The My Hero Academia Q&A closed out this year’s C2E2. Voice actors Brina Palencia (Mineta), Josh Grelle (Tokoyami) and Colleen Clinkenbeard (Yaoyorozu) took to the C2E2 main stage to field questions from hundreds of fans of all ages, some of whom posed for a massive group photo before things got started. My Hero Academia’s fourth season is airing now, along with the franchise’s second feature film, Heroes Rising (check out our review here).
With the show’s notoriety only increasing, the panel began with discussing why that is. They came to the quick realization that there’s a hero for every person in My Hero Academia – and each character is spotlighted so fan favorites are never left in the background. Clinkenbeard said there’s not just a hero for everyone, but a person who grows and develops in their own way.
On the topic of development, the actors then discussed how they created their characters’ voices. Grelle started, joking that he had to reach into his inner bird and act honestly. But, truly, he believes he relates heavily to Tokoyami. His dark shadow persona, Grelle believes, is the representation of all the interiority he closes off from the world. Grelle relates to that.
Palencia had a much more difficult challenge, as many fans (including myself, prior to this panel) can’t stand the pervy diaper boy that is Mineta. She wanted to make him lovable and cute to tone that down, so she gave him a lisp, a quality she loves. On the topic of fan reception, Palencia joked that the cast seems to enjoy Mineta more than audiences, who tend to stare blankly when he appears on screen.
Clinkenbeard took the final answer, talking a bit about working both as a director and voice actor. She imagines Momo as very similar to herself in high school: full of insecurities and totally type A, so she directs herself with that in mind.
Following that answer, the My Hero Academia Q&A opened up to the audience. This portion has been distilled below, and combined in some cases to eliminate repeated questions and responses. Fan questions are in bold, with responses following.
While fans lined up, each panelist took a minute to talk about the other media they love. Clinkenbeard is a huge fantasy novel and West Wing fan, while Palencia tunes in for Westworld and also adores choir music and Sixteenth Century Counterpoint. Finally, Grelle said he loves anything sci-fi: Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and more.
Colleen, Momo deals heavily with her insecurities and female characters like her can be set further back than males. So, how do you see her regaining her rank?
Clinkenbeard thanked the fan for the thoughtful question and said one of her favorite aspects of voicing Momo is being a strong representation for women and young girls. The character has a hard time balancing how she sees herself and how she thinks her classmates see her, even though she’s smart, powerful and well liked. But, those insecurities eat away at her and turn into fears. Clinkenbeard said what will help Momo is the same thing that will help her fans: to realize that you are enough.
If you had a My Hero Academia roommate who would you pick and why?
Palencia and Clinkenbeard were quick to say Mirio Togata would be a perfect roommate. He’s optimistic, kind and a literal ray of sunshine. Though Sato, the baker, would also be a good choice for all the cake. Grelle came down on two fronts here. On the one hand, he said he vibes heavily with Tokoyami, especially after the moving in episode where we see a sword and a bass guitar in the corner. On the other hand, he absolutely loves Froppy for her unique power and adorable voice.
Brina, what are your feelings voicing Mineta as a woman?
After alluding to fans’ distaste for Mineta throughout the panel thus far, Palencia was excited to answer this one. She said first and foremost that given the character, a woman should be the one doing the acting. It not only makes Mineta less horrifying, but also gives women some agency. He’s a kid, Palencia said, and if we’re being real, all boys his age are perverts. Mineta embodies that. In MHA, he’s not shunned (completely) for that, but his friends stay by his side and put him in his place, because that’s what friends are for – especially when it comes to boys. Palencia said Mineta’s classmates are constantly teaching him how to change, and that arc of a type of redemption is what makes the character special. Looking at where he is now in comparison to when the show began reveals a significant amount of growth.
Wrapping up, Palencia also took a moment to say that she finds it interesting that there’s so much hatred for Mineta, a boy, yet when she’s played women with the same mannerisms there’s never been a problem.
What’s it like to be a dub voice actor versus traditional? Is there a monologue from another movie your character would be particularly good at?
Clinkenbeard started off, saying it’s definitely a challenge to work in dub because you’re married to the animation itself. You only have a certain amount of time to get a line across, but that’s part of the fun. The cast called it a sort of puzzle to figure out how many ways there are to read a line using different emphasis. All three of them have also worked in video games, which they say provides more freedom, and is fun in its own way.
On the topic of monologues, Grelle wasted no time in pulling the classic Taken out of nowhere, which the crowd adored. Clinkenbeard said she can’t top that and Palencia agreed, joking that she forgets a movie seconds after watching it.
What are your favorite aspects of your character, and what was your favorite episode to work on?
Clinkenbeard loves Yaoyorozu for many of the reasons she mentioned earlier: being a role model for young girls by staying determined in spite of her self-doubt and insecurities and always doing everything that she can. Some of her favorite episodes were the Deku/Todoroki sports festival fight, the All Might/All for One fight and, the season three finale where Katsuki discovers Deku’s secret.
For Palencia, the arc of maturity that Mineta is slowly building upon is her favorite part of the character. She said that, with time and the help of his pals, he’s slowly begun to human better. Her favorite episodes were team ups with Froppy, when the villains attacked UA and hiding in Shoji’s arms during the sports festival.
Grelle joked that he loves to imagine being part of a two-man band with Tokoyami, singing Me and My Shadow, before talking about the character’s fierce loyalty. He may be a broody loner, but there’s nothing that’ll stop him from protecting his pals – just like the training camp arc!
With that, the Q&A session ended.
My Hero Academia is just over the halfway mark on its fourth season, with new episodes airing on Saturdays on various streaming platforms including Funimation and Crunchyroll. Heroes Rising is in theaters now.