Home Interview: Voice Actress Megan Shipman on Career, Spy x Family, Dubbing and More

Interview: Voice Actress Megan Shipman on Career, Spy x Family, Dubbing and More

We had an opportunity to meet and interview voice actress Megan Shipman at Sakura-Con 2024. Shipman is an American voice actor known for her work in anime English-language dubs in shows such as s Masamune-kun no Revenge R, My Tiny Senpai, and many others. She is currently voicing Anya Forger in the English dub of the Spy x Family anime, including the new CODE: White movie, and was kind enough to answer questions not only about the series but also about voice acting, dubbing community, and more!

Q: What was your journey to voice acting?
M: I’ve been voice acting for about—this year will be 11 years. I started in college and I did an open audition at what was then Funimation; now it’s Crunchyroll. I did an open audition and just started getting called in for work and more auditions, and things just snowballed. I had a friend who knew someone who worked at Funimation and they basically got me that open audition that I did. There are little tidbits of the story, but that’s like the easy way to tell it.

Q: Do you have any voice actors that you were inspired by?
M: It’s interesting because I grew up watching anime and early stuff from Funimation like Fruits Basket. Then I kind of explored other things when I realized what anime was. It was like the people I work with now, like Caitlin Glass and J. Michael Tatum, Greg Ayers, and all the OG people making many of those dubs back in the day. They formed, in my mind, what anime sounds like. Now, to be able to work with some of them and be friends and good acquaintances with them, and then for some of them to sometimes compliment me, I’m like, ‘No, please, no, no, you’re great, not me.’ It’s nice because it’s the people that I grew up listening to, and I’m just really glad that I can be doing a job that I love and also be doing it well enough that the people that I enjoyed growing up with are saying ‘You’re doing a great job,’ and I’m like, ‘Thank you.’

Q: You recently revealed that you had to replace a voice actor for an episode of The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Bryn Apprill. Can you tell us more about that?
M: That’s my friend Bryn Apprill. She’s a wonderful voice actor. We started voice acting at the same time. We did the same open audition group; we were all in that little group. She’s wonderful. Because I had my baby in October, I was out for an episode of Spy x Family, which sounds crazy to people because they’re like, ‘You had a baby?’ She voice-matched me as Anya in October for, I think, one episode while I took two weeks off just to kind of chill. Then she got sick, so I just covered for her in Momichi House, and that was fun. Sometimes we do that if someone gets sick or has a big life event like having a baby.

It’s really fun to voice-match people, and I’ve done other voice matches-over the years. I’ve taken over roles like Sasha on Attack on Titan—because those were originally Ashly Burch. She lives in LA, and she’s super busy, right? She’s in TV shows, she’s in video games, she’s very talented. Voice-matching is fun. I always see it as a fun challenge and a way to try something new. It’s fun. Usually, when you voice-match for someone, the other person will come in and replace that with their voice for the DVD or the Blu-ray or things like that. They’re fun.

Q: How do you pick up the character so quickly in cases where you do voice replacements?
It’s just like a character; sometimes we audition for things. You’ll get blurbs about the character, or you might watch a trailer if it’s available for the show you’re auditioning for, and you can get a sense of a character. Sometimes, I’ll go in and read Wiki pages about them, whether it’s a light novel series or a manga getting an anime adaptation, just to figure out the personality.

Me and Natalie say the same thing, where it’s like you have a Rolodex in your head of different character tropes almost, where you’re the soldier, the protagonist girl, and the little kid. So with Anya or something like that, you can go, ‘Okay, I’m going to start with my little kid kind of voice.’ Based on what I know about her personality when I watch the trailer. When I auditioned for Spy x Family, it was like, ‘Oh, Anya’s the comedic one in the trailer, and she’s funny and she’s really silly, and she has big moments.’ I kind of took my little kid’s voice and I took what I heard from the Japanese. I take what I hear and I build upon that base of a character, and it’s the same when you’re voice-matching.

Sometimes, the character already has a voice; it’s more like listening to what the person has done previously and then trying to replicate that. Once you replicate that, you can have some freedom with it.

