The Chainsaw Man anime has quickly established itself as one of the biggest anime of the season, if not in recent memory. Touting top-of-the-line animation quality, terrific writing, and excellent character voicing on the parts of both the Japanese and English dub casts, the series is a juggernaut of its medium and is rapidly establishing itself as one of the best shows people could choose to watch.
With four episodes currently dubbed in English and available for viewing, we had the chance to sit down with Suzie Yeung, the voice actor for Makima, and Sarah Wiedenheft, the voice actor for Power. Both had plenty to say about what dubbing the show has been like, how they’ve crafted the voices for their characters, and what they’re most excited to perform from the next big moments in the series.
Twinfinite Staff Writer Keenan McCall: How does it feel to be part of such a big Dubbing project, and what’s arguably one of the biggest shows this season?
Suzie Yeung: It’s incredible! I don’t think I’ve seen so much attention on an anime all at once. Not just from the fans; Cruchyroll has really made it known that this is Chainsaw Man, this is the next biggest thing. So yes, it’s really exciting to be a part of it.
Sarah Wiedenheft: I agree with that. I’m still having a hard time understanding that it’s happening and it’s real. I’m still like, “What? What is this?”
Suzie Yeung: Yeah, it hasn’t really hit me yet. Like yesterday, a bunch of popular Twitch streamers streamed the first three episodes of the Dub, and I was like, “What is happening right now?”
Keenan: How much did you guys know about the series before you were signed on for the Dub? Were you long-time fans, or was the anime your first exposure to the series?
Suzie Yeung: So after getting cast, I binged the entire manga before the first episode dropped so that I could understand exactly what was going to happen. I had not really gotten into it before the audition (for Makima), but I had seen artwork everywhere. Especially of Makima and Power, all over the internet. So I was like, “Who are these two?” And then, lo and behold, we got the auditions, and then I was like, “Oh, that’s what this is. OK, cool. Let’s get into it.”
Sarah Wiedenheft: For me, I read the first two volumes before the audition. As Suzie was saying, I saw these characters all over the internet, and I would see them through cosplayers in person, and I would be like, “What is this?” Or I would see Makima, and I would confuse her with another character from an anime I’m in and go, “wait a second, there’s something missing in this. No, wait, it’s that character again! Where is that character from?”
Then, after I was cast for Chainsaw Man, I started reading the rest of (the series) for research purposes, and it quickly became reading for pleasure. I completely annihilated it.
Keenan: How did your staggered exposures to the series shape how you wanted to perform each character?
Suzie Yeung: When I did the audition, I didn’t know the character too well. Usually, for auditions, if I don’t know the source material already, I go based off of what they look like.
Obviously, she didn’t have a pre-existing voice at the time, so I figured she looks like she’s in her mid-20s appearance-wise, in her medium-kind of register, and so she’s actually quite close to my normal range of voice. But just a little bit more elevated, more in control. I took that from the audition, and (the voice director) Mike cast based on those initial reads we had put in.
But of course, during the actual session is when we refined the character. We worked together to try and find the nuances that we wanted to bring to the character. It was more of a discovery and collaboration.
Sarah Wiedenheft: I definitely did the research beforehand, and I tried to learn a bunch of aspects about (Power). And one of the things that I learned is that she’s very selfish, a pathological liar. (laughs) She acts very much like a child, and so I try to put all of those things in mind when I am going into read for her.
They also had a (Japanese) trailer out, so I tried to reference that a little bit, too, to try and get more. Like, what is this character? What are they about? Because it’s crazy when you start from a random place in a story and how confusing that can be because when I started to read (the series) afterward, I was like, “oh, I had no idea about the world-building before.
But I was able to gather enough information and enough cards to put in my hand to be like, “OK, I think this is probably where they’re about. I think this is probably where she is.
Keenan: Suzie, in terms of your performance for Makima: As you’ve said, it’s a more middle range, like very relaxed but in control. What has been your favorite moment or moments where you feel like you’re really starting to shape the character for the series moving forward? And Sarah, for your take on Power: It has that same energy level as the Japanese dub, but there’s also a mix of nuance there. What inspired that range of emotions versus a straight-forward manic energy?
