By: Jay Levy
An Interview with Voice Actress Luci Christian
I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with four American voice actors from some of the most popular anime out there while at Metrocon in Tampa, FL, on July 20. Their answers are virtually unedited and hopefully give a little insight into their personalities and their work. To get to know them better, skip to the bottom and check out their speed round answers. Now, onto the interview:
Luci Christian pulled her legs up into her chair and wrapped her hands around her coffee mug as she took a sip. She was obviously a bit worn out after three days helming panels, signing autographs, and judging cosplayers at her first anime convention ever. Christian’s background that did not exactly prepare her for events with cosplayers prowling the hallways and otaku arguing about the viability of a battle between a Gundam and a Valkyrie.
Christian, who currently lives in Houston, has her Master in Fine Arts in acting from Louisiana State University and is a card carrying member of the actors union (with an agent to boot). Yet, exhausted and sitting here in the green room of Metrocon, she seems exhilarated by and thankful for where her career as an actor has taken her. While at ADV, she has done roles in Those Who Hunt Elves, Neoranga, and Gamera 2 & 3, but her first starring role is as Kaname Chidori in the current release Full Metal Panic. She is currently working on parts in Orphen Revenge as Lycoris, and Ran Kotobuki in Super GALS.
What was it about acting that pulled you into it?
I think it kind of chose me. My mother put me on stage when I was 3 to sing in a talent show, and I did beauty pageants in Texas from when I was 3 until I was 9, with big hair and big dresses and little pageant shoes. After that I got into high school and it turned out I wasn’t so good in sports, but I was really good at theater. Didn’t think about it going anywhere until I got a full scholarship going to college. They said if I’d change my major from journalism to theater they’d pay my way, and I went, ok! And, so I went and ended up going to grad school. And, again, things just fell into place. So, things continued being put in my path. And when I went to Houston I didn’t know anyone; my aunt lived there. The Alley Theater was there and I was like, “Oh, I want to work there.” Didn’t have any idea about anything, then within a year I started getting hooked into things again, so I think it found me.
Of the parts you’ve played, which is the most difficult and why?
Actually, Full Metal Panic is the hardest for me. [At this point, a hearty “Amen” echoed through the room from Chris Patton who was lounging on a recliner and who plays Souseke in Full Metal Panic] I don’t know if it was because it was the first lead I had or what. I think Don [Rush, director on Full Metal Panic] will tell you this, he really knows what he wants. It’s a different experience when somebody has a very definite idea and they want you to sound they way they want you to sound. It’s not quite as organic as some [acting situations]. That was kind of a trip, and knowing that it was a title that everyone was anticipating and being a relative unknown [She laughs] It was daunting and scary and you end up going, “Are they going to hate me?” And we had … Don, for episodes six through eight had a conflict, and someone else took over those episodes. So, having a different director in sort of the middle of the project was different, too, in terms of continuity.
Be a social commentator for a moment, what are some aspects of anime you would praise:
This is actually easy and I only have the answer because I came here [to Metrocon]. I’ve seen a lot of people here that are at a very formative time in their life, and, through this medium, they get to become somebody else with very positive qualities – brave people, courageous people, fun people, magical people, people with all kinds of magic around them. I think it’s very romantic. I really do. I think it’s romantic. I think people look to escape adolescence or whatever. And the thing is, when you grow older, you still retain the fandom of whatever it is you’re a fan of. That allows you that kind of escapism or role-play like when you were younger.
Nothing’s perfect, though. What aspects of anime deserve some criticism?
That’s interesting. I’m not sure. I think it is interesting how everything has in-house debate. Like the debate between the sub people and the dub people. And this kind of thing, voice actors come to things like this [Metrocon] and there are people who are angry. [She laughs] And you know, I guess that’s all just in-house stuff that happens with every medium … that’s certainly not just this genre. I guess it’s just hard, this is not the sort of medium the majority of people know much about. You know, when I said I was doing it [anime voice acting], people automatically jumped to maybe I’m doing the porn stuff, and I’m like “No no no no no!” you know?
Anime fans notoriously separate into camps, one of the most vocal being the sub vs. dub debate. If you could say something to the purists to get them to give dubbed shows a chance, what would you say?
Well, we respect the Japanese; we don’t think we’re better than the Japanese. We’re happy to have work [she laughs]. I don’t know how they do it in Japan, I really don’t. But, here the people I know at ADV who do work are really good actors. Its not about getting in front of the microphone trying to outdo somebody across the ocean. It’s people that actually have a great respect for this. Most of the people that work there are fans themselves. The have a great respect [for the material] and take what they are given and try to make it so that if a person here wants to watch it, it is accessible to them. That’s why we do it in English. It’s not about being pure, it’s about taking it and going ‘This is why it’s so great over there, and why people love it over here.’ Then we take that and bottle it in such a way that the people here will get to experience it. Some don’t want to hear Japanese or read [when they watch a DVD].
Speed Round Questions:
Favorite Anime Role: Ran Kotobuki in Super GALS
Favorite Movie: Dr. Zhivago/Almost Famous/The Pianist
Favorite TV show: A&E Pride and Prejudice/Trading Spaces/Law & Order
Favorite Book: Anna Karenina
CD currently in your CD player: Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
I think the most overated thing in the world is: Hollywood
Country I’d most like to visit: Italy
Vanilla or Chocolate: “Definitely chocolate!”
This interview was conducted by Jay Levy at Metrocon on July 21, 2003. Any questions or comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.