By Rafael Motamayor
FunimationCon 2020 turned the volume up to 11 this afternoon and rocked out with a special Listeners Voice Actor Q&A that introduced some of the series’ main English voice actors, and a special video from the show’s co-creator and head writer, Dai Sato.
Hosted by Jacki Jing, the panel included English voice actors Justin Briner (Echo), Bryn Apprill (Mu), Lee George (Jimi), as well as ADR/voice director Cris George. Even co-creator and head writer for Listeners, Dai Sato, sent a video where he answered some of our most burning questions (that fans sent in!) about the show, and even corrected his own Wikipedia page!
They all talked about what makes Listeners special, and why music and giant robots mix so perfectly.
Welcome Dai Sato!
We began with the greeting from Sato, who explained the concept of the show, which he explained as a “road movie” and is set in an alternate world where music doesn’t exist, and the main conflict between Players—mecha pilots who use the power of music—and the mysterious Earless they fight against.
Sato revealed that the idea to combine music with a mecha anime was there from the very beginning. According to Sato, most of the core members of the staff are musicians, or can at least play some sort of instrument.
But when asked what instrument he plays, Sato confessed that he doesn’t.
“My Wikipedia says I’m a musician, but I don’t play instruments,” he said. “I did use to be a DJ and I used turntables.” His favorite instrument, though? The Roland TB-303 synthesizer.
Listeners has music lovers front and center in its mind, and there is a ton of music easter eggs in the show. Sato said everyone working on the show came up with these nods, and they’d all pitch in and expand on each other’s ideas. As for his favorite? A reference in Episode 3 to My Bloody Valentine, one of Sato’s favorite bands.
Likewise, there’s the name of the first town we meet in the show, Liverchester, which is of course taken from Manchester and Liverpool, the birthplace for The Beatles, Oasis and the origin of Britpop.
Before he left, Sato answered a question about how a video game based on Listeners would work.
“It’d be a fighting game, because it’s got robots in it. It’s got music, so it has to be a rhythm game,” he said. “The game should combine the two, rhythm, but with robots.” Honestly, sign us up.
The English cast appears!
And then it was time to meet our cast! First up was a debrief on Sato’s video. Bryn mentioned that Sato’s comments about rock being the music of laborers and the common folk resonated with her. She said rock is all about keeping on pushing it after a hard day’s work, and so is Listeners.
As for Justin? He wants to play the rhythm/fighting game.
“I’d be first in line to play that demo,” he said.
The cast also discussed what attracted them to the show and the characters they play. Music was the number one answer, as everyone in the case is a music fan in one way or another.
Cris (in anticipation of directing) actually researched the show months in advance, from the moment there was just a title and key art.
“I saw the [music gear and equipment] and that brought me in,” he said. But when he asked his bosses about the series, no one knew what he was talking about. Months later, he got his wish, because Funimation got the show and Cris became the ADR director.
For Lee, who plays the mysterious Jimi Stonefree, there is something about his character that he likes: his voluptuous and fantastic hair.
“I am so jealous,” he said. “Being a bald guy, it’s tough to watch Jimi. But he also sets the stage for the show’s story.”
Since the cast has only recorded the first episode of the season, not a lot could be said about the plot of Listeners. Thankfully, a lot could be said about the cast’s wishes for future episodes.
When asked what rock bands they’d want to see featured or reference in the show, Bryn said she wants to see more girl power in future episodes, like Pat Benatar, Joan Jett. She also talked a bit about having self-confidence, and it served as the perfect last note.
“If you know that you rock, don’t be afraid to rock out.”
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