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MHA: World Heroes’ Mission voice actors on Deku’s journey, and why it’s the perfect gateway anime series

Justin Briner and Ryan Colt Levy talk to us about voicing the new My Hero Academia movie

My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission

The third My Hero Academia anime movie, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, takes our heroes on a global adventure to stop catastrophe. As heartwarming as ever, the animated movie also tackles darker themes about systemic failure, and genocide.

Coming to theatres around the world, the film is something of a watershed moment for the anime series. By using locations in multiple continents, World Heroes’ Mission is tactile celebration of the massive community that has come together to celebrate Deku, and his friends Dynamight, Shoto, Uravity, and more, as they strive to be the best Pro-Heroes they can be.

Not only that, but the new film introduces Rody Soul, a street-smart protagonist who adds an extra layer of drama, and provides an interesting companion for Deku. We were able to sit down with Justin Briner and Ryan Colt Levy, about voicing Deku and Rody. They tell us about their own investment in the animated series, what it was like recording their parts, and why My Hero Academia has become such a prominent anime.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission feels like a major moment for the anime. Third movie, worldwide theatrical release – you must both be excited about it?

Ryan Colt Levy: Oh, yeah. I’m still processing that it’s actually happening for me, because I know Justin’s had this experience somehow before, which is wild even to be able to say, Yeah, I’m still realising it’s actually happening, which is pretty incredible.

Ryan, your character, Rody Soul, has had a great response from the audience already, with lots of fanart and the like. Did you expect that reaction?

RCL: No, no, not at all!

Justin, you’ve talked before about how standard your audition process for Deku was. What is it that’s kept people invested in his journey, do you think?

Justin Briner: Deku, I mean, I just think he’s a really special character in getting to be with the show for so long. And now, going to conventions or events, such as the movie premieres where people are so dang passionate about the show, is amazing, because to me Deku has always felt like just a real kid.

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You know, despite the superhuman everything that’s happening around him, he deals with stuff that kids do, such as, you know, dealing with your self worth, people telling you you can’t achieve certain goals that you have set your heart on. I just think that can be really difficult to navigate by yourself. So to see a character like Deku, especially for kids growing up, and having him to root for I just think is really amazing.

Rody and Deku have great chemistry in the movie. What was the recording process like? Were you able to run lines together before recording? How did you prepare?

JB: In an ideal world, I’m sure we would have done all our scene studies and everything. No, unfortunately, the recording process is pretty individual. So sometimes, I would go in and hear Ryan, what he’d recorded before me. And I’m sure the opposite also applies sometimes. So that was the most exposure we got otherwise, it was just building these characters’s relationship from scratch.

It’s a cool opportunity that we don’t get often, as these characters just never knew each other before the events of the movie. So we get to see them go from the very beginning, foundational building blocks to where they end up toward the end. And that’s, that’s just been super cool.

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RCL: And I will add that I’ve been a fan of the series for a very long time. And when I found out that I was going to get to actually be a part of this, I did a very intense binge watch where I rewatched the entire show in like a matter of weeks. I think I needed emotional preparation, because I love the idea of going in kind of raw to it, because we’re used to that anyway.

A lot of the time it’s work where we don’t get to do that much research, even if we want to. So that was part of my processing to get ready to do the work was, ‘I need to digest all of this again to get into the emotional headspace of it’.

The film has some dark themes, like police corruption, and mass murder, and so on. Why do you think it’s important for family movies to get into that darker subject matter?

RCL: You know, I think ultimately, we know that the world is not simple and clean and pure as much as we want it to be. And we want to be able to protect each other from the scary things that happen in this world. But I think it’s also really important to inform each other in order to protect each other, and to be able to share these kinds of things.

To have these conversations as a family, I think is a really safe space and an important space to be able to do that. And I appreciate that a show like this that is so positive and uplifting, and a film like this has that energy to it, that we can have that conversation and do it in that space. So I think it’s necessary because we can’t get away from it in the real world.

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JB: Yeah, I agree. You know, media always in one way or another reflects the world around it. So I do think it’s important with a series so heavily invested with heroism and what is right and what is wrong and what is in between, it’s never been afraid to explore those spaces. So I think it’s cool that we get this sort of international scope of what their world really looks like, and how it works.

The success of Squid Game on Netflix has people discussing the quality of subs and dubs in non-English language media. As voice actors, is there anything to look for in a translated script to know you’re contributing to something that captures the original work?

JB: I think that tends to be a bit above our pay grade, we are lucky to say the words that are so dutifully written for us. But I think we’re also in a unique position to really appreciate just the huge amount of hard, tough work that goes into adapting an entire work of media into a whole other language to be understood and consumed properly. That is just a terrible feat. So yes, much respect to everyone who makes it happen, because I definitely do not hold the expertise.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission

My Hero Academia is one of the biggest anime franchises in the world. What do you think makes it such a good gateway and mascot for getting into anime?

RCL: I think its themes are just universal. There’s the obvious element of superheroes being finally at the forefront of people being able to appreciate that collectively. When we were growing up, it was harder to get people into superhero stuff en masse, and now it’s popular enough that it will get people invested just by their nature to be curious.

And then the show itself is so wholesome and funny and unique. I think it plays with tropes in a really interesting way, that it’s so immediately engaging that you can get anybody to watch it who even is not used to watching anime. I’ve brought so many people into the fold of watching other anime because of My Hero Academia.

JB: Yeah, I hear exactly the same thing very often. Like, ‘This was my first anime that I got into and now I’m hooked’, or ‘We watched this together as a family every week’. That’s the coolest thing. Anime was not cool when I was a kid. So to see how far it’s come now, is amazing. It just ended up being this perfect storm of, we already live in superhero mania, this is a highly accessible series with a lot of really cool, unique characters, and a lot of interesting stories.

It’s just, it’s a great gateway into this wide world of anime where you find that there is something out there for me that I like and that I love, and if I keep exploring then I’m going to find all kinds of really cool shows that I’d never would have accessed before. So for anime in general, I think this is just super cool to see, and My Hero Academia happens to be a really great ambassador for that.

Thank you both for your time!

RCL: Thank you so much!

JB: Thank you, you have a great day.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission is in theatres from October 29, 2021.