Our exclusive interviews continued with the English cast of Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms as Anime Trending reaches out to Ryan Bartley and Eddy Lee to talk about their experiences and thoughts about the film as Dita and Ariel respectively.
Be warned that spoilers are contained in these interviews!
Anime Trending: Dita has, in my opinion, one of the most intense yet epic scenes of the entire movie. At the climax, there is a particular scene where literally everything comes together. War is being fought and a mother is giving birth. How did you feel when you voice acted for that particular scene?
Ryan Bartley: Recording that particular scene was extremely intense and honestly something I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to perform as an actor. The more intense the scene, the better for me! I was sweating and crying in the booth – I’m sure I looked terrible. While recording I was holding my arms like the character, so for part of the scene I had my arms raised above my head, fists clenched. I’ve personally never given birth so it was all new territory for me, but the scene is done so beautifully that it was actually very easy for me to jump right into that intensity and be there in that moment. I remember letting out some pretty extreme yells that surprised the team – in a good way!
Anime Trending: What is your favorite scene of Dita?
Anime Trending: Something that continuously adds complexity to Ariel’s character is his changing relationship with Maquia. From child love to confused teenager who seems to go against anything Maquia says. From your point of view, how do you think Ariel viewed Maquia throughout his life as he continuously grows but his mother doesn’t?
Eddy Lee: I believe that Ariel always viewed Maquia as his mother, all the way from childhood to adulthood. His internal conflict came from everyone around him saying that it was not normal, or that it was “weird”. Though to him there was nothing wrong because that’s all he ever knew, when those around him would make up stories or tease him, it made him self conscious and start to question why Maquia would do so much for him when she’s not related to him; How could he feel this motherly connection if she wasn’t technically his mother? But despite that uncertainty he knew Maquia always loved and protected him and all he wanted to do was reciprocate that.
Anime Trending: What do you relate to with your character the most? And what trait do you not relate to at all?
Eddy: I think I relate with Ariel’s connection to his mom the most. My mom raised my sister and me as a single parent and I loved her growing up, but it wasn’t until I decided to pursue performing and follow my own path that I found the appreciation for all that she’d given me and given up for me. I honestly don’t know how I’ll ever show her all that love in return, but I’m sure as hell gonna try! I love you, Mom!
As for the trait I don’t relate to as much: It’s mentioned that Ariel has a strong need to protect the “first home he found away from Maquia” and that is something I don’t connect with as much. Not that I don’t connect to protecting my home, haha, but he seems to have more pride in his home than me. Perhaps it comes from him having been adopted and not having a permanent home. I have a lot of good friends who were adopted and I’m glad Mari Okada was able to shed light on the beautiful complexities of those families.
Anime Trending: What’s the hardest scene for you to voice act as adult Ariel and why?
Eddy: I think the hardest scene for me was Ariel and Maquia’s reunion after the battle. It was my first time doing such an emotional scene in a realistic anime setting and I was trying really hard to capture the weight and feeling of the circumstances without crossing the line and sounding “cartoon-y”. Hopefully I did the story justice! Also, Xanthe Huynh had already recorded her part so beautifully that I was able to just play off of her; her work made it so much easier to react authentically!
Anime Trending: What’s your favorite/most fun scene to do as adult Ariel and why?
Eddy: It sounds silly, but I really love voicing Reacts. Like, reeeallly love it, haha. So my favorite scenes to voice were the battle scenes. The scenes where Ariel is fighting for his life in juxtaposition to the scenes where Dita is giving birth to their child are suuuuper intense (Mari Oakda is a genuis)! Kevin and Michael (our directors) showed me Ryan Bartley’s performance before we started going for our records and I was like “Damn! Ok, Gotta meet her at her level!” Haha. She was ON POINT!
Anime Trending: Dita and Ariel’s future together was one of the biggest surprises for audience members who saw it the first time. How do you imagine the two developed their relationship in the time skip?
Eddy: I mean it’s kind of incredible how the world can be so vast and so small at the same time. And whether it’s fate, the Universe, or just plain chance, sometimes I think certain relationships and connections are meant to be. Like I’m in NYC and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ll get on the subway train and see people that I haven’t seen in years! Sometimes they don’t even live in the city!
But I can only imagine that it was one of those moments and sometimes it just takes that one moment to start a lifetime connection.
Anime Trending: Was there any particular personality trait of Ariel that you found most important to convey in your acting? If yes, what is it and why?
Eddy: I think his need to protect and care for the people he loves was most important for me. Maquia was so selfless and gave so much of herself to be a good mother to Ariel that I think he would have developed that same kind of compassion and need to show his love. I think that was an underlying force for Ariel in everything he did.
Anime Trending: Out of all the relationships that Ariel has with the characters around him (Lang, Dita, and Maquia), which one is your personal favorite and why?
Eddy: It sounds obvious but I gotta go with Maquia! It just reminds me of my mom and how much she sacrificed for me. I literally wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for her and I never truly appreciated it until I was away from her and realized all she had done for me. A mother’s love is truly a sight to behold.
Once again, a special thanks to Eleven Arts for this incredible opportunity. Make sure to support them by following them on social media and check out their website for Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms English dub showings here!