Interview: Kira Buckland talks Voice Acting, HuniePop, Dead or Alive 5

Posted on by Ryan

Kira Buckland is one of the fastest growing voice actors in the world today. Despite only getting into voice acting in 2008, she’s already made a name for herself in video games such as HuniePop, Dead or Alive 5, Castle Crashers, and Dust: An Elysian Tail just to name a few. We recently got to sit down with Kira and discuss her voice acting career so far and what the fturure has in store for her career.

GC: How did you get into voice acting?
KB: I first decided I wanted to be a voice actress when I was sixteen years old and in my junior year of high school. I was starting to get into anime around this time and noticed that there were people who did the dubbed voices for that and for things like video games, but voice acting wasn’t as widely publicized at that time so I didn’t really know how to get into it or anything like that. But then a friend told me about how she voice acted through online websites for things like flash animations, and I started getting involved with doing online voice acting especially through the Newgrounds community and the Voice Acting Club. Eventually I got my foot in the door with an actual dubbing company after winning the “Voice Actor Idol” competition at Anime Expo 2007, but it wasn’t until I moved to California that I was able to start doing professional work.

GC: Who were some of your inspirations?
KB: My early inspirations were a lot of the veterans like Kari Wahlgren, Wendee Lee, and Michelle Ruff. I’m fortunate enough to have worked a lot with Wendee as a director these days.

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GC: Your first video game voiceover work was for Luminous Arc 2 where you did the voice of both Karen and Elicia. How did that come about?
KB: The very first company I ever worked with (and still work with fairly regularly to this day) is BangZoom Entertainment. I got an audition with them after winning AX Idol (they were the ones who sponsored the competition), but they couldn’t use me at the time because I lived in Alaska, which is where I grew up. But soon after I moved to California and did that audition, they mentioned they had a DS game they wanted to cast me for and I was really excited about it.

GC: Did you find it to be difficult to make sure that the 2 characters didn’t sound too much like each other.
KB: Most of the time when we’re cast as multiple characters, they’ll give us ones that are pretty far apart from each other in vocal range and/or character type. Karen was a spunky young girl whereas Elicia was a more mature sounding boss character, so I feel like they were fundamentally different enough characters that I didn’t have to worry too much about it sounding like the same person.

GC: How different is it doing a voice for a video game compared to an anime or movie?
KB: Anime is tough because as we know, the lip flaps are already in place with the Japanese voices already recorded, so we have to match everything exactly to picture when doing it in English. So you have the challenge of matching the timing and lip flaps while still trying to act the line and make it believable, and if it’s a long line you’re reading it off the page while watching the screen so it’s just a lot of multitasking. Video games sometimes have timing restrictions, but you generally have a lot more freedom since you’re not matching to picture. Video games may also have different types of lines for different scenarios—in JRPGs, which I do a lot of, you tend to have cutscene lines (usually timed), general story lines (usually not timed), and in-battle callouts for things like attacking, helping a teammate, or using items.

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GC: What was your experience like doing the voice of Honoka for Dead or Alive 5?
KB: This was incredibly exciting for me because my biggest voiceover dream has always been to be a playable character in a fighting game. I was so excited to do it that I was kind of nervous, too, but of course it was a lot of fun.

GC: How do you get into the mindset whenever you have to yell and grunt for a fighting game like Dead or Alive 5?
KB: Since I play fighting games myself, I was already really familiar with what those kinds of attack and damage sounds are like. I also got to hear what the Japanese voice actress did for each one so I could get an idea of the timing and intensity, and that was really helpful.

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GC: What was it like doing the voice of Lola in HuniePop?
KB: Lola was different from a lot of the character types I’m usually cast as, so it was an interesting challenge to voice her different responses. In a dating sim type of game, you have to make it sound like you are a real person talking to the player.

GC: Your most recent video game voiceover work was for Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2-Record Breaker. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?
KB: That game had a LOT of dialogue for a 3DS game and my character was pretty major, so I ended up putting in quite a few hours. Miyako Hotsuin is more of a take-charge type of character so I needed to sound more calm and controlled for a lot of it. Sometimes there were long lines with a lot of terms that were difficult to pronounce, but I had to act the lines like I knew exactly what I was talking about because of course my character did.

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GC: I found it really cool that you did voiceover work in an episode of Pokemon XY. How big of a deal was it considering that Pokemon is one of the most recognized brands in the world?
KB: My episode actually had quite a bit of delay before it aired so I was worried they were going to cut it altogether! But I’m a really big fan of Pokemon (my favorite is Gyarados) so it was a very cool opportunity that I managed to do while I was in New York for a few days.

GC: Is there a character that you’ve voiced that you would consider to be a lot like you?
KB: A lot of my characters are arrogant and/or mean-girl types—I LOVE to play those, but I don’t consider myself to be that way in real life. A character I can relate to a lot that I would love to voice someday is Jolyne from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

GC: Do you have any advice for our readers who are interested in getting into voice acting?
KB: I will give the same two pieces of advice every time: 1) Learn to act—knowing how to do lots of voices or having a cool voice is great, but it doesn’t mean much if the characters aren’t believable! Acting classes will help you learn to have intention behind your lines and not just sound like you’re reading off a page. 2) Get involved with voice acting as a hobby first by auditioning for and participating in online projects. Most of them don’t pay but it’s a great way to practice and get some experience, and many of the up-and-coming voice actors started that way, including myself.

GC: Are there any upcoming projects or conventions that our readers will be able to see you at?
KB: You can hear me as Seraphina, the main female character in Disgaea 5! I had a lot of fun with that one.