Interview No. 71
Interview By: @Ryanson
Newgrounds can be seen as a country all its own, if you'd let yourself see it that way. It's just one of many lands in the wide world known as the Internet, with its own group of administrators and rules, its own icons and popular culture, and most importantly its own group of famous celebrities... and people who live to respond to any- and everything that celebrity does.
But then there are people who allow themselves to break free of such limitations.
For those not in the know, please allow me to introduce Rina-chan. Easily one of the most well-known people on the internet, a mention of her screen-name alone can invoke strong emotion from either side of the cynic/idealist scale depending on a variety of factors. To remain unbiased about her is hard - I'm having a hard time myself writing anything that doesn't completely praise her, while also watching my words carefully to see that I don't accidentally insult her in any way. I think where I lie on that scale will be obvious in my questions though - and dammit, I wouldn't have even done the interview otherwise.
I've been looking forward to this for about a year (!!!), but have been far too lazy to do anything about it. When I finally got to it... I found the overall content lackluster, through no fault of Rina-chan's. I've been away from the game for a long time. Perhaps I let myself get carried away; maybe I should have started with lesser names, worked on my questions (written a year ago, constantly revised during the interview itself) a bit longer... Procrastination, man.
Either way though, this is not about me. This is about Kira Buckland a.k.a. @Rina-chan. Without further ado then...
Q: Hello Ms. Rina-chan. Or is there a simpler name I can refer to you as?
A: Doesn't matter xD
Q: Doesn't Matter it is :P How is it there in Alaska?
A: It's getting cold.
Q: This interview is going up on Newgrounds, so for those users who may not have heard of you... who are you and what do you do?
A: I'm a voice actress for various online media. I joined Newgrounds in the fall of 2004 (my original username was "KagomeHigurashi"--LOL) and started a Voice Acting thread on the BBS which later disbanded in favor of its own forum (voiceactingclub.com) for animators and voice actors to link up with each other. I've also written a few silly parodies for fun, like the "Brawl Taunts" trilogy, although now I'm trying to focus exclusively on voice work.
Q: So then, what does an average day consist of for you?
A: I work at a small, locally owned coffee shop as a barista, so I'll spend most of my day making and serving espresso drinks to customers. When I get home, I usually record lines for people or attend videogame tournaments/sessions.
Q: Online, you've been known as a lot of names -- I originally knew of you as Kagome. Are you still a fan of InuYasha? Did you get to see or read how it ended?
A: It's actually been quite a few years since I've watched or read Inuyasha, although I was a huge fan of it back in high school and Kagome was my first ever cosplay. I don't have time to watch much anime these days---I'm more into video games.
Q: This is an obvious question, but why did you change your name?
A: Kagome was a generic username that a lot of people had. I wanted people to be able to find me in search engines if they looked up my name from credits of a flash movie.
Q: And why "Rina-chan?"
A: Rina-chan is a completely random name that came to me one day when I decided I needed something different.
Q: So, how did you first come across Newgrounds?
A: I don't remember entirely, but I'm pretty sure it was because people in my high school anime club would watch movies on there, and I'd been trying to get into voice acting, so I signed up and started emailing animators asking if they needed extra female voices.
Q: Speaking of, that's probably what you're most well-known for -- voice acting. How'd you get into that whole deal?
A: When I was sixteen, a girl in our DDR group showed us some voice clips she'd recorded for people online. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and asked her how I could get started. So I joined the VAA with the horrible sounding $10 microphone I had at the time and started auditioning for things.
Q: Did you ever... expect to be as popular as you've become over the last few years?
A: No, although I always had the goal to get my voice out there more and be in more things. A lot of it was luck, honestly. There are plenty of online voice actresses who are just as talented, if not more so, but I got started on Newgrounds early---back in the day when for most of the girl roles, people would pitch up their own voices or get their sisters to do it. Now, people have a lot more options to find voice talent.
Q: How does it feel being asked to do all these voices for online projects? Last I remember, your FAQ says you lost count of all your numerous roles. Over 1000, I think?
A: I'm really grateful that I don't have to spend much time auditioning these days---people just e-mail me and already have a character picked out for me to voice. But sometimes it gets overwhelming because I have a real job during the day and go to tournaments in the evening...I'm not always so good with deadlines.
Q: Do you usually help the makers of these various projects in other ways besides voice acting for them?
A: I don't know how to draw or animate, so I usually just voice act. The exceptions are things like parodies that I've written. But usually animators want to write their own stuff.
Q: What kinds of equipment and/or programs do you use to record yourself, personally?
