There are many things that can make a video game memorable. From an exquisite story, to a compelling soundtrack, or even a lavish art style. But then there is the voice acting. Not every game might have voice acting, but there are many that do and it is a great way of giving life to the characters we get to play as and fall in love with.
One such character, who has become a winner with the gamers, is Brianna Knickerbocker. As well as being the voice of various Fire Emblem characters, her most notable one is Sakura, whom she has voiced for Fates, Heroes and Warriors. However, Brianna has done other roles worth bringing up, such as Dana for the English version of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana and Gully for Battle Chasers: Nightwar. Her most recent one might surprise you though, as she voices Carina Mitchell in the 3DS Detective Pikachu game.
It’s safe to say, she’s a talented and very busy actor, but not too busy to be able to take the time to talk with us. So, we actually got the chance to interview her this week and we did learn a thing or two, so, here’s how we got on:
In typical interview fashion, would you be so kind to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Brianna Knickerbocker: Hey! I’m Brianna, I’m a voice actress originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You may know me from the Fire Emblem games or animes like Asterisk War or Seven Deadly Sins or other projects! I started out acting in front of the camera; and originally I actually came to LA for fashion design thinking that’s what I wanted to do—but quit pretty quickly and fell into acting.
Role Adjustment and Going with the Flow:
Miketendo64: As an actress who has voiced characters for TV shows, video games, and even a movie (Love Live! The School Idol Movie,) how do you find adjusting to each role you take and are there many differences between them?
Brianna Knickerbocker: Depending on the character and project, sometimes it takes a moment to find the character when you’re starting a role out, sometimes, it’s very quick. That depends on the character, like starting out as Rem and her being kind of robotic—it takes some effort to sound so unemotional! Same with playing Leysritt in Fate/stay night.
I try to just go with the flow to adjust to each new role, and let each new sentence my character says, or a scene in an anime I’m watching before recording, influence my understanding of who my character is. There are so many differences between all the characters I play, to me, they’re not even comparable, because they’re all in such different imagined universes.
Miketendo64: As far as your video game voice acting goes, you have been involved with quite the number of iconic video game series’. From the recent Secret of Mana, to Fire Emblem, to Ys and even Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, you’re clearly a woman of taste. But, what prompted you to get involved with voice acting for video games and are you much of a gamer yourself?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I never tried to pursue voice acting until later—only because I didn’t realize that’s what I was supposed to be doing. But I always did funny voices and put on plays/shows as a kid so it was inevitable! So once I lived in LA, acting stuff was all around me and I just went for it and one job led to another and it all worked out.
I am a gamer, I have been since I was young. My very first serious game was Resident Evil 2, my sisters would watch me play and we LOVED how scary it was (we were always into zombies)—and if they weren’t watching, I simply couldn’t play…it was too scary!!!
Developing a Deeper Bond:
Miketendo64: On the subject of video games, when it comes to Nintendo, you are no stranger to Fire Emblem. Having voiced Sakura in 3 different games (Fates, Heroes and Warriors,) and Est for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, what’s it like to be able to keep returning to one particular series, over and over?
Brianna Knickerbocker: It’s one of my favorite aspects of voice acting—you get to get deeper into character, learn more about them and their world and it’s just so nostalgic returning to the same character you know and love over and over again!
Returning to Charlotte (Recording for Fire Emblem Heroes):
Miketendo64: Only, Sakura isn’t the only character you voice for Fire Emblem Heroes, as you also voice Echoes’ Est, Ninian and Charlotte, who you also voice for Fates. Due to the nature of the game and how new characters are introduced, did you voice all characters around the same time, or was it a case of being called back and do a new recording a few months later on?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I was called back in for different sessions to voice different characters at different times, which was a nice surprise because I didn’t know I was going to get to voice Charlotte again. So when I came back and it was HER I kinda jumped around and screamed a bit!
The Physical aspects to Getting into Character:
Miketendo64: Now, because you did voice 2 very different characters in Fates, and 4 in Heroes, what is your process when it comes trying to get into the mind-set of each character? Is it easy to keep each character separate, or something you’ve always got to work out?
Brianna Knickerbocker: The process of getting into each characters mind-set includes physicality, even where my arms and hands are, and I let the words on the page affect my psychology in character—whether I’m shy or funny or scared or manipulative. Because once I read the lines of that character—you can totally tell it’s a different person speaking. Like Sakura would never say that, so it instantly pulls you into being someone else. If it’s a short line like “Yes of course,” you just use your imagination to think how this specific character would say that.
Charlotte and Sakura:
Miketendo64: With any form of media, even fully formed characters are open to suggestion from the reader/viewer/gamer/actor. In light of this fact, how do you perceive Sakura and Charlotte and what do they mean & represent, to you?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I’m biased since I’ve been on the recording side of it. But I think if I tried not to be, I might be judgemental of Charlotte at first, and maybe I would think Sakura is overly timid at times. To me, they represent very three dimensional well rounded characters, imperfect, quirks, interesting qualities that you don’t necessarily see the first time you hear from them, like how you learn about Charlotte just trying to help her poor family—that’s long down the road from first meeting her and thinking she’s just a gold digger. And Sakura is stronger than she first appears—just not overtly strong, she’s got a certain undeniable strength about her that is just not very in your face.
Fire Emblem anime? Sign me up!:
Miketendo64: Giving the love and admiration you have for Sakura, which is something you have voiced many times in the past, should Nintendo decide to do an anime or even a film based on Fates, would you eager to reprise your role once more?
Brianna Knickerbocker: Oh my gosh, I would absolutely die of happiness!!!!!! I think everyone would simply adore something like an anime series or film! I would of COURSE want to reprise my role.
