Ghost Stories, COVID-19 Measures, and More with the Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun Cast

Recap of the "Inside Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun" panel from FunimationCon 2020

FunimationCon 2020 presented the “Inside Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun” panel this past weekend, featuring the English dub cast and Megumi Ogata (JP VA of Hanako). The panel was hosted by Justin Briner (Hanako) and Ian Sinclair (Tsuchigomori). Together, they walked the audience through the new Funimation dubbing process with COVID-19 measures and conducted a Q&A session with the panelists. Below are some of the highlights from the “Inside Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun” panel: 

Note: This recap may contain spoilers about Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun.

Dubbing with COVID-19 Measures: 

Unlike Japanese studios that have since outfitted the recording booths for COVID-19 and enforced restrictions in the workplace, Funimation had ordered all ADR directors and voice actors/actresses to work from home. To adjust for this change and continue the dubbing process for Hanako-kun, Funimation delivered to the dubbing team the necessary condenser microphones, pop filters, and revolutionary tablet software to splice, move, and adjust audio clips on-the-go. However, the team would have to build make-shift recording booths at home. Voice actress Tia Bellard (Nene Yashiro) and Tyson Reinhart (Kou Minamoto) walked through their new dubbing process with ADR director Jade Saxon. 

The dubbed scene by Rinehart during COVID-19

Following the footage, hosts Sinclair and Briner remarked that the most difficult part of the dubbing process was building the booth itself and recording in them. Often not, the booths are completely covered blankets — a means to mitigate as much external noise as possible — which creates a very dark and stuffy environment to record in. Briner recalled that, whenever he tried to record, he would coincidentally do it at the same time as “people mowing their lawns at this time of the morning.”

First Impressions of Hanako-kun: 

The charming aesthetics in the background

Voice actress Emily Neves (Aoi Akane) and Bellard expressed their love for the series for its gorgeous design and unique animation. However, because of her own obsession with the supernatural and occult, Neves also connected with the show, while Ogata also liked the series for its aesthetics. She remarked that the series was so meticulously designed to embody “romantic” and “old-fashioned” era elements that it made her feel nostalgic for Japanese culture. 

Meanwhile, Aaron Dismuke (Natsuhiko Hyuuga) was initially intrigued by the show’s title. He thought “the series had guts” for having the word “toilet” in its title. He didn’t earnestly watch the show until episode 9’s dubbing and has since fallen in love with the show for its amazing depth. 

Favorite Characters in the Series: 

The wonderful trio of Toilet Bound Hanako-kun

Bellard and Ogata revealed they both liked Hanako, but for different reasons. The English voice actor gushed about how complex Hanako was and how he constantly hid his emotions from the rest of the cast. Bellardalso claimed, “Every so often, we see a glimpse of his world or where he is emotionally. And that’s what I love as an actor and someone who watches anime.” 

For Ogata, she reflected on how the Japanese audiences had voted Hanako as their second-most favorite role by Ogata. Coincidentally, this recent-dub role flanked the number one spot occupied by votes for the voice actress’ debut role as Kurama in Yu Yu Hakusho. She laughed at the irony of the situation, because her first and latest roles placed first and second respectively, and thanked audiences for continuing to support her all these years. 

Neves revealed that she loved Nene for her bubbly and sweet personality. Meanwhile, Dismuke really clicked with Mitsuba Sousuke — a side-character whose unfortunate circumstances turned him into a ghost — and admitted crying during Mitsuba’s arc. The voice actor later joked, “He is just too pure for this world… I don’t think I should have said that.” 

Voice Actors/Actresses’s Yorishiros and Supernatural Abilities:

Would you search for your book in Tsuchigomori’s library?

In Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, a yorishiro is an object that is related to a ghost’s past and is tied to a ghost’s supernatural ability. If a yorishiro is broken or destroyed, then a ghost’s boundary and presence in the world would weaken significantly. The voice actors and actresses were asked to reveal what their yorishiro would be or what they’d expect from an existing ghost ability in the series. 

Both Briner and Ogata immediately thought of their yorishiros on the spot. Briner picked his family’s generational recipes as his yorishiro and said, “If you break my yorishiro, then you’d break my heart!” Ogata admitted that her yorishiro would be the smiles on her audiences faces, which have since motivated her throughout her career. She chuckled and said, “[With COVID-19], my boundary would quickly disappear. Help!” 

Since Sinclair plays Tsuchigomori — a ghost who has the ability to record the past of all humans and their futures through books — the voice actor has since wondered what his life would be like in the future. He observed that at this point in his life, he’d be “nearing the age where I would be voice acting for anime longer than anything else in my career,” and hoped that if he opened his own book from Tsuchigomori’s library, he’d find himself still voice acting for anime in the future. 

Favorite Ghost Stories and/or Encounters: 

The creepy ambience to kick off the new occult series

Dimsuke quite liked the wendigo story from the Native American culture. According to him, the wendigo is a fearsome abomination with a humanoid body, the claws of a werewolf, and the head of a moose. The creature would target and eat people who committed cannibalism, forcing them to turn into wendigos themselves. He found that the story was quite compelling as a cautionary tale. 

For Neves who is both fascinated and afraid of the supernatural, she has the tendency to listen to ghost stories and participate in them. She recalled that in her childhood, she and her friends would gather in a dark bathroom to chant the Bloody Mary mantra. Of course, nothing happened to them as they’d all run away screaming. Though, as an adult, she admits she still feels a bit unnerved whenever she passes by bathroom mirrors at night. 

Bellard did not have childhood encounters with ghosts or the supernatural, but grew up in the countryside that was rife with urban legends. In her hometown, there was a haunted bridge known for a mysterious woman wearing white and flagging people down. If you drove past her and turned around, you’d find her sitting in the car next to you. Bellard claimed to have known people who’d seen the ghost before. 

Ogata’s favorite ghost story is the tale of Hanako — mainly because she’s played the role in three different anime shows — and she did have a ghostly encounter from her university days. Around her campus, there was an urban legend of three ghosts that rose from the sea to ascend the mountain behind the campus. Students were rumored to have encountered one of the ghosts at least three times a year, which Ogata had during her first year. All three times, she was riding her bike down the mountain, and she saw an old woman spirit hovering over her shoulder. The sight spooked her so much that she raced down the mountainside at 60km/hr just to reach the nearest town. 

Final Messages: 

All the panelists encouraged everyone to stay safe during the pandemic. They hope that they can meet everyone in person after the pandemic is over, but for now, they will continue doing their best to deliver the best quality anime.

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