Attack on Titan Season 3 premiere was one of the most hyped panels at Anime Expo 2018 as it not only showed the first episode of a wildly popular anime, but it also hosted two stars in the industry, English voice actor Bryce Papenbrook and Japanese seiyuu Yuuki Kaji. So coveted was the limited seating that people stayed in line overnight to ensure their spots.
As a result, this event was also the messiest of the events Anime Expo had to offer just from the sheer amount of people attempting to make their way in. Confusion quickly ensued, and I was one of the ones who got caught up in that confusion. A Funimation employee helped me out — a man whose name I was unable to take down as I was quickly ushered into the event room. As a result, I would like to dedicate this article to the entire Funimation team who brought such an exciting panel to AX in the first place and that special hero who I never got to properly thank in the end.
The screams were unimaginable as Yuuki Kaji, who as the Funimation host says, “needs no introduction”, stepped onto the stage. But the applause for Bryce Papenbrook was just as thunderous. The energy emitted from every attendee was so electrifying that I feared that the room would literally spark into flames at times. As no audio or video recordings were allowed (as to be expected and completely understandable), here are some of the highlights of the stars’ interviews. And please note: this is clearly not perfectly word for word.
— アニメ「進撃の巨人」公式アカウント (@anime_shingeki) July 11, 2018
Q: How do you prepare for the role of Eren Jaeger?
Bryce Papenbrook: [after Yuuki Kaji mentions Eren’s anger] As you can see, I’m not like Eren. I’m definitely not as intense as him, and his anger is such a central role to his character. But I can be angry too. So this will be a sad story. I have two dogs. Two poodles. And I had this bag of chips laying out one day. And when I came back… [lowers voice intensely in anger and in Eren Jaeger fashion] They ATE MY CHIPS.
Q: What about Eren Jaeger do you find relatable?
Yuuki Kaji: Yes. I, too, get very angry when someone steals my chips. [laughter ensues as well as cheers and claps before dying down] Something I find myself in Eren is that Eren lives by a code. He has morals and lines drawn that he will not cross. He sees everything as right and wrong and has never broken past his ideals before. I am similar to him in that case.
Bryce Papenbrook: So, as I mentioned before, I’m pretty unlike Eren. However, at the same time, I do find his anger pretty relatable. I’m from Los Angeles. This is my home. And something that Los Angeles has without a doubt is the traffic. And the anger I feel in traffic is just as intense as Eren’s anger towards Titans. [laughter ensues before dying down]. And sometimes, I leave the studio already angry because I was channeling Eren’s anger, and the character stays with you. And so I’m holding onto Eren’s anger, and then I drive right into Los Angeles traffic.
Q: On the opposite end, what about Eren Jaeger do you not relate to?
Yuuki Kaji: I would like Eren to…calm down. He’s so angry, and more importantly, he’s very reckless. He goes charging in with no thought of himself or the people around him. He gets so overtaken by his emotions and holds so little value of his own life sometimes. And it’s like he’s charging into death. So I would really like him to just be calmer. Because I don’t want him to die. If he dies, I will be out of a job.
Bryce Papenbrook: I agree! I would also like Eren to chill out and let me keep my job!
Yuuki Kaji: Eren, please calm down.
Q: What was the hardest scene you filmed in Attack on Titan?
Yuuki Kaji: At the end of Season 2, where Eren breaks. He’s angry and sad and confused and lost and a bit happy at the same time. Like he’s feeling such intense negativity with a smile on his face. And in that scene, the director actually didn’t give me any directions. He told me that I can go free and act as I feel like it should be acted, and that the animation will match to my reaction. It was a good choice. I don’t think I could’ve pulled off that scene without that freedom to really become Eren in the booth. However, even though it is a decision that I think was paramount for having that scene pulled off, it is also extremely hard to do since you are used to being given directions and suddenly you have free reign.
Bryce Papenbrook: I also think the last episode of Season 2 was hardest. What’s even harder for me is that I don’t have the luxury of animation matching me – I have to match the animation while still upholding the same emotional intensity that Kaji-san exhibits. And Kaji-san’s screams are extremely intense. I jump back sometimes like, “Whoa!”
[Kaji-san does a small bow to Bryce Papenbrook]
Q: Who is best boy?
Yuuki Kaji: Corporal Levi. Eren just has so much respect and trust in him. He doesn’t doubt a single word or order that Levi gives. He’d literally follow him anywhere. In fact, sometimes he’d try to stay too close to Levi. And I think he’d even do some things with Levi if he could.
[Do you hear fangirl screams in the background? That’s accurate.]
Bryce Papenbrook: Also Levi.
Q: Who is best girl?
Yuuki Kaji: Mikasa. Because she will literally kill Eren if he says otherwise.
Bryce Papenbrook: Mikasa. Because Trina will actually kill me if I say another character.
Q: Do you have any last words to say to the fans about Attack on Titan Season 3?
Yuuki Kaji: Everyone, thank you for supporting Eren on this journey. This is a season where many things happen, and many changes occur to the characters as well as the world itself. It was a journey being Eren, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Bryce Papenbrook: Actually, I haven’t seen it yet, so I will be watching this with everyone else. I’m just excited to see what’s next and what’s to come for me personally as well as the character.
— アニメ「進撃の巨人」公式アカウント (@anime_shingeki) July 19, 2018
The event ends with a grandeur that involved the audience. Everyone stood up, ready to do the signature Survey Corps salute. Ironically, when the Funimation host said the motto in English, the timing was off as it was clear that a majority of the crowd watched the subbed version instead of the dubbed. When Yuuki Kaji said it in his Eren voice, the whole crowd moved as one without missing a single second, allowing for a perfect salute as well as a goodbye to the entire panel.
Attack on Titan Season 3 is now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.