Q: How do you feel about the upcoming Spy x Family movie? Were there any notable differences between the movie and the TV anime?
It’s really fun because the show, you know, is episodic. There are just little mini-arcs within each episode, and the animation is always good. But it’s especially enjoyable when you get a movie or have the opportunity to work on one because the art in the animation is just so… they step it up a notch, and it was fun to work on. It’s beautiful and enjoyable, and the team making it is giving a hundred and twenty percent and even more. It’s just so good. It looks fantastic, it sounds fantastic in Japanese, and I’m so excited to see the finished product in English because I enjoy listening to Alex [Organ, voice of Loid Forger] and Natalie [Van Sistine, voice of Yor Forger]. I can’t wait for everyone to see how funny it’s going to be.

©Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha/SPY X FAMILY Production Committee

Q: Do you usually read the source material for the anime you voice in? Have you read the Spy x Family manga before, or were you able to just go with the flow as you recorded for the show?
M: Some of them I do. I think Spy x Family is one of the only ones I’ve gone out [and read the manga] for. I found out I was cast as Anya, and I immediately went to Kinokuniya and bought every single manga volume that was out because I was like, ‘I have to know this. I can’t mess this up.’ I went out and bought them all, and I just started reading. I genuinely fell in love with it; I’ve been keeping up with it. I think the newest volume, which I haven’t read yet, is one of the ones I don’t always read because sometimes I just don’t have time. But sometimes, I’ll buy them to have, and then one day, I will read them because I have them on my shelf. I have a bad habit of buying books and never reading them, but they look pretty on my shelf, and they’re there. I have a whole library, essentially. I have been keeping up with Spy x Family, so I know what’s coming next. It’s fun.

Q: How would you describe your interactions with your co-stars in the Spy x Family?
M: It’s fun; it’s a small world. I’m close with Natalie [Van Sistine] because we travel a lot together, and then we roped Alex [Organ] into coming with us to conventions. We were like, ‘Join us, come to the dark side,’ and now he comes to conventions.

Natalie and I have been going to conventions for about two or three years together, and we always joke, saying, ‘Man, it would be awkward if we hated each other,’ because we spend so much time together and are great friends. It’s really fun to get to spend this much time with someone you’re in a show with because we often record shows individually. We don’t get together and talk about the show unless you happen to see each other or maybe you have a watch party for the show’s ending.

It’s really fun and special to see Natalie and Alex a lot for this project. It’s great. And then there are the other voice actors; a lot of them are directors and writers. They’re all kind of in the Crunchyroll building. When you go to work during a session and see many people, it’s just really positive workspace energy because everyone’s so nice. 

No one’s malicious or awful. We all are like, ‘Yeah, this person’s great. This person is so sweet. This person brings us cookies because they like to bake,’ Everyone is so nice, and it’s a great community that there is—even the people I don’t see as often, like the LA actors I don’t see often since I’m based in Dallas. I have directed a couple of shows where it was based on a video game and had the LA cast; I got to talk with them, and even they were all nice and sweet and wonderful. I’ve never met someone awful.

Q: What’s it like to be in the creative team of an anime dub?
It’s really fun. You go in, and you record. When you go in to record, you have your sound engineer and director. It’s fun energy because you get to know people well, especially in a show like Spy x Family, where you come in every week. You spend so much time with these people, which becomes like a team effort. You get to know everyone well, and it’s just fun. I know many directors and engineers from working there for so long. Now that I’ve known most of them for years. Cris, the director, is like family; he’s known me since my first session at Funimation. We’ve known each other for 10-plus years now, which is crazy. It’s a really fun environment. It’s collaborative and involves a lot of fun and creative thinking. Even the people writing the scripts—some of them are also actors, and they understand what’s going on in the booth. It helps inform their writing when they’re writing and adapting scripts. It’s just a really good time. I enjoy it a lot. It’s just a lot of creative people having fun.

Q: If you were in any anime series that you were not a part of, which one would you like to be in?
M: I love magical girl shows, and I always say—I mean Sailor Moon is so good, so iconic, that would be so much fun, it’s so good.