A: I use a Samson C01U and record with Audacity. A USB microphone is important because it doesn't run through the sound card, so you can use it on any computer for pretty much the same results, and it reduces hiss and static.
Q: As you've stated earlier, you've also started your own voice acting forum. How'd that whole idea come about? Or I guess more accurately, how did you start the club on Newgrounds, and how did it evolve into the forum as it is today?
A: I started a thread in the Clubs and Crews section back in '05 because I thought it might be a good idea to have sort of a central place where people could say "hey, I voice act, here's my demo" or "hey, I'm an animator who needs these certain voices." But because you can't edit or delete posts, and none of us were moderators, it was nearly impossible to organize or enforce rules. So it was just easier to make a separate forum. But now we get more than just flash requests---machinimators come there a lot, and even some paying projects have shown up.
Q: Really? What kinds of paying projects?
A: They're mostly things like mobile games and apps. A few times we've had flash artists offer to share ad revenue or sponsorship earnings with the voice actors. And sometimes people donate after I complete voice work for them, which is really cool.
Q: A side-note, on the forum you're known as Haushinka, right? Your official website is named Suzumiya-Haruhi. A lot of anime inspired names. Any reason for not just naming yourself Rina-chan on all of them?
A: Haushinka is actually my username on the Voice Acting Alliance, which is a different forum that's been around longer (I'm not staff there or anything) and I've been on it forever so I didn't want to change it. That name came from a Green Day song. I should have just used it for everything, but it's too late to really change anything now!
Q: On your F.A.Q. you say your first role was in an unfinished radioplay as the character Sailor Mars. If the opportunity presented itself, would you ever reprise your role?
A: Yes, I actually did end up playing her later in a few fandubs and such. I just remembered that because it was the first role I actually got cast in. I think the first thing I was in that got completed was Ichigo in a Tokyo Mew Mew fandub back in 2004.
Q: A pretty big role, how'd you get the various female voices in Castle Crashers?
A: Tom Fulp actually contacted me directly to do that one! From what I can tell, the contributors to that game were all people from the Newgrounds community (the soundtrack was from Audio Portal artists) so I think that's why I got the part.
Q: And how'd you feel when you were contacted? That's not an everyday occurance, I'm sure.
A: It was so exciting! But I had to keep it secret until the game was released. That's how it is for pretty much any professional role---you're not allowed to give any information to people unless the developers say it themselves.
Q: Out of all your roles and performances, do you have any favorites?
A: I always like playing Princess Peach in things. It's just such a fun role, and she's the character I use in Melee.
Q: Voice-acting-wise, who are some of your role models?
A: My biggest role model is Tara Strong. She can make her voice do so many different things, and she doesn't get typecast into doing just one certain voice. That's something I really want to work on myself, because people ask me to do the same voice a lot and it's too recognizable. Michelle Ruff is another inspiration of mine for the same reason.
Q: Aside from voice-acting, I also hear that you can sing...
A: Just for fun. It's mostly like...me singing My Little Pony songs in my car when no one else can hear. But it's something I'd like to work on, because it makes you more marketable in the voice acting field.
Q: One of your most famous series online is of course"Brawl Taunts," a collab with Kirbopher. First, how did you and Kirbopher actually meet?
A: We met online---he was one of the animators I emailed asking about voices when I first got started.
Q: And how did the idea for Brawl Taunts get started?
A: It started with me sitting in my friend's living room talking about how ridiculous Dedede's final smash looked, and him saying "Show me ya boobs!" in the Captain Falcon voice.
Q: You've also been involved with Kirbopher in a few other collabs. What's it like working with him?
A: Fun. We're really close friends, even though he lives all the way in New York and we've only met in person a couple of times.
Q: Another famous collab you were involved in was made by Ed, of Eddsworld fame. What was it like working with him?
A: That was so many years ago, so I don't remember much... it was pretty much normal, like I get a script and then send the mp3s back through e-mail.
Q: Besides being a voice actress, I've read that you're also a professional gamer. How'd you get into that?
A: I'm actually not a professional gamer (not good enough to be one, haha!) but I do compete in tournaments regularly. The main games I compete for are Smash Bros Brawl & Melee, Street Fighter, and Pokemon.
Q: Ever win any big prizes?
A: The highest I've ever gotten in a tournament was third, and that was for Brawl. I can't spend as much time on gaming as I'd like to these days because I'm focusing on trying to build my career. One of my favorite games of all time is actually Guilty Gear, but they don't really have tournaments for that anymore.
Q: Besides your online resume, which seems impressive enough, you've also done work outside of the internet. "Official" work. What was the first "real" voice-over work you've ever done? Did they get in contact with you, or you with them?
