New York Comic-Con 2011 Fairy Tail Panel
by Crystalyn Hodgkins,
The Fairy Tail panel room was completely packed, and many people who had waited in line to get in were turned away. The panel got started a little late, and while the audience was waiting for the guests to arrive, Funimation's Adam Sheehan reminded the audience that the first 13 episodes of Fairy Tail will go on sale on DVD on November 22.
Curtis Shaw, who is in charge of marketing for Fairy Tail, took the stage when the panel got underway. Shaw introduced some cosplayers from American Cosplay Paradise, who performed a 10-minute Fairy Tail skit about a reporter who came to interview the members of the Fairy Tail magician's guild, which also made little jabs to other anime such as Fullmetal Alchemist.
Shaw introduced Hiro Mashima to the stage to huge applause, screaming, and whistling. Mashima said this is the first time he will see the American version of the anime, and said he is looking forward to it, and hopes everyone enjoys it.
Funimation then showed the English dub premiere of episodes 3-5 of Fairy Tail. Funimation already has the first two dubbed episodes streaming online. Episodes 3-5 cover the Kaby storyline in the manga and the introduction of the character Erza.
As for the dub itself, the dialogue flowed very well and felt very natural, although some of the attack moves and side jokes sounded a bit rushed. Cherami Leigh as Lucy sometimes sounded a bit whiny and grating, but her performance was full of enthusiasm and it fit the character well. Todd Haberkorn as Natsu could have used a bit more enthusiasm at some points, but it overall fit very well. Mashima himself noted at the Kodansha Comics panel that Natsu yelled a lot so he was worried about the American voice actor's voice, and Haberkorn noted later that one of his favorite parts about playing Natsu was going into the recording booth with a voice, and leaving the booth without one. Bob Magruder was a great choice for Fairy Tail's narrator, giving the episodes a very traditional storybook feel. Overall, the dub worked very well for the series.
After the third episode, there were some technical difficulties with the fourth episode not playing correctly, However, within 10 minutes Funimation brought in a backup disc, which worked, and the company played the fourth and fifth episodes. The fans sang and clapped to the opening and ending theme songs, and all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the dub performance.
After the fifth episode ended, ADR Director Tyler Walker then took the stage and introduced Todd Haberkorn (Natsu), Cherami Leigh (Lucy), Newton Pittman (Gray), and Colleen Clinkenbeard (Erza) to the stage. The panel then launched into a Q&A. During the Q&A, Walker revealed that there are two commentary tracks on the Fairy Tail DVD, and one of them features a song Walker and Pittman wrote. Walker also revealed that he cast his wife in the show as a giant rat character. In regard to how the actors keep their voices in good condition considering the over-the-top nature of the show, Walker revealed there was a special "Fairy Tail tea" that he has the actors drink after a session.
When one attendee asked for advice for people who want to be voice actors, the actors gave the following advice: live where the action is, get an agent, love the work, and take every opportunity you can to practice reading out loud and getting used to your own voice.
Haberkorn announced during the Q&A that if Funimation is able to dub up to the 100th episode of Fairy Tail, that he would get Natsu's tattoo.
Each voice actor and actress, when asked which character they were the most like, said that they were most like the characters they played, and so the show must have been cast really appropriately (Walker added that he was the most like Makarov).
On a request from a fan, Clinkenbeard said Luffy's line "I'm going to be king of the pirates," and noted before she said it that she was feeling ill and doing this would probably hurt, adding that "this is love you guys!"
Last, an attendee asked if the voice actors read the manga, and Walker said he was caught up on the English releases of the manga, and Leigh said she had read a few volumes. The audience then gave the voice actors another very loud round of applause to end the panel.