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New York Comic-Con 2018: My Hero Academia Panel Report

by Rai Kelly,

Over the last two years, My Hero Academia has become nothing less than a phenomenon. So naturally, a Hero Academia panel was held at Anime Fest @ NYCC. The panel was hosted by Funimaton, producers of the MHA English dub, and the excitement in the room before the panel was palpable. Almost all of the seats were filled, and the crowd was sprinkled with all kinds of My Hero Academia cosplay.

Before the panel began, a DJ played a mix of the anime's different opening and closing songs. A lot of fans sang along – especially during ODD FUTURE by UVERworld – and some even danced. (Although, my personal favorite was when the DJ threw in a Love Live! song.) Next, the crew began giving out awesome MHA hachimaki headbands to which the crowd went absolutely insane. Fans stood up and started waving their arms, eager to get one. The crew was so overwhelmed, they actually began throwing the headbands into the audience. Later, when the panel actually started and the crowd calmed down, the crew walked around and gave a headband to people who didn't get one.

But the fans' enthusiasm for the headbands was nothing compared to when Funimation started to give out prizes, including signed posters. To win something, you needed to answer a trivia question. Honestly, most of the questions were pretty easy, even for more casual fans. People were literally jumping up and down, desperate for the hosts to choose them. The actual panel began when Paul Frugé II, the brand manager of My Hero Academia at Funimation, introduced himself. He began by discussing the recent theatrical screening of the movie My Hero Academia: Two Heroes and claimed that it did so well, it has become #10 anime movie of all time. With those kinds of numbers, maybe we'll see even more screenings.

Next, Colleen Clinkenbeard, the English voice actor of Momo Yaoyorozu, and Luci Christian, the English voice actress of Ochaco Uraraka, came on stage. Between these two actresses, they have performed in literally hundreds of different dubs and games. Not only that, but Colleen Clinkenbeard is also the My Hero Academia dub's director and works as a producer for Funimaton. Luci Christian, on the other hand, has done ADR script writing for Funimation. Luci stated that she hadn't been to Funimation's Dallas location in a while because it was a long drive for her. However, when she saw how awesome MHA was a series, she was super excited about the prospect of voicing a character. Luci took the time to drive “the 4 and half hours up to Dallas” to personally ask for a role. She obviously got a part and is very happy about. “I am so proud to be part of this panel,” she said.

Colleen also expressed how excited she was about this show. She explained that “I knew it was going to be very popular, even before it came into the door.” However, she said she could have never really imagined just how popular it would become - but could anyone really? “I think it's going to be around for a very long time,” Colleen added. Luci agreed by saying, “Yeah, people who don't normally watch anime are watching this show.”

From there, Paul asked the two voice actresses some questions, such as how they prepare for sessions or how they get into character. Colleen admitted that she doesn't really do anything; she doesn't even warm up her voice. That's because warming up makes her anxious and “psyches her out.” As for Luci, she said that drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep is the best remedy for any voice actor. She also added that she'll watch My Hero Academia to help her get into character. She admitted that one time she was having trouble acting, so she literally rewatched the entire series just to “get back into the mindset of Ochaco.”

Next, it was time for some fun questions. First, Paul asked the two ladies what kind of Quirk they would want and why. Colleen said she would want Momo's power: “I could create anything I understand!” She also added “I'm a mom. Instead of carrying around a huge tote bag, I could just go 'Here's a car.'” Luci also had some funny Quirk ideas. “I would want some kind of warping power,” she said. She liked the idea of making anything appear before her, such as a blanket when she's cold. A warping power would also be great for getting around traffic. This would be especially useful in NYC where the traffic is always ridiculous; both actresses admitted they were not prepared for the insanity since they are both from Texas. Another fun question was who their favorite characters are. Luci confessed that she has a crush on Todoroki. Colleen approved and said that she also really loves Todoroki. She also stated that it's probably not the best idea to have a crush on Bakugo.

After the discussion, Funimation played Episode 62 of the English dub, which had just launched on Funimation that day. This episode opens with origin story of the villain Twice and later introduces the idea of UA work-study programs. Meanwhile, Deku is still feeling the repercussions of his fight with Bakugo. The episode also teases out Overhaul, as well as the “Big Three.”

A large portion of the crowd stayed to watch, but some fans left, presumably the ones who had already seen the episode or prefer subs over dubs. During the episode, the crowd ate it up, with big reactions for certain characters. They cheered when they saw Eraser Head and Present Mic, but completely lost it when they saw Mirio Togata and Hitoshi Shinsou. Someone even yelled out, “THAT'S MY SON!”

When the episode ended, Paul asked the crowd if they liked the episode, to which he received a very passionate reply. They REALLY liked it. If it wasn't obvious enough with all the Deku cosplayers, MHA t-shirt wearers, and MHA merchandise for sale at Anime Fest (and at Comic-Con), the panel and the zealous fans cemented this fact: My Hero Academia is here to stay.

Photo Credit: Rai Kelly and Cindy Sibilisky

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