One of the best parts of this ten year journey has been the connections I’ve made with some extraordinary people. Not everyone I’ve met has been nice, that’s for sure, but the vast majority of those I’ve interviewed have been as authentic and kind as they are talented. It really has been a blessing to meet so many people in the anime industry (or connected to it), and to continue to interact with many of them professionally, and with a few on a more personal level—and it’s been the same with our staff members who have conducted interviews.
Let’s start with the voice actors. We’ve connected with a number through anime conventions and other opportunities. Caitlin Glass comes to mind first, of course, and someone who’s been so supportive of us through the years. I first met and interviewed her way back in 2011 for a two-part article we posted. She’s continued to partner with Beneath the Tangles, most recently through a video interview series revolving around Haikyuu. I’ve so admired her faith and how she expresses it, so it’s wonderful to have this connection with her. I could say something similar about Luci Christian, the first Christian voice actress that I was aware of, who also spoke with us a couple years ago.
We also have a great relationship with Elizabeth Maxwell, who I met at a more general comic convention of all places (I also had an opportunity to sit with Patricia Summersett there). Elizabeth is so talented and sharp-witted, and a geek to boot, that it’s a wonder more anime podcast don’t feature her. I’ve heard her on other types of podcasts, but the anime world is missing out—she’s an amazing interview. So is Beau Billingslea, who, like Elizabeth and some of the others, has resume goes far beyond voice acting. He’s been involved in a number of culturally significant movies and series, and is a wonderfully warm person.
We’ve also recently teamed with up and coming VA Macy Anne Johnson, interviewing and bringing her on as a guest host on the TangleCast (I hope you’ll check out that episode—it really is a fun one, and revolves around a classic anime series).
Others on our staff have also tried their hand at interviewing, including this cool piece with J. Michael Tatum. There have been times, too, where our staff hasn’t been able to secure a one-on-one interview, but still reported back on sessions involving convention guests, like this one with Miho Okasaki or this with Aqours. Those and others I’ve mentioned have been made possible through the work of convention staff, volunteers to whom we’re so grateful. I’ve also been able to connect with cosplayers at cons, who helped feed a short series I did on cosplay issues and even one of our TangleCast episodes.
As you might detect from the cosplayer interviews, we sometimes go a little off the beaten path, interviewing guests that might not immediately come to mind when you think of anime, including J-pop artists, with the performance below sung at my request, and those involved in the industry, like the character designer for Tsuki ga Kirei, the author of a visual novel, and the owner of a convention. The unintended consequences of these interviews is that it’s expanded our network and given me, at least, a wider understanding of anime, both in North American and in Japan.
I mentioned music above, and musicians have also certainly been a great source of interviews for us. Jasmine Rodgers, the lead singer and a lyricist for Boa, was one of the most gracious talents I’ve ever interviewed. Nai Br.XX, who does the singing for Carole on Carole and Tuesday, blew us away with her talent and personality when sat with us for a podcast interview. And I was just thrilled to get to speak with Rie Fu, whom I’ve been a fan of for many years, adding an additional level of nervous excitement for me! But she’s such an old soul—I had a lovely time speaking with her, and felt this sense of relief, strangely enough, by confirming a story that I heard long ago about one of her songs, but for which I had never seen a reference.
But my favorite interview of all is probably that with Nobuhiko Okamoto, who just blew away my expectations. He was so generous and exciteable and kind. How can I put it…take his current most popular character, Bakugou, and get as far away from blow-up boy’s personality as possible, and that’s Okamoto!
You know, I don’t consider myself a journalist—it’s a role I feel uncomfortable with, and an important one that comes with certain responsibilities that I’m not always willing to carry. But all the goodwill I’ve received from putting on that reporter hat and conducting interviews has made me cherish these opportunities. We missed a year’s worth of cons because of COVID-19, and thus probably a half-dozen interviews or more, and I miss that interaction and presenting these awesome people to you on the blog. In the year ahead, expect us to make up for that lost time!
In the meantime, let us know who you’d like us to interview! We’ve got a few flyers out there right now, but are always eager to hear your feedback and learn who you think we should be checking out!
Featured illustration by Arden (reproduction permitted).