BuzzFeed set up a chat with several actors from the Demon Slayer dub: Zach Aguilar, who plays Tanjiro; Aleks Le, who plays Zenitsu; Bryce Papenbrook, who plays Inosuke; and Abby Trott, who plays Tanjiro’s sister Nezuko; to talk about their work. The actors, among other things, shared how they get prepared to voice their character and how some of them have spoken with their Japanese actor counterparts.
Talking about how to get into character as loud and overbearing Inosuke, Papenbrook revealed:
“I discovered two tricks that helped me really hone in on my inner Inosuke and maintain my voice. The first is something I don’t usually do before recording: a vocal warm-up. This consists of getting in my car, sitting in traffic, making eye contact with another driver and laughing like Inosuke. The squirming motorists trying to get away from me are icing on the cake to prepping my voice for a day of yelling. The second involves dark, disgusting coffee. I always brew the darkest coffee I can make. The kind that is so bitter it makes you angry. Between each line, I take a sip, and that sets me right in character.”
Trott said that the first episode had a major impact on her:
“For me, it has to be Episode 1 when Nezuko first gets turned into a demon. She attacks Tanjiro, and he tries to fend her off with an axe between her fangs, pleading with her to remember who she is. Suddenly, he gets through to her, and she starts to cry. THIS SCENE GETS ME EVERY TIME. It shows how strong their bond truly is and how unique these siblings are.”
Le met Hiro Shimono, who plays the same character — Zenitsu — in Japanese. Speaking about the experience, he said:
“I was visiting Japan for a business trip, and I had no idea I was going to get the chance to see Shimono-san. He surprised me at dinner and was joined by [Natsuki] Hanae-san [Tanjiro’s Japanese VA]. We spent the night eating delicious yakiniku, drinking, and talking about anything you could think of. Despite the language barrier, I felt a great connection with Shimono-san. We even watched some of the Zenitsu English clips together and had a blast. I was very happy that I got to tell him how much of an inspiration he was to me and how grateful I was for all of his advice and words of encouragement. We promised each other to learn Japanese/English respectively so that the next time we met up we could communicate more directly without needing so much help from an interpreter. Ultimately, it was an incredible time, and my brain is now filled with even more Zenitsu than ever.”
Aguilar also has interacted with Hanae and revealed:
“Meeting Hanae-san was surreal because I’ve been a fan of his work for quite a while. He was so kind and genuine! He told me to trust in myself and to portray Tanjiro’s emotions in my own way. It was a huge boost of confidence to hear him say that.”
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.