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‘Kaiju No. 8’ English Voice Actors Reveal Humanity Behind The Monsters, & Fighting Cockroaches – Interview

This interview has been edited for clarity.

The mere mention of the term kaiju conjures up references to colossal creatures that wreak havoc, leaving cities crumbling under their destructive presence. In most cases, it can also call up humanity to respond in retaliation, fighting for survival against insurmountable odds. While it is Japanese in origin, the reference now extends beyond the Land of the Rising Sun, moving past the latest Godzilla flick or a Power Rangers episode. Its latest incarnation though brings the concept much closer to ground level – literally – as anime series Kaiju No. 8, turns some of the monstrous kaiju into humans. Or is it the other way around?

Kaiju No. 8

Based on the popular manga series written and illustrated by Naoya Matsumoto, the series explores the incursion of kaijus around the world, and what happens when a human ingests one and turns into a human kaiju-hybrid. Since its debut on publisher Shueisha’s Shōnen Jump+ app and website in July 2020, the manga has grown in popularity, with the recent adaptation taking the anime-streaming platform Crunchyroll by storm. It’s also one of the few anime series that get a weekly simultaneous debut alongside the Japanese premiere, along with English dubbing and subtitles, which provides a level of challenge for the English voice actors who bring the series to life for an international audience.

To maintain a consistency in performance between the Japanese and English voice dubs, it can be common for the English talents to watch the original Japanese audio but the cast of Kaiju No. 8 only have time to watch things once, before they start recording. This means that the young actors – Nazeeh Tarsha (One Piece, Genshin Impact, My Hero Academia), the voice behind Kafka Hibino/Kaiju No. 8, Adam McArthur (Jujutsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia) as Reno Ichikawa, and Abigail Blythe (Chainsaw Man, After-School Hanako-kun) portraying Kikoru Shinomiya, are pretty much operating on their own rhythm, as they must quickly adapt and create their interpretations on the fly. 

“Sometimes it really is just showing up to the booth, and at the moment, you’re just making things up on the spot,” Tarsha revealed, emphasising the rapid pace of production in an exclusive group interview with Geek Culture. 

Kaiju No. 8

“Of course, there’s a little bit of pressure, especially with a show like Kaiju No. 8, where you know it’s an awesome show, and you wanna do it justice,” McArthur admitted. 

Blythe echoed this sentiment, adding that the process involves a careful balance of respecting the original Japanese performances, while infusing their own unique interpretations. 

“We listen to it one time in Japanese, and then we immediately go into English,” she explained. “So we do preview it. We get to hear their performance and then sit with that for maybe a couple of seconds, and then we hear our own 3 beeps before going over the lip flaps of the animation.”

Despite the pressure, the cast embraces the challenge with enthusiasm, collaborating closely with the director to ensure that their performances authentically reflect their characters’ complexities.

Kaiju No. 8

While the show does feature epic monster clashes, this series digs deeper into the human heart behind the monstrous façade and it is this exploration of the human side of the monster phenomenon that inspires the voice actors, all self-proclaimed anime aficionados, to draw inspiration from their personal favourites to infuse their characters with depth and nuance.

Blythe, who voices the fierce yet vulnerable tritagonist Kikoru Shinomiya, connected with her character’s strength and determination after getting inspired by the empowering magical girls of the 1990s anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. “That anime is all about empowering women, and Kikoru is definitely in that ballpark, and she is very, very powerful. So getting to hear actors voicing very powerful, inspiring young girls definitely channels into my performance of Kikoru,” she stated.

McArthur, the voice of Kafka’s partner-in-crime, the cool-headed Reno Ichikawa, linked his wholesome nature with characters from My Hero Academia and the very protagonist he brought to life in Jujutsu Kaisen, Yuji Itadori. 

Kaiju No. 8

“I like kind of positive, uplifting stuff, these characters who have really pure motives and want to take care of their friends. I think that is a massive quality that Ichikawa has,” he shared, “and that’s something that really draws me to the character.”

Meanwhile, Tarsha, the voice behind the titular hero Kafka Hibino, saw reflections of Kafka’s journey of self-discovery in the introspective narrative of Ping Pong the Animation. “It is a story about finding yourself and finding your way and your path, and the idea of giving up and coming into your own, the iconic stuff you do,” he explained.

“It’s rising in that plateau and knowing that we’re standing on the shoulders of giants, and taking inspiration from those that came before us, and trying to make our performances as great, but it’s an impossible task.”

Kaiju No. 8

And while the team is only on the seventh episode, they already have favourite moments in the series. For Blythe, it was the emotional weight of Kikoru’s battle with Kaiju No. 9 in episode 4 that resonated most. “It was very emotional. That was just like really everything you could wish for. Like as an actor, all in one episode, you get a big fight, you almost die, and you get a backstory.”

“Episode 7 was a lot of fun. There was a lot of range and a lot of things we got to cover,” McArthur added, finding Reno’s dramatic entrance and the range of emotions in a recent episode to be particularly enjoyable.

Tarsha connected with Kafka’s tender moments, highlighting the character’s humanity amidst his monstrous transformation. “Kafka covers such a range of emotions. I like any time that I get to be tender, and have my human side show that relatability.” 

As the anime continues to unfold, fans can expect more thrilling twists and turns, epic battles, and a deepening exploration of the complex relationship between humans and kaiju. The world of Kaiju No. 8 may be filled with colossal threats, but as Tarsha confidently asserts, “As long as there’s a defense force [like the one in Kaiju No. 8], then we’re okay.”

And while all that drive and dedication is great and looks good on paper, if Tarsha were given actual kaiju abilities, he knows the one creature he wants to fight, because it’s what he fears in real life.

“Cockroaches. I’m taking the war down to the microorganism,” he quips, before adding, “I’ve had a fear of them. When I was younger. I have a little bit of paranoia, especially when you wake up in your sleep, and all of a sudden one’s like, next to your head, or something. So yeah, I’ve got a bone to pick with them. So no, nothing mecha, nothing giant. We’re going down.”

That is, until Blythe chimed in with a chilling vision of Godzilla-sized cockroaches. “I think a cockroach in Godzilla form would be mighty terrifying, though, and I believe that they could evolve one day to reach that. They’re resistant enough to.”

New episodes of Kaiju No. 8 in English dub will stream weekly exclusively on Crunchyroll.