In recent years, anime has had more and more of a presence in pop culture. We’ve had anime feature films like Alita: Battle Angel that have been worthy installments in their series, and new upcoming adaptations like Netflix’s stab at Cowboy Bebop. Anime is an institution, and one of the most popular franchises in the industry is My Hero Academia. And, as it just so happens, to celebrate New York Comic Con, Funimation gave audiences a sneak peak at its latest original film, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission.
I was lucky to be able to sit down with the cast of the film at New York Comic Con and get to know a little bit about the process of working on the film. I met with Ryan Colt Levy, who voices the new original character Rody Soul, Sarah Roach, who voices a new hero named Claire Voyance, Lisa Ortiz, a veteran voice actress who plays Burnin, and the ADR Script supervisor Jeramey Kraatz. All of these voice actors have been around for quite some time, especially in the case of Ortiz, but for many of them, this was their first time being in My Hero Academia.
When asked about this, Ryan Colt Levy said that being a new addition to the cast was “humbling, inspiring, powerful, and overwhelming.” He goes on to say that “I feel a responsibility, like when we were recording it, I felt really aware that this was going to be seen by a lot of people… I have been so moved by everyone else’s performances that, you know, I have to bring that level to it.”
Most of the conversations related to what was going to happen in the movie all seemed to circle back on the film having a huge heart compared to other series. But another point that Levy and Ortiz made clear was that World Heroes’ Mission was a very accessible movie. It was described as one “that fans can go with their parents with” and “the one you go to see with your family.” The cast thinks that it’s an easy introduction to the world of anime thanks to its clear characters that are all likable that help to inform newcomers exactly what the appeal of the series, and anime in general, is.
I noticed as well that, like most anime feature films, the events of this film were self-contained and had an original story not based on any pre-established material. So I asked Jeramey Kraatz what the process was like to adapt this into English. The film was originally made in with Japanese voices in mind, and most people are generally unaware of what the process of ADR is.
According to Jeramey, the process starts out with receiving the Japanese version of the movie and the translators do a direct one-to-one translation of it. It’s then his job to craft the voices alongside the actors and directors and figure out how to polish up the dialogue so it properly conveys the same heart and tone and makes sure major moments hit the same way as they do in Japanese. After all, this isn’t just a fairly unknown anime franchise. This is a multi-million dollar franchise.
But there are some trepidations when it comes to adapting the script that Jeramey, as well as the actors, are aware of. Unlike the anime, where the source material is readily available and can easily be accessed, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission is an original film that is entirely independent of the manga. If anyone has a question about the original intent of the author or what their character may feel about a situation, they can’t just look it up in the books.
Jeramey goes on to say “you want to make sure you aren’t changing anything that is canon… A lot of these characters are original so [Claire Voyance], for example, is a new character, so I don’t want to input something into her story or lines where if she pops up later in the series I’ll have to ask ‘hey can we record these new lines or push out new DVDs?'”. We all had a nice little laugh at just how much something like that would cost, but it is indeed a tough balancing act.
But the cast in general was excited about the final product. They put a lot of time and effort into recording and bouncing off of each of their performances, with Sarah also stating pretty simply that the animation speaks for itself. And it’s some damned good-looking animation. It’s pure, distilled My Hero Academia goodness that fans are sure to love and be excited by the will deliver on the fan service and character beats you’d come to expect from the show.
My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Missions premieres theatrically on October 29, 2021.