But there’s an old show that I love, and I’ve always loved it, and it’s kind of like magical girls and idols, so it’s like the best of all these animated genres that I really like. It’s really old—it’s from the early 2000s—and it’s like, if you know, you know, but it’s called Mermaid Melody [Pichi Pichi Pitch]. It was iconic in the mid-2000s. You think about anime style from the mid-2000s, how they’re drawn, I mean they have got like the biggest eyes, the biggest eyes, and I love their beautiful eyes, but they’re so big, and they’re mermaids, and they sing, and they’re so beautiful.

I would love—I don’t think the show ever got a dub, and if it did, it never came out, unfortunately—but I would love, love to see that show either get a reboot or finally maybe get someone who rescues it, licenses it, puts effort into it, and makes it a thing because I would—I would love it, it’s like my dream, I’m like, please, I want to save it, I want to save it from the depths, and I want to—I just want it to be everywhere because I love it, it’s like nostalgic for me at this point. I did get to be in Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc, which was fun. I played Nadeshiko, who is Sakura’s mom, so I got to be in that, and that was fun, and I was like, ‘Yay, I’m in Cardcaptor Sakura,’ because I love it. It was one of my favorites.

© Naoko Takeuchi, PNP

Q: Do you have a character that your voice acted on and that’s deep in your heart?
M: There’s a show that I played in called If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die, and I play the main character. Her name is Eripiyo, and again, it’s so on-brand for me because she’s all about it. It’s a show that’s, I guess you could say, kind of like a slice-of-life show about a girl who discovers a local idol group in Japan and becomes a huge fan of them.

Her favorite girl in the group is named Eripiyo, and she’s the least popular girl out of the whole group. She’s this girl’s only fan, and she goes to all their shows, buys all the CDs, and goes to the fan meets and does handshakes and takes Polaroids, and it’s so cute. It was so funny because we recorded that one at—it was for Crunchyroll, but it was farmed out to another studio called Okratron 5000. They make stuff like Dragon Ball and stuff like that. They got that show to make, and then they would send it back to Crunchyroll.

I never worked with them before, and the director, I was like, ‘Yeah, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you hear about me?’ Because I know people, but I’d never been called to work on anything with them before. And he was like, ‘Oh, yeah, someone just told me that you like idols and that you would be perfect for this.’ And I was like, ‘Whoever you are, person, thank you, because you’re right.’ It’s this whole show where I just use my normal voice, which is awesome. I don’t always get to do that, and I just have to scream about loving idols, which is basically what I do in my real life. It was fun.

Q: Was a character you found especially difficult to voice?
M: I recently did a character named Norea in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, and I love playing characters like Norea because they’re not in the usual range that people know me for. She was really low-pitched and just really angry and mad all the time. Using that part of my range was fun because I don’t always get to do that. It’s also kind of challenging because it’s like when you stretch a muscle that you haven’t used in a long time, where you’re starting to work out after you took a break from working out or something. Your muscles are sore, or you really have to stretch because you haven’t done it in a long time. It was just fun to get to do that because it was challenging; I hadn’t done that in a while, and I don’t normally get to be the angry one who wants to kill everyone. That was fun.

Q: Was there a time when you wanted to redo a voice? How often does it happen?
Yeah, it’s interesting when you go back and listen to things like that you did when you first started, and I go, ‘Man, I would love to do that again,’ because I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an actor, and I just have better skills as an actor that I could breathe even more life into it. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Yeah, I would love to go back and maybe have another season of the show that came out like 5 years ago,’ because I could put so much more into it. That would probably be so much fun. I wish that would happen. I don’t know if there’s a specific one in mind, but it is a thing where you just feel like, ‘I’m such a better actor now,’ and then you hear something, and you’re like, ‘That sounds awesome, but I’m even more awesome now.’ I don’t know a specific one.

