Combining middle school slice of life with unfathomable psychic power, Mob Psycho 100 turned out to be one of 2016’s most popular new anime comedies with Funimation swiftly releasing its dub in December 2016.
At the first Anime NYC convention, AsianCrush got a special opportunity to sit down with the English dub’s stars, Kyle McCarley, the voice of Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama, and Chris Niosi, the voice of Reigen Arataka.
Otter: Have either of you had any extrasensory or paranormal experiences?
Chris (Reigen): Yes! When I was in middle school, I swear to God, I thought I had some kind of sixth sense where I’d be hanging out—I swear to God I’m not making this up! I would be just hanging out, doing nothing, or whatever, and then the scene from some episode of a cartoon, something that was airing at the time would pop into my head, and then either later that day or the next day, that episode would air. This happened like every other day for like three years and it actually kind of freaked me out a little bit. I thought maybe I was predicting what the airing schedules for Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon were or something—I don’t know, but it happened a lot! It was very weird.
Kyle (Mob): Just willing stuff into existence?
Kyle: I wish I could say that I had but I have not. I feel like those kinds of experiences (and maybe this is the horrible cynic in me) only happen if you’re looking for them.
Otter: Which psychic powers would you most love to have and why?
Chris: Teleportation. Purely just for the convenience.
Kyle: That would be SO great. We both live in Los Angeles so we have to drive all over the place for recording sessions. It’d be really great to just think and be there instead of sitting through two hours of traffic.
Chris: Yeah, and I’m from New York, so I would love to be able to teleport back here quickly if I wanted to go.
Kyle: Yeah, think of all the travel you could do.
Chris: See my folks. Or be like “I wanna pop by Nintendo World Store and get something new ‘cause I can’t go get it anywhere else.”
Otter: It’s SO good for the special editions because they always have extra stock.
Chris: New York City and Nintendo World are just synonymous for me because I’m such a nerd.
Otter: Where in New York are you from?
Chris: Long Island originally, then I lived in New York City for college and stuff, and then my voiceover career began in New York on Pokémon many, many years ago.
Kyle: I always used to think I wanted to fly because I thought that’d be fun, but teleportation sounds a lot more practical. I mean you could still travel a lot faster if you can fly but not as fast as if you can just think and be there.
Chris: If it was like DBZ-style ki flying, that’s a little better than just soaring.
Kyle: And I’d imagine it would get really boring after the first couple times. Just like “here’s this thing, I’m doing…. Again.”
Otter: Kyle, how did you prepare for the role of Mob? Did you have any inspiration or influences?
Kyle: Actually, this is a funny story and I’ve told it a couple times this weekend, but I’ll tell it again. When I read for the role this was not in my head, but when I walked into the session I based it purely off of what the Japanese voice actor did and what the character description was and what I’d seen of the show.
(Speaking in a higher register) I went, “I think this will fit for Mob. If he’s just kind of pure and innocent and up here and very quiet and reserved.”
But then I went into the recording studio and Chris Casin our ADR director was immediately making Michael Jackson references. And it didn’t click even for the first couple references, it didn’t even click that that’s where that was coming from.
But (Speaking in a full on Michael Jackson voice) “Mob sounds an awful lot like Michael did. No, you’re ignorant. No Tito. No! Okay, here we go!”
So that just became a running gag in the recording booth.
Chris: Ugh, I was getting those jokes even. Yeah… Meanwhile, I realized, I forget exactly when during the process, but I realized that for Reigen’s weird mannerisms I was channeling Jim Carrey in his every era of like every 90’s movie. My dad and I would just quote all of Ace Ventura 2 back to backthe entire movie because we just watched it so many times.
A lot of the same (he gesticulates wildly a la Jim Carrey) “Of course you don’t, Mob” kind of things.
Haha, I don’t know how well a lot of that’s going to be transcribed. Like “insert delivery Jim Carrey Ace Ventura?”
But yeah, that was a big influence I realized. And also, Reigen is a A LOT like me in that I am also energetic dialed up to like 11 and out of my mind, so it fit pretty well and I was very comfortable with the character.
Otter: Have you ever scammed anyone?
Chris: That’s a good question. I mean, some would say anyone that has ever watched one of my cartoons is being scammed somehow out of their time. You know what? I’ve never told anyone this, and this is also completely true—I stole a tootsie roll from CVS one time as a kid and then I took out my pocket and my mom was like “YOU GO BACK THERE RIGHT NOW AND YOU GIVE THAT TOOTSIE ROLL BACK!” And I did and I cried and I felt REALLY bad, so I didn’t get away with it because I don’t have Reigen’s like guilt crumple zone in his brain that allows him to say “Somewhere a sucker’s born every minute—money!”
Otter: And for you Kyle, have you ever had to mask or hide your emotions as a child, like Mob?
Kyle: Uh not really, no. I was a pretty expressive kid. I kind of wore my emotions on my sleeve a little bit. My mom tells this story. I don’t know why this comes to mind but my mom tells a story of taking me to Disney world at age 2 or 3.
She noticed that I was looking at a another family in front of us on line with another two to three year old little girl that had a Minnie mouse doll. And she kept noticing me just staring at that Minnie Mouse doll, just gaping but I never said a word about it.
So while we were leaving the park, she bought a similar Mickey Mouse doll. She tells the story that I responded with “Oh tank you Mommy, tank you!” So I mean, I guess that’s masking my emotions? I don’t know why that story popped into my brain, but I’m telling it anyway.
Chris: That’s better than mine. I screamed bloody murder crying over not getting a doll of Dopey from Snow White because I was obsessed with him.
I thought you were going the direction of saying “And that first girl was like my Tsubomi. I never saw her again.”
Kyle: All the other girls in my life have been potatoes…. In my eyes.
