At Supanova on the Gold Coast, fans were treated to an awesome panel featuring Amanda Winn Lee, Tiffany Grant and Spike Spencer, the voices of Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langley Soryu and Shinji Ikari respectively, from the original Evangelion series. With the three Eva pilots all together again on the mic, it was certainly an eye-opening experience for Eva fans – here are just a few highlights from the panel and what you might expect when you see them next.
Before it exploded in popularity in Japan, how did A.D. Vision know that this was a show worth picking up?
Amanda: “I think it’s because of the 14-year-olds. A lot of people identify with the kids and, not necessarily with saving the world, but with the stresses that they are deluged with and how they have to keep with them, and the fact that they do have to save the world, but they’re still 14… In an odd way, I think some of the humanity is what really endeared it.”
‘Eva’ is a show that has had many, many different endings now, and-
Spencer didn’t even need to wait for this question to finish, years later he’s still fired up to talk about the divisive end of to the TV show. In fact, all three actors had a lot to say about the infamous ending.
Spike: “Yeah, so the original ending… Who here has seen the ‘end of Eva rant’ that I did? [If you don’t know, this was a DVD-only extra of Spike Spencer ranting about the abstract nature of the TV show ending, in character as Shinji.] That was completely off-the-cuff. That was not planned, that was not scripted, that was the end, I saw that, I went, ‘What?’ Huh?’ I said, ‘Uhh, that’s it?’ and Matt (Eva voice director) went, ‘Yep.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Yep.’ ‘Can you open up the mic?’ And that’s what happened, and he decided ‘Yeah I’m gonna put that on the DVD.'”
Tiffany: “Back in those days, I used to get the videos from Matt before I went in to record and I would watch the Japanese translation… I remember the night before I was gonna go in and record the last episode, and I was watching it just at home by myself, and as soon as I watched it I called Matt and I said, ‘Are you kidding me!? That’s really the end, are you serious!?’ And he just laughed at me.”
Amanda: “Honestly, [from the directorial perspective] it was, ‘How do we not make this suck?’ It was such a terrible ending and it was so awful. I think that’s why Anno did the first round of Eva movies, Rebirth and End of Evangelion, because, he’s like ‘Okay, you don’t like the ending I gave you? Fine, here’s another one…'”
What was the hardest part of playing your characters?
Spike: “Getting into character was interesting because, you know, a few years ago I did the third Rebuild, and I can get into the character a lot faster now, but it took a little time, because it’s acting, it’s not just, ‘Oh I’ll change my voice and haha, here we go!’ It’s more than that. There’s an attitude that has to be there. It was different when we were doing it back then because we were able to get in deeper, now we move so fast.”
Amanda: “Like Spike said, we had two years to really dig in to these characters, and I think that helped bring a lot more richness to the characters. The hardest part about playing Rei was playing Rei. I was clinically depressed when I was 14, and Rei is that 14-year-old that still lives in my head. Here is this girl, Rei, that knows if she dies, she’s completely expendable, nobody cares, another her will be there the next morning, but she’s still got a job to do. Also, she’s 14, she’s being flooded with hormones and emotions and all these strange things, and I think that Asuka and Shinji humanise her, and that is an interesting journey to watch.”
Tiffany: “Yeah, I think when we finally did the Director’s Cut footage, years later, and that got on the ‘Platinum’ version of the TV series, a lot of that was really heavy, it got more of the backstory of Asuka, and all the tragedy of her childhood, and she was a really broken, very lonely person, and even though she has a lot of bravado outwardly and seems to be very confident, she’s just as lonely and vulnerable and messed up as any of the other kids in the show, and it does kinda take you to a dark place, doing that.”
Are you excited for the fourth ‘Rebuild’ film, and have you watched the 10 minutes of footage that Anno released of it on YouTube?
Tiffany: “Honestly, I have not bothered to watch that 10-minute video, because, let me just tell you my personal opinion: None. Of. That. Will. Be. In. The. Movie. None of it will be in there, it’s all a lie. None of it’s going to be in the movie and if you think it is, you’re wrong!”
Knowing Anno and Khara’s history of delivering on the Rebuild films, she is absolutely right. Fun fact: In the home release of the first Rebuild, Anno states that the third and fourth films were going to be released SIMULTANEOUSLY, as in together. Eight years later…
For people that have never done voice acting before and wanna get into it, where would you start?
Spike, Amanda and Tiffany, in unison: “Acting.”
Amanda: “The very first thing you need is acting lessons, it’s interesting, a lot of people think, ‘Oh, I can make my voice do all these funny things, that’s really cool,’ but that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna be able to get to the heart of your character, or understand why your character is doing what they’re doing, so just basic acting lessons are absolutely vital.”
Tiffany: “Yeah acting, and now with the internet, there are so many things you have access to; podcasts, original projects, make your own things, when we started doing this there wasn’t really that avenue of opportunity to find info or learn stuff, or work on projects with people from the other side of the world.”
Spike: “Once you take the lessons, focus in, it depends on what you wanna do, you can take lessons, you can take coaching, you can go to iwanttobeavoiceactor.com, that’s Dee Bradley Baker, probably one of the best voice actors there are, I’ve never even met the guy but he’s brilliant, one of the top of the top.”
What’s the best thing that ‘Eva’ and the fans have given you?
All three, in unison: “Trips to Australia.”
Spike: “Yeah, I mean, are you kidding me? We get a chance to travel around the English-speaking world-”
Amanda: “And meet amazing people.”
Spike: “We’ve been doing this for 15 years, I’ve been all over Australia because of, we’ll not just this my IMDB says *BOOM sound accompanied by gesture* yeah we’ve done a lot, but Eva is the one that everyone always wants to talk about. It’s phenomenal and we’re blessed. You know we’re here on the Gold Coast… Freaking cool!”
Tiffany: “It’s incredible to be part of something that is this entrenched in the culture with so many people, that has meant a lot to, now generations, of anime fans, and I am very grateful to be a part of it.”
Amanda: “I don’t care if anyone ever sees it again, if it just helped one kid get through, we did our job right.”
Tiffany: “It’s amazing, because obviously none of us at the time, we never had any idea of the impact the show was gonna have, or that it was gonna have that profound of an effect on a lot of people, I mean it’s amazing.”
There were a lot of interesting nuggets of info from the three actors (Did you know that Australia is still the only country outside of Japan to air Eva on public TV? And that the three Eva Pilot voice actors each got hitched to the three actors of the NERV staff from Central Dogma? That’s Ibuki, Hyuga, and Aoba btw, the nerds that always sit at the computers) but the most interesting fact of the session had to be this one:
Tiffany: “At the time ADV were trying to get the rights for the show, there were other people competing for it, and even though Gainax was very…”
Tiffany: “Yeah they were so, so, obnoxious about everything, so nitpicky about it, they still felt like, that ADV was going to do the best job with it, because there was somebody else, like *REDACTED* I wanna say, a really big company was vying for the rights but they were gonna call it like, Angel Riders, and completely change the storyline, so Gainax said, ‘No you can’t do that,’ and I think ADV did a really good job of putting the story across and localising it for English speaking audiences, that obviously resonated with people.”
Lead Image: Tiffany Grant, Amanda Winn Lee and Spike Spencer at Supanova 2020 – Melbourne. Photo by Steven Yee.