Q: Were there any roles over the course of your career that you wanted but ended up not getting? How do you usually deal with this?
I don’t know if I’ve just been rejected. We don’t really get rejection emails, but there have always been projects where I’ll audition for them, and I’ll be like, ‘I would love to be in this,’ and you’re like, ‘I really want to do this so bad,’ but you just end up not being called in or someone else gets cast. And it’s sad for a minute because you’re like, ‘I really wanted to be in this.’ But then at the same time, you do see the people that get cast, and you’re like, ‘Well, yeah, absolutely.’ You hear the names and go, ‘Oh yeah, they’re perfect fits,’ because you know them or you’ve heard what they sound like, you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re going to sound great.’ I always tell people it’s fine to be sad if you didn’t get into a project that you want to be in, and you can always give yourself a day to mope and be sad about it. Then, you just have to move on with your life. But everybody’s human, and everyone’s like, ‘It sucks’ when you don’t get to be in something you really want to be in, but more work will come. That’s just how it goes.

Q: Out of the characters you voiced, who would you love to hang out with as a friend?
It would be fun to be friends with Eripiyo because we could scream about idols, talk about idols, and have a good time. I think Anya would be fun, too; she would be a little crazy, but I think that would be fun. I will say there’s a character I played, her name was Aoba, in New Game!!, and that’s a show that I recorded, and just a lot of the same—it’s about her getting her first job out of high school and working for a company, experiencing a lot of firsts as an adult. That show was cool, and I resonated a lot with the things she was going through; I had either recently experienced them or remembered it was very fresh in my mind, that same experience she was having. Aoba is really fun and sweet; she likes to play video games, so she’d be fun to be friends with. That’d be nice.

Q: You recently had a baby; how’s that life going?
M: It’s crazy; she’s 5 months old now. She’s adorable, and it’s crazy because it doesn’t feel like it’s been 5 months, but it has been. It’s like time is so slow but so fast at the same time, and it’s really interesting how my husband and I’ve adapted our lives to it. He works from home, and it’s nice because I can go to the studio, record, and then come home, and he can stay home and watch her while I run up to the studio to record. It’s nice how we’ve figured out how to juggle everything going on with our lives and still have her. It’s like just another spinning plate, and it’s great. But she’s wonderful, and I love her. It’s great.

Q: Seems like you’ve been getting into the Pokémon TCG. How are you finding the game so far?
M: I love playing Pokémon games. I’m wearing a hoodie from a Pokémon YouTuber; it’s great. He made some videos about the TCG, and I was like, ‘I love Pokémon cards, but I’ve never learned how to play the game.’ I kind of got really interested in it, and I decided to dive into it. I’m so busy, but I haven’t been able to actually go and play with someone. I want to eventually because I have some game stores around us. I really want to—I have a couple of decks that I built, I want to take them and go and practice and actually play with people because that would be fun. I also just like the cards because they’re pretty.

Q: Do you have any tips on voice acting for people who want to do voice acting?
: I always tell people that online communities are so accessible nowadays. I think they were just kind of starting when I was getting started, like, 10 years ago. These online communities were just starting to form and build into something. I was never a part of those because I was just doing my own thing and having fun. But now, these communities have grown, and they are such great resources. People have made them into really great spaces for others. There are so many good resources, and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this before, but a great one for individuals is ‘Iwanttobeavoiceactor.com’ by Dee Bradley Baker. He always updates it with new information.

And then also, I mean, there’s so much stuff like how to treat your room or your space for recording, like microphones you can use that won’t break your bank and make you go broke and have to eat scraps. There are great online communities, and I always tell people to get involved in the community. Even if you don’t live in Dallas, LA, or New York, get involved in the online communities that are there for voice acting because those people are doing the same thing you are. Not only are you going to make great friends, but you’re also going to have fun with other creative people. They will also have resources you may not know about.

I’m still in some communities, and I learned about a new website with classes and things that I never even knew about. I took a class the other day, and it was great, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t even know that website existed, and I was like, ‘This is awesome.’ Being a part of those online communities is invaluable because there are so many different perspectives, and people have so many tips and tricks and resources and websites that they might have found forever ago. They’re like, ‘I love this, take it, use it.’ I always tell people to get involved because it’s a small world, and you’ll have a good time. Having fun is the most important part.

We’d love to thank Megan for taking the time to chat with us, despite the business at the Sakura-Con! You can find her on X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok!

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