Suzie Yeung: For me, it took a little bit of time to get into her character because a lot of it is being controlled. With Mike, he’s very helpful because he helps me reel in any sort of emotion that goes overboard because she’s very level, she’s very even. She doesn’t teeter too much one way or the other, but is also subtly “enough” so that she’s not completely robotic, you know? There’s something there still.
So I think it wasn’t really until episode three that I started to slide into her character a little bit more because I’d had more exposure and a little bit more time with her. I do believe she’s a bit more in the background compared to other characters, so I still have a bunch more time that I’d like to spend with her before I really lock it down. But I think Mike and I have a good flow going in terms of how we want to figure her out.
Sarah Wiedenheft: It was a bit of a mixture between all of what I had put in my own head about her, like “This is what I understand about the character,” and Mike.
He sometimes wanted to push it a little bit in a different direction. He definitely wanted to keep it very close to what the (Japanese Dub) is doing, but sometimes he wanted to make it a little bit more somber rather than just being one note about it. There are things like “I want her to be unexpectedly confused, sad about it, not understanding why. This is the version of you that’s been living like this for the longest time, and suddenly something has switched, and you’re trying to figure out what it is.”
Suzie Yeung: That’s why I really like working with Mike: Because he really draws out different aspects of the character that you don’t initially read in the initial performance necessarily. Or like you don’t really understand. He’ll try to approach it from another angle and be like, “Well, put a little more of this into that. Put a little more of this emotion into that.” He would make you think in a different way, and I think that’s very effective in how it plays.
It’s also such a cinematic anime, just having those subtle emotions play in is really beautiful, so props to Mike.
Keenan: Talking with the other Dub actors, it’s pretty clear the focus wasn’t on going with “what are the Dub actor names that are going to draw people in?” It’s been about who’s going to give the best performance and who’s going to do the series justice. How does it feel to be part of a project like that where the focus is on who’ll give the best performance and not just the name recognition?
Suzie Yeung: Oh god, it’s a lot on our shoulders, honestly (laughs).
Sarah Wiedenheft: (Laughs) So much pressure. But I put all of my best energy into it. I’ve got to ensure everything comes from the heart and that I’m going to put everything into this.
Suzie Yeung: I think everyone feels that way because we know how big it is. They know that all eyes are on Chainsaw Man, so every single person on this project gives it their best or tries their best to put their best foot forward. I think everyone so far has been incredibly well cast, really well-fitted to the character, and I feel super blessed to be considered among such strong actors and amazing people in general.
Sarah Wiedenheft: It’s been so fun working with everyone. Acting off of each other has been an incredible experience.
Keenan: What have been your guys’ personal favorite moments to perform, either when your characters are on screen together or on their own?
Sarah Wiedenheft: For me, so far, it was the roommate’s scene where (Power) says, “I am the type who seldom flushes their feces.” (Laughs) Iconic.
Suzie Yeung: (Laughs) I guess for me, it’s the Udon scene because it’s really the first time where Makima interacts with Denji, and she really introduces herself. It was fun.
Keenan: Are there any points in your characters’ arcs which you’re excited to reach and be able to perform?
Sarah Wiedenheft: I can say that I am excited for the next episode and the continuation of where we left off on in episode 4. (Laughs)
Suzie Yeung: Laughs) Yeah, I would say so, too, because I’m very excited for all of the new characters that are coming in. Anytime I’m watching an anime or a show and these badass characters come into frame, I’m like, “Ooooh, what’s going to happen here? What are your powers?”
Sarah Wiedenheft: Yeah, like, “What’s your story?”
Suzie Yeung: (Laughs) Yeah, like, “What’s your story? Who are You?” I’m very excited for that, and I feel like it’s going to be very action-packed.
The Chainsaw Man English dub is now available on Crunchyroll, streaming every Tuesday at 3:30PM EST.