Odin Interview

Interview with Kaiji Tang, the Badass Voice of Fire Emblem’s Owain/Odin

Written by | Interview

For April’s featured interview, I got the exhilarating opportunity to chat with video game and anime voice actor extraordinaire Kaiji Tang, whose career has spanned the last decade. I first became acquainted with Kaiji’s voice through his portrayal of Owain/Odin in Fire Emblem Awakening, Fire Emblem Fates, and Fire Emblem Heroes.

Kaiji has lent his voice to a plethora of video game titles like Bravely Default, Dynasty Warriors, Fairy Fencer F, Tekken, and Xenoblade Chronicles X in addition to his various dubbing roles in anime such Kill La Kill, Sword Art Online, and more recently Dragon Ball Super.

I was especially excited to interview Kaiji because he is a successful Asian-American performer as well as a huge fan of video games and anime himself.

 

  1. How did you first get involved with Fire Emblem? Did you have to audition for the role of Owain? Can you think of any similarities between yourself and the character? It sounds like you’re having a blast whenever you voice him.

 

I got the role of Owain like any other actor! A studio was having auditions for the game, I popped in and boom! Some sword hand talk later, some bit about time travel and they deemed me memey enough to become the fervent voice of Owain. I love the guy because we’re both huge, huge nerds who aren’t ashamed to let their geek flag fly. If I had special attacks, I think I’d come up with some pretty edgy names for them too. I absolutely have a blast!Kaiji Tang

 

  1. When you were recording lines for the character of Odin in Fire Emblem Fates, were you aware that you were playing a time-displaced version of Owain? How much information were you given? As an actor, how would you say the character has changed between games?

 

I actually did not know at the beginning! When they first sent me a list of characters I’d be voicing, I saw “Odin” on the list and was like “Wha!? What happened to Owain!?” But thankfully the clients explained it to me when I got to the session and relief washed over me, haha. The character may have changed classes, but it’s obvious from his dialogue and personality that he’s the same old goofball of Fire Emblem past. In fact with his new outfit, it appears he’s doubled down on his theatrics. I love Owain/Odin because he’s absolutely true to who he is as a person and knows what makes him happy. If only we could all be a little more Owainish. Kaiji Tang

 

  1. What are your favorite Owain/Odin lines? Normally I’d ask for one line, but I feel like there have to be at least a couple.

 

Ooooh there are plenty. “Down, sword hand!!” is a classic. “Uhg!! My aching blood!!” makes me laugh a lot. “My Darkness was darker than yours!” because DARKNESS. Though I think my favorite was Odin’s friendship/confession dialogue. We get to hear him drop his theatrics for a little bit and speak from a more earnest place and I think that was just lovely to record. Kaiji Tang

 

  1. What was it like to voice Vegeta for the Southeast Asian Dub of Dragon Ball Super? Did you feel any pressure in portraying such a legendary character?
More than anything it’s a huge wish fulfillment moment for my twelve year old self! You know no matter what happens moving forward in my life, if I’m ever in a sour mood I can always remind myself that amazing thing happened and that’s a lovely thought. Not a lot of people get to have that and I’ll be eternally grateful I had the opportunity.

 

There certainly was pressure stepping into the man’s boots. When you first hear the three beeps that prelude recording and then suddenly you’re standing there about to deliver your first line as the Prince of all Saiyans and how are you even supposed to feel!? As it turns out a mix of hilarity, anger and grump. We’ve recorded up to the Frieza fight at this point and I have to say our entire cast has at this point made the characters their own. I’m honored to have the chance to introduce this iconic series to a whole new generation of kids where it’s airing. Kaiji Tang

 

  1. You do a ton of work for both video games and anime that involve fighting and intense combat scenes. How do you give it your all in the recording booth without overexerting your voice?

 

 Virgin sacrifice, unholy rituals and a lot of crying in bed. Personally though I’ve just been doing it for so long now that I’ve found the places in my body to scream from that does the least amount of damage to my throat. Now that’s not to say I don’t hurt myself doing this (we ABSOLUTELY do), but I feel I’ve at least saved myself some performance years down the line with proper breath control and placement. Kaiji Tang

 

 

  1. Are there any major differences between recording for a video game versus dubbing for anime? Do you have a preference for one over the other?
Absolutely! Recording for video games is much more freeing than voicing in anime. In video games there’s rarely any lip syncing involved. You get to act and react without as many limitations since we don’t really have to match original animation in most of the cases. Though generally video games will have much more screaming and action sequences and you’ll be tired out by the end of the session. Also if you’re like me you’re gonna sweat. Glam.

Anime, and this is going to sound rurl rurl weird, can be thought of akin to VO Shakespeare. You perform Shakespeare differently because it has its own set of rules. The same with anime. Just as you should probably know what a feminine ending is when performing the bard, you should probably know how to quickly read through things like “MNS REAC ^^ OM INTO CM GRUNT” while fitting your performance into the set foreign animation. Anime reads tend to have moments where an actor must stretch or shrink their read to fit the lip flaps. Lip flaps are life. Lip flaps are king. Praise Lip Flaps.

I love both.

Kaiji Tang
  1. Do you have any experience in theatre, screen-acting, or comedy?  Do you have any backstage horror stories?

Yes indeed! I come from about eight years of theatre and some musical theatre. When I moved to LA my original plan was to do on screen acting (and to some extent I still dabble), but a few commercials and a pulp zombie movie later that took a sharp turn when I discovered voice acting was an option. I fell in love hard, yo. As for backstage horror stories, I don’t know if I have any really juicy ones without going into the personal lives of my old cast mates. Though I can tell you we all became very comfortable with costume changes around each other. You never knew who was mostly naked around the corner. Kaiji Tang

 

  1. As an Asian-American actor, how do you feel about the current whitewashing controversies in Hollywood? Does race factor into casting for voice actors?
I’ll be short on this but my feelings are thus. It is my opinion that the American theater audience wants to see something different than the stuff they’ve been fed for years now. I feel there is a wealth of minority talent especially here in Los Angeles that has yet to be tapped for the big screen. In VO thankfully it’s a little easier for minority actors to get roles due to voices being more ethnically ambiguous so I’m grateful for that. Fingers crossed.  Kaiji Tang

 

  1. How do you think Vegeta or Owain would go about living in Trump’s America?
Vegeta would turn Earth into New Planet Vegeta and Owain would move to Japan to become a Seiyu.  Kaiji Tang

 

  1. You are super active on the convention circuit. What sorts of interactions have you had with your fans? Do you have a favorite convention memory or fan encounter you would want to share here?

 

You know I get asked this all the time on panels and the answer is always boring. I’ve had only the best experiences with fans! Everyone I’ve met has been extremely nice and have all just been super real people. Every time I get to sign something a fan brings fills me with a lot of joy. We’re all fans and I’m grateful I can contribute to the industry I’ve always loved. As for favorite convention memory, I want to put this out there that I’m not a material guy…but this one convention had an indoor water park and a bar built in a jacuzzi… Kaiji Tang

Last modified: July 3, 2018