A: The first professional project I did was extras for an anime called Tweeny Witches. I got connected with the company that dubbed it after winning the AX Idol voice acting competition in 2007. Then I got a bigger role as Eri in AiKa R-16. Soon I'm moving back to California so I'll be able to start doing official work again.
Q: Aside from the admiration you get from fans, you also get a good deal of criticism for various reasons. How do you yourself handle such criticism, or even extreme hate for you and your work?
A: There's nothing I can really do about the hate, so I try to ignore it for the most part and just work on improving myself. Every once in a while someone will give me criticism that is actually constructive, so in that case I can take it into consideration to better my work. But I'm still not sure why people bother to make comments like "you suck" because there's nothing I can learn or take away from that. It's not going to help me better myself in any way, because it's not a specific critique.
Q: If I may use a specific example of the extreme hate, one of the most in/famous "attacks" on you recently was "Street Fighter Chode." Have you seen it?
A: I didn't even bother to watch that. Someone posed as me writing a fake review on it though, so I just reported that account to Newgrounds and they deleted it.
Q: Being a girl on the Internet with any bit of fame must be tough enough without all the criticism. I don't envy you. Regarding any love-letters or creepy stalkers, is there anything you want to say to any and all those guys who are up in your grill?
A: Honestly, I find it funny. Because in real life I always get turned down by the guys I like! Although, "I fapped to your voice" is a really awkward comment to get...
Q: In your spare time, do you watch any series on Youtube, or Newgrounds?
A: I've been following all the My Little Pony episodes on YouTube! But... as far as user-created content, I haven't been following anything specific. Usually I just end up watching things that my friends link me to.
Q: How often do you visit the Newgrounds community nowadays?
A: Not as much as I used to. I stay away from the BBS these days, and just tell people to email me if they have a voice request. There's a lot of negativity there that I don't want to deal with right now with all the other things going on in life.
Q: Speaking of... are there any plans for the future you want to discuss? Any upcoming projects, cons we can look forward to?
A: Nothing too major at the moment, although I do record for things almost every day. But I usually post up various cool things I'm in over at my Facebook page. I wish I could afford to travel for cons! But I'll probably be attending some as soon as I move to California, because there are lots of them within driving distance. I usually end up hanging out in the console room the whole time anyway.
Q: What's been playing on your iPod recently?
A: A lot of Korean pop! I'm not even joking. It's really awesome. Like... SHINee. And Big Bang, they're my favorite. I just have to say, Korean guys are really hot! I wish I had more Korean fans, haha.
Q: Being a video gamer, what are some of your faves? That aren't fighting games, of course...
A: Well that's a tough one because I mostly play fighting games! But as for things completely out of that genre... I loved all the Ace Attorney installments. And Pokemon! I meet up with a group of people every week and we battle our Pokemon. We have gym leaders and everything.
Q: I only mentioned fighting games because I assumed that, as you go to tournaments, you play mostly fighting games
A: That's true. Street Fighter (various versions), Guilty Gear, Tekken, MvC3, Tatsunoko...
Q: What are some of your favorite movies? Recent or over-all.
A: Well, I could watch Ninja Assassin over and over. But that's not even because of the plot, it's because of Rain and all his shirtless scenes.
I must sound like a perv XD
Q: Will the world end in 2012?
Q: What trend are you tired of hearing about, that you just wanna go away?
A: Well, I wouldn't call it a trend, but I hate all the spammy stuff that goes around on Facebook. Like, "repost this if you agree" messages and people including me in huge group conversations to promote their websites or tagging me in pictures that have absolutely nothing to do with me, just to get more views. So I guess you could say certain types of Facebook behavior just need to go away.
Q: Is there anything about you that you'd like to share with the users of Newgrounds? A secret perhaps?
A: Well, I'm learning Korean. I guess a lot of people don't know that unless they're friends with me.
Q: To pick up those hot Korean guys? ;)
A: Haha, well that's part of it! but I like learning new languages
Q: Any advice you want to give to your fans, or for people who unknowingly wish to follow in your footsteps?
A: A lot of people ask me for advice on voice acting... the biggest tips I can give are to 1) practice constantly - pay attention to voice acting in the cartoons you watch, the games you play, even commercials you hear - and think, What made this voiceover good/bad? What can I take away from this? And 2) take acting lessons. It's cool if you can do funny voices or sound like Solid Snake or whatever, but you have to have feeling and motivation behind your lines, and acting classes are the best way to learn that.
Q: Thank you for taking the time out to talk with me. Any last words before we wrap this up and send this on its way?
A: Yes... feel free to email me or add or like me on Facebook/Twitter! I'm really a nice person :)