strangest present you’ve received from a fan?
Eric: I try to answer as much fan mail as possible. I was at a convention recently and met a young woman who had written to me with an interview when she was about ten years old. I’d responded to the interview and she read the report out to her class. She said she didn’t have any friends in school at the time but reading that interview helped her make friends. She’d saved the paper all those years and gave me a copy, one for me to autograph and the other for me to keep. I was so moved by that because, when you’re working on these shows, you don’t realise how much you affect people. That’s one of the great things about doing conventions. We really like that fan experience because we’re in the booth a lot of the time. It’s a privilege to meet fans and hear what they think.
Dan: That is really the most precious thing to me too. I’m not like Eric – I’m not very good at responding to letters from fans. I hope that’s not perceived as me being callous or uncaring. I don’t do what I do for the attention or the praise but for the fun of it. We’re actually doing a project right now with some very well known actors in the voiceover, particularly the anime, industry. It’s mostly going to be an illustrated audio production and is a chance for us to do something slightly familiar but entirely new, in the sense that it’s a bit more mature and nuanced. We’ll be presenting a story that’s matured as our fan base has and set in a sort of heightened super-world reality about the truths of being human and the struggles that any person can identify with.
Eric: It’s an original project that Dan wrote and we’ve formed this production company to bring it to life. We announced it at MCM yesterday which is quite cool!
That does sound interesting! Do you know when it’s going to be released?
Dan: It’s going to be released relatively soon, probably early 2018. There’s going to be a visual element, with some illustrations to go with the audio so the dialogue between characters remains naturalistic. Even the best radio plays can fall victim to lots of explanation like “oh, you just walked in from the rain!”, so we want to free the experience up from that. It’s not an animation but the illustrations will help the dialogue and acting sound as natural as possible. It’s called Crossing The G.O.D.S by Audramada Productions. We’re very excited about it and the fans too because we’re getting to do something that’s completely original. We’re hoping it’s something they’ll like but is also different to what they’ve seen before.
You can watch the trailer for Crossing The G.O.D.S. below and check out Audramada Productions’ website here!