Chris: And the the twist is that that turned out to be your wife, the whole time.
Kyle: Yeah, that’s the twist. That was Katelyn, the whole time.
Otter: Can you talk about the moment when you decided voice acting was your thing?
Chris: I haven’t made that decision yet!
Kyle: I always wanted to be an actor. When you’re five or six or whatever, you wanna be a million things. A firefighter and an astronaut and whatever. But I always had actor on the list, and as I grew up, all the other things fell away and actor stayed there. So I always wanted to do acting. I thought I was going to be a big shot movie star or whatever but I went to school and studied theatre at the University of Southern California, and somewhere down the line, kind of lost my passion for being on camera and being onstage.
But while I was going into school, I got really into World of Warcraft, and got involved with this WoW fansite called WoW Radio. I cowrote and codirected and played about 12 different characters in a radio play for WoW Radio. So after I had graduated from theatre school and was floundering around, no longer pursuing what had always been my dream of being a movie star, at some point it just clicked with me, “You know, that radio play was really fun. Maybe I should pursue voice acting, Maybe I should take a class in that.” And I did, and I fell in love! And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since!
Chris: And for me, animating and producing and creating stuff is my first passion. My interested with voiceover actually started with casting and trivia things like “Who am I gonna get to voice in my cartoon someday?” or whatever in middle school.
Then I pursued it a little bit and I found that when I was doing voices for my own cartoons—I made a cartoon about an MMORPG despite having never played an MMORPG, so some parallel there. I just found that “I’m okay at this.”
My first job in 2009 was Pokemon, I did a few episodes of that. And then I was like “That was pretty good. I don’t know if I’ll do this more.” And then I ended up doing it more. And then when I moved out to LA because there’s just so much more to do in terms of VO, and I just had these really wonderful folks that helped get my name out there, I had a lot more opportunities.
And Mob just ended up being a show that was unexpectedly really big for me. It’s a production that I’m—we’re all really proud to be part of. Everyone who worked on it worked like super, super hard, and the fan response has been great.
So even though VO is a secondary thing for me, I am very passionate about it and I care very much about it, and when I get to do it, I really try to put my all into it and give the best possible performance I can give so that I can “entertain the masses as much as possible!”
Otter: Were you a Pokémon fan before being on the show?
Chris: Oh, of course! I’m within the age range that Red and Blue came out when I was 10, and I’ve never grown up. I’m literally going to buy Ultra Sun and Moon in 2 days so there!!!
Otter: And what was your first role inPokémon ?
Chris: I played a guy named Khoury in five episodes, whose existence was to promote Heart Gold and Soul Silver coming out. Pokémon advertising video games? What a concept! But that was my first anime, and my first professional VO job.
Kyle: That’s not a bad first feather in the cap.
Chris: No. I was almost like “I’m done. I can retire now!” I’m glad I haven’t because since then we’ve done all sorts of amazing shows and games and projects. We happen to be part of multiple things this weekend which has been amazing.
Otter: Kyle, I know you live stream yourself playing games that you have acted in.
Kyle: I’ve played through two games that I’ve played a pretty big part in on Twitch.
Otter: What has the experience of communicating or conversing with your fans been like?
Kyle: Oh, era of social media, being able to interact with the fandom so readily and so easily. There’s also, in addition to being able to type 280 characters to people on Twitter, like you mentioned I do Twitch streaming on my Twitch channel. I get to chat with people while playing video games that I am in, which is just bizarre.
The there’s also the Unlocked Live app which is on the Apple App store. It’s coming to Android someday soon that David Vincent and Bryce Pappenbrook put together; they’re kind of the masterminds behind that.
It’s just one of many great ways that we have to be able to have that connection with the fans, beyond going to these conventions. I think it’s really cool that we’re able to interact so easily.
Chris: What’s nice to—you talked about being a movie star and stuff, but I think what’s nice about the kind of level we’re at in sort of the grand scheme of the entertainment business, is that we have the time and the ability to actually have kinds of these more personal interactions.
I mean, I don’t know if they care this much, but I can’t imagine being a big movie star that does like San Diego Comic-Con once every five years, and then there’s like 8 billion people and you only have a second to sign something then go away.
When we meet people, whether it’s at a con, or online, like we can maybe have a conversation. Especially when people come up and say “Hey, I really loved your performance” or something as deep as “Hey, I was going through a really rough time and I binged this whole show or played this game you were in and you did a great job” Stuff like that.
Kyle: That means a lot to us. Yeah. Technology is a wonderful thing haha.
Otter: Do you have a favorite line or moment from Mob Psycho?
Kyle: So my favorite moment is in the Telepathy Club in Episode 3 we decided—Episode 3 Mob has just fainted from trying to do the body improvement thing and he comes back, and the Telepathy club doesn’t even believe he has psychic powers and Mob just to make them believe that he has psychic powers makes all the weights spin around his head. And everybody’s jaw drops. They’re in awe. Then he stops and has just one hovering over his head and he says “So is that enough, do you believe me now?” Then he lets it drop, it falls into his hand, and he goes “WHOA, that’s heavy!” That’s my favorite moment.
Chris: I like several of the “This is one of Reigen’s special techniques” moments. I tried to do little goody references with them. Towards the end, there’s the “Anti-Esper Dropkick” and the “Hypnosis Punch,” and both of them I tried to make very Captain Falcon-y. But my favorite one of those was the “Aroma Runaway Express!” And there’s just the train going back. That one was the best, and the sound effects that accompany it….
Kyle: The sound effects in the show are kind of the unsung hero.
Chris: Not anything to do with anything on our side, but just inherently they are beautiful.
Kyle: They are really good.
Otter: Thank you so much, Kyle and Chris.