Code names and Recording for Fire Emblem Warriors:
Miketendo64: One last Sakura question before moving on, when Fire Emblem Warriors was first revealed, it came as a welcome surprise to fans. At which point did you find out about the game and asked to reprise your role?
Brianna Knickerbocker: Game projects operate under code names, so I honestly didn’t know anything, besides I was booked on another Nintendo game and it would be Fire Emblem related. I think I even finished recording for the game, before I knew the title!
Detective Pikachu: Landing the Role of Carina Mitchell:
Miketendo64: Moving away from Fire Emblem, you’re actually involved with another Nintendo related title that released this month, Detective Pikachu. Similar to the Fire Emblem Warriors question above, when did you first find out about Detective Pikachu and who approached who?
Brianna Knickerbocker: Originally Bangzoom had me audition for another female character, whom I didn’t book. Then a couple weeks or so later I got an email saying they’d like me to play Carina!
Unaware of Detective Pikachu’s Admiration to Carina:
Miketendo64: Although not in Detective Pikachu for very long, as she’s only in it for a single chapter, you voice the talented Carina Mitchell. So talented in fact, her musical talents with a violin, practically make Pikachu fall in love with her and cry. Was this something you got to learn about in the beginning, or come to know much later on?
Brianna Knickerbocker: When I was recording I only got to hear the lines preceding mine, so I didn’t know the full extent of Pikachu’s adorable reaction to Carina.
Miketendo64: In Detective Pikachu, Carina has a Kricketune as her Pokémon partner, to help her be a better player. If you could have any Pokémon of your choosing, to be your real world partner, to help you out in any capacity, who would it be and why?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I’m not sure!! That’s a tough one! I need to do more research on different Pokémon to make sure I pick the right one.
Pika Power and Watching Playthroughs:
Miketendo64: Still on the subject of Detective Pikachu, since you are in it, have you picked up the game at all to experience it for yourself and are you at all interested in watching the Detective Pikachu movie when it releases next year?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I haven’t played it yet, but I was enjoying watching the playthrough a gamer posted online—all the voice acting turned out so perfectly, everyone fits their characters so well and the story is fun! The movie looks cute!
Spoilt for Choice:
Miketendo64: Having been involved with both Fire Emblem and Pokémon games now, are there any other Nintendo IP’s you’d hope to lend a voice to? Zelda may be taken, but Princess Peach is available.
Brianna Knickerbocker: Oh my gosh!!! How can I choose!!!!!!!!
Ani-Me Con (March 2017):
Miketendo64: When not voicing characters who swiftly become dear to our hearts, you attend conventions. What was the last one you attended and what has been your favourite one to date?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I’ve actually only attended one! My very first convention was Ani-Me Con in Fresno early March this year. It was amazing, I am absolutely addicted and dying to go to more now.
All the cosplayers were so impressive, I freaked out and spent a lot of money in Artist’s Alley and finally getting to meet some of my fans in real life was an absolute dream come true—everyone I met was so kind and passionate about the same things I am (anime, videogames). It made me SO happy to learn of how much people enjoyed my work.
Horror, Ballet and the Environment:
Miketendo64: And because there is more to you than just voice acting, what activities do you like to get up to in your spare time to relax?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I’ve been writing some horror shorts to produce and I’ve danced ballet since I was 8, so I’m dancing about 5 days a week. I’m also super passionate about the environment and animal rights so I spend a little bit of time every day signing petitions and stuff like that.
Monster Voice Acting at its Finest with Evil Within 2:
Miketendo64: As a talented voice actress in your own right, are there any voice actors you take inspiration from and any character in particular they’ve voice, you simply love? (Misty Lee does do a fantastic Camila.)
Brianna Knickerbocker: I’m SO inspired by all of my voice actor friends and all the ones I haven’t met too. I see so much gorgeous work out there that is honest and vulnerable—making you feel something when watching and that’s what I live for. Good acting is just SO special. So when I hear people in anime/games and they make me feel something I’m just breathless and excited!!
One example would be a game I recently finished, The Evil Within 2. All the voice acting in that game was stellar, but if I can just take a moment to talk about the voice acting for the monsters, wow, wow, wow. I was so stunned at how terrifying and genuinely creepy they sounded (I watch a LOT of horror and my tolerance is very high—I don’t usually get scared)!! All those actors were next level.
Words of Advice:
Miketendo64: Given your own number of years in the acting trade, do you have any pearls of wisdom that you’d happily pass on to all those willing to follow in your footsteps into the world of acting?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I think, try to be open to what your heart is telling you and what opportunities are presenting themselves to you. What is that thing that you are drawn to, curious about, just follow it and let yourself explore that.
More to come from 2018:
Miketendo64: Other than Secret of Mana and Detective Pikachu, what does 2018 have in store for you? Can we expect to hear your voice again in another show or game? Or must we now wait until 2019?
Brianna Knickerbocker: 2018 is an incredible year, Re:Zero is coming out this summer, B: The Beginning is out now on Netflix, and I’m just waiting to be able to make some incredible announcements!!! Follow me on Twitter [@briannanoellek] for news—as soon as I am allowed to talk about projects, I will.
A Message for the Fans:
Miketendo64: And because there’s always time for one last question, here’s ours: Is there anything you would like to say to your ever-growing fanbase and supporters?
Brianna Knickerbocker: I want to thank all my wonderful supporters and fans, I appreciate each and every one of you SO much! I want to meet many more of you, so I want to go to more conventions. Reach out to your local convention and request me—that’s how actors get invited to come (it’s weird, we’re like vampires)! I hope to get to say hello to all of you sometime soon!
Brianna, thank you for your participation. You’re a star and we look forward to hearing your voice again, later on this year!