Emotions Are (Not) Prohibited
Whether you’re an old school fan who knew her by the Youtube moniker of Rina-chan, an anime enthusiast who has come to adore her ever-increasing resume of now iconic characters, or just simply love everything and anything to do with Nier: Automata, there’s no doubting the impact Kira Buckland had managed to leave as a voice actor.
If you weren’t left in tears by her solemn performance as the beautiful yet hardcore android 2B, then chances are she was also making you unknowingly laugh you ass off in games/shows such as Kakegurui, Blood Lad and, of course, HuniePop.
Luckily, she was more than happy to take a break from serving Yorha and hunting for Soul Edge to chat with us about her career and characters!
While many can only dream of going from a die-hard fan of all things animated to a beloved voice actor, you’ve managed to make it a reality! Of course, a lot of people still have trouble coming to grips with how the “acting” side of it comes into play. At what point did you realise that you had to go full-theatre in order to make your dream come true?
“Like many people, when I was young and aspiring I was too focused on learning to do a bunch of different voices and impressions. Those things aren’t bad and they have their own place in one’s toolbox, but it was one of my acting teachers in college who really pointed out to me that the heart of everything you do should be making the character come to life in a real and believable way. It really changed the way I approached auditions after that and helped prepare me for moving to the competitive Los Angeles market. When I meet people online who tell me they want to do this, I try to really stress to them that what’s going to book you the role is less about how “cool” or “interesting” your voice sounds and more about how you bring the character to life.”
Looking back to your teenage years, are there any performances from an anime/cartoon/game that stand out in your mind as the catalyst for your interest in voice over?
“One of the games that really helped spark my interest in voice acting was Soul Calibur II, back in high school. I used to try copying the character’s win quotes, much to the obvious annoyance of my friends at the time. Had you told me that over a decade later I’d be taking over as the voice of one of those characters, I wouldn’t even be able to imagine it!”
Before we move onto your actual roles, it’s worth noting that you don’t only bring the thunder in the booth, but have also cosplayed as many of your now iconic roles. When did this interest first start, and can you give advice to those who might fancy giving it a try but are held back by things such as budget or nerves?
“I’ve been cosplaying for as long as I’ve been voice acting, so since about 2004! These days I don’t have as much energy to put into it as I used to, so I do a lot more casual cosplays because I still love playing with wigs and makeup. I think it’s important to cosplay the characters you like and feel confident dressed as, and not stress too much about things like popularity or follower counts. You will meet people in virtually any community who try to bring you down with negative words, so I think it’s really important to do the things you love and not let anyone else bring you down over it.”
You’ve certainly thrown your hat into the ring when it comes western animation. While she may stand to the sidelines while the costumed crimefighters take up the screen, was it a fun experience to play Alix/Timebreaker in Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir?
“Absolutely! As is typical, I auditioned for a handful of characters back when it was being cast, and even though Alix was a smaller role I remember really wanting her because she had been described as something like a “skater-punk” type which I can really identify with—she’s a lot like I was as a teenager, and it was also a nice change from the archetypes I normally play.”
It’s practically a rite of passage for a voice actor to take on the role of a young shounen hero that gets embroiled in all manner of fight scenes. Did you find playing Hunter x Hunter’s Zushi a challenge or an architype you could revel in?
“Zushi was super fun for me. I’ve played a lot of young boy roles before, but a lot of them were either very minor roles, projects that got pushed to the wayside, or projects that were never released in America. So getting to prove myself as a character like that in a show on television was very special. Plus, Zushi’s energy and optimism is contagious. “Osu!”
What would you say was the more appealing role? A barrel of fun like Blood Lad’s Hydra Bell or an enigmatic butterfly like Kuroyukihime in Accel World?
“I love both those characters very dearly in different ways, but characters like Bell I just have such a blast with because I get to play and have fun and go crazy. She’s definitely in my natural archetype, whereas someone like Kuroyukihime was a challenge (in a good way!) to portray because I wasn’t used to having to hold back on emotion and energy. Of course, I think that helped prepare me much later for playing my most iconic role which is 2B.”
We can only imagine how awesome it was to play a firecracker like Mary in Kakegurui. At what point did you realise that she wasn’t a one-off snob but rather Yumeko’s crazy partner in crime?
“From the very beginning I felt right at home playing Mary. I mentioned that crazy and kind of bratty characters have always been my “typecast”, and while typecast is sometimes seen as a negative thing I personally love getting to play so many of these types of characters. I actually didn’t even have to audition for the role of Mary—I was approached and offered the part, which is a very big honor because it basically shows that they trust you will do a good job.”
Violet Evergarden touched on a whole slew of potent and raw themes when it came to discussing humanity’s emotional flaws. If you could have Luculia serve as your Auto Memory Doll, what would you have her write a letter about?
Modern anime movies are proving to be just as poignant now as they were during Miyazaki’s golden age. Do you have any fond memories from your time dubbing A Silent Voice, In This Corner of the World and 5 Centimetres Per Second?
“I think movies have to be a thing on every actor’s bucket list, and I’m no exception. One thing I’d really love someday, though, is to be in a movie that has a major theatrical release. But I should also mention that it was just announced recently that I’m playing the character “Kyoko” in the upcoming movie “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas”! Don’t let the title fool you—you’re probably going to cry a lot.”
Moving onto the world of video games, which of these kickass ladies would you say is your fighter of choice? Soulcalibur’s Talim, Street Fighter’s Falke or Skullgirl’s Marie?
“I love them all, but I’ve gotta choose Talim. She was just so much fun and I really felt at home in the role, but I’m sure that’s partly because Soul Calibur was my introduction to fighting games and I really like her playstyle.”
We obviously know why, but for those not in the know, can you explain why Lola is clearly the best girl in HuniePop?
“She likes coffee. End of story.”
Nier: Automata ended up taking a lot of gamers by surprise, especially when it came to its titular android. Do you recall at what point you realised that 2B was so much more than death in high heels?
“Obviously working on the game during the recording process, I got to know a lot of the story. And then you realize a lot of things that make you feel so many emotions you are unprepared for, and I think that’s a big part of why fans felt really connected to the game. When Kyle (9S) and I played through the game together after release, it hit us much harder because we got to see and hear everything come together. When you’re recording, you don’t record with the other actors or hear their dialogue, and you’re mostly looking at your lines on a spreadsheet. So actually playing the game is a very different experience.”
Despite having to share the spotlight with numerous other protagonists across a puzzle box of a plot, 2B has endured to this very day as a character many can’t help but feel endeared towards, in spite of her robotic persona. What do you think it is about her that mesmerizes fans? Outside of the gothic battlemaid outfit, of course.
“I think a big part of it is her interactions with 9S. The two of them are a stark contrast to each other personality-wise so their dialogues play off each other really well. 2B starts off as very cold and stoic but when you get to see more of her true feelings and why she acts the way she does, it’s heartbreaking. It’s ironic because one of her most known lines is “Emotions are prohibited”, but when you play this game, emotions will hit you like a freight train.”
Kira, thank you so much for your time! If fans want to message you and tell you how much they worship the ground 2B walks on, where can they find you?
“I also run an online community that connects voice actors and content creators around the world, and we have many resources for aspiring voice actors too. You can find it at www.voiceactingclub.com, and we also have a Discord server.”
And finally, as an honorary member of WatchMojo, if you could choose a subject for a top ten list, what would it be?
“Top 10 Iconic David Bowie moments…and I’d want to